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). Continue reading
“‘Here’ itself does not vanish; on the contrary, it abides constant in the vanishing of the house, the tree, etc., and is indifferently house or tree. Again, therefore, the ‘This’ shows itself to be a mediated simplicity, or a universality” (61).
I think that Hegel’s theory concerning “Here” is absolutely fascinating for its implications with regards to “universality” and “consciousness.” Hegel claims that “Here” is a term used to describe the placement or position in which a certain object resides. The word is constant. Just because its fixation changes, such as shifting from defining the placement of a dog to the placement of a cat, does not mean that “Here” “vanishes,” or takes on another meaning. It merely shifts focus from one object to another.
The theory of “Here” is imperative in the explanation of Hegel’s belief in universality, or the essence of a thing. Although “Here” can be used to describe many different objects, its meaning does not change based off of its fixation. With whatever object it references, “Here” refers to the placement of position of a thing not the thing in which is describes. Therefore, “Here” in itself never disappears or changes in meaning; rather, its focus shifts depending on the way in which it is being used to define the placement of an object. Its essence is never transformed.
The theories of “Here” and “universality” all tie into Hegel’s overarching theme of consciousness or cognitive awareness. As humans, we are constantly using our senses to gain knowledge and data from our environment. In order to quantify and then analyze such information, we need markers such as “This” and “Here.” These terms allow us to determine the meaning of and interpret the details our senses recognize. Such techniques provide us with the ability to ascertain the essence of the things we run into during our travels so that we may be cognitively aware of the environment surrounding and our placement in such an environment. Therefore, “Here” serves not only as a way in which to define the position of objects near and around us but also as a facilitator of the discovery of our own placement in the world.