The "Enlightenment" is the universal principle of "pure insight", which aim was to resolve the confusion of the world.
This pure insight cannot appear in its active form, unless it conflicts with Belief. Pure insight and belief are part of the same consciousness, but in different forms; and reality is, for belief: Thought; and for pure insight: Self.
As for content, respectively, belief obtains his subsistence through the various stages of the evolution of his thoughts, while insight has, initially, no content; and makes a point to remove any content that would come to pollute its pureness. However, this negative attitude of pure insight, with respect to what it excludes, finally makes it real and gives it a real content.
The "Enlightenment" knows that Belief is opposed to pure insight and to the truth; and that it is just a tissue of superstitious prejudices and errors. At the same time, unconsciously and little by little, the awareness of pure insight embraces the content of this belief, organized, according to her, as a true "kingdom of the error," and these "false insights" become it's own sphere of consciousness.
These false insights, which are now the content of pure insight have, in them, these moments of self-consciousness, in which they exist for themselves. Moments of self-reflection, that pure insight keeps in the background, and looks upon as a kind of lonesome insight, full of mischievous intentions. Malevolent intentions, in their need to deceive and corrupt the original state of consciousness of pure insight.
Since the essential nature of the "Enlightenment" is pure insight - that is per se, universal - its relationship with the object of its confrontation, namely belief, is concerned with those elements that are common and identical with it.
The object of its interest is, therefore this false insight alone, which Notion (its potential Truth) is not yet fully developed, and which must be rescued from biases and errors. The "Enlightment" have, therefore, the duty to pull this lonesome, vulnerable false insight, off the hands of wrong intents in which it dwells.
We must now see how pure insight and pure intention express their negative attitude towards the other which they oppose.
Pure insight and intention, operating negatively, can only be - since its very principle is all essentiality, and there is nothing outside it - the negative of itself.
As insight, therefore, it passes into the negative of pure insight, and it becomes untruth and unreason; and as intention it passes into the negative of pure intention, and it becomes a lie and sordid impurity of purpose.
It merely imagines this, for its nature as absolute negativity lies in having that otherness within its own self.
The absolute notion is the category; it is the principle that knowledge and the object of knowledge are the same. In consequence, what pure insight expresses as its other, what it pronounces to be an error or a lie, can be nothing else than its own self; it can only condemn what itself is. What is not rational has no truth, or what is not comprehended through a notion, conceptually determined, is not. When reason thus speaks of some other than itself is, it in fact speaks merely of itself; it does not therein go beyond itself.
This struggle with the opposite, therefore, combines in its meaning the significance of being insight's own actualization. This consists just in the process of unfolding its moments and taking them back into itself.
One part of this process is the making of the distinction in which the insight of reason opposes itself as object to itself; so long as it remains in this condition, it is at variance with itself. As pure insight it is without any content; the process of its realization consists in itself becoming content to itself; for no other can be made its content, because it is the category become self-conscious. But since this insight in the first instance thinks of the content as in its opposite, and knows the content merely as a content, and does not as yet think of it as its own self, pure insight misconceives itself in it. The complete attainment of insight, therefore, has the sense of a process of coming to know that content as its own, which was to begin with opposite to itself. Its result, however, will be thereby neither the reestablishment of the errors it fights with, nor merely its original notion, but an insight which knows the absolute negation of itself to be its own proper reality to be its self, or an insight which is its self-understanding notion.
The complete attainment of insight, therefore, has the sense of a process of coming to know that content as its own, which was to begin with opposite to itself. Its result, however, will be thereby neither the reestablishment of the errors it fights with, nor merely its original notion, but an insight which knows the absolute negation of itself to be its own proper reality to be its self, or an insight which is its self-understanding notion.
It remains to define the attitude adopted by the "Enlightenment," in respect to its purposiveness and end.
It must, as regards purposiveness, present the appearance of being stupid and unintelligent, since insight united with intention, accordance of end with means, appears to it as an other, as really the opposite of what insight is.
As regards the end, it has to make badness, enjoyment, and possession, its purpose, and prove itself in consequence to be the impurest kind of intention, since pure intention, as external, an other, is similarly impure intention.
Accordingly we find that, so far as concerns purposiveness, enlightenment thinks it foolish if the believing individual seeks to obtain the higher consciousness of freedom from entanglement with natural enjoyment and pleasure, by positively denying itself natural enjoyment and pleasure, and proving through its acts that there is no lie in its open contempt for them, but rather that the contempt is quite genuine.
In the same way enlightenment finds it foolish for consciousness to absolve itself of its characteristic of being absolutely individual, excluding all others, and possessing property of its own, by itself demitting its own property, for thereby it shows in reality that this isolation is not really serious. It shows rather that itself is something that can rise above the natural necessity of isolating itself and of denying, in this absolute isolation of its own individual existence, that the others are one and the same with itself.
