Section 2f

The Inner Realm

by Hegel Icon

'143' This true being of things does not exist immediately for consciousness.

Rather, consciousness takes up a mediated relation to the inner. In the form of understanding it looks through the intervening play of forces into the real and true background of things.

The middle term combining the two extremes, understanding and the inner of things, is the explicitly evolved being of force, which is now and henceforth a vanishing process for understanding itself. Hence it is called Appearance (Erscheinung); for being which is per se straightway non-being we call a show, a semblance (Schein). It is, however, not merely a show, but appearance, a totality of seeming (Schein).

This totality as totality or universal is what makes up the inner world, the play of forces in the sense of its reflection into itself. There consciousness has before itself in objective form the things of perception as they truly are, i.e. as moments turning, without halt or separate subsistence, directly into their opposite, the “one” changing immediately into the universal, the essential becoming at once something unessential, and vice versa. This play of forces is consequently the development of the negative; but its true nature is the positive element, viz. the universal, the implicit object, the object existing per se.

The being of this object for consciousness is mediated through the movement of appearance, by which the content of perception and the sensuous objective world as a whole, get merely negative significance.

There consciousness is turned back upon itself as the truth; but, being consciousness, it again makes this truth into an inner being of the object, and distinguishes this reflection of things from its own reflection into self: just as the mediating process likewise is for it still an objective process.

This inner nature is therefore for it an extreme placed over against it. But it is on that account the truth for it, because therein, as in something essentially real, it possesses at the same time the certainty of its own self, the moment of its own self-existence. But it is not yet conscious of this basis [its self-existence], for the independence, its being on its own account, which should have the inner world within it, would be nothing else than the negative process. This negative process, however, is for consciousness still objective vanishing appearance, and not yet its own proper self-existence (Fürsichseyn). Hence the, inner is no doubt taken to be notion., but consciousness does yet know the nature of the notion.

The Supersensible World: The Inner ; Appearance ; Understanding


Within this inner truth, this absolute universal which has got rid of the opposition between universal and particular, and become the object of understanding, is a supersensible world which henceforth opens up as the true world, lying beyond the sensuous world which is the world of appearance.

Away remote from the changing vanishing present (Diesseits) lies the permanent beyond (Jenseits): an immanent inherent reality (ein Ansich), which is the first and therefore imperfect manifestation of Reason, i.e. it is merely the pure element where the truth finds its abode and its essential being.


Our object henceforward has thus the form of a syllogistic inference, whose extremes are the inner being of things and understanding, and its middle term the sphere of appearance. The course of this inferential process, however, furnishes the further characterization of what understanding detects in the. inner world by the aid of the middle term; and gives rise to the experience understanding goes through regarding this relation of the terms when joined and united together.


The inner world is so far for consciousness a bare and simple beyond, because consciousness does not as yet find itself in it. It is empty, for it is the nothingness of appearance, and positively the naked universal.

This type of inwardness suits those who say that the inner being of things cannot be known; (2) but the reason for the position would have to be taken in some other sense. Certainly there is no knowledge to be had of this inner world, as we have it here; not, however, owing to reason being too short-sighted, or limited, or whatever you care to call it (on this point there is as yet nothing known at this stage; we have not gone deep enough for that yet), but on account simply of the nature of the case, because in the void there is nothing known, or, putting it from the point of view of the other side, because its very characteristic lies in being beyond consciousness.

The Supersensible as an Appearance

The result is, of course, the same if you place a blind man amid the wealth of the supersensible world (if it has a wealth, whether this be a content peculiarly its own, or whether consciousness itself be this content), and if you place one with sight in absolute darkness, or, if you like, in pure light, supposing the supersensible world to be this.

The seeing man sees in that pure light as little as in absolute darkness, and just as much as the blind man in the ample wealth which lay before him.

If there were nothing more to be done with the inner sphere and with our being bound up along with it by means of the world of appearance, then there would be nothing left but to stop at the phenomenal world, i.e. take something for truth about which we know that it is not true.

Or in order that there may be something in this empty void – which, while it originally came about as a state devoid of objective, things, has, however, since it is emptiness pure and simple, to be taken to be also devoid of all mental relations and distinctions of consciousness qua consciousness – in order that in this complete vacuity, which is even called the holy of holies, the inner sanctuary, there may yet be something, we should be driven to fill it up with dreamings, appearances, produced by consciousness itself.

