Science Begins with What?

by Hegel Icon

Highlighted text is Lenin’s underlining. The ® access his annotations.


Only recently have thinkers become aware of the difficulty of finding a beginning in philosophy.

What philosophy begins with must be either mediated or immediate. It can be neither the one nor the other.


The principle of a philosophy also expresses an objective beginning, the beginning of everything.

  • This beginning has a particular determinate content — water, the one, nous, idea, substance, monad, etc.
  • If this beginning refers to the nature of cognition, then it is only a criterion instead of being an objective determination
    • It is thought, intuition, sensation, ego, subjectivity itself.

What is the nature of the content?

The subjective particular beginning remains unconsidered. It is a matter of indifference. This leads to the question: With what should the beginning be made?

90 The modern perplexity about a beginning comes from the dogmatics and the skeptics.

  • The dogmatics require dogmatic demonstration of a principle
  • The sceptical require a subjective criterion against dogmatic philosophising

Both are based on inner revelation, faith, intellectual Intuition, etc.

  • These are exempt from method and logic.

Early abstract thought was interested in the principle only as content. But in time, it was impelled to pay attention to the other side, to the behaviour of the cognitive process.

Thus, the subjective act has also been grasped as an essential moment of objective truth.

  • This brings with it the need to unite the method with the content, the form with the principle.

Thus the principle should also be the beginning. What is the first for thought should also be the first in the process of thinking.

91 How does the logical beginning appear?

The 2 sides from which it can be taken have already been named, either as:

  • a mediated result or
  • a beginning proper, as an immediacy.

92 Is the knowledge of truth an immediate knowledge having a pure beginning, a faith? Or is it a mediated knowledge?

Here we need only quote from it this,

There is nothing, nothing in heaven, or in nature or in mind or anywhere else which does not equally contain both immediacy and mediation.

These 2 determinations reveal themselves to be unseparated and inseparable and the opposition between them to be a nullity.

But as regards the philosophical discussion of this, it is to be found in every logical proposition in which occur the determinations of immediacy and mediation and consequently also the discussion of their opposition and their truth.

Inasmuch as this opposition, as related to thinking, to knowing, to cognition, acquires the more concrete form of immediate or mediated knowledge, it is the nature of cognition as such which is considered within the science of logic, while the more concrete form of cognition falls to be considered in the philosophy of spirit.

But to want the nature of cognition clarified prior to the science is to demand that it be considered outside the science; outside the science this cannot be accomplished, at least not in a scientific manner and such a manner is alone here in place. ®

93 The beginning is logical in that it is to be made in the element of thought that is free and for itself, in pure knowing.

It is mediated because pure knowing is the ultimate, absolute truth of consciousness. In the Introduction it was remarked that the phenomenology of spirit is the science of consciousness, the exposition of it, and that consciousness has for result the Notion of science, i.e. pure knowing.

Logic has for its presupposition the science of manifested spirit, which contains and demonstrates the necessity, and so the truth, of the standpoint occupied by pure knowing and of its mediation.

In this science of manifested spirit the beginning is made from empirical, sensuous consciousness and this is immediate knowledge in the strict sense of the word; in that work there is discussed the significance of this immediate knowledge.

Other forms of consciousness such as belief in divine truths, inner experience, knowledge through inner revelation, etc., are very ill-fitted to be examples of immediate knowledge.

Immediate consciousness is also the first and that which is immediate in the science itself, and therefore the presupposition. But in logic, the presupposition is that which has proved itself to be the result of that phenomenological consideration — the Idea as pure knowledge.


Logic is pure science. It is pure knowledge in the entire range of its development.

But in the said result, this Idea has determined itself to be the certainty which has become truth, the certainty which, on the one hand, no longer has the object over against it but has internalised it, knows it as its own self — and, on the other hand, has given up the knowledge of itself as of something confronting the object of which it is only the annihilation, has divested itself of this subjectivity and is at one with its self-alienation.


Now starting from this, determination of pure knowledge, all that is needed to ensure that the beginning remains immanent in its scientific development is to consider, or rather, ridding oneself of all other reflections and opinions whatever, simply to take up, what is there before us.


Pure knowing as concentrated into this unity has sublated all reference to an other and to mediation; it is without any distinction and as thus distinctionless, ceases itself to be knowledge; what is present is only simple immediacy.


Simple immediacy is itself an expression of reflection and contains a reference to its distinction from what is mediated. This simple immediacy, therefore, in its true expression is pure being. Just as pure knowing is to mean knowing as such, quite abstractly, so too pure being is to mean nothing but being in general: being, and nothing else, without any further specification and filling.


Here the beginning is made with being which is represented as having come to be through mediation, a mediation which is also a sublating of itself.

There is presupposed pure knowing as the outcome of finite knowing, of consciousness. But if no presupposition is to be made and the beginning itself is taken immediately, then its only determination is that it is to be the beginning of logic, of thought as such. All that is present is simply the resolve, which can also be regarded as arbitrary, that we propose to consider thought as such.


Thus the beginning must be an absolute, or what is synonymous here, an abstract beginning; and so it may not suppose anything, must not be mediated by anything nor have a ground; rather it is to be itself the ground of the entire science.

Consequently, it must be purely and simply an immediacy, or rather merely immediacy itself. Just as it cannot possess any determination relatively to anything else, so too it cannot contain within itself any determination, any content; for any such would be a distinguishing and an inter-relationship of distinct moments, and consequently a mediation. The beginning therefore is pure being


To this simple exposition of what is only directly involved in the simplest of all things, the logical beginning, we may add the following further reflections; yet these cannot be meant to serve as elucidations and confirmations of that exposition — this is complete in itself — since they are occasioned by preconceived ideas and reflections and these, like all other preliminary prejudices, must be disposed of within the science itself where their treatment should be awaited with patience.

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