The Concept of Habit and the Notion of Immediacy - Sean Mc Stravick 2019

In the present chapter, I wish to explore the correspondence at work between the anthropological notion of habit [Gewhonheit] and the ontological notion of immediacy [Unmittelbarkeit] in Hegel's philosophy. Nonetheless, I will deliberately not
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  In the present chapter, I wish to explore  the correspondence at work between the anthropological notion o habit [ Gewhonheit  ] and the onto-logical notion o immediacy [ Unmittelbarkeit  ] in Hegel’s philosophy. Nonetheless, I will deliberately not deine the speciic type o correspondence at work – that is, whether habit and immediacy are identical   or equivalent  , or whether habit is a  paradigm  o immediacy. hose questions go beyond the aim o this chapter, which is to clariy the unction o immediacy as absolute secondarity. I believe this enables us to grasp the speculative nature o the relation between being and thought, and understand the spiral   structure o spirit [ Geist  ] and thus its absolute negativity. Te ‘threat o autonomous exteriority’ Hegel’s philosophy is shaped by the problem o the identiication o being and thought ( SL , 29). In this respect, it seeks to overcome the ‘nothingness o the spectral thing-in-itsel’   let by Kantian critique (SL, 27). According to Hegel, Kant made important progress in the history o philosophy by establishing that the coniguration o objectivity is dependent on the subjective orms o receptivity and spontaneity (Kant 1904: 74). he shit o the external notion o the thing-in-itsel to the internal notion o phenomenon helped achieve the essential aim o modern philosophy to maniest the subjective structure o objectivity. Nevertheless, in Kantian philosophy, the thing-in-itsel characterizes both the unknowable aect o sensory intuition and the hypothetical, albeit necessary object o a non-sensory intuition. hereore, as Béatrice Longuenesse 5 Te Concept o Habit and the Function o Immediacy  Sean McStravick  9781350056367_txt_pr.indd 753/27/2019 4:51:33 PM  Hegel, Logic and Speculation 76 pointed out, the thing-in-itsel simultaneously reers to the regulative idea o knowledge and to the unknowable source o reality (Longuenesse 2007: 22). According to Hegel, this is a theoretical law as it maintains an irreducible and unknowable pole o being external to the rame o transcendental subjectivity, thereby preventing it rom asserting the ull ‘assignability’ o being to its activity.In Hegel’s philosophy, the problem o the thing-in-itsel shits to the general problem o immediacy. Hegel eatures immediacy as both the given shape o being ( SL,  337) – that is, as the primordial and apparently set   signiicance o what is – and what ‘begins’. Hegel writes: ‘Beginnings are in every case data and postulates’ ( EI  , §9). As a beginning, immediacy betrays anticipating yet spontaneous mediations, which appear   to unction autonomously. Indeed, any predetermined method   naturally anticipates the content o knowledge and apprehends a pre-organized object   that seems to independently stand as such ( PS , §73). However, by appearing as that which is not mediated, it embodies the risk o an irreducible exteriority or spirit – o absolute otherness. In this respect, immediacy represents what I would call ‘the threat o autonomous exteriority’, which maniests itsel as a potential obstacle or spirit to establish itsel as reedom, that is, as being at home with itsel in otherness. his entails two important theoretical directions. First, Hegel’s main philosophical concern has come to be a reusal o any position o absolute immediacy. Second, this reusal is consubstantial with the positive characterization o spirit as a negative nature. Justiying and locating the ‘given’ In addressing the ‘threat o autonomous exteriority’, Hegel systematically ulils the requirement o  justiying   and locating   the given. his is the essential aim o essence.  