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


Culture and its Realm of Actual Reality(1)

THE spirit of this world is spiritual essence permeated by a self-consciousness which knows itself to be directly present as a self-existent particular, and knows that essence as an objective actuality over against itself. But the existence of this world, as also the actuality of self-consciousness, depends on the process that self-consciousness divests itself of its personality, by so doing creates its world, and treats it as something alien and external, of which it must now take possession. But the renunciation of its self-existence is itself the production of the actuality, and in doing so, therefore, self-consciousness ipso facto makes itself master of this world.

To put the matter otherwise, self-consciousness is only something definite, it only has real existence, so far as it alienates itself from itself. By doing so, it puts itself in the position of something universal, and this its universality is its validity, establishes it, and is its actuality. This equality of the self with all selves is, therefore, not the equality that was found in the case of right; self-consciousness does not here, as there, get immediate validity and acknowledgment merely because it is; on the contrary, its claim to be valid rests on its having made itself, by that mediating process of self-alienation, conform to what is universal. The spiritless formal universality which characterizes the sphere of right takes up every natural form of character as well as of existence, and sanctions and establishes them. The universality which holds good here, however, is one that has undergone development, and for that reason it is concrete and actual.

The means, then, whereby an individual gets [ objective validity and concrete actuality here is the formative process of Culture. The estrangement on the part of spirit from its natural existence is here the individual’s true and original nature, his very substance. The relinquishment of this natural state is, therefore, both his purpose and his mode of existence; it is at the same time the mediating process, the transition of the thought-constituted substance to concrete actuality, as well as, conversely, the transition of determinate individuality to its essential constitution. This individuality moulds itself by culture to what it inherently is, and only by so doing is it then something per se and possessed of concrete existence. The extent(2) of its culture is the measure of its reality and its power. Although the self, qua this particular self, knows itself here to be real, yet its concrete realization consists solely in cancelling and transcending the natural self. The original determinateness of its nature is, therefore, reduced to a matter of quantity, to a greater or less energy of will, a non-essential principle of distinction. But purpose and content of the self belong to the universal substance alone, and can only be something universal. The specific particularity of a given nature, which becomes purpose and content, is something powerless and unreal: it is a “kind of being” which exerts itself foolishly and in vain to attain embodiment: it is the contradiction of giving reality to the bare particular, while reality is, ipso facto, something universal. If, therefore, individuality is falsely held to consist in particularity of nature and character, then the real world contains no individualities and characters; individuals are all alike for one another; the pretence (vermeint) of individuality in that case is precisely the mere presumptive (gemeint) existence which has no permanent place in this world where only renunciation of self and, therefore, only universality get actual reality. What is presumed or conjectured to be (Das Gemeinte) passes, therefore, simply for what it is, for a kind of being. “Kind” is not quite the same as Espèce,(3) “the most horrible of all nicknames, for it signifies mediocrity, and denotes the highest degree of contempt”.(4) “A kind” and “to be good of its kind” are German expressions, which add an air of honesty to this meaning, as if it were not so badly meant and intended after all; or which, indeed, do not yet involve a clear consciousness of what “kind” and what culture and reality are.

That which, in reference to the single individual, appears as his culture, is the essential moment of spiritual substance as such, viz.: the direct transition of its ideal, thought-constituted, universality into actual reality; or otherwise put, culture is the single soul of this substance, in virtue of which the essentially inherent (Ansich) becomes something explicitly acknowledged, and assumes definite objective existence. The process in which an individuality cultivates itself is, therefore, ipso facto, the development of individuality qua universal objective being; that is to say, it is the development of the actual world. This world, although it has come into being by means of individuality, is in the eyes of self-consciousness something that is directly and primarily estranged, and, for self-consciousness, takes on the form of a fixed, undisturbed reality. But at the same time self-consciousness is sure this is its own substance, and proceeds to take it under control. This power over its substance it acquires by culture, which, looked at from this aspect, appears as self-consciousness making itself conform to reality, and doing so to the extent permitted by the energy of its original character and talents. What seems here to be the individual’s power and force, bringing the substance under it, and thereby doing away with that substance is the same thing as the actualization of the substance. For the power of the individual consists in conforming itself to that substance, i.e. in emptying itself of its own self, and thus establishing itself as the objectively existing substance. Its culture and its own reality are, therefore, the process of making the substance itself actual and concrete.

The self is conscious of being actual only as transcended, as cancelled.(5) The self does not here involve the unity of consciousness of self and object; rather this object is negative as regards the self. By means of the self qua inner soul of the process, the substance is so moulded and worked up in its various moments, that one opposite puts life into the other, each opposite, by its alienation from the other, gives the other stability, and similarly gets stability from the other. At the same time, each moment has its own definite nature, in the sense of having an insuperable worth and significance; and has a fixed reality as against the other. The process of thought fixes this distinction in the most general manner possible, by means of the absolute opposition of “good” and “bad”, which are poles asunder and can in no way become one and the same. But the very soul of what is thus fixed consists in its immediate transition to its opposite; existence consists really in transmuting each determinate element into its opposite; and it is only this estrangement that constitutes the essential nature and the preservation of the whole. We must now consider this process by which the moments are thus made actual and give each other life; the alienation will be found to alienate itself, and the whole thereby will take all its contents back into the ultimate principle it implies (seinen Begriff).

At the outset we must deal with the simple substance itself in its immediate unconscious organization of its moments; they exist there, but are lifeless, their soul is wanting. We have here something like what we find in nature. Nature, we find, is resolved and spread out into separate and general elements — air, water, fire, earth. Of these air is the unchanging factor, purely universal and transparent; water, the reality that is for ever being resolved and given up; fire, their animating unity which is ever dissolving opposition into unity, as well as breaking up their simple unity into opposite constituents: earth is the tightly compact knot of this articulated whole, the subject in which these realities are, where their processes take effect, that which they start from and to which they return. In the same way the inner essential nature, the simple life of spirit that pervades self-conscious reality, is resolved, spread out into similar general areas or masses, spiritual masses in this case, and appears as a whole organized world. In the case of the first mass it is the inherently universal spiritual being, self-identical; in the second it is self-existent being, it has become inherently self-discordant, sacrificing itself, abandoning itself; the third which takes the form of self-consciousness is subject, and possesses in its very nature the fiery force of dissolution. In the first case it is conscious of itself, as immanent and implicit, as existing per se; in the second it finds independence, self-existence (Fürsichseyn) developed and carried out by means of the sacrifice of what is universal. But spirit itself is the self-containedness and self-completeness of the whole, which splits up into substance qua constantly enduring and substance qua self-sacrificing, and which at the same time resumes substance again into its own unity; a whole which is at once a flame of fire bursting out and consuming the substance, as well as the abiding form of the substance consumed. We can see that the areas of spiritual reality here referred to correspond to the Community and the Family in the ethical world, without, however, possessing the native indwelling spirit which the latter have. On the other hand, while destiny is alien to this spirit, here self-consciousness is and knows itself to be the real power underlying them.

