Thursday, March 31, 2011
Hence what is important for the student of science is to imbibe the effort of the concept. This demands attention to the concept as such, to simple determinations, e.g., being in principle [des Ansichseins], being-for-itself [des Fürsichseins], equality with self, and so on; for these are such pure self-movements, which we might call souls, were it not that their concept denotes something higher than this. The habit of running along in imaginations is as difficult to be broken with by the concept as is formal thought which argues [räsoniert] back and forth in unreal thoughts. The former, that habit, may be termed material thinking, a fortuitous consciousness, absorbed in the material, and hence finds it disagreeable to lift itself clear of that matter and to be with itself [bei sich zu sein]. By contrast, the latter, argumentation [das Räsonieren], is freedom from content, and vanity with regard to it; what is wanted here is the effort to give up this freedom, and instead of being the arbitrarily moving principle of the content, this freedom should sink into and pervade the content, should let itself be moved by its own proper nature, i.e., by the self as what pertains to it, and to contemplate this movement. To abstain from interrupting the immanent rhythm of the concept, to refrain from interfering with it through caprice and wisdom acquired elsewhere, such restraint is itself an essential moment in the attention to the concept.
This nature of the scientific method, which consists partly in being unseparated from the content, and partly in determining the rhythm of its movement by itself, has, as we mentioned before, its actual exposition in speculative philosophy. What is here stated does express the concept but cannot hold for anything more than an anticipatory assurance. The truth it contains is not to be found in this exposition, which is in part narrative in character, and therefore is as little refuted when anyone assures us on the contrary that this is not so, but that the matter rather stands such and such, when accustomed imaginations are recalled as conclusive and well-known truths and are retold, or dished up afresh and reassured from the shrine of inward divine contemplation. Such a reception is wont to be the first reaction of knowledge: to oppose something unknown, in order to salvage freedom and its own insight, its own authority against what is foreign (for it is in this shape that what ends up being received first appears). This attitude is adopted, too, in order to do away with the semblance and the kind of disgrace which would pertain to something having been learned. Thus also, the reaction whereby the unknown is accepted and regaled with acclamation is of the same kind; in another sphere, this would be ultra-revolutionary declamation and action.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
In this nature of that which is – in its being, to be its concept – is what comprises logical necessity generally. This alone is what is rational, the rhythm of the organic whole: it is as much knowledge of content as that content is concept and essence. In other words, this alone is the speculative. The concrete shape, put in motion by itself, makes itself into simple determinateness; thereby it raises itself to logical form, and is in its essentiality; its concrete existence is merely this movement, and is immediate logical existence. It is therefore needless externally to inflict formalism upon the concrete content; the latter is in its very nature a transition into the former, which, however, ceases to be external formalism, the form being the indwelling becoming of the concrete content itself.
While in the foregoing the significance of understanding was indicated from the side of the self-consciousness of substance, its significance in terms of the characterization [Bestimmung] thereof as existent is made clear by what is here stated. Existence is quality, determinateness equal to itself, or determinate simplicity, determinate thought: this is the understanding of existence [der Verstand des Daseins]. On this account it is nous, as that which Anaxagoras first recognized as essence. Those who succeeded him grasped the nature of existence in a more determinate way as eidos or idea, i.e., as determinate generality, as sort [Art]. The expression “sort” seems indeed too common and inadequate for ideas, for the beautiful and holy and eternal, that are the vogue these days. As a matter of fact, however, the idea expresses neither more nor less than sort. But we often find nowadays that a term that precisely designates a concept is disdained and another preferred to it which, used only because it belongs to a foreign language, shrouds the concept in mist, thereby sounding the more edifying. Precisely for the reason that existence is designated as sort, is it simple thought: nous, simplicity, is substance. It is on account of its simplicity, its equality with itself, that it appears fixed and permanent. But this equality with self is likewise negativity, for which reason that fixed existence goes over into its own dissolution. The determinateness appears at first to be so solely through its relation to something else; and its movement seems forced upon by an alien power. But because it has its own otherness in itself, and is self-movement, these are contained in that simplicity of thought itself; for this is self-moving and distinguishing thought, inherent inwardness, the pure concept. For this reason, reasonableness [die Verständigkeit] is a becoming, and as this becoming, it is rationality.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Because generally, as expressed above, substance in itself is subject, all content is its own reflection into itself. The existence [Bestehen] or substance of anything that exists [eines Daseins] is its equality with itself [Sichselbstgleichheit]; for its inequality with itself would be its dissolution. But equality with itself is pure abstraction; and this is thought. When I say quality, I state simple determinateness; by means of quality one existence is distinguished from another, or is an existence; it is for itself, or exists with itself through this simplicity. But thereby is it essentially thought. Herein is comprehended that being is thought: here pertains the insight from which from the ordinary non-conceptual way of speaking of the identity of thought and being tends to deviate. In virtue, further, of the fact that the existence of what exists [das Bestehen des Daseins] is equality with itself or pure abstraction, it is the abstraction of itself from itself, or is, itself, its own inequality with itself and its dissolution – its own inwardness and taking-back into self – its becoming. Because of this nature of the existing, and to the degree that the existing has this nature for knowledge, knowledge is not the activity that handles content as something alien, not reflection in itself from the content outward; science is not that idealism which arises in place of purporting dogmatism as an assuring dogmatism or the dogmatism of certainty of itself; but because knowledge sees content go back into its own inwardness, its activity, rather, is both sunk in the content, it being the immanent self of the content, and, as well, gone back into itself, for it is the pure equality-with-itself in otherness; so is it the cunning that, seeming to contain the activity in itself, watches how the determinateness and its concrete life therein, precisely because it believes it is pursuing its self-preservation and particular interest, is the inverse, activity dissolving itself and making itself into a moment of the whole.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Science shall only be organized through the concept’s very own life. The determinateness which was taken from the schema and stuck on to existing facts in external fashion is, in science, the self-moving soul of the fulfilled content. The movement of the existing is on the one hand to become something else and so its immanent content; on the other hand, this movement takes this unfolding or this, its existence, back into itself, i.e., it makes itself into a moment, and simplifies itself to determinateness. In this movement, negativity lies in distinguishing and positing existence; in the return into self, negativity is the becoming of determinate simplicity. It is in this way that the content shows that its determinateness is not to be received from something else, and stuck on externally; rather, it gives itself this determinateness, and of itself ranks itself into moments and to a position in the whole. The pigeon-holing understanding reserves to itself the necessity and the concept of the content, that which constitutes the concreteness, the reality, and the living movement of the matter which it ranks, or rather, it does not reserve this to itself, but does not know it; for if it had this insight, it would show that it did so. It is not even aware of the need for such insight; if it were, it would drop its schematizing process, or at least would no longer be satisfied to know by way of a mere table of contents. A table of contents is all that understanding gives; the content itself it does not furnish at all. If the determinateness (e.g., even such a one as magnetism) is in itself concrete or actual, it all the same gets degraded into something lifeless, since it is merely predicated of another existing entity, not known as immanent life of this existence, or known how it has in this its intrinsic and peculiar self-generation and expression. Formal understanding leaves this main issue to others to add later on. Instead of making its way into the immanent content of the matter, understanding always takes a survey of the whole, assumes a position above the particular existence about which it speaks, which is to say, it does not see that existence at all. True scientific knowledge, on the contrary, demands abandonment to the very life of the object, or, what amounts to the same thing, to have before it the inner necessity thereof, and to express that. Steeping itself in its object, it forgets the overview, which is merely a reflection of knowledge from the content in itself. But being sunk in the material and following its movement, it returns back into itself, yet not before the content in its fullness is taken into itself, is reduced to the simplicity of being determinate, drops to the level of being one aspect of an existence, and passes over into its higher truth. Hereby does the simple, self-overseeing whole emerge from out of the wealth within which its reflection seemed to be lost.
