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Readings on Hegel

PHIL 484

Table of contents
  1. Introduction to Lectures on the History of Philosophy
  2. Phenomenology of the Spirit
    1. Preface: On Scientific Cognition
    2. Introduction
    3. 1: Sense-Certainty, or the ‘this’ and ‘meaning’
    4. 2. Perception: Or the Thing and Deception
    5. 4: The Truth of Self-Certainty

Introduction to Lectures on the History of Philosophy

  • Considering the connection between the past and the present of philosophy.
  • History of philosophy is a succession of noble minds who have won for us the treasure of knowledge. (A very idealist view of history, which strikes me given how Marx instrumentalizes it in a materialist view of history.)
  • The history of philosophy contrasts with political philosophy: philosophy is the history in which individuals shape and conquer the world.
  • In philosophy, thought is free and universal. (In what sense is this a materialist reading of history, materialism in an ideal sense?)
  • Acts of thought initially appear to be historically determined. Our existence is histroically dependent.
  • The possession of self-conscious reason did not suddenly come to us, but is a result of labor.
  • Accumulation of knowledge: we must find ourselves running in a chain, in a lineage.
  • Tradition is not docile but energetic and ferocious
  • The universal Mind grows
  • Are the Chinese in historical standstill?
  • The soul of a generation is encompassed in its intellectual contributions to the lineage of the mind.
  • Page 3 (2): “this material becomes degraded to a material which becomes metamorphosed by Mind.”
  • To raise knowledge to a higher level.
  • History shows us our self-becoming.
  • The history of Philosophy provides an introduction to Philosophy itself.
  • Becoming is not passive
  • What happens when thought is occupied with itself?
  • What is the work to which Hegel references on pg. 5 (2500 years)?
  • How does the intellectual world have a history when Thought is eternal? True, necessary thought cannot change.
  • But first we must see the woods before the trees.
  • History is significant only through its relation to the universal.
  • History shows how what appears to belong to mere history is really in the science of Philosophy
    • The history of philosophy is the science of philosophy
  • What counts as philosophy? Religion? Mythology? etc.

A. The Notion of the History of Philosophy

  • The concept of the history of philosophy contains an inner contradiction.
    • Philosophy aims at the end of truth.
    • History tells us that what has existed at one time does not exist some other time.
    • Therefore Truth has no history.
    • There is no truth to be found in history.
  • Outward history vs history of the subject itself
  • Two elements in history:
    • Additions and deviations to formerlye stablished truth
    • Combatting of errors and purification of principles, return to first simplicity
    • Absolute and its negation?
  • How has philosophy (the doctrine of truth) been so historically particular?
    • It has “revealed itself” particularly
  • In religion, there is a fixed truth (the inner content) unchangeable in history.
  • In the sciences, much is dependent on what is previously known
  • In mathematics, history only records further additions
  • Philosophy does not show thiese sorts of simple dynamics – is there progress? Or only repetition?

Common ideas regarding the history of philosophy

  • History of philosophy as an accumulation of opinions
    • Common idea that the history of philosophy is the interplay between philosophical opinions – folks who engage in a “history of senseless follies” – trivial permutations in the ideal space.
    • It is said that we gain knowledge by learning different opinions of other philosophers.
    • Hegel: this renders philosophy a superfluous science.
    • Opinions are subjective conceptions: uncontrolled ideas.
    • There is no such thing, hwoever, as a philosophical opinion.
    • Philosophy is the objective science of truth, not of opinion or spinning out opinions.
    • The opposite of opinion is Truth, in front of which opinion pales.
    • Two oppositions of philosophy
      • piety: reason cannot apprehend what is true and can lead only towards doubt (what is the relation between this and phenomenology?)
      • Reason stands its grounds. But can we even make knowledge through reason? Reason has turned against itself.
    • In theology, it is not so much that the belief of the church is Christianity, but that every believer in them holds a conviction of christianity. Thus the drive to know Truth is relinquished. (???) Conviction is an opinion.
    • Opposition between opinion and truth: emergent from the Platonic opposition between opinion and science.
    • Can we supercede the truth?
    • If we claim so, then the hisotry of philosophy is about finding ideas, here and there: my thinking reason is not free, but extraneous, dead historic matter (Plato’s objection to writing – as dead, cold, not living?) (14) – for Hegel this results in subjective vanity, to look in a mirror and get nowhere.
    • “Truth cannot be known” – Hegel will investigate this later.
    • If philosophy really is a lineage of opinions, then Hegel finds no meaning in philosophy itself, since each opinion gets us nowhere.
    • So what does Hegel say about truth itself?
  • Proof of the futility of philosophy knowledge obtained throught he history of philosophy itself
    • Which version of philosophy should we accept?
    • If there is truth, then that means some of the greatest minds must have erred.
    • What does Hegel mean by “This consequence, which ensues from the diversity in philosophical systems, is, as may be supposed, the evil in the matter, while at the same time it is a subjective good?” (16)
    • If philosophy is a real science, then one philosophy must be true. WHich one is true? Each one asserts its truth. (What is this about evil?)
    • How shall we give judgement at all?
    • “This fact, which cannot be denied, seems to contain the justifi cation, indeed the necessity for applying to Philosophy the words of Christ, “ Let the dead bury their dead ; arise, and follow Me.” The whole of the history of Philosophy becomes a battlefield covered with the bones of the dead ; it is a kingdom not merely formed of dead and lifeless in dividuals, but of refuted and spiritually dead systems, since each has killed and buried the other”
    • Behold the philosophy by which thine own will be refuted and dispalced shall not tarry long as it has not tarried before.
    • Basically, philosophy runs into this problem of viciousness – everyone is axeing each other

“What can be more useless than to learn a string of bald opinions, and what more unimportant?”