We have now to consider these separate members of the whole, in the first instance as regards the way they are presented qua thoughts, qua essential inherent entities falling within pure consciousness, and also secondly as regards the way they appear as objective realities in concrete conscious life.

In the first form, the simplicity of content found in pure consciousness, the first member, being the self-identical, immediate and unchanging nature of every consciousness is the Good:— the independent spiritual power inherent in the essence, alongside which the activity of the mere self-existent consciousness is only by-play. Its other is the passive spiritual being, the universal so far as it parts with its own claims, and lets individuals get in it the consciousness of their particular existence; it is a state of nothingness, a being that is null and void, the Bad. This absolute break-up of the real into these disjecta membra is itself a permanent condition; while the first member is the foundation, starting-point, and result of individuals, which are there purely universal, the second member, on the other hand, is a being partly sacrificing itself for another, and, on that very account, is partly their incessant return to self qua individual, and their constant development of a separate being of their own.

But, secondly, these bare ideas of Good and Bad are similarly and immediately alienated from one another; they are actual, and in actual consciousness appear as moments that are objective. In this sense the first state of being is the Power of the State, the second its Resources or Wealth. The state-power is the simple spiritual substance, as well as the achievement of all, the absolutely accomplished fact, wherein individuals find their essential nature expressed, and where their particular existence is simply and solely a consciousness of their own universality. It is likewise the achievement and simple result from which the sense of its having been their doing has vanished: it stands as the absolute basis of all their action, where all their action securely subsists. This simple ethereal substance of their life, owing to its thus determining their unalterable self-identity, has the nature of objective being, and hence only stands in relation to and exists for “another”. It is thus, ipso facto, inherently the opposite of itself-Wealth or Resources. Although wealth is something passive, is nothingness, it is likewise a universal spiritual entity, the continuously created result of the labour and action of all, just as it is again dissipated into the enjoyment of all. In enjoyment each individuality no doubt becomes aware of self-existence, aware of itself as single; but this enjoyment is itself the result of universal action, just as, reciprocally, wealth calls forth universal labour, and produces enjoyment for all. The actual has through and through the spiritual significance of being directly universal. Each individual doubtless thinks he is acting in his own interests when getting this enjoyment; for this is the aspect in which he gets the sense of being something on his own account, and for that reason he does not take it to be something spiritual. Yet looked at even in external fashion, it becomes manifest that in his own enjoyment each gives enjoyment to all, in his own labour each works for all as well as for himself, and all for him. His self-existence is, therefore, inherently universal, and self-interest is merely a supposition that cannot get the length of making concrete and actual what it means or supposes, viz. to do something that is not to further the good of all.

Thus, then, in these two spiritual powers self-consciousness finds its own substance, content, and purpose; it has there a direct intuitive consciousness of its twofold nature; in one it sees what it is inherently in itself, in the other what it is explicitly for itself. At the same time qua spirit, it is the negative unity, uniting the subsistence of these powers with the separation of individuality from the universal, or that of reality from the self. Dominion and wealth are, therefore, before the individual as objects he is aware of, i.e. as objects from which he knows himself to be detached and between which he thinks he can choose, or even decline to choose either. In. the form of this detached bare consciousness he stands over against the essential reality as one which is merely there for him. He then has the reality qua essential reality within himself. In this bare consciousness the moments of the substance are taken to be not state-power and wealth, but thoughts, the thoughts of Good and Bad. But further, self-consciousness is a relation of his pure consciousness to his actual consciousness, of what is thought to the objective being; it is essentially Judgment. What is Good and what is Bad has already been brought out in the case of the two aspects of actual reality by determining what the aspects immediately are; the Good is state-power, the Bad, wealth. But this first judgment, this first distinction of content, cannot be looked at as a “spiritual” judgment; for in that first judgment the one side has been characterized as only the inherently existing or positive, and the other side as only the explicit self-existent and negative. But qua spiritual realities, each permeates both moments, pervades both aspects; and thus their nature is not exhausted in those specific characteristics [positive and negative]. And the self-consciousness that has to do with them is self-complete, is in itself and for itself. It must, therefore, relate itself to each in that twofold form in which they appear; and by so doing, this nature of theirs, which consists in being self-estranged determinations, will come to light.

Now self-consciousness takes that object to be good, and to exist per se, in which it finds itself; and that to be bad when it finds the opposite of, itself there. Goodness means identity of objective reality with it, badness their disparity. At the same time what is for it good and bad, is per se good and bad; because it is just that in which these two aspects — of being per se, and of being for it — are the same: it is the real indwelling soul of the objective facts, and the judgment is the evidence of its power within them, a power which makes them into what they are in themselves. What they are when spirit is actively related to them, their identity or non-identity with spirit — that is their real nature and the test of their true meaning, and not how they are identical or diverse taken immediately in themselves apart from spirit, i.e. not their inherent being and self-existence in abstracto. The active relation of spirit to these moments — which are first put forward as objects to it and thereafter pass by its action into what is essential and inherent — becomes at the same time their reflexion into themselves, in virtue of which they obtain actual spiritual existence, and their spiritual meaning comes to light. But as their first immediate characteristic is distinct from the relation of spirit to them, the third determinate moment — their own proper spirit — is also distinguished from the second moment. Their second inherent nature (Das zweite Ansich derselben)— their essentiality which comes to light through the relation of spirit to them — in the first instance, must surely turn out different from the immediate inherent nature; for indeed this mediating process of spiritual activity puts in motion the immediate characteristic, and turns it into something else.

