Consciousness has found “seeing” and “hearing”, etc., pass away in the dialectic process of sense-experience, and has, at the stage of perception, arrived at thoughts which, however, it brings together in the first instance in the unconditioned universal. This unconditioned element, again, if it were taken as inert essence bare and simple, would itself be nothing else than the one-sided extreme of self-existence (Fürsichseyn); for the non-essential would then stand over against it. But if thus related to the latter, it would be itself unessential, and consciousness would not have got disentangled from the deceptions of perception; whereas this universal has proved to be one which has passed out of such conditioned separate existence and returned into itself.
This unconditioned universal, which henceforward is the true object of consciousness, is still object of consciousness; consciousness has not yet grasped its principle, or notion, qua notion. There is an essential distinction between the two which must be drawn. On the one hand, consciousness is aware that the object has passed from its relation to an other back into itself, and thereby become inherently and implicitly (an sich) notion; but, on the other hand, consciousness is not yet the notion explicitly or for itself, and consequently it does not know itself in that reflected object. We (who are analysing experience) found this object arise through the process of consciousness in such a way that consciousness is implicated and involved in the development of the object, and the reflection is the same on both sides, i.e. there is only one reflection. But because in this movement consciousness had as its content merely the objective entity, and not consciousness as such, the result has to be given an objective significance for consciousness; consciousness, however, still withdrawing from what has arisen, so that the latter in objective form is the essential reality to consciousness.
Understanding has, indeed, eo ipso, done away with its own untruth and the untruth in its object. What has thereby come to view is the notion of the truth as implicit inherent truth, which is not yet notion, or lacks a consciously explicit existence for itself (Fürsichseyn), and is something which understanding allows to have its way without knowing itself in it. It pursues its own nature by itself, so that consciousness has no share in its process of free realization, but merely looks on and apprehends that realization as a naked fact. It is, consequently, our business in the first instance to step into its place and be the notion, which works up into shape what is contained in the result. With this complete formation of the object, which is presented to consciousness as a bare existent fact (ein Seyendes), mere implicit awareness then first becomes to itself conceptual consciousness, conscious comprehension.
The result arrived at was the unconditioned universal, in the first instance in the negative and abstract sense that consciousness negated its one-sided notions and abstracted them: it surrendered them. This result, however, has inherently a positive significance; it has established the unity of existence-for-self, and existence-for-another; in other words, absolute opposites are immediately posited as one and the same reality. At first this seems to affect merely the formal relation of the moments to one another. But to be for-self and to be for-another constitutes the content itself as well, because the opposition, looked at truly, can have no other nature than what has come about in the result – viz. that the content, taken in perception for truth, belongs, in point of fact, solely to the form, and is dissipated into its unity. This content is at the same time universal; there can be no other content which by its peculiar constitution would refuse to return into this unconditioned universality. Such a content would be some specific way or other of being for-itself and taking up a relation to something else. But to be in general for-self and to stand in relation to something else constitutes the very nature and meaning of that whose truth lies in being unconditionally universal; and the result is through and through universal.
Since, however, this unconditioned universal is an object for consciousness, the distinction of form and content makes its appearance within it: and, in the shape of content, the moments have the aspect in which they were first presented – that of being on one side a universal medium of many substantial elements, and, on the other, a unit reflected into self, where their substantial independence is overthrown and done away with. The former dissolves the independence of the thing, is the condition of passivity which consists in being something for something else; the latter is its individual subsistence, its being something on its own account (für sich). We have to see what shape these moments take in the unconditioned universal which is their essential nature. It is obvious at the outset that by existing only in this universal they do not at all lie any longer apart from one another, but rather are in themselves essentially self-cancelling aspects, and what is established is only their transition into one another.
One moment, then, appears as universal medium, or as the subsistence of independent constituents, as the reality that has stepped aside. The independence of these constituent elements, however, is nothing else than this medium; i.e. this universal is simply and entirely the plurality of such diverse universals. That the universal is per se in undivided unity with this plurality means, however, that these elements are each where the other is; they mutually permeate one another – without touching one another, because, conversely, the manifold diversity is equally independent. Along with that, too, goes the fact that they are absolutely pervious and porous, or are cancelled and superseded. To be thus superseded, again, or the reduction of this diversity to bare and simple self-existence, is nothing else than the medium itself, and this is the independence of the different elements. In other words, the elements set up as independent pass directly over into their unity, and their unity directly into its explicit diversity, and the latter back once again into the reduction to unity. This process is what is called Force. One of its moments, where force takes the form of a dispersion of the independent elements each with a being of its own, is the Expression of Force; when, however, force takes the form of that wherein they disappear and vanish, it is Force proper, force withdrawn from expressing itself and driven back into itself. But in the first place force driven back into itself must express itself ; and, secondly, in that expression it is still force existing within itself, as much as in thus being within itself it is expression.
When we thus keep both moments in this immediate unity, it is Understanding, to which the conception of force belongs, that is, properly speaking, the principle which carries the different moments qua different. For per se they are not to be different; the distinction consequently exists only in thought. Stated otherwise, only the mere conception of force has been put forward in the above, not its realization. In point of fact, however, force is the unconditioned universal, which is in itself just what it is for something else, or which holds difference within itself – for difference is nothing else than existence-for-an-other. Hence for force to be what it truly is, it has to be completely set free from thought, and put forward as the substantial reality of these differences, that is, first the substance qua the entire force remaining essentially self-contained (an und für sich), and then its differences as substantial entities, or as moments subsisting each on its own account. Force as such, force as driven back within itself, is in this way by itself an excluding unit, for which the unfolding of the elements or differences is another thing subsisting separately; and thus there are set up two sides, distinct and independent. But force is also the whole, or it remains what, in its very conception, it is; that is to say, these differences remain mere forms, superficial vanishing “moments”. The differences between force proper, withdrawn into itself, and force unfolded and expressed in independent constituent elements, would at the same time have no being at all if they had no subsistence; i.e., force would have no being if it did not really exist in these opposite ways. But to exist in this way as opposite aspects means nothing else than that both moments are themselves at the same time independent. It is this process we, have now to deal with – the process by which both moments get themselves fixed as independent and then cancel their independence again.
