by Hegel Icon

The subject of philosophy is the actual knowledge of what truly is.

Before it can do this, it must first understand knowledge, which is the instrument by which to see the Absolute.

  • There are various kinds of knowledge.
  • The wrong choice of knowledge towards the Absolute is possible.

The Quest for Absolute Knowledge

Knowing is a faculty of a definite kind and with a determinate range.

  • We might reach clouds of error instead of the heaven of truth if we do not determine the nature and limits of knowledge.

This chance of error creates apprehensiveness which can make us even think that the quest for Absolute knowledge is absurd.

Between knowledge and the Absolute, there is a boundary which completely cuts off the one from the other*.

*Superphysics Note: Superphysics calls it aethereal boundary

If knowledge is the instrument to attain the absolute Reality, then the application of an instrument to anything does not expose the Absolute.

  • Rather, knowledge would have a mere moulding and alteration of the Absolute.

If knowledge is not an instrument, but is instead a kind of passive medium through which the light of the truth reaches us, then here too we do not receive the Absolute as It is.

  • Instead, we get the medium-version of the Absolute.

In either case, we employ a means which immediately brings about the very opposite of its own end.

  • In other words, it is absurd to use any means at all.

We might solve this by learning how the instrument of knowledge operates.

  • This will make it possible to remove from the result the part which belongs to the instrument.
  • In this way, we get the pure Absolute.

But this improvement would only bring us back to the point where we were before.

A definitely-formed-thing is shaped by a mold or instrument. If we remove that mold, then the thing (the Absolute) stands before us once more just as it did before all this trouble.

  • That trouble, we now see, was superfluous.

If the Absolute could be brought to us by removing the mold, then it would be a trick.

For a trick is what knowledge in such a case would be, since by all its busy toil and trouble it gives itself the air of doing something quite different from bringing about a relation that is merely immediate, and so a waste of time to establish.

If the examination of knowledge were a medium, then we can learn of its law of refraction.

  • But it would be likewise useless to eliminate this refraction from the result.
  • This is because knowledge is not the divergence of the ray. Knowledge is the ray itself that transmits the truth to us.
  • If this were removed, the bare direction or the empty place would alone be indicated.

The Fear of Error

'74' The fear of error introduces distrust into science.

  • But we can distrust that distrust
  • This will make the fear of error really merely a fear of initial error.

This fear starts with ideas of knowledge as:

  • an instrument, and
  • as a medium.

It presupposes a distinction of ourselves from this knowledge.

  • More especially it takes for granted

The Absolute stands on one side

  • Knowledge stands on the other side, by itself and cut off from the Absolute. This knowledge is still something real.
  • By being outside the Absolute, knowledge is also outside truth.
  • But knowledge is nevertheless true.

The fear of error thus is really the fear of being outside of truth.

'75' This conclusion comes from the fact that the Absolute alone is true or that the True is alone absolute.

It may be set aside by making the following distinctions:

  • A knowledge which does not know the Absolute, as science wants to do, is still true
  • Knowledge in general might be incapable of grasping the Absolute. But it can still be capable of truth of another kind.

But this kind of talk leads in the long run to a confused distinction between the absolute truth and a truth of some other sort.

  • “Absolute”, “knowledge”, and so on, are words which presuppose a meaning that has first to be got at.

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