Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 72

For the rest, at a time when the generality of spirit has become so greatly strengthened, and particularity has become, as it ought to, that much more indifferent, when, too, that generality of spirit holds onto its entire extent and cultivated wealth, and requires that the share in the total work of spirit that falls to the activity of any particular individual can only be very small, therefore must the individual, as in fact the nature of science entails, all the more forget himself, and in fact become and do what he can – but less must be demanded of him, just as he can expect less from himself and ought to demand less for himself.

Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 71

Since I have placed that in which science exists in the self-movement of the concept, the consideration that the representations of our time as cited above together with other aspects not treated regarding the nature and shape of truth deviate from this and in fact are opposed to it, it would seem that an attempt to portray the system of knowledge in that determination does not bode well for a favorable admission. In the meantime, I may call to mind that while, e.g., the supreme merit of Plato’s philosophy has sometimes been held to consist in his scientifically worthless myths, there have also been times, which have even been spoken of as times of fanatical enthusiasm, when the Aristotelian philosophy has been esteemed for its speculative depth, and when the Parmenides of Plato – perhaps the greatest literary product of ancient dialectic – has been taken to be the true revelation and positive expression of the divine life; and even with the great obscurity of that which ecstasy generated, this misunderstood ecstasy in fact was held to be none other than the true concept. Furthermore, that which is superior in the philosophy of our time puts its value in scientific character; and that, when others take a different view, it is only through its scientific character that such is asserted. Thus, then, I may hope too that this attempt to vindicate the concept for science and to portray science in this, its peculiar element, will be able to make a way for itself by the inherent truth of the matter. We ought to be convinced that the true has the nature of forcing its way through when its time has come, and that it only appears when this has come, and for this reason it does not appear prematurely nor does it find an unprepared public; furthermore, that the individual thinker requires this effect in order to test himself against it and to experience as universal the conviction which at first only pertained to particularity. In this connection, however, it is very often necessary to distinguish the public from those who take upon themselves to be its representatives and spokesmen. The public takes up an attitude in many respects quite different from the latter, indeed, even opposed to them. Whereas the public good-naturedly rather takes the blame upon itself when a philosophical work does not appeal to it, these latter, on the contrary, secure in their authority [Kompetenz], put all the blame on the authors. The effect of the work on the public is more quiet than the activity of these dead when they bury their dead [a reference to Luke 9:60]. While the general insight at the present time is generally more cultivated, its curiosity more alert, and its judgment more swiftly pronounced, so that the feet of those who will carry you out are already at the door [a reference to Acts 5:9], at the same time there is often to be distinguished from this the more gradual effect which rectifies both the attention compelled by imposing assurances and the dismissive criticism; and, after a bit, for one part provides a contemporary audience, while for another, no posterity follows.

Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 70

When a man asks for a royal road to science, no more convenient way can be mentioned to him than to rely upon common sense and – incidentally, to keep up with the times and with philosophy – to read reviews of philosophical works, and perhaps even go to the length of reading the prefaces and first paragraphs of the works themselves; for the latter give the general principles on which everything turns, while the reviews, together with a memorandum for posterity, provide the judgment which, being a judgment, is above and beyond that which is judged. This common way a man can take in his dressing-gown. But elation in the eternal, the sacred, the infinite, moves along in high-priestly robes – a road, rather, that already itself is the immediate being in the center, the genius of deep original ideas and higher flashes of inspiration. Nevertheless, as those depths do not yet reveal the well-spring of the essence, neither are these rockets the Empyrean. True thoughts and scientific insight can only be won by the labor of the concept. Only this can produce universality of knowledge, which is neither the general indeterminacy and inadequacy of common understanding, but the cultivated and plain [vollständige] cognition; neither the uncommon generality of the scheme of reason corrupted by the indolence and self-conceit of genius, but the truth which has expanded into its indigenous form, which is capable of being the property of all self-conscious reason.

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.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 68

As regards philosophy proper, we find put forward without any hesitation, as an entirely sufficient equivalent for the long course of mental cultivation – for the movement, as rich as it is profound, by which the human spirit attains to knowledge – direct divine revelation and healthy common sense, which has concerned itself and been formed neither by other knowledge nor by actual philosophizing, as a complete equivalent and as good a surrogate as chicory is purported to be for coffee. It gives no joy to note that the ignorance and the formless as well as tasteless crudity which is incapable of holding onto an abstract proposition, much less a concatenation of such propositions, confidently assures itself that it is intellectual freedom and toleration, and even genius. This last used once upon a time, as everyone knows, to be all the vogue in the case of poetry, as it is now in philosophy. Instead of poetry, however, when this form of inspiration did have some sense, it now generates trivial prose, or, going beyond that, raving harangues. So also nowadays with natural philosophizing, which considers itself too good for the concept, and by the lack thereof believes it has a contemplative and poetical thinking – such philosophizing trades in arbitrary combinations of a disorganized power of imagination, figments that are neither fish nor fowl, neither poetry nor philosophy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 67

Just as obstructionist as argumentative comportment is the non-argumentative illusion built upon finished truths, to which the possessor believes it is unnecessary to return, but lays them at the foundation and believes he can both express them, and judge and dispute through them. In this regard, it is especially needful to make once again a serious business of philosophy. With regard to all the sciences, arts, skills, and handicrafts, the conviction holds that in order to possess them, a considerable amount of trouble must be spent in learning and practicing. As regards philosophy, on the contrary, an assumption seems still prevalent that, though every one with eyes and fingers is not on that account in a position to make shoes if he only has leather and a last, yet everybody understands how to philosophize straight away, and pass judgment on philosophy, simply because he possesses the criterion for doing so in his natural reason – as if he did not in the same way likewise possess the standard for shoemaking in his own foot. It seems as if the possession of philosophy lay precisely in the lack of knowledge and study, as if philosophy left off where the latter began. It is commonly held to be a formal, content-empty knowledge, and there is a general failure to perceive that, in the case of any knowledge and science, what is taken for truth in terms of content can only deserve the name of “truth” when philosophy has had a hand in its production; that, let the other sciences try as they might to get along by argumentation without philosophy, without it they are incapable of having life, spirit, truth in themselves.

