Partway through my reading of Pippin’s Hegel’s Realm of Shadows, I suggested that maybe Hegel intended his “logic of essence” as an account of what he takes from Aristotle’s view of the conditions of intelligibility, and his “logic of the concept” or “subjective logic” as a statement of his own and Kant’s contributions in this same area. This is too simple.
To hazard another extremely broad-brush summary, the big message of the logic of essence is that deeper truth is not immediate; it does not just lie on the surface of appearances, ready for us to pluck as a ripe fruit and consume. Nor is it a kind of “secret knowledge” that could be straightforwardly communicated by one who knew, if she chose to do so. We need a long detour in order to better get at things. We should not be simply beholden to appearances, but neither should we neglect them. Rather, we need to interpretively work through them.
Essence was never supposed to be a matter of dogmatic affirmation. The very idea that there is a deeper truth implicitly calls on us to interpret it.
Hegel’s “logic of the concept” focuses on the activity of interpretation and judgment. This is what makes it “subjective”. But this notion of “subjective” has nothing to do with what we think of as merely subjective. It is not about accidents having to do with us, but about the process of getting to deeper truth, which underlies Platonic and Aristotelian “dialectic” (see also Aristotelian and Hegelian Dialectic; Reflection and Dialectic; Reflection and Higher-Order Things; Dialogue).
While Kant and Hegel dwell more explicitly and at greater length on aspects of this process, I don’t see how it is possible to begin to properly understand Aristotle without taking his concern for the process of interpretation and judgment into account. Wisdom — the ultimate object of philosophy — is not knowledge; it is not reducible to a kind of static content.
Hegel wants to say that the logic of essence implicitly presupposes the logic of the concept — that essence presupposes the need for interpretation. I think Aristotle would strongly agree.