It would have to be content with being treated so badly, for it would not deserve anything better, since even dreams are something better than its own barren emptiness.

'147' The inner world, or the supersensible beyond, has, however, arisen: it comes to us out of the sphere of appearance, and the latter is its mediating agency: in other words, appearance is its essential nature and, in point of fact, its filling. The supersensible is the established truth of the sensible and perceptual. The truth of the sensible and the perceptual lies, however, in being appearance. The supersensible is then appearance qua appearance. We distort the proper meaning of this, if we take it to mean that the supersensible is therefore the sensible world, or the world as it is for immediate sense-certainty, and perception. For, on the contrary, appearance is just not the world of sense-knowledge and perception as positively being, but this world as superseded or established in truth as an inner world. It is often said that the supersensible is not appearance; but by appearance is thereby meant not appearance, but rather the sensible world taken as itself real actuality.

Φ 148. Understanding, which is our object here, finds itself in this position, that, for it, the inner world has come about to begin with, only as the implicit inherent being, universal and still without a filling. The play of forces has simply and solely this negative significance of not being something per se; and its only positive significance is that of being the mediating agency, but outside understanding. The relation of understanding to the inner world through mediation is, however, its own process, by which the inner world will be found to receive fullness of content.

(3) Law as the True nature of Appearance

The play of forces is what understanding has directly to do with; but the real truth for it is the inner world bare and simple. The movement of force is consequently the truth only by being in like manner something simple. Regarding this play of forces, however, we saw that its peculiarity lay in this, that the force which is awakened into activity by another force is just on that account the inciting agency for this other force, which thereby itself only then becomes an inciting force. We have here in this way merely direct and immediate interchange or complete exchange of the characteristic which constitutes the sole content of what comes before us, viz. the fact of being either universal medium or negative unity. It ceases immediately on its entrance in determinate form to be what it was on entering: it awakens or incites, by its appearance in determinate shape, the other side, which thereby gives itself expression, i.e. the latter is now directly what the first was to be. Each of these two sides, the relation of inciting and the relation of the opposed determinate content, is on its own account an absolute process of permutation and transposition.

But these two relations are again themselves one and the same, and the formal distinction of being incited and of inciting to activity is the same as the distinction of content, i.e. the distinction between the incited factor as such, viz. the passive medium, on the one side, and the inciting factor, viz. the active medium, the negative unity, or the “one” on the other side.

In this way there disappears all distinction of contrasted and opposed particular forces, which were meant to be present in this process; for they rested solely on the above distinctions. And, along with both those distinctions, the distinction between the forces collapses likewise into merely one.

There is thus neither force nor inciting and being incited to action, nor the characteristic of being a stable medium and a unity reflected into self, there is neither a particular which is something on its own account, nor are there diverse opposites. What is found in this flux of thoroughgoing change is merely difference as universal difference, or difference into which the various opposites have been resolved. This difference as universal, consequently is what constitutes the ultimate simple element in that play of forces, and is the resultant truth of that process. It is the Law of Force. (3)

Φ 149. The absolute flux of the world of appearance passes into bare and simple difference through its relation to the simplicity of the inner being, the simplicity apprehended by understanding. The inner being is in the first instance merely the implicit universal. This implicit simple universal, however, is essentially absolute universal difference as well; for it is the outcome of the change itself, or change is its very nature. But change, when planted in the inner reality as it [change] truly is, forthwith is taken up into that reality as equally absolute universal difference at peace with itself, and remaining at one with itself. In other words, negation is an essential moment of the universal; and negation or mediation in what is universal is universal difference. This difference is expressed in the law, which is the stable presentment or picture of unstable appearance. The supersensible world is in this way a quiescent “kingdom of laws”, no doubt beyond the world of perception-for this exhibits the law only through incessant change – but likewise present in it, and its direct immovable copy or image.

