In the Encyclopaedia Logic, Hegel states that ‘philosophy … contains the sceptical as a moment within itself — specifically as the dialectical moment’ (§81, Addition 2), and that ‘scepticism’ as ‘the dialectical moment itself is an essential one in the affirmative Science’ (§78). On the one hand, the connection between scepticism and dialectic is obvious. Hegel claims that scepticism is a problem that cannot be just removed from the philosophical agenda by knock-down anti-sceptical arguments. Scepticism intrinsically belongs to philosophical thinking; that is to say, it plays a constructive role in philosophical thinking. On the other hand, scepticism has to be construed as the view according to which we cannot know whether our beliefs are true, i.e., scepticism plays a destructive role in philosophy no matter what. It is particularly this role that clashes with Hegel's claim of having established a philosophical system of true cognition of the entirety of reality. In the following I argue that for Hegel the constructive and the destructive role of scepticism are reconcilable. I specifically argue that it is dialectic that makes both consistent since scepticism is a constitutive element of dialectic.
In order to show in what sense scepticism is an intrinsic feature of dialectic I begin by sketching Hegel's early view of scepticism specifically with respect to logic and metaphysics. The young Hegel construes logic as a philosophical method of human cognition that inevitably results in ‘sceptical’ consequences in that it illustrates the finiteness of human understanding. By doing so, logic not only nullifies finite understanding but also introduces to metaphysics, i.e., the true philosophical science of the absolute.