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


Objective Spirit(1) — The Ethical Order(2)

Spirit, in its ultimate simple truth, is consciousness, and breaks asunder its moments from one another. An act divides spirit into spiritual substance on the one side, and consciousness of the substance on the other; and divides the substance as well as consciousness. The substance appears in the shape of a universal inner nature and purpose standing in contrast to itself qua individualized reality. The middle or mediating term, infinite in character, is self-consciousness, which, being implicitly the unity of itself and that substance, becomes so, now, explicitly (für sich), unites the universal inner nature and its particular realization, raises the latter to the former and acts ethically: and, on the other hand, brings the former down to the latter and carries out the purpose, the substance presented merely in thought. In this way it brings to light the unity of its self and the substance, and produces this unity in the form of its “work”, and thus as actual concrete fact (Wirklichkeit).

When consciousness breaks up into these elements, the simple substance has in part acquired the attitude of opposition to self-consciousness; in part it thereby manifests in itself the very nature of consciousness, which consists in distinguishing its own content within itself — manifests it as a world articulated into its spheres, The substance is thus an ethical being split up into distinct elemental forms, a human and a divine law. In the same way, the self-consciousness appearing over against the substance assigns itself, in virtue of its inner nature, to one of these powers, and, qua involving knowledge, gets broken up into ignorance of what it is doing, on the one hand, and knowledge of this on the other, a knowledge which for that reason proves a deception. It learns, therefore, through its own act at once the contradictory nature of those powers into which the inner substance divided itself, and their mutual overthrow, as well as the contradiction between its knowledge of the ethical character of its act and what is truly and essentially ethical, and so finds its own destruction. In point of fact, however, the ethical substance has by this process become actual concrete self-consciousness: in other words this particular self has become self-sufficient and self-dependent — (Anund Fürsichseyenden), but precisely thereby the ethical order has been overthrown and destroyed.

1.  Der wahre Geist.

2.  Sittlichkeit.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55