Outline of Hegel's Phenomenology


1. Our ordinary Knowing has before itself only the object which it knows, but does not at first make an object of itself, i.e., of the Knowing. But the whole which is extant in the act of knowing is not the object alone, but also the Ego that knows, and the relation of the Ego and the object to each other, i.e. Consciousness.

2. In Philosophy, the determinations of the Knowing are not considered exclusively in the phase of determinations of things, but likewise as determinations of the Knowing, to which they belong, although in common likewise to things. In other words: they are not taken merely as objective but also as subjective determinations - or rather as definite species of relation of the object and subject to each other.

3. Since things and their determinations are in the Knowing, it is quite possible, on the one hand, to view the same as in and for themselves outside of Consciousness - as given to the latter in the shape of foreign and already existing material for it; - on the other hand, however, for the reason that Consciousness is essential to the Knowing of these, the view is possible that Consciousness itself posits this world, and produces or modifies the determinations of the same, through its mediating relation and its activity, either wholly or in part. The former mode of view is called "Realism," the latter, "Idealism." Here are to be considered the general determinations of things only as the definite relation of object to the subject.

4. The subject, more definitely seized, is Spirit (the Mind). It is Phenomenal when essentially relating to an existent object; in so far is it Consciousness. The Science of Consciousness is, therefore, called The Phenomenology of Spirit (or Mind).

5. But the Mind, according to its self-activity within itself and in relation to itself independent of all relation to others, is considered in the Science of Mind proper, or "Psychology."

6. Consciousness is in general the knowing of an object, whether external or internal, without regard to whether it presents itself without the help of the Mind or whether it is produced through this. The Mind is to be considered in its activities in so far as the determinations of its consciousness are ascribed to it.

7. Consciousness is the definite relation of the Ego to an Object. In so far as one regards it from the objective side, it can be said to vary according to the difference of the Objects which it has.

8. At the same time, however, the Object is essentially determined (modified) through the mediating relation to Consciousness. Its diversity is, therefore, to be considered as conversely dependent upon the development of Consciousness. This reciprocity continues through the Phenomenal sphere of Consciousness and leaves the above-mentioned (3) questions undecided.

9. Consciousness has in general three phases, according to the diversity of the object. It (the object) is namely either the object standing in opposition to the Ego, or it is the Ego itself, or something objective which belongs likewise equally to the Ego: Thought. These determinations are not empirically taken up from without, but are moments of Consciousness itself. Hence it is

  1. Consciousness in general;
  2. Self-Consciousness;
  3. Reason.

Consciousness in General.

10. Consciousness in general is (1) Sensuous; (2) Perceiving; (3) Understanding.

A. The Sensuous Consciousness.

11. The simple sensuous Consciousness is the immediate certitude of an external object. The expression for the immediateness of such an object is that "it is," and moreover a "This," a "Now" according to time, and a "Here" according to space, and different from all other objects and perfectly, determined (definite) in itself.

12. This Now and this Here are vanishing somewhats. Now is no more while it is and another Now has entered its place, and this latter Now has likewise vanished. But the Now abides all the same. This abiding Now is the general Now, which is both this and that Now, and is likewise neither of them. This Here which I mean, and point out, has a right and left, an above and a below, a behind and a before, etc., ad infinitum; i.e. the Here pointed out is not a simple and hence definite Here, but a unity including many Heres. Therefore, what in truth is extant is not the abstract, sensuous determinateness [the simple "it is"], but the General.

B. Perception

13. Perception has no longer for object the Sensuous in so far as it is immediate, but in so far as it is general. It is a mingling of sensuous determinations with those of Reflection.

14. The object of this Consciousness is, therefore, the Thing with its Properties. The sensuous properties are (a) for themselves immediately in sensation, and likewise determined and mediated through the relation to others; (b) they belong to a thing, and are in this respect, on the one hand, embraced in the individuality of the same; on the other hand, they have generality, according to which they transcend this individual thing, and are at the same time independent of each other.

15. In so far as the Properties are essentially mediated, they have their subsistence in another and are subject to change. They are only accidents. Things, however, since they subsist in their properties (for the reason that they are distinguished by means of these), perish through the change of those properties, and become an alternation of birth and decay.

16. In this change it is not merely the somewhat that cancels itself and passes over to another, but the other itself changes. But the other of the other, or the change of the changeable, is the Becoming of the Abiding - of the in-and-for-itself Subsisting and Internal.

