System of Ethical Life

1. Absolute Ethical Life on the Basis of Relation

Here too, as before, there must be subdivision. This absolute ethical life on the basis of relation, or natural ethical life must be so treated that (a) concept is subsumed under intuition and (b) intuition is subsumed under concept. In (a) the unity is the universal, the inner, while in (b) it enters over against the inner and is once more in a relation with the concept or with the particular.[5] In both cases ethical life is a drive [or impulse]. This means a drive which (a) is not absolutely one with the absolute unity, (b) affects the single individual, (g) is satisfied in this single individual — this singular satisfaction is itself a totality, but (d) it goes at the same time beyond the single individual, though this transcendence is here in general something negative and indeterminate.

The satisfaction itself is nothing but the union of concept and intuition. Thus it is a totality, living but formal, precisely because this level, at which it is, is itself a determinate one, and thus absolute life hovers over it just as much as it remains something inner. But absolute life remains something inner because it is not the absolute concept, and so, as inner life, is not present at the same time under the form of the opposite, i.e., of the outer. And for this very reason it is not absolute intuition because it is not present to the subject in the relation as such, and so its identity likewise cannot be the absolute one.

A. First Level:[6] Feeling as Subsumption of Concept under Intuition

The first level is natural ethical life as intuition[7] — the complete undifferentiatedness of ethical life, or the subsumption of concept under intuition, or nature proper.

But the ethical is inherently by its own essence a resumption of difference into itself, reconstruction; identity rises out of difference and is essentially negative; its being this presupposes the existence of what it cancels. Thus this ethical nature is also an unveiling, an emergence of the universal in face of the particular, but in such a way that this emergence is itself wholly something particular — the identical, absolute quantity remains entirely hidden. This intuition, wholly immersed in the singular, is feeling, and we will call this the level of practice.

The essence of this level is that feeling (not what is called “ethical feeling”) is something entirely singular and particular, but, as such, is separated, a difference not to be superseded by anything but its negation, the negation of the separation into subject and object; and this supersession is itself a perfect singularity and an identity without difference.

The feeling of separation is need; feeling as separation superseded is enjoyment.

The distinctive character of feeling as a level in ethical life as relation is that feeling lies in the particular and concerns the singular and that it is absolute feeling; but this feeling which proceeds to supersede the separation of subject and object must display itself as a totality and therefore be the totality of the levels of ethical life as relation.

This feeling (a) subsuming the concept, and (b) subsumed under the concept is now to be considered.

(a) If feeling is presented as subsuming the concept, the formal concept of feeling is presented. This is properly its concept which is adduced above, namely, that there is present

(a) the supersession of what is wholly and absolutely identical and unconscious — separation, and this separation as feeling or need,

(b) difference in contrast to this separation; but this difference is negative, namely, a nullification of separation — (margin: desire, ideal determination of the object); and so a nullification of the subjective and the objective and of the empirical objective intuition according to which the object of need is outside; or this nullification is effort and labour;

(g) the nullification of the object, or the identity of the first two factors — conscious feeling, i.e., unity arising out of difference, i.e., enjoyment.

The subsumption of feeling under the concept or, more objectively, the concept of practical feeling unfolded in all its dimensions, necessarily presents feeling (a) in its dimensions according to the nature of the form or the concept, (b) but in such a way that a whole, feeling, remains throughout, while the form is something wholly external for the feeling.

(a) Practical feeling, or enjoyment, an identity void of intuition, of difference, and, therefore, of reason, proceeds thus to the absolute nullification of the object. Consequently, it is a complete indifference of the subject for ethical life, without making conspicuous a middle term uniting the opposites in itself; so there is no resumption of intuition into itself and there is no self-knowledge in the subject.

(aa) Need here is an absolute singleness, a feeling restricting itself to the subject and belonging entirely to nature. This is not the place for comprehending the manifold and systematic character of this feeling of need. Eating and drinking are the paradigms.[8]

(bb) By this difference an inner and an outer are directly established and the outer is plainly determined (e.g., as edible or drinkable) according to the specific character of the feeling. Thereby this external thing ceases to be something universal, identical, quantitative, and becomes a single particular. The subject, despite his singularity in this feeling and in the relation posited in the separation of subject from object remains in himself undifferentiated; he is the universal, the subsuming power. The specific character which the object of enjoyment acquires at this level is entirely ideal or subjective — the object is directly its own opposite.[9] The specific character does not enter the objectivity of intuition in such a way that something might arise for the subject which he may recognise as the identity of subject and object. — Or this identity is transferred into the individual subject alone, with the result that, being determined purely ideally [or subjectively], the object is simply annihilated.

(gg) This enjoyment in which the object is determined purely ideally, and entirely annihilated, is purely sensuous enjoyment; i.e., the satiation which is the restoration of the indifference and emptiness of the individual or of his bare possibility of being ethical or rational. The enjoyment is purely negative because it pertains to the individual’s absolute singularity and therefore involves the annihilation of the object and the universal. But it remains essentially practical and is distinguished from absolute self-feeling by reason of the fact that it proceeds from difference and to that extent involves a consciousness of the objectivity of the object.[10]

(b) This feeling in the form of difference or of the subsumption of intuition under the concept must itself be likewise comprehended as a totality: (aa) as negative practical intuition (labour), (bb) difference (product) and possession, (gg) tool.[11]

(aa) (margin: This is intuition subsumed under the concept; labour is itself the subsuming of the object; the subject is indifference, the subsumer; where the subject is the subsumer, the concept is dominant.) Practical feeling subsumed under the concept displays the dispersed moments of the totality as realities. These moments are:

(a) The nullification of the object or of the intuition, but, qua moment, in such a way that this annihilation is replaced by another intuition or object; or pure identity, the activity of nullifying, is fixed; in this activity there is abstraction from enjoyment, i.e., it is not achieved, for here every abstraction is a reality, something that is. The object is not nullified as object altogether but rather in such a way that another object is put in its place,[12] for in this nullification, qua abstraction, there is no object or there is no enjoyment. But this nullification is labour whereby the object determined by desire is superseded in so far as it is real on its own account, an object not determined by desire, and determination by desire qua intuition is posited objectively. In labour the difference between desire and enjoyment is posited; the enjoyment is obstructed and deferred; it becomes ideal or a relation, and on this relation, as a result of labour, there is posited as now immediately emerging

(i)[13] the bearing of the subject on the object, or the ideal determining of the object by desire: this is taking possession of the object;

(ii)   next, the real annihilation of the object’s form, for objectivity or difference remains — the activity of labour itself;

(iii)  finally, the possession of the product, or the possibility of annihilating the product as something explicitly real, through a connection of the first kind [i.e., consumption in eating] with respect to its matter, as well as through this second one [i.e., working on it], which consists in annihilating its form and in its being given a new form by the subject — i.e., the possibility of a transition to enjoyment which, however, remains wholly ideal [or purely subjective].