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.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 65

Indeed, non-speculative thinking also has its right, validity, albeit not heeded in the manner of speculative proposition. Abolishing the form of the proposition must take place not only in an immediate manner, through the mere content of the proposition. Rather, this counterposed movement must be expressed, and not only that internal restriction, but what must also be expounded is this return of the concept into itself. This process, which constitutes what formerly had to be accomplished by proof, is the internal dialectical movement of the proposition itself. This alone is the actual speculative, and only the expression thereof is speculative exposition. As proposition, the speculative aspect is merely the internal restriction and the non-existent return of essence into itself. Hence we often find philosophical expositions referring us to this inner contemplation, thereby sparing us the exposition of the dialectic movement of the proposition which all the while is what we wanted. The proposition ought to express what the true is, but in essence it is subject; being so, it is merely the dialectical movement, this self-generating, -leading, and in-itself-returning course. With other forms of cognition, the proof constitutes this side of the expressed inwardness. But once dialectic has been separated from proof, the concept of philosophical proof has indeed been lost.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 64

A difficulty which should be avoided consists in mixing up the speculative with the argumentative manner, when what is said of the subject has at one time the significance of its concept, and at another time the significance of its predicate or accident. The one mode of thinking interferes with the other; and only that philosophical exposition can manage to become workable [plastisch] which resolutely excludes the ordinary way of relating the parts of a proposition.

Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 63

This unaccustomed inhibition is largely what lies behind the complaints concerning the unintelligibility of philosophical writings, when otherwise the individual has in him the requisite mental cultivation for understanding them. In what has been said we see the reason for the specific charge often made against these writings, that a good deal has to be read repeatedly before it can be understood – an accusation which is meant to convey something improper and final, so that, if grounded, would admit of no further reply. The explanation thereby is clear from the above. The philosophical proposition, being a proposition, calls up the view of the usual relation of subject and predicate, and the usual comportment of knowledge. This comportment and the view thereof destroys its philosophical content; the view finds that things are intended otherwise than it thought, and knowledge, by this correction of its view, is compelled to come back to the proposition and comprehend it otherwise.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 62

To explain what has been said by examples: in the proposition “God is being,” the predicate is “being;” it has substantial significance, in which the subject dissolves. Being is here not meant to be predicate but essence; thereby does God seem to cease being what He was when the proposition was posed, viz., the fixed subject. Thinking, instead of getting any farther with the transition from subject to predicate, feels itself, in that the subject is being lost, rather inhibited and, because it misses the subject, thrown back on the thought of the subject. Or again, since the predicate has itself been pronounced to be a subject, to be being, essence, which exhausts the nature of the subject, it finds the subject directly present in the predicate too: and now, instead of having, in the predicate, gone into itself, and preserved the free position of argumentation, it is absorbed in the content, or, at any rate, the demand is present to be so. Similarly when it is said: “the real is the universal,” the real, as subject, passes into its predicate. The universal is not only to have the significance of a predicate, as if the proposition expressed this: the real is universal; rather, the universal is meant to express the essential nature of the real. Thinking thereby loses that fixed objective ground which it had in the subject, just as much as in the predicate it is thrown back on the subject, and therein returns not into itself but into the subject of the content.

Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 61

Formally, what has been said can be so expressed that the nature of judgment [Urteils] or of the proposition in general, which contains the distinction of subject and predicate, is destroyed by the speculative proposition; and the proposition of identity [der identische Satz], which the former becomes, contains the counter-thrust to that relation. This conflict of the form of a proposition in general and the unity of the concept which destroys that form is similar to what we find between meter and accent in the case of rhythm. Rhythm results from the floating center and union of the two. So likewise with the philosophical proposition, the identity of subject and predicate is not intended to destroy their distinction, as expressed in the form of the proposition; rather, their unity is to arise as a harmony. The form of the proposition is the manifestation of the determinate sense, or the accent which differentiates its realization [Erfüllung]; but that the predicate expresses the substance while the subject itself drops into the universal is the unity wherein that accent fades away.

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.

Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 59

With regard to the conduct of argumentation, both sides are to be observed in terms of which conceptual thought opposes it. In part, that negative relates in opposition to the conceived content, knows how to refute it and reduce it to nothingness. This insight is the bare negative, showing that something is not; it is the last thing, that cannot itself proceed beyond itself to a new content; in order for it to regain a content, something else must be undertaken somewhere else. It is reflection in the empty I, the vanity of its knowledge. Vanity of this kind brings out not only that this content is vain but also that this insight itself is vain; for it is the negative with no perception of the positive within it. In that this reflection does not even gain its own negativity as its content, it is not inside the matter, but ever above and beyond it; for this reason it imagines that by asserting emptiness it is going far beyond the insight that embraces and reveals a wealth of content. By contrast, in the case of conceptual thinking, as was above indicated, the negative falls within the content itself, and is the positive, both as its immanent movement and determination, and as the entirety of what these are. Looked at as a result, it is the determinate negative, the outcome of this movement, and consequently just as well a positive content.