(b) Law as Distinction and Sameness

Φ 150. This kingdom of laws is indeed the truth for understanding; and that truth finds its content in the distinction which lies in the law. At the same time, however, this kingdom of laws is only the preliminary truth and does not give all the fullness of the world of appearance. The law is present therein, but is not all the appearance present; under ever-varying circumstances the law has an ever-varying actual existence. Thereby appearance continues to keep one aspect which is not in the inner world; i.e. appearance is not yet in very truth established as appearance, as that whose independent being has been done away with. This defect in the law has to be brought out in the law itself. What seems defective in it is that while it no doubt has difference within it, it contains this in a merely universal indeterminate way. So far, however, as it is not law in general, but a law, it has determinateness within it; and as a result there are found an indeterminate plurality of laws. But this plurality is rather itself a defect; it contradicts the principle of understanding, for which, since it is consciousness of the simple inner being, truth is the inherently universal unity. It must, therefore, let the many laws coalesce into a single law, just as, e.g., the law by which a stone falls, and that by which the heavenly bodies move have been conceived as one law. When the laws thus coincide, however, they lose their specific character. The law becomes more and more abstract and superficial, and in consequence we find as a fact, not the unity of these various determinate laws, but a law which leaves out their specific character; just as the one law, which combines in itself the laws of falling terrestrial bodies, and of the movements of celestial bodies, does not, in point of fact, express both kinds of laws. The unification of all laws in universal attraction expresses no further content than just the bare concept of the law itself, a concept which is therein set down as existing. Universal attraction says merely that everything has a constant distinction for anything else. Understanding pretends by that to have found a universal law which gives expression to universal reality as such; but, in point of fact, it has merely found the conception of law itself, although in such a way that it at the same time thereby declares all reality to be in its very nature conformed to law. The idea of universal attraction has, therefore, to this extent great importance, that it is directed against that unthinking way of representing reality, to which everything appears in the shape of accident and chance, and for which determinateness, specificity, takes the form of sensuous independence.

(1) Specific Law and General Law Φ 151. In contrast, then, with determinate laws stands universal attraction, or the bare conception of law. In so far as this pure conception is looked on as the essentially real, or as the true inner being, the determinateness characterizing the specific law itself belongs still to the sphere of appearance, or rather to sensible existence. But the pure conception of law transcends not merely the law, which, being itself a determinate law, stands contrasted with other determinate laws, but also transcends law as such. The determinateness, of which we spoke, is itself strictly a mere vanishing moment which can no longer come forward here as an essential entity (Wesenheit), for it is only the law which is the truth here: but the conception of law is turned against the law itself. That is to say, in the law distinction itself is immediately apprehended and taken up into the universal, thereby, however, making the moments, whose relation it expresses, subsist as mutually indifferent and inherently real entities. These parts of the distinction found in the law are, however, at the same time themselves. determinate aspects. The pure concept of law, as universal attraction, must, to get its true significance, be so apprehended that in it, as the absolutely single and simple, the distinctions which are present in law as such, return again themselves into the inner being, qua bare and simple unity. This unity is the inner “necessity” of the law.

(2) Law and Force Φ 152. The law is thereby present in a twofold form. In one case it is there as law in which the differences are expressed as independent moments; in the other it is in the form of a simple withdrawal into itself, which again can be called Force, but in the sense not of repressed force [spoken of above], but force in general, or the concept of force, an abstraction which absorbs the distinctions involved in what attracts and is attracted. In this sense, e.g., simple electricity is force; the expression of difference falls, however, within the law; this difference is positive and negative electricity. In the case of the motion of falling bodies force is the simple element, gravity, which has the law that the magnitudes of the different factors in the motion, the time spent, and the space traversed, are to one another in the relation of root and square. Electricity itself is not difference per se, is not in its essential nature a twofold entity consisting of positive and negative electricity; hence it is often said it has the law of being so and so in the way indicated, or again, that it has the property of expressing itself in this fashion. This property is doubtless the essential and peculiar property of this force, i.e. it belongs to it necessarily. But necessity is here an empty phrase; force must, just because it must, duplicate itself in this manner. Of course, if positive electricity is given, negative electricity is inherently necessary; for the positive element only is by being related to a negative; in other words, the positive element in its very self involves difference from itself, just in the same way as the negative does. But that electricity as such should break itself up into parts in this way – this is not in itself a necessity. Electricity qua simple force is indifferent to its law – to be in the form of positive and negative; and if we call the former its notion and the latter its being, then its notion is indifferent to its being; it merely has this as a property, which just means that this is not per se necessary to it. This indifference takes another form when it is said that to be positive and negative is involved in the definition of electricity, or that this is neither more nor less than its notion and its essence. Its being in that case would mean its existence in general. But in that definition the necessity of its existence is not contained; it exists either because we find it, i.e. its existence is not necessary at all, or else it exists through other forces, i.e. the necessity of its existence is an external necessity. But in that the determinateness of being through another is what the necessity consists in, we are back again to the plurality of determinate laws, which we have just left in order to consider law, as law. It is only with the latter that we can compare its notion as notion, or its necessity. This necessity, however, has in all these forms shown itself to be just an empty phrase.

