The Here and Now

In Phenomenology of Spirit, G.W.F. Hegel discusses the meaning of “here” and “now” to determine how they relate to truth and “universality” (95, 96). Hegel indicates that at the exact moment of “now,” that is the “truest knowledge” because at that exact moment it is true that we are in the “now,” but he goes on to indicate how “now” simultaneously lacks all aspects of truth (91). 

The problem that Hegel astutely points out is that the second after someone says “now,” it is no longer “now,” and now “has become stale” (95). Therefore “now” no longer is, but rather it “is not,” thus “now” loses the immediacy and truth that Hegel initially pointed out (96). Thus, to characterize this phenomenon Hegel relates it to the idea of negation and universality, indicating that “now” is “self-preserving” because “something else . . . is not,” therefore, relative to everything else, there will always be a “now” (96).

Hegel characterizes this idea that “a simple thing of this kind which is through negation, which is neither This nor That, . . . we call a universal,” which “is in fact . . . the true [content] of sense-certainty,” thus indicating that the way “now” or “this” can generate truth is through the idea that they are always different than everything else (96).

This idea of “universality” is better characterized through Hegel’s description of “here.” The example Hegel gives is “here is, e.g., the tree. If I turn around, this truth has vanished and is converted into its opposite: no tree is here, but a house instead. ‘Here’ itself does not vanish,” but rather, “it abides constant in the vanishing of the house, the tree, etc…” (98). This example demonstrates how “here” is a constant and is always discussed relatively to what is being viewed, thus there is always a “here,” therefore making it a “universality.”

This principle that Hegel discusses of everything existing through the “negation” of itself relative to all other objects is intriguing. It is odd to think that nothing truly exists by itself, but that everything’s existence is reliant upon the the existence of everything else.

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