The Phenomenology of Mind HTML version

means that this is the essential reality, or the object which consciousness has. This new object contains the
nothingness of the first; the new object is the experience concerning that first object.
In this treatment of the course of experience, there is an element in virtue of which it does not seem to be in
agreement with what is ordinarily understood by experience. The transition from the first object and the
knowledge of it to the other object, in regard to which we say we have had experience, was so stated that the
knowledge of the first object, the existence for consciousness of the first ens per se, is itself to be the second
object. But it usually seems that we learn by experience the untruth of our first notion by appealing to some
other object which we may happen to find casually and externally; so that, in general, what we have is merely
the bare and simple apprehension of what is in and for itself. On the view above given, however, the new
object is seen to have come about by a transformation or conversion of consciousness itself. This way of
looking at the matter is our doing, what we contribute; by its means the series of experiences through which
consciousness passes is lifted into a scientifically constituted sequence, but this does not exist for the
consciousness we contemplate and consider. We have here, however, the same sort of circumstance, again, of
which we spoke a short time ago when dealing with the relation of this exposition to scepticism, viz. that the
result which at any time comes about in the case of an untrue mode of knowledge cannot possibly collapse
into an empty nothing, but must necessarily be taken as the negation of that of which it is a result−a result
which contains what truth the preceding mode of knowledge has in it. In the present instance the position
takes this form: since what at first appeared as object is reduced, when it passes into consciousness, to what
knowledge takes it to be, and the implicit nature, the real in itself, becomes what this entity per se, is for
consciousness; this latter is the new object, whereupon there appears also a new mode or embodiment of
consciousness, of which the essence is something other than that of the preceding mode. It is this
circumstance which carries forward the whole succession of the modes or attitudes of consciousness in their
own necessity. It is only this necessity, this origination of the new object−which offers itself to consciousness
without consciousness knowing how it comes by it−that to us, who watch the process, is to be seen going on,
so to say, behind its back. Thereby there enters into its process a moment of being per se, or of being for us,
which is not expressly presented to that consciousness which is in the grip of experience itself. The content,
however, of what we see arising, exists for it, and we lay hold of and comprehend merely its formal character,
i.e. its bare origination; for it, what has thus arisen has merely the character of object, while, for us, it appears
at the same time as a process and coming into being.
In virtue of that necessity this pathway to science is itself eo ipso science, and is, moreover, as regards its
content, Science of the Experience of Consciousness.
The experience which consciousness has concerning itself can, by its essential principle, embrace nothing
less than the entire system of consciousness, the whole realm of the truth of mind, and in such wise that the
moments of truth are set forth in the specific and peculiar character they here possess− i.e. not as abstract
pure moments, but as they are for consciousness, or as consciousness itself appears in its relation to them, and
in virtue of which they are moments of the whole, are embodiments or modes of consciousness. In pressing
forward to its true form of existence, consciousness will come to a point at which it lays aside its semblance
of being hampered with what is foreign to it, with what is only for it and exists as an other; it will reach a
position where appearance becomes identified with essence, where, in consequence, its exposition coincides
with just this very point, this very stage of the science proper of mind. And, finally, when it grasps this its
own essence, it will connote the nature of absolute knowledge itself.