The Epistemology of Hegel's Introduction to the Phenomenology of Spirit

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The Epistemology of Hegel's Introduction to the Phenomenology of Spirit

In his Phenomenology of Spirit, G.W.F. Hegel lays out a process by which one may come to know absolute truth. This process shows a gradual evolution from a state of "natural consciousness" (56) (1) to one of complete self-consciousness - which leads to an understanding of the "nature of absolute knowledge itself" (66). By understanding the relation between consciousness and truth, one may come to know the true nature of our existence. Hegel proposes to answer these questions in one bold stroke; he relates them in such a way as to make an infinitely complex and indiscernible universe a unitary whole. This process from a natural state to a kind of transcendence
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There is another implicit falsity in this way of thinking, however. The intellect as instrument implies that "the intellect is an entity distinct from ourselves" (54). It also assumes that "the absolute stands fixed on one side while the intellect stands off by itself on the other" (54), which leads to a major flaw in this train of thought. By completely separating the intellect and the absolute, this method separates the knowledge that the intellect may possess from the absolute as well, thus denying that which the intellect knows of any truth.

To escape from this conundrum, one must assume that knowledge and consciousness are related in some way. Another less palatable option might be the acceptance of different kinds of truths, but Hegel will have none of that. He insists that "the absolute alone is true, truth nothing if not absolute" (55). Unfortunately, traditional science also makes this instrumental assumption, restricting consciousness from the absolute. But Hegel insists that science should not be discarded. One could throw out science because it presumes this separation, but instead one should try to refit science to this purpose (56). Thus, one must establish a new method of determining the truth.

To find the truth, one must have a…

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