The excellent can not only not avoid the fate of being thus deprived of life and spirit and, flayed in this manner, to see its hide wrapped around lifeless knowledge and the vanity thereof. Rather, there can be recognized in this fate the violence exercised on the hearts, if not the spirits, as well as the constructive unfolding into generality and determinateness of the form, which comprises its fulfillment, and which alone makes it possible for this generality to be applied to superficiality.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Instead of the inner life and self-movement of its own existence, such a simple determinateness of view [Anschauung] – which means here sense-knowledge – is predicated in accordance with a superficial analogy, and this external and empty application of the formula is called the construction. The same thing happens here, however, as in the case of every kind of formalism. A man’s head must indeed be dull if in 15 minutes he cannot be taught the theory that there are asthenic, sthenic, and indirectly asthenic diseases and as many cures, and who could not – since not so long ago instruction of that sort sufficed for the purpose – in as short a time be turned from being a man who works by rule of thumb into a theoretical physician? Formalism perhaps teaches that understanding is electricity, animals are nitrogen, or equally north or south, and so on, representing such in such bare terms as here expressed, or even fitted out with more substantial terminology. Such force, capable of comprehending together things apparently so widely divergent – such power suffered by stable matters of sense by connecting them in this way, conferring upon them the semblance of a concept, yet sparing itself the trouble of doing what is after all the important thing, expressing the concept itself, the significance of sensorial representations – all this sort of thing may strike anyone who has no experience with admiration and wonder. He may be awed by the profound genius he thinks it displays, and be delighted at the jauntiness of such characterizations, since they fill the place of the abstract concept with something discernible, and so make it more cheerful; and he may congratulate himself on feeling an instinctive mental affinity for that glorious way of proceeding. The trick of wisdom of that sort is as quickly acquired as it is easy to practice. Its repetition, when once it is familiar, becomes as insufferable as the repetition of any bit of sleight-of-hand once we see through it. The instrument for producing this monotone formalism is no more difficult to handle than the palette of a painter, on which lie only two colors, say red and green, the former for coloring the surface when we want a historical piece, the latter when we want a bit of landscape. It would be difficult to settle which is greater in all this, the agreeable ease with which everything in heaven and earth and under the earth is plastered with that botch of color, or the conceit that prides itself on the excellence of its means for every conceivable purpose; the one lends support to the other. What results from the use of this method of sticking on to everything in heaven and earth, to every kind of shape and form, natural and spiritual, the pair of determinations from the general schema, and filing everything in this manner, is no less than an “account as clear as noonday” of the organized whole of the universe. It is, that is to say, a synoptic index, like a skeleton with tags stuck all over it, or like the rows of boxes kept shut and labeled in a grocer’s stall; and is as intelligible as either the one or the other. It has lost hold of the living essence of the matter; just as in the former case we have merely dry bones with flesh and blood all gone, and in the latter, there is shut away in those boxes the lifeless thing. We have already remarked that the final outcome of this manner is, at the same time, to paint entirely in one kind of color; for it turns with shame from the distinctions in the schematic table, looks on them as being sunk in reflection pertaining to the emptiness of the absolute, so that pure identity, pure formless whiteness, can be restored. Such uniformity of coloring in the schema with its lifeless determinations and this absolute identity, and the transition from one to the other, is just as dead an understanding as the other, and an equally external cognition.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Just as little is that use of the form of Kantian triplicity – originally lifeless and uncomprehended, rediscovered by instinct and raised to its absolute significance, by which the true form was set in its true content, so that the concept of science arose – to be considered in any way as being scientific. For it is there reduced to a lifeless schema, to nothing better than a mere shadow, scientific organization reduced to a synoptic table. This formalism – about which we spoke before in general terms, and the manner of which we wish here to indicate more fully – thinks it has comprehended and expressed the nature and life of a given shape when it proclaims a determination of the schema to be its predicate. The predicate may be subjectivity or objectivity, or again magnetism, electricity, and so on, contraction or expansion, East or West, and such like – a form of predication that can be multiplied indefinitely, because according to this approach, each determination or shape can be used by the others as form or moment of the schema, and each can gratefully perform the same service for the other – a circle of reciprocities through which one does not touch on the matter itself, nor what is the one or the other. In addition, in part there are sensorial determinations included from common observation, which admittedly ought to mean something else than they say, and in part that which is inherently significant, viz., pure determinations of thought – subject, object, substance, cause, universality, etc. – is applied just as uncritically and unreflectingly as in everyday life, used much as people employ the terms strong and weak, expansion and contraction. As a result, that type of metaphysics is as unscientific as are those sensorial representations [Vorstellungen].
But when the necessity of the concept banishes the loose procedure of argumentative [räsonierenden] conversation, as well as the pedantic style of scientific pomposity, its place, as we have already mentioned, must not be taken by the non-method of presentiment and inspiration, and the arbitrary caprice of prophetic utterance; for this does not merely despise that particular form of scientific procedure, but scientific procedure altogether.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
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.
