Monday, April 4, 2011

Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 60

But considering that such thinking has a content, whether of imaginings or thoughts or a mixture of both, there is another side to it that makes conceptual comprehension difficult for it. The peculiar nature thereof is closely connected with the essence of the idea above described, or rather expresses the idea in the way it manifests itself as the movement which is thinking comprehension. For just as argumentative thinking in its negative conduct, of which we just spoke, is nothing but the self in which the content returns, so also, by contrast, is the self in its positive cognition an imagined subject to which the content refers as accident and predicate. This subject constitutes the basis to which the content is attached and upon which the movement runs back and forth. Conceptual thinking goes on in quite a different way. Since the concept is the actual self of the object, manifesting itself as the becoming of the object, it is not a subject in repose, bearing accidents unmovingly, but is a self-moving concept taking up its determinations into itself. In this movement, the subject in repose itself collapses; it enters into the distinctions and the content; instead of standing over against the determinateness, i.e., the articulated [unterschiedenen] content and the movement thereof, it constitutes that determinateness. Thus the solid basis which argumentation found in the resting subject totters, and this movement itself becomes the object. The subject filling its content ceases to be something transcending this content, and cannot have further predicates or accidents. Conversely, the distractedness of the content is thereby bound under the self; the content is not the universal which, free of the subject, corresponds to more. Consequently the content is in truth no longer predicate of the subject; it is the very substance, the essence and concept of that which is being considered. Imaginative thinking [das vorstellende Denken], since its nature consists in dealing with accidents or predicates, and going beyond them – rightly so, they being nothing more than predicates and accidents – is checked in its course when, in a statement, that which has the form of a predicate is itself the substance. It is met by a counter-thrust, as we may say. Starting from the subject, as if this remained at the root, it discovers, by the predicate being in reality the substance, that the subject has passed into the predicate, and has thereby ceased to be subject: and since in this way what seems to be predicate has become the entire, independent mass, thinking cannot wander freely, but is arrested by this weight. Usually the subject is first laid at the root as the objectively fixed self, from whence the necessary movement proceeds to the multiplicity of determinations or predicates. Here the knowing I itself takes the place of that subject and is the link of the predicates and the subject retaining them. But since the former subject enters into the determinations themselves, and is their soul, the subject in the second case – viz. the knowing subject – finds that the former, with which it is supposed to be finished and which it wants to go beyond in order to return into itself, is still there in the predicate: and instead of being able to be the doer in the movement of the predicate – as argumentation, whether this or that predicate should be attributed – it has really to do with the self of the content, shall not be something on its own account [für sich], but be joined with the content.

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