Logic and Existence

Hyppolite, Jean. Logic and Existence, tr. Leonard Lawlor and Amit Sen. New York, 1997


If it is true, however, that thought is a dialogue, a dialogue with another or with oneself, we can indeed wonder whether being lends itself to expression and whether it does not escape radically from the Logos which claims to signify it. In ancient philosophy, the problem is posed at the very level of the sensible world. What is merely felt is always fleeing, is in fact inexpressible, and science would not be able to remain science if it consists merely in sensation alone. The Platonist had to overcome the doxa so that human language is not objectless. Sensible being, as pure singularity or pleasure, is ineffable. Let us assume that singular things and souls exist in themselves. We would be able neither to conceive them nor to name them, since conception and language move within the universal. All the determinations through which we think things and which correspond to names are general determinations; they establish a community and a continuity between things which do not correspond to this opinion, which is moreover, common, according to which the singular alone exists, is the first genuine object of sense certainty, the certainty which believes itself to be immediate and which claims to apprehend, on the far side of all language and all sense, an individual this or an incomprehensible this one. There would therefore be a “this side” of language which would be the immediate grasp of a being, of a being by nature ineffable.

There is, however, also a “far side,” a “beyond” of language and of conception which appears as the object of faith. The philosophies which Hegel studies in his Jena work, Faith and Knowledge, are for him philosophies of reflection which deny, more or less, knowledge in order to make room for faith. Here the expression of non-knowledge is entirely at home. Knowledge would not be able to overcome the structure of experience as it is considered by the understanding and which is already implicit reflection. But, thanks to explicit reflection, knowledge discovers its own finitude. It is therefore only capable of negating itself and of allowing faith to overcome this knowledge. The Absolute then is the object of a faith and not of a knowledge. The Absolute is beyond reflection and all knowledge. Hegel show how these philosophies of reflection retreat to the final subjectivity of knowledge, and drive everything into the mystery of a “beyond” of knowledge, into the mystery of an ineffable Absolute.

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