Φ 153. There is still another way than that just indicated in which the indifference of law and force, or of notion and being, is found. In the law of motion, e.g., it is necessary for motion to be broken up into the elements time and space, or again, into distance and velocity. Since motion is merely the relation of these f actors, motion, the universal, has in this way certainly distinct parts in its own self. But now these parts, time and space, or distance and velocity, do not express in themselves this origination from a single unity. They are indifferent the one to the other. Space is thought of as able to be without. time, time without space, and distance at least without velocity – just as their magnitudes are indifferent the one to the other, since they are not related like positive and negative, and consequently do not refer to one another by their very nature. The necessity of partition into distinct factors, then, we certainly do have here; but not the necessity of the parts as such for one another. On that account, however, that first necessity too is itself a merely delusory false necessity. For motion is not itself thought of as something simple or as bare essence, but as, from the first, divided into elements; time and space are in themselves its independent parts or its real elements: in other words, distance and velocity are modes of being, or ways of thinking, each of which can very well be without the other; and motion is consequently no more than their superficial relation, not their true nature. If it is represented as simple essence or as force, motion is no doubt gravity; but this does not contain these distinctions at all.

Φ 154. The distinction is, then, in both cases no distinction of an inherent or essential kind. Either the universal, force, is indifferent to the division into parts, which is found in the law, or else the distinctions, the parts of the law, are indifferent to one another. Understanding, however, does have the notion of this distinction per se, just by the fact that law is in part the inner being, the inherent nature, but is at the same time something distinguished within the notion. That this distinction is thereby inner distinction is shown by the fact that law is bare and simple force, or is the notion of that distinction, and thus is a distinction of the notion. But still this inner distinction falls to begin with only within understanding, and is not yet established in the fact itself. It is thus only its own necessity to which understanding gives expression – the distinction, that is to say, is one which it makes only so as at the same time to express that the distinction is not to be a distinction in the nature of the fact itself. This necessity, which is merely verbal, is thus a rehearsal of the moments which make up the cycle of necessity. They are no doubt distinct, but their distinction is at the same time explicitly stated to be not a distinction of the fact itself, and consequently is itself again straightway cancelled and transcended.

(3) Explanation This process is called Explanation. A law is expressed; from this its inherently universal element or ground is distinguished as force; but regarding this distinction, it is asserted that it is no distinction, rather that the ground has entirely the same constitution as the law. For example, the particular occurrence of lightning is apprehended as universal, and this universal is expressed as the law of electricity; the explanation thereupon merges the law in force as the essence of the law. This force is, then, so constituted that, when it finds expression, opposite electrical discharges appear, and these again disappear into one another. In other words, force has exactly the same constitution as law; both are thus declared to be in no way distinct. The distinctions are pure universal expression or law and pure force; but both have the same content, the same constitutive character; thus the distinction between them qua distinction of content, i.e. of fact, is also again withdrawn.

Φ 155. In this tautological process understanding, as the above shows, holds fast to the changeless unity of its object, and the process takes effect solely within understanding itself, not in the object. It is an explanation that not only explains nothing, but is so plain that, while it makes as if it would say something different from what is already said, it really says nothing at all, but merely repeats the same thing over again. So far as the fact itself goes, this process gives rise to nothing new; the process is only of account as a process of understanding. In it, however, we now get acquainted with just what we missed in the case of the law – absolute change itself: for this process, when looked at more narrowly, is directly the opposite of itself. It sets up, that is. a distinction which is not only for us no distinction, but which it itself cancels as distinction. This is the same process of change which was formerly manifested as the play of forces. In the latter we found the distinction of inciting and incited force, or force expressing itself, and force withdrawn into itself; but these were distinctions which in reality were no distinctions, and therefore were also immediately cancelled again. We have here not merely the naked unity, so that no distinction could be set up at all; the process we have is rather this, that a distinction is certainly made, but because it is no distinction, it is again superseded.

