Die Phänomenologie des Geistes – The Phenomenology of Spirit
This opus published in 1787 may be considered as the Introduction to Hegel’s philosophy. It is at the same time the most fruitful opus from which we are able to learn a great deal for our own philosophical inquiry. Hegel describes the process of the spirit’s development starting from the sensation till the absolute knowledge – das absolute Wissen – as the philosophical knowledge, whereby Hegel saw a parallel with the historic-cultural development of the World Spirit(= der Weltgeist). The dialectical development of Spirit is stated in the light of the human psychic as well as historical sequence.
Needless to repeat, Hegel’s absolute knowledge is not that by Schelling’s intuition in that it is not the knowledge immediately given by intellectual intuition, but the knowledge mediated by thought in the form of concepts.
In his Preface, Hegel called Schelling’s cognition of the Absolute as the “knowledge to recognize the black cow in the pitch black night”2 . Hegel did not name Schelling in it, but it was so obvious and because of his critical remarks by Hegel on Schelling. Schelling was quite annoyed and since then became very distant (they never talked to each other since). However, this is the declaration of independence of Hegel from Schelling in his philosophical pursuit. Hegel objected that philosophy comes immediately (unmediatedly) from the intuitive knowledge of the Absolute.
Hegel intended to show by dialectics that the process from the pre-philosophical consciousness is of necessity to go through many stages and attain the absolute knowledge.
The process of development are divided into six stages:
2. Self Consciousness
6. the Absolute Knowledge (= Philosophy)
Comparing this to that of Die Enzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften – The Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences -, the 1., 2., and 3. respond to the middle of the Subjective Spirit,and the 4. is the Moral Spirit, while the 5. and 6. correspond to the Absolute Spirit.
The Organization of Hegel’s Philosophical System according to:
The Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences:
Philosophy of Spirit
I) Subjective Spirit
I-i) Anthropology (Soul)
I-ii) Phenomenology of Spirit (Consciousness)
I-iii) Psychology (Spirit)
II) Objective Spirit
II-iii) Society Sittlichkeit –
III) Absolute Spirit
III-i) Art (Intuition)
III-ii) Religion (Representation = Symbol)
III-iii) Philosophy (Concrete Concept)
(1) Das Bewußtsein – Consciousness
a. Sensation – die sinnliche Gwißheit
b. Perception – die Wahrnehmung
c. Understanding – der Verstand
The consciousness, according to Hegel, develops through these three stages. This does not signify the order of the temporal genesis . The knowledge which immediately appear with the “self evident certainty” is taken as the starting point. This is the immediate certainty of sensation.
a) Any sensation is known to us “this”. Although it appears concrete, particular, immediately certain, but this is the most abstract character common to all sensory experience, for “this” is in contrast to “that” and “this”, thus, abstractly refers to anything particular: In this sense, “this” is very abstract and has no specific content of its reference.
Therefore, “this” contains simply the being of the thing sensed. Although at first this sensory knowledge appeared with the absolute certainty of immediacy, this knowledge, upon careful philosophical examination, reveals itself as the most abstract, fragmentary, one-sided awareness of the immediate experience by the sense. Once this defect is made explicit through philosophical examination, consciousness moves up to the next stage, that is, that of perception.
b) Perception is the sensory consciousness of the concrete. The total content of the sensation becomes a common characteristic of the object of perception, that is, the thing – das Ding.
In other words, in stead of pointing out something as “this” or “that” with immediate certainty of sensation, on this level, our knowledge sees a common feature among many “this” and begins to take them as “many appearances” of “one and the same thing.” Beyond sensory immediacy, one begins to know an object by its “name” such as an “apple”, a “desk” or a “human.” On this level, we are able to have “names” and distinguish objects by their “names.”
c) It is understanding that denies the independence of the thing. For on the previous level of perception, the object of our perception was taken for as an independent, self-identical thing, i.e., as a substance. Contrary to this, understanding negates the substantiality of a thing.
By means of “concepts” – Begriffe -, understanding grasps the force –die Kraft– behind the thing. On the basis of the things, understanding takes as the inner force what perception previously comprehended as an independent “thing.”
What perception previously grasped (as a thing) is now turns out to be merely a phenomenon.
