The Phenomenology of Mind

– A –

II. Perception
Or Things and their Deceptiveness (1)

Φ 111. Immediate certainty does not make the truth its own, for its truth is something universal, whereas certainty wants to deal with the This. Perception, on the other hand, takes what exists for it to be a universal. Universality being its principle in general, its moments immediately distinguished within it are also universal; I is a universal, and the object is a universal. That principle has arisen and come into being for us who are tracing the course of experience; and our process of apprehending what perception is, therefore, is no longer a contingent series of acts of apprehension, as is the case with the apprehension of sense-certainty; it is a logically necessitated process. With the origination of the principle, both the moments, which as they appear merely fall apart as happenings, have at once together come into being: the one, the process of pointing out and indicating, the other the same process, but as a simple fact – the former the process of perceiving, the latter the object perceived. The object is in its essential nature the same as the process; the latter is the unfolding and distinguishing of the elements involved; the object is these same elements taken and held together as a single totality. For us (tracing the process) or in itself,(2) the universal, qua principle, is the essence of perception; and as against this abstraction, both the moments distinguished-that which perceives and that which is perceived – are what is non-essential. But in point of fact, because both are themselves the universal, or the essence, they are both essential: but since they are related as opposites, only one can in the relation (constituting perception) be the essential moment; and the distinction of essential and non-essential has to be shared between them. The one characterized as the simple fact, the object, is the essence, quite indifferent as to whether it is perceived or not: perceiving, on the other hand, being the process, is the insubstantial, the inconstant factor, which can be as well as not be, is the non-essential moment.

Φ 112. This object we have now to determine more precisely, and to develop this determinate character from the result arrived at: the more detailed development does not fall in place here. Since its principle, the universal, is in its simplicity a mediated principle, the object must express this explicitly as its own inherent nature. The object shows itself by so doing to be the thing with many properties. The wealth of sense-knowledge belongs to perception, not to immediate certainty, where all that wealth was merely something alongside and by the way; for it is only perception that has negation, distinction, multiplicity in its very nature.

1. The Notion of a “Thing”

Φ 113. The This, then, is established as not This, or as superseded, and yet not nothing (simpliciter), but a determinate nothing, a nothing with a certain content, viz. the This. The sense-element is in this way itself still present, but not in the form of some particular that is “meant” – as had to be the case in immediate certainty – but as a universal, as that which will have the character of the property. Cancelling, superseding, brings out and lays bare its true twofold meaning which we found contained in the negative: to supersede (aufheben) is at once to negate and to preserve. The nothing being a negation of the This, preserves immediacy and is itself sensuous, but a universal immediacy. Being, however, is a universal by its having in it mediation or negation. When it brings this explicitly out as a factor in its immediacy, it is a specifically distinct determinate property. As a result, there are many such properties set up at once, one the negation of the other. Since they are expressed in the simple form of the universal, these determinate characters – which, strictly speaking, become properties only by a further additional characteristic – are self-related, are indifferent to each other, each is by itself, free from the rest. The simple self-identical universality, however, is itself again distinct and detached from these determinate characteristics it has. It is pure self-relation, the “medium” wherin all these characteristics exist: in it, as in a bare, simple unity, they interpenetrate without affecting one another; for just by participating in this universality they are indifferent to each other, each by itself.

This abstract universal medium, which we can call “Thinghood” in general or pure essential reality, is nothing else than the Here and Now as this on analysis turned out to be, viz. a simple togetherness of many Heres and Nows. But the many (in the present case) are in their determinateness themselves simply universals. This salt is a simple Here and at the same time manifold: it is white, and also pungent, also cubical in shape, also of a specific weight, and so on. All these many properties exist in a simple Here, where they interpenetrate each other. None of these has a different Here from the others; each is everywhere in the same Here where the others are. And at the same time, without being divided by different Heres, they do not affect each other in their interpenetration; its being white does not affect or alter the cubical shape it has, and neither affects its tart taste, and so on: on the contrary, since each is simple relation to self, it leaves the others alone and is related to these merely by being also along with them, a relation of mere indifference. This “Also” is thus the pure universal itself, the “medium”, the “Thinghood” keeping them together.