Philosophy, on the contrary, does not deal with the non-essential determination, but the essential one. The abstract or unreal is not its element and content, but the real, that which is self-positing, living in itself – existence in its concept. It is the process that creates and runs through its own moments, and this entire movement constitutes the positive and its truth. This movement thus just as well includes within it the negative, which would be named the false were it to be considered something from which could be abstracted. That which is vanishing has rather to be looked at as itself essential, not as something in the sense of fixed, cut off from the true and outside it, no one knows where, just as also the truth is not to be held to stand on the other side as an immovable, lifeless positive. Appearance is the rise and fall, which itself does not rise and fall but is in principle [an sich] and constitutes reality and the movement of the life of truth. The truth is thus the Bacchanalian revel, where not one member is sober; and because every member, if it becomes detached, just as immediately is terminated, the revel is just as much a state of transparent simple calm. In the courtroom of that movement, the particular shapes which spirit assumes do not indeed subsist any more than do determinate thoughts, but they are, all the same, as much positive and necessary moments, as negative and vanishing. In the entirety of the movement considered as repose, that which distinguishes itself and gives itself specific existence in that movement, is like one that remembers itself, preserves itself, the existence of which is the knowledge of itself, as this likewise is immediate existence.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Nor does immanent, so-called pure mathematics, oppose time as time to space, as a second material for its consideration. Applied mathematics, no doubt, treats of time, as also of motion, and other actual things as well; but it picks up from experience synthetic propositions – i.e. statements of their relations, which are determined by their concept – and merely applies its formulae to these conditions. That the so-called proofs of propositions such as those concerning the equilibrium of the lever, the relation of space and time in gravitation, etc., which applied mathematics frequently gives, should be taken and given as proofs, is itself merely a proof of how great the need is for cognition to have a process of proof, seeing that, even where it has no proof, it yet esteems the mere semblance of it, and thereby gains a certain satisfaction. A criticism of those proofs would be as instructive as it would be significant, if the criticism could purify mathematics of this false finery, partly to indicate its limits, and thence the necessity for another type of knowledge. As to time, which, one is to believe, is to constitute, as counterpart to space, the material of the other division of pure mathematics, this is the concept-in-existence itself. The principle of quantity, the concept-less distinction, and the principle of equality, of abstract lifeless unity, are incapable of dealing with that sheer restlessness of life and absolute distinction. This negativity only becomes the second material of this cognition, then, as paralyzed, namely, as the unit, which, it being an external operation, degrades what is self-moving to the level of mere matter, in order thus to get an indifferent, external, lifeless content.
The evidence peculiar to this defective cognition, of which mathematics is proud and of which it brags, even against philosophy, rests solely on the poverty of its purpose and the defectiveness of its material, and is on that account of a kind that philosophy must spurn. Its purpose or concept is quantity. This is precisely the non-essential, concept-less relation. The movement of knowledge goes on, therefore, on the surface, does not affect the matter itself, neither the essence nor the concept, and therefore is no comprehension. The material which provides mathematics with these welcome treasures of truth consists of space and the unit [das Eins]. Space is the existence wherein the concept inscribes its diversity as in an empty, lifeless element, in which its differences are likewise unmoved and lifeless. The real is not something spatial, such as is treated of in mathematics. With such unreality as the things of mathematics, neither concrete sense-oriented perception nor philosophy meddles. In an unreal element of that sort we find, then, only unreal truth, that is to say, fixed lifeless propositions. We can halt at any one of them; the next begins of itself again, without the first having led up to the one that follows, and without any necessary connection having in this way arisen from the nature of the matter itself. So, too, and herein consists the formal character of mathematical evidence, because of that principle and element, knowledge advances along the lines of equality. For what is lifeless, not being self-moved, does not bring about the distinction of essence, does not attain to essential opposition or inequality; and hence no transition of the opposed into the opposed, not to the qualitative, the immanent, not to self-movement. For it is quantity, the non-essential distinction, with which alone mathematics has to do. It abstracts from the fact that it is the concept which divides space into its dimensions, and determines the connections between them and in them. It does not consider, for example, the relation of line to surface, and when it compares the diameter of a circle with its circumference, it runs up against their incommensurability, i.e., a relation in terms of concept, something infinite, that escapes mathematical determination.
Friday, March 18, 2011
The real defect of this cognition, however, affects both cognition itself and its material generally. As to cognition, in the first place we do not see any necessity in the construction. The necessity does not arise from the nature of the theorem, but is bidden; and the injunction to draw just these lines, an infinite number of others being equally possible, is blindly acquiesced in, without our knowing anything further, except having the good faith that this will serve our purpose in producing the proof. At the back end, then, is this expediency manifested, which for this reason is merely external in character, just because it is only at the back end, with the proof, that it is manifest. In the same way, again, the proof takes a direction that begins anywhere we like, without our knowing as yet what relation this beginning has to the result to be brought out. Its progress takes up these determinations and relations and leaves others to one side, without its being directly obvious what necessity there is in it. An external purpose controls this movement.
In mathematical cognition, insight is a function external to the matter; it follows from this that the true matter is thereby altered. The means, construction, and proof, contain, no doubt, true propositions; but all the same it must be said that the content is false. The triangle in the above example is taken to pieces, and its parts beaten into other figures to which the construction in the triangle gives rise. It is only at the end that the triangle, which was the important thing, is restored, which was lost sight of in the course of the construction, and which seemed to be only fragments belonging to other wholes. Here we see negativity of content entering as well, which must be termed a falsity just as much as is, in the case of the movement of the concept, the disappearance of thoughts taken to be fixed.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
As to mathematical truths, we should be less inclined to consider anyone a geometer who knew Euclid’s theorems outwardly without knowing the proofs, without, if we may say so by way of contrast, knowing them inwardly. Similarly, we should not regard the knowledge acquired by measuring many right triangles, that their sides are related in the way everybody knows, as being satisfactory. All the same, the essentiality of the proof even with mathematical knowledge still does not have the significance and nature of being a moment of the result itself; rather, in this it is past and gone. As far as the result is concerned, the theorem is, no doubt, viewed as being true. But this additional circumstance does not concern its content, but only its relation to the [thinking] subject. The movement of mathematical proof does not pertain to that which is object; it is a deed external to the matter at hand. Thus, the nature of a right triangle is not broken up into factors in the manner set forth in the mathematical construction which is required to prove the proposition expressing the relation of its parts. The entire generation of the result is a procedure [Gang] and medium of knowledge. In philosophical knowledge, too, the becoming of existence as existence is distinct from the becoming of essence or the inner nature of the matter. But philosophical knowledge, for one thing, contains both of these, while mathematical knowledge only sets forth the becoming of existence, i.e., it portrays in knowledge the being of the nature of the case. For another thing, philosophical knowledge unites both these particular movements. The inward origin or the becoming of substance is an unsevered transition into outwardness or into existence, being for another; and conversely, the becoming of existence is the taking-back into the essence. The movement is thus the twofold process and becoming of the whole, such that each at the same time posits the other, and each on that account has in it both as its two aspects. Together they make the whole, through their dissolving each other, and making themselves into moments of the whole.
As regards truth in matters of historical fact – to deal briefly with this subject – insofar as one is concerned with the purely historical in them, it will be readily granted that they have to do with particular existence, a content in terms of the aspect of its contingency and arbitrariness, determinations thereof that are not necessary. But even bare truths of the kind, such as those cited as examples, are not lacking the movement of self-consciousness. In order to know any one of them, there has to be a good deal of comparison; books must be consulted; one way or another inquiry has to be made. Even in a case of direct vision, first the knowledge thereof, along with the reasons behind it, are held to be something of real value, even if it is only the naked result itself that is held to be of any importance.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Dogmatism as a way of thinking, whether in ordinary knowledge or in the study of philosophy, is nothing else but the view that truth consists in a proposition, which is a fixed and final result, or again which is immediately known. To questions like, “when was Caesar born?”, “how many feet make a furlong?”, etc., a straight answer ought to be given; just as it is absolutely true that the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides of a right triangle. But the nature of such a so-called truth is different from the nature of philosophical truths.