Sensation took notice of “this” or “that,” the particular, concrete character.
Perception views the “sensed” character as belonging to a thing as its character.
Understanding takes the thing a mere appearance of the “inner force.”
By so doing, perception now rises up to Self Consciousness.
(2) Das Selbstbewußtsein – Self Consciousness
Sensation, perception and understanding are faculties of knowledge of things. Now consciousness as a cognitive faculty may also take consciousness itself for its own object.
Here the (recognizing) consciousness and its object (consciousness recognized) are viewed as being in opposition, and the truth is considered to lie on the side of the object- consciousness. Here the question of the other was raised by Hegel and articulated further to elucidate that the other is priori in givenness to oneself. Or In order for the consciousness to obtain the self awareness, it must be first recognize the other as self consciousness, and then will be able to aware of oneself. Now the (recognizing) consciousness is the consciousness which reflects upon itself, i.e., the self consciousness. Here lies truth in the I (consciousness ) itself.
In the self consciousness which knows its own self, the object is, needless to say, the consciousness or the I itself. The consciousness of the object and the object of the consciousness coincide, and truth and certainty coincide, too.
i) For self consciousness, nothing other than its self has truth. The objects which was the objects of sensation, perception, understanding, now come to be discovered as having a negative character. In this negativity, the object of these consciousness shows itself as something other than consciousness and distract consciousness from itself , i.e., to negate consciousness as an opposite to consciousness.
As mentioned above, on the level of self consciousness, consciousness splits into two. Its object is also its own consciousness. Thus, consciousness is here directed to its own self.
As a result, the object of self consciousness is, first of all, pleasure. The pleasure, the object in its negative character satisfies the desire – das Begierde – of self consciousness.
The desire is in itself self contradictory in that the desire affirms the independence of its object on the one hand and denies its independence on the other at the same time.
Therefore, by means of the power of this contradiction, the consciousness pursuing pleasure, the life with desires, having obtained satisfaction of desire, reflects itself deeply into itself.
ii) Whereas what was negated, e.g. in perception, as its object was a thing, that which negates self consciousness is not a thing, but the other human self consciousness. The human (self consciousness) opposes to the other human (self consciousness) in the true sense.
A self consciousness opposes itself to another self consciousness and asserts itself against the other. In other words, the relation of consciousness deepens itself further from the consciousness’ relation to the thing toward its relation to the other consciousness.
Therefore, the world of self consciousness is not the world of the knowledge of self and that of the other self, but the world of interaction between the self and the other self.
The historically primary relationship of such kind is the Relation between the Master and the Slave – Herr und Knecht. This is the relation between one self consciousness as mastering with independence – die Herrschaft – and the other self consciousness as being enslaved without independence.
The Slave labors, while the Master enjoys (= satisfies desires).
iii) The Slave learns to control his own desire in order to serve his Master and further learns to create his own Spirit through his labor.
The Slave learns to create his own self by producing things by his labor.
The Slave becomes thus to know and exercise the Freedom of his own self despite his being shackled. Here the Freedom of Self Consciousness arises.
It was the Stoicism that made this Freedom of Thought (self consciousness) the Principle of Life.
It was further Skepticism (Pyrrhon and his disciple Timon were supposed to be thought of here) that brackets and negates the reality in order to actualize the Freedom of Self Consciousness. They thought that by putting the reality to epoché (bracketing) they may attain the serenity of mind (ataraxia).
This Skepticism contains in itself a contradiction in that the skepticism denies the immutability of the external reality and yet maintains the very immutability of its own philosophy and its way of life.
Iv) Once becoming conscious of this contradiction between the immutable and one’s own individuality which is mutable, the Unhappy Consciousness – das unglückliches Bewußtsein– is born.
While Hegel describes the stoicism and its transition to the skepticism, he had in mind the Downfall of the Classical World (Rome).
Similarly Hegel’s description of the Unhappy Consciousness is the narrative of the three elements existing in the Middle Ages in Europe:
1) die Sehnsucht auf das verlorene Gute– the longing for the lost Good
=the knighthood of the Crusaders.