Φ 114. In this relation, which has emerged, it is merely the character of positive universality that is first noticed and developed. But there is still a side presented to view which must also be taken into account. It is this. If the many determinate properties were utterly indifferent to each other, and were entirely related to themselves alone, they would not be determinate; for they are so, merely in so far as they are distinguished and related to others as their opposites. In view of this opposition, however, they cannot exist together in the bare and simple unity of their “medium”, which unity is just as essential to them as negation. The process of distinguishing them, so far as it does not leave them indifferent, but effectually excludes, negates one from another, thus falls outside this simple “medium”. And this, consequently, is not merely an “also”, an unity indifferent to what is in it, but a “one” as well, an excluding repelling unity.

The “One” is the moment of negation, as, in a direct and simple manner, relating itself to itself, and excluding an other: and is that by which “Thinghood” is determined qua Thing. In the property of a thing the negation takes the form of a specific determinateness, which is directly one with the immediacy of its being, an immediacy which, by this unity with negation, is universality. Qua “one”, however, negation, the specific quality, takes a form in which it is freed from this unity with the object, and exists per se on its own account.

Φ 115. These moments taken together exhaust the nature of the Thing, the truth of perception, so far as it is necessary to develop it here. It is (1) a universality, passive and indifferent, the “also” which forms the sole bond of connection between the qualities, or rather constituent elements, “matters”, existing together; (2) negation, likewise in a simple form, or the “one”, which consists in excluding properties of an opposite character; and (3) the many properties themselves, the relation of the two first moments-the negation, as it is related to that indifferent element, and in being so expands into a manifold of differences, the focal point of particularity radiating forth into plurality within the “medium” of subsistence. Taking the aspect that these differences belong to a “medium” indifferent to what is within it, they are themselves universal, they are related merely to themselves and do not affect each other. Taking, however, the other aspect, that they belong to the negative unity, they at the same time mutually exclude one another; but do no necessarily in the shape of properties that have a separate existence apart from the “also” connecting them. The sensuous universality, the immediate unity of positive being and negative exclusion, is only then a property, when oneness and pure universality are evolved from it and distinguished from one another, and when that sensuous universality combines these with one another. Only after this relation of the unity to those pure essential moments is effected, is the “Thing” complete.

Φ 116. This, then, is the way the “Thing” in perception is constituted, and consciousness is perceptual in character so far as this “Thing” is its object: it has merely to “take” the object (capio-per-ception) and assume the attitude of pure apprehension, and what comes its way in so doing is truth (das Wahre). If it did something when taking the given, it would by such supplementation or elimination alter the truth. Since the object is the true and universal, the self-same, while consciousness is the variable and non-essential, it may happen that consciousness apprehends the object wrongly and deceives itself. The percipient is aware of the possibility of deception; for, in the universality forming the principle here, the percipient is directly aware of otherness, but aware of it as null and naught, as what is superseded. His criterion of truth is therefore self-sameness, and his procedure is that of apprehending what comes before him as self-same. Since, at the same time, diversity is a fact for him, his procedure is a way of relating the diverse moments of his apprehension to one another. If, however, in this comparison a want of sameness comes out, this is not an untruth on the part of the object (for the object is the self-same), but on the part of perception.

Φ 117. Let us now see what sort of experience consciousness forms in the course of its actual perception. We, who are analysing the process, find this experience already contained in the development (just given) of the object and of the attitude of consciousness towards it. The experience will be merely the development of the contradictions that appear there.