Thus, then, with the process of explaining, we see the ebb and flow of change, which was formerly characteristic of the sphere of appearance, and lay outside the inner world, finding its way into the region of the supersensible itself. Our consciousness, however, has passed from the inner being as an object over to understanding on the other side, and finds the changing process there.

Φ 156. The change is in this way not yet a process of the fact itself, but rather presents itself before us as pure change, just by the content of the moments of change remaining the same. Since, however, the notion qua notion of understanding is the same as the inner nature of things, this change becomes for understanding the law of the inner world. Understanding thus learns that it is a law in the sphere of appearance for distinctions to come about which are no distinctions. In other words, it learns that what is self-same is self-repulsive, and, similarly, that the distinctions are only such as in reality are none and cancel one another, or that what is not self-same is self-attractive. Here we have a second law, whose content is the opposite of what formerly was called law, viz. the invariable and unchanging self-identical distinction; for this new law expresses rather the process of like becoming unlike, and unlike becoming like. The notion demands of the unreflective mind to bring both laws together, and become conscious of their opposition. Of course the second is also a law, an inner self-identical being; but it is rather a self-sameness of the unlike, a constancy of inconstancy. In the play of forces this law proved to be just this absolute transition and pure change; the selfsame, force, split into an opposition, that in the first instance appeared as a substantial independent distinction, which, however, in point of fact proved to be none. For it is the selfsame which repels itself from itself, and this element repelled is in consequence essentially self-attracted, for it is the same; the distinction made, since it is none, thus cancels itself again. The distinction is hence set forth as a distinction on the part of the fact itself, or as an absolute (objective) distinction; and this distinction on the part of the fact is thus nothing but the selfsame, that which has repelled itself from itself, and consequently only set up an opposition which is none.

Φ 157. By means of this principle, the first supersensible world, the changeless kingdom of laws, the immediate ectype and copy of the world of perception, has turned round into its opposite. The law was in general, like its differences, self-identical; now, however, it is established that each side is, on the contrary, the opposite of itself. The self-identical repels itself from itself, and the self-discordant sets up to be selfsame. In truth only with a determination of this kind is distinction inner distinction, or immanent distinction, when the like is unlike itself, and the unlike like itself.

(c) The Law of Pure Distinction: the Inverted World This second supersensible world is in this way the inverted world (verkehrte Welt), and, moreover, since one aspect is already present in the first supersensible world, the inverted form of this first. The inner being is, thereby, in its character of appearance completed. For the first supersensible world was only the immediate raising of the world of perception into the element of universality. It has its necessary counterpart in this world of perception, which still retains as its own the principle of change and alteration. The first kingdom of laws dispenses with this principle, but receives it in the form of an inverted world.

Φ 158. By the law of this inverted world, then, the selfsame in the first world is the unlike of itself, and the unlike in the first is equally unlike to itself, or it becomes like itself. Expressed in determinate moments, this will assume the form that what by the law of the first is sweet, is, in this inner, inverted reality, sour; what is there black is here white. What, by the law of the first, was north pole in the case of the magnet, is, in its other supersensible inner world (viz. in the earth), south pole; “while what was there south pole is here north pole. Similarly, what by the first law is in the case of electricity the oxygen pole becomes in its other supersensible reality hydrogen pole; and conversely, what is there the pole of hydrogen becomes here the pole of oxygen. To take another sphere of experience: revenge on an enemy is, according to the primitive immediate law, the supreme satisfaction of injured individuality. This law, however – that of standing up against one who does not treat me as a substantial self, showing him that I am a substantial being, and even doing away with him as a reality – this law is transmuted by the principle of the other world into the very opposite, the reinstatement of myself as the true reality through the removal of the alien hostile being is turned into self-destruction. If now this inversion, which is brought out in the punishment of crime, is made into a law, it also is again only the law of a world which has an inverted supersensuous world standing in antithesis to itself, where that which is despised in the former comes to honour, and that which in the former is honoured meets with contempt. The punishment which, by the law of the former, disgraces a man and annihilates him, turns round in its inverted world into the pardoning grace which preserves his being and brings him to honour.

