Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 48

Regarding the method of this movement, or of science, it might well seem necessary at the outset to indicate something more. Its concept, however, is to be found in what has already been said, while its actual exposition pertains to logic, or rather, it is logic.  For the method is nothing else than the structure of the whole set out in its pure essentiality. As to what has been the reigning way of thinking about this, however, we must be conscious of the fact that the system of representations [Vorstellungen] regarding that which is philosophical method are part of a bygone mindset [Bildung]. This may perhaps seem somewhat boastful or revolutionary; and I am far from adopting an attitude of that sort; but it is significant that the scientific regime bequeathed by mathematics – a regime of explanations, divisions, axioms, series of theorems, their proofs, principles, and the consequences and conclusions drawn from them – all this has already come to be generally considered as at any rate out of date. Even though its unsuitability is not clearly discerned, yet little or no use is made of it any longer; and even though it is not disapproved in principle [an sich], yet it is out of favor. And we must have a bias for what is excellent, that it can be put to practical account, and put itself into favor. But it is not difficult to see that the method of propounding a proposition, producing reasons for it and then refuting its opposite by reasons too, is not the form in which truth can appear. Truth is its movement in itself; but the method just mentioned is the recognition [das Erkennen] that the material is external. Hence that method pertains to mathematics and must be left to mathematics, which, as already indicated, has as its principle the concept-less relation of quantity and derives its material from lifeless space and the equally lifeless numerical unit. Or, again, such a method, adopting a freer style, i.e., mixed with more arbitrariness and contingency, may have a place in ordinary life, in a conversation or historical lecture, for curiosity rather than knowledge, very much like a preface. In everyday life the mind finds its content in different kinds of knowledge, experiences of various sorts, concrete facts of sense, thoughts, too, and principles, which pass as something close at hand or as a fixed, stable being or entity. The mind partly follows wherever this leads, partly interrupts the connection by free choice regarding such content, and relates as an external determinating and maintaining factor thereof. It runs the content back to something certain, be it only the feeling of the moment; and conviction is satisfied if it reaches some familiar resting place.

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