The true and the false pertain to those determinate thoughts which, movement-less, hold as their own being, one here, the other there, without community the one with the other, isolated and fixed. Against that view it must be maintained that truth is not like stamped coin that can be taken ready-made and pocketed. Nor, again, is there some false thing, any more than there is some evil thing. The evil and the false are indeed not so bad as the devil, for in the form of the devil they are made into particular subjects; as false and evil, they are merely universals, but have no being vis-a-vis one another. The false (which is what we are here dealing with) would be otherness, the negative of substance, which as the content of knowledge is the true. But substance is itself essentially the negative element, partly as involving distinction and determination of content, partly as a simple distinguishing, i.e., as self and knowledge in general. One might well know falsely. To know something falsely means that knowledge is unequal to its substance. Yet this very inequality is what distinguishing in general is, the essential moment. Indeed, from this distinguishing arises its equality, and this equality which has been arrived at is truth. But it is not truth as if the inequality were tossed aside like dross from pure metal; nor like a finished article which is removed from the tool that shapes it; rather, the inequality is as the negative, as the self yet immediately present in the true as such. All the same, we cannot for that reason say that the false is a moment or even forms a component of the true. That “in everything false there is something true” is an expression in which they are taken to be like oil and water, which do not mix and are merely united externally. Just in the interest of their real meaning, precisely to designate the moment of complete otherness – there, where their otherness is cancelled, must their expressions no longer be used. Just as the expressions “unity of subject and object,” “finite and infinite,” “being and thought,” etc., are awkward when subject and object, etc., are taken to mean what they are apart from their unity, and thus in that unity are not what is intended by their expression, in the same way the false as false is no longer a moment of truth.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Now, because that system of the experience of spirit embraces merely its appearing, it may well seem that the advance from that to the science of the true, in the shape of truth, is merely negative; and we might wish to be spared the negative process as something false, and might ask to be taken straight to the truth at once: why meddle with what is false at all? Along these lines, it was brought up above that we ought to begin straightway with science; to this we must here respond in terms of the aspect of what business at all science has with the negative as something false. The usual ideas about this especially hinder the entry to the truth. This will give us an opportunity to speak about mathematical cognition, which unphilosophical knowledge looks upon as the ideal which philosophy ought to try to attain, but so far has striven in vain to do so.
The inequality which obtains in consciousness between the I and the substance constituting its object, is their distinction, the negative in general. We may regard it as the defect of both, but it is their soul, or what moves them, for which reason certain ancients conceived the void to be that which moves [das Bewegende], in that they comprehended that which moves indeed as the negative but not as the self. While this negative factor initially appears as the inequality of the I toward the object, it is just as much the inequality of the substance with itself. What seems to take place outside it, to be an activity directed against it, is its own doing, and it shows itself essentially to be subject. When it has brought this out completely, spirit has made its existence equal to its essence; it is object to itself just as it is, and the abstract element of immediacy, of the separation between knowing and the truth, is overcome. Being is absolutely mediated; it is substantial content, which is equally the immediate property of the I, has the character of self or is the concept. Hereby concludes the phenomenology of spirit. What is made ready in it is the element of knowledge. In this element the moments of mind now expand in the form of simplicity, which knows its object to be itself. They no longer diverge in the opposition between being and knowing; they remain within the simplicity of knowing, they are the truth in the form of truth, and their diversity is only diversity of content. Their movement, which in this element is organized into a whole, is logic or speculative philosophy.
Friday, March 11, 2011
The immediate existence of spirit, consciousness, has the two aspects – knowledge, and the knowledge of negative objectivity. Since it is in this element that spirit develops and constructs [auslegt] its moments, this opposition is found in those moments, and they manifest themselves as shapes of consciousness. The science of this path is the science of experience gained by consciousness; substance is considered in the manner in which it and its movement are the object of consciousness. Consciousness knows and comprehends nothing but what falls within its experience; for what is found in experience is merely spiritual substance, and, moreover, object of itself. But spirit becomes object, for it is this movement: becoming something else, i.e., an object for its own self, and cancelling this otherness. And experience is the name for this movement by which the immediate, unexperienced, i.e., abstract – whether sensorial being or the only cogitated simple – is estranged from itself, and then returns from this estrangement to itself, in so doing finally being set forth in its reality and truth, and becoming the property of consciousness.
Further, an exposition like this constitutes the first part of science, because the existence of spirit as primary is nothing but the immediate, the beginning; it is the beginning, but not yet its return to itself. The element of immediate existence is therefore the determination by which this part of science is distinguished from the others. The indication of this distinction leads to the discussion of certain fixed notions that usually come up in this connection.
This movement of the pure entities constitutes the nature of the scientific endeavor in general. Looked at as the concatenation of their content, this movement is the necessity and expansion of that content into an organic whole. By this movement, too, the road by which the concept of knowledge is reached becomes itself likewise a necessary and complete becoming. This preparatory stage thus ceases to be casual philosophizing, referring to objects, relations, and thoughts of incomplete consciousness as chance may direct, or seeking to ground the true through back-and-forth argumentation [Räsonnement], through conclusions and consequences drawn from specific thoughts. Rather, through the movement of the concept, this road will encompass the complete secularity of consciousness in its necessity.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
That which is imagined becomes the property of pure self-consciousness, this elevation to generality. Yet this is merely one side; it is not yet finished culture. The manner of study in ancient times had this distinction from that of modern times, that the former was the actual thorough education [Durchbildung] of the natural consciousness. Testing separately every aspect of its existence, philosophizing about everything it came across, it made itself into a thoroughly activated generality. In modern times, by contrast, the individual finds the abstract form ready-made. The effort to grasp it and make it his own has more the character of the unmediated ejection from the inward out, and the piecemeal production of the general, than a procession from the inward out, from the concreteness and multiplicity of existence. Hence now the task before us consists not so much in purifying the individual from the immediate sensorial manner, turning it into cogitated and thinking substance, but rather the very opposite: cancelling fixed, determined thoughts so as to actualize and inspire the universal. But it is much more difficult to render fixed thoughts fluid than to do so with sensorial existence. The reason lies in what was said before. The I, the power of the negative or pure reality, has such determinations as its substance and element of its existence; sensorial determinations, by contrast, are only impotent abstract immediacy, or being as such. Thoughts become fluid by pure thinking, this inward immediacy, recognizing itself as a moment, or by pure self-certainty abstracting from itself – not leaving itself behind, setting itself to one side, but surrendering the fixedness of its self-positing, both the fixedness of the pure concrete, which the I itself is over against distinct content, and the fixedness of distinctions, which, set in the element of pure thought, participate in that unconditionality of the I. Through this movement, pure thoughts become concepts, and only then are what they in truth are, self-movements, circles, that which is their substance, spiritual entities.