Φ 159. Looked at on the surface, this inverted world is the antithesis of the first in the sense that it has the latter outside itself, and repels that world from itself as an inverted reality; that the one is the sphere of appearance, while the other is the inherent being; that the one is the world as it is for an other, the other again the world as it is for itself. In this way, to use the previous examples, what tastes sweet is properly, or inwardly in the thing, sour; or what is north pole in the case of the actual magnet belonging to the sphere of appearance, would be, in the inner or essential being, south pole. What is shown to be oxygen pole in electricity as a phenomenon, would be hydrogen pole in the case of electricity not failing within the sphere of appearance. Or again, an act which in appearance is a crime would in its inner nature be capable of being really good – a bad act may have a good intention; punishment is only in appearance punishment; in itself or in another world it might well be, for the criminal, a benefit. But such oppositions of inner and outer, appearance and supersensible, in the sense of two sorts of reality, are no longer to be found here. The differences repelled are not divided anew and assigned to two substances such as would support them and lend them a separate subsistence, the result of which would be that understanding would leave the inner region, and fall back again on its previous position. The one aspect or substance would be once more the world of perception, where the one of those two laws would carry on its existence, and in opposition to it an inner world, just such a sensible world as the first, but in the sphere of ideas; one that could not be indicated, seen, heard, and tasted as a sensible world, and yet would be thought of as such a sensible world. But in point of fact, if the one element set up is a perceived reality, and its inherent being, as its inverted form, is at the same time a sensuously represented element, then sour, which would be the inherent nature of the sweet thing, is a real thing just as much as the latter, viz., a sour thing; black, which would be the inherent nature of white, is the actual black; the north pole, which is the true reality of the south pole, is the north pole present in the same magnet; the oxygen pole, the inherent nature of the pole of hydrogen, is the given oxygen pole of the same voltaic pile. The actual crime, however. finds its inversion and its inherent nature qua possibility, in the intention as such, but not in a good intention; for the truth of intention is simply the deed itself. The crime, so far as its content goes, recoils upon itself, finds its inversion in actual punishment; this is the reconciliation of the law with the reality set up against it in crime. Finally, the actual punishment carries its inverted reality with it in such a way that it is a kind of realization of the law, whereby the activity, which the law exercises in the form of punishment, is cancelled in the process, a manner of realization through which the law, from being actively operative, becomes again quiescent and authoritative, and the conflict of individuality with it, and of it with individuality, is extinguished.

Φ 160. From the idea, then, of inversion which constitutes the essential nature of one aspect of the supersensible world, we must dissociate the sensuous idea of keeping distinctions substantively fixed in a different element that sustains them; and this absolute notion of distinction must be set forth and apprehended purely as inner distinction, self-repulsion of the selfsame as selfsame, and likeness of the unlike as unlike. We have to think pure flux, opposition within opposition itself, or Contradiction. For in the distinction, which is an internal distinction, the opposite is not only one of two factors – if so, it would not be an opposite, but a bare existent – it is the opposite of an opposite, or the other is itself directly and immediately present within it.

No doubt I put the opposite here and the other, of which it is the opposite, there; that is, I place the opposite on one side, taking it by itself without the other. Just on that account, however; since I have here the opposite all by itself, it is the opposite of its own self, that is, it has in point of fact the other immediately within itself. Thus the supersensible world, which is the inverted world, has at the same time reached out beyond the other world and has in itself that other; it is to itself conscious of being inverted (für sich verkehrte), i.e. it is the inverted form of itself; it is that world itself and its opposite in a single unity. Only thus is it distinction as internal distinction, or distinction per se; in other words, only thus is it in the form of Infinity.

