Friday, March 4, 2011
Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 23
The need to imagine the absolute as subject has led men to resort to statements like “God is the eternal,” the “moral order of the world,” “love,” and the like. Such statements straightway posit the truth as subject, but do not set it forth as the movement of reflection reflecting into itself. In a statement of that kind we begin with the word “God.” For itself this is a meaningless sound, a mere name; first the predicate says what it is, is its fulfillment and meaning; the empty beginning becomes real knowledge only in this ending. As far as that goes, why not speak only about the eternal, the moral order of the world, etc., or, like the ancients, about pure conceptions such as being, the one, etc., that is, about what gives meaning, without adding the meaningless sound? But this word just indicates that it is not a being or essence or the universal in general that is put forward, but something reflected into self, a subject. Yet at the same time this is only anticipated. The subject is assumed as a fixed point, and the predicates are attached to it as their support, by a movement pertaining to the one knowing of it, and who is not looked upon as belonging to the point of attachment itself; by this, though, the content is only portrayed as subject. In the manner in which this movement is effected, it cannot pertain to the subject; but by postulating that point, this movement cannot be otherwise effected, it can only be external. The anticipation that the absolute is subject therefore is not only not the actuality of this concept, but even renders it impossible. For that anticipation posits it as a stationary point, even though it is self-movement.