The object which I apprehend presents itself as purely “one” and single: also, I am aware of the “property” (Eigenschaft) in it, a property which is universal, thereby transcending the particularity of the object. The first form of being, in which the objective reality has the sense of a “one”, was thus not its true being; and since the object is the true fact here, the untruth falls on my side, and the apprehension was not correct. On account of the universality of the property (Eigenschaft) I must rather take the objective entity as a community (Gemeinschaft) in general. I further perceive now the property to be determinate, opposed to another and excluding this other. Thus, in point of fact, I did not apprehend the object rightly when I defined it as a “commonness” or community with others, or as continuity; and must rather, taking account of the determinateness of the property, isolate parts within the continuity and set down the object as a “one” that excludes. In the disintegrated “one” I find many such properties, which do not affect one another, but are indifferent to one another. Thus I did not apprehend the object correctly when I took it for something that excludes. The object, instead, just as formerly it was merely continuity in general, is not a universal common medium where many properties in the form of sense universals subsist, each for itself and on its own account, and, qua determinate, excluding the others. The simple and true fact, which I perceive, is, however, in virtue of this result, not a universal medium either, but the particular property by itself, which, again, in this form, is neither a property nor a determinate being, for it is now neither attached to a distinct “one” nor in relation to others. But the particular quality is a property only when attached to a “one”, and determinate only in relation to others. By being this bare relation of self to self, it remains merely sensuous existence in general, since it no longer contains the character of negativity; and the mode of consciousness, which is now aware of a being of sense, is merely a way of “meaning” (Meinen) or “intending”, i.e. it has left the attitude of perception entirely and gone back into itself. But sense existence and “meaning” themselves pass over into perception: I am thrown back on the beginning, and once more dragged into the same circuit, that supersedes itself in every moment and as a whole.

Φ 118. Consciousness, then, has to go over this cycle again, but not in the same way as on the first occasion. For it has found out, regarding perception, that the truth and outcome of perception is its dissolution, is reflection out of and away from the truth into itself. In this way consciousness becomes definitely aware of how its perceptual process is essentially constituted, viz. that this is not a simple bare apprehension, but in its apprehension is at the same time reflected out of the true content back into itself. This return of consciousness into itself, which is immediately involved and implicated in that pure apprehension – for this return to self has proved to be essential to perception – alters the true content. Consciousness is aware that this aspect is at the same time its own, and takes it upon itself and by so doing consciousness will thus get the true object bare and naked.

In this way we have, now, in the case of perception, as happened in the case of sensuous certainty, the aspect of consciousness being forced back upon itself; but, in the first instance, not in the sense in which this took place in the former case – i.e. not as if the truth of perception fell within it. Rather consciousness is aware that the untruth, that comes out there, falls within it. By knowing this, however, consciousness is able to cancel and supersede this untruth. It distinguishes its apprehension of the truth from the untruth of its perception, corrects this untruth, and, so far as itself takes in hand to make this correction, the truth, qua truth of perception, certainly falls within its own consciousness. The procedure of consciousness, which we have now to consider, is thus so constituted that it no longer merely perceives, but is also conscious of its reflection into self, and keeps this apart from the simple apprehension proper.

2. The Contradictoriness of the Perception of “Things”

Φ 119. To begin with, then, I am aware of the “thing” as a one and have to keep it fixed in this true character as one”. If in the course of perceiving something crops up contradicting that, then I must take it to be due to my reflection. Now, in perception various different properties also turn up, which seem to be properties of the thing. But the thin is a “one”; and we are aware in ourselves that this diversity, by which the thing ceases to be a unity, falls in us. This thing, then, is, in point of fact, merely white to our eyes, also tart to our tongue, and also cubical to our feeling, and so on. The entire diversity of these aspects comes not from the thing, but from us; and we find them falling apart thus from one another, because the organs they affect are quite distinct inter se, the eye is entirely distinct from the tongue, and so on. We are, consequently, the universal medium where such elements get dissociated, and exist each by itself. By the fact, then, that we regard the characteristic of being a universal medium as our reflection, we preserve and maintain the self-sameness and truth of the thing, its being a “one”.

Φ 120. These diverse aspects, which consciousness puts to its side of the account, are, however, each by itself just as it appears in the universal medium, specifically determined. White is only in opposition to black, and so on, and the thing is a “one” just by the fact that it is opposed to other things. It does not, however, exclude others from itself, so far as it is “one”; for to be “one” is to be in a universal relation of self to self, and hence by the fact of its being “one” it is rather like all. It is through the determinate characteristic that the thing excludes other things. Things themselves are thus determinate in and for themselves; they have properties by which they distinguish themselves from one another. Since the property is the special and peculiar property [the proper property] of the thing, or a specific characteristic in the thing itself, the thing has several properties. For, in the first place, the thing is true being, is a being inherently in itself; and what is in it is so as its own essential nature, and not on account of other things. Hence, in the second place, the determinate properties are not on account of other things and for other things, but inherent in that thing itself. They are, however, determinate properties in it only by the fact that they are several, and maintain their distinction from one another. And, in the third self-contained, each in and for itself, and are indifferent to one another. It is, then, in truth the thing itself which is white, and also cubical, and also tart,, and so on; in other words, the thing is the “also”, the general medium, wherein the many properties subsist externally to one another, without touching or affecting one another, and without canceling one another; and, so taken, the thing is taken as what it truly is.