Φ 161. By means of infinity we see law attaining the form of inherent necessity, and so realizing its complete nature; and all moments of the sphere of appearance are thereby taken up into the inner realm. That the simple and ultimate nature of law is infinity means, according to the foregoing analysis, (a) that it is a self-identical element, which, however, is inherently distinction; or that it is selfsameness which repels itself from itself, breaks asunder into two factors. What was called simple force duplicates itself, and through its infinity is law. It means (b) that what is thus sundered, constituting as it does the parts which are thought of as in the law, puts itself forward as subsisting, as stable; and, if the parts are considered without the conception of internal distinction, then space and time, or distance and velocity, which appear as moments of gravity, are just as much indifferent and without necessary relation to one another as to gravity itself, or again as this bare gravity is indifferent to them, or as simple electricity is indifferent to positive and negative. But (c) by this conception of internal distinction, this unlike and indifferent factor, space and time, etc., becomes a distinction, which is no distinction, or merely a distinction of what is selfsame, and its essence is unity. They are reciprocally awakened into activity as positive and negative by each other, and their being lies rather in their putting themselves as not-being, and cancelling themselves in the common unity. Both the factors distinguished subsist; they are per se, and they are per se as opposites, that is are the opposites of themselves; they have their antithesis within them, and are merely one single unity.

Φ 162. This bare and simple infinity, or the absolute notion, may be called the ultimate nature of life, the soul of the world, the universal life-blood, which courses everywhere, and whose flow is neither disturbed nor checked by any obstructing distinction, but is itself every distinction that arises, as well as that into which all distinctions are dissolved; pulsating within itself, but ever motionless, shaken to its depths, but still at rest. It is self-identical, for the distinctions are tautological; they are distinctions that are none. This self-identical reality stands, therefore, in relation solely to itself. To itself; which means this is an other, to which the relation points; and relation to itself is, more strictly, breaking asunder; in other words, that very self-identity is internal distinction. These sundered factors have, hence, each a separate being of their own; each is an opposite-of an other; and thus with each the other is therein ipso facto expressly given; or it is not the opposite of an other, but only the pure opposite; and thus each is, therefore, in itself the opposite of itself. Or, again, each is not an opposite at all, but exists purely for itself, a pure self-identical reality, with no distinction in it. This being so, we do not need to ask, still less to treat anxiety over such a question as philosophy, – or even regard this as a question philosophy cannot answer, – “how distinction or otherness is to come out of this pure essence, how these are to be really got out of it”. For the process of disruption has already taken place; distinction has been excluded from the self-identical entity, and put on one side so far as it is concerned; what was to have been the self-identical is thus already one of the sundered elements, instead of being the absolute essential reality. That the self-identical breaks asunder means, therefore, just as truly that it supersedes itself as already sundered, that it cancels itself qua otherness. The unity which people usually have in mind when they say distinction cannot come out of unity, is, in point of fact, itself merely one moment of the process of disruption; it is the abstraction of simplicity, which stands in contrast with distinction. But in that it is abstraction, is merely one of the two opposed elements, the statement thus already implies that the unity is the process of breaking asunder; for if the unity is a negative element, an opposite, then it is put forward precisely as that which contains opposition within it. The different aspects of diremption and of becoming self-identical are therefore likewise merely this process of self-cancelling. For since the self-identical element, which should first divide itself asunder or pass into its opposite, is an abstraction, i.e. is already itself a sundered element, its diremption is eo ipso a cancelling of what it is, and thus the cancelling of its being sundered. The process of becoming self-identical is likewise a process of diremption; what becomes identical with itself thereby opposes itself to disruption, that is, itself thereby puts itself on one side; in other words, it becomes really something sundered.

  1. Infinitude Φ 163. Infinitude, this absolute unrest of pure self-movement, such that whatever is determined in any way, e.g., as being, is really the opposite of this determinateness – has from the start been no doubt the very soul of all that has gone before; but it is in the inner world that it has first come out explicitly and definitely. The world of appearance, or the play of forces, already shows its operation; but it is in the first instance as Explanation that it comes openly forward. And since it is at length an object for consciousness, and consciousness is aware of it as what it is, consciousness is in this way Self-consciousness. Understanding’s function of explaining furnishes in the first instance merely the description of what self-consciousness is. Understanding cancels the distinctions present in Law, distinctions which have already become pure distinctions but are still indifferent, and puts them inside a single unity, Force. This identification, however, is at the same time and immediately a process of diremption; for understanding removes the distinctions and sets up the oneness of force only by the fact that it creates a new distinction of force and law, which at the same time, however, is no distinction. And moreover in that this distinction is at the same time no distinction, it proceeds further and cancels this distinction again, since it lets force have just the same constitution as law. This process or necessity is, however, in this form, still a necessity and a process of understanding, or the process as such is not the object of understanding; instead, understanding has as its objects in that process positive and negative electricity, distance, velocity, force of attraction, and a thousand other things – objects which make up the content of the moments of the process. It is just for that reason that there is so much satisfaction in explanation, because consciousness being there, if we may use such an expression, in direct communion with itself, enjoys itself only. No doubt it there seems to be occupied with something else, but in point of fact it is busied all the while merely with itself.