  • Explanatory remarks on the diversity in philosophies
    • The Truth is one. Reason maintains this.
    • So must others be true?
    • But each philosophy gives proof to the being of the one and ture philosophy.
    • “This is a common mode of reasoning and is what seems in truth to be the view of sober thought. As regards the sober nature of the word at issue — thought — we can tell from everyday experience that if we fast we feel hunger either at once or very soon. But sober thought always has the fortunate power of not resulting in hunger and desire, but of being and remaining as it is, content. Hence the thought expressed m such an utterance reveals the fact that it is dead understanding; for it is only death which fasts and yet rests satisfied. But neither physical life nor intellectual remains content with mere abstention ; as desire it presses on through hunger and through thirst towards Truth, towards knowledge itself. It presses on to satisfy this desire and does not allow itself to feast and find sufficiency in a reflection such as this.” – what the fuck does he mean? Presses onwards towards truth?
    • The common bond of these philosophies
    • Why disagreement / diversity in the systems of philosophy?
    • Truth and philosophy: not only truth vs error
    • The diversity of philosophy does not prejudice philosophy but actually necessary to philosophy as a science
    • Philosophy is to grasp the truth; it is not that nothing can be known or that only temporal and finite truths can be known.
    • The history of philosophy erquires doing philosophy itself.
    • History is not merely a collection of chance events (denigrates literary efforts bascially)
    • Thinking minds have a real connected rational nature.
    • We must believe in the spirit of the world!

Explanatory remarks upon the definition of the history of philosophy

  • Truth is only one. This is an abstract and formal claim.
  • The aim of philosophy: this Truth is the source of which from all else proceeds.
  • All observations lead back to that source.
  • A single truth is not merely a solitary, empty thought, but “one determined within itself”
  • Development and the Concrete
  • The product of thinking is the thought, then notion, and then idea. The idea is Truth.
  • The Idea has a nature, and that is to develop, and that is to comprehend itself, or to become what it is.
  • The idea must make itself what it is – it is what it is. (bon foi!)
  • The notion of development
    • Philosophy must investigate development, the idea
    • Two states of development: capacity (potentia, bieng-in-itself), actuality (being-for-itself)
    • If man is by nature rational, then the child has capacities, or the actual possibility of reason, as if he does not have reason.
    • WHat is implicit becomes explicit
    • What is the real meaning of the word? In-itself must become for man. Man becomes for himself, and is made double.
    • It is in thought alone that thought is its object; reason produces what is rational, and so reason is its own object.
    • Man, who is himself rational, has not gotten further since he becomes rational for himself. But it is the form of being which matters.
    • All mankind is naturally rational. Slavery continues: why? Africans and Orientals do not know what is explicit for them and that they are free.
    • All knowledge and learning must turn inwards and become object, for themself.
    • That which is implicit comes into existence, and passes into change
    • The plant does not lose itslef in mere indefinite change. The germ is impelled towards development. But in the end it produces itself alone.
    • Doubling or splitting of the germ: but in the Mind, consciousness is free and unites itself
    • Question – to what extent was Hegel the OG Sartre? How does this differ from what Sartre is saying about fundamental freedom and such?
    • Mind resolves itself and moves forward in a dialectical process.
    • The mind desires to become with itself as its highest goal.
    • Temporality and history is the struggle of the Mind to know itself; that is, to become the object to itself, for it to really become itself.
    • Is Hegel saying that the mind is constantly striving to be in good faith with itself? To present itself as what it really is?
    • Mind can only attain the freedom of itself with Thought.
    • I am wholly restricted in the material world, but I am rendered free when I cast my ideal superior dimension.
    • Fetishism of rationality
    • How similar is the Hegelian spirit to the Schopenhauerian will?
  • The notion of the Concrete
    • What develops and forms the absolute content?
    • Being-in-self and being-for-self are present in action
    • Development forms content, the Idea itself – unity in the third – “each is at home with, and not without, itself”
    • Idea is in its content concrete within itself. Firstly, it is concrete potentially; secondly, what is in itself should for it.
    • What is he saying??
    • Science of philosophy deals with abstractions and empty generalities, so goes the objection.
    • But in fact philosophy is Universal, and True, and therefore it is within itself particular
    • If the Truth is abstract it must be untrue.
    • Human reason goes out towards the concrete
    • Understanding begins as abstract and impractical, but is antagonistic towards it and leads to the concrete
    • The implicit is always concrete within itself, because it suggests that it will tend towards becoming concrete.
    • The concrete must become for-itself, or explicit
    • The concrete must differentiate itself from its initial unity. But it holds contradiction within itself and brings distinction into being.

Life, both that which is in Nature and that which is of the Idea, of Mind within itself, is thus manifested. Were the Idea abstract, it would simply be the highest conceivable existence, and that would be all that could be said of it ; but such a God is the product of the under standing of modern times.

