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Research & Inspiration

Aufheben or Aufhebung is a German word with several seemingly contradictory meanings, including "to lift up", "to abolish", "cancel" or "suspend", or "to sublate". The term has also been defined as "abolish", "preserve", and "transcend". In philosophy, aufheben is used by Hegel in his exposition of dialectics, and in this sense is translated mainly as "sublate".

“This dissertation is a study of the concept of Aufhebung, or sublation, as it arises in G. W. F. Hegel’s dialectical logic. Its chief contention is that this concept not be understood to function simply as a mere negation of negation, where that would mean an assimilatory determinate negation of a prior moment of abstract negation. Instead, it is argued that both abstract and determinate negation function at the level of sublation as such and that the concept should thereby be understood not only as a synthesis that combines a term with its antithesis, i.e., a unifying third term, but also as a fourth that treats these terms in their difference, holding them apart as oppositional.”

by Ryan Krahn, University of Guelph, 2014

During the 1950s, a researcher gave an artist two 50-microgram doses of LSD (each dose separated by about an hour), and then the artist was encouraged to draw pictures of the doctor who administered the drugs. Nine portraits were drawn over the space of eight hours. We still don’t know the identity of the artist. But it’s surmised that the researcher was Oscar Janiger, a University of California-Irvine psychiatrist known for his work on LSD.

The web site Live Science has Andrew Sewell, a Yale Psychiatry professor (until his recent death), on record saying: “I believe the pictures are from an experiment conducted by the psychiatrist Oscar Janiger starting in 1954 and continuing for seven years, during which time he gave LSD to over 100 professional artists and measured its effects on their artistic output and creative ability. Over 250 drawings and paintings were produced. ”The goal, of course, was to investigate what happens to subjects under the influence of psychedelic drugs. During the experiment, the artist explained how he felt as he worked on each sketch.”


Ultimately, aufheben is FALSEHIGH. A duality in its most blatant sense, that begs the question of meaning in itself.