Perception: the Thing and Deception

Summary Of The Chapter

Consciousness defines its object as a universal being: the subject is a universal and the object is a universal. (Universal means: a determination of thought that has a negative relation to its other.) It still wants to just ‘take’ the object as a given, and sees the identity of its object with itself (“remaining the same”) as the criterion of truth. The object nor the subject of consciousness however are without contradiction and that contradiction is even vital for perception. It will be demonstrated that perception is not receptivity but a form of thinking – and consciousness will therefore make the experience that it is self-contradictory.

The first movement takes the concept of the thing and show the experience of consciousness in its actual perceiving. Consciousness goes from the Also of properties through the One defining the Thing as distinct to the properties themselves as the essential synthesis of the two.

The first cycle now takes us back into sense-certainty. We move from the One through the Also to the properties itself. The properties as such however are self identical only when taken as independent ‘matters’ that as such do not constitute a thing – and then we’re back in sense-certainty which took the ‘this’ and ‘that’ as purely positively given. The movement from sense-certainty to perception then has to start all over again.

Consciousness now runs through the cycle again, but with the intent not to fall back into sense-certainty, i.e. to remain focused on the self-identity of the Thing. The one and the many properties are in a contradiction that can only be resolved by taking consciousness itself as the non-identical and affirming the object as the self-identical. When the Thing therefore is taken as One, consciousness takes responsibility for the illusion of the many properties. The Thing however in order to be determinate needs determinate properties, which require consciousness to accept that it attributes Oneness to the manifold of properties contained in the Also.

The third position takes the movement as a whole and objectifies it. The Thing is now both One and Many, and subjective consciousness is now One and Many. Consciousness is at the same time reflected out of this movement and stands opposite its object. In its attempt to hold fast to the objective side of consciousness, the contradiction is now to be divided over many Things – one thing as the for itself and the other as the for another.

In the experience of this movement the Thing however is dissolved, because its basic relationship is now to the other thing in which its inner determinateness is lost. The determinateness of the thing is its being for another, and no longer within the oneness that defines its being for itself.

The result of this experience is the understanding that the Thing is also conceptually self-contradictory. The object of perception is then ultimately an empty play with abstract concepts, in which sense certainty is moved around – to common sense this movement is all there is. But in actual fact, in stead of truly grasping the concept as such in its purity, perception sticks to the sensuous universality that is conditioned, and only reaches the Unconditional Universal as an abstract concept.

Division

The chapter is divided by Lasson in the following three sections:

Introduction: the transition to Perception (111-112)

A. The simple concept of the Thing (113-115)

B. The inner contradictions of Perception (116-122)

C. The movement toward (finite) Understanding (123-131)

8 Comments

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8 responses to “Perception: the Thing and Deception

  1. WYate

    Thanks; this is such a great, pithy summary of the chapter! I’m copying and pasting the whole thing at the very top of my notes on the Perception chapter.

    One question though: where do we find this threat of reversion to Sense-Certainty? The one place where I found explicit mention of Sense-Certainty in this section of the text was an equation of the “Here” and the universal medium in §113:

    “This abstract universal medium…is nothing else than what Here and Now have proved themselves to be, viz. a simple togetherness of a plurality.”

    Obviously the “properties as such” that return us to Sense-Certainty are the ones listed as (c) in §115, but I can’t figure out where he relates these to the problem of Sense-Certainty. Also, it doesn’t seem like there’s really a breakdown in consciousness’s model of the object at all. Hegel seems instead to be saying: “So this is what the object of Perception is like; now [§116] all consciousness has to do is take it up truly.”

    Really this is just a long-winded way of asking the question: Where does Hegel say that the properties themselves take us back to Sense-Certainty?

  2. João V

    Hi William,

    Good to see you back in action.

    “Really this is just a long-winded way of asking the question: Where does Hegel say that the properties themselves take us back to Sense-Certainty?”

    Let me say something about this, not to answer it, which i’ll leave to Robbert, but to test my understanding.

    I would say then that we are driven to a mode close to that of sense-certainty because properties aren’t things, in themselves they seem to be, for me, closer to immediate sensuous matter, properties are not this and that thing, but just this and that here and now (red, blue, cold, round etc…)

    What do you think?

    Regards,
    João.

  3. Hi William, thanks for the appreciation.

    Par. 117: But sensuous being and my meaning themselves pass over into perception… The cycle returns us back into sense certainty – “sensuous being in general.” Joao I think is spot on when he explains why this occurs.