  • What is true is found in the process (process philosophy? Whitehead)
  • There is difference but then it becomes unity (again)?
  • Each part of the leaf shares all the qualities of the leaf; gold is unseparated and whole.
  • People say that matter must either be continuous or divisible (discrete), but it really is both. Hegel is saying that we can see it either way, and that dualism is the unity.
  • Man is free, or man is determined. But the Mind is concrete, and its attributes are freedom and necessity. The Mind is free in its necessity, and finds its freedom in it alone, since necessity rests on its freedom (26) (wtf?)
  • The activity is a succession of processes in development with a circle returning within itself.
  • The mind moves back in itself to comprehend itself.
  • Philosophy is one idea in totality with internal contradictions arising to grow, extension through intension and vice versa, emanation from the One Idea
    • A kind of idealist conception of the Idea in which it is all powerful and everything is in itself.
    • The Idea is a system of necessity, but that is its own necessity, which is the constitution of its freedom.
    • Is this a sort of relativism which doesn’t concede that it is relativist? Kind of a “the absolute truth is relativism”?

Results obtained with respect to the notion of the History of Philosophy

  • Philosophy is a system ind evelopment
  • Nature and Mind are particularizations of the pure Idea
  • The history of philosophy is essentially a dialectic, the set of dialectical movements form the Idea
  • The history of philosophy is the study of philosophy itslef.
  • the business of HP is the business of the Idea
  • Science is not a mere collection of facts

Phenomenology of the Spirit

Preface: On Scientific Cognition


  • The preface is false as a historical statement
  • The preface is not the way to expound philosophical truth
  • Philosophy moves towards the universal
  • Right now, we do not yet have the subject(-matter)


  • Defining how a philosophical work fits into a philosophical lineage is “extraneou” and misses what is really important for cognizing the truth.
  • One gets fixated on the truth or falsity of a proposition.
  • Philosophy is seen as a system of disagreements, rather than a progressive unfolding of truth
  • The plant/seed represents an organic unity even though it displaces itself.


  • Demanding and supplying superfciail explanations for disagreement and such – creates the impression of hard work without actually doing anything.
  • The real issue is not addressed by stating it as an objective, but by doing it; the result is not the whole but the result with the result.
  • The aim itself is “lifeless universal”; the aim is a mere drive without actuality
  • Differentiating and passing judgement is easy to do
  • This sort of work never really gets to the actual issue
  • It remains preoccupied with it.
  • To judge a thing with substance is easy, to comprehend it is much harder


  • Culture emerges from the “immediacy” of “substantial” life and must work up to the general conception of the real issue
  • Culture must inscribe within itself the genuinness of life.


  • Truth can only exist in a scientific system of truth
  • Now is the time for philosophy to be raised to the status of a science.


  • Truth has only the Notion as the element of its existence – what does this mean?
  • If the True exists in intuition, then what is required is the opposite of the Notion, because if we could just intuit then we could immediately know/have it.


  • Spirit has overcome the immediacy of faith and substantialism
  • In fact it has gone all the way to unsubstantialism
  • It becomes conscious of its loss and its finitude
  • Philosophy must meet the need of Spirit to understand itself.
  • …but has improperly done so by restoring the feeling of essential being – providing edification rather than insight.


  • A frenzied effrot to tear individuals from their sensuous being to look at the divine and the absolute
  • Attention has been put towards “experience”
  • The Spirit is parched for some feeling of the divine


Philosophy must beware of the wish to be edifying.


  • A false claim that “rapturous haziness is superior to Science”
  • A defense of idealism essentially: against the disdain at determinateness
  • The objection is totally superficial
  • Non-conceptual, substantial knowledge hides the truth from itself – it surrenders itself to its own contingency, it is totally uncontrolled. They imagine that they can draw a veil over elf-consciousness.
  • They receive in their sleep not the wisdom of God but dreams (Freud?)
  • Veil of ignorance – literally Rawls


  • Our current times are one of a new birth
  • Spirit has separated itself from the world it was born from
  • The world is crumbling, etc. etc.


  • The new world is not more ‘actual’ nor ‘complete’ than a newborn. It begins in its Notion.
  • More references to nature and such
  • Science is not complete in its beginnings
  • Actuality of the Notion of the whole manifests itself in various forms, which are its moments


  • Science appears to lack universal intelligibility due to its clouded complexity
  • Yet the intelligible form of Science is accessible to all.
  • Consciousness approaches Science and demands it be open to ordinary understanding


  • Science is vulnerable to criticism in its early stages.
  • But this criticism should not quell growth and further development.
  • A tension in scientific culture between material understanding and rationality & divinity


  • Everything is subject to the absolute Idea; the Idea appears in everything
  • This proliferation of the Idea comes about through “shapeless repetition of the same formula” – which is tedious and uninteresting
  • The Idea is more than this – not merely applying a monochromatic formalism to external material without an internal development, which does not suffice for genuine knowledge.
  • Hegel is critiquing a superficial approach to scientifi cknowledge focusing on external application of formulas


  • Formalisms maintain that abstract universality of the monotonous form are the Absolute
  • We have been dancing around the true universal Idea in non-actual form
  • In the Absolute everything is the same – and in the night all cows are black, naively vacuous cognition of stupid scientific formalisms


  • Everything turns on grasping and expressing the True as both Substance and Subject
  • Substance embraces the universal, or immediacy of knowledge itself, and immediacy for knowledge.
  • Is God the one Substance? Self-consciousness is submerged but not preserved.
  • The question of intuition


  • Living Substance is truly Subject
  • Substance is, as subject, simple negativity
  • The True is not given immediately, sensuously
  • The fucking bizarre circle


  • In-itself: Life is one of untroubled equality and unity with itself (abstract universality)
  • Divine essence is not merely essence, but also form – only then can it be conceived in actuality


  • The Truth is the whole

But the whole is nothing other than the essence consummating itself through its development.

