Brief remarks on par. 27

Brief remarks on paragraph 27 of the preface.

It is this process by which science in general comes about, this gradual development of knowing, that is set forth here in the Phenomenology of Mind.

The phenomenology of mind is concerned with the establishment of science. All philosophy should be science, i.e. knowledge. As we have discussed in paragraph 25, what is known in philosophy cannot be presented as something immediately given. Science must be a system of knowledge, a dynamic development of its object. Science is not just knowing something, but essentially an knowledge of itself in its knowledge of something other than itself. The phenomenology is therefore the presupposition of philosophy as a science. It is the demonstration of what is contained in the immediacy of knowledge with which we have to start. We start with an immediate certainty, or, as to its object, we start with absolute being. In other words, we have to start with a type of knowledge that can claim to be absolute knowledge of the absolute object. Our ordinary consciousness, what Hegel calls natural consciousness, cannot become scientific at one stroke. It has to be shown to be wrong or insufficient. In that step-by-step demonstration the phenomenology will produce the adequate concept of knowledge, i.e. absolute consciousness or science.

Knowing, as it is found at the start, mind in its immediate and primitive stage, is without the essential nature of mind, is sense−consciousness.

So we start with knowledge as something given. We start with knowledge as it appears immediately to itself. As pure and simple being conscious of something. It is without mind, or rather without spirit.

To reach the stage of genuine knowledge, or produce the element where science is found−the pure conception of science itself−a long and laborious journey must be undertaken.

The form and shape of that laborious journey is developed in a more formal manner in the introduction. What is important now, is what Hegel explains in paragraph 28. The concrete and developed shape of the spirit is the result of different shapes that it produced and rejected. In a way the phenomenology is the historic reconstruction of a development that the spirit has already gone through. Natural consciousness contains the ultimate stage of the spirit in history, albeit in a mere immediate fashion. It is the removal of the form of immediacy that we aim for in the phenomenology. The results of the phenomenology, i.e. the concept of science or the shape of absolute consciousness is not something other than natural consciousness but simply its developed form. Only in that developed form can we say that we truly know what knowledge is. And only when we truly know what knowledge is, can we continue developing philosophical sciences.

This process towards science, as regards the content it will bring to light and the forms it will assume in the course of its progress, will not be what is primarily imagined by leading the unscientific consciousness up to the level of science: it will be something different, too, from establishing and laying the foundations of science; and anyway something else than the sort of ecstatic enthusiasm which starts straight off with absolute knowledge, as if shot out of a pistol, and makes short work of other points of view simply by explaining that it is to take no notice of them.

The phenomenology is not similar to the kind of introduction of science that we can find elsewhere. It is not about the axiomatic definitions that are the foundations of a particular natural science. And of course it’s certainly not similar to the type of philosophy that starts with a brief description of some kind of absolute intuition. As a philosophy, it is always in conversation with other points of view because they too are contained as elements or moments in the developed concept of knowledge. Every particular form of knowledge i.e. consciousness, contains the full and complete form of knowledge that is our goal. Only the fact that its expression is merely immediate or self-contradictory, or inadequate is a concern. There is no such thing as absolute error.

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