Φ 164. In the opposite law, as the inversion of the first law, or in internal distinction, infinitude doubtless becomes itself object of understanding. But once more understanding fails to do justice to infinity as such, since understanding assigns again to two worlds, or to two substantial elements, that which is distinction per se – the self-repulsion of the selfsame, and the self-attraction of unlike factors. To understanding the process, as it is found in experience, is here an event that happens, and the selfsame and the unlike are predicates, whose reality is an underlying substratum. What is for understanding an object in a covering veil of sense, now comes before us in its essential form as a pure notion.

This apprehension of distinction as it truly is, the apprehension of infinitude as such, is something for us [observing the course of the process], or is implicit, immanent. The exposition of its notion belongs to science. Consciousness, however, in the way it immediately has this notion, again appears as a peculiar form or new attitude of consciousness, which does not recognize its own essential nature in what has gone before, but looks upon it as something quite different.

In that this notion of infinitude is its object, it is thus a consciousness of the distinction as one which at the same time is at once cancelled. Consciousness is for itself and on its own account, it is a distinguishing of what is undistinguished, it is Self-consciousness. I distinguish myself from myself; and therein I am immediately aware that this factor distinguished from me is not distinguished. I, the selfsame being, thrust myself away from myself; but this which is distinguished, which is set up as unlike me, is immediately on its being distinguished no distinction for me.

Consciousness of an other, of an object in general, is indeed itself necessarily self-consciousness, reflectedness into self, consciousness of self in its otherness.

The necessary advance from the previous attitudes of consciousness, which found their true content to be a thing, something other than themselves, brings to light this very fact that not merely is consciousness of a thing only possible for a self-consciousness, but that this self-consciousness alone is the truth of those attitudes.

But it is only for us (who trace this process] that this truth is actually present; it is not yet so for the consciousness immersed in the experience.

Self-consciousness has in the first instance become a specific reality on its own account (für sich), has come into being for itself; it is not yet in the form of unity with consciousness in general.

In the inner being of the sphere of appearance, understanding gets to know in truth nothing else but appearance itself, not, however, appearance in the shape of a play of forces, but that play of forces in its absolutely universal moments and in the process of those moments.

In fact, understanding merely experiences itself.

Raised above perception, consciousness reveals itself united and bound up with the supersensible world through the mediating agency of the realm of appearance, through which it gazes into this background that lies behind appearance.

The two extremes, the one that of the pure inner region, the other that of the inner being gazing into this pure inner region, are now merged together; and as they have disappeared qua extremes, the middle term, the mediating agency, qua something other than these extremes, has also vanished.

This curtain [of appearance], therefore, hanging before the inner world is withdrawn, and we have here the inner being [the ego] gazing into the inner realm – the vision of the undistinguished selfsame reality, which repels itself from itself, affirms itself as a divided and distinguished inner reality, but as one for which at the same time the two factors have immediately no distinction; what we have here is Self-consciousness. It is manifest that behind the so-called curtain, which is to hide the inner world, there is nothing to be seen unless we ourselves go behind there, as much in order that we may thereby see, as that there may be something behind there which can be seen. But it is clear at the same time that we cannot without more ado go straightway behind there.

For this knowledge of what is the truth of the idea of the realm of appearance and of its inner being, is itself only a result arrived at after a long and devious process, in the course of which the modes of consciousness, “meaning”, “perception”, and “understanding” disappear. And it will be equally evident that to get acquainted with what consciousness knows when it is knowing itself, requires us to fetch a still wider compass, What follows will set this forth at length.


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