2) The class of the unfree farmers (the unsatisfactory state of work and pleasure)
3) Die religiösen Mönchen und Orden– The religious monks and order with the absolute abstinence or resignation of one’s own self
At this resignation or abstinence of one’s own, the reconciliation between the abstinent individual (the mutable) and the immutable, the Individuality (mutability) and the Immutability was accomplished by Reason.
Hegel believed that the development of these consciousness as the transcendental conditions for the possibility of the human Spirit finds itself not only within each individual consciousness, but reflects itself in the history of the humankind.
(3) Reason – die Vernunft
Reason is the self-consciousness that grasps the identity of the individuality (mutability) and the Immutability, the finite and the infinite, and objectivity and subjectivity.
Describing the transition to the stage of Reason, The Phenomenology of Spirit indicates the beginning of the Contemporary period in Europe. In the viewpoint of Reason, the consciousness is all that is and the I is the ultimate world. This is the world of idealism. In Idealism Reason merely possesses the certainty at the beginning that all that is my own.
Therefore, it is necessary to raise this certainty to truth.
i) Reason at first appears as the theoretical reason. This reason is called die beobachtende Vernunft– the observing reason -. This stage of reason reveals its rationality in the observation of nature.
This reason distinguishes the attributes and the non-attributes of a thing, attempts to describe the thing (the object of nature) and investigates the laws of nature.
However, this theoretical reason is not capable to completely transform all the natural phenomena into the rational concepts – die Idee – and in the investigation of the law the theoretical reason meets the deadlock in the organic nature. The purposefulness in the organism –die Zweckmäßigkeit des Organismus – may be captured by the external observation and yet to the observing eye, the inner intellect as the organic force is shut off.
So the observing reason secondly attempts to observe the self consciousness in its purity – das Selbstbewußtsein in seiner Reinheit – in order to discover the logical and psychic Laws. In other words, it tries to purely observe the self consciousness. However, the laws of thinking are formal and cannot be grasped in their substantiality. On the hand, the psychic laws often depend on the respective situations or personalities and cease to be laws.
Thus the observing Reason thirdly endeavors to observe the relationship of the self consciousness to its immediate reality – die Beziehung des Selbstbewußtseins auf seine unmittelbare Wirklichkeit. That is, this Reason comprehends its body – die Körper – as its expression or its externality. The observing Reason attempts to interpret the inwardness by means of externality, the psychic by means of the bodily, whose examples may be found in the physiognomic or phrenology – Die Schädellehre-, these attempts prove themselves as shambles, for Reason is not able to see its own reality in itself but in the external physiognomic or phrenology. Indeed, there may exist a close relationship between them, but it is the relationship of the sign and the singed, never that of identity. We never see the immediate expression of Reason itself.
ii) Reason, having ceased to make simple (scientific) observations for the discovery of its own reality, now ascends to the attitude of actualizing the external world that possesses the essence of Reason itself. While Hegel called the theoretical Reason as the observing Reason, he calls this practical Reason the actualization of rational self- consciousness through itself – die Verwirklichung des vernünftigen Selbstbewußtseins durch sich selbst. The relationship of the practical Reason to the theoretical Reason resembles to that of the self- consciousness to consciousness.
ii-a) However, at the beginning, the practical Reason merely seeks for its self actualization. In its search on the first stage, the practical Reason like Goethe’s Faust pursues pleasures: That which searches for and indulges itself in pleasures – Lust – alone would encounter necessity (Notwendigkeit – its necessary negative consequences) and would destroy itself.
ii-b) On the second stage, the practical Reason attempts to incorporate into itself that which opposes it as necessity and would exert itself to thereby actualize the law of heart – das Gesetz des Herzens – the personal happiness – in the world. However, this attempt is ultimately no other than the insanity of self deceit – der Wahnsinn des Eigendünkels.
ii-c) On the third stage, the practical Reason, having given up the pursuit of the happiness of its own (through gratification of pleasures), endeavors to actualize the good in the society. This is virtue – Tugend. However, the virtue crashes with the general convention of the mundane society –Weltlauf. For the mundane society is not necessarily virtuous. On the other hand, the virtue being so divorced from the actuality can no way find its own reality.
iii) Thus rational self-consciousness becomes to try to actualize its aim in accordance with the actual reality. This is not other than the concrete Individuality – die Individualität – an individual Reason that pursues its own aim. The Individuality is, according to Hegel, the synthesis of the observation and the (practical) action, i.e., the synthesis of the practical Reason and the Theoretical Reason.