As a result of this process, then, the self-contained conscious mind doubtless finds in the Power of the State its bare and simple reality, and its subsistence; but it does not find its individuality as such; it finds its inherent and essential being, but not what it is for itself. Rather, it finds there action qua individual action rejected and denied, and subdued into obedience. The individual thus recoils before this power and turns back into himself; it is for him the reality that suppresses him, and is the bad. For instead of being identical with him, that with which he is at one, it is something utterly in discordance with individuality. In contrast with this, Wealth is the good; wealth tends to the general enjoyment, it is there simply to be disposed of, and it ensures for every one the consciousness of his particular self. Riches means in its very nature universal beneficence: if it refuses any benefit in a given case and does not gratify every need, this is merely an accident which does not detract from its universal and necessary nature of imparting to every individual his share and being a thousand-handed benefactor.

These two judgments provide the ideas of Goodness and Badness with a content which is the reverse of what they had for us. Self-consciousness had up till now, however, been related to its objects only incompletely, viz. only according to the criterion of the self-existent. But consciousness is also real in its inherent nature, and has likewise to take this aspect for its point of view and criterion, and by so doing round off completely the judgment of self-conscious spirit. According to this aspect state-power expresses its essential nature: the power of the state is in part the quiet insistence of law, in part government and prescription, which appoints and regulates the particular processes of universal action. The one is the simple substance itself, the other its action which animates and sustains itself and all individuals. The individual thus finds therein his ground and nature expressed, organized, and exercised. As against this, the individual, by the enjoyment of wealth, does not get, to know his own universal nature: he only gets a transitory consciousness and enjoyment of himself qua particular and self-existing and discovers his discordance, his want of agreement with his own essential nature. The conceptions Good and Bad thus receive here a content the opposite of what they had before.

These two ways of judging find each of them an identity and a disagreement. In the first case consciousness finds the power of the state out of agreement with it, and the enjoyment that came from wealth in accord with it; while in the second case the reverse holds good. There is a twofold attainment of identity and a twofold form of disagreement: there is an opposite relation established towards both the essential realities. We must pass judgment on these different ways of judging as such; to this end we have to apply the criterion already brought forward. The conscious relation which finds identity or agreement, is, according to this standard, the Good; that which finds want of agreement, the Bad. These two types of relation must henceforth be regarded as diverse forms of conscious existence. Conscious life, through taking up a different kind of relation, thereby becomes itself characterized as different, comes to be itself good or bad. It is not thus distinct in virtue of the fact that it took as its constitutive principle either existence for itself, or mere being in itself; for both are equally essential moments of its life: that dual way of judging, above discussed, presented those principles as separated, and contained, therefore, merely abstract ways of judging. Concrete actual conscious life has within it both principles, and the distinction between its forms falls solely within its own nature, viz. inside the relation of itself to the real.

This relation takes opposite forms; in the one there is an active attitude towards state-power and wealth as to something with which it is in accord, in the other it is related to these realities as to something with which it is at variance. A conscious life which finds itself at one with them has the attribute of Nobility. In the case of the public authority of the state, it regards what is in accord with itself, and sees that it has there its own nature pure and simple and the sphere for the exercise of its own powers, and stands in the position of actually rendering obedient service in its interests, as well as that of inner reverence towards it. In the same way in the sphere of wealth, it sees that wealth secures for it the consciousness of self-existence, of realizing the other essential aspect of its nature: hence it looks upon wealth likewise as something essential in relation to itself, acknowledges him from whence the enjoyment comes as a benefactor, and. considers itself under a debt of obligation.

The conscious life involved in the other relation, again, that of disagreement, has the attribute of Baseness. It holds to its discordance with both those essential elements. It looks upon the authoritative power of the state as a chain, as something suppressing its separate existence for its own sake, and hence hates the ruler, obeys only with secret malice, and stands ever ready to burst out in rebellion. It sees, too, in wealth, by which it attains to the enjoyment of its own independent existence, merely something discordant, i.e. its disagreement with its permanent nature; since through wealth it only gets a sense of its particular isolated existence and a consciousness of passing enjoyment, since it loves wealth but despises it, and, with the disappearance of enjoyment, of what is inherently evanescent regards its relation to the man of wealth as having ceased too.

These relations now express, in the first instance, a judgment, the determinate characterization of what both those facts [state-power and wealth] are as objects for consciousness; not as yet what they are in their complete objective nature (an und für sich). The reflexion which is presented in this judgment is partly at first for us [who are philosophizing] an affirmation of the one characteristic along with the other, and hence is a simultaneous cancelling of both; it is not yet the reflexion of them for consciousness itself. Partly, again, they are at first immediate essential entities; they have not become this, nor is there in them consciousness of self: that for which they are is not yet their animating principle: they are predicates which are not yet themselves subject. On account of this separation, the entirety of the spiritual process of judgment also breaks asunder and falls into two modes of consciousness, each of which has a one-sided character. Now, just as at the outset the indifference of the two aspects in the process of self-estrangement-one of which was the inherent essential being of pure consciousness, viz. the determinate ideas of good and bad, the other their actual existence in the form of state-power and wealth-passed to the stage of being related the one to the other, passed to the level of judgment; in the same way this external relation must be raised to the level of their inner unity, must become a relation of thought to actual reality, and also the spirit animating both the forms of judgment will make its appearance. This takes place when judgment passes into inference, becomes the mediating process in which the middle term necessitating and connecting both sides of the judgment is brought into relief.

The noble type of consciousness, then, finds itself in the judgment related to state-power, in the sense that this power is indeed not a self as yet but at first is universal substance, in which, however, this form of mind feels its own essential nature to exist, is conscious of its own purpose and absolute content. By taking up a positive relation to this substance, it assumes a negative attitude towards its own special purposes, its particular content and individual existence, and lets them disappear. This type of mind is the heroism of Service; the virtue which sacrifices individual being to the universal, and thereby brings this into existence; the type of personality which of itself renounces possession and enjoyment, acts for the sake of the prevailing power, and in this way becomes a concrete reality.

