The law of negation of the negation shows the connection between consecutive stages of development, between the old and the new. It expresses the general tendency and direction of development. To understand this law, one should first understand the meaning of dialectical negation and its place in development. In negation, the old is replaced by the new, that is, one stage of development gives way to another. The process of transition from the old to the new, the replacement of one stage by another is known in philosophy as dialectical negation.
What are the most important properties and specific features of negation? First of all, negation is universal. It is intrinsic to any development in nature and the society, being a necessary aspect of such development. In animate nature, all biological species are negated over the centuries by new ones, which emerge on the basis of old ones and are more viable. Historical development is a replacement of old societies by new and higher ones: of the primitive–communal by the slave-holding, of the slave-holding by the feudal, of the feudal by the capitalist and of the capitalist by the socialist. In the field of knowledge, some scientific propositions give way to others, whose reflection of the connections of reality is more precise.
Negation is inherent in the unity and struggle of opposites. The opposite sides of a contradiction have a different significance and play different roles in the development of an object or phenomenon. One of these is directed at changing the object or phenomenon and consequently plays a progressive role. The other expresses the stability of the object or phenomenon, and so plays a conservative role. Negation is a resolution of that internal contradiction as its old, conservative side is overcome and its new progressive side asserts itself.
So development is a process in the course of which the old is being constantly negated and replaced by the new. Without that there is no development. An important feature of negation is that it is in inherent in any developing process and is never extraneous or introduced from outside. There are different forms of change and replacement of one quality by another. Thus, a grain of corn can be eaten up by a bird or ground at a mill. In this instance, negation amounts to destruction of the grain by external forces, so that its further development is cut short. Negation here is mechanical. As for dialectical negation, far from bringing development to a halt, it is a condition of further development.