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On Hegel And Knowing Essay

1309 words - 5 pages

On Hegel and Knowing For more than fourteen centuries, scholars staunchly believed that the sun revolved around the earth. This Ptolemaic conception dominated the sciences and was considered unshakable. It was not until a man named Copernicus proposed the notion of a heliocentric universe that things began to change. Eventually, science relented and accepted the idea of a heliocentric universe. Even today, when we hear ancient notions regarding a geocentric universe, we laugh in amazement. After all, how could people actually believe that the sun revolved around the earth? Who knows? Maybe in a few thousand years, future generations will look back on our beliefs and laugh too. Doesn't it seem somewhat arrogant and foolish that we believe our knowledge is correct? Aren't we in the same situation as classical civilizations? Don't we believe that we have discovered absolutely the way the universe works? The point is, what was once thought to be absolute knowledge has now become an amusing scientific joke. Old knowledge has been supplanted by new knowledge, which is now considered absolute knowledge. How can we be sure that our knowledge is the truth? G.W.F. Hegel asked the same question in his dense and esoteric Phenomenology of Spirit. He wrote: "The road can therefore be regarded as the pathway of doubt, or more precisely as the way of despair. For what happens on it is not what is ordinarily understood when the word doubt is used: shilly-shallying about this or that presumed truth, followed by a return to that truth again, after the doubt has been appropriately dispelled "“ so that at the end of the process the matter is taken to be what it was in the first place" (pg. 49). This whole process is, according to Hegel, "certainty" or Absolute knowing. Hegel says that confusion and doubt are necessary in arriving at the truth. The question then becomes: how can someone have doubt or confusion about an object and still have an Absolute knowing of that object? Hegel's answer is that our consciousness or sense-certainty (Hegel's term) knowingly brings us through that process of doubt and helps us come closer to the truth of that object for us.I disagree with Hegel's claim that Absolute knowing is connected to the entire thought process that leads us to certainty. I believe that the thought process is comprised of two elements: your consciousness and your ego. Your consciousness is the part of you that views things as they appear. Hegel said, ""¦sense-certainty (consciousness) appears to be the truest knowledge; for it has not as yet omitted anything from the object, but has the object before it in its perfect entirety" (pg. 53). Your ego, on the other hand, is "the division of the psyche that is conscious and most immediately controls thought and behavior" ( The ego is what clouds your thought process and causes doubt and confusion.I think that from the day a child is born, the...

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