  • The Absolute is essentially a result
  • This seems like a contradiction
  • Initially, the principle / Absolute is only the universal.
  • But they provide an immediate intuition of something greater
  • Mediation, becoming-other
  • Truth unfolds through the process of mediation


  • Mediation is self-moving selfsameness
  • The “I” is immediacy in the process of becoming
  • Reflection makes the True a result, but also overcomes the antithesis between process and result
  • The embryo is in itself a human being, but not a human for itself; reason makes itself in itself.


  • Reason is purposive activity.
  • The form of purpose has been discredited by materialism/Naturalism.
  • Aristotle, though, defines Nature as a purposive activity; purpose is unmoving and self-moving (Subject); power to move is being-for-itself, pure negativity.
  • Maybe the beginning is the purpose – the actual is Notion because the immediate (purpose) contains pure actuality within itself.


  • So we hav ea need to represent the Absolute as Subject: God is eternal, moral world-order, etc.
  • The True is posited immediately as Subject, rather than through mediation.
  • Subject gets posited as an inert point, whereas in actuality it is self-movement.



  • Before we deal with what cognition truly is, we must first understand what it is. What is its relation to the Absolute?
  • Can we understand cognition through cognition?
  • Why should we use cognition as a means if the Absolute is already somehow congealed in it?
  • Maybe we can understand how the instrument works and remove the artifact introduced by the instrument. But this is a superfluous effort which leaves us as we were before.
  • Provided analysis: It is a natural idea that before engaging in philosophical inquiry one should first examine the instrument or medium of such knowledge (Locke, Kant). Perhaps it is a good or a bad instrument, perhaps no good at all for knowledge of what absolutely is, since it modifies or distorts its object. It is quite vain, however, to try to eliminate the refracting and transforming powers of the instrument and so arrive at the intrinsic notion of the thing. For if what absolutely is cannot be reached by our faculty of knowledge, with all its refracting and transforming power, there is no sense in supposing that it can be reached by dispensing with or discounting the work of this faculty and the course it has to take. Remove the way truth affects us and nothing at all remains.


  • Is there a difference between ourselves and cognition?
  • It is the problem of the bridge again: the Absolute on one side (noumenality) and cognition on the other (phenomenality).
  • Maybe we mistrust Science because of fear of error — why should be not mistrust the results of Science? But this is the error itself. It presupposes there is some cognition which is outside of the Absolute to begin with, which is itself the error
  • Fear of error reveals itself as fear of truth
  • Why not doubt the doubt, etc.? We exclude the posibility of knowledge.


  • The Absolute alone is true; the truth alone is absolute.
  • Is there a truth which is not Absolute? No one has really given the idea of a non-absolute truth any real clear meaning.


  • We should not trouble ourselves with the “useless idea” about cognition as an instrument for getting hold of the Absolute
  • Such ideas are arbitrary and to be rejected – “absolute”, “cognition”, “objective”, “subjective”, etc. are deception!
  • This is an attempt to avoid the main problem and pretend that the Notion is comprehended.
  • Science is treated itself an appearance – but Science must liberate itself from this idea.
  • Science cannot appeal to itself in a mdoe which is without truth; that is an inferior form of its being.
  • Science cannot merely claim to be better; it must be truly for itself.
  • Confused conceptions which make true knowledge impossible should be dismissed.


  • The path of natural consciousness pressed forward to true knowledge…
  • … and right now the path of true knowledge is meandering through phenomenal knowledge.


  • Natural consciousness is the only Notion of knowledge
  • Fundamental ideas are always being shaken down
  • The road to self-knowledge is full of doubt, not merely the kind of doubt which restores what was before when the fog clears.

this path is the conscious insight into the untruth ofphenomenal knowledge, for which the suprem”e reality is what is in truth only the unrealized Notion.

  • This is the education of consciousness itself – self-doubting, criticism
  • Just to turn an authoritatively given thought and to make it yours does not necessarily make it true.
  • But skepticism which is directed towards the whole range of phenomenal consciousness allows Spirit to competently examine the truth.


  • The exposition of the untrue consciousness in its untruth is not merely negative.
  • Natural consciousness has only one side of the truth
  • Skepticism always arrives at a positive result, i.e.a determinate nothingness
  • Need a walkthrough of this passage with concrete terms
  • Sartre, Husserl, Decartes
  • Seems similar to Sartre – nothingness is a mode of being, and moreover every being has nothing congealed within itself, so it is self-negating


  • The goal of development is fixed towards self-knowledge: knowledge no longer needs to go beyond itself to find the Absolute, because it has coincidede with itself in the Absolute.
  • Consciousness is explicitly the Notion of itself – its obejct is itself. It goes beyond its own limits, etc. – self-cognition, recursion, etc.
  • Consciousness suffers under its own violence
  • Consciousness is unsettled not striving for greater self-knowledge.
  • page 542 in PDF, Findlay: “The goal of knowledge is a situation where there is no longer an apparent element to be discounted and transcended, but where Notion and object are mutually adequate. Consciousness by its very nature presses on to this goal, though it sometimes retreats in terror from this endless ~elf-transcendence, and affects to regard all positions of thought as vain and empty, or as good in their own kind, thereby increasing its own vain self-importance.”
    • Nihilism and pluralism?
    • Empirically would Hegel be wrong if philosophy had succumbed to these forces?
  • Pluralism


  • Relating Science to phenomenal knowledge requires an underlying criterion (comparison theory of meaning/truth).
  • Without something like Science and the Scientific criterion, seemingly we cannot examine it.


