The Phenomenology of Mind HTML version

THE knowledge, which is at the start or immediately our object, can be nothing else than just that which is
immediate knowledge, knowledge of the immediate, of what is. We have, in dealing with it, to proceed, too,
in an immediate way, to accept what is given, not altering anything in it as it is presented before us, and
keeping mere apprehension (Auffassen) free from conceptual comprehension (Begreifen).
The concrete content, which sensuous certainty furnishes, makes this prima facie appear to be the richest kind
of knowledge, to be even a knowledge of endless wealth−−a wealth to which we can as little find any limit
when we traverse its extent in space and time, where that content is presented before us, as when we take a
fragment out of the abundance it offers us and by dividing and dividing seek to penetrate its intent. Besides
that. it seems to be the truest, the most authentic knowledge: for it has not as yet dropped anything from the
object; it has the object before itself in its entirety and completeness. This bare fact of certainty, however, is
really and admittedly the abstractest and the poorest kind of truth. It merely says regarding what it knows: it
is; and its truth contains solely the being of the fact it knows. Consciousness, on its part, in the case of this
form of certainty, takes the shape merely of pure Ego. In other words, I in such a case am merely qua pure
This, and the object likewise is merely qua pure This. I, this particular conscious I, am certain of this fact
before me, not because I qua consciousness have developed myself in connection with it and in manifold
ways set thought to work about it: and not, again, because the fact, the thing, of which I am certain, in virtue
of its having a multitude of distinct qualities, was replete with possible modes of relation and a variety of
connections with other things. Neither has anything to do with the truth sensuous certainty contains: neither
the I nor the thing has here the meaning of a manifold relation with a variety of other things, of mediation in a
variety of ways. The I does not contain or imply a manifold of ideas, the I here does not think: nor does the
thing mean what has a multiplicity of qualities. Rather, the thing, the fact, is; and it is merely because it is. It
is−−that is the essential point for sense−knowledge, and that bare fact of being, that simple immediacy,
constitutes its truth. In the same way the certainty qua relation, the certainty "of" something, is an immediate
pure relation; consciousness is I−−nothing more, a pure this; the individual consciousness knows a pure this,
or knows what is individual.
But, when we look closely, there is a good deal more implied in that bare pure being, which constitutes the
kernel of this form of certainty, and is given out by it as its truth. A concrete actual certainty of sense is not
merely this pure immediacy, but an example, an instance, of that immediacy. Amongst the innumerable
distinctions that here come to light, we find in all cases the fundamental difference−−viz. that in
sense−experience pure being at once breaks up into the two "thises", as we have called them, one this as I,
and one as object. When we reflect(2) on this distinction, it is seen that neither the one nor the other is merely
immediate, merely is in sense−certainty, but is at the same time mediated: I have the certainty through the
other, viz. through the actual fact; and this, again, exists in that certainty through an other, viz. through the I.
It is not only we who make this distinction of essential truth and particular example, of essence and instance,
immediacy and mediation; we find it in sense−certainty itself, and it has to be taken up in the form in which it
exists there, not as we have just determined it. One of them is put forward in it as existing in simple
immediacy, as the essential reality, the object. The other, however, is put forward as the non−essential, as
mediated, something which is not per se in the certainty, but there through something else, ego, a state of
knowledge which only knows the object because the object is, and which can as well be as not be. The object,
however, is the real truth, is the essential reality; it is, quite indifferent to whether it is known or not; it
remains and stands even though it is not known, while the knowledge does not exist if the object is not there.
We have thus to consider as to the object, whether in point of fact it does exist in sense−certainty itself as
such an essential reality as that certainty gives it out to be; whether its meaning and notion, which is to be