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The Phenomenology of Mind


THE PHENOMENOLOGY OF MIND
II. PERCEPTION: OR THINGS AND THEIR DECEPTIVENESS(1)
[[Translator's comments: In this as in the preceding section apprehension is effected under conditions of
sense. But whereas in the preceding type of consciousness the universality which knowledge implies and
requires no sooner appeared than it melted away, here in Perception we start from a certain stability in the
manner of apprehension, and a certain constancy in the content apprehended. The universality in this case
satisfies more completely the demands of knowledge. The problem for further analysis is to find the form
which the universal here assumes and to determine the way in which the unity of the object (the "thing")
holds together its essential differences. The result shows that the unity of the thing qua unity is only
admissible as an unqualified or non−sensuous unity. It is a universal, but as such, not conditioned by sense; it
is a pure or "unconditioned" universal−a thought proper. Being undetermined by sense, it transcends
sense−apprehension, and so transcends perception proper, and compels the mind to adopt another cognitive
attitude in order to apprehend it. This new attitude is Understanding.
The following section is thus indirectly an analysis and a criticism of the doctrine which reduces or confines
knowledge to perception. It shows that the position "esse est percipi" must give way to the principle "esse est
intelligi".]]
Immediate certainty does not make the truth its own, for its truth is something universal, whereas certainty
wants to deal with the This. Perception, on the other hand, takes what exists for it to be a universal.
Universality being its principle in general, its moments immediately distinguished within it are also universal;
I is a universal, and the object is a universal. That principle has arisen and come into being for us who are
tracing the course of experience; and our process of apprehending what perception is, therefore, is no longer a
contingent series of acts of apprehension, as is the case with the apprehension of sense−certainty; it is a
logically necessitated process. With the origination of the principle, both the moments, which as they appear
merely fall apart as happenings, have at once together come into being: the one, the process of pointing out
and indicating, the other the same process, but as a simple fact−the former the process of perceiving, the
latter the object perceived. The object is in its essential nature the same as the process; the latter is the
unfolding and distinguishing of the elements involved; the object is these same elements taken and held
together as a single totality. For us (tracing the process) or in itself,(2) the universal, qua principle, is the
essence of perception; and as against this abstraction, both the moments distinguished−that which perceives
and that which is perceived−are what is non−essential. But in point of fact, because both are themselves the
universal, or the essence, they are both essential: but since they are related as opposites, only one can in the
relation (constituting perception) be the essential moment; and the distinction of essential and non−essential
has to be shared between them. The one characterized as the simple fact, the object, is the essence, quite
indifferent as to whether it is perceived or not: perceiving, on the other hand, being the process, is the
insubstantial, the inconstant factor, which can be as well as not be, is the non−essential moment.
This object we have now to determine more precisely, and to develop this determinate character from the
result arrived at: the more detailed development does not fall in place here. Since its principle, the universal,
is in its simplicity a mediated principle, the object must express this explicitly as its own inherent nature. The
object shows itself by so doing to be the thing with many properties. The wealth of sense−knowledge belongs
to perception, not to immediate certainty, where all that wealth was merely something alongside and by the
way; for it is only perception that has negation, distinction, multiplicity in its very nature.
The This, then, is established as not This, or as superseded, and yet not nothing (simpliciter), but a
determinate nothing, a nothing with a certain content, viz. the This. The sense−element is in this way itself
still present, but not in the form of some particular that is "meant"−as had to be the case in immediate
certainty−but as a universal, as that which will have the character of the property. Cancelling, superseding,
brings out and lays bare its true twofold meaning which we found contained in the negative: to supersede
II. PERCEPTION: OR THINGS AND THEIR DECEPTIVENESS(1)
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