  • Consciousness distinguishes itself from something, and also relates itself to it (for consciousness)
  • The determinate part of this relating is knowing (I see the tree in my head – the tree is in my head)
  • Being-in-itself (that which extends beyond the relating) is truth.


  • We seem to be asking what knowledge is in itself, but it is necessarily knowledge for-us.
  • The essence/criterion lies within ourselves. But our criterion must satisfy other criteria, etc.


  • Consciousness provides its own criterion from within itself. Consciousness compares with itself; it distinguishes itself.
  • The moment of Truth: the other is not merely for it (us), but also exists in-itself (as posited by us)
  • The in-itself is the standard by which consciousness measures what it knows.
  • Notion is the knowledge, the True is the essence (the object): then examination is seeing whether Notion corresponds to object.
  • Notion is the essence, Notion is the object (for another): seeing whether object corresponds to Notion.
  • Both are the same.
  • But these two moments fall within knowledge.
  • We do not need to import criteria from outside of knowledge.
  • I am trying to understand the complexity of this prescription. Surely Hegel is not saying as a general normative claim for philosophy that we can simply turn inwards towards what seems like intuition (the criteria which is already within ourselves)? Rather the criterion immanent within consciousness which we can turn inwards and find all along is itself the process of a historical development, in which previous thinkers needed to “make use of [their own bright ideas and thoughts during the course of the inquiry”; that is, one could not make this Hegelian self-realizing move (consciousness recognizing itself) until after modern skepticism had alienated it from itself. So the ‘intuition’ / ‘immanent criterion’ Hegel appeals to is not the same sort of history-less ‘intuition’ which is employed in analytic ethics, but rather the product of a historical process. Is this interpretation reasonable?


  • This contribution by us is ‘superfluous’ (gee thanks Hegel), since Notion and object are all present within consciousness. We are not really testing them – we merely look.
  • Consciousness is consciousness of the object (Truth) and consciousness of itself (knowledge of Truth), both of which are for consciousness
  • Consciousness cannot get “behind” the object
  • Distinction between the in-itself and knowledge: already within the knowing of the object by consciousness
  • As knowledge changes, so does the object
  • What was in-itself becomes in-itself for consciousness, and thus the object collapses its testedness


  • A new, true object comes from here in a dialectical movement where consciousness exercises on itself and this self-reasoning shapes the entire world (knowledge and its object): this movemen tis experience.
  • Ambiguity of truth: tension between two objects, th ein-itself and the being-for-consciousness of this in-itself.
  • The True changes: the essence of consciousness becomes reflexive
  • This new object contains the nothingness of the first


  • Knowledge of the first object, being-for-consciousness of the initial in-itself, in fact becomes the second object
  • The new object comes about through a reversal of consciousness


  • The way to Science itself is already Science, and the Science of the experience of consciousness
  • This is the difficulty with science.


  • Consciousness’ experience of itself can comprehend nothing less than the entire system of consciousness
  • Consciousness eventually arrives at a point which gets rid of the idea of an alien noumenal, and appearance collides with essence – because we recognize that we have posited the noumenal.
  • When consciousness grasps its own essence, it will then have done the move of absolute knowledge.

1: Sense-Certainty, or the ‘this’ and ‘meaning’


  • Immediate knowledge cannot be anything other than immediate receptive knowledge, purely as the object presents itself.

In apprehending it, we must refrain from trying to comprehend it.


  • Sense-certainty is the richest kind of knowledge
  • Sense-certainty appears to be the truest knowledge. But this certainty is itself a terribly abstract and in fact poor truth.
  • The truth of the object brought about in sense-certainty is merely that its being, its is-ness.
  • Consciousness is only a pure ‘I’, and I am in it a pure ‘This’, and the object in it is the pure ‘This’ – i.e. a very clear subject-object relation.
  • The thing is merely because i t is, and this is the key point of sense-knowledge. Immediacy constitutes its truth. Question – so is this what Husserl is returning us towards?


  • There is much which is complicated in our examination of pure being.
  • Actual sense-certainty is not pure immediacy, but merely an instance of it
  • We have two “Thises” (subjects): object as subject and subject as subject. Neither is immediately present, but each is mediated, in that I have certainty through something else
  • The object is – truth, essence, etc.


  • Does the object really have the kin dof essence that the texture of sense-certainty claims it has?
  • What might the object be in truth and not merely in sense-certainty?
  • Question – to what extent is this begging the question? What are we looking for exactly?
    • Does sense-certainty really even have any claim to being?


  • “This” of sense-certainty has two forms: “Now” and “Here”
  • “Now” is always changing temporally
  • A truth cannot lose anything by being written down (hmm… really?)
  • We can refer to general abstract ideas, like being-in-the-moment


  • The “now” of sense-certainty is universal
  • “The concrete reality behind changing appearances” – what is meant by this really?
  • It is the universal that is in fact the true content of sense-certainty. – can we push back on this? Maybe the ‘gravity’ of its universality isn’t really that interesting.


