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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Force and the Understanding Summary

I've changed this as I was hopelessly wrong, and feel duly ashamed

The universal that consciousness starts off by looking at is a construct of consciousness. In Sense Certainty he describes a universal as follows: "A simple entity of this sort, which is by and through negation, which is neither this nor that, which is a not-this, and with equal indifference this as well as that — a thing of this kind we call a Universal." The universal is a product of consciousness' interaction with the object, a union of object and consciousness, and as such when consciousness takes the universal as its object it is looking at an object which comprises its own relationship with objectivity.

When we start the book looking at particulars (the tree at night, the house at day) and end up learning that the truth of any one particular is the universal - i.e. I can only know this particular thing by knowing it as a particular moment within a plurality of moments. It seems from this that the true 'essence' of particularity is universality. But this means that we have a conditional universality, a universality that is derived from and hence 'burdened' with sensual objectivity. In Perception this is addressed, and we end up looking at the relationship between universality and particularity. In so doing we resolves this conditional relationship; universality is not the essential part of the relationship between universality and particularity, rather both are equally essential to the other. Everything is in so far as it is for another; the essential truth of the particular object is not particular to it, but ris ather its existance within the universal, whilst the essential truth of the universal is that it comprises particularity.

So when we start Force and the Understanding we have this 'unconditioned' universality as our object; and although this object is in fact a construct of consciousness, consciousness is not aware of this as its been looking at objectivity throughout, and considers the 'answer' its ended up with to also be an object. In this universal it sees the movement between particularity and universality, which Hegel calls force. So force must therefore essentially be the movement of consciousness as it constitutes this universal - and not an objective, real, substantial force that constitutes objective, real, substantial being which is how I'd first understood this. As I now understand it, force is consciousness itself as the object of the Understanding (although the understanding doesn't know this).

When force is first introduced its a differentiation between universality and particularity that only exists in the Understanding, as we've already established that these are differences that are really no differences at all. Force is only implicitly a Notion, is only within the understanding, and as such is a Notion that has not been actualised. However, we've established that the truth of the unconditioned universal is that what something is for another it also is in itself - and as such these distinctions must be real and present within the unconditioned universal. We start off saying that the unconditioned universal is itself force, and that the particularities within this universal are force expressed. The movement of force is then resolved into the reciprocal relationship between two forces - and this is then resolved into a second universal, which is the Notion, the thought of the unity of these two forces. This becomes the inner world.

So there's a sense in which this section of the text follows the movement of the Notion (of which I have only a rudimentary understanding) - a blank, imediate universality (the unconditioned universal); particular moments (the two forces); particular moments within a mediated universality (force as an actualised). The inner world - which at this stage is noumenal - is implicitly the Notion, and is essentially the movement of consciousness in its interaction with the objective world.

The chapter then goes on to describe how this inner world is populated by laws, how these laws condense into an overall Law, and how the distinction between the Law and law is really no difference at all. In explaining the world we put forward accounts of the difference between the particular and the universal (a lightning strike and electricity, for example), but in so doing also say that there is no distinction between the universal and the particular (the lightning strike is electricity). So in putting forward these explanations we are implicitly describing consciousness in its interaction with the objective world; we are describing a relationship between universality and particularity, a relationship between the positive (particularity, objective being) and the negative (universality, consciousness).

Having understood that the truth of the inner world is a difference that is really no difference at all, the inner world becomes the inverted world; the truth of every thing is that it is in opposition to itself, and from this we end up with the concept of infinity - every unity is an opposition, and every opposition is a unity. Infinity now becomes the object of consciousness.

Although infinity is the movement of consciousness, and its essential truth, consciousness doesn't know this yet - it still takes it as an object. However, when consciousness comes to take infinity as its object, it knows this object - and the nature of it (infinity) is such that it knows that the difference between itself and its object is really no difference at all. We, as observers, have known that infinity is in fact the real nature of consciousness; but now that consciosuness does away with the distinction between itself and infinity it knows itself in its object. consequently, it differentiates itself from itself, whilst understanding that this distinction is really no distinction at all, and is therefore self-consciousness.


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