To such an Individuality in which the opposition between the aim and the reality are already dissolved (reconciled), there is nothing else but to express and manifest its own Individuality. No longer overcoming the reality which opposes the self, Reason at this stage (the rational self-consciousness as Individuality) only shifts itself from the invisible to the visible.
iii-a) On the first stage of this Individuality, the Individuality “enjoys” its own actions just as animals do in the field or the mountain. The Individuality at this stage Hegel called the domain of the spiritual animals (das geistige Tierreich). The consequence of the Individuality’s self manifestation here is a work (die Werke).
iii-b) On the second stage, this domain consists of the opposition between the Producer of the work and its Critic. The critic is the law-giving Reason – die gesetzgebende Vernunft -, i.e., Reason gives itself the law (or the criterion).
However, these laws are not only formal but they are many, that are mutually competing. Thus it becomes necessary to examine which one of the laws is indeed in accord with the truth of Reason.
iii-c) The Individuality on the third stage is the law-examining Reason – die gesetzprüfende Vernunft .
Where could the truth of Reason then be sought as the criterion for such examination? It must be sought in the ethical substance – die sittliche Substanz = der Geist (= Spirit) -, which is way beyond the mere rational self-consciousness. When Reason becomes the objective reality as the ethical substance, Reason is now elevated to Spirit.
(4) Spirit –der Geist
This Spirit is, as mentioned above, the Spirit as the Communal Moral Order, which corresponds to what Hegel later called the Objective Spirit – der objektive Geist.
While Hegel called the Reason mentioned in the previous paragraph as the Reason whose certainty is still in movement to elevate itself to the truth, he called this Spirit the Reason whose certainty has already been elevated to the truth. The Reason at the previous stage merely was the Consciousness with certainty with which it possessed all the reality as its own.
Through the dialectical development of Reason, the certainty with which consciousness possessed all the reality as its own has now been elevated to the truth of Reason, in which Reason has become Spirit. Thus Reason has become Spirit such that now Reason (= Spirit) is conscious of the world as its own and of itself as the World Itself. This Spirit in Phenomenology of Spirit corresponds therefore the objective Spirit in opposition to the subjective Spirit in Hegel’s later opus, Die Enzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften.
This Spirit would further develop in the following three steps:
1) The Ethical Order – die Sittlichkeit – as the true Spirit –
der wahre Geist
2) The Culture – die Bildung – as the self-alienated Spirit-
der sich entfremdete Geist
3) The Morality – die Moralität – as the Spirit which is certain of Itself –
der seiner selbst gewisse Geist
3-i] The Ethical Order
Der wahre Geist– the true Spirit – reveals itself in the ethical life and its order of the race.
a) The ethical order – die sittliche Welt – has two moments:
the one is the human laws which appear in public through the civil life and male,
the other is the spiritual laws which appear internally through the family life land the female.
The former concerns with the nation and the government, while the latter concerns the family.
b) At the ethical action – die sittliche Handlung -, these two moment of legality sometimes splits, e.g. Sophocles’ Antigoné: The apparent, irreconcilable opposition between the positive law and the Divine (moral) Law arises. In this struggle, however, while the concrete individual perishes, the opposition of the nation versus the humanity, that of the family versus the divine, are mutually recognized and, in consequence, reconciled into the unity in terms of their rights.
c) Once this recognition of the mutual rights has abstractly become a state, the civil state – der Rechtszustand – comes into being. What is in question in the legal, civil domain is not an actual concrete individual, but an abstract legal person. The government of the mere formal laws gives rise to the mere formalism in laws. When Hegel talks about this, he had in his mind the Roman republic – res publica.
The polis – the city state – of the ethical order dissolved itself into the legal, civil state.
3-ii] The Culture – die Bildung –
The Ethical Order – die Sittlichkeit – is now elevated to the self-alienated Spirit – der sich entfremdete Geist.
Describing this, Hegel had in his mind the Renaissance and the Contemporary period, the Period of the Enlightenment in France in particular. It is the split of self by means of reflection into the reflecting self and the reflected self.