Pure insight finds both purposeless as well as wrong. It is purposeless to renounce a pleasure and give away a possession in order to show oneself independent of pleasure and possession.
As pure intention it further maintains the necessity of rising above natural existence, above covetousness as to the means for such existence; it only finds it foolish and wrong that this supremacy should be demonstrated by action.
However, all this is just pure hocus-pocus.
This pure intention is in reality a deception, which pretends to and demands an inner elevation, but declares that it is superfluous, foolish, and even wrong to be in earnest in the matter, to put this uplifting into concrete expression, into actual shape and form, and demonstrate its truth.
Pure insight thus denies itself both as pure insight, for it denies directly purposive action; and as pure intention, for it denies the intention of proving its independence of the ends of individual existence.
One more thing to be mentioned before we proceed, is that “enlightenment” must take the appearance of being stupid and unintelligent. This is due to the fact that, insight united with intention, accordance of end with means, appears to it as an other, as really the opposite of what insight is.
What is the truth enlightenment has diffused in their stead?
If all prejudice and superstition have been banished, the question arises: what’s next?
In dealing with what for belief is Absolute Spirit, the “enlightenment” interprets it as being wood, stone. etc., as particular concrete things of sense.
Since in this way it conceives every characteristic, every content and filling, to be a finite fact, to be a human entity and a mental presentation, then, absolute Being on its view turns out to be a mere vacuum, to which can be attributed no characteristics, no predicates at all.
In fact to marry such a vacuity with universal predicates would be essentially reprehensible; and it is just through such a union that the monstrosities of superstition have been produced.
The “enlightened reason” of pure insight, consists therefore in allowing nothing of that sort to appertain to Absolute Being, nor attributing anything of that kind to it.
In fact, there is a fallacy in this reasoning, and we shall see shortly thereafter, how this “reason” of the enlightenement, knows very well how to put itself and the wealth of finitude in the “right” place, and deal with the Absolute in a worthy manner.
Meanwhile, for the “enlightenment”, in contrast with this colourless empty Being, there stands, the singleness of conscious life and of all that it is. A singleness excluded from an absolute Being, and standing by itself as something entirely self-contained.
Indeed, this consciousness, which in its very earliest expression is sense-certainty and mere "opining", here comes back, after the whole course of its experience, to this same point, and is once again a knowledge, of what is purely negative of itself, a knowledge of sense things. Namely, a knowledge of existent entities which stand in indifference against its own self-existence.
But here it is not an immediate natural consciousness anymore.
Through every sort of entanglements, into which it has plunged by its gradually unfolding, it has now been led back to its first form by pure insight, and it has become a consciousness for itself.
This sense-certainty, resting as it does on an insight into the nothingness of all other forms of consciousness, and hence the nothingness of whatever is beyond sense-experience; this sense-certainty is no longer a mere “opining", it is rather absolute truth.
Viewed from this point, this nothingness of everything that transcends sense is doubtless a negative proof of this truth.
And no other proof is admissible or possible, for the positive truth of sense-experience in itself, is just the unmediated self-existence of the notion (the potential truth of things) itself, as object and an object in the form of otherness.
Therefore, the Truth for the “enlightenment” is the following:
Every consciousness is absolutely certain that “it is,” and that “there are” other real things outside it; and that in its natural existence it, as well as these things too, are in and for themselves or absolute.
As I said before, we will see why the “enlightenment” is wrong about all this.
In the meantime, we must consider one last thing that will prove to be equally fallacious.
It has to do with the relation of the particular beings to Absolute Being.
Insight, as pure insight of what is identical, transcends the unlike or diverse. It transcends itself as mere otherness. The "beyond" of this otherness, it takes to be the Void, to which it therefore relates the facts of sense.
In this relation of the Void with the Fact of Sense, the content belongs to sense-reality.
As for the form of this relation, as it is something inherently and essentially negative, it can be shaped just as one pleases.
It is something self-opposed; it is being as well as nothing; it is inherent and ultimate as well as the opposite.
In other words, the relation of actuality to an inherent essential being as something beyond, is as much a negating as a positing of that actuality.
Finite actualities can, therefore, properly speaking, be taken just in the way people have need of them. Sense facts are thus related now positively to the Absolute as something ultimate, and sense reality is itself ultimate per se.
The Absolute makes them, fosters and cherishes them.
Then, again, for the “enlightenment”, they are related to it as an opposite, that is to their own non-being; in this case they are not something ultimate, they have being only For an Other.
The usual conceptions involved in the opposition (like good and bad,) pass, in the view of the “enlightenment,” into the more abstract forms of what is per se and what is for an other.
Both ways of dealing with the positive as well as the negative relation of finitude to what is per se are, however, equally necessary as a matter of fact, and everything is thus as much something per se, as it is something for an other: in other words everything is "useful".
Everything is now at the mercy of other things, lets itself now be used by others, and exists for them; and then again it, so to say, gets up on its hind legs, fights shy of the other, exists for itself on its own account., and on its side uses the other too.