Through this process the universal becomes united and bound up with existence in general, just as the individual consciousness makes itself by this renunciation essentially universal. That from which this consciousness estranges itself by submitting to serve is its consciousness immersed in mere existence: but the being alienated from itself is the inherent nature. By thus shaping its life in accord with what is universal, it acquires a Reverence for itself, and gets reverence from others. The power of the state, however, which to start with was merely universal in thought, the inherent nature, becomes through this very process universal in fact, becomes actual power. It is actually so only in getting that actual obedience which it obtains through self-consciousness judging it to be the essential reality, and through the self being freely sacrificed to it. The result of this action, binding the essential reality and self indissolubly together, is to produce a twofold actuality — a self that is truly actualized, and a state-power whose authority is accepted as true.

Owing to this alienation [implied in the idea of sacrifice] state-power, however, is not yet a self-consciousness that knows itself as state-power. It is merely the law of the state, its inherent principle, that is accepted; the state-power has as yet no particular will. For as yet the self-consciousness rendering service has not surrendered its pure selfhood, and made it an animating influence in the exercise of state-power; the serving attitude merely gives the state its bare being, sacrifices merely its existence to the state, not its essential nature. This type of self-consciousness has a value as one that is in conformity with the essential nature, and is acknowledged and accepted because of its inherent reality. The others find their essential nature operative in it, but not their independent existence — find their thinking, their pure consciousness fulfilled, but not their specific individuality. It has a value, therefore, in their thoughts, and is honoured accordingly. Such a type is the haughty vassal; be is active in the interests of the state-power, so far as the latter is not a personal will [a monarch] but merely an essential will. His self-importance lies only in the honour thus acquired, only in the general mind which directs its thoughts to what is essential, not in an individuality thinking gratefully of services rendered; for he has not helped this individuality [the monarch] to get independence. The language he would use, were he to occupy a direct relation to the personal win of the state-power, which thus far has not arisen, would take the form of “counsel” imparted in the interests of what is best for all.

State-power has, therefore, still at this stage no will to oppose the advice, and does not decide between the different opinions as to what is universally the best. It is not yet governmental control, and on that account is in truth not yet real state-power. Individual self-existence, the possession of an individual will that is not yet qua will surrendered, is the inner secretly reserved spiritual principle of the various classes and stations, a spirit which keeps for its own behoof what suits itself best, in spite of its words about the universal best, and tends to make this clap-trap about what is universally the best a substitute for action bringing it about. The sacrifice of existence, which takes place in the case of service, is indeed complete when it goes so far as death. But the endurance of the danger of death which the individual survives, leaves him still a specific kind of existence, and hence a particular self-reference; and this makes the counsel imparted in the interests of the universally best ambiguous and open to suspicion; it really means, in point of fact, retaining the claim to a private opinion of his own, and a separate individual will as against the power of the state. Its relation to the latter is, therefore, still one of discordance; and it possesses the characteristic found in the case of the base type of consciousness — it is ever at the point of breaking out into rebellion.

This contradiction, which has to be overcome, in this form of discordance and opposition between the independence of the individual conscious life and the universality belonging to state-authority, contains at the same time another aspect. That renunciation of existence, when it is complete, as it is in death, is one that does not revert to the consciousness that makes the sacrifice; it simply is: this consciousness does not survive the renunciation and exist in its own self-completeness (an und für sich), it merely passes away into the unreconciled opposite. That alone is true sacrifice of individuality, therefore, in which it gives itself up as completely as in the case of death, but all the while preserves itself in the renunciation. It comes thereby to be actually what it is implicitly — the identical unity of self with its opposed self. In this way, by the inner withdrawn and secret spiritual principle, the self as such, coming forward and abrogating itself, the state-power becomes ipso facto raised into a proper self of its own; without this estrangement of self the deeds of honour, the actions of the noble type of consciousness, and the counsels which its insight reveals, would continue to maintain the ambiguous character which, as we saw, kept that secret reserve of private intention and self-will, in spite of its overt pretensions.

This estrangement, however, takes place in Language, in words alone, and language assumes here its peculiar role. Both in the sphere of the general social order (Sittlichkeit), where language embodies laws and commands, and in the sphere of actual life, where it appears as conveying advice, the content of what it expresses is the essential reality, and language is the form of that essential content. Here, however, it takes the form in which qua language it exists to be its content, and possesses authority, qua spoken word; it is the power of utterance qua utterance which, just in speaking, performs what has to be performed. For it is the existence of the pure self qua self; in speech the self-existent singleness of self-consciousness comes as such into existence, so that its particular individuality is something for others. Ego qua this particular pure ego is non-existent otherwise; in every other mode of expression it is absorbed in some concrete actuality, and appears in a shape from which it can withdraw; it turns reflectively back into itself, away from its act, as well as from its physiognomic expression, and leaves such an incomplete existence (in which there is always at once too much as well as too little), lying soulless behind. Speech, however, contains this ego in its purity; it alone expresses I, I itself. Its existence in this case is, qua existence, a form of objectivity which has in it its true nature. Ego is this particular ego, but at the same time universal; its appearing is ipso facto and at once the alienation and disappearance of this particular ego, and in consequence its remaining all the while universal. The I, that expresses itself, is apprehended as an ego; it is a kind of infection in virtue of which it establishes at once a unity with those who are aware of it, a spark that kindles a universal consciousness of self. That it is apprehended as a fact by others means eo ipso that its existence is itself dying away: this its otherness is taken back into itself; and its existence lies just in this, that, qua self-conscious Now, as it exists, it has no subsistence and that it subsists just through its disappearance. This disappearance is, therefore, itself ipso facto its continuance; it is its own cognition of itself, and its knowing itself as something that has passed into another self that has been apprehended and is universal.

