Monday, March 7, 2011

Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 26

Pure self-cognition in absolute being-other, this ether as such, is the very soil of science or knowledge in general. The beginning of philosophy sets the precondition or requirement that consciousness feel at home in this element. But this element only attains its perfection and acquires transparency through the movement of its becoming. It is pure spirituality as the universal, which has the manner of simple immediacy; this simple, which, as such, has existence; it is the soil, thought, which is only in spirit. Because this element, this immediacy of spirit, is what is substantial in spirit, it is the transfigured essence, it is reflection which itself is simple, immediacy as such for itself, it is being which is reflection into itself. Science for its part desires for self-consciousness that it will have elevated itself into this ether, in order to be able to live with it and in it, and to live. Conversely the individual has the right to demand that science shall extend to him the ladder at least to this position, shall show him that he has this in himself. His right rests on his absolute independence, which he knows to possess in every shape of his knowledge; for in each, whether recognized by science or not, and whatever be the content, it is the absolute form, i.e., it is the immediate certainty of self, and thereby is unconditioned being, should this expression be preferred. If the standpoint of consciousness, of knowing about objective things as opposed to itself, and about itself as opposed to them, is held by science to be the other – that in which it knows itself with itself, rather than as loss of spirit – then the contrary holds, the element of science is something in the far beyond, in which consciousness no longer possesses itself. Each of these two sides takes the other to be the perversion of the truth. That the natural consciousness immediately entrusts itself to science is for it to make an attempt, induced by some unknown influence, at once to stand on its head; the obligation to take up this unaccustomed attitude and move about in it is an imposition, as unprepared as it is unnecessary, only made to appear as if it should be done. Let science be what it likes in itself; in relation to immediate self-conscious life, it portrays itself as a reversal of the latter; or, again, because natural self-consciousness finds the principle of its reality in the certainty of itself, science bears the character of unreality, since consciousness for itself is a state outside of science. Science has for that reason to unite with that other element, or rather to show that the other element belongs to it, and how it does so. When devoid of that sort of reality, science is merely content as the in-itself, the goal, which at first is only something inward – not as spirit, but only spiritual substance.  This in-itself has to express itself and become for-itself; this is nothing other than: it has to set self-consciousness at one with itself.

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