The Philosophy of Spirit (Jena Lectures 1805-6)
(Also known as “Realphilosophie” II)


The state as [common] wealth is as much the being-negated (Aufgehobenseyn) of individualized existence as it is [the negation] of the in-itself in existence and of the pure being-in-itself of the person. In the law alone does the human being have his existence, his being, and thinking. The law knows itself as the absolute force – which is wealth, even as it sacrifices the general wealth; which safeguards right [i.e., principle], as much as reasonableness and adjustment [i.e., utility]; which safeguards life, and punishes with life, as it pardons evil and grants life where it is forfeit.

Thus this Spirit is the absolute power everywhere, which lives in itself and now must give itself this view of itself as such, i.e., to make itself its own end (Zweck). As force it is only the individual who is the end, i.e., the abstraction of the individual. The Spirit’s self-preservation, however, is the organization of its life, the spirit of a people, a spirit that intends itself. The concept of Spirit: universality in the complete freedom and independence of the individual.

Spirit is the “nature” of individuals, their immediate substance, and its movement and necessity; it is as much the personal consciousness in their existence as it is their pure consciousness, their life, their actuality. They know the universal will as their particular will, and in such a way that it is their own externalized particular will; and at the same time they know it as their objective [impersonal] essence, their pure power which is their essence, in itself as well as in their knowing [of it].

In the movement of forces there are three aspects to be differentiated: (a) these forces themselves, as having developed through externalization; (b) as the knowledge of them on the part of individuals; and (c) as universal knowing.

The development of the forces is the externalization (Entäusserung), but not of necessity; rather, the force of the universal becomes known as the [objective] essence. For the sake of this knowledge, each one alienates (entäussert) himself [i.e., divests himself of his own forces] – not as opposed to some master, but rather as opposed to the forces [i.e., the universal power of enforcement], here taken in the form of his pure knowing, i.e., knowing of himself as externalized, in other words as universal.

The general form is this development of the individual to the universal, and the becoming of the universal. This is not a process of blind [i.e., unknowing] necessity, however, but is rather one that is mediated through knowing. Thus each one is thereby his own end, i.e., the end is already the source of movement. Each individual is his own immediate cause; his [individual] interest drives him. Yet at the same time it is the universal that counts for him, the medium, which ties him to his particular [end] and to his actuality.

In order that I may have my positive Self in the common will, the being-recognized (as intelligence) is known by me, so that the will is posited by me, so that I therein have it negatively, as my power, as the universal, which is the negative of my own will, through the intuition of its necessity, i.e., through the externalization. On its side, the universal presents itself in such a way that the latter aspect [i.e., the common will] is my necessity, the former aspect [i.e., my positive self] sacrificing itself, and thus letting me approach my own [universality]. In this I gain [my] consciousness as consciousness of myself.

Right was the immediate concept of the spirit – the force, the necessity of its movement, the externalizing (das Entäussern), becoming other. (The universal, in that it safeguards my life and is power over my life, is this immediate unity – i.e., of pure will and existence – of pure consciousness and my consciousness of myself. Relating myself to the universal as this immediate unity, I have confidence in it – in it, but as my negative essence, fear – confidence in the universal that is immediately my will. Not only am I in agreement with it, but in that it is my real self, it is I who rule. It is lord, public force, and ruler – in these three aspects it is [directed] toward me.)

It [the universal] is a people, a group of individuals in general, an existent whole, the universal force. It is of insurmountable strength against the individual, and is his necessity and the power oppressing him. And the strength that each one has in his being-recognized is that of a people. This strength, however, is effective only insofar as it is united into a unity, only as will. The universal will (der allgemeine Willen) is the will as that of all and each, but as will it is simply this Self alone. The activity of the universal is a unity (em Eins). The universal will has to gather itself into this unity. It has first to constitute itself as a universal will, out of the will of individuals, so that this appears as the principle and element. Yet on the other hand the universal will is primary and the essence – and individuals have to make themselves into the universal will through the negation of their own will, [in] externalization and cultivation. The universal will is prior to them, it is absolutely there for them – they [the two wills] are in no way immediately the same.

