Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 39

The true and the false pertain to those determinate thoughts which, movement-less, hold as their own being, one here, the other there, without community the one with the other, isolated and fixed. Against that view it must be maintained that truth is not like stamped coin that can be taken ready-made and pocketed. Nor, again, is there some false thing, any more than there is some evil thing. The evil and the false are indeed not so bad as the devil, for in the form of the devil they are made into particular subjects; as false and evil, they are merely universals, but have no being vis-a-vis one another. The false (which is what we are here dealing with) would be otherness, the negative of substance, which as the content of knowledge is the true. But substance is itself essentially the negative element, partly as involving distinction and determination of content, partly as a simple distinguishing, i.e., as self and knowledge in general. One might well know falsely. To know something falsely means that knowledge is unequal to its substance. Yet this very inequality is what distinguishing in general is, the essential moment. Indeed, from this distinguishing arises its equality, and this equality which has been arrived at is truth. But it is not truth as if the inequality were tossed aside like dross from pure metal; nor like a finished article which is removed from the tool that shapes it; rather, the inequality is as the negative, as the self yet immediately present in the true as such. All the same, we cannot for that reason say that the false is a moment or even forms a component of the true. That “in everything false there is something true” is an expression in which they are taken to be like oil and water, which do not mix and are merely united externally. Just in the interest of their real meaning, precisely to designate the moment of complete otherness – there, where their otherness is cancelled, must their expressions no longer be used. Just as the expressions “unity of subject and object,” “finite and infinite,” “being and thought,” etc., are awkward when subject and object, etc., are taken to mean what they are apart from their unity, and thus in that unity are not what is intended by their expression, in the same way the false as false is no longer a moment of truth.

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