By the end o the Doctrine o Being  , the immanent determinations o being appear as ‘laws’. his appearance o immediate exteriority to itsel sublates the resulting ‘in-dierence’ o being and prevents it rom being complete ( SL , 326–335). As a result o this negativity, or ininite relation to itsel, being passes into essence in order to relect itsel as negativity. hus, the relection o immediacy or o being is not the suppression o the immediateness (conceived as the state o being immediate) but rather the progressive recalling o itsel as a conceived and conceiving thing.In order to circumscribe immediacy to the activity o spirit, and reute its absolute exteriority, Hegel’s strategy amounts to operating immediacy as a 9781350056367_txt_pr.indd 763/27/2019 4:51:33 PM  Te Concept o Habit and Function o Immediacy 77 logical unction  within substance, thereby making it a moment   o spirit itsel. Substance is characterized as the immediacy o   thought, as the immediacy  or   thought and as the unity o both as subject   ( PS , §17). Substance can be described as the reciprocal process by virtue o which subjective immediacy (immediacy o   thought) and objective immediacy (immediacy  or   thought) mediate one another, thus making it the subject rom a speculative standpoint. In logical words, being (as immediacy) is both generated by   and generating o   gnosis. Concept [ Begri  ], which is the ‘power o substance’ ( EI  , §160), 1  is thereby deined as the subjective and productive activity which structures the sel-movement o substance, that is to say, as the perpetual process o sel-generation o immediacy. In this respect,  justiying and locating immediacy entail assigning the given to its conceiving srcin and acknowledging its unction as a conceived thing within the general movement o absolute spirit – absolute spirit being ‘the one and universal substance as spiritual’ ( EIII  , §554), that is, the speculative and ininite unity o the subjective and objective spirit. On one hand,  justiying   immediacy makes the assignment o reality to its rational and subjective orm possible. On the other hand, locating   immediacy allows asserting the reedom o Concept.First,  justiying   immediacy is the bringing about o its rational and structuring mediations. In order to achieve this, Hegel uses the device o relection, which drives the Doctrine o Essence . Indeed, Hegel speciies that ‘being is, in general, unrelected immediacy’ ( EI  , §142 R). Relection consists in the ‘intropassing’ o being – that is, the ‘recalling’ o its essence as negativity. It is the shit rom being   to shine , that is, to something that is positedness yet seems  to be srcinal. However, by deining essence as ‘past being’ ( SL , 337), the relection o being implies that the relective agent does not dier rom the relected patient, but rather introspects what constituted itsel as such. So, relection is the progressive clariication o the internal and underlying rational determinations o immediacy, thereby producing various levels o intelligibility or orms o what is immediate – existence, phenomenon, eectiveness – which all gradually narrow down the gap between the objective being and its srcin. Ultimately, in ‘eectual reality’ ( Wirklichkeit  ), which is ully rationalized reality, being is shown to be identical to thought ( EI  , §142 A).Secondly, locating   immediacy does not mean suppressing its authority, but rather acknowledging its unction within the general movement o the idea – which is rational reality or the unity o concept and objectivity ( EI  , §213). In order to locate immediacy, Hegel thematizes rationality’s spontaneous eiciency within being, thereby clariying that being is the inertial positivity o thought  . Indeed, immediacy presupposes a movement that shows its derivation rom 9781350056367_txt_pr.indd 773/27/2019 4:51:34 PM  Hegel, Logic and Speculation 78 the ree and autonomous  activity o concept ( EI  , §§157–159). In act, the idea ‘resolves to let […] the immediate idea, as its relected image, go orth reely as Nature’ ( EI  , §244). In other words, the status o immediacy shits to what Hegel reers to as a ‘second immediacy’ ( SL , 746).. In this respect, the main thesis o the Logic  consists in asserting that immediacy is subjectively conceived yet appears as objective and that a beginning or immediacy is a result. Hegel summarizes this process as ollows: In passing over into essence, being   became […] a  positedness , and becoming   or the passing over into an other   became a  positing  ; conversely, the  positing   or the reflection o essence sublated itsel and restored itsel to a non-posited  , an srcinal   being ( SL , 530). Immediacy is indeed thematized as both a necessary objective actuality – which appears  as a law  or a subject – and the result o any potential subjective or conceptual act o conceiving. he various ‘orms’ o being