Sunday, April 17, 2011

Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 66

On this point it may be remembered that the dialectical process likewise has propositions as its parts or elements; the difficulty indicated seems therefore to recur continually, and seems to be a difficulty inherent in the nature of the case. This is similar to what happens in the ordinary process of proving anything, that the grounds it makes use of need themselves to be based on other grounds again, and so on ad infinitum. This manner of furnishing grounds and conditions, however, concerns that type of proof which is distinct from the dialectical movement and hence pertains to external cognition. As to this movement, its element is the pure concept; this furnishes a content which is through and through subject-in-itself [Subjekt an ihm selbst]. There is to be found, therefore, no sort of content standing in a relation to an underlying subject from which it gets its meaning as predicate; immediately, the proposition is only an empty form. Apart from the sensorially apprehended or imagined self, it is primarily the name qua name which denotes the pure subject, the empty conceptless unit. For this reason it might, for example, be expedient to avoid the name “God”, because this word is not immediately likewise concept but the actual name, the fixed repose of the subject underlying it; while on the other hand, e.g., being, or the one, the detail, the subject, and such like, themselves also indicate immediate concepts. Furthermore, if speculative truths are stated about that subject, even then their content is devoid of the immanent concept, because it is only available as resting subject, and because of this circumstance they easily take on the character of mere edification. From this side, too, the obstacle arising from the habit of putting the speculative predicate in the form of a proposition, instead of taking it as concept and essence, is capable of being made greater or less, by the fault of philosophical discourse. Philosophical exposition, faithful to its insight into the nature of speculative truth, must retain the dialectical form, and take nothing on board but that which is conceived, and is the concept.

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