  • Demonstrative words attempt, as it were, to express something individual, but we end up expressing a universal truth.
  • When we say “This”, we mean Being-in-general.
  • How much of this is a empty linguistic concept?
  • Language is more truthful – we refute what we mean to say. Well now this gets into the question of meaning. How can we refute what we mean to say?


  • “here” always changes its application – it is pure universality
  • We can only pin down individuality, in general
  • Question – is this a sort of cheap “the only constant is change”?
  • “Here” is the tree, I turn around, it is not “here”: “here”ness persists. Similar to Husserl’s


  • The universality of pure being involves abstraction – but not “real abstraction from rich contents”
  • Rather, i tis “abstraction from the mere meaning/claim to have rich contents”
  • Pure being is the essence of sense-certainty.
  • Comparison to Husserl and Sartre here?
  • Pure beingi s not immediacy – rather, it emerges trhough negation and mediation (dialectical movement)
  • Meaning is “left over in face of this empty or indifferent Now and Here” (?? what does this mean??)


  • The object was supposed to be the essential element in sense-certainty, but now it is the universal which th eobject has come to be.
  • Certainty is found in knowing the unessential element.
  • The truth of the object is as my object, b/c I know it
  • Sense-certainty is expelled from the object but driven back into me, the I.
  • The phenomenological emphasis is on the subject
  • A Cartesian move? Findlay’s interjection


  • The force of the truth lies in the “I” – my experiencing
  • The single Now and Here vanish. We fill Now and Here with meaning for us.
  • Aha, but then what about different Is for which “here” and “now” my be different?
  • “One truth vanishes in the other…” – ominous


  • The universal “I” does not disappear here
  • “I” is merely universal
  • When I say “this here”, I am saying all “Thises”. ((what??))
  • Science is faced with the demand that it should construct “this thing” – we want to press out what this “means”, but it cannot “mean” anything.
  • Every man is an experient, irreducible to others – the other subject is unpenetrable.


  • Sense certainty comes to know by experience that its ssence is in neither the object nor the subject
  • The ‘immediacy’ of sense-certainty is in the interplay
  • What i mean is unessential (?)
  • Only sense-certainty as a system stands within itself


  • Pure immediacy no longer has concern for the otherness of the “here”
  • Truth is preserved in a self-identical relation – un/essential collapses.
  • I become a pure actor of intuiting – Now is day, Here is tree.


  • This certainty recedes when Now is night
  • We must point to our immediate reality


  • The NOw is pointed towards, this Now
  • The universal force of Now has ceased once it has been pointed towards (‘actualized’)
  • The Now is pointed out is the Now which was, it does not have the truth of being / existing (even as it has been)


  1. I point out the Now as truth, but it becomes something which has been; I set this aside.
  2. I assert a second truth that it has been (i.e. abandoning my attempt to express the present case).
  3. What has been is not, so I set aside the second truth. Negating the negation of the Now, we return to the assertion that the Now is.
    • Need some help on the significance of this.
    • When the thing gets refelected back into itself, it is not so much immediate but has a plurality of itself. – and Now acquires a truly universal force.
    • How is this different from eidetic variation to reach the eidos, the thing of all forms?


  • The pointed-out Here is a this Here
  • What is pointed out is a negative This – other Heres supercede themselves.
  • What is pointed out is not immediate knowing (Husserl?), but a movement from the Here, a simple plurality


  • The dialectic of sense-certainty is a history of its movement and its experience, it is this history
  • Natural consciousness is alays reaching this result of self-movement – but it is equally forgetting it and repeating it.
  • It is astonishing how much philosophy has set out sense-objects and Thises as an absolute truth for consciousness
  • Every consciousness supercedes a truth.
  • Sensuousness and sensuality
  • Sense-certainty thinks it defines particulars.
  • The sensuous This cannot be reached by language, it belongs to consciousness
    • So what would Hegel say about something like Sapir-Whorf?
    • So what, sensuality is not present in language?
  • Language outlines a category/range of sense-certainty, but it is not the truth of sense-certainty.
  • Language has the “divine nature” of directly reversing what was said.
  • How instrumental is language to Hegel’s project here? i.e. “could it have preceded without the ontological -metaphysical properties of language”?
  • Knowledge and the object!

2. Perception: Or the Thing and Deception


  • Immediate certainty does not take over the truth; truth is universal but certainty wants to apprehend the This.
  • Perception makes what is present as universal.
  • Self-differentiating moments in perception are universal: I, the object
  • With the object and the I, there are two movements: thea ct of perceiving, and the object perceived. These two moments come into being.
  • The object is the same as the movement – differentiation into two moments, and the object is the togetherness of the moments (the object and the I)
  • For us, the universal is the essence of perception. Both perceiver and perception appear unessential, but because they are both universal, they are in fact essential.
  • However the un/essential dyad has to manifest somehow, and it turns out that the perceiver ends up being unessential and the object seemingly essential.


  • The universal of the object is mediated
  • The object shows itself as its nature by presenting itself as a thing with many properties
  • Sense-knowledge belongs to perception, not immediate certainty, because it is a combination of many appearances.
  • Only perception contains negation in its essence: that something cna be different as it seems but still the same thing.