C. The Understanding

17. The object has now this character: it has (a) a purely accidental side, and (b) also an essentiality and an abiding side. Consciousness, for the reason that the object has for it this character, is the UNDERSTANDING - for which the "things" of perception pass for mere phenomena, and it (the Understanding) contemplates the "Internal of things."

18. The Internal of things is that in them which, on the one hand, is free from the Phenomenal manifestation - namely, their multiplicity - which constitutes an External in opposition to it (the Internal); on the other hand, however, it is that which is related to them through its comprehension (ideal totality or "definition"). It is therefore: (1) simple force, which passes over into extantness, its "utterance" (or manifestation).

19. (2) Force remains with this distinction the same in all the sensuous variations of the Phenomenon. The Law of the Phenomenon is its quiet, general image. It is a mediating relation of general abiding determinations whose distinctions are external to the law. The generality and persistence of this mediating relation lead to the necessity of the same; yet without the distinction's being an in-itself-determined or internal one, in which one of the determinations lies immediately in the comprehension (total definition) of the other.

20. This, Comprehension - akin to Consciousness itself - gives another phase thereof. Hitherto it was in relation to its object as somewhat alien and indifferent. Since now the distinction in general has become a distinction which at the same time is no distinction, the previous mode of the distinction of Consciousness from its object falls away. It has an object and relates to another, which, however, is at the same time no "other"; in fine, it has itself for object.

21. In other words, the "Internal of things" is the thought or comprehension thereof. While Consciousness has the Internal as object, it has thought, or its own Reflection, or its own form - and, consequently, itself as object.

The Self-Consciousness.

22. As Self-Consciousness the Ego intuits itself, and the expression of the same in its purity is Ego = Ego, or: I am I.

23. This proposition of self-consciousness is devoid of all content. The impulse of self-consciousness consists in this: to realise its comprehension ("true nature") and to become conscious of itself in every respect. It is therefore: (1) active in cancelling the otherness (alien-being) of objects, and in positing them like itself; (2) in making itself valid externally, and thus giving itself, through this, objectivity and extantness. These two are one and the same activity. The becoming - determined of self-consciousness is at the same time a self-determining, and conversely. It produces itself as object.

24. Self-Consciousness has in its culture, or movement, three stages: (1) of Desire in so far as it is related to other things; (2) of the Mediating relation of master and slave (dominion and servitude) in so far as it is related to another self-consciousness not identical with itself; (3) of the general Self-Consciousness which recognises itself in other self-consciousnesses, and is identical with them as well as self-identical.

A. Desire.

25. Both sides of self-consciousness, the positing and the cancelling, are thus united with each other immediately. Self-Consciousness posits itself through negation of otherness and is practical consciousness. If, therefore, in the real consciousness, which also is called the theoretical, the determinations of the same and of the object changed or varied of themselves, now it happens that this change occurs through the activity of the Consciousness itself and for it. It is conscious that this cancelling activity belongs to it. In the comprehension of self-consciousness the not-yet-realised distinction lies as a characteristic. In so far as this distinction makes its appearance, there arises a feeling of otherness (dependence on others) in consciousness - a feeling of negation in itself, or the feeling of deficiency, a want.

26. This feeling of its otherness contradicts its identity with itself. The necessity felt to cancel this opposition is Impulse (or appetite). Negation, or otherness, presents itself to the consciousness as an external thing different from it, which however is determined through the self-consciousness (1) as a somewhat suited to gratify the appetency, and (2) as a somewhat in itself negative whose subsistence is to be cancelled by the Self and posited in identity with it (i.e. made identical, or assimilated).

27. The activity of desire thus cancels the otherness (alien element) of the object and its subsistence, and unites it with the subject, and by this means the desire is appeased. This is conditioned thus: (1) through an object existing externally or indifferent to it, or through Consciousness; (2) its activity produces the gratification only through destruction of the object. The self-consciousness arrives through this at its feeling of Self.

28. In Desire, Consciousness stands in relation to itself as individual. It relates to an object devoid of self-hood, which is in and for itself another than the self-consciousness. The latter for this reason only, attains self-identity, as regards the object through destruction of the latter. Desire is in general (1) destructive, (2) in the gratification of its wants, therefore, it comes to the conscious feeling of its for-itself-being as individual - to the undefined Comprehension of the subject as connected with objectivity.

B. The Relation of Master and Slave.

29. The comprehension of self-consciousness as Subject which is at the same time object, gives the mediating relation: that another self-consciousness exists for the self-consciousness.

30. A self-consciousness which is for another is not as a mere object for it, but as its other self. The Ego is no abstract generality in which there is no distinction or determination. Since an Ego is thus the object of the Ego, in this respect there is the same for it as object that it is in itself. It intuits itself in another.

