Thursday, April 2, 2015

Second Installment on the Section "Perception"

A few days ago, I managed to carve out enough time to make good (for once!) to bring out one Hegel video roughly each week.  We've now moved past the literary beachhead and are making some decent progress marching through the section "Perception, or The Thing and Deception".  The putatively immediate object, or rather experience explored earlier in Sense Certainty has given way to something more complex and also in some sense more concrete, less abstract -- that's the main direction we'll be going in, by the way, as we get deeper and deeper into the work, towards perspectives that are more and more concrete (though. . .  they're going to deal with concrete universals!)

In this section -- and as we explore this Gestalt, this stage of consciousness -- it is now a matter of looking at (and looking at our looking) the Thing and its properties.  Hegel might be using what appears a rather dull example -- salt, with its whiteness, and cubicality, and tartness, and . . .  --  and I'm following suit often enough with the ubiquitous piece of chalk that's either in my hand or in my pocket -- but what is going on is quite exciting if you follow it through!

As a side-note, one of the commenters on this video brought up an interesting point about the "deception" referenced in paragraph 116 and throughout this section more generally.
"Possibly being deceived"?  Wondering why Hegel used this ethically loaded word.  Can I not be inexact, unfamiliar, unprepared, not intellectually capable, etc.?
Now, as I pointed out in the discussion going on in the comments, we needn't and likely shouldn't interpret "deception" in this section in such morally-imbued manners.  It is a commonplace not only within epistemologically-obsessed modern philosophy but even among older thinkers (e.g. Plato, Epictetus, Augustine, or Anselm) that the senses often deceive us, that what we take as truth in the senses -- or rather in the perception through the senses -- isn't actually such.

Still, it is worth mentioning that while the German term Täuschung can just as well be translated as "illusion" or "error" -- something a bit more neutral, not involving any sort of intent to lead astray -- there are indeed many other possible renderings of the term that do carry such a negative moral weight with them:  "fraud," "hoax," "trick", and the like.

In this case, in this section, it really is a matter of something more like error, getting things wrong on the part of the perceiving subject, not being deceived by some other subject. . .  except. . .  of course. . .  insofar as the subject is related to itself, is or becomes an Other to itself. . . .  but that is a topic for later on.

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