Spirit acquires this form of reality here, because the extremes, too, whose unity spirit is, have directly the character of being realities each on its own account. Their unity is disintegrated into rigid aspects, each of which is an actual object for the other, and each is excluded from the other. The unity, therefore, appears in the rôle of a mediating term, which is excluded and distinguished from the separated reality of the two sides; it has, therefore, itself the actual character of something objective, apart, and distinguished from its aspects, and objective for them, i.e. the unity is an existent objective fact. The spiritual substance comes as such into existence only when it has been able to take as its aspects those self-consciousnesses, which know this pure self to be a reality possessing immediate validity, and therein immediately know, too, that they are such realities merely through the mediating process of alienation. Through that pure self the moments of substance get the transparency of a self-knowing category, and become clarified so far as to be moments of spirit; through the mediating process spirit comes to exist in spiritual form. Spirit in this way is the mediating term, presupposing those extremes and produced through their existence; but it is also the spiritual whole breaking out between them, which sunders its self into them, and, solely in virtue of that contact, creates each into the whole in terms of its principle. The fact that both extremes are from the start and in their very nature transcended and disintegrated produces their unity; and this is the process which fuses both together, interchanges their characteristic features, and binds them together, and does so in each extreme. This mediating process consequently actualizes the principle of each of the two extremes, or makes what each is inherently in itself its controlling and moving spirit.

Both extremes, the state-authority and the noble type of consciousness, are disintegrated by this latter. In state-power, the two sides are the abstract universal which is obeyed, and the individual will existing on its own account, which, however, does not yet belong to the universal itself. In nobility, the two sides are the obedience in giving up existence, or the inherent maintenance of self-respect and honour, and, on the other hand, a self which exists purely for its own sake and whose self-existence is not yet done away with, the self-will that remains always in reserve. These two moments into which the extremes are refined, and which, therefore, find expression in language, are the abstract universal, which is called the “universal best”, and the pure self which by rendering service abrogated the life of absorption in the manifold variety of existence. Both in principle are the same; for pure self is just the abstract universal, and hence their unity acts as their mediating term. But the self is, at first, actual only in consciousness, the one extreme, while the inherent nature (Ansich) is actualized in the other extreme, state-authority. That state-power not merely in the form of honour but in reality should be transferred to it, is lacking in the case of consciousness; while in the case of state-authority there is lacking the obedience rendered to it not merely as a so-called universal best, but as will, in other words, as state-power which is the self regulating and deciding. The unity of the principle in which state-power still remains, and into which consciousness has been refined, becomes real in this mediating process, and this exists qua mediating term in the simple form of speech. All the same, the aspects of this unity are not yet present in the form of two selves as selves; for state-power has first to be inspired with active self-hood. This language is, therefore, not yet spiritual existence in the sense in which spirit completely knows and expresses itself.

The noble consciousness, being the extreme which is the self, assumes the rôle of producing the language by which the separate factors related are formed into active spiritual wholes. The heroism of dumb service passes into the heroism of flattery. This reflexion of service in express language constitutes the spiritual self-disintegrating mediating term, and reflects back into itself not only its own special extreme, but reflects the extreme of universal power back into this self too, and makes that power, which is at first implicit, into an independent self-existence, and gives it the individualistic form of self-consciousness. Through this process the indwelling spirit of this state-power comes into existence — that of an unlimited monarch. It is unlimited; the language of flattery raises this power into its transparent, purified universality; this moment being the product of language, of purified spiritualized existence, is a purified form of self-identity. It is a monarch; for flattering language likewise puts individualistic self-consciousness on its pinnacle; what the noble consciousness abandons as regards this aspect of pure spiritual unity is the pure essential nature of its thought, its ego itself. More definitely expressed:— flattery raises the individual singleness, which otherwise is only imagined, into its purist form as an actual existence, by giving the monarch his proper name. For it is in the name alone that the distinction of the individual from every one else is not imagined but is actually made by all. By having a name the individual passes for a pure individual not merely in his own consciousness of himself, but in the consciousness of all. By its name, then, the monarch becomes absolutely detached from every one, exclusive and solitary, and in virtue of it is unique as an atom that cannot communicate any part of its essential nature, and has no equal. This name is thus its reflexion into itself, or is the actual reality which universal power has inherently within itself: through the name the power is the monarch.(6) Conversely he, this particular individual, thereby knows himself, this individual self, to be the universal power, knows that the. nobles not only are ready and prepared for the service of the state-authority, but are grouped as an ornamental setting round the throne, and that they are for ever telling him who sits thereon what he is.

The language of their proffered praise is in this way the spirit that unites together the two extremes in the case of state-power itself. This language turns the abstract power back into itself, and gives to it the moment peculiar to the other extreme, an isolated self of its own, willing and deciding on its own account, and consequently gives it self-conscious existence. Or again, by that means this actual individual self-consciousness comes to be aware of itself for certain as the supreme authority. This power is the central focal self into which, through relinquishing their own inner certainty of self, the many separate centres of selfhood are fused together into one.

Since, however, this proper spirit of state-power subsists by getting its realization and its nourishment from the homage of action and thought rendered by the nobility, it is a form of independence in internal self-estrangement. The noble, the extreme form of self-existence, receives the other extreme of actual universality in return for the universality of thought which he relinquished. The power of the state has passed over to and fallen upon the noble. It falls to the noble primarily to make the state-authority truly effective: in his existence as a self on his own account, that authority ceases to be the inert being it appeared to be qua extreme of abstract and merely implicit reality.

Looked at per se, state-power reflected back into itself, or becoming spiritual, means nothing else than that it has come to be a moment of self-conscious life, i.e. is only by being sublated. Consequently it is now the real in the sense of something whose spiritual meaning lies in being sacrificed and squandered; it exists in the sense of wealth. It continues, no doubt, to subsist at the same time as a form of reality over against wealth, into which in principle it is forever passing; but it is a reality, whose inherent principle is this very process of passing over-owing to the service and the reverence rendered to it, and by which it arises — into its opposite, into the condition of relinquishing its power. Thus from its point of view (Fürsich) the special and peculiar self, which constitutes its will, becomes, by the self-abasement of the nobility, a universal that renounces itself, becomes completely an isolated particular, a mere accident, which is the prey of every stronger will. What remains to it of the universally acknowledged and incommunicable independence is the empty name.

