Thursday, March 10, 2011

Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 32

Analysis of an imagination, as it used to be carried out, did in fact consist in nothing else than doing away with the form of its familiarity. To explain an imagination in terms of its original elements means returning to its moments, which at least do not have the form of a given imagination, but rather constitute the immediate property of the self. Indeed, this analysis only arrives at thoughts which are themselves familiar, fixed, and static determinations. But this which is separated, which itself is unreal, is an essential moment; for only because the concrete is separated out and made into something unreal does it become the self-moving. The action of separating is the force and labor of understanding, the most astonishing and greatest of all powers, or rather the absolute power. The circle, which rests enclosed in itself, and as substance keeps its moments, is the immediate and therefore non-astonishing relation. But this – the accidental as such, separated from its circumference, constrained, gaining its own existence and separated freedom only in conjunction with other real things – is the portentous power of the negative, the energy of thought, the pure I. Death, as we might wish to characterize that unreality, is the most terrible thing, and to hold fast to what is dead demands the greatest force of all. Powerless beauty hates understanding, because the latter exacts from it what it cannot perform. But the life of spirit is not one that shuns death, and keeps clear of destruction; it endures death and in death maintains itself. It only wins to its truth when, in absolute disruption, it finds itself. This power is not that sort of positive power which turns away from the negative, as when we say that something is nothing or it is false, and, being then done with it, pass over to something else; on the contrary, it is this power only by looking the negative in the face, and lingering with it. This lingering is the magical power that converts the negative into being. That power is just what we spoke of above as subject, which by giving existence to determinateness in its element, cancels abstract immediacy, i.e., immediacy only existing in general, and thereby is the true substance – being or immediacy – which does not have mediation outside of it, but which itself is mediation.

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