Possession is not present at all at the first stage of practical feeling, and likewise taking possession is there purely as a moment; or rather neither of them is a real moment; they are not fixed or kept distinct from one another. (There can be no question at all here of the legal basis or aspect of possession.)

Taking possession is the ideal moment in this subsumption of the product under the subject, or the moment of rest; labour [the second moment] is the reality or movement, the entry of the subsuming subject into the reality of the object; the third moment, the synthesis, is the possession, preservation, and saving of the object. In this third moment there is present that ideal character according to the first moment, but it is present in the object as real according to the second moment.

(b) The product has already been defined formally in (a) as the identity of the ideal character, but of it as objectively real and separate; but the essential thing was the identity, activity as such, and so as something inner and so as not emerging; it must emerge on the object, and this second stage bb considers the relation of the inhibited feeling to the object inhibited by its nullification [i.e., by the labour expended to change it], or the difference present even in labour, namely, the difference between the reality and proper nature of the object and the way it is to be, and is, ideally determined by labour. In (aa) it was the object that was subsumed, here it is the subject. Or, in (aa), the ideal relation in labour was considered, here the real one. Here labour is properly subsumed under intuition, for the object is in itself the universal, so, where the object is subsuming, the singularity of the subject has its proper rational place; the subject is concept in itself, difference, and it subsumes [or is dominant].

In (aa) labour is wholly mechanical, since individuality, abstraction, pure causality is present in the form of indifference; it is dominant and is therefore something external to the object. For therewith causality is posited in truth, since this subject is something single, absolutely existing on its own account, and therefore absolute separation and difference. Whereas, when the object and the universal are subsuming, causality is absent, since the object in itself is the indifference of the particular and one with the particular for which, it follows, particularity is a purely external form, not the inner essence, not subjective being.

Because the object is subsuming labour under itself, it is in the relation as real (as previously it was nullified, posited as the pure abstraction of an object), for, as subsuming, it is an identity of universal and particular, of the latter in abstraction against the subject. In this way labour too is real and living, and its vitality is to be known as a totality, but each moment of the totality is to be known as itself a living individual labour, as a particular object.

For the subsuming [or dominating] living object and living labour there is (a) intuition subsumed under the concept, then (b) the concept under intuition, and (c) the identity of the two.

(aaa) The living object [the individual] subsumed under the concept [the universal] is the plant bound up with the element or the pure quantity of the earth and producing itself towards the element of air in the production, infinitely varied (by the concept), of its own entire individuality and totality. Every part of the plant is itself an individual, a complete plant; it maintains itself against its inorganic nature only because it produces itself wholly at every point of contact, or, withering on the stem, is devoted to producing (to the absolute concept, to being the opposite of itself). Because in this way the plant is in the power of the element [the earth], the labour [of horticulture] too is principally directed against the element and is mechanical, but it is left to the element to compel the plant to produce. Labour can have little or nothing of the specific life of the plant and is therefore alive in the sense that it alters just the external form of the element alone and does not destroy it chemically; and this form is an inorganic nature which itself is only related to something living and lets it alone.

(bbb) The concept of the living thing subsumed under intuition is the animal. For since this subsumption itself is one-sided, not intuition subsumed under the concept in the like way over again, life here is an empirically real, infinitely dispersed life, displaying itself in the most manifold forms. For the form or the absolute concept is not itself unity or universality again. Thus here there is an individuality without intelligence, not, as in the case of the plant, where each unit of the individual is itself a mass of such units; on the contrary, here there is indifference in more extended difference and distinction.

Labour on the animal is thus less directed to its inorganic nature than to its organic nature itself, because the object is not an external element but the indifference of individuality itself. The subsumption is determined as a taming of the animal’s particular character for the sort of use appropriate to its nature — now more negatively, as compulsion, now more positively as trust on the part of the animal; and now too, just as plants are determined by the elements, so the animals which are destined to be annihilated in being eaten, simply have their natural breeding [and rearing] determined.

If the use of plants is very simple and if labour for them is to be exhibited as a need of the subject, or as how this labour is present in a subjective form, then the need they supply is that of nourishment, is non-organic, or only slightly organic and individualised, and so not a nourishment of a higher difference of the individual, whether human or animal — a weak irritability, impotent outgoing, a nullification which is itself a weak one owing to the weak individuality of the plant — and for our delight they provide sensuous enjoyments (smelling and seeing) which are finer than those of nullification, since the plant is not nullified. Or this is the level of the enjoyment of plants just as the level for animals is their domestication. The enjoyment involved is sensuous because the senses are the animal level in man, an individuality of feeling which as sense is an individual, not a member like an arm, etc., but a complete organism. As enjoyment, the eating of plants is the subsumption of the concept under intuition as feeling; whereas labour for plants is the subsumption of intuition under the concept. Thus, from the point of view of labour, the cultivation of plants, taming them, is the subsumption of concept under intuition; the converse is the case from the point of view of enjoyment, for the enjoyment of the single sense is the dispersal of enjoyment. (margin: N.B., as regards subsumption, enjoyment and labour are converse).

Subjectively regarded, the domestication of animals is a more many-sided need, but in so far as they are means to enjoyment, they cannot be considered here yet, for this would not be a subsumption of the concept under intuition, not the aspect of living labour. This labour is an association of animals for movement and strength, and the delight of this propagation is above all the aspect that is relevant here.