One imagines for oneself the constituting of the universal will as follows: all citizens come together, they deliberate, give their vote; and thus the majority comprises the universal will. Thus we posit what was said: that the individual must make himself into this [i.e., a partner in the universal will] through negation, self-surrender. The communal entity (Gemeinwesen), the civil union (Staatsverein), [is thus seen to] rest on a primordial contract, to which each individual is presumed to have given his tacit agreement – actually, however, in express terms – and this determines every subsequent action of the community. And this is the principle of the genuine state, the free state.

More realistically, [however,] the group is presented thus: as constituting the community [prior to the constituting of the universal will] – whether from the beginning (inasmuch as the community does not yet exist), or that in some way a revolution has dissolved the previous constitution. Here the individuals appear as actual individuals, each one wanting to know his positive will in the universal will. But their positive individuality, since it is not yet externalized, or does not have negativity to it in itself, is a contingency for the universal and this [is] something actually different from these [individuals]. It is not a necessity that everyone want the same; [there is] no [necess]ity. Rather, each one – since he is posited and recognized as an individual positive will – has the right to leave and to come to terms with others over something else.

At the same time, however, it is presupposed that they are a universal will in itself. This “in-itself” (Ansich) is something other than their actual will, and they have not yet externalized their will, do not yet recognize the universal will. Rather, it is only their individuality that counts in it. Yet their will is an “in-itself,” it is there, it is their “in-itself” – i.e., it is their external force, which compels them.

In this way all states were established, through the noble force of great men. It is not [a matter of] physical strength, since many are physically stronger than one. Rather, the great man has something in him by [virtue of] which others may call him their lord. They obey him against their will. Against their will, his will is their will. Their immediate pure will is his, but their conscious will is different. The great man has the former [i.e., their pure will] on his side, and they must obey, even if they do not want to. This is what is preeminent in the great man – to know the absolute will [and] to express it – so that all flock to his banner [and] he is their god. In this way Theseus established the Athenian state. And thus, in the French Revolution, it was a fearful force that sustained the state [and] the totality, in general. This force is not despotism but tyranny, pure frightening domination. Yet it is necessary and just, insofar as it constitutes and sustains the state as this actual individual.

This state is the simple absolute spirit, certain of itself, and for which nothing determinate counts except itself. No concepts of good and bad, shameful and vile, malicious cunning and deceit [can be applied to it]. The state is elevated above all this – for in it, evil is reconciled with itself. It is in this great sense that Machiavelli’s The Prince is written, [saying] that in the constituting of the state, in general, what is called assassination, fraud, cruelty, etc., carries no sense of evil but rather a sense of that which is reconciled with itself. His book has indeed been taken as irony. Yet what deep feeling for the misery of his fatherland, what patriotic inspiration underlies his cold and prudent teaching – [all this] he expresses in the preface and conclusion. His fatherland, invaded and ravaged by foreigners, and being without independence – every nobleman, every leader, every town regarded itself as sovereign. The only means for establishing the state was the suppression of these “sovereignties.” And indeed, since each, as immediate individual, wanted to count as “sovereign,” the only means against the brutality of the leaders was death for them and the fear of death for the rest.

Germans, most of all, have abhorred such teachings, and [the term] “Machiavellianism” expresses what is most evil – because they have suffered from the very disease [he speaks of], and have died of it. The indifference of subjects toward their princes, however, and the [reluctance] on the part of princes to be princes, i.e., to behave as princes, makes that tyranny [which Machiavelli speaks of] superfluous, since the stubbornness of the [German] princes has thereby become powerless.

Thus the universal is against individuals as such, who want to know their immediate positive will asserted as absolute – [as] lord, tyrant, pure force – for the universal is something alien to them; and the state power which knows what power is must have the courage, in every case of need where the existence of the totality is compromised, to take completely tyrannous action. Through tyranny we have the immediate alienation (Entäusserung) of the individual’s actual will – transcended, immediate – this is education toward obedience. Through this education – rather knowing the universal as the actual wills – tyranny has become superfluous, replaced by the rule of law. The force exercised by the tyrant is the force of law, in itself. Through obedience, the law itself is no longer an alien force, but rather the known universal will.

