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Immediacy vs Mediacy

  1. Mar 31, 2005 #1
    I am reading kierkegaard and he talks about Immediacy vs Mediacy. I understand that Immediacy is like reality and is that which the thing is in and of itself without the mediation of language (or ideality). But I can't figure out what Mediacy is. Can anyone help with this?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 1, 2005 #2


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    I'm not sure about Kierkegaard's ideas in particular (perhaps the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's entry can be of help, though a quick search does not seem to turn up discussion of immediacy vs. mediacy).

    But basically, from how I've seen the terms used, you can think of immediacy as 'directness' and mediacy as 'indirectness,' usually with respect to epistemological access. For instance, we seem to have immediate contact with our ideas; we have a sort of priveleged, first-hand, direct access to them. On the other hand, it seems likely that we only have mediate contact with the external world. For instance, suppose we adopt a representationalist theory of perception (and really, I think all the evidence supports at least some minimal sort of representationalism about perception). Then we could say that, when I look at a chair, what I am seeing is not the external, objective chair itself. Rather, what I am seeing is my mental construct of the chair. In essence, my mental construct of the chair represents the external chair, and acts as a sort of proxy of it for me. Thus, we could say that I do not have immediate knowledge of the objective chair itself, but rather that my knowledge of it is mediated by my mental constructs, and in this sense, I only have a mediate acquaintance with the chair.
  4. Apr 1, 2005 #3


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    As I assume both of you are well aware of, Kierkegaard chose Hegel to be his philosophical "foe".
    The Immediacy/Mediacy distinction derives from Hegel; his point of view is that any apparent immediacy (like the image of the world we get through our senses) is really synthesis disguised; i.e, there has been a complicated mediation process producing the apparent immediacy; we have simply "forgotten" (in some sense of the word) the mediation process behind it.

    And, it is really this "forgetfulness" which ensures us always to meet new "immediacies"..
    Dialectics is Hegel's brand of archeological discovery of the various mediation processes we are already products/parts/instigators of.

    From this view, then, it is quite simple to see how "existensialism" in Kierkegaard's form had to oppose whatever Hegel would say.
    Hegel is the archetypical "intellectual" who is dismissive of all worth of so-called immedacies, because he regards them as fictions and shams (it is the uncovering and understanding of mediation processes he finds interesting).
    Kierkegaard feels the need to re-establish the inherent value in the simple "sense-of-existence".

    That, at least, is my two pence.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2005
  5. Apr 1, 2005 #4
    Hmm.. interesting. How many examples of immediate knowledge do we actually know then? If most things that we assume to be objective is actually mediated, would those objects still be objective and concrete?

    I'm thinking that if we were to actually touch the chair, then that would be an immediate representation of reality (?), rather than just seeing it. In that case, would the blind have a slightly more immediate representation of reality than most?

    edit: or the touch sense could also represent mediacy, hm.
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