(ggg) The absolute identity of these two levels is that the concept of the first is one with the identity of the second or is the absolute concept, intelligence. Labour, subsumed under this intuition, is a one-sided subsumption, since in this very process the subsumption itself is superseded. The labour which produces intelligence is a totality, and with this totality, the separate subsumptions of the first and second levels are now posited together. Man is a power-level, universality, for his other, but so is his other for him; and so he makes his reality, his own peculiar being, his effectiveness in reality into an adoption into indifference, and he is now the universal in contrast to the first level. And formative education (Bildung) is this absolute exchanging in the absolute concept wherein every subject, and universal too, makes its particularity immediately into universality, and in the see-saw posits itself as universal at the very moment when it posits itself as one level and is thus confronted by its “being a level,” and by the unmediated universality in that being, so that it itself becomes a particular. The ideal determination of the other is objective, but in such a way that this objectivity is immediately posited as subjective and becomes a cause; for if something is to be a power [or level] for another, it must not be pure universality and indifference in a relation to it; it must be posited for itself [as what the other is to become] or a universal truly and absolutely — and the intelligence is this in the highest degree. In precisely one and the same respect it is a universal and a particular, both of these absolutely at once and without any mediation, whereas the plant and the animal are universal in ways distinct from their particularity.

The concept of this relation is the identity of both the two first levels, but as a totality it falls itself under the form of the three levels.

(i) As feeling or as pure identity: for feeling, the object is characterised as something desired. But here the living thing is not to be determined by being worked upon: it should be an absolutely living thing, and its reality, its explicit being-for-self, is simply so determined as what is desired, i.e., this relation of desire is by nature made perfectly objective, one side of it in the form of indifference, the other in that of particularity. This supreme organic polarity in the most complete individuality of each pole is the supreme unity which nature can produce. For it cannot get past this point: that difference is not real but absolutely ideal. The sexes are plainly in a relation to one another, one the universal, the other the particular; they are not absolutely equal. Thus their union is not that of the absolute concept but, because it is perfect, that of undifferentiated feeling. The nullification of their own form is mutual but not absolutely alike; each intuits him/ herself in the other, though as a stranger, and this is love. The inconceivability of this being of oneself in another belongs therefore to nature, and not to ethical life, for the latter, with respect to the different poles, is the absolute equality of both — and, with respect to their union, it is absolute union on the strength of its ideality. But the ideality of nature remains in inequality and therefore in desire in which one side is determined as something subjective and the other as something objective.

(ii) Precisely this living relation, in which intuition is subsumed under the concept, is ideal as a determinacy of the opposites, but in such away that, owing to the dominance of the concept, difference remains, though without desire. Or the determinacy of the opposites is a superficial one, not natural or real, and practice does proceed to the supersession of this opposite determinacy, yet not in feeling but in such a way that it becomes intuition of itself in a stranger, and thus ends with a perfect opposing individuality, whereby the union of nature is rather superseded. This is the relation of parents and children: the absolute union of both is directly sundered into a relation. The child is man subjective but in such a way that this particular is ideal, and the form of humanity is only an outward appearance. The parents are the universal, and the work of nature proceeds to the cancelling of this relation, just as the work of the parents does, for they continually cancel the external negativity of the child and, just by so doing, establish a greater inner negativity and therefore a higher individuality.

(iii) But the totality of labour is perfect individuality and therefore equality of the opposites, wherein relation is posited and superseded; appearing in time it enters every instant and turns over into the opposite moment, according to what has been said above; this is the universal reciprocal action and formative education of mankind. Here too the absolute equality of this, reciprocity exists in the inner life and, throughout the level we are at, the relation persists solely in the single individual — a recognition which is mutual or supreme individuality and external difference. In these levels there is a process from the first to the third separately, or [i] the unification of feeling is superseded, but for this very reason [ii] the same is true of desire and its corresponding need, and [iii] at the third level each is an essential being, alike and independent. The fact that the relation of these beings is one of love and feeling too is an external form, not affecting the essence of the relation which is the universality in which they stand.

(c) The first two levels are relative identities. Absolute identity is something subjective, outside them. But since this level is itself a totality, rationality must enter as such and be real; it lies concealed in the idea of the formal levels. This rational element is what enters as mediator; it shares the nature of both subject and object or is the reconciliation of the two.

This mediating term consequently exists under the form of the three levels.

(aa) Concept subsumed under intuition. This therefore belongs entirely to nature, because the difference involved in intelligent being is not present in the intelligent being as the subsumption of intuition under the concept. It is absolute indifference, not like the indifference of nature which occurs in the formal levels and cannot liberate itself from difference. At the same time this middle term is not the formal identity which came before us hitherto as feeling, but a real absolute identity, a real absolute feeling, the absolute middle term, explicit in this entire aspect of reality, existing as an individual. Such a middle term is the child, the highest individual natural feeling, a feeling of a totality of the living sexes such that they are entirely in the child, so that he is absolutely real and is individual and real in his own eyes. The feeling is made real so that it is the absolute identity of the natural beings, so that in this identity there is no one-sidedness, and no circumstance is missing. Their unity is therefore real immediately, and because they [the parents] are real and separate within the context of nature itself and cannot supersede their individuality, the reality of their unity is thus an essential being and an individual with a reality of its own. In this perfectly individualised and realised feeling, the parents contemplate their unity as a reality; they are this feeling itself and it is their visible identity and mediation, born from themselves. — This is the real rationality of nature wherein the difference of the sexes is completely extinguished, and both are absolutely one — a living substance.