The uniqueness of this self-alienated Spirit consists in the fact that for such Spirit, there are two worlds, i.e., the world of reality and the world constructed in the “thin air” of the Pure Consciousness.
3-ii-a) The first attempt to bring about the world which is to be established in the Pure Consciousness by transcending the real world is the culture in the sense of civility – die Bildung.
A man of culture encountering the two powers of the real world, i.e., the power of the state and the power of wealth, could see either both of them as the same as his own nature or as something different from himself. When he viewed them as the same as his own nature, i.e., as the good, and would make himself subservient to them, it is a noble submission.
On the hand, he, viewing them as different, i.e., as the evil and yet would serve them, it is a base – niederträchtig– submission.
Man sometimes would fall into a schizophrenic state between these two submissions. This is well described in Dederot’s novella called Le neveu de Rameau, which Hegel had in mind when he explained this schizophrenic conditions of the self-alienated Spirit.
3-ii-b) The second attempt would be made here to transcend the reality.
This attempt is called Faith – die Glaube.
In stead of recognizing the power of the state or wealth as the major powers, this believes in the Power of God of the Other World.
3-ii-c) What Faith is lacking in this attempt was the Pure Insight. This Pure Insight now revealed itself as the Enlightenment – die Aufklärung.
The power of the enlightenment destroyed Faith as “superstition” and asserted as the highest The Absolute without its predicate ( = the God of Deism) and matter ( = materialism).
The Enlightenment did not see the reality as it really is and viewed it solely in terms of its Utility ( = instrumental values – die Nützlichkeit.). cf. scientific knowledge for technology
The Enlightenment ended up with Negativity in every respect so that even when the Enlightenment leads to the Absolute Freedom (the Leitmotif of the French Revolution – Liberté, Égaiité, Fraternité-), its Absolute Freedom was no other than Freedom of Terror (the Reign of Terror).
As its result, the classes as well as the social institutions were destroyed, the rulers incessantly changed, people died on the guillotine.
3-iii) The Spirit which underwent the terror of death must return to itself. The Spirit that once alienated itself rom itself comes back to itself. This is the self assertive Spirit – der seiner selbst gewisse Geist-, or the Spirit that is certain of itself.
This is the morality – die Moralität.
3-iii-a) The moral worldview – die moralische Weltanschauung– ultimately is the postulate. Namely, the unity of morality and happiness postulates God and its existence for such a unity to be actualized.
3-iii-b) The standpoint of morality also implies pretension – die Verstellung.
The morality of ought (or obligation) – die Moralität des Sollens – contains in itself a contradiction. For unless there exists the harmony between reality and moral ought, the morality could not hold itself.
However, when the ought should become reality, the moral consciousness would disappear.
3-iii-c) From such pretension, the moral consciousness takes refuge in the moral conscience – das Gewissen.
Here the moral certainty becomes the immediate conviction. The laws of morality are no longer abstract order, but they become the concrete one and are contained in the spontaneity of the moral Subject.
Such Spirit that contains in the moral conviction of itself and isolates itself within itself is called die schöne Seele– the beautiful soul. This beautiful soul contains also the evil in itself, forgives and embraces the other’s (moral) crime. The moral Spirit will attain the self awareness through recognition and reconciliation.
Here the morality completes itself and becomes the Absolute Spirit which is explicitly Conscious of Itself as the Spirit.
In religion the Absolute Spirit immediately intuits itself. The completion of the morality, therefore, is religion.
Religion is no other than the intuitive certainty of the Absolute Truth in the Absolute Spirit.
What Hegel calls religion is neither that in the widest, nor in the narrowest, but the religion in a intermediary sense. In the narrowest sense which is conventional, as Hegel did sometimes, religion stands in opposition to arts and philosophy. The religion in the widest sense is the case in which, Hegel said, arts, philosophy and religion could be subsumed under the title of religion like in Die Enzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften. Here what Hegel calls religion contains art, but does not include philosophy.
In the previous stages, the unhappy consciousness, the divine appearing in the family (as mentioned above), and the faith in the other world are somewhat religious, and yet religion itself was not the theme.