Analysis of an imagination, as it used to be carried out, did in fact consist in nothing else than doing away with the form of its familiarity. To explain an imagination in terms of its original elements means returning to its moments, which at least do not have the form of a given imagination, but rather constitute the immediate property of the self. Indeed, this analysis only arrives at thoughts which are themselves familiar, fixed, and static determinations. But this which is separated, which itself is unreal, is an essential moment; for only because the concrete is separated out and made into something unreal does it become the self-moving. The action of separating is the force and labor of understanding, the most astonishing and greatest of all powers, or rather the absolute power. The circle, which rests enclosed in itself, and as substance keeps its moments, is the immediate and therefore non-astonishing relation. But this – the accidental as such, separated from its circumference, constrained, gaining its own existence and separated freedom only in conjunction with other real things – is the portentous power of the negative, the energy of thought, the pure I. Death, as we might wish to characterize that unreality, is the most terrible thing, and to hold fast to what is dead demands the greatest force of all. Powerless beauty hates understanding, because the latter exacts from it what it cannot perform. But the life of spirit is not one that shuns death, and keeps clear of destruction; it endures death and in death maintains itself. It only wins to its truth when, in absolute disruption, it finds itself. This power is not that sort of positive power which turns away from the negative, as when we say that something is nothing or it is false, and, being then done with it, pass over to something else; on the contrary, it is this power only by looking the negative in the face, and lingering with it. This lingering is the magical power that converts the negative into being. That power is just what we spoke of above as subject, which by giving existence to determinateness in its element, cancels abstract immediacy, i.e., immediacy only existing in general, and thereby is the true substance – being or immediacy – which does not have mediation outside of it, but which itself is mediation.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
What generally is familiar is not known [erkannt], just for the reason that it is familiar [bekannt]. In cognition, it is the commonest form of deception, both of self and of others, to presume familiarity with something and on that account to assent to it. With all its back-and-forth, such knowledge never moves an inch, and does not even know it. Subject and object and so on, God, nature, understanding, sensoriality, etc., are uncritically presupposed as familiar and as something current, and become fixed points both of departure and of return. The movement oscillates between these points which remain unmoved, and hence stays only on the surface. Apprehension and verification similarly consist in everyone judging whether what is said corresponds to his own imagination – whether to him it so seems, whether to him it is familiar, or not.
The position at which we now take up this movement is spared the cancellation of existence; what yet remains and requires further reconstruction is the imagination [Vorstellung] and familiarity with the forms. By that previous negation, existence, taken back into substance, only then is immediately transferred into the element of self; the property acquired by self thus still has the same character of uncomprehended immediacy, of unmoved indifference, which existence itself had; existence has in this way merely passed into imagination. At the same time, it has thereby become something familiar, something with which existing spirit is finished, in which, therefore, its activity and thus its interest no longer lies. While the activity which is finished with existence is itself merely the movement of the particular, self-uncomprehending spirit, knowledge, on the other hand is directed against the imagination which has thus arisen, against this condition of familiarity; it is the activity of the general self, the interest of thought.
Science portrays both this constructive movement in its thoroughness and necessity as well as that which has sunk into mere moments and the property of spirit, in its figuration. The goal is the insight of spirit into that which is knowledge. Impatience desires the impossible, namely, the attainment of the goal apart from the means. On the one hand, the length of the road has to be borne with, for every moment is necessary; on the other hand, every one of these must be lingered over, for each is itself an individual whole shape, and is fully and finally considered only to the degree that its specificity is treated as a whole, or as concrete, or as the whole in the peculiarity of this determination. Because the substance of the individual, nay more, because the world spirit has had the patience to take these forms over in the long stretch of time’s extent and the prodigious labor of world history, in which it, in each of them, gave shape to the whole content of that of which it is capable; and because by nothing less could it ever manage to attain consciousness regarding itself – for that reason, the individual, in the nature of the case, cannot expect by less toil to grasp what its substance contains. All the same, the task has meanwhile been made much lighter, because in principle this has been accomplished, the content has been reduced to possibility-cancelled reality, vanquished immediacy, the figuration already to its abbreviation, to the simple determination of thought. Being now a thought, the content is the property of substance; it is no longer existence in the form of being-in-principle, but only that which not only is no longer merely original, nor that which is sunk in existence, but is rather the in-principle already remembered, to be inverted into the form of being-for-itself. The way this is accomplished will now be indicated in more detail.
The task of conducting the individual from his undeveloped [ungebildeten] standpoint to knowledge is to be taken in its general sense, and the general individual, self-conscious spirit, is to be considered in its development [Bildung]. As to the relation between these two, every moment, as it gains concrete form and a unique figuration, is shown in the general individual. The particular individual is incomplete spirit, a concrete shape in whose existence, taken as a whole, some specific thing is predominant, whereas the others are found only in blurred outline. Where one spirit is at a higher level than another, the lower concrete existence has sunk to an inconspicuous moment; that which hitherto was the main thing, is now a mere trace; its shape has been veiled and become a simple shade. Such a past runs through the individual whose substance is spirit at the higher level, in the way that one who takes up an advanced scientific study reviews those preparatory forms of knowledge which he has long made his own, in order to recall their content; he brings back the recollection of them without stopping to fix his interest upon them. The individual must also pass through the stages of development of general spirit in terms of content, albeit as shapes already cast off by spirit, as stages on a road which has been prepared and leveled out. Hence it is that, in the case of various kinds of knowledge, we find that what in former days occupied the energies of men of mature mental ability sinks to the level of information, exercises, and even games for children; and in this pedagogical progress we can see the history of world culture delineated as it were in silhouettes. This bygone existence is the already acquired property of general spirit, which constitutes the substance of the individual, and thus, appearing externally to him, his inorganic nature. In this respect, regarded from the side of the individual, culture consists in his acquiring what lies at hand, living off of its inorganic nature and taking possession of it. But from the side of general spirit as the substance, it is nothing other than that which gives to general spirit its self-consciousness, which brings about its becoming and its reflection in itself.
Monday, March 7, 2011
This becoming of science in general, or of knowledge, is what this phenomenology of spirit depicts. Knowledge, as it is at the start, or the immediate spirit, is the spirit-less, sensorial consciousness. To become actual knowledge, or to generate the element of science – that it itself is its pure concept – comes about by following a long laborious road. This becoming, as it is presented in its content and in the shapes which manifest themselves in it, will not be what is imagined at first to be an introduction of the unscientific consciousness to science, and it is also something other than the foundations of science; at any rate it is something else than the sort of ecstatic enthusiasm which starts straight off with absolute knowledge, as if shot out of a pistol, and makes short work of other points of view simply by declaring that it will take no notice of them.