(bb) Intuition subsumed under the concept is the mediating term in difference or this is alone the form in which the real mediating term is, while the substance is dead matter; the mediating term as such is wholly external, according to the difference of the concept, while the inner is pure and empty quantity. This middle term is the tool. Because in the tool the form or the concept is dominant, it is torn away from the nature to which the middle term of sexual love belongs, and lies in the ideality, as belonging to the concept, or is the absolute reality present in accordance with the essence of the concept. In the concept, identity is unfilled and empty; annihilating itself, it exhibits only the extremes. Here annihilation is obstructed; emptiness is real and, moreover, the extremes are fixed. In one aspect the tool is subjective, in the power of the subject who is working; by him it is entirely determined, manufactured, and fashioned; from the other point of view it is objectively directed on the object worked. By means of this middle term [between subject and object] the subject cancels the immediacy of annihilation; for labour, as annihilation of intuition the particular object, is at the same time annihilation of the subject, positing in him a negation of the merely quantitative; hand and spirit are blunted by it, i.e., they themselves assume the nature of negativity and formlessness, just as, on the other side (since the negative, difference, is double), labour is something downright single and subjective. In the tool the subject makes a middle term between himself and the object, and this middle term is the real rationality of labour; for the fact that work as such, and the object worked upon, are themselves means, is only a formal mediation, since that for which they exist is outside them, and so the bearing of the subject on the object is a complete separation, remaining entirely in the subject within the thinking of intelligence. In the tool the subject severs objectivity and its own blunting from itself, it sacrifices an other to annihilation and casts the subjective side of that on to the other. At the same time its labour ceases to be directed on something singular. In the tool the subjectivity of labour is raised to something universal. Anyone can make a similar tool and work with it. To this extent the tool is the persistent norm of labour.

On account of this rationality of the tool it stands as the middle term, higher than labour, higher than the object (fashioned for enjoyment, which is what is in question here), and higher than enjoyment or the end aimed at. This is why all peoples living on the natural level have honoured the tool, and we find respect for the tool, and consciousness of this, expressed in the finest way by Homer.

(gg) The tool is under the domination of the concept and therefore belongs to differentiated or mechanical labour; the child is the middle term as absolutely pure and simple intuition. But the totality of both [intuition and concept] must possess just this intuitive simplicity, yet also the ideality of the concept; or in the child the ideality of the extremes of the tool must enter its substantial essence, while for this very reason in the tool an ideality must enter into its dead inner being, and the reality of the extremes must vanish; there must be a middle term which is perfectly ideal. The absolute concept, or intelligence, is alone absolute ideality; the middle term must be intelligent, but not individual or subjective; only an infinitely vanishing and self-manifesting appearance of that; a light and ethereal body which passes away as it is formed; not a subjective intelligence or an accident of it, but rationality itself, real but in such a way that this reality is itself ideal and infinite, in its existence immediately its own opposite, i.e., non-existence; and so an ethereal body which displays the extremes and therefore, while real according to the concept, also has its ideality, since the essence of this body is immediately to pass away, and its appearance is this immediate conjunction of appearance and passing-away. Thus such a middle term is intelligent; it is subjective or in intelligent individuals, but objectively universal in its corporeality, and because of the immediacy of the nature of this being, its subjectivity is immediately objectivity. This ideal and rational middle term is speech, the tool of reason, the child of intelligent beings. The substance of speech is like the child — i.e., what is most indeterminate purest, most negative, most sexless, and, on account of its absolute malleability and transparency, capable of assuming every form. Its reality is completely absorbed into its ideality, and it is also individual; it has form or a reality; it is a subject aware of itself; it must therefore be distinguished from the formal concept of speech, for which [i.e., speech] objectivity itself is a form of speech; but this objectivity is only an abstraction, since the reality of the object is subjective in a way different from the way the subject is subjective. Objectivity is not itself absolute subjectivity.

The totality of speech in the form of the levels:

(i) of nature, or inner identity. This is the unconscious attitude of a body which passes away as quickly as it comes, but which is something single, having only the form of objectivity, not bearing itself in or on itself, but appearing in a reality and substance foreign to itself. Gesture, mien, and their totality in the glance of the eye — this is not fixed objectivity or objective in the abstract; but it is fleeting, an accident, a shifting ideal play. But this ideality is only a play in another who is its subject and substance. The play expresses itself as feeling and pertains to feeling, or it exists in the form of pure identity, of a feeling, articulated indeed, but changing, yet the play is entire in every moment, without the ideality of its objective character or its own corporeality to which nature cannot attain.

(ii) When the intuition of speech is subsumed under the concept, it has a body of its own, for its ideal nature is posited in the concept, and the body is the bearer, or what is fixed. This body is an external material thing, but one which as such is completely nullified in its substantial inwardness and self-awareness; it is ideal and without meaning. But because the concept is dominant, this body is something dead, not something that endlessly annihilates itself inwardly, but something which, being here at the stage of difference, is annihilated only externally for the dominant concept. Thus its doubled being is likewise an externality; it expresses nothing but the reference to the subject and the object, between which it is the ideal middle term; but this linkage is made clear by a subjective thinking outside the object. On its own account it expresses this linkage negatively, by its being annihilated as subject, or, having an explicit meaning of its own, it expresses the linkage by its inner meaninglessness, so that it is a middle term, in so far as it is a thing, something explicitly determinate, and yet not explicit to itself, not a thing, but immediately the opposite of itself — self-aware but flatly not self-aware, but being for another; and so the absolute concept is here really objective. A corporeal sign: this is the ideality of the tool, just as demeanour is the ideality of the child; and just as to make a tool is more rational than to make a child, so a corporeal sign is more rational than a gesture.

Since the sign corresponds to the absolute concept, it does not express any shape adopted by the absolute concept that has been assumed into indifference. But because it expresses only the concept, it is bound up with what is formal and universal. Just as mien and gesture are a subjective language, so the corporeal sign is an objective one. Just as subjective speech is not torn loose from the subject and is not free, so this objective speech remains something objective and does not carry knowledge — its subjective element — in itself directly. Hence knowledge is also tacked on to the object; it is not a determinate character of the object but is only accosted by it and remains accidental to it. Precisely because the linkage is accidental, knowledge expresses in the object, but free from it, a reference to something subjective which, however, is set forth in a quite indefinite way and must first have thought added to it. Knowledge therefore expresses also the connection between the possession of an object and a subject who possesses it.