While, then, the noble consciousness adopted the attitude of something that stood in concord with the universal power,(7) its true nature lies rather in retaining its own independence of being when rendering its service, but, when really and properly abnegating its personality, its true being lies in actually cancelling and rending in pieces the universal substance. Its spirit is the attitude of thoroughgoing discordance: on one side it retains its own will in the honour it receives; on the other hand it gives up its will, but in part it therein alienates from itself its inner nature, and arrives at the extreme of discordance with itself, in part it subdues the universal substance to itself, and puts this entirely at variance with itself. It is obvious that, as a result, its own specific nature, which made it distinct from the so-called base type of mind, disappears, and with that this latter type of mind too. The base type has gained its end, that of subordinating universal power to self-centred isolation of self.

Endowed in this way by the universal power, self-consciousness exists in the form of universal beneficence: or, from another point of view, universal power is wealth that again is itself an object for consciousness. For wealth is here taken to be the universal put indeed in subjection, but which is not yet absolutely returned into the self through this first transcendence. Self has not as yet its self as such for object, but the universal essential reality ‘m a state of sublation. Since this object has first come into being, the relation of consciousness towards it is immediate, and consciousness has thus not yet set forth its discordance with this object: we have here nobility acquiring its own self-centred existence in the universal that has become non-essential, and hence acknowledging the object and feeling grateful to its benefactor.

Wealth has within it from the first the aspect of self existence (Fürsichmein). It is not the self-less universal of state-power, or the unconstrained simplicity of the natural life of spirit; it is state-power as holding its own by effort of will in opposition to a will that wants to get the mastery over it and get enjoyment out of it. But since wealth has merely the form of being essential, this one-sided self-existent life — which has no being in itself, which is rather the sublation of inherent being — is the return of the individual into himself to find no essential reality in his enjoyment. It thus itself needs to be given animation; and its reflective process of bringing this about consists in its becoming something real in itself as well as for itself, instead of being merely for itself; wealth, which is the sublated essential reality, has to become the essentially real. In this way it preserves its own spiritual principle in itself.

It will be sufficient here to describe the content of this process since we have already explained at length its form. Nobility, then, stands here in relation not to the object in the general sense of something essential; what is alien to it is self-existence itself. It finds itself face to face with its own self as such in a state of estrangement, as an objective solid actuality which it has to take from the hands of another self-centred being, another equally fixed and solid entity. Its object is self-existence, i.e. its own being: but by being an object this is at the same time ipso facts an alien reality, which is a self-centred being on its own account, has a will of its own; i.e. it sees its self under the power of an alien will on which it depends for the concession of its self.

From every particular aspect self-consciousness can abstract, and for that reason, even when under an obligation to one of these aspects, retains the recognition and inherent validity of self-consciousness as an independent reality. Here, however, it finds that, as regards its own ego, its own proper and peculiar actuality, it is outside itself and belongs to an other, finds its personality as such dependent on the chance personality of another, on the accident of a moment, of an arbitrary caprice, or some other utterly irrelevant circumstance.

In the sphere of legal right, what lies in the power of the objective being appears as an incidental content from which it is possible to make abstraction; and the governing force does not affect the self as such; rather this self is recognized. But here the self sees its self-certainty as such to be the most unreal thing of all, finds its pure personality to be absolutely without the character of personality. The spirit of its gratitude is, therefore, one in which it feels profoundly this condition of humiliation, and feels also the deepest revolt as well. Since the pure ego sees itself outside self, and torn in sunder, everything that has continuity and universality, everything that bears the name of law, good, and right, is thereby torn to pieces at the same time, and goes to rack and ruin: all identity and concord break up, for what holds sway is the purest discord and disunion, what was absolutely essential is absolutely unessential, what has a being on its own account has its being outside itself: the pure ego itself is absolutely disintegrated.

Thus although this consciousness receives back from the sphere of wealth the objective form of being a separate self-existence, and transcends that objective character, yet it is not only, like the preceding reflexion, not completed in principle, but is consciously unsatisfied: the reflexion, wherein the self receives itself as an objective fact, is sheer direct contradiction that has taken root in the pure ego as such. Qua self, however, it at the same time ipso facto rises above this contradiction; it is absolutely elastic, and again cancels this sublation of itself, repudiates this repudiation of itself, wherein its self-existence is made to be something alien to it, revolts against this acceptance of itself and in the very reception of itself is self-existent.

Since, then, the attitude of this type of consciousness is bound up with this condition of utter disintegration, the distinction constituting its spiritual nature-that of being nobility and opposed to baseness-falls away and both aspects are the same.

The spirit of well-doing that characterizes the action of wealth may, further, be distinguished from that of the conscious life accepting the benefit it confers, and deserves special consideration.

The spirit animating wealth had an unreal insubstantial independence; wealth was something given freely to all. By communicating what it has, however, it passes into something essential and inherent; since it fulfilled its destiny, that of sacrificing itself, it cancels the aspect of singleness, that of merely seeking enjoyment for one’s own self, and, being thus sublated qua single, spirit here is universality or essentially real.

What it imparts, what it gives to others, is self-existence. It does not hand itself over, however, as a natural self-less object, as the frankly and freely offered condition of unconscious life, but as self-conscious, as a reality keeping hold of itself: it is not like the power of an inorganic element which is felt by the consciousness receiving its force to be inherently transitory; it is the power over self, a power aware that it is independent and voluntary, and knowing at the same time that what it dispenses becomes the self of someone else.

Wealth thus shares repudiation with its clientele; but in place of revolt appears arrogance. For in one aspect it knows, as well as the self it benefits, that its self-existence is a matter of accident but itself is this accident in whose power personality is placed. In this mood of arrogance — which thinks it has secured through a dole an alien ego-nature, and thereby brought its inmost being into submission — it overlooks the secret rebellion of the other self: it overlooks the fact of all bonds being completely cast aside, overlooks this pure disintegration, in which, the self-identity of what exists for its own sake having become sheer internal discordance, all oneness and concord, all subsistence is rent asunder, and in which in consequence the repute of and respect for the benefactor are the first to be shattered. It stands directly in front of this abyss, cleaving it to the innermost, this bottomless pit, where every solid base and stay have vanished: and in the depths it sees nothing but a common thing, a plaything for its whims, a chance result of its own caprice. Its spirit consists in quite unreal imagining, in being superficiality forsaken of all true spiritual import.

