Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences
Part III: The Philosophy of Spirit

The Soul

(a) Natural Determinacy - (b) Antithesis to Substance - (c) Reality of Soul

§ 308.

Spirit came into being as the truth of nature which has translated and suspended itself. But spirit is, then, not merely true and primordial: its transition into the realm of the concept is not only reflection into others and reflection into itself but it is also free judgment. The becoming of spirit in this way indicates that nature suspends itself in itself as untruth, and that spirit no longer presupposes itself as immediacy self-externalised in physical individuality, but as general and as that immediacy, simple in its concreteness, in which it is soul.

§ 309.

The soul is not only immaterial for itself but the general immateriality of nature and its simple, ideal life. The soul is also the absolute substance, as the immediate identity of self-subsisting subjectivity and corporeality, whose identity remains, as general essence, the absolute basis of its differentiation and individuation. In this abstract determination, however, it is only the sleep of the spirit.

The question of the immateriality of the soul can only be of interest if matter is represented as true, on the one hand, and on the other hand, if spirit is represented as a thing. Even physicists, however, have in recent times dealt with imponderable substances, such as warmth, light, and so on, to which they could also add space and time. Otherwise these imponderables still have a sensory existence, a self-externalised being. Yet living matter, which can be found included among such substances, lacks not only gravity, but every other aspect of existence which would allow us to treat it as material. The fact is that in the idea of life the self-externality of nature is already in itself suspended, along with the concept and its substance. But in the spirit, the concept exists in freedom as absolute negativity and not as immediate individuality, so that the object of the intelligible unity is the unity itself Thus self-externality, as the fundamental characteristic of matter, is completely dissolved and transformed into generality.

Another related question concerns the interdependence of the soul and the body. It was assumed as a fact, and the only remaining problem was how to comprehend it. The usual answer was that it was an incomprehensible secret. And indeed, if we take them to be absolutely antithetical and absolutely independent, body and soul are just as impenetrable to each other as every part of matter is to another. In this view they respond to each other only in the pores, their reciprocal being where the other is not. But this answer is not the same as the one given by all other philosophers since the relation was first questioned. Descartes, Malebranche, Spinoza, and Leibniz have all seen God as this relation, especially in the sense that the finite soul and matter have no truth, so that God is not merely another word for that incomprehensibility, but rather its true identity. Either this identity, however, is not yet grasped immediately as God, for it does not yet have this determination, or the soul itself is seen as a general soul, in which matter exists in its truth, as a simple thought or a generality.— This soul must not, however, become fixed again, for example as the world soul, for then it is only the general substance which merely has actual truth as individuality.

§ 310

Spirit is at first this immediate submergence in nature: (a) the soul in its determination as nature; (b) as the soul is particularised, it emerges in antithesis to its lack of consciousness; (c) in the process it acquires corporeality, and thus becomes real.

(a) The Natural Determinacy of the Soul
§ 311

Spirit as the abstract soul of nature is simple, sidereal, and terrestrial life. It is the nous of the ancients, the simple, unconscious thought, which (a) as this general essence is the inner idea and would have its reality in the underlying externality of nature. But since it, as soul, is immediate substance, its existence is the particularisation of its natural being, an immediate and natural determinacy, which has its presupposed reality in the individual earth.

§ 312

The general planetary life of the nature spirit has the diversity of the earth as immediate differentiation within it; it then dissolves into particular spirits of nature, which wholly express the nature of the geographic parts of the world and constitute racial diversity.

The contrast between the earth's poles, by which the northern land is more compressed and more heavily weighted than the sea, whereas the southern hemisphere separates and disperses into widely distant peaks, introduces into the differences between continents a further modification which Treviranus (Biology, part 2) has exhibited in the case of the plants and animals.

§ 313

This diversity is transformed by the contingency of nature into particularities, which may be called local spirits, and manifests itself in outward forms of life and occupation, physical development and disposition, but even more in the inner tendency and capacity of intellectual and moral character.