  • The This is not This, the nothing of the This
  • The sense-element is still present but not in the same way as in immediate certainty – as a universal “property”, not merely a singer instance
  • Supersession: both negating and preserving
  • Nothing preserves its immediacy and is itself sensuous, in act a universal immediacy
  • Many properties are established simultaneously
  • Determinacies are related only to themselves, they are indifferent to one another.
  • Thinghood / pure essence – the abstract universal medium by which things pass through and from each other, merely what Here and Now have shown themselves as, i.e. simple togetherness of plurality
  • The many are simple universals themselves
  • Many properties are in the simple “Here”, and coexist without ‘touching’ each other
  • Also – the pure universal itself, thinghood held together indifferently.


  • The character of positive universality is first observed and developed…
  • … but another side presents itself.
  • If the determinate properties were only to ignore and pass through each other, they would not be determinate, they need to differentiate themselves and relate to tohers as conceptual opposites.
  • The differentiation of the properties falls outside the simple medium of being. The unity excludes an other.
  • One is the moment of negation, it is relation of self to self and excludes the other, the criterion of thinghoodness
  • Negation is inherit in a property as a determinateness which is one with th eimmediacy of being.
  • Determiniteness is set free from the unity and exists in and for itself.


  • The thing as the truth of perception is completed
    • This is true for the construction of the thing of perception
    • Consicousness demadns the Thing as its objefct
    • It only needed to take / apprened it to consider that it might be true.
    • Otherseness is always present in phenomenal experience.

4: The Truth of Self-Certainty


  • Previously, what is true for consciousness is other than itself.
  • The Notion of this truth self-sublates.
  • What the object was in-itself (mere being for sense-certainty, concrete thing for perception, Force for Understanding) is not the truth; the in-itself turns out to be for an other.
  • Certainty gives place to truth. But now… certainty is identical to its truth? Certainty is its own object?
  • Consciousness makes a distinction but also does not – self-consciousness.
  • Notion is the movement of knowing. Object is knowing as a passive unity. Object corresponds to Notion.
  • Being-in-itself and being-for-another is the same; the in-itself is consciousness but also for consciousness of the other.
  • I is its own self
  • The in-itself is consciousness, for also so is the for-which-an-other-in-itself-is, and for-consciousness… “I” is the content of the connection.


  • With self-consciousness, we have entered naive truth.
  • Knowing of itself with knowing of an other. The other has vanished – everything is now a moment of self-consciousness
  • The simple self-subsistent existence for consciousness has been lost. But self-consciousness is reflection out of being of the world of sense and perception and in fact a return from otherness.
  • Self-consciousness distinguishes itslef as itself, but this differences is sublated. The tautology “I am I” is not self-consciousness. Otherness must have the formf of a being.
  • Two moments
    • First moment: self-consciousness is in the form of consciousness, with all of the sensuous world
    • Second moment: unity of self-consciousness with itself, and the snesuous world is only appearance (difference with no difference)
    • Consciousness as self-consciousness has a double object: the immediate object which appears as negative, and the true essence opposed to the first.
  • Self-consciousness is the movement in which identity of itself with itself becomes explicit for it.
  • The nature of Desire is to abolish the otherness of the Other, i.e. to make it yours, to bring it within yourself.
  • Otherness always vanishes


  • The object has returend to itself on its side, just like consciousness has done (for us). The object becomes Life.
  • The object of immediate desire becomes a living thing.
  • The object is implicitly independent.
  • Self-consciousness for-itself which desires the object will learn its independence in experience.


  • The essence of life is infinity as the sublation of all distinctions, the center of the universe.
  • Pure movement is the essence of living


  • Living organisms are nothing but their relation to the flux of living.
  • Unity of life is constantly violently separated, because it can only be a unity if this is so.
  • The real Substance is flux constantly being changed.


  • Life involves independent forms asserting themselves against others
  • Life consumes and dissolves solid structures
  • Life is a passive separating-out of shapes and becomes movement of those shapes, Life as a process
  • It itself becomes other throughout the difference
  • The sublation of indiviual existence is the production of it
  • Substances which places the other within itself supercedes simplicity of its essence
  • The whole round of activity constitutes Life

Life consists rather in being the self-developing whole which dissolves its development and in this movement simply preserves itself.


  • Beginning from the first immediate unity and returning to the unity, we get a reflected unity, we have come further than before (immediate unity).
  • Reflected unity is universal, and contains moments superceded within itself.


  • The other Life exists in the frist instance only as simple essence, a pure “I”.
  • Over time, the abstract object enriches itself for the “I”.


  • The simple “I” is the simple universal. Differences are not differences only by being the negative essence, self-consciousness can only become certain of itself by sublating the other
  • Self-consciousness abolishes articulate forms which stand opposed to it, it is basically desire and need, it consumes.
  • Marx and capital?? C-M-C \(\to\) M-C-M'


  • Experience makes it clear that the object has its own independence.
  • Desire and self-certainty become conditioned by the object; self-certainty comes from superceding the other
  • Self-consciousness is negatively related to the object and is unable to sublate it because that relationship produces the object again, and that desire also.
  • Something other than self-consicousness is the essence of Desire. Self-consciousness realizes this truth.
  • The object can achieve satisfaction only when it negates within itself; the object is in its own self negation and is consciousness.
  • In Life, negation is present in an other (Desire) or as a determinateness opposed to an indifferent form.
  • Self-consciousness achieves satisfaction only in another slef-consciousness. Striving forward, pushing.
  • The object must abolish itself, becuase consciousness’ desire to abolish the object regenerates it and negates consciousness. So the object then reveals itself to self-consciousness as being self-consciousness.