Tyranny is overthrown by the people because it is abhorrent, vile, etc – but in actuality it is overthrown only because it is superfluous. The memory of the tyrant is abhorred. Yet in that very fact, he is also this spirit certain of itself – who, like God, acts only in and for himself, and expects only ingratitude from his people. If he were wise, however, he would himself cast off his tyranny when it is superfluous. In this way, however, his divinity is nothing more than the divinity of the animal, the blind necessity, which thus deserves to be abhorred as evil. Robespierre acted in this way – his power left him because necessity had left him, and thus he was overthrown by force. The necessary happens – but every portion of necessity is usually allotted only to individuals. The one is accuser and defender, the other a judge, the third a hangman – but all are necessary.

The rule of law is now not this legislation, as though there were no [prior] laws. Rather, there are laws there – and the relation is the movement of [the individual] educated to obedience toward the community (Gemeinwesen); underlying all is this existent essence. A second [element] is trust, which enters here, i.e., that the individual likewise knows his Self therein, as his essence. He finds himself sustained in it. Indeed, he may not conceive and understand how he is sustained in it, through what connections and arrangements. Thus the universal has a negative and a positive significance simultaneously: the negative as tyranny, the positive in the substenance of the individual, i.e., through the externalization (Entäusserung) of the universal.

This unity of individuality and the universal is now present in a twofold way, [as] extreme poles of the universal, which is itself individuality (i.e., of state government, [itself] not an abstraction): the individuality of the state, whose end is the universal as such, and the other pole of the same, which has the individual as its end. The two individualities [are] the same – [e.g.,] the same individual who provides for himself and his family, who works, enters into contracts, etc., likewise works for the universal as well, and has it as his end. In the first sense he is called bourgeois, in the second sense he is citoyen.

The universal will is obeyed as that of the majority, and is constituted through the determinate expression of, and election by, individuals. And those who do not share the opinion of the majority obey as well, even if measures or laws go against their convictions. It is their right to protest, i.e., to retain their convictions, to declare emphatically that they indeed obey, but not from conviction. It is particularly German to attach this tenacity to convictions, this obstinacy of abstract will, of empty right – without regard to the matter at hand. In this democracy, the will of the individual is as yet contingent: (a) as opinion in general, he must give it up when opposed to the majority; (b) as actual will – as self, or action – the will [of the majority] is itself individual, and each individual is subject to it; its implementation posits a genuinely willess obedience, [in which] each surrenders his opinion about the implementation; (c) resolutions, laws, here concern only particular circumstances; the comprehension of the connection between these particular circumstances and the universal – this comprehension is the insight of all; but because of their particularity, it is itself contingent.

The election of officials, military leaders, belongs to the community, as an [expression of] trust in them, but which is first to be vindicated by success. The circumstances are always different. This is the beautiful [and] happy freedom of the Greeks, which is and has been so envied.

The people [as a totality] is comprised of [individual] citizens, and it is at the same time the One individual, the government – this One Individual standing only in a reciprocal relation to itself. The externalization of the individuality of the will [i.e., of the citizens] is the immediate support of that will [i.e., of the government].

Yet a higher level of abstraction is needed, a greater [degree of] contrast and cultivation, a deeper spirit. It is the [entire] realm of ethical life (Sittlichkeit) – each [individual] is custom (Sitte), [and thus is] immediately one with the universal. No protest takes place here, each knows himself immediately as universal – i.e., he gives up his particularity, without knowing it as such, as this Self, as the essence. The higher distinction, therefore, is that each individual goes back into himself completely, knows his own Self as such, as the essence, [yet] comes to this sense of self (Eigensinn) of being absolute although separated from the existing universal, possessing his absolute immediately, in his knowing. As an individual, he leaves the universal free, he has complete independence in himself. He gives up his actuality [in the immediate], is significant to himself (gilt sich) only in his knowing.