Φ 121. Now, on this mode of perception arising, consciousness is at the same time aware that it reflects itself also into itself, and that, in perceiving, the opposite moment to the “also” crops up. This moment, however, is the unity of the thing with itself, a unity which excludes distinction from itself. It is consequently this unity which consciousness has to take upon itself ; for the thing as such is the subsistence of many different and independent properties. Thus we say of the thing, “it is white, and also cubical, and also tart”, and so on. But so far as it is white it is not cubical, and so far as it is cubical and also white it is not tart, and so on. Putting these properties into a “one” belongs solely to consciousness, which, therefore, has to avoid letting them coincide and be one (i.e. one and the same property) in the thing. For that purpose it introduces the idea of “in-so-far” to meet the difficulty; and by this means it keeps the qualities apart, and preserves the thing in the sense of the “also”. Quite rightly consciousness at first makes itself responsible for the oneness” in such a way that what was called a property is represented as being “free matter” (materia libera). (3) In this way the thing is raised to the level of a true also' since it thus becomes a collection of component elements (materials or matters), and instead of being a one” becomes a mere enclosure, a circumscribing.

Φ 122. If we look back on what consciousness formerly took upon itself, and now takes upon itself, what it previously ascribed to the thing, and now ascribes to it, we see that consciousness alternately makes itself, as well as the thing, into both a pure atomic many-less “one”, and an “also” resolved into independent constituent elements (materials or matters). Consciousness thus finds through this comparison that not only its way of taking the truth contains the diverse moments of apprehension and return upon itself, but that the truth itself, the thing, manifests itself in this twofold manner. Here we find, as a result of experience, that the thing exhibits itself, in a determinate and specific manner, to the consciousness apprehending it, but at the same time is reflected back into itself out of that manner of presenting itself to consciousness; in other words, the thing contains within it opposite aspects of truth, a truth whose elements are in antithesis to one another.

Φ 123. Consciousness, then, gets away also from this second form of perceptual procedure, that, namely, which takes the thing as the true selfsame, and itself as the reverse, as the factor that leaves sameness behind and goes back into self. Its object is now the entire process which was previously shared between the object and consciousness. The thing is a “one”, reflected into self; it is for itself; but it is also for an other; and, further, it is an other for itself as it is for another. The thing is, hence, for itself and also for another, a being that has difference of a twofold kind. But it is also “one”. Its being “one”, however, contradicts the diversity it has. Consciousness would, consequently, have again to make itself answerable for putting the diversity into the “one”, and would have to keep this apart from the thing. It would thus be compelled to say that the thing “in-so-far as” it is for itself is not for another. But the oneness belongs to the thing itself, too, as consciousness has found out; the thing is essentially reflected into self. The “also”, the distinction of elements indifferent to one another, falls doubtless within the thing as well as the “oneness”, but since both are different, they do not fall within the same thing, but in different things. The contradiction which is found in the case of the objective content as a whole is assigned to and shared by two objects. The thing is, thus, doubtless as it stands (an und für sich) selfsame, but this unity with itself is disturbed by other things. In this way the unity of the thing is preserved, and, at the same time, the otherness is preserved outside the thing, as well as outside consciousness.

Φ 124. Now, although the contradiction in the object is in this way allotted to different things, yet the isolated individual thing will still be affected with distinction. The different things have a subsistence on their own account (für sich); and the conflict between them takes place on both sides in such a way that each is not different from itself, but only from the other. Each, however, is thereby characterized as a something distinctive, and contains in it essential distinction from the others; but at the same time not in such a way that this is an opposition within its being; on the contrary, it is by itself a simple determinate characteristic which constitutes its essential character, distinguishing it from others. As a matter of fact, since the diversity lies in it, this diversity does indeed necessarily assume the form of a real distinction of manifold qualities within it. But because the determinate characteristic gives the essence of the thing, by which it is distinguished from others, and has a being all its own, this further manifold constitution is something indifferent. The thing thus no doubt contains in its unity the qualifying “in-so-far” in two ways, which have, however, unequal significance; and by that qualification this oppositeness becomes not a real opposition on the part of the thing itself, but – so far as the thing comes into a condition of opposition through its absolute distinction – this opposition belongs to the thing with reference to an other thing lying outside it. The further manifoldness is doubtless necessarily in the thing too, and cannot be left out; but it is unessential to the thing.