Pure self-cognition in absolute being-other, this ether as such, is the very soil of science or knowledge in general. The beginning of philosophy sets the precondition or requirement that consciousness feel at home in this element. But this element only attains its perfection and acquires transparency through the movement of its becoming. It is pure spirituality as the universal, which has the manner of simple immediacy; this simple, which, as such, has existence; it is the soil, thought, which is only in spirit. Because this element, this immediacy of spirit, is what is substantial in spirit, it is the transfigured essence, it is reflection which itself is simple, immediacy as such for itself, it is being which is reflection into itself. Science for its part desires for self-consciousness that it will have elevated itself into this ether, in order to be able to live with it and in it, and to live. Conversely the individual has the right to demand that science shall extend to him the ladder at least to this position, shall show him that he has this in himself. His right rests on his absolute independence, which he knows to possess in every shape of his knowledge; for in each, whether recognized by science or not, and whatever be the content, it is the absolute form, i.e., it is the immediate certainty of self, and thereby is unconditioned being, should this expression be preferred. If the standpoint of consciousness, of knowing about objective things as opposed to itself, and about itself as opposed to them, is held by science to be the other – that in which it knows itself with itself, rather than as loss of spirit – then the contrary holds, the element of science is something in the far beyond, in which consciousness no longer possesses itself. Each of these two sides takes the other to be the perversion of the truth. That the natural consciousness immediately entrusts itself to science is for it to make an attempt, induced by some unknown influence, at once to stand on its head; the obligation to take up this unaccustomed attitude and move about in it is an imposition, as unprepared as it is unnecessary, only made to appear as if it should be done. Let science be what it likes in itself; in relation to immediate self-conscious life, it portrays itself as a reversal of the latter; or, again, because natural self-consciousness finds the principle of its reality in the certainty of itself, science bears the character of unreality, since consciousness for itself is a state outside of science. Science has for that reason to unite with that other element, or rather to show that the other element belongs to it, and how it does so. When devoid of that sort of reality, science is merely content as the in-itself, the goal, which at first is only something inward – not as spirit, but only spiritual substance. This in-itself has to express itself and become for-itself; this is nothing other than: it has to set self-consciousness at one with itself.
Friday, March 4, 2011
That the true is real only as system, or that substance is essentially subject, is expressed in the notion which represents the absolute as spirit, which is the grandest concept of all, and which pertains to modern times and its religion. Spirit alone is real; it is the essence, or being-in-itself, the acting and determining, the being-other and being-for-itself, and, in this determination or being-outside-of-itself, remains in itself; or, it is in and for itself. This being-in-and-for-itself, however, is only for us or in itself, it is the spiritual substance. It has to become for itself, it must be knowledge of the spiritual and knowledge of itself as spirit, which means, it must be an object to itself, but, just as immediately, cancelled object, reflected into itself. It is for itself for us only to the degree that its spiritual content is produced by itself; to the degree that, for itself, it is for itself, then this self-production, the pure concept, is at the same time the objective element in which it has its existence, and in this manner it is object reflected-in-itself for itself, in its existence. Spirit, which knows itself to be spirit thus developed, is science. It is its reality, and the kingdom it erects for itself in its own native element.
Among the many consequences that follow from what has been said, this may be emphasized, that only as science, or as system, is knowledge real and capable of being expounded; that, furthermore, a so-called fundamental statement or first principle of philosophy, to the degree that it is only a fundamental statement or first principle, is yet for this reason also false, even if it is true. It is for that reason easily refuted. The refutation consists in bringing out its defective character, and it is defective because it is merely the universal or principle, the beginning. If the refutation is thoroughgoing, it is derived from it and developed, and not accomplished by bringing in contrary assurances and notions from the outside. Such would thus actually be its development and thereby the amendment of its deficiency, were it not that it fails to recognize that it is only taking the negative action into account rather than apprising itself of progress and results in terms of their positive aspect. The really positive pursuance of the beginning is at the same time just as much the very reverse: it is a negative relation towards the beginning, to wit, against its one-sided form, only to be immediate or goal. It may thus likewise be regarded as a refutation of what constitutes the basis of the system; but more correctly, it should be looked upon as a demonstration that the basis or principle of the system in fact is only its beginning.
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.
What has been said may also be expressed by saying that reason is expedient [zweckmäßige] activity. The elevation of what is taken to be nature over what is misunderstood to be thought, and above all the banishment of external expediency [Zweckmäßigkeit] have brought the form of purpose in general [des Zwecks überhaupt] into disrepute. Yet in the sense in which Aristotle specifies nature as expedient activity, purpose [der Zweck] is the immediate, stationary, the unmoved which is self-moving; as such, it is subject. Its power of moving, taken abstractly, is being for itself, or pure negativity. The result is only the same as the beginning because the beginning is purpose; or, what is real is only the same thing as its concept because the immediate, as purpose, has the self, or pure actuality, within it. The realized purpose, or existent actuality, is movement and unfolded becoming; yet precisely this agitation is the self; and it is therefore identical with that immediacy and simplicity of the beginning, because it is the result, the returned-into-self, while this latter again is just the self, and the self is identity and simplicity relating to itself.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
This horrified rejection of mediation, however, in fact arises from a lack of familiarity with its nature and with absolute cognition itself. For mediation is nothing but self-moving self-identity [sichselbstgleichheit], or reflection into self, the moment of the I being for itself, pure negativity or, reduced to its pure abstraction, simple becoming. The I, or becoming in general, this mediation, is, because of its simplicity, precisely nascent immediacy and the immediate itself. It therefore is a failure to understand reason if reflection is excluded from the true, and is not grasped as a positive moment of the absolute. It is reflection which makes truth into the result, but which likewise cancels this opposition with its becoming, for this becoming is likewise simple and therefore not to be distinguished from the form of the true, which is to show itself as simple in the result; rather, reflection is precisely this returned-ness to simplicity. While the embryo certainly is a human being in principle [an sich], it is not so for itself [für sich]; only as developed [gebildete] reason, having made itself into that which it is in principle, is it for itself. Only this is its reality. But this result is itself simple immediacy; for it is self-conscious freedom, which is at rest with itself and which has not set the opposition aside and left it there, but has been reconciled with it.
The truth is the whole. The whole, however, is only the essence perfecting itself through its development. Of the absolute it must be said that it is essentially a result, that only at the end is it what it, in truth, is; and just this is what comprises its nature, which is to be real, subject, or becoming-itself. As contradictory as it may appear that the absolute must be conceived essentially as result, a little consideration will set this appearance of contradiction in its true light. The beginning, the principle or the absolute, as it is initially or immediately expressed, is merely the universal. As little as saying “all animals” yields zoology, just as little do the words divine, absolute, eternal, and the like, express what is contained in them; and contemplation in fact expresses the immediate in just such words. That which is more than such a word, even if only the transition to a statement, contains a becoming-other that must be taken back; it is a form of mediation. It is this process of mediation, however, that is rejected with horror, as if it intended more than this alone, as if it were not absolute and indeed not in the absolute, as if absolute cognition thereby were surrendered.