that are analysed in the Logic  are not ‘ontologically’ dierent, but vary ‘onto-logically’ alongside the gradually enhanced capacity or rationality to acknowledge its own active presence within it. In the preace o the Outlines o the Philosophy o Rights , Hegel recapitulates this general requirement in practical terms: Afer all, the truth about Right, Ethics, and the state is as old as its public recognition and ormulation in the law o the land, in the morality o everyday lie, and in religion. What more does this truth require – since the thinking mind is not content to possess it in this ready ashion? It requires to be grasped in thought as well; the content which is already rational in principle must win the  orm  o rationality and so appear well-ounded to untrammelled thinking. Such thinking does not remain stationary at the given […]. On the contrary, thought which is ree starts out rom itsel and thereupon claims to know itsel as united in its innermost being with the truth ( OPR , 3). In other words, the immediacy that characterizes the mind’s relation to the truth as reality – its ‘simplicity’ and ‘oldness’ – requires to be negated, that is, turned into an appearance, analysed and rationally justiied, in order or ree thought to acknowledge its own presence within it, and thus claim ownership  over it ( PS , §32). he locating and justiying o immediacy are thus the turning o the acquired   yet beginning immediacy into a conquered   immediacy that is apprehended as the result o a rational elaboration.his general critique o immediacy maniests itsel within the system as the dialectic o immediacy and mediation. Yet, this implies two things. Firstly, it demands an ascending dialectical dimension through which thought relects 9781350056367_txt_pr.indd 783/27/2019 4:51:34 PM  Te Concept o Habit and Function o Immediacy 79 immediacy and returns to its positing authority. herein lies the essential movement o the Phenomenology o Spirit  . Consciousness gradually acquires knowledge o itsel within what is given. Yet in Hegel’s philosophy, the absolute knowledge is not the condition o possibility o immediacy. On the contrary, as Jean-François Kervégan argued, the ascending dialectic cannot be disassociated rom a descending dialectic which ‘brings the absolute knowledge back to the sensory certainty, and the absolute idea back to pure being, and the absolute mediation back to pure immediacy’ (Kervégan 2011: n.p.; my translation ). hereore, secondly, the critique entails a certain validation  o the given. Only in virtue o this double process can immediacy be eectively identiied with reason and apprehended as an appearance o being which derives rom the ree and autonomous conceptual activity. In other words, ‘second immediacy’ is the truth o immediacy. Absolute secondarity and second nature It is patent that Hegel operates this notion o ‘absolute secondarity’ in order to suppress any orm o deinitive and natural given oundation or thought – be it objective or subjective – while at the same time containing any possible disjunction between being and thought. By maniesting the temporal trace and spiral structure rom which it proceeds, Hegel establishes that immediacy is comprised o a process through which all mediations simpliy into the spontaneous appearance o the given. 2  Moreover, in Hegel’s Philosophy o Spirit  , immediacy operates as a second nature. For this reason, it seems that immediacy harnesses the mechanisms o habit.However, the notion o habit seems to imply an intuitive empiricist-based philosophical understanding. Scottish empiricism has indeed had the merit o attributing a determining unction to habit in its genetic apprehension o immediate reality. In the Enquiry concerning Human Understanding  , Hume established that the causal scope o our knowledge o reality is not a rationally consistent one, but rather the result o habit. Hume states that ‘all inerences rom experience (…) are eects o custom, not o reasoning’ (Hume 2000: 38). Nonetheless, Hume’s philosophy tends to clear habit rom its spiritual content and alls short o ully appreciating that the intellectual modalities o the reception o the given participate in the nature o what is received. Indeed, this empiricist-based approach o habit ails to overcome the separation between the given and thought. 9781350056367_txt_pr.indd 793/27/2019 4:51:34 PM
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