Φ 125. This determinate characteristic, which constitutes the essential character of the thing and distinguishes it from all others, is now so defined that thereby the thing, stands in opposition to others, but must therein preserve itself for itself (für sich). It is, however, a thing, a self-existent “one”, only so far as it does not stand in relation to others. For in this relation, the connection with another is rather the point emphasized, and connection with another means giving up self-existence, means ceasing to have a being on its own account. It is precisely through the absolute character and its opposition that the thing relates itself to others, and is essentially this process of relation, and only this. The relation, however, is the negation of its independence, and the thing collapses through its own essential property.

Φ 126. The necessity of the experience which consciousness has to go through in finding that the thing is destroyed just by the very characteristic which constitutes its essential nature and its distinctive existence on its own account, may, as regards the bare principle it implies, be shortly stated thus. The thing is set up as having a being of its own, as existing for itself, or as an absolute negation of all otherness; hence it is absolute negation merely relating itself to itself. But this kind of negation is the cancelling and superseding of itself, or means that it has its essential reality in an other.

Φ 127. In point of fact the determination of the object, as it (the object) has turned out, contains nothing else. It aims at having an essential property, constituting its bare existence for itself, but with this bare self-existence it means also to embrace and contain diversity, which is to be necessary, but is at the same time not to constitute its essential characteristic. But this is a distinction that only exists in words; the nonessential, which has all the same to be necessary, cancels its own meaning, or is what we have just called the negation of itself.

Φ 128. With this the last qualifying “in-so-far”, which separated self-existence and existence for another, drops away altogether. The object is really in one and the same respect the opposite of itself-for itself “so far as” it is for another, and for another “so far as” it is for itself. It is for itself, reflected into self, one; but all this is asserted along with its opposite, with its being for another, and for that reason is asserted merely to be superseded. In other words, this existence for itself is as much unessential as that which alone was meant to be unessential, viz. the relation to another.

3. The Transition to Unconditioned Universality and the sphere of Understanding

Φ 129. By this process the object in its pure characteristics, in those features which were to constitute its essential nature, is superseded, just as the object in its sensible mode of existence became transcended. From being sensible it passed into being a universal; but this universal, because derived from sense, is essentially conditioned by it, and hence is, in general, not a genuine self-identical universality, but one affected with an opposition. For that reason this universality breaks up into the extremes of singleness and universality, of the one of the properties and the “also” of the free constituents or matters. These pure determinations appear to express the essential nature itself; but they are merely a self-existence which is fettered at the same time with existence for an other. Since, however, both essentially exist in a single unity, we have before us now unconditioned absolute universality; and it is here that consciousness first truly passes into the sphere of Understanding, of Intelligence.

Φ 130. Sensible singleness thus disappears in the dialectic process of immediate certainty, and becomes universality, but merely sensuous universality. The stage of “meaning” has vanished, and perceiving takes the object as it inherently is in itself, or, put generally, as a universal. Singleness, therefore, makes its appearance there as true singleness, as the inherent nature of the “one”, or as reflectedness into self. This is still, however, a conditioned self-existence alongside which appears another self-existence, the universality opposed to singleness and conditioned by it. But these two contradictory extremes are not merely alongside one another, but within one unity; or, what is the same thing, the common element of both, self-existence, is entirely fettered to its opposite, i.e. is, at the same time, not an existence-for-self. The sophistry of perception seeks to save these moments from their contradiction, tries to keep them fixed by distinguishing between “aspects”, by using terms like “also” and “so far as”, and seeks in like manner to lay hold on the truth by distinguishing the unessential element from an essential nature opposed thereto. But these expedients, instead of keeping away deception from the process of apprehension, prove rather to be of no avail at all; and the real truth, which should be got at through the logic of the perceptual process, proves to be in one and the same “aspect” the opposite (of what those expedients imply), and consequently to have as its essential content undifferentiated and indeterminate universality.

