Being the One Acting

Another passing doubt in my reading of Pippin’s Hegel’s Realm of Shadows came up when he said something along the lines of “I know I am the one acting because I am the one acting”. This certainly captures an intuitive feeling that I have too, but on reflection it seems to rely on what I would call an appearance of inner sense.

With Aristotle I call all inner immediacy an appearance of inner sense. Then my Platonic instincts say that no appearance qualifies as knowledge.

Does Pippin mean to suggest that Hegel — “that great foe of immediacy” — believes in a sort of immediate self-knowledge of individuals via the identification of thinking and being? But he pointed out that Hegel’s German selbst is strictly an adverbial modifier that has no dual usage as a substantive noun, the way “self” does in English. What he wrote in Hegel’s Practical Philosophy seems at odds with this as well.

Pippin has argued that thought for Hegel is inherently self-referential. I think I want to affirm this, but the relational “self” of self-referentiality and unity of apperception is not the immediately contentful, more noun-like empirical “self” of me and mine (see The Ambiguity of “Self”), which I think we experience through the medium of Aristotelian/Kantian imagination rather than thought. Pippin’s remark with which I began seems to blur the line between transcendental self (-referentiality) and empirical self. The relation between transcendental and empirical “self” is one of neither isomorphism nor hylomorphism, I want to say. Something like what Plato called “mixing” does seem to occur in experience, but how to characterize it is a very difficult question.

Aristotle used episteme (knowledge as rationally articulable) and gnosis (direct personal familiarity) in contrasting ways, but it is common to see them both rendered to English as “knowledge”, as if they were interchangeable. With Hegel too we have to be careful, because multiple German words get translated by English “knowledge”.