Section 1e

The Concrete Experience of Perception

by Hegel Icon

Thus, the dialectic process involved in perception (sense-certainty) is merely the history of its process – of its experience.

  • Perception itself is nothing else than this history.

This is why the naïve consciousness is of itself always coming to this result, which is the real truth in this case.

  • Consciousness always has an experience of it.
  • But it is always forgetting it again and beginning the process all over.

But people do not do this dialectical analysis and so have no knowledge of this process.

  • This is why people announce perception as “universal experience”
  • They even enshrine sense-perception as a philosophical doctrine that is called “skepticism”

This is astonishing.

Skepticism says that the reality or being of external things in the sense of “Thises”, particular sense objects, has absolute validity and truth for consciousness.

  • One who makes such an assertion really does not know what he is saying
  • One does not know that he is stating the opposite of what he wants to say.

The truth for consciousness of a “This” of sense is said to be universal experience.

  • But the very opposite is universal experience.

Every consciousness of itself cancels again, as soon as made, such a truth as e.g. the Here is a tree, or the Now is noon, and expresses the very opposite: the Here is not a tree but a house.

Similarly, it straightway cancels again the assertion which here annuls the first, which is also just such an assertion of a sensuous This.

In all perceptions (sense-certainty) what we find by experience is in truth merely, as we have seen, that “This” is a universal, the very opposite of what that assertion maintained to be universal experience.

We may be permitted here, in this appeal to universal experience, to anticipate(5) with a reference to the practical sphere.

Some philosophers insist on the truth and certainty of the reality of objects of sense.

They say that:

  • they had better be sent back to the most elementary school of wisdom – the ancient Eleusinian mysteries of Ceres and Bacchus
  • they have not yet learnt the inner secret of the eating of bread and the drinking of wine.

Any person initiated into these mysteries not only comes to doubt the being of things of sense.

  • He also gets into a state of despair about it altogether.
  • In dealing with them, he:
    • partly brings about the nothingness of those things
    • partly sees these bring about their own nothingness.

Even animals are not shut off from this wisdom.

  • Animals show they are deeply initiated into it.
  • They do not stand still before things of sense as if these had being in themselves.
  • They despair of this reality.
  • They are complete assured of the nothingness of things they fall to without more ado and eat them up.

All of nature proclaims, as animals do, these open secrets.

  • Nature reveals these mysteries revealed to all, which teach what the truth of things of sense is.

Those philosophers who insist on the reality of objects of sense speak of the “existence” of external objects.

  • They say that this is the existence which has absolute certainty and truth.

For example, they assign a continuous existence to the paper I am writing on.

  • But this continuous existence is really only created by consciousness.
  • The moment they speak that the paper is universally existing, such existence disappears at that very moment.
    • This is because they would have been ascribing existence to the paper from the previous moment and not the current moment.

Therefore the continued existence of anything is unspeakable.

  • Consequently, it is is untrue, irrational, something simply uttered without any real meaning.

Speaking about the existence of a thing is really just to say that it existed at that time. It is this existence-at-a-time which is universal, and not the object.

  • We then express the object’s identity and its likeness to the other objects that have the attribute of existence, rather than its difference from everything else

Everything is an individual thing.

  • Such things have an attribute of existence.
  • This existence makes it universal.

In the same way, “this thing” is everything and anything we like that is existing.

  • For example, this paper is a universal paper just like any other paper.

I point out the paper as a Here.

  • This Here is a Here of other Heres, a Here that is simply many Heres together, i.e. is a universal.


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