Hegel and Sense-certainty

I didn’t really understand what Hegel meant by sense-certainty until I read about what he meant when he said “Here” in the later paragraphs of our reading. In paragraph 101, he says,

“But in this relationship sense-certainty experiences the same dialectic acting upon itself as in the previous one. I, this ‘1’, see the tree and assert that ‘Here’ is a tree; but another ‘I’ sees the house and maintains that ‘Here’ is not a tree but a house instead. Both truths have the same authentication, viz. the immediacy ofseeing, and the certainty and assurance that both have about their knowing; but the one truth vanishes in the other.”

By this, I think that he means that how we sense, or perceive things to be in that moment is how things are, and if we are certain that what we are seeing is really what we are seeing, then that is how we are “certain” and we can say that that is a truth. With this example, he demonstrates that our sense-certianty can change. ┬áThis is what he means when he says “the one truth vanishes in the other”. When you are currently seeing a tree, you can say, with certainty, that what you are seeing then is a tree. However, if you see a house right after you see the tree, you cannot say that you are still, currently, seeing the tree; you are now seeing a different object. This is what he means when he says, right in the beginning of paragraph 99, that

“The knowledge or knowing which is at the start or is immediately our object cannot be anything else but immediate knowledge itself, acknowledge of the immediate or of what simply is. Our approach to the object must also be immediate or receptive; we must alter nothing in the object as it presents itself. ”

He is saying that you immediately can see one object and tell yourself what it is. However, if the object alters, then we must alter our knowledge on what the object is. This is what I think he means when he says that we must be “immediate and receptive”. So, our senses have to change, they have to adjust to our surroundings. What to you guys think?

2 responses to “Hegel and Sense-certainty

  1. I think that the idea of sense-certainty is hard to use when determining what a certain object is because of its high reliance on senses. It’s necessary to alter our perceptions when seeing an object because senses can often be wrong. Certainty is good when defining an object but the certainty can’t be determined based on something that can’t be proven to be certain. I surely agree that our senses have to change and adjust when we encounter one object and then view another but I also believe that the senses alone are not proven enough to be considered certain.

  2. Your explanation of Hegel’s argument is superb. However, I do not completely agree with Hegel. I think that Hegel’s idea of sense-certainty is narrowing and limiting. Although our senses do provide truths about the world around us, they are not the only sources of truth. Our senses are not always right. For example, a traveler in a desert might spot a distant lake. Using sense-certainty, he considers the lake to be a truth. In reality, the lake is nothing but a mirage, a mere illusion to his senses. I believe that our senses combined with intuition and reasoning are the sources of knowledge.

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