Religion is the Self-Consciousness of Spirit Itself.
The various forms of religion may be classified in accordance with the forms of Its Absolute.
The Absolute may be intuited in various figures.
Hegel divided religion into three different forms:
1) Natural Religion (India & Egypt)
The religion in which the Absolute is intuited in nature & natural objects,
2) Religion of Arts (Greek and Roman)
The religion in which the Absolute is intuited in arts
3) Religion of Revelation (Christianity)
The religion in which the Absolute is intuited in the true primordial form of Spirit.
1) Natural Religion
The natural religion, first of all, acknowledges the Divine in the Light that illuminates the Dark.
Secondly, it worships the life as the Divine in animals and plants. This may be found in the Indian religions.
Thirdly, the image of the Divinity is elevated to the workmanship (the notion of Werkmeister), namely Spirit appears in the symbolic forms of Understanding such as the pyramids or the obelisks as the decorative arts. In this level, the workmanship remains as the instinctive or impulsive (unconscious) work like bees producing their nest.
2) Religion of Arts
When the workmanship is elevated up to arts, the religion of arts is born. The artist creates work freely.
The religion of arts is the worship for beauty as well as morality.
There are three stages in the progress of arts:
a. The abstract work of art
The ritual worship such as the Divine Idols, the Hymns or the Oracles in the temple secluded from the everyday life
Its abstract nature may be found in its seclusion from the mundane life.
b. The live work of art
In this work of art, the worship is the Live Actuality, such as the Olympian Festival of the Olympic Gods, the Mystic Rituals, the Festivity of Bacchus, etc. The Divinity is experienced inwardly within the live activities of those Festivity.
c. the Spiritual work of art.
This Spiritual art is Poetry.
The Epic (e.g. Homeric) reveals the Fate of the Human as the destiny of the brave soldier.
The Tragedy internalizes the concept of Fate. The agony and fall of the hero is an appearance of the Divine.
The Comedy draws the Divine into the Human and takes off the Mask of the Divine whereby Its Sublimity is lost It tells Irony behind the Mask. In the comedy, the World of Beauty collapses and the Faith in the Law of the Divine is lost. “The God is dead.”
3) The Religion of Revelation.
While The God is dead!” was stated above, death is the destiny of the human.
The God who could die became Human in Jesus Christus. The religion of art that the human had created now elevated itself to the Religion of Revelation.
That God became Human means the fact that God by His Nature possesses the Form of Self-Consciousness. This is the content of the religion of revelation.
In the Religion of Revelation„i.e., the Absolute Religion,
God is Self-Conscious of Himself as Spirit.
Even in the Religion of Revelation being absolute, Spirit is not Perfect.
Religion is still Intuition and not yet the Concept – der Begriff. For even in Religion of Revelation, the Absolute Spirit is not grasped by its Primordial Form of Itself.
The Absolute Spirit must return to Its Own Absolute Self-Consciousness, negating all its objectivities from Itself.
The Absolute Spirit must attain The (Highest) Level where It captures Itself in Its Absolute Knowledge by the Concept.
(6) The Absolute Knowledge – das absolute Wissen –
The Absolute knowledge is the Science in which the Absolute Spirit Conceptually grasps Itself.
The Spirit which knows Itself in the Form of the Spirit is the Conceptual Knowledge – das begreifende Wissen. In this Science, the Truth is equal to the Certainty, and possesses the Form of the Certainty.
The Substance is now known as the Activity of Subject.
Spirit’s Own Activity constitutes the Object of this Science.
This Conceptual Knowledge or Science is the “anticipation” of All the Forms previously observed and disclosed.
In this very Knowledge what was in the Form of Substance, being experienced, sensed, revealed, transforms Itself into Subject. The Absolute is not a (static, not dynamic) Substance, but Subject who is Self-Active. This Self-Activity of the Absolute is the Activity in Itself, that is, the Entire Reality.
In the Absolute Knowledge, the Content and the Form are totally Identical. The Absolute Content forms Itself in the Absolute Form.
The Dialectical Movement of the Experience of Consciousness
attains the Ultimate.
The Final stage of Phenomenology of Spirit will lead us to the Logic as the Fundamental Science for the Entire System.