Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 69

When, by contrast, natural philosophizing flows through the calmer beds of common sense, the best it can do is yield a rhetoric of trivial truths. When it is called on this paltriness, it assures us, in reply, that meaning and fulfillment lie in its heart, and that others must have this too, since with such phrases as the innocence of heart and the purity of conscience and so on it supposes it has expressed finalities to which no one can take exception and about which nothing further can be required. But the point was just that the best must not lag behind in inwardness, but be brought out of these mineshafts into the light of day. It could quite well from the start have spared itself the trouble of bringing forward ultimate and final truths of that sort; they were long since to be found, say, in the catechism, in popular proverbs, and the like. It is an easy matter to grasp such truths in their indeterminacy or lopsidedness, and in many cases to point out precisely the opposite in the awareness of them itself. When it struggles to extricate itself from the confusion inflicted upon it, it tumbles into new episodes and perhaps comes to the outburst that the matter is settled and anything else is mere sophistry – a catchphrase used by common sense against cultivated reason, similar to the phrase “reverie,” by which those ignorant of philosophy sum up its character once for all. Since the man of common sense appeals to his feeling, to an oracle within his breast, he is done with anyone who does not agree. He has just to explain that he has no more to say to anyone who does not find and feel the same as himself. In other words, he tramples the root of humanity underfoot. For the nature of humanity is to impel men to agree with one another, and its existence is brought about only in the commonality of consciousness. The anti-human, the animalistic, consists in abiding in feeling, and in being able to communicate only by way of feeling.

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