As everything is useful for man, man is likewise useful too, and his characteristic function consists in making himself a member of the human herd, of use for the common good, and serviceable to all.
Yet, if he is made use of, he makes use of others too.
To prevent any overreach, he finds reason a useful means to restrain himself, or rather for preserving himself when he does go beyond the determinate; for such is the force of consciousness. He must be, before all, a universal creature.
Different things are serviceable to one another in different ways. All things, however, have this reciprocity of utility by their very nature, by being related to the Absolute in the twofold manner, the one positive, whereby they have a being of their own, the other negative, and thereby exist for others. The relation to Absolute Being, or Religion, is therefore of all forms of profitableness the most supremely profitable; for it is profiting pure and simple; it is that by which all things stand (by which they have a being of their own,) and that by which all things fall (have an existence for something else.)
Belief, of course, finds these outcomes of enlightenment properly wrong.
This enlightened insight into absolute Being, that sees nothing in it but just absolute Being, the Être suprême, the great Void - this intention to find that everything in its immediate existence is inherently real or good, and finally to find the relation of the individual conscious entity to the Absolute Being, Religion, exhaustively summed up in the conception of profitableness -all this is for belief utterly spurious.
This special and peculiar wisdom of enlightenment necessarily seems at the same time to the believing mind to be sheer insipidity. That is, knowing nothing but finitude, taking this, moreover, to be the truth, and thinking this knowledge about finitude as the truth to be the highest knowledge attainable.
For belief, the “enlightenment” is only putting in a human claim for its own truth; for the wrong it commits is the right of disunion, of discordance, and consists in perverting and altering, a right that belongs to the nature of self-consciousness in opposition to the simple ultimate essence or thought.
But since the right of enlightenment is the right of self-consciousness, it will not merely retain its own right, in such a way that two equally valid rights of spirit would be left standing in opposition to one another without either satisfying the claims of the other; it will maintain the absolute right, because self-consciousness is the negative function of the notion.
A function which does not merely operate in independence, but also gets control over its opposite. And because belief is a mode of consciousness, it will not be able to hinder “enlightenment” of that right.
And this is not something that belief can tolerate.
Because, for belief, the gist of realizing pure insight is just this, that insight, whose essential nature is the notion, first comes to be for itself in the shape of an absolute other, and repudiates itself (for the opposite of the notion is an absolute opposite), and then out of this otherness comes to itself or comes to its notion.
For belief, “enlightenment”, however, is merely this process; it is the activity of the notion in still unconscious form, an activity which no doubt arrives at itself as object, but takes this object for an external other, and does not even know the nature of the notion; namely, it does not know that it is the undifferentiated, the self-identical, which absolutely divides itself.
For belief, pure insight is merely the power of the notion, in so far as it is the active process of relating the moments lying apart from one another in belief; a way of relating them in which the contradiction in them comes to light. There is no such thing as an evolution of the different forms of religion towards an Absolute religion. It is not thought, but self that is the reality of pure insight.
Yet, the actuality on which pure insight brings his power over belief, lies just in the fact that the believing consciousness is itself the notion and thus itself recognizes and accepts the opposite which insight presents before it.
At first enlightenment emphasizes the moment that the notion is an act of consciousness; it maintains in the face of belief that, what the absolute Being belief accepts, is a Being of the believer's consciousness as a self, or that this absolute Being is produced by consciousness. To the believing mind its absolute Being, while it is in itself objective for the believer, is also and at the same time not like a foreign thing standing therein, having come there no one knows how or whence. The trust of belief consists just in finding itself as a particular personal consciousness in absolute Being, and its obedience and service consist in producing, through its activity, that Being as its own Absolute.
Enlightenment holds fast to the externality of things of sense, as against the inward attitude of belief. Enlightenment finds the main point in the intention, and thereby finds no need for actually bringing about the liberation from natural ends. On the contrary, this inner sphere is itself the formal element that has its concrete fulfilment in natural impulses, which are justified simply by the fact that they fall within, that they belong to universal being, to nature.
Enlightenment, then, holds irresistible sway over belief by the fact that the latter finds in its own consciousness the very moments to which enlightenment gives significance and validity.
Looking more closely at the action exerted by this force, its operation on belief seems to rend asunder the beautiful unity of trustfulness and immediate confidence, to pollute its spiritual life with lower thoughts drawn from the sphere of sense, to destroy the feeling of calm security in its attitude of submission by introducing the vanity of understanding, of self-will, and self-fulfilment.
Enlightenment illuminates that world of heaven with ideas drawn from the world of sense, pointing out there this element of finitude which belief cannot deny or repudiate, because it is self-consciousness, and in being so is the unity to which both kinds of ideas belong, and in which they do not fall apart from one another; for they belong to the same indivisible simple self into which belief has passed, and which constitutes its life.