1. Sense-Certainty: or the "This" and "Meaning" (Meinen)
We begin with sense-certainty, which "immediately appears as the richest kind of knowledge" (91). Hegel began with sense-certainty partly to counter philosophers of intuition: immediacy is not where we end but where we begin. Sense-certainty knows "This," "Here," "Now," but soon becomes aware of the fact that what it takes to be real (a Now, for instance) is fleeting (into the past). Similarly, any "This" is not known only according to the "This" but also according to a "That." The only common element here is the I that perceives them
2. Perception (wahrnehmen = to take as true): or the Thing and Deception
First, a simple definition of aufheben: "Supersession exhibits its true twofold meaning which we have seen in the negative: it is at once a negating and a preserving" (113).
To continue: what does the I perceive? Attributes: the Thing is x, y, z, etc. But how is it that one thing is made from this possibly infinite list of attributes? Or in Hegel's language, how is it that this singular "One" is in fact a "One" based on the infinity of "Also's" through which it is known? Answer: the thing is one in itself, and many for another. Seeing these two aspects "being-for-self" and "being-for-another" in a single unity allows for "unconditioned absolute universality" (129). Unconditioned/concrete here does not mean simply "free from conditions" but rather that the universality is relational.
3. Force and the Understanding: Appearance and the Supersensible World
The "Force" section is what I took to be Hegel's way of dealing with physics. He defines Force as the movement wherein "the 'matters' posited as independent directly pass over into their unity, and their unity directly unfolds its diversity, and this once again reduces itself to unity" (136). Force in the singular is thus always a plural "play of Forces," similar to the way the Thing is always known by a plurality of attributes. The notion of Force disrupts the unconditioned universal by again introducing a plurality. But this plurality of Forces (gravity, electricity, etc.) qua plurality is really only appearance; we know that they in fact operate by a supersensible Law. Thus what Force really is (and thus what the Thing is too) is Law. Law shows the essence (gewesen, that which has become) of appearance. The Law is consciousness' mirror: in the law, consciousness becomes self-consciousness. I'm thinking of Kant's self-legislating law.
4. The Truth of Self-Certainty
First, a simple definition of Notion: "If we give the name of Notion to the movement of knowing, and the name object to knowing as a passive unity, or as the 'I', then we see that not only for us, but for knowing itself, the object corresponds to the Notion" (166).
To continue: with self-consciousness, desire emerges: desire is born from the doubling of the object for consciousness: "one is the immediate object, that of sense-certainty and perception, which however for self-consciousness has the character of a negative; and the second, viz. itself, which is the true essence, and is present in the first instance only as opposed to the first object" (167). It is in this gap that the striving-toward-unity that desire is emerges. In fact, "self-consciousness is Desire" (174): it now seeks only to completely destroy the independent object "and thereby give itself the certainty of itself as a true certainty" (174). But this certainty is fleeting; when the object is destroyed, so too is the ground of self-consciousness' true certainty. Self-consciousness then realizes that it "achieves its satisfaction only in another self-consciousness" (175); it is only as reflected in another that self-consciousness can truly gain the recognition that affirms itself. It is at this moment that intersubjectivity is born: "I that is We and We that is I" (177).
A. Independence and Dependence of Self-consciousness: Lordship and Bondage
"Self-consciousness exists in and for itself when, and by the fact that, it so exists for another; that is, it exists only in being acknowledged" (178). But immediately this recognition is only deemed real when carried to the extreme, when life itself is on the line; one self-consciousness has to prove to another that it is willing to risk death for recognition. But in that battle, the death of the other is no good, for then one eliminates the ground of recognition: the other must be preserved as bondsman. At first, the lord is "the pure, essential action in this relationship, while the action of the bondsman is impure and unessential" (191). But the lord soon realizes that he is at an impasse, for he is dependent on what he considers a lesser being for recognition; it is never enough. The bondsman, on the other hand, through his fear of the lord and with his work realizes he is in fact independent, that he possesses no dependence on another and the ability to transform the objects of his labor into his own self-image.
Freedom of Self-consciousness:
B. Stoicism, Scepticism, and the Unhappy consciousness
The bondsman, while still in bondage, retreats into the freedom of thought: "its principle is that consciousness is a being that thinks, and that consciousness holds something to be essentially important, or true and good only in so far as it thinks it to be such" (197). But the Stoic's freedom is too abstract; in reality, stoicism leads to scepticism, to the recognition that all is an endless flux of experience. "Consciousness is itself the absolute dialectical unrest, this medley of sensuous and intellectual representations whose differences coincide, and whose identity is equally again dissolved" (205).
Scepticism then devolves into Unhappy consciousness, which posits the Unchangeable in distinction from the changeable I and laments the gap. "But what it does not know is that its object, the Unchangeable, which it knows essentially in the form of individuality, is its own self, is itself the individuality of consciousness" (216). Then some stuff about the "grave of life" (217) and the "return of the feeling heart into itself" (218). And then self-surrender to the Unchangeable (222), where work and enjoyment lose all significance (225). And then Reason. Breaking down to build back up again.