The Phenomenology of Mind, by G. W. F. Hegel

C

Individuality, which Takes Itself to Be Real
In and for Itself

Translator’s comments: The following section gives a general description of individuality which seeks to realize itself, not in the one-sided ways analysed in the three preceding sections, but as a complete concrete whole. Here individuality does not regard itself abstractedly, and hence does not treat the sphere of its realization as in any way alien to itself. It is completely one with the objective world where it carries out its ends, and finds both itself adequate to its own realization, and the world sufficient and all-sufficient for the embodiment of its ends. In this sphere we have, as it were, the very antithesis of the preceding state of mind. There the good was opposed to the course of the “world”, the latter being dependent for its goodness on individual effort. Here it is as if the “world” were made up of the activity of individuals and were wholly adequate to satisfy and embody all their ends. The real life of the individual is found simply in “self-expression”. Naturally therefore individuals take themselves here to be “real just as they are”, and have merely to express or develop their own content in order to objectify their ends. The objective world is their activity realized, is themselves “externalized”.

This condition of individuality is the immediate preparation for the social order of the life of a free spiritual community, and is the anticipation of that community-a community where the individual is universalized through union with the whole, and the whole particularized in the individual.

Individuality, which Takes Itself to Be Real
In and for Itself

SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS has now grasped its own principle, which at first was only our notion of it, viz. the notion that, when consciously certain of itself, it is all reality. Its purpose and nature henceforward consist in the interpenetration of the universal (its “gifts” and capacities”) and individuality. The individual moments of this process of complete concrete permeation preceding the unity into which they have now coalesced, were found in the purposes hitherto considered. These have now vanished — as being mere abstractions and chimeras, which belong to those first shallow modes of mind’s self-consciousness, and which have their truth merely in the illusory “being” of the “heart”, fancy and rhetoric, and not in reason. This reason is now sure of its own reality as it stands (an und für sich), and no longer views itself as an ideal purpose which it seeks to realize from the outset in opposition to immediately existent (sensible) reality, but, on the contrary, has the category as such as the object of its consciousness.

This means that the character of being for itself on its own account (für sich), or of negative self-consciousness, with which reason started, is cancelled. This self-consciousness at that stage fell in with a reality which was supposed to be its own negative, and by cancelling which it was to realize its purpose. Now that purpose and inherent nature (Ansichseyn) have proved to be the same as objective existence for another and the given reality, [objective] truth is no longer divided from [subjective] certainty — no matter whether the proposed purpose is taken as certainty of self and the realization of that purpose as the truth, or whether the purpose is taken for the truth and reality for certainty. The essential nature and purpose as it stands (an und für sich) constitute the certainty of immediate reality itself, the interpenetration of the inherent implicit nature (ansich), and the explicit distinctive nature (fürsich), of the universal and individuality. Action is per se its truth and reality, and the manifestation or expression of individuality is its purpose taken just as it stands.

With the attainment of such a conception, therefore, self-consciousness has returned into itself and passed from those opposite characteristics which the category presented, and which its relation to the category had, when it was “observing” and when it was “active”. Its object is now the category pure and simple; in other words, it is itself the category become conscious of itself. Its account with its previous forms is now closed; they lie behind it in the forgotten past; they do not come forward against it as its world found ready to hand, but are developed solely within itself as transparent moments. Yet they still fall apart within its consciousness at this stage as a movement of distinct moments, which has not yet got combined into its own substantial unity. But throughout all these moments self-consciousness holds firmly to that simple unity of self with objective existence which is its constitutive generic nature.

Consciousness has in this way cast away all opposition and every condition limiting its activity. It starts anew from itself, and is occupied not with something external, but with itself. Since individuality is in itself actuality, the material of operation and the purpose of action lie in the action itself. Action consequently has the appearance of the movement of a circle, which moves itself within itself freely in vacuo, which, unimpeded, now enlarges and then contracts, and is quite content to play simply within itself and with itself. The element in which individuality manifests and displays its form and shape, is simply the day, in whose light consciousness wants to display itself. This element-the daylight-means nothing but the simple assuming of the form of individuality. Action alters nothing, opposes nothing; it is the mere form of translation from a condition of being invisible to one of being visible, and the content, brought thus to daylight, and laid bare, is nothing else than what this action already is implicitly (an sich). It is implicit — that is its form as unity in thought: and it is actual — that is its form as unity in existence: while it is itself content merely in virtue of maintaining this character of simplicity in spite of its aspect of process and transition.

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Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:38