"True knowledge"&"Absolute Knowledge" / by Yu Cao

After being aware of the “not yet imagined,” how to identify the quality of knowledge originating/transformation? What’s the most efficient process of embracing what we don’t know to transformation? What is revolutionary invention/creativity in terms of knowledge and how does it happen? What is the highest form of knowledge? How to be in a mode of Absolute Knowledge?



Hegel has articulated clearly the what makes “true knowledge” and Absolute Knowledge and how they differ from knowledge in default mode.

Externalization(negation/relinquishment) is what elevates the mode of consciousness as well as knowledge. It makes self consciousness relinquish itself and being both in itself and for itself. In David’s words, it’s both “is” and “of,” it’s both “being a body” and “having a body.” Such an externalization means becoming an observer of self-consciousness where awareness arises. Such an awareness leads to freedom and agency. As Hegel put “the process of releasing itself from the form of itself is the highest freedom and security of its knowledge of itself” (Spirit). My question: Will the externalization be the key for identifying and embracing the not yet imagined?


True knowledge lies in the seeming inactivity which merely watches how what is distinguished self-moved by its very nature and returns again into its own unity. This describes externalization. Externalization enables a view of Spirit’s own existence, which creates “content.” “Content is a notion”. When Spirit has attained “the pure element of its existence, the notion”, “moments of its process are no longer determinate modes/ shapes of consciousness, but a distinction within the self-determinate notions, the organic self-explaining and self-constituted process of these notions”. This is a leap from being relative to being self-evident--being “real”. This marks a distinction from default evolving knowledge to “true knowledge.” This kind of knowledge meets the criteria of truth--”the aspect of being per se/ in itself” and of “reality”--”what determines itself-- rather than depending on its relations to other things for its essential character--is more fully ‘real’ than what does not.” To become “real” means go beyond the finitude. Thus the knowledge with finitude is not true knowledge. It is externalization that makes Spirit become notion. Not until then, knowledge reaches its freedom and security.

In Absolute Knowledge, each moment has the form of notion. Absolute Knowledge contains within itself the necessity of relinquishing itself from the form of pure notion. The process of releasing itself from the form of itself is the highest freedom and security of its knowledge of itself (Spirit).

Externalization is not enough to complete the path to Absolute Knowledge. It needs “recollection” meaning “concentrating itself on itself.” “Spirit is engulfed in the night of its own self-consciousness and its vanished existence is conserved therein.” This “superseded” and “conserved” existence is a “new stage of existence”, a “new embodiment/ mode of Spirit” and a “higher form of the substance”. “Absolute Knowledge is Spirit knowing itself as Spirit,” and “finds its pathway in the recollection of spiritual forms as they are in themselves and as they accomplish the organization of their spiritual kingdom.”

Thus Absolute Knowledge comes from the externalization of Spirit and recollection/conservation of spiritual forms. The key to externalization is Spirit fully relinquishing itself, the key to recollection is Spirit knowing what it is and fully comprehending its substance. This could be seen as a way to evaluate the quality of knowledge? Hegel calls the conservation/recollection of spiritual forms from the side of their “intellectually comprehended organization” Science, from the side of their “free existence” History.

Absolute Knowledge differs from the phenomenology of the mind as it does not contain the distinction between knowledge and truth and the supersession of such a distinction. Absolute Knowledge unites the objective form of truth and knowing self in immediate unity.




Hegel has also precisely explained the mechanism of knowing (without knowing that we know). (This also relates to “knowledge determines experience.”)

Experience is the dialectic process which consciousness executes on itself -- on its knowledge as well as on its object,” out of which the “new and true object” arises. The consciousness has two kinds of objects: object per se, and knowledge which is per se for consciousness. What the per se is for consciousness is truth--the essential reality, or the object which consciousness has. Like the “horseness” pointed out by William Kentridge. “This new object contains the nothingness of the first; the new object is the experience concerning that first object.” When this new object, the per se for consciousness arises, there also appears a “new mode/ embodiment of consciousness.” This updated essence of consciousness mode creates the circumstance that carries forward the whole succession of the modes/ attitudes in their own necessity. “It is only this necessity, this origination of the new object--which offers itself to consciousness without consciousness knowing how it comes by it.” It is this self-directed succession of originating new and true objects which update the modes of consciousness from which arises new and true objects that makes knowing possible. The consciousness can access part of this process. “Thereby there enters into its process a moment of being per se or of being for us, which is not expressly presented to that consciousness which is in the grip of experience itself.” Thus the content, what we comprehend, is its “bare origination”, its “formal character.” This is how we know without knowing that we know. The experience which consciousness has concerning itself can, by its essential principle, embrace “the entire system of consciousness, the whole realm of truth of mind,” and in this way “the moments of truth are set forth in the specific and peculiar character they here possess”--as “modes/embodiments of consciousness.” Exhausting the whole realm of truth of mind is pressing forward to its true form of existence, meaning consciousness will come to a point at which it becomes only itself and grasps its own essence--where ”appearance becomes identified with essence.” It “lays aside its semblance of being hampered with what is foreign to it, with what is only for it and exists as an other.” Then it will “connote the nature of Absolute Knowledge itself.”

I am curious to figure out a most efficient mode for this succession of knowing till Absolute Knowledge. Let the knowing be, I tell myself.

Wed 10/5/16