(iii) The spoken word unites the objectivity of the corporeal sign with the subjectivity of gesture, the articulation of the latter with the self-awareness of the former. It is the middle term of intelligences; it is logos, their rational bond. Abstract objectivity, which is a dumb recognition, gains in it an independent body of its own, which exists for itself but according to the mode of the concept, and which, namely, immediately destroys itself. With the spoken word the inner directly emerges in its specific character, and in it the individual, intelligence, the absolute concept displays itself as purely single and fixed, or its specific character is the body of absolute singularity whereby all indefiniteness is articulated and established, and precisely on the strength of this body it is at once absolute recognition. The ring of metal, the murmur of water, the roaring of the wind does not proceed from within, changing from absolute subjectivity into its opposite, but arises by an impulse from without. An animal’s voice comes from its inmost point, or from its conceptual being, but, like the whole animal, it belongs to feeling. Most animals scream at the danger of death, but this is purely and simply an outlet of subjectivity, something formal, of which the supreme articulation in the song of the birds is not the product of intelligence, of a preceding transformation of nature into subjectivity. The absolute solitude in which nature dwells inwardly at the level of intelligence is missing in the animal which has not withdrawn this solitude into itself. The animal does not produce its voice out of the totality contained in this solitude; its voice is empty, formal, void of totality. But the corporeality of speech displays totality resumed into individuality, the absolute entry into the absolute monadic point of the individual whose ideality is inwardly dispersed into a system. — This is the supreme blossom of the first level, but treated here not in its content but only in form as the abstraction of the supreme rationality and shape of singularity; but as this pure speech it does not rise above singularity.

The negative side of this level is distress, natural death, the power and havoc of nature, as well as of men reciprocally, or a relation, though a natural one, to organic nature.

B. Second Level: of Infinity and Ideality in Form or in Relation

This is the subsumption of intuition under the concept, or the emergence of the ideal and the determining of the particular or the singular by the ideal. There is causality here, but only as purely ideal, for this level is itself a formal one;[14] the ideal is only the abstraction of the ideal. There is not yet any question of the ideal’s being constituted as such for itself [or realised] and becoming a totality. Just as the single individual was dominant at the first level so the universal is dominant here. At the first level the universal was hidden, something inner, and speech itself was considered there only as something singular, i.e., in its abstraction.

In this subsumption singularity immediately ceases. It becomes something universal which plainly has a bearing on something else. Beyond this formal concept, however, the living natural relation becomes nevertheless a fixed relation which it was not previously; also universality must hover over this natural relation and overcome this fixed relation. Love, the child, culture, the tool, speech are objective and universal, and also are bearings and relations, but relations that are natural, not overcome, casual, unregulated, not themselves taken up into universality. The universal has not emerged in and out of them themselves, nor is it opposed to them.

When this subsuming universality is looked at from the point of view of particularity, there is nothing in this level that is void of a bearing on other intelligences,[15] with the result that equality is posited among them, or it is universality which thus appears in them.

a) The Subsumption of the Concept under Intuition

This is the relation of the universal opposed to the particular as it appears in the particular, or the subsumption of the universal [the concept] under intuition. The universal, dominant itself in the singular or the particular, bears solely on this single being; or the single being is first, not the ideal hovering over it, nor a multiplicity of particulars subsumed under the ideal. The latter consists in the purely practical, real, mechanical relation of work and possession.

(i) The particular, into which the universal is transferred, therefore becomes ideal and the ideality is a partition of it. The entire object in its determinate character is not annihilated altogether, but this labour, applied to the object as an entirety, is partitioned in itself and becomes a single labouring;[16] and this single labouring becomes for this very reason more mechanical, because variety is excluded from it and so it becomes itself something more universal, more foreign to the living whole.[17] This sort of labouring, thus divided, presupposes at the same time that the remaining needs are provided for in another way, for this way too has to be laboured on, i.e., by the labour of other men. But this deadening characteristic of mechanical labour directly implies the possibility of cutting oneself off from it altogether; for the labour here is wholly quantitative without variety, and since its subsumption in intelligence is self-cancelling, something absolutely external, a thing, can then be used owing to its self-sameness both in respect of its labour and its movement. It is only a question of finding for it an equally dead principle of movement, a self-differentiating power of nature like the movement of water, wind, steam, etc., and the tool passes over into the machine, since the restlessness of the subject, the concept, is itself posited outside the subject in the energy source.

(ii) Just as the subject and his labour are determinate here, so the product of the labour is too. It is parcelled out and hence it is pure quantity so far as the subject is concerned. Since his quantity of the common product is not in a relation with the totality of his needs, but goes beyond them, it is quantity in general and abstractly. Thus this possession has lost its meaning for the practical feeling of the subject and is no longer a need of his, but a surplus;[19] its bearing on use is therefore a universal one and, this universality being conceived in its reality, the bearing is on the use of others. Because, from the point of view of the subject, the need is explicitly an abstraction of need in general, the bearing of the surplus on use is a general possibility of use, not just of the specific use that it expresses, since the latter is divorced from the subject.

(iii) The subject is not simply determined as a possessor, but is taken up into the form of universality; he is a single individual with a bearing on others and universally negative as a possessor recognised as such by others. For recognition is singular being, it is negation, in such a way that it remains fixed as such (though ideally) in others, in short the abstraction of ideality, not ideality in the others. In this respect possession is property; but the abstraction of universality in property is legal right. (It is laughable to regard everything under the form of this abstraction as legal right; right is something entirely formal, (a) infinite in its variety, and without totality, and (b) without any content in itself.) The individual is not a property owner, a rightful possessor, absolutely in and of himself. His personality or the abstraction of his unity and singularity is purely an abstraction and an ens rationis. Moreover it is not in individuality that law and property reside, since individuality is absolute identity or itself an abstraction; on the contrary, they reside solely in the relative identity of possession, in so far as this relative identity has the form of universality. A right to property is a right to right; property right is the aspect, the abstraction in property, according to which property is a right remaining for its other, the particular, as possession.

The negative of this level is the bearing of freedom as against the universal, or the negative in so far as it constitutes itself positively and sets itself up in difference against the universal, so that it bears on it and is not the lack and concealment of difference. In the latter undeveloped respect the preceding levels would be its negative.