§ 314

The soul, as the concept in itself in general, isolates itself as the individual subject. But this subjectivity is here considered only as the individuation of natural characteristics; it is the mode of the different temperaments, characters, physiognomies, and other dispositions of families or single individuals.

§ 315.

(b) Immediate judgment is the awakening of the individual soul, which confronts its unconscious natural life, in the first instance as one natural characteristic and condition confronts another, namely, sleep. This transitional phase of individuality connects with the earth as the general body of individuality.

§ 316

Waking is neither externally nor for us intrinsically different from sleep; rather, waking is itself the judgment of the individual soul, and thus the differentiation of itself from its undifferentiated generality. All self-conscious and rational activity of the spirit occurs in the waking state.— Sleep is an invigoration of this activity, though not in the sense of rest (the power of living action actually becomes sluggish due to the lack of its expression), but as a return from the world of specialisation, from dispersion into details where it has become rigidified, into the general essence of subjectivity, which is the substance of those specialised energies and their absolute master.

§ 317

Insofar, however, as the entire being of the individual is an awakened being, its particularisation is the natural development of an age.

§ 318

(c) Real individuality as the reflection of the soul in itself is its waking being for itself in self-contained, organic physicality. It also involves a self-feeling determined in and for itself and still identical with its corporeality, external and internal sensation.

The progress of the general soul to an individuality which is still immediate is above all the progress of the natural idea, from ideal generality to vitality, that is, organic individualism. In any case this has no further meaning than that it contains the spirit in itself and this is its individual and natural existence, which, however, exists here only in external representation. As in the previous case, therefore, what can be said more precisely about wakefulness as a specific waking of the spirit, and about the course of an age in the unique meaning of its intellectual development, must be seen as anticipated or as taken from representation.— On the natural side of this immanence of the individual spirit in its physicality falls in general the healthy and sympathetic sense of community. Belonging here, then, are not only the external feelings of the senses considered above (§ 279), but also the sensations, determined more precisely as immediately symbolic, including colours, smells, sounds, either immediately attractive or repulsive, either in a more general or in a more idiosyncratic manner. Under this rubric would also be found not only the inner sympathy of the parts of the body, but also certain mental qualities, such as the passions or the emotions. It is important to include here the line of connection by which anger and courage are felt in the breast, the blood, desire in the reproductive system, irritation, and contemplation, intellectual activity in the head, which is also considered the centre of the sensible system.

(b) The Antithesis of the Subjective Soul to Its Substance
§ 319.

The soul, which lives at first immediately in its substantial identity, is in its individuality as a negative self-relation, and the division of its subjectivity is set against its substantial life, which is incompatible with its concept. This first reflection into itself is at the same time a reflection into another; it stands at first, therefore, only in relation to its natural determination.

§ 320

The subject is (a) in an abstract and general relation to its natural life; the soul is, to be sure, the subject from this perspective, but its predicate in this general relation is still its substance, an impotent, merely formal being for itself, a sense of foreboding and dreaming of its more general natural life, the feeling of the nature spirit.

This relation rests on the dividing line of the spirit from itself as soul. Spirit as such has generality for its object as a thought entity, pure, that is, with its abstract subjectivity, identical with its selfhood, and its relationship to it is itself this thought. This certain substantiality is freedom, the pure negativity of all immediacy. Such free substantiality is already a part of pure self-consciousness and the actual spirit.

