horizon of a knowledge [Wissen] (for which Hegel provides an image by saying that it concerns the thought of God before the creation).
This knowledge has a precise philosophical meaning. It is no knowledge in the sense that the science of nature is a knowledge. It is connected much more with that knowledge which Fichte made the center and knot of his thinking in the Doctrine of Science [Wissenschaftslehre] (1794).
It is that knowledge, which more originally than all objective knowledge, is a self-knowledge. With Fichte, the absolutizing of the Cartesian cogito (which is a cogito only insofar as it is completed as a cogito me cogitare) leads to ABSOLUTE KNOWLEDGE.
Absolute knowledge is the place of absolute certainty, in which absolute knowledge knows itself. Only in this way can “science,” or the knowledge of knowledge, be understood—which now becomes an exact synonym for “philosophy.”
The place where Hegel’s proposition arises can thus be precisely determined: it is consciousness [Bewußtsein], the place of its own conscious being. The constitution of its own conscious being includes that there is only consciousness of an object insofar as consciousness, still more originally, is a being conscious of itself. More precisely, and here one recognizes the Kantian contribution to the Cartesian theme: anything certain arises from the mediation of self-certainty. Otherwise put: all knowledge of objectivity is beforehand a knowledge-about-oneself.
Now it can be understood in what sense being for Hegel is the indeterminate immediate. Across from consciousness, which is only consciousness of something insofar as it is first and originally a reflection of consciousness upon itself, being is the antipode [Entgegengesetzte] of consciousness. In respect to consciousness as mediation, it is the immediate. In respect to consciousness as determination, it is the indeterminate. Hence being is for Hegel the moment of the absolute alienation of the absolute. This is why the Nothing is the Same as being. It is to be understood that, starting from consciousness, the nothing is just as originarily grasped as being.
In the lecture “What is Metaphysics?”88 the point of departure is from the outset a completely different one. The lecture does not actually speak of consciousness [Bewußtseins] being conscious of itself, but rather of Da-sein.
The last, most difficult step remains to be taken, for which, after more than two hours of work, the strength is beginning to wane: to ask about the difference between the experience of non-being [Nichtseienden], of the nothing, in “What is Metaphysics?” and in Hegel’s statement.
The session concluded with a reference to the sentence “Why are there beings at all and not, far rather, nothing?” which is first spoken by
88 TN: Martin Heidegger, “What Is Metaphysics?” in GA 9: 103–122/Pathmarks, pp. 82–96.