The Phenomenology of Mind HTML version
THE PHENOMENOLOGY OF MIND
"means" this and says so, lies in the fact that it is reason, but reason as such is for it not as yet object.
If it were to know reason to be equally and at once the essence of things and of itself, and knew that reason
can only be actually present in consciousness in the form and shape peculiarly appropriate to reason, then it
would descend into the depths of its own being, and seek reason there rather than in things. If it had found
reason there, it would again turn from that and be directed upon concrete reality, in order to see therein its
own sensuous expression, but would, at the same time, take that sensuous form to be essentially a notion.
Reason, as it immediately appears in the form of conscious certainty of being all reality, takes its reality in the
sense of immediacy of being, and also takes the unity of ego with this objective existence in the sense of an
immediate unity, a unity in which it (reason) has not yet separated and then again united the moment of being
and ego, or, in other words, a unity which reason has not yet come to understand. It, therefore, when
appearing as conscious observation, turns to things with the idea that it is really taking them as sensuous
things opposed to the ego. But its actual procedure contradicts this idea, for it knows things, it transforms
their sensuous character into conceptions, i.e. just into a kind of being which at the same time is ego; it
transforms thought into an existent thought, or being into a thought−constituted being, and, in fact, asserts
that things have truth merely as conceptions. In this process, it is only what the things are that consciousness
in observation becomes aware of; we, however [who are tracing the nature of this experience], become aware
of what conscious observation itself is. The outcome of its process, however, will be that this consciousness
becomes aware of being for itself what it is in itself [i.e. becomes aware of being to itself what, in the
meantime, it is to us].
We have to consider the operation of this observational phase of reason in all the various moments of its
activity. It takes up this attitude towards Nature, Mind, and finally towards the relation of both in the form of
sense−existence; and in all these it seeks to find itself as a definitely existing concrete actuality.
1. v. p. 154 ff.
a(1). OBSERVATION OF NATURE
WHEN the unreflective consciousness speaks of observation and experience as being the fountain of truth,
the phrase may possibly sound as if the whole business were a matter of tasting, smelling, feeling, hearing,
and seeing. It forgets, in its zeal for tasting, smelling, etc., to say that, in point of fact, it has really and
rationally determined for itself already the object thus sensuously apprehended, and this determination of the
object is at least as important for it as that apprehension. It will also as readily admit that its whole concern is
not simply a matter of perceiving, and will not allow, e.g. the perception that this penknife lies beside this
snuff−box to pass for an "observation". What is perceived should, at least, have the significance of a
universal, and not of a sensuous particular "this".
The universal, here regarded, is, only in the first instance, what remains identical with itself; its movement is
merely the uniform recurrence of the same operation. The consciousness, which thus far finds in the object
merely universality or the abstract "mine", must take upon itself the movement peculiar to the object; and,
since it is not yet at the stage of understanding that object, it must, at least, be the recollection of it, a
recollection which expresses in a universal way what, in actual fact, is merely present in a particular form.
This superficial way of educing from particularity, and the equally superficial form of universality into which
the sense element is merely taken up, without the sense element having in itself become a universal−−this
description of things is not as yet a process effected in the object itself. The process really takes place solely
in the function of describing. The object as it is described has consequently lost interest, when one object is
being described another must be taken in hand and ever sought, so as not to put a stop to the process of
description. If it is no longer easy to find new and whole things, then there is nothing for it but to turn back
a(1). OBSERVATION OF NATURE