Monday, February 28, 2011

Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 3

The demand for such explanations, as also the attempts to satisfy this demand, very easily pass for what is essential. How could the inmost truth of a philosophical work be better expressed than in its purposes and results; and in what way could these be more definitely known than through their disparity with what is produced during the same period in the same sphere? If, however, such procedure is to pass for more than the beginning of knowledge, if it is to pass for actually knowing, then we must, in point of fact, look on it as a device for avoiding the matter, an attempt to combine the appearance of seriousness and concern about the matter with an actual neglect of it. For the matter is not exhausted in its purpose, but in its pursuance; nor is the result the actual entirety, but the result together with the process of arriving at the result. The goal for itself [für sich] is a lifeless universal, just as the tendency is a mere drive yet lacking its reality; and the naked result is the corpse which has left its tendency behind. Similarly, the disparity is rather the boundary of the matter; it is where the matter ceases, or that which the matter is not. To trouble oneself in this fashion with the purpose and results, and again with the disparities and judgments of the one or the other, is therefore an easier task than perhaps it seems. For instead of laying hold of the matter, such a procedure is above and beyond the matter. Instead of dwelling within it and becoming absorbed by it, knowledge of that sort is always grasping at something else, and rather remains with itself than abides with the matter and devotes itself to the matter. The easiest thing of all is to adjudge what has content and solidity; it is more difficult to grasp such; and most difficult of all is to bring about that which unites the two, the exposition of it.

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