Hence the life of God and divine cognition might be spoken of as a game of love with itself; but this idea sinks into edification and even insipidity if it lacks the seriousness, the suffering, the patience, and the labor of the negative. In itself, that life is no doubt undisturbed equality and unity with itself, which is serious neither about being-other and estrangement nor about superseding this estrangement. But this in-itself is abstract generality, which is abstracted from its nature to be for itself, and thereby from any self-movement of the form at all. If the form is declared to be the same as the essence, it is just for that reason a misunderstanding to suppose that cognition can be content with the in-itself or the essence, but can do without the form; that the absolute principle, or absolute contemplation, makes the carrying out of the former, or the development of the latter, needless. Precisely because the form is as necessary to the essence as the essence is to itself, it is not to be grasped and expressed merely as essence, i.e., as immediate substance or pure self-contemplation of the divine, but just as well as form, and in the entire wealth of the developed form. Only then is it grasped and expressed as real.
The living substance is, furthermore, being, which in truth is subject, or, what amounts to the same thing, which in truth is real, only to the degree that the movement of positing itself, or the mediation of becoming-something-else, is with itself. As subject, it is pure and simple negativity, and just on that account the division of the simple; or the counter-posing doubling, which in turn is the negation of this indifferent difference and its opposite: only this self-repairing equality or reflection in itself in being-other – not an original unity as such or immediate as such – is the true. It is the becoming itself, the circle which postulates its end as its goal, and has its end as its beginning, and is only real through implementation and its end.
In my view – a view which must be justified only by the exposition of the system itself – everything depends on grasping and expressing the true not as substance but just as much as subject. At the same time we must note that substantiality comprises the universal or the immediacy of knowledge itself, as well as that which is being or immediacy for knowledge. If the age which heard God spoken of as the one substance was shocked and revolted by such a characterisation of His nature, partly it was due to the instinctive feeling that in such a conception self-consciousness was simply submerged and not preserved, but partly the opposite position, which adheres to thinking as thinking, universality as such, is the same simplicity or undifferentiated, unmoved substantiality. And even if, in the third place, thought combines with itself the being of substance, and conceives immediacy or contemplation as thinking, it still depends upon whether this intellectual contemplation does not fall back into that inert simplicity and expound reality itself in an unreal manner.
Withal does it hold this monotony and abstract universality to be the absolute. It assures us that to be dissatisfied therewith argues an incapacity to grasp the standpoint of the absolute, and keep a firm hold on it. If it was once the case that the bare possibility of thinking of something in some different manner was enough to refute a proposition [Vorstellung], and the naked possibility, the general thought, had the entire positive value of true cognition, we find here in like manner all the value ascribed to the general idea in this unreal form, and the method of speculative treatment identified with the dissolution of what is determinate and distinct, or rather with the casting into the abyss of emptiness that which has neither been further developed nor has been able to justify itself to itself. To consider any existing thing as it is in the absolute, consists here in nothing else than saying about it that, while it is doubtless now spoken of as something specific, yet in the absolute, in the abstract identity A = A, there is no such thing at all, for everything there is one. To pit this single knowledge, that “in the absolute everything is one,” against the distinguishing and fulfilled, or fulfillment-seeking and demanding cognition, or to pass off this absolute as the night in which, as one is wont to say, all cows are black – that is the naivete of emptiness in cognition. The formalism which has been deprecated and despised by recent philosophy, and which has arisen once more in philosophy itself, will not disappear from science, even though its inadequacy is known and felt, till the cognition of absolute reality has become quite clear about its nature. Having in mind that the general understanding [Vorstellung] of what is to be done, if it precedes the attempt to carry it out, facilitates the comprehension of this process, it is worthwhile to indicate here some rough idea of it, with the intention at the same time of giving us the opportunity to set aside certain forms the customary presence of which is an obstruction blocking philosophical cognition.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
With regard to content, the other side no doubt at times makes it sound easy enough to have a wide extension. They haul on to their soil a quantity of material, namely, that which is already familiar and arranged in order; and since they are concerned more especially about what is exceptional, strange, and curious, they seem all the more to be in possession of the rest – which knowledge in its way was finished and done with – as well as to have control over what was unregulated and disorderly. Hence they appear to have brought everything within the compass of the absolute idea, which seems thus to be recognized in all of it, and to have been broadened into extensive science. But if we look more closely at this expansion we find that it has not been reached by one and the same principle taking shape in diverse ways; it is the shapeless repetition of one and the same thing applied in an external fashion to different material, the wearisome reiteration of which keeps up the semblance of diversity. The idea, for itself indeed true, really never gets off the ground as long as the development of it consists in nothing else than such a repetition of the same formula. The knowing subject carrying around in the present the one unmoved form, dipping the material from outside into this static element, this, as little as arbitrary notions regarding the content, is the fulfillment of that which was required – a self-originated wealth and a self-determining distinction of shapes. It is rather a monochrome formalism, which only arrives at distinction of material because of the latter's having already been prepared and known.
Science at its commencement, which thus has been brought neither to detailed completeness nor to perfection of form, is exposed to blame on that account. But it would be as unjust to suppose this blame to attach to its essence as it is inadmissible not to recognize the demand for that further development in fuller detail. This opposition appears to be the major knot that scientific development [Bildung] at present struggles to loosen, and which it does not yet entirely understand. One side parades the wealth of its material and its intelligibility; the other pours contempt on the latter at least, and makes a parade of immediate rationality and divinity. Although the first is reduced to silence, either by the force of truth alone or by the noisy bluster of the other side, and feels itself overwhelmed with regard to the reason of the matter, yet it does not therefore feel satisfied as regards those demands for greater development; for those demands are just, but still unfulfilled. Its silence is only half due to the victory of the other side; it is half due to that weariness and indifference which usually follow when expectations are constantly being awakened by promises which are not followed up by performance.
While on the one hand the first manifestation of the new world is only the whole shrouded in its simplicity, or its general ground, on the other hand the wealth of the previous existence is still present in the remembrance of consciousness. The newly appearing shape yet misses the extension and particularization of content, but still more the development of form by which distinctions are determined with certainty and arranged in their precise relations. Without this development, science lacks general intelligibility [Verständlichkeit] and has the appearance of being an esoteric possession of a few individuals – esoteric, because in the first instance it is only found in its concept or its inwardness; a possession of few individuals, because its unextended appearance renders its existence particularistic. Only what is perfectly determinate is at the same time exoteric, comprehensible and capable of being learned and the property of everybody. The intelligible form of science is the road to it offered to all and made plain for all. To reach rational knowledge by our intelligence is the just demand of consciousness which comes to science. For understanding [Verstand] is thinking, the pure I in general; and what is intelligible [das Verständige] is something that from the first is familiar and common to science as well as to the unscientific mind, enabling the latter to gain direct entry into the former.