Looked at broadly, it is manifest that this process nothing else than the process of perceiving, where the aspects, both percipient and content perceived, are at once inseparably united as regards the process of grasping the truth, and yet, by that very fact, each aspect is at the same time reflected into itself, is something on its own account. In the present case these two aspects are elements or moments of force; they subsist within one unity, just as much as this unity, which appears as the middle term for the distinct and independent extremes, always gets broken up into these very extremes, which only are through this taking place. Thus the process, which formerly took the shape of the self-negation of contradictory conceptions, here assumes objective form, and is a movement of force, the result of which is to bring out the “unconditioned universal”, as something which is not objective – which is the inner (unperceived) being of things.
Force, as thus determined, since it is taken as force, or as reflected into itself, is the one side of its notion and meaning: but a substantiated extreme, and, moreover, the extreme established with the specific character of oneness. In virtue of this, the subsistence of the differentiated elements falls outside it, and is something other than it. Since of necessity it has to be this subsistence, i.e., to express, externalize itself, its expression takes the form that the other approaches it and incites it. But, in point of fact, since it must necessarily express itself, it has within itself this other, which to begin with took up a position as something outside it. We must withdraw from the position which sets up force as a one, and its essence – self-expressions – an other approaching it from outside. Force is rather itself this universal medium for the subsistence of the moments as differentiated elements; or, in other words, it has expressed or externalized itself, and what was to be something outside it attracting or inciting it is really force itself. It thus exists now as the medium of the differentiated elements which are evolved. But all the same it is in its very nature one and single, and has essentially the form of being that in which these subsisting elements are superseded. This oneness is in consequence now something other than, external to, force, since force takes its place as the medium for the elements to exist in; and force therefore has this its essential being outside itself. Since, however, it must of necessity be this essential nature, which as yet it is not affirmed to be, this other comes forward soliciting or inciting it to reflect into self, to turn this pseudo-external factor into an aspect of itself; in other words, this other cancels its external expression. In point of fact, however, it is force itself that is thus reflected into self, that is the sublation of the external expression. The oneness vanishes as it appeared, viz. as something external; force is that very other, is force thrust back into itself.
What took the character of an external other, and incited force at once to expression and to return into self, turns out directly to be itself force: for the other shows itself to be universal medium as well as one and single, and shows this in such a way that each of the forms assumed appears at the same time to be merely a vanishing moment. Consequently force, in that there is an other for it, and it is for an other, has as a whole not yet developed its complete meaning. There are two forces present at the same time; the notion of both is no doubt the same notion, but it has passed out of its unity into duality. Instead of the opposition continuing to be entirely and essentially a mere moment, it appears to have escaped from the control of the unity and to have become, owing to this diremption, two quite independent forces. We have now to see more precisely what sort of situation this independence. introduces.
To begin with, the second force stands towards the force incited in the character of inciting force, and, moreover, with respect to its content, plays the part of universal medium. But since that second force consists essentially in an alternation of these two moments and is itself force, it is likewise, in point of fact, universal medium only then when it is incited or solicited to being so; and in the same way, too, it is negative unity, or incites and leads to the retraction of force, only by being incited thereto. As a result, this distinction, which took place between one force regarded as inciting and the other as incited, turns also into one and the same reciprocal interchange of characteristics.
The interplay of the two forces in this way arises from and consists in the two being thus determined with opposite characteristics, in their being for one another in virtue of this determination and in the complete and exchange of their characteristics – a transition direct from one to the other, whereby alone these determinations, in which the forces seem to appear independently, have being. For example, the inciting force is set up as universal medium, and, on the other hand, the force incited as a force repressed. But the former is universal medium just by the very fact of the latter being repressed: that is to say, this latter is really what incites the former, and makes it the medium it claims to be. The former gets the character it has only through the other, and is an inciting force only so far as it is incited by the latter to be so. And it loses just as readily this character given to it, for this character passes, or rather has already passed, into the character of the other. The former, acting in an external way, takes the part of universal medium, but only by its having been incited by the other force to do so. This means, however, that the latter gives it that position, and is really itself essentially universal medium: it gives the inciting agency this character just because this other character is essentially its own, i.e. because it is really its own self.
To complete our insight into the principle of this process, we may notice, further, that the distinctions themselves reveal distinction in a twofold manner. They are, on the one hand, distinctions of content, since one extreme is force reflected into itself, while the other is a medium for the constituent elements involved: on the other hand, they appear as distinctions of form, since one incites and the other is incited, the former being active, the latter passive. As regards the distinction of content, they are in fact distinct, or distinct for us [who are analysing the process]; as regards distinction of form, however, they are independent, in their relation parting asunder of themselves, and standing opposed. In the perception of the movement of force, consciousness becomes aware that the extremes, in both these aspects, are nothing per se, that rather these sides, in which their distinction of nature was meant to consist, are merely vanishing moments, an immediate transition of each into its opposite. For us, however [who are analysing the process], it was also true, as stated above, that per se the distinctions, qua distinctions of content and form, vanished: and on the side of form, the active, inciting, or independent factor was in its very nature the same as what, from the side of content, was presented as repressed force, force driven back into itself; the passive, incited, or related factor was, from the side of form, the same as what, from the side of content, took shape as universal medium for the many constituent elements.