  • Self-consciousness: three motions
    1. Pure undifferentiated “I” as the immediate object
    2. Immediacy is itself an absolute mediation, desire – certainty becomes truth
    3. When desire is satisfied, this is only a double reflection, or a duplication of self-consciousness. Consciousness posits its own otherness or difference as nothingness and independent


  • Self-consciousness exists for self-consciousness.
  • This way, unity of itself in its otherness becomes explicit for it.
  • Spirit is the absolute substance which is the unity of different independent self-cosnciousnesses. – but also, perfect freedom and independence.


  • Self-consciousness exists in and for itself when it exists for another / being acknowledged
  • Moments must be apart but also together in their opposite significance.


  • Self-consciousness is faced by another self-consciousness which has come outside of itself
  • It has lost itself but also finds itself as another being.
  • It sublates the other – it does not see the other as an essential being, but as its own self.


  • Consciousness must sublate its own otherness.
  • Firstly: must sublate the other independent being to be sure that it itself is the essential being
  • Secondly: sublate its own self


  • Essentially, this is a return to itself / oneself.
  • Consciousness receives back its own self, because by sublating its otherness it becomes equal to itself
  • Yet… self-consciousness must again give itself back again to itself
  • Why do we need two moments?


  • Self-consciousness has been represented as the action of one consciousness
  • Consciousness is both one and the other – the other is equally independent and self-contained.
  • Double movement of self-consciousness: each sees the other to do the same as it does, etc. – total symmetry


  • Double significance of the action


  • Consciousness comes out of itself but is yet back within itself, for itself.
  • Consciousness both is and is not another consciousness

Each is for the other the middle term, through which each mediates itself with itself and unites with itself… They recognize themsleves as mutually reocgnizing one another.


  • Initially, self-consciousness will introduce an inequality.
  • One recognizes…
  • …and the other is recognized.


  • Self-consciousness begins as a simple being-for-self, self-equal via exclusion of itself from everything else
  • The other approahces as a veiled self-consciousness: they are for each other independent shapes in the immediacy of Life
  • Each is sure of themselves but not of the selfconsicousness of the other


  • Presentation of self-consicousness as pure abstraction consists of showing itself as pure negation of its objective existence (towards abstraction)
  • Two self-conscious individuals prove themselves through a life and death struggle.
  • Only by staking one’s life is freedom won.
  • The essential being for self-cosnciousness is not just being (the immediate form) but that there is no vanishing moment, it is pure being-for-self, totally unconditioned and absolute.
  • Each must stake his life and search the other’s death
  • Each regards its otherness as pure being-for-self, or absolute negation.
  • Question – why so hell-bent on destruction?


  • Trial by death: does away with certainty of self.
  • Life is the natural setting of consciousness
  • Death is the natural negation of consciousness.
  • Their tension is not resolved; death eliminates all opposition but only for others; it does not preserve the struggle for all parties.
  • The parties in question must live.
  • Death is an abstract negation, not negation coming from consciousness.


  • Self-consicousness learns that life is as essential to it as pure self-consciousness
  • The demotion of another self-consciousness so that it does not really compete with my self-consciousness takes the form of master and slave, lord and bondsman.
  • The two self-consciousnesses are fundamentally the same at the bottom, but this becomes veiled


  • The lord’s self-consciousness enjoys the being of mere things through the bondsman’s self-consciousness
  • The lord reaps enjoyment form the bondsman’s labors.


  • We have an essentially unbalanced relationship in which the bondsman gives up his being-for-self for the lord.
  • The lord uses the bondsman as an instrument
  • What the lord sees in the bondsman and vice versa is not what either sees in himsefl: total distortion metaphyscially


  • The lord depends on the bondsman’s self-consciousness
  • The object from which he lord has gotten his lordship comes from an independent consciousness


  • The truth of independent self-consciousness is therefore to be found in the bondsman’s self-consciousness rather than in the lord’s.
  • Like in Marx: the proletariat is the partiality of the universality


  • The bondsman becomes shacken out of his particularity and rises to absolute negativity
  • The bondsman has experienced absolute negativity, in its fear of death and the absolute Lord, trembling.
  • The bondsman rids himself of his attachment to natural existence, and gets rid of it by working on it.
  • Why does the opposite not also hold true, that the bondsman gets his existence from the lord?


  • The bondsman preserves his labor, putting himself into the outward thing – whereas the lord’s dealings end and vanish
  • The bondsman achieves a more genuine self-consciousness.
  • Through work, the bondsman becomes more conscious of what he truly is.
  • Work is desire held in check, fleetingness staved off – work forms and shapes the thing
  • Marx? – are they in tension here?
  • Consciousness comes to see in the independent being its own independence.


  • The negative significance of fear: the bondsman’s negativity becomes an object for him
  • The bondsman posits himself as a negative and becomes for-himself, existing on his own account.
  • In the lord, being-for-self is an other for the bondsman
  • In fear, the being-for-self is present in the bondsman himself.
  • The bondsman rediscovers himself through himself
  • It is in his work where the bondsman seemed to have only an alienated existence.