Φ 131. These empty abstractions of “singleness” and antithetic “univerisality”, as also of “essence”, that is attended with a “non-essential” element, an element which is all the same “necessary”, are powers the interplay of which constitutes perceptual understanding, often called “sound common sense” (Menschenverstand). This “healthy common sense”, which takes itself to be the solid substantial type of conscious life, is, in its process of perception, merely the sport of these abstractions; it is always poorest where it means to be richest. In that it is tossed about by these unreal entities, bandied from one to the other, and by its sophistry endeavors to affirm and bold fast alternately now one, then the exact opposite, it sets itself against the truth, and imagines philosophy has merely to do with “things of the intellect” (Gedankendinge), merely manipulates “ideas”. As a matter of fact, philosophy does have to do with them, too, and knows them to be the pure essential entities, the absolute powers and ultimate elements. But in doing so, philosophy knows them at the same time in their determinate and specific constitution, and is, therefore, master over them; while that perceptual understanding takes them for the real truth, and is led by them from one mistake to another. It does not get the length of being, aware that there are such simple essentialities operating within it and dominating its activity; it thinks it has always to do with quite solid material and content; just as sense-certainty is unaware that its essence is the empty abstraction of pure being. But in point of fact it is these essential elements in virtue of which perceptual understanding makes its way hither and thither through every kind of material and content; they are its principle of coherence and control over its varied material; they alone are what constitutes for consciousness the essence of sensuous things, what determines their relations to consciousness; and they are that in the medium of which the process of perceiving, with the truth it contains, runs its course. The course of this process, a perpetual alternate determining of the truth and superseding of this determination, constitutes, properly speaking, the constant everyday life and activity of perceptual intelligence, of the consciousness that thinks it lives and moves in the truth. In that process it advances, without halt or stay, till the final result is reached, when these essential ultimate elements or determinations are all alike superseded; but in each particular moment it is merely conscious of one given characteristic as the truth, and then, again, of the opposite. It no doubt suspects their unessentiality; and, to save them from the impending danger, it takes to the sophistry of now asserting to be true what it had itself just affirmed to be not true. What the nature of these untrue entities really wants to force this understanding to do – viz. to bring together and thereby cancel and transcend the ideas about that “universality” and “singleness”, about that “essentiality” which is necessarily connected with an “unessentiality” and about an “unessential” that is yet “necessary” – understanding strives to resist by leaning for support on the so qualifying terms “in-so-far”, “a difference of aspect”, or by making itself answerable for one idea in order to keep the other separate and preserve it as the true one. But the very nature of these abstractions brings them together as they are and of their own accord. “Sound common sense” is the prey of these abstractions; they carry understanding round in their whirling circle. When understanding tries to give them truth by at one time taking their untruth upon itself, while at another it calls their deceptiveness a mere appearance due to the uncertainty and unreliability of things, and separates the essential from an element which is necessary to them, and yet is to be unessential, holding the former to be their truth as against the latter: – when understanding takes this line, it does not secure them their truth, but convicts itself of untruth.

Force and the Understanding

1. Cp. Wissenschaft der Logik, Buch 2, Absch. 2, Kap. 1. Das Ding und seine Eigenschaften, etc.

2. This expression refers to the distinction already made in the Introduction, between the point of view of the Phenomenology and that of the actual consciousness whose procedure is being analysed in the Phenomenology. That is “for us” which we (i.e. the philosophical “we”) are aware of by way of anticipation, but which has not yet been evolved objectively and explicity; it is intelligible, but not yet intellectually realized. That is “in itself” (an sich), which is implicit, inherent, or potential, and hence not yet explicitly developed. The terms “for us” and “in itself” are thus strictly alternative: the former looks at the matter from the point of view of the philosophical subject, the latter from the point of view of the object discussed by the philosopher. The implicit nature of the object can only be “for us” who are thinking about the object: and what we have in mind can only be implicitly true of the object. The alternative disappears when the explicit nature of the object is what “we” explicitly take the object to be.

3. An expression drawn from the physics of Hegel's day.