31. This self-intuition of one in another is (1) the abstract moment of self-sameness. (2) Each has, however, also the peculiarity that it manifests itself to the other as an external object, and in so far as an immediate sensuous and concrete existence. (3) Each is absolutely for-itself and individual as opposed to the other, and asserts its right to be such for the other and to pass for such, and to intuite its own freedom as a for-itself-existent in the other and to be recognised by it.

32. In order to make itself valid as a free being and to obtain recognition, self-consciousness must exhibit itself to another as free from natural existence. This moment (i.e. the being-for-another) is as necessary as that of the freedom of self-consciousness in itself. The absolute identity of the Ego with itself is essentially not an immediate, but such a one as has been achieved through the cancelling of sensuous immediateness, and the exhibition of the self to another as free and independent from the Sensuous. Thus it shows itself in conformity with its comprehension (ideal), and must be recognised because it gives reality to the Ego.

33. But Independence is freedom not outside of and from the sensuous immediate extant being, but rather as freedom in the same. The one moment is as necessary as the other, but they are not of the same value. For the reason that non-identity enters - that to one of two self-consciousnesses freedom passes for the essential in opposition to sensuous extant being, while with the other the opposite occurs - with the reciprocal demand for recognition there enters into determined actuality the mediating relation (of master and slave) between them; or, in general terms, that of service and submission, in so far as this diversity of independence is extant through the immediate agency of nature.

34. Since of two self-consciousnesses opposed to each other, each must strive to assert and prove itself as an absolute for-itself-existence against and for the other. That one enters into a condition of slavery who prefers life to freedom, and thereby shows that he has not the capacity to abstract from his sensuous extant being by his own might for his independence.

35. This pure negative Freedom, which consists in the abstraction from natural extant being, does not correspond to the definition (comprehension) of Freedom, for this latter is the self-identity, even when involved with others: partly the intuition of itself in another self and partly the freedom (not from the existent, but) in the existent, a freedom which itself has extantness. The one who serves is devoid of selfhood and has another self in place of his own, so that for his master he has resigned and cancelled his individual Ego and now views his essential self in another. The master, on the contrary, looks upon the servant (the other Ego) as cancelled and his own individual will as preserved. (History of Robinson and Friday.)

36. The own individual will of the servant, more closely regarded, is cancelled in the fear of the master, and reduced to the internal feeling of its negativity. Its labour for the service of another is a resignation of its own will partly in itself, partly it is at the same time, with the negation of its own desire, the positive transformation of external things through labour; since through labour the self makes its own determinations the forms of things, and thus views itself as objective in its work. The renunciation of the unessential arbitrary will constitutes the moment of true obedience. (Pisistratus taught the Athenians to obey. Through this he made the Code of Solon an actual power; and after the Athenians had learned this, the dominion of a Ruler over them was superfluous.)

37. This renunciation of individuality as self is the moment (phase) through which self-consciousness makes the transition to the universal will, the transition to positive freedom.

C. Universality of Self-Consciousness.

38. The universal self-consciousness is the intuition of itself, not as a special existence distinct from others, but an intuition of the self-existent universal self. Thus it recognises itself and the other self-consciousness in itself, and is in turn recognised by them.

39. Self-consciousness is, according to this its essential universality, only real in so far as it knows its echo (and reflection) in another (I know that another knows me as itself), and as pure spiritual universality (belonging to the family, the native land, &c.) knows itself as essential self. (This self-consciousness is the basis of all virtues, of love, honour, friendship, bravery, all self-sacrifice, all fame, &c.)


40. Reason is the highest union of consciousness and self-consciousness, or of the knowing of an object and of the knowing of itself. It is the certitude that its determinations are just as much objective, i.e. determinations of the essence of things, as they are subjective thoughts. It (Reason) is just as well the certitude of itself (subjectivity) as being (or objectivity), and this, too, in one and the same thinking activity.

41. Or what we see through the insight of Reason, is: (1) a content which subsists not in our mere subjective notions or thoughts which we make for ourselves, but which contains the in-and-for-itself-existing essence of objects and possesses objective reality; and (2) which is for the Ego no alien somewhat, no somewhat given from without, but throughout penetrated and assimilated by the Ego, and therefore to all intents produced by the Ego.

42. The knowing of Reason is therefore not the mere subjective certitude, but also TRUTH, because Truth consists in the harmony, or rather unity, of certitude and Being, or of certitude and objectivity.

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