But this new world is as little a perfected reality as is the new-born child, and it is essential to bear this in mind. The first appearance is only its immediacy or its concept. A building is not finished when its foundation is laid; and just as little is the attained concept of a whole the whole itself. When we want to see an oak with all its vigor of trunk, its spreading branches, and mass of foliage, we are not satisfied to be shown an acorn instead. In the same way science, the crowning glory of a world of spirit, is not found complete in its initial stages. The beginning of the new spirit is the outcome of an extensive revolution of manifold cultural forms, the price of an often tortuous path and just as frequent struggles and efforts. It is a whole which, from its successive stages and its extension, has returned back into itself; it is the resultant simple concept of itself. But the reality of this simple whole consists in those figurations, which have now become moments, developing anew and taking shape, albeit in their new elements, in terms of the meaning now attained.
For the rest, it is not difficult to see that our time is a time of birth and transition to a new period. Spirit has broken with the hitherto-existing world of its existence and imaginations and is about to let all of that to sink into the past, and has begun the labor of its transformation. It is indeed never at rest, but engaged in ever-advancing movement. But here it is like the birth of a child; the long quiet period of nourishment is interrupted by the first breath – a qualitative change – and the child is born. In like manner the self-cultivating spirit slowly and quietly ripens the new form, dismantles one part after another of the structure of its previous world, the tottering of which is only indicated by isolated symptoms. Frivolity and ennui spreading in the established order of things, the undefined foreboding of something unknown, indicate that something other is approaching. This gradual crumbling away, which did not alter the general look and aspect of the whole, is interrupted by the emergence, which, in a flash, all at once situates the structure of the new world.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Still less must this temperance which foregoes science take it upon itself to claim that such raving enthusiasm and obscurantism is something higher than science. These prophetic utterances pretend to occupy the very center and the depths, look askance at definiteness (the Horus), and deliberately hold back from the concept and necessity as being the sort of reflection which, they say, can only feel at home in finitude. But just as there is an empty expanse, there is also an empty depth, and as there is an extension of substance which overflows into finite multiplicity without the power of keeping the manifold together, in the same way we may have a content-less intensity which, maintaining itself as mere force without expansion, is the same thing as superficiality. The power of the mind is only as great as its expression, its depth only as deep as it dares to expand and lose itself in its explanation. Likewise when this concept-less substantial knowledge pretends to have immersed the peculiarity of self in the essence, and to philosophize in truth and holiness, it hides from itself the fact that instead of devotion to God, it rather, by this contempt for all measure and definiteness, on the one hand simply attests in itself the fortuitous character of its content, and on the other endows God with its own caprice. When such minds commit themselves to the unrestrained ferment of substance, they think that, by putting a veil over self-consciousness, and surrendering all understanding, they are thus God’s own, to whom He gives His wisdom in their sleep. What they in fact do conceive and bring forth in sleep is, therefore, dreams.
This temperance in receiving, or stinginess in giving, does not befit science. The man who only seeks edification, who wants to envelop in mist the earthly diversity of his existence and his thought, and craves after the vague enjoyment of this indeterminate divinity – he may look where he likes to find this: he will easily find the means to procure something he can congratulate himself on and puff himself up about. But philosophy must beware of wishing to be edifying.
This demand accords with the strenuous effort, exhibiting itself as almost heated and petulant, to rescue mankind from being sunken in what is sensuous, vulgar, and particular, and to raise men’s eyes to the stars; as if men had quite forgotten the divine, and were on the verge of finding satisfaction, like worms, in mud and water. Time was when man had a heaven decked out with an abundance of thoughts and images. The significance of everything that is lay in the thread of light by which it was attached to heaven; instead of dwelling in this present, the eye glanced away over the present to the divine being, away, so to speak, to a present in the hereafter. Spirit’s eye had to be directed under compulsion to what is earthly, and kept fixed there; and it has needed a long time to introduce that clearness, which only the otherworldly had, into the crassness and confusion shrouding the sense of earthly things, and to make it of interest and of value to pay attention to the immediate present as such, which was called experience. Now we apparently have the need for the opposite of all this; man’s mind and interest are so deeply rooted in the earthly that we require a like power to have them raised above that level. Spirit shows itself to be so poor that it seems to long for the paltry feeling of the divine in general, and to get refreshment from that, like a wanderer in the desert craving for the merest mouthful of water. By the little which can thus satisfy the needs of spirit, we can measure the extent of its loss.
If we consider the appearance of a claim like this in its more general setting, and look at the stage at which self-conscious spirit at present stands, we shall find that it has gotten beyond the substantial life that it otherwise introduced in the element of thought – beyond this immediacy of its belief, beyond the satisfaction and security of certainty which consciousness possessed of being reconciled with the essence and its general presence, within as well as without. It has not merely passed beyond that to the opposite extreme of substance-less reflection of itself into itself, but beyond this too. It has not merely lost its essential life, it is also conscious of this loss and of the finitude characteristic of its content. Turning away from the husks it has to feed on, and confessing that it lies in wickedness and sin, it reviles itself for so doing, and now desires from philosophy not so much to bring it to a knowledge of what it is, as to obtain once again through philosophy the restoration of that solidity and substantiality of being which it has lost. Philosophy is thus expected not so much to meet this want by opening up the closed-ness of substance and elevating this to self-consciousness, not so much to bring chaotic consciousness back to thoughtful order and the simplicity of the concept, as to run together thought’s separations, to suppress the distinguishing concept and to restore the feeling of essence, to vouchsafe not so much insight as edification. The beautiful, the holy, the eternal, religion, love – these are the bait required to awaken the desire to bite: not the concept but ecstasy, not the advancing necessity of the matter but ferment and enthusiasm – these are to be the stance and onward expansion of the wealth of substance.
When the true form of truth is placed in its scientific character – or, what amounts to the same thing, when it is maintained that truth has the element of its existence only in concepts – I know that this seems to contradict a notion, with all its consequences, which makes great pretensions and has gained widespread acceptance in the conviction of the times. A word of explanation concerning this contradiction seems, therefore, not out of place, even though at this stage it can amount to no more than a dogmatic assurance, exactly like the view we are opposing. If, that is to say, truth exists merely in what, or rather as what, is called at one time contemplation, at another immediate knowledge of the absolute, religion, being – not being in the center of divine love, but the very being of this itself – from that point of view it is rather the opposite of the conceptual form which would be required for the exposition of philosophy. The absolute is not to be conceived, but felt and contemplated; it is not its concept but its feeling and contemplation that are to have the floor and find expression.