B. The experience of error
15. Consciousness is perception in as far as the thing is for it the essential being and object of knowledge. To start with, consciousness sees itself as the inessential element and the thing as the essence of consciousness. Perceiving consciousness therefore sees itself as purely passive or receptive. Whatever it perceives it takes to be the true, accepts as the true, and that therefore must be the truth.
16. Perceiving consciousness therefore does not allow itself to add something or leave something out because then it would change the truth. This position is a return of the assurances of sense certainty, that the essence of the truth lies only in the object. The criterion of truth that perceiving consciousness applies is the universal as a remaining itself. But it does not understand that this positive universal contains contradictory moments, it does not understand the thing to be the totality of two conflicting definitions. Instead it takes its object again as something immediate, that is a something that does not have any negation or contradiction within itself. In its attempt to define the absolute, it takes the object of perception as fully positive, essential and independent.
17. Perceiving consciousness however is also aware that the object is the true, and that means that every error within perception must be attributed to perceiving consciousness. Only subjective consciousness is changeable and inessential. Whenever perceiving consciousness arrives at conflicting determinations with regard to its object, the criterion of this truth has been violated. There is a non-conformity between the knowledge and the object that must be part of the act of perception. The thing itself cannot be in contradiction with itself. Whenever there is contradiction there must be falsity within perception itself.
18. The experience that perceiving consciousness now goes through is nothing but the development of the inner contradictions that are already apparent to us. The experience of perception lies in the discovery that instead of the abstract and positive identity of the thing there is a concrete totality of dynamic and conflicting moments.
19. The first stage of this experience is the idea that the thing of perception is a separate and singular thing. Singularity seems to be the true essence of every thing. Everything is this individual thing.
On the other hand it sees that the particular properties of this singular thing can also be perceived as part of other things. The properties are therefore universal because they are common to many things and not singular. It therefore has to conclude that singularity isn’t a true definition of the thing or that the true definition of the thing transcends the singularity. Now because consciousness as perception must also by definition see itself as inessential, it must attribute this error to itself. It must therefore now change its opinion and except the true definition of the thing as being the abstract universal of what is common to many, remains itself, is continuous over against the difference and negative and exclusive.