  4. WYate

    Hi Robbert,

    I was looking in the wrong place; clearly in §117 there is a reversion to Sense-Certainty. But my problem remains, because I can’t see how we get there. I will try to identify the place on the road back to Sense-Certainty where I get lost.

    I think it occurs around (5) and (6) in your pdf on the members’ site. In order for properties to be determinate they cannot subsist indifferently in a medium, but must be in a one. So the one somehow forces the properties to determine one another, whereas in the universal medium they would have subsisted side-by-side without touching one another. I’m not quite sure why this is the case; how can a One force properties to interact and limit one another? Don’t whiteness and tartness limit one another even if they never meet in an object? That is, part of what makes tartness what it is, is that it is not a color, like white; and this is the case even if there were no such thing as salt in which whiteness and tartness cohered. But this is a comparatively minor problem that I’m willing to sacrifice on the alter of progress.

    In (5), some properties are indifferent to one another in the one, so we’re back to a community of properties. But _why_ does this indifference of properties to one another force us back to the community of properties?

    And then in (6) there is the place where I really get lost. How do we reach the claim “only the single property in itself can be true”? In (3) we had the same movement where the determinateness of the property required a move beyond an indifferent medium, yet we returned to a one, rather than turning to the primacy of individual properties. If I can figure out how we get to this idea of the single property being alone the true, then it’s pretty easy to see how we come back to Sense-Certainty from there.

    This is perhaps too long a question here, and perhaps I need to discuss §117 with you at more length, but I am desperate to get on with Force and the Understanding in our Skype discussions and don’t wish to impede them with §117, so if it’s possible to correct my misunderstandings here that would be great. Thanks as always for all your help!

  5. William asked: “So the one somehow forces the properties to determine one another, whereas in the universal medium they would have subsisted side-by-side without touching one another.. I’m not quite sure why this is the case; how can a One force properties to interact and limit one another?”

    Consider par. 114: If properties were strictly indifferent to each other (as in the medium) then they would not be determinate. Determinacy depends on difference, i.e. a relating of each property to another as its opposite.

    A One is a differentiating unity, each property inherent in the Oneness of the Thing negating the other and that negating however falls outside of the Medium. The red of this thing is only determinate as different from that red on the other thing – implying that these things are different, i.e. that each of them is an exclusive one.
    This is what I wrote earlier:

    And yet all these properties belong together as a community of exclusive and determinate properties; they come together in a common medium where they define the nature of the thing. The determinateness of a property however as such is in contradiction to the very fact of their belonging together as properties of a single thing. Even though they are determinate that is: different, they must also be indifferent in order to be the properties of a single thing. That is a return to the second position where the thing was declared to be a positive, simply remaining in itself, a being continuous, something that excludes negation.

  6. William asked: “Don’t whiteness and tartness limit one another even if they never meet in an object? That is, part of what makes tartness what it is, is that it is not a color, like white; and this is the case even if there were no such thing as salt in which whiteness and tartness cohered.”

    (I had to look up ‘tartness’ 🙂 )

    Whiteness and tartness can reside together in one object as medium – but how can they be seen as ‘determinate’? If they are mutually exclusive and simply determinate because they exclude each other, they do not belong together in the medium. If they co-exist in the medium they cannot be different and therefore not determinate. As properties, the mode of their being is dependent on the mode of being of what they are the property of….

  7. William asked: “In (5), some properties are indifferent to one another in the one, so we’re back to a community of properties. But _why_ does this indifference of properties to one another force us back to the community of properties?”

    The indifference of properties requires a medium that encloses them like a surface or a bag. Like a circle drawn around 5 points.
    The difference of properties implies a negative relationship between opposites, both within and beyond the enclosure of the Thing. If we simply extend the surface the Thing would become ‘larger’and the difference would not ‘happen.’ Until the whole world was one ‘medium/thing. Therefore we need the One to ground the exclusion/difference.

  8. William asked: “And then in (6) there is the place where I really get lost. How do we reach the claim “only the single property in itself can be true”?”

    Because the property from within the medium remains indeterminate and the property within the One does not inhere in the Thing but moves beyond it in its relation to other Things, the property alone remains what it is: indifferent in the medium and differentiating within the One. Ultimately in the alternation of concepts of the Thing the property is the only thing we are left with as a constant.
    But then without medium nor One the property must be thought of as being simply what it is in itself, i.e. no longer a property, but again a this-here – the attempt to take its object as a universal therefore fails.

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