Just as self-consciousness had its own manner of speech in dealing with state-power, in other words, just as spirit took the form of expressly and actually mediating between these two extremes, self-consciousness has also a mode of speech in dealing with wealth; but still more when in revolt does it adopt a language of its own. The form of utterance which supplies wealth with the sense of its own essential significance, and thereby makes itself master of it, is likewise the language of flattery, but of ignoble flattery; for what it gives out to be the essential reality, it knows to be a reality without an inherent nature of its own, to be something at the mercy of others. The language of flattery, however, as already remarked, is that of a spirit still one-sided. To be sure its constituent elements are, on the one hand, a self moulded by service into a shape where it is reduced to bare existence, and, on the other, the inherent reality of the power dominating the self. Yet the bare principle, the pure conception, in which the simple self and the inherent reality (Ansich), that pure ego and this pure reality or thought, are one and the same thing — this conceptual unity of the two aspects between which the reciprocity takes effect, is not consciously felt when this language is used. The object is consciously still the inherent reality in opposition to the self; in other words, the object is not for consciousness at the same time its own proper self as such.

The language expressing the condition of disintegration, wherein spiritual life is rent asunder, is, however, the perfect form of utterance for this entire realm of spiritual culture and development, of the formative process of moulding self-consciousness (Bildung), and is the spirit in which it most truly exists. This self-consciousness, which finds befitting the rebellion that repudiates its own repudiation, is eo ipso absolute self-identity in absolute disintegration, the pure activity of mediating pure self-consciousness with itself. It is the oneness expressed in the identical judgment, where one and the same personality is subject as well as predicate. But this identical judgment is at the same time the infinite judgment; for this personality is absolutely split in two, and subject and predicate are entities utterly indifferent one to the other, which have nothing to do with each other, with no necessary unity, so much so that each has the power of an independent personality of its own. What exists as a self on its own account has for its object its own self-existence, which is object in the sense of an absolute other, and et at the same time directly in the form of itself — itself in the sense of an other, not as if this had an other content, for the content is the same self in the form of an absolute opposite, with an existence completely all its own and indifferent.

We have, then, here the spirit of this real world of formative culture, conscious of its own nature as it truly is, and conscious of its ultimate and essential principle (Begriff).

This type of spiritual life is the absolute and universal inversion of reality and thought, their entire estrangement the one from the other; it is pure culture. What is found out in this sphere is that neither the concrete realities, state-power and wealth, nor their determinate conceptions, good and bad, nor the consciousness of good and bad (the consciousness that is noble and the consciousness that is base) possess real truth; it is found that all these moments are inverted and transmuted the one into the other, and each is the opposite of itself.

The universal power, which is the substance, when it gains a spiritual nature peculiarly its own through the principle of individuality, accepts the possession of a self of its own merely as a. name by which it is described, and, even in being actual power, is really so powerless as to have to sacrifice itself. But this self-less reality given over to others, this self that is turned into a thing, is in fact the return of the reality into itself; it is a self-existence that is there for its own sake, it is the existence of spirit.

The principles belonging to these realities, the thoughts of good and bad, are similarly transmuted and reversed in this process; what is characterized as good is bad, and vice versa. The consciousness of each of these moments by itself, the conscious types judged as noble and base — these are rather in their real truth similarly the reverse of what these specific forms intend to be; nobility is base and repudiated, just as what is repudiated as base turns round into the nobleness that characterizes the most highly developed form of free self-consciousness.

Looked at formally, everything is likewise in its external aspects the reverse of what it is internally for itself; and again it is not really and in truth what it is for itself, but something else than it wants to be; its existence on its own account is, strictly speaking, the loss of self, and alienation of self is really self-preservation.

The state of things brought about here, then, is that all moments execute justice on one another all round, each is just as much in a condition of inherent self-alienation as it moulds itself into its opposite, and in this way reverses the nature of that opposite.

Spirit truly objective, however, is just this unity of absolutely separate moments, and in fact comes into existence as the common ground, the mediating agency, just through the independent reality of these self-less extremes. Its existence consists in universal talk and depreciatory judgment rending and tearing everything, before which all those moments are broken up that are meant to signify something real and to stand for actual members of the whole, and which at the same time plays with itself this game of self-dissolution. This judging and talking is, therefore, the real truth, which cannot be got over, while it overpowers everything it is that which in this real world is alone truly of importance. Each part of this world comes to find there its spirit expressed, or gets to be spoken of with esprit and finds said of it what it is.

The honest(8) soul takes each moment as a permanent and essential fact, and is the uncultivated thoughtless condition that does not think and does not know that it is likewise doing the very inverse. The distraught and disintegrated soul is, however, aware of inversion; it is, in fact, a consciousness of absolute inversion: the conceptual principle predominates there, brings together into a single unity the thoughts that lie far apart in the case of the honest soul, and the language conveying its meaning is, therefore, full of esprit and wit (geistreich).

The content uttered by spirit and uttered about itself is, then, the inversion and perversion of all conceptions and realities, a universal deception of itself and of others. The shamelessness manifested in stating this deceit is just on that account the greatest truth. This style of speech is the madness of the musician “who piled and mixed up together some thirty airs, Italian, French, tragic, comic, of all sorts and kinds; now, with a deep bass, he descended to the depths of hell, then, contracting his throat to a high, piping falsetto, he rent the vault of the skies, raving and soothed, haughtily imperious and mockingly jeering by turns”.(9) The placid soul(10) that in simple honesty of heart takes the melody of the good and true to consist in harmony of sound and uniformity of tones, i.e. in a single note, regards this style of expression as a “fantastic mixture of wisdom and folly, a melée of as much skill as low cunning, composed of ideas as likely to be right as wrong, with as complete a perversion of sentiment, with as much consummate shamefulness in it, as absolute frankness, candour, and truth. It will not be able, to refrain from breaking out into all these tones, and running up and down the whole gamut of feeling, from the depths of contempt and repudiation to the highest pitch of admiration and stirring emotion. A vein of the ridiculous will be diffused through the latter, which takes away from their nature”; the former will find in their very candour a strain of atoning reconcilement, will find in their shuddering depths the all-powerful strain which gives to itself spirit.