The mechanical negative, i.e., what conflicts with and does not fit a particularity determined by the subject, does not belong to this context. It does not apply at all to this determinacy in so far as this is practical; on the contrary, mechanical negation is a matter belonging entirely to nature. — The negative comes into consideration here only in so far as it conflicts with the universal as such, and in so far as it, as a single individuality, gives universality the lie and abstracts from it; not when singularity really annihilates the form of the universal — for in that case the negative posits the universal as truly ideal and itself as one with it — but, on the contrary, when the negative cannot annihilate the universal or unite itself with it but is differentiated from it.[20] — The negative thus consists in the non-recognition of property, in its cancellation. But property itself is here posited as not necessary, not tied to the use and enjoyment of the subject. The matter owned, so far as posited here as something universal, is itself therefore posited as something negative. The subject’s tie with it is itself determined as merely a possible one. Thus negation can affect merely this form, or not the matter itself but only the matter as universal quantity. A surplus, i.e., what already has no explicit bearing on need, is cancelled. As a surplus its destiny is to pass out of the producer’s possession. Whether this supersession, this negation, is or is not compatible with this destiny must emerge from the following level.

b) The Subsumption of Intuition under the Concept

A relation is established between the subject and his surplus labour; the bearing of this labour for him is ideal, i.e., it has no real bearing on his own enjoyment. But at the same time this bearing has emerged as something universal or infinite, or as a pure abstraction — possession in law as property. But what is possessed here has by its nature a real bearing on the subject on his enjoyment only when it is annihilated [consumed], and the previously ideal tie of possession by the subject is now to become a real one. The infinite, i.e., legal right, as the positive element in this whole level, is something fixed and is to persist; the ideal tie of possession is to persist too and yet it is to be made real. This whole level is in general the level of difference, and the present dimension of this level is likewise difference, and so the difference of difference — previously difference at rest, here in movement. Difference is implied in the concept, i.e., the relation of a subject to something characterised as merely possible. Owing to the new difference, the relation of the subject to his labour is superseded, but because infinity, i.e., legal right as such, must remain, there appears instead of that ideal connection with the surplus possession its conceptual opposite, the real connection with use and need. The separation is starker, but for that very reason the urge for unification is stronger too, just as the magnet holds its poles apart, without any urge of their own to unity, but, when the magnet is severed, their identity being cancelled, we have electricity, a starker separation, real antithesis, and an urge for unification.[21] What is cancelled here is oneness with the object through one’s own labour, or the individual special characteristic of it as “mine” (magnetism [in the proposed analogy]). What is substituted is real difference, cancellation of the identity of subject and object; and therefore a real annihilation of the opposite or a difference which has a bearing on need. — In this whole level, both (a) and (b), thoroughgoing ideality first begins, as well as the true levels of practical intelligence; with surplus labour this intelligence ceases even in need and labour to belong to need and labour. The relation to an object which this intelligence acquires for need and use, and which is posited here, namely, the fact that intelligence has not worked up the object for its own use since it has not consumed its own labour on it, is the beginning of legal, and formally ethical, enjoyment and possession.

What is absolute and ineradicable in this level is the absolute concept, the infinite itself, legal right at rest in (a), or subsisting in its opposition and therefore inwardly concealed and hidden; and, in (b), legal right in motion, one accident being cancelled by another, passing through nothingness, so that legal right emerges and stands over against the accidents as causality.

This pure infinity of legal right, its inseparability, reflected in the thing, i.e., in the particular itself, is the thing’s equality with other things, and the abstraction of this equality of one thing with another, concrete unity and legal right, is value; or rather value is itself equality as abstraction, the ideal measure of things — but the actually found and empirical measure is the price.

In the supersession of the individual tie of possession, there remains (a) legal right, (b) the same appearing in something specific in the form of equality, or value; (g) but the individually tied object loses its tie and (d) there enters in its stead something really determinate linked to the individuals desire.

[a] The inner essence of this real exchange is, as has been shown, the concept that remains the same throughout, but is real in intelligences, more precisely in needy intelligences, beings who are concerned with both a surplus and an unsatisfied need at the same time. Each of them enters upon the transformation of the individual thing with which he is linked ideally and objectively as its legal owner into something that is subjectively linked with his need. This is exchange, the realisation of the ideal relation. Property enters reality through the plurality of persons involved in exchange and mutually recognising one another.[22] Value enters in the reality of things and applies to each of them as surplus; the concept enters as self-moving, annihilating itself in its opposite, taking on the opposite character in place of the one it possessed before, and indeed so determined that what was formerly ideal now enters as real, because the first level is that of intuition, the present one that of the concept; the former is ideal, the latter naturally prior, but the ideal in practice comes before enjoyment.

[b] Externally exchange is twofold, or rather a repetition of itself, for the universal object, the surplus, and then the particular element in need is materially an object, but its two forms are necessarily a repetition of it. But the concept or essence of exchange is the transformation itself, and since the absolute character of the transformation is the identity of the opposite, this raises the question of how this pure identity, infinity, is to be displayed as such in reality.

The transition in the exchange is a manifold, divided, externally connected series of the single moments of the whole transaction. It may take place in one moment, in a single present instant, by the transfer of the possessions of both parties from one to the other. But if the object is manifold, the transition is likewise manifold, and the desired quid pro quo is something manifold, and the opposite quid pro quo is not there until it is complete; it is not there at the start or in the continuation, except as only an advance. [23] Therefore exchange is itself something uncertain because of these empirical circumstances, which appear as the gradualness of the execution of the exchange, the postponement of the whole execution to a later date, etc.; the present moment does not appear here. The fact that the execution of the transaction is something inner and presupposes sincerity is something entirely formal, for the point about it is that the exchange has not happened. The transaction and transfer has not become a reality, and the uncertainty depends on the manifold aspects of the transaction, on their dispersal, and on the possibility of abstraction [i.e., withdrawal] from it or of freedom.

(The third moment of this second level (b) )

(g) This irrationality or the antithesis between (i) this empty possibility and freedom and (ii) actuality and what appears, must be superseded, or the inner intentions of the intelligent agents who are making the exchange must emerge. This freedom must become equivalent to necessity, so that the transaction is deprived of its empirical contingencies, and the middle term of the transition, i.e., identity, is established as something necessary and firm. The nature and form of the exchange remains, but the exchange is taken up into quantity and universality.

