Superphysics Superphysics
Section 5

Consciousness and Synthesis

by Hegel
7 minutes  • 1361 words

'231' With the thought which consciousness has laid hold of, that the individual consciousness is inherently absolute reality, consciousness turns back into itself.

In the case of the unhappy consciousness, the inherent and essential reality is a “beyond” remote from itself.

But the process of its own activity has in its case brought out the truth that individuality.

When completely developed, individuality which is a concrete actual mode of consciousness, is made the negative of itself, i.e. the objective extreme. In other words, has forced it to make explicit its self-existence, and turned this into an objective fact.

In this process, it has become aware, too, of its unity with the universal.

This unity is no longer looked on by us as falling outside it when we see that the individual when sublated is the universal.

Consciousness maintains itself its negative condition in this. This is why it is inherently in it as such its very essence.

Its truth appears in the process of synthesis.

  • Synthesis is where the extremes were seen to be absolutely held separately by the middle term.

This proclaims:

  • to the unchangeable consciousness that the isolated individual has renounced itself, and
  • to the individual consciousness that the unchangeable consciousness is no longer an extreme for it, but is one with it and reconciled to it.

This mediating term is the unity directly aware of both, and relating them to one another.

  • It proclaims to consciousness and thereby to itself the consciousness of their unity.
    • This unity is the certainty and assurance of being all truth.

'232' Self-consciousness is Reason.

Its hitherto negative attitude towards otherness turns around into a positive attitude.

So far it has been concerned merely with its independence and freedom.

It has sought to save and keep itself for itself at the expense of the world or its own actuality, both of which appeared to it to involve the denial of its own essential nature.

But qua reason, assured of itself, it is at peace so far as they are concerned, and is able to endure them; for it is certain its self is reality, certain that all concrete actuality is nothing else but it. Its thought is itself eo ipso concrete reality; its attitude towards the latter is thus that of Idealism.

To it, looking at itself in this way, it seems as if now, for the first time, the world had come into being.

Formerly, it did not understand the world, it desired the world and worked upon it; then withdrew itself from it and retired into itself, abolished the world so far as itself was concerned, and abolished itself qua consciousness — both the consciousness of that world as essentially real, as well as the consciousness of its nothingness and unreality.

Here, for the first time, it discovers the world as its own new and real world. This is:

  • after the grave of its truth is lost,
  • after the annihilation of its concrete actuality is itself done away with, and the individuality of consciousness is seen to be in itself absolute reality.

This absolute reality in its permanence possesses an interest for consciousness, just as previously the interest lay only in its transitoriness.

The subsistence of the world becomes the actual presence of its own truth. It is certain of finding only itself there.

'233' Reason is the conscious certainty of being all reality.

This is how Idealism expresses the principle of Reason.

(3) Just as consciousness assuming the form of reason immediately and inherently contains that certainty within it, in the same way idealism also directly proclaims and expresses that certainty.

I am I in the sense that the I which is object for me is sole and only object, is all reality and all that is present.

The I which is object to me here is not what we have in self-consciousness in general, nor again what we have in free independent self -consciousness.

In the former it is merely empty object in general, in the latter, it is merely all object that withdraws itself from other objects that still hold their own alongside it.

In the present instance, the object-ego is object which is consciously known to exclude the existence of any other whatsoever.

Selfconsciousness, however, is not merely from its own point of view (für sich), but also in its very self (an sich) all reality, primarily by the fact that it becomes this reality, or rather demonstrates itself to be such.

It demonstrates itself to be this by the way in which first in the course of the dialectic movement of “meaning” (Meinen), (4) perceiving, and understanding, otherness disappears as implicitly real (an sich);

Then in the movement through the independence of consciousness in Lordship and Servitude.

It goes through the idea of freedom, sceptical detachment, and the struggle for absolute liberation on the part of the self-divided consciousness. Otherness, in so far as it is only subjectively for self-consciousness, vanishes for the latter itself.

There appeared 2 aspects, one after the other:

  • the one where the essential reality or the truly real had for consciousness the character of (objective) existence,
  • the other where it had the character of only being (subjectively) for consciousness.

But both were reduced to one single truth, that what is or the real per se (an sich) only is so far as it is an object for consciousness, and that what is for consciousness is also objectively real. The consciousness, which is this truth, has forgotten the process by which this result has been reached; the pathway thereto lies behind it.

This consciousness comes on the scene directly in the form of reason; in other words, this reason, appearing thus immediately, comes before us merely as the certainty of that truth.

It merely gives the assurance of being all reality. It does not, however, itself comprehend this fact. This is because that forgotten pathway by which it arrives at this position is the process of comprehending what is involved in this mere assertion which it makes.

Anyone who has not taken this route finds the assertion unintelligible, when he hears it expressed in this abstract form although as a matter of concrete experience he makes indeed the same assertion himself.

'234' The Idealism which does not trace the path to that result, but starts off with the bare assertion of this truth, is consequently a mere assurance

It does not understand its own nature, and cannot make itself intelligible to any one else.

It announces an intuitive certainty, to which there stand in contrast other equally intuitive certainties that have been lost just along that very pathway.

Hence, the assurances of these other certainties are equally entitled to a place alongside the assurance of that certainty.

Reason appeals to the self-consciousness of each individual consciousness: I am I, my object and my essential reality is ego; and no one will deny reason this truth.

But since it rests on this appeal, it sanctions the truth of the other certainty, viz. there is for me an other; an other than “I” is to me object and true reality: or in that I am object and reality to myself, I am only so by my withdrawing myself from the other altogether and appearing alongside it as an actuality.

Only when reason comes forward as a reflexion from this opposite certainty does its assertion regarding itself appear in the form not merely of a certainty and an assurance but of a truth — and a truth not alongside others, but the only truth.

Its appearing directly and immediately is the abstract form of its actual presence, the essential nature and inherent reality of which is an absolute notion, i.e. the process of its own development.

Consciousness will determine its relation to otherness or its object in various ways according as it is at one or other stage in the development of the world-spirit into self-consciousness.

How the world-spirit immediately finds and determines itself and its object at any given time, or how it appears to itself, depends on what it has already come to be, or on what it already implicitly and inherently is.

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