Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sense-certainty - a Pure Being

If we direct our sensuous certainty attention to a "Now" we will let ourselves point out the "Now" that is asserted. We have therefore to enter the same point of time or of space, indicate them, point them out to ourselves, i.e. we must let ourselves take the place of the very same "I", the very same "This", which is the subject knowing with certainty.

The "Now" is one that has been, and that is its truth; it does not have the truth of being, of something that is. No doubt this is true, that it has been; but what has been is in point of fact not genuinely real, it is not, and the point in question concerned what is, concerned being.

In thus pointing out the "Now" we see then merely a process which takes the following course: First you point out the "Now", and it is asserted to be the truth. You point it out, however, as something that has been, or as something canceled and done away with. You thus annul and pass beyond that first truth and in the second place you now assert as the second truth that it has been, that it is superseded. But, thirdly, what has been is not; you then supersede, cancel, its having been, the fact of its being annulled, the second truth, negate thereby the negation of the "Now" and return in so doing to the first position: that "Now" is.

The "Now" and pointing out the "Now" are thus so constituted that neither the one nor the other is an immediate simple fact, but a process with diverse moments in it.

A "This" is set up; it is, however, rather an other that is set up; the "This" is superseded: and this otherness, this canceling of the former, is itself again annulled, and so turned back to the first. But this first, reflected thus into itself, is not exactly the same as it was to begin with, namely something immediate: rather it is a something reflected-into-self, a simple entity which remains in its otherness, what it is: a "Now" which is any number of "Nows". And that is the genuinely true "Now"; the "Now" is simple day-time which has many "Nows" within it - hours. A "Now" of that sort, again - an hour - is, similarly many minutes; and this "Now" - a minute - in the same way many "Nows" and so on.

The "Now" is thus itself the very process which expresses what the "Now" in truth really is: namely a result, or a plurality of "Nows" all taken together. And the pointing out is the way of getting to know, of experiencing, that "Now" is a universal.

The concrete content which sense certainty furnishes makes mere apprehension free from conceptual comprehension, and appear to be the richest kind of knowledge.

It is as a universal that we give utterance to sensuous fact. What we say is: "This", i.e. the universal this; or we say: "it is," i.e. being in general. We utter what is universal; we do not actually and absolutely say what in this sense-certainty we really mean. Language, however, as we see, is the more truthful; in it we ourselves refute directly and at once our own "meaning". It is not possible for us to express in words any sensuous existence with we "mean".

Pure being remains as the essential element for this sense-certainty, since sense-certainty in its very nature proves the universal to be the truth of its object. But pure being is of something in which the process of negation and mediation is essential. Consequently it is not what we intend or "mean" by being, but being with the characteristic that it is an abstraction, the purely universal; and our intending "meaning" which takes the truth of sense-certainty to be something universal.

G.W.F. Hegel
The Phenomenology of Mind

1 comment:

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