This transformation of exchange is contract. In it the absolutely present moment in a pure exchange is formed into a rational middle term which not only admits the empirical phenomena in exchange but, in order to be a totality, demands them as a necessary difference which is undifferentiated in a contract.

Owing to the necessity acquired by the transition in a contract, the empirical aspect, the fact that the two sides of the bargain are fulfilled separately at different times, becomes unimportant — it is something accidental which does no harm to the security of the whole. It is as good as if the bargain had already been carried out. The right of each singular party to his property is already transferred to the other and the transfer itself is regarded as having happened. The outwardly apparent fact that the transaction has not yet been executed, that the transfer has not yet been empirically carried out in reality, is wholly empirical and accidental; or rather it has been nullified, so that the property has been entirely deprived of the external tie whereby it is not only marked as a possession but is still in the possession of the one who has already transferred it.

[d] Thus since contract transforms the transfer from a real one into an ideal one, but in such a way that this ideal transfer is the true and necessary one, it follows that in order to be this it must itself have absolute reality. The ideality or universality which the present moment acquires must thus exist, but reality itself transcends the sphere of this formal level. This much results formally, that ideality as such, and also as reality in general, can be nothing other than a spirit which, displaying itself as existing, and wherein the contracting parties are nullified as single individuals, is the universal subsuming them, the absolutely objective essence and the binding middle term of the contract. Owing to the absolute oneness in the contract, freedom and possibility are superseded with respect to the members of the transfer. This oneness is not something inner like fidelity and faith, in which inner being the individual subsumes identity under himself; on the contrary, in face of the absolutely universal, the individual is what is subsumed. Thus his caprice and idiosyncrasy are excluded because in the contract he invokes this absolute universality. But though the whole force of universality likewise enters the contract, this still happens only formally. The determinate provisions linked by that form and subsumed under it are and remain determinate provisions; they are only empirically infinitely posited as this or that or the other, yet they subsist. They are treated as the singular aspect of the individuals or of the things about which the contract is made. And for this reason true reality cannot fall within this level. For the aspect of reality here is an explicitly subsisting finitude which is not to be annihilated in ideality, and it follows that it is impossible for reality here to be a true and absolute one.

c) The Level of the Indifference of (a) and (b)

The third level is the indifference of the preceding ones; that relation of exchange and the recognition of possession, which therefore is property and hitherto had a bearing on the single individual, here becomes a totality, but always within individuality itself; or the second relation is taken up into universality, the concept of the first.

(a) Relative identity or the relation.

The surplus set into indifference, as something universal and the possibility of satisfying all needs, is money, just as labour, which leads to a surplus, leads also, when mechanically uniform, to the possibility of universal exchange and the acquisition of all necessities. just as money is the universal, and the abstraction of these, and mediates them all, so trade is this mediation posited as activity, where surplus is exchanged for surplus.

(b) But the intuition of this totality, yet of this totality as singularity, is the individual as the indifference of all specific characteristics, and this is how he displays his individuality as totality.

(i) Formally, in simplicity or intuition, the individual is the indifference of all specific characteristics and as such is in form a living being and is recognised as such; just as he was recognised previously only as possessing single things, so now he is recognised as existing independently in the whole. But because the individual as such is purely and simply one with his life, not simply related to life, it is impossible to say of life, as it could be said of other things with which he is purely in relation, that he possesses it. This has sense only in so far as the individual is not one such living thing but an absolutely entire system, so that his singularity and life are posited like a thing, as something particular. The recognition of this formal livingness of the individual is, like recognition and empirical intuition in general, a formal ideality. Life is the supreme indifference of the single individual, but it is also something purely formal, since it is the empty unity of individual specific characteristics, and therefore no totality and no self-reconstructing whole is posited out of difference. As what is absolutely formal, life is for this very reason absolute subjectivity or the absolute concept, and the individual, considered under this absolute abstraction, is the person. The life of the individual is the abstraction, pushed to its extreme, of his intuition, but the person is the pure concept of this intuition, and indeed this concept is the absolute concept itself.

In this recognition of life or in the thinking of the other as absolute concept, the other person exists as a free being, as the possibility of being the opposite of himself with respect to some specific characteristic. And in the single individual as such there is nothing which could not be regarded as a specific characteristic. Thus in this freedom there is just as easily posited the possibility of non-recognition and non-freedom. All things are likewise, owing to their concept, the possibility of being the opposite of themselves; but they remain in absolute determinacy or are lower levels of necessity; they are not all indifferently identical but absolutely different from one another. But intelligence or human life is the indifference of all specific characteristics.

(ii) This formal, relationless, recognition, presented in relation and difference or according to the concept.

At this level a living individual confronts a living individual, but their power (Potenz) of life is unequal. Thus one is might or power over the other. One is indifference, while the other is fixed in difference. So the former is related to the latter as cause; indifferent itself, it is the latter’s life and soul or spirit. The greater strength or weakness is nothing but the fact that one of them is caught up in difference, fixed and determined in some way in which the other is not, but is free. The indifference of the one not free is his inner being, his formal aspect, not something that has become explicit and that annihilates his difference. Yet this indifference must be there for him; it is his concealed inner life and on this account he intuits it as its opposite, namely, as something external, and the identity is a relative one, not an absolute one or a reconciliation of internal and external. This relation in which the indifferent and free has power over the different is the relation of lordship and bondage [or master and servant].

This relation is immediately and absolutely established along with the inequality of the power of life. At this point there is no question of any right or any necessary equality. Equality is nothing but an abstraction — it is the formal thought of life, of the first level, and this thought is purely ideal and without reality. In reality, on the other hand, it is the inequality of life which is established, and therefore the relation of lordship and bondage. For in reality what we have is shape and individuality and appearance, and consequently difference of power (Potenz) and might, or the relative identity where one individual is posited as indifferent and the other as different. Here plurality is the plurality of individuals, for, in the first level, absolute singularity has been posited in the formality of life, posited as the form of the inner life, since life is the form of external identity or absence of difference. And where there is a plurality of individuals, there is a relation between them, and this relation is lordship and bondage. Lordship and bondage is immediately the very concept of the plurality relation. There is no need for transition or conclusion here, as if some further ground or reason were still to be exhibited for it.

