§1. Presentness

41. . . . Be it understood, then, that what we have to do, as students of phenomenology, is simply to open our mental eyes and look well at the phenomenon and say what are the characteristics that are never wanting in it, whether that phenomenon be something that outward experience forces upon our attention, or whether it be the wildest of dreams, or whether it be the most abstract and general of the conclusions of science.

42.3) The faculties which we must endeavor to gather for this work are three. The first and foremost is that rare faculty, the faculty of seeing what stares one in the face, just as it presents itself, unreplaced by any interpretation, unsophisticated by any allowance for this or for that supposed modifying circumstance. This is the faculty of the artist who sees for example the apparent colors of nature as they appear. When the ground is covered by snow on which the sun shines brightly except where shadows fall, if you ask any ordinary man what its color appears to be, he will tell you white, pure white, whiter in the sunlight, a little greyish in the shadow. But that is not what is before his eyes that he is describing; it is his theory of what ought to be seen. The artist will tell him that the shadows are not grey but a dull blue and that the snow in the sunshine is of a rich yellow. That artist's observational power is what is most wanted in the study of phenomenology. The second faculty we must strive to arm ourselves with is a resolute discrimination which fastens itself like a bulldog upon the particular feature that we are studying, follows it wherever it may lurk, and detects it beneath all its disguises. The third faculty we shall need is the generalizing power of the mathematician who produces the abstract formula that comprehends the very essence of the feature under examination purified from all admixture of extraneous and irrelevant accompaniments.

43. A very moderate exercise of this third faculty suffices to show us that the word Category bears substantially the same meaning with all philosophers. For Aristotle, for Kant, and for Hegel, a category is an element of phenomena of the first rank of generality. It naturally follows that the categories are few in number, just as the chemical elements are. The business of phenomenology is to draw up a catalogue of categories and prove its sufficiency and freedom from redundancies, to make out the characteristics of each category, and to show the relations of each to the others. I find that there are at least two distinct orders of categories, which I call the particular and the universal. The particular categories form a series, or set of series, only one of each series being present, or at least predominant, in any one phenomenon. The universal categories, on the other hand, belong to every phenomenon, one being perhaps more prominent in one aspect of that phenomenon than another but all of them belonging to every phenomenon. I am not very well satisfied with this description of the two orders of categories, but I am pretty well satisfied that there are two orders. I do not recognize them in Aristotle, unless the predicaments and the predicables are the two orders. But in Kant we have Unity, Plurality, and Totality not all present at once; Reality, Negation, and Limitation not all present at once; Inherence, Causation, and Reaction not all present at once; Possibility, Necessity, and Actuality not all present at once. On the other hand Kant's four greater categories, Quantity, Quality, Relation, and Modality, form what I should recognize as Kant's Universal Categories. In Hegel his long list which gives the divisions of his Encyclopædia are his Particular Categories. His three stages of thought, although he does not apply the word Category to them, are what I should call Hegel's Universal Categories. My intention this evening is to limit myself to the Universal, or Short List of Categories, and I may say, at once, that I consider Hegel's three stages as being, roughly speaking, the correct list of Universal Categories. . . .

44. When anything is present to the mind, what is the very first and simplest character to be noted in it, in every case, no matter how little elevated the object may be? Certainly, it is its presentness. So far Hegel is quite right. Immediacy is his word. To say, however, that presentness, presentness as it is present, present presentness, is abstract, is Pure Being, is a falsity so glaring, that one can only say that Hegel's theory that the abstract is more primitive than the concrete blinded his eyes to what stood before them. Go out under the blue dome of heaven and look at what is present as it appears to the artist's eye. The poetic mood approaches the state in which the present appears as it is present. Is poetry so abstract and colorless? The present is just what it is regardless of the absent, regardless of past and future. It is such as it is, utterly ignoring anything else. Consequently, it cannot be abstracted (which is what Hegel means by the abstract) for the abstracted is what the concrete, which gives it whatever being it has, makes it to be. The present, being such as it is while utterly ignoring everything else, is positively such as it is. Imagine, if you please, a consciousness in which there is no comparison, no relation, no recognized multiplicity (since parts would be other than the whole), no change, no imagination of any modification of what is positively there, no reflexion — nothing but a simple positive character. Such a consciousness might be just an odour, say a smell of attar; or it might be one infinite dead ache; it might be the hearing of a piercing eternal whistle. In short, any simple and positive quality of feeling would be something which our description fits that it is such as it is quite regardless of anything else. The quality of feeling is the true psychical representative of the first category of the immediate as it is in its immediacy, of the present in its direct positive presentness. Qualities of feeling show myriad-fold variety, far beyond what the psychologists admit. This variety however is in them only insofar as they are compared and gathered into collections. But as they are in their presentness, each is sole and unique; and all the others are absolute nothingness to it — or rather much less than nothingness, for not even a recognition as absent things or as fictions is accorded to them. The first category, then, is Quality of Feeling, or whatever is such as it is positively and regardless of aught else.

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