If we consider, by way of contrast to the mode of utterance indulged in by this self-transparent distracted type of mind, the language adopted by that simple, placid consciousness of the good and the true, we find that it can only speak in monosyllables when face to face with the frank and self-conscious eloquence of the mind developed under the influence of culture; for it can say nothing to the latter that the latter does not know and say. If it gets beyond speaking in monosyllables, then it says the same thing that the cultivated mind expresses, but in doing so commits, in addition, the folly of imagining that it is saying something new, something different. Its very syllables, “disgraceful”, “base”, are this folly already, for the other says. them of itself. This latter type of spirit perverts in its mode of utterance everything that sounds monotonous, because this self-sameness is merely an abstraction, but in its actual reality is intrinsically and inherently perversion. On the other hand, again, the unsophisticated mind takes under its protection the good and the noble (i.e. what retains its identity of meaning in being objectively expressed), and defends it in the only way here possible-that is to say, the good does not lose its value because it may be linked with what is bad or mingled with it, for to be thus associated with badness is its condition and necessity, and the wisdom of nature lies in this fact. Yet this unsophisticated mind, while it intended to contradict, has merely, in doing so, gathered into a trifling form the meaning of what spirit said, and put it in a manner which, by turning the opposite of noble and good into the necessary condition of noble and good, thoughtlessly supposes itself to convey something else than that the so-called noble and good is by its very nature the reverse of itself, or that what is bad is, conversely, something excellent.

If the naïve consciousness makes up for this barren, soulless idea by the concrete reality of what is excellent, by adducing an example of what is excellent, whether in the form of a fictitious case or a true story, and thus shows it to be not an empty name, but an actual fact, then it has against it the universal reality of the perverted action of the entire real world, where that example constitutes merely something quite isolated and particular, merely an espece, a sort of thing. And to represent the existence of the good and the noble as an isolated particular anecdote, whether fictitious or true, is the bitterest thing that can be said about it.

Finally, should the naïve mind require this entire sphere of perversion to be dissolved and broken up, it cannot ask the individual to withdraw out of it, for even Diogenes in his tub [with his pretence of withdrawal] is under the sway of that perversion; and to ask this of the particular individual is to ask him to do precisely what is taken to be bad, viz. to care for himself as individual. But if the demand to withdraw is directed at the universal individual, it cannot mean that reason must again give up the culture and development of spiritual conscious life which it has reached, that reason should let the extensive riches of its moments sink back into the naïveté of natural emotion, and revert and approximate to the wild condition of the animal consciousness, which is also called the natural state of innocence. On the contrary, the demand for this dissolution can only be addressed to the spirit of culture itself, and can only mean that it must qua spirit return out of its confusion into itself, and win for itself a still higher level of conscious life.

In point of fact, however, spirit has already accomplished this result. To be conscious of its own distraught and torn condition and to express itself accordingly — this is to pour scornful laughter on existence, on the confusion pervading the whole and on itself as well: it is at the same time this whole confusion dying away and yet apprehending itself to be doing so. This self-apprehending vanity of all reality and of every definite principle reflects the real world into itself in a twofold form: in the particular self of consciousness qua particular, and in the pure universality of consciousness, in thought. According to the first aspect, mind thus come to itself has directed its gaze into the world of actual reality, and still has that reality as its own purpose and its immediate content: from the other side, its gaze is in part turned solely on itself and against that world of reality, in part turned away from it towards heaven, and its object is the region beyond the world.

In respect of that return into self the vanity of all things is its own peculiar vanity, it is itself vain. It is self existing for its own sake, a self that knows not only how to sum up and chatter about everything, but cleverly to state the contradiction that lies in the heart of the solid elements of reality, and in the fixed determinations which judgment sets up; and this contradiction is their real truth. Looked at formally it knows everything to be estranged from itself; self-existence is cut off from essential being (Ansich), what is intended and the purpose are separated from real truth, and from both again existence for another, what is ostensibly put forward is cut off from the proper meaning, the real fact, the true intention.

It thus knows exactly how to put each moment in antithesis to every other, knows in short how to express correctly the perversion that dominates all of them: it knows better than each what each is, no matter how it is constituted. Since it apprehends what is substantial from the side of that disunion and contradiction of elements combined within its nature, but not from the side of this union itself, it understands very well how to pass judgment on this substantial reality, but has lost the capacity of truly grasping it.

This vanity needs at the same time the vanity of all things, in order to get from them consciousness of itself it therefore itself creates this vanity, and is the soul that supports it. State-power and wealth are the supreme purposes of its strenuous exertion, it is aware that through renunciation and sacrifice it is moulded into universal shape, that it attains universality, and in possessing universality finds general recognition and acceptance: state-power and wealth are the real and actually acknowledged forms of power. But its gaining acceptance thus is itself vain, and just by the fact that it gets the mastery over them it knows them to be not real by themselves, knows rather itself to be the power within them, and them to be vain and empty. That in possessing them it thus itself is able to stand apart from and outside them — this is what it expresses in witty phrases; and to express this is, therefore, its supreme interest, and the true meaning of the whole process. In such utterance this self-in the form of a pure self not associated with or bound by determinations derived either from reality or thought-comes consciously to be a spiritual entity having a truly universal significance and value. It is the condition in which the nature of all relationships is rent asunder, and it is the conscious rending of them all. But only by self-consciousness being roused to revolt does it know its own peculiar torn and shattered condition; and in its knowing this it has ipso facto risen above that condition. In that state of self-conscious vanity all substantial content comes to have a negative significance, which can no longer be taken in a positive sense. The positive object is merely the pure ego itself; and the consciousness that is rent in sunder is inherently and essentially this pure self-identity of self-consciousness returned to itself.

1. It will be observed that “culture” embraces all means of self-development, “ideas” as well as material factors such as “wealth”.

2. Bacon’s phrase, “Knowledge is power”.

3. “Espèce se dit de personnes auxquelles on ne trouve ni qualité ni mérite.” — Littré.

4. Diderot’s Rameau’s Neffe.

5. Cp. Hume’s view of “personal identity”, Treatise, pt. IV, c. 6.

6. Cp. “L’état c’est moi.”

7. v. p. 524.

8. v. p. 432 ff.

9. Diderot, Rameau’s Neffe.

10. The “philosopher” in Diderot’s Dialogue.

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