Reflection - Appearance - Actuality
6 minutes • 1202 words
The truth of being is essence. ®
Being is the immediate. Since knowing has for its goal knowledge of the true, knowledge of what being is in and for itself, it does not stop at the immediate and its determinations, but penetrates it on the supposition that at the back of this being there is something else, something other than being itself, that this background constitutes the truth of being.
This knowledge is a mediated knowing for it is not found immediately with and in essence, but starts from an other, from being, and has a preliminary path to tread, that of going beyond being or rather of penetrating into it. Not until knowing inwardises, recollects itself out of immediate being, does it through this mediation find essence. The German language has preserved essence in the past participle [gewesen] of the verb to be; for essence is past — but timelessly past — being.
When this movement is pictured as the path of knowing, then this beginning with being, and the development that sublates it, reaching essence as a mediated result, appears to be an activity of knowing external to being, and irrelevant to being’s own nature.
But this path is the movement of being itself. It was seen that being inwardises itself through its on nature, and through this movement into itself becomes essence. ®
If, therefore, the absolute was at first defined as being, now it is defined as essence. Cognition certainly cannot stop short at manifold determinate being, nor yet at being, pure being; the reflection that immediately forces itself on one is that this pure being, the negation of everything finite, presupposes an internalisation, a recollection [Erinnerung] and movement which has purified immediate, determinate being to pure being. Being is accordingly determined as essence, as a being in which everything determinate and finite is negated. It is thus the indeterminate, simple unity from which what is determinate has been eliminated in an external manner; the determinate element itself was external to this unity and, after this elimination, still remains confronting it; for it has not been sublated in itself but only relatively, only in relation to this unity. We have already mentioned that if essence is defined as the sum total of all realities, then these realities likewise are subordinate to the nature of the determinateness and to the abstractive reflection and this sum total reduces to empty oneness. Essence is in this way only a product, an artefact.
External negation — and this is what abstraction is — only shifts the determinatenesses of being away from what is left over as Essence; it only puts them, so to speak, elsewhere, leaving them the affirmative character they possessed before. But in this way, essence is neither in itself nor for itself; what it is, it is through an other, the external, abstract reflection; and it is for an other, namely abstraction and, in general, for the simply affirmative being that remains confronting it. Its character, therefore, is to lack all determinate character, to be inherently lifeless and empty.
But essence as it has here come to be, is what it is, through a negativity which is not alien to it but is its very own, the infinite movement of being. It is being that is in itself and for itself; it is absolute being-in-itself in that it is indifferent to every determinateness of being, and otherness and relation-to-other have been completely sublated. But it is not only this being-in-itself; as mere being-in-itself it would be only the abstraction of pure essence; but it is equally essentially being-for-self; it is itself this negativity, the self-sublating of otherness and determinateness.
Essence as the completed return of being into itself is thus at first indeterminate essence. The determinateness of being are sublated in it; they are contained in essence in principle but are not posited in it Absolute essence in this simple equality with itself has no determinate being; but it must develop determinate being, for it is both in itself and for itself, i.e. differentiates the determinations which are implicit in it. Because it is self-repelling or indifferent to itself, negative self-relation, it sets itself over against itself and is infinite being-for-self only in so far is as it is at one with itself in this its own difference from itself. The determining then is of a different nature from the determining in the sphere of being, and the determinations of essence have a different character from the determinatenesses of being. Essence is absolute unity of being-in-itself and being-for-itself; consequently its determining remains within this unity and is neither a becoming nor a transition, nor are the determinations themselves an other as other, or relations to other; they are self -subsistent, but at the same time only in their association with each other in this unity. Since essence is at first simple negativity, it now has to posit in its own sphere the determinateness that is only implicit in it, in order to give itself determinate being and then being-for-self.
In the whole of logic, essence occupies the same place as quantity does in the sphere of being; absolute indifference to limit. But quantity is this indifference in an immediate determination, and the limit is present in it as an immediately external determinateness, quantity passes over into quantum; the external limit is necessary to quantity and is affirmatively present in it [ist an ihr seiend]. In essence, — on the other hand, the determinateness is not a simple immediacy but is present only as posited by essence itself; it is not free, but is present only as connected with its unity. The negativity of essence is reflection; and the determinations are reflected, posited by essence itself and remaining in essence as sublated.
Essence stands between being and Notion; it constitutes their mean, and its movement is the transition from being into the Notion. Essence is being-in-and-for-itself, but in the determination of being-in-itself; for the general determination of essence is to have proceeded from being, or to be the first negation of being. Its movement consists in positing within itself the negation or determination, thereby giving itself determinate being and becoming as infinite being-for-self what it is in itself. It thus gives itself its determinate being that is equal to its being-in-itself and becomes Notion. For the Notion is the absolute that in its determinate being is absolute, or is in and for itself. But the determinate being which essence gives itself is not vet determinate being as in and for itself, but as given by essence to itself, or as posited, and is consequently still distinct from the determinate being of the Notion.
At first, essence shines or shows within itself, or is reflection; secondly, it appears; thirdly, it manifests itself. In its movement, essence posits itself in the following determinations:
I. As simple essence, essence in itself, which in its determinations remains within itself. II. As emerging into determinate being, or in accordance with its Existence and Appearance. III. As essence that is one with its Appearance, as actuality.