What, then, is the central insight ofthe Hegelian dialectics of necessity and contingency? Not only does Hegel (quite consistently with his premises) deduce the necessity ofcontingency-namely how the Idea necessarily externalizes itself (acquires reality) in phenomena which are genuinely contingent-he also (and this aspect is often neglected by many commentators) develops the opposite and theoretically much more interesting thesis, that of the contingency of necessity. That is to say, when Hegel describes the progress from "external" contingent appearance to "inner" necessary essence, the appearance's "self-internalization" through self-reflection, he is not thereby describing the discovery of some preexisting inner Essence, something that was already there (this, exactly, would have been a "reiflcation" of the Essence), but a "performative" process of constructing (forming) that which is "discovered:' As Hegel himself puts it in his Logic, in the process ofreflection, the very "return" to the lost or hidden Ground produces what it returns to. It is then not only inner necessity that is the unity of itself and contingency as its opposite, necessarily positing contingency as its moment; it is also contingency which is the encompassing unity ofitselfand its opposite, necessity; that is to say, the very process through which necessity arises out ofnecessity is a contingentprocess.
One can put it also in the terms of the dialectics of ontology and epistemology: if the encompassing unity of necessity and contingency is necessity, then the necessity (gradually discovered by our cognition as the underlying Notion of the phenomenal contingent multiplicity) had to be there all the time waiting to be discovered by our cognition-in short, in this case, Hegel's central idea (first clearly formulated in his Introduction to the Phenomenology) that our way towards truth is part of the truth itself, is canceled, and we regress to the standard metaphysical notion of Truth as a substantial In-itself, independent of subject's approach to it. Only if the encompassing unity is contingency can we claim that the subject's discovery of necessary truth is simultaneously the (contingent) constitution of this truth itself, that, to paraphrase Hegel, the very return to (rediscovery of) eternal Truth generates this Truth. So, far from being an "essentialist" who develops the entire content out of the necessary self-deployment of the Notion, Hegel is-to use today's terms-the ultimate thinker of autopoiesis, ofthe process ofthe emergence ofnecessary features out of chaotic contingency, the thinker ofcontingency's gradual self-organization, of the gradual rise of order out of chaos.
How, then, can necessity arise out of contingency? The ouly way to avoid the obscurantism of "emergent properties" is to bring into play negativity: at its most radical, necessity is not a positive principle of regularity that overcomes contingency, but the negative obverse of contingency: what is "necessary" above all is that every contingent particular entity find its truth in its self-cancellation, disintegration, death. Let us imagine an entity which persists in its singularity, endeavoring to impose itself as a lasting necessity -the actual necessity is the negativity which destroys this entity. This is Hegelian universal necessity in its actuality: the negative power which brings to its truth every particularity by way ofdestroying it. Necessity is thus nothing but the "truth" of contingency, contingency brought to its truth by way of its (self-)negation.