Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 55

While in the foregoing the significance of understanding was indicated from the side of the self-consciousness of substance, its significance in terms of the characterization [Bestimmung] thereof as existent is made clear by what is here stated. Existence is quality, determinateness equal to itself, or determinate simplicity, determinate thought: this is the understanding of existence [der Verstand des Daseins]. On this account it is nous, as that which Anaxagoras first recognized as essence. Those who succeeded him grasped the nature of existence in a more determinate way as eidos or idea, i.e., as determinate generality, as sort [Art]. The expression “sort” seems indeed too common and inadequate for ideas, for the beautiful and holy and eternal, that are the vogue these days. As a matter of fact, however, the idea expresses neither more nor less than sort. But we often find nowadays that a term that precisely designates a concept is disdained and another preferred to it which, used only because it belongs to a foreign language, shrouds the concept in mist, thereby sounding the more edifying. Precisely for the reason that existence is designated as sort, is it simple thought: nous, simplicity, is substance. It is on account of its simplicity, its equality with itself, that it appears fixed and permanent. But this equality with self is likewise negativity, for which reason that fixed existence goes over into its own dissolution. The determinateness appears at first to be so solely through its relation to something else; and its movement seems forced upon by an alien power. But because it has its own otherness in itself, and is self-movement, these are contained in that simplicity of thought itself; for this is self-moving and distinguishing thought, inherent inwardness, the pure concept. For this reason, reasonableness [die Verständigkeit] is a becoming, and as this becoming, it is rationality.

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