Lordship and bondage are therefore natural, because individuals confront one another in this relation; but the relation of lordship and obedience is also set up whenever individuals as such enter into a moral relation in connection with what is most ethical, and it is a question of the formation of the ethical order as framed by the highest individuality of genius and talent. Formally this moral relation is the same as the natural one; the difference consists in the fact that in ethical lordship and obedience the power or might is at the same time something absolutely universal, whereas here it is only something particular; in ethical lordship individuality is only something external and the form; here it is the essence of the relation and on this account there is here a relation of bondage, since bondage is obedience to the single individual and the particular.

The master [or overlord] is the indifference of the specific characteristics, but purely as a person or as a formally living being. He is also subject or cause [as opposed to object or instrument]. Indifference [or identity] is subsumed under “being the subject” or under the concept; and the bondsman is related to him as to formal indifference or the person. Because the commander is here qua person, it follows that the absolute, the Idea, the identity of the two is not what is posited in the master in the form of indifference and in the servant in the form of difference; on the contrary, the link between the two is particularity in general, and, in practice, need. The master is in possession of a surplus, of what is physically necessary; the servant lacks it, and indeed in such a way that the surplus and the lack of it are not single [accidental] aspects but the indifference of necessary needs.

(iii) This relation of bondage or of person to person, of formal life to formal life, where one is under the form of indifference and the other under that of difference, must be undifferentiated or subsumed under the first level, so that the same relation between persons, the dependence of one on the other, remains, but that the identity is an absolute one yet inner, not explicit, and the relation of difference is only the external form. But the identity must necessarily remain an inner one, because at this whole level it is either only a formal one (legal right) hovering over the particular and opposed to it, or an inner one, i.e., one subsumed under individuality as such, under the intuition of particularity, and so appears as nature, not as an identity subjugating a pair of antitheses or as ethical nature in which that antithetic pair has been likewise superseded, but in such a way that particularity and individuality are what has been subsumed.

This indifference of the lordship and bondage relation, an identity in which personality and the abstraction of life are absolutely one and the same, while this relation is only something qua apparent and external, is the [patriarchal] family. In it the totality of nature and all the foregoing are united; the entire foregoing particularity is transformed in the family into the universal. The family is the identity:

(a) of external needs

(b) of sex-relationship, the natural difference posited in the individuals themselves, and

(g) of the relation of parents to children or of natural reason, of reason emergent, but existing as nature.

(a) On account of the absolute and natural oneness of the husband, the wife, and the child, where there is no antithesis of person to person or of subject to object, the surplus is not the property of one of them, since their indifference is not a formal or a legal one. So too all contracts regarding property or service and the like fall away here because these things are grounded in the presupposition of private personality. Instead the surplus, labour, and property are absolutely common to all, inherently and explicitly; and on the death of one of them there is no transfer from him to a stranger; all that happens is that the deceased’s participation in the common property ends.

Difference is [i.e., it has here] the superficial aspect of lordship. The husband is master and manager, but not a property owner as against the other members of the family. As manager he has only the appearance of free disposal of the family property. Labour too is divided according to the nature of each member of the family, but its product is common property. Precisely because of this division each member produces a surplus, but not as his own property. The transfer of the surplus is not an exchange, because the whole property is directly, inherently, and explicitly common.

(b) The sex relation between husband and wife is naturally undifferentiated. I have said in (a) that in respect of personality, i.e., as holders of property, they are definitely one. But the sex relation gives a special form to their indifference, for it is something inherently particular. When the particular as such is made into a universal or the concept, it can only become something empirically universal. (In religion things are different.) Particularity becomes persistent, enduring, and fixed. The sex relation is restricted entirely to these two individuals together, and it is established permanently as marriage.

Because this relation is grounded on a particular character of individuals — though its peculiarity is settled by nature and not by some capricious abstraction — this relation seems to be a contract. But it would be a negative contract which annuls just that presupposition on which the possibility of contract in general rests, namely, personality or being a subject possessing rights. All this is nullified in marriage, because there the person gives himself or herself up as an entirety. But what is supposed in a contractual relation to become the property of the other could simply not come into his or her possession. Since the relation is personal, what is supposed to be transferred remains the property of the person, just as, in general, no contract is inherently possible about personal service, because only the product, and not the personality, can be transferred into the possession of the other. The slave can become property as an entire personality, and so can the wife; but this relation is not marriage. There is no contract with the slave either, but there can be a contract with someone else about the slave or the woman, e.g., among many peoples the woman is bought from the parents. But there can be no contract with her, for in so far as she is to give herself freely in marriage, she gives up, along with herself, the possibility of a contract, and so does the man. The terms of their contract would be to have no contract and so the terms would be immediately self-destructive.

But by a positive contract each party in a marriage would make himself or herself a thing in his own possession, would make his whole personality into a determinate characteristic of himself to which he is absolutely linked at the same time; yet as a free being he must not regard himself as absolutely bound up with any single characteristic of himself, but as the indifferent identity of all of them. We would have to think, as Kant does,[24] of the sexual organs as this characteristic. But to treat one’s self as an absolute thing (Sache), as absolutely bound up with a specific characteristic, is supremely irrational and utterly disgraceful.

(g) In the child the family is deprived of its accidental and empirical existence or the singularity of its members, and is secured against the concept whereby the singulars or subjects nullify themselves. The child, contrary to appearance, is the absolute, the rationality of the relationship; he is what is enduring and everlasting, the totality which produces itself once again as such. But because in the family, as the supreme totality of which nature is capable, even absolute identity remains something inner, and is not posited in the absolute form itself, it follows that the reproduction of the totality is an appearance, i.e., the children. In the true totality the form is entirely one with the essence, and so its being is not the form driven into the separation of its constituent features. But here what is persistent is other than what is; or, reality surrenders its persistence to something else which itself endures over again only in the sense that it becomes, and transmits to another its being, which it cannot retain itself. The form, or infinity, is thus the empirical or negative form of being other, which cancels one determinate characteristic only by positing another, and is only really positive by being always in another. Might and the understanding, the differentiating characters of the parents, stand in an inverse relation with the youth and force of the child, and these two aspects of life fly from and follow one another and are external to one another.

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