The free universal is the point of individuality. This individuality, free of the knowledge shared by all, is not constituted through them. As the extreme pole of government – thus as an immediate, natural individuality – there is the hereditary monarch. He is the firm immediate knot [tying together] the totality. The spiritual tie is public opinion; this is the genuine legislative body, [the real] national assemblage. [This requires] general cultivation. [And what must be avoided is] needless elaboration of committees to improve laws. [The primary aim is the] declaration of the universal will which lives in the execution of all commands – government officials belong to this spirit.

Governing is carried on differently now, and life is now lived differently, in states whose constitution is yet the same, changing little by little in the course of time. Government must not come out on the side of the past and stubbornly defend it. But at the same time it ought to be the last to be convinced to change. Genuine activity, genuine will, through the election of officials – every sphere, city, guild [is to be] represented in the administration of their particular affairs. It is bad for a people when it [itself] is the government, as bad as it is irrational. The totality, however, is the medium, the free spirit – supporting itself, free of these completely fixed extremities. The totality, however, is independent of the knowledge [on the part of] individuals, just as it is independent of the characters of rulers, [who are] empty knots.

This is the higher principle of the modern era, a principle unknown to Plato and the ancients. In ancient times, the common morality consisted of the beautiful public life – beauty [as the] immediate unity of the universal and the individual, [the polis as] a work of art wherein no part separates itself from the whole, but is rather this genial unity of the self-knowing Self and its [outer] presentation. Yet individuality’s knowledge of itself as absolute – this absolute being-within-itself (Insichseyn) – was not there. The Platonic Republic is, like Sparta, [characterized by] this disappearance of the self-knowing individuality. Under that principle, the outer actual freedom of individuals, in their immediate existence, is lost. Yet their inner freedom, the freedom of thought, is sustained. Spirit is cleansed of the [elements of] immediate existence; it has entered into its pure element of knowing and is indifferent to existing individuality. Here the spirit begins to be knowledge; i.e., its formal existence is that of self-knowing. Spirit is this Nordic essence that is in itself, although it has its existence in the selfhood of all.

(a) According to this principle, the multitude of individuals is a folkgroup (Volksmenge) juxtaposed to one of its individuals who is the monarch. They are many – movement, fluidity – while he is the immediate, the natural. He alone is the natural element, i.e., the point to which nature has fled, its last residue as positive. The royal family is the one positive element, the others are to be abandoned. The other individual [i.e., the citizen] counts only as externalized, cultivated, as that which he has made of himself. The totality, the communal entity (Gemeinwesen), is as little tied to the one as to the other. it is the self-sustaining, indestructible body. Regardless of the prince’s or the citizens’ characteristics, the communal entity is self-enclosed and self-sustaining.

(b) Just as free as each individual is in his knowing, in his outlook (as varied as it is) – so [likewise] free are the forces, the individual aspects of the totality, [its] abstract elements, [e.g.,] labor, production, the legal climate, administration, the military; each develops itself entirely according to its one-sided principle. The organic whole has many internal parts which [are complete in themselves and] develop in their abstractness [contributing to the totality]. Not every individual is a manufacturer, peasant, manual laborer, soldier, judge, etc.; rather, [the roles] are divided, each individual belongs to an abstraction, and he is a totality for himself in his thinking [although the totality exists only in the combination].

There are thus three sorts [of aspects] to be developed here: first, the elements of the totality, the firm outer organization and its internal parts, [and] the forces associated with them; second, the outlook (Gesinnung) of each class, its self-consciousness – its being as in itself purely knowing, torn loose from its [immediate] existence; [third,] spirit’s knowing its member, as such, and [his] elevation above [that immediacy]. The first comprises social mores (Sittlichkeit); the second is morality (Moralität); the third [aspect] is Religion. The first is the freely released spiritual nature; the second is its knowing of itself, as knowing of that knowing; the third is spirit knowing itself as absolute spirit, [e.g.,] religion.


A. Classes: The Nature of Self-Ordering Spirit

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