Saturday, August 23, 2014

Reading Hegel; My Interpretation.

Part I 

Upon the suggestion of my good friend and comrade, Arsh,  I have been pushed to read the introduction to the 'Phenomenology of Spirit' by Hegel. However, while reading it, I realized two things; first, that the thought processes involved in reading it were mostly going above my head, and that I wasn't understanding what I was reading to the level I should. 

Therefore, I decided to read the introduction and record on my blog my interpretation of each section. 

The following information has been written in the hope of placing me, the interpreter, and the reader on as much as the same page as possible:

'This translation of Hegel's Phenomenologie des Geistes has been made from the fifth edition, edited by J. Hoffmeister, Philosophische Bibliothek Band 114 copyright of Felix Meiner Verlag, Hamburg, 1952' 

The translator is A.V. Miller. In the introduction, at the start of each section, is a number. For those who have the same copy as me, this will be useful when I cite it. For  those who don't, I will cite the first line of each section, prior to interpreting it. 

' ___ ' will be used when I paraphrase ( single quotes ). " ___ " : Double quotes will be used when I quote Hegel exactly. 

Enough talk, let's fight. 

73. It is a natural assumption that in philosophy, before we start to deal with its proper subject- mattter, viz. the actual cognition of what truly is, one must first of all come to an understanding about cognition, which is regarded as the instrument to get hold of the Absolute, or the medium through which one discovers it.   ...

Before we start reasoning in the field of philosophy, one must first understand cognition. In this venture, it is understandable for one to be uneasy, because: firstly, there are many kinds of cognition ( and we might make a mistake in choosing the correct version of cognition ); secondly, cognition is definite in its scope and kind; so if we don't attempt to attain the correct definition, "we might grasp clouds of error instead of the heaven of truth".

This uneasiness might be transformed into the belief that securing for consciousness, that which already exists in cognition, through cognition, is absurd. There must be a boundary between cognition and the absolute that completely separates them ( Doubt: Is the 'absolute' same as 'consciousness'? The way he wrote leads me to think that, but I'm wary. )

This is because, if cognition is used as instrument to obtain the absolute, then it surely alters it; on the other hand, if it is not an instrument, but actually a medium, then we obtain the Absolute not as it actually is, but how it exists through the medium.  ( Doubt: How is this paragraph the reason behind the previous paragraph? )

Either which way, the means bring about the opposite of what we want! ( the absolute being altered, or obtaining it not exactly how it is )

It appears that this evil ( of bringing about the opposite of what we want ) could be solved by knowing how the instrument works - because then  we can remove from what we have obtained what was caused by the intsrument, and therefore obtain the absolute; but if we do that, we are left with the absolute, which we couldn't understand in the first place!

However, if the instruments brings the absolute closer without altering it, then ( for some leap of logic I didn't entirely understand ) we would be just wasting our efforts, because there's a good chance it was with us all along to begin with, of it's own accord.

It is just a ruse, for cognition is doing something quite different from what we want it to do - i.e., create an 'immediate and effortless relationship'.

Even if we test cognition ( as a medium, as opposed to as an instrument as discussed previously ) and we find out the laws of its refraction, it is "useless to subtract this from the end result."

His reasoning on why subtracting from the end result  is useless is because if we do that, then the ray itself is removed, and the ray is how the truth reaches us. ( I disagree with this reasoning because subtracting from the end result using the laws of refraction does not remove the ray; it merely changes the angle. )


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