Thus the present, unfree matter is a reduction of free self-consciousness, — a disease in which the soul, which according to Plato delivers prophecies in the liver, or more definitely in the ganglia than in the brain or the belly. Spirit in this instance has sunken back into the spirit of nature.— In history this magical relation, which can occur in isolated individuals as a diseased condition, constitutes a phase of transition from substantial spirituality to self-consciousness and understanding.— Forebodings, prophecies, the many miraculous aspects of dreams, and other tendencies, somnambulism and animal magnetism: all these belong more or less to the realm of dream in general, where the spirit hovers between natural spirits and its rational reality, and produces thereby a representation of its more general connection in a larger natural sphere than the sort of consciousness which has understood and reasoned about itself. But since real generality, namely that of thought, only adheres to this consciousness, then that expansion of sympathetic life which emerges as representation is limited absolutely to a particular circle, and what this soul sees and predicts is only its particular inferiority, not that of a general essence. But this magical circle is ultimately an incantation, a form of subjugation, a dependency, because the soul is reduced from its free generality to particularity. Thus the image of humanity's primitive condition, in which nature and the spirit do not appear externally to inner intuition but with pure immediacy, becomes diminished daily, as with few aspects of the tradition, and dwindles into an ever-weaker position. It becomes an empty assumption, by which the general nature of the idea as a reasonable thought, which belongs only to the spirit in its free subjectivity, remains unobserved.

§ 321

(b) The subjective soul itself however, breaks the immediate, substantial identity of its relation with particular, natural being. Its antithesis, which is at the same time an identity, is a relation of contradiction: a condition of disruption, in which both aspects of the relation emerge in reality against each other and corporeal reality becomes the reality of the soul, or conversely, the soul constructs its own reality as corporeal.

This relation is the condition of madness in general. It should at the same time be remarked that: (1) this relation, like the magical relation, exists merely as ideal moments, as untrue relations, and thus persists only as conditions or diseases of the spirit. Precisely as everything finite persists, and, more specifically, just as the formal judgment and the formal syllogism exist without truth and apply only to the abstract moments of the objective concept, thus it has only a violent existence and is grounded in destruction, — a destruction which the understanding causes as it transforms the concrete into abstractions solely through its reality. Thus the relations which have now emerged are only the ideal moments of the spirit free in being, and still dominated by the hypothetic judgment. They are still substantially related to their substance in their self-differentiating subjectivity, and just as essentially the contradiction in this relation, their being is above all not their being, but exists rather as the being of their other.

(2) On this level of the relation the spirit is determined as a thing, and more precisely, as that which is understood as soul. To the ancients, for whom the antithesis of thought and being had not yet been as fully actualised, the soul had the more indeterminate meaning of spirituality. By contrast, in more recent metaphysics and other representations the spirit as soul has become a thing of many characteristics and powers, fixed as a spectre, or more precisely as an angel, and even decorated with a colour as a sensory entity. Metaphysics has generally held to the abstract determination of a thing, and the soul therefore has in and for itself the determinations of being, of quality and quantity, and is subordinated to the reflective categories of individual substances, causes, and so on. Here the question of the location of the soul, of the connection between this thing and the other thing, the body, has been of interest.

It is a contribution of Kant's to have weighed the metaphysics of spirit and soul as things and, what is the same, to have freed the spirit from this metaphysics and representation and to have posited the self in its place. For the spirit as thing can only be spoken of in a relation, that is, on the level of reflection, where the spirit of course loses its immediate substantiality or its subsisting universality, and determines itself as difference and as subject, although it has not yet achieved true reality.

(3) The different forms of madness, — insanity, wildness, raving, nonsense, are shadings which contain many indeterminate qualities, concerning the determinations which they have in contrast to each other, just as they themselves confront conditions which common sense accepts. As important as this differentiation is for the treatment of these diseases, it is at the same time a perversion to want to create an awareness of human beings on that basis, as well as on the basis of crimes and other depravities and disturbances of humanity. To recognise these disorders presupposes in fact a concept of what the human being should be.

Moreover, in all forms of disease it is not only possible to observe a lack of understanding, but also to see what is actually called madness. For it is the absolute unhappiness of contradiction that the spirit, which is the free identity of subjective and objective, exists in its selfhood not as absolute ideality, but as an actual thing, and exists just as much as an objective entity in contrast to the thing as its pure identity. As such it is the relation of necessity or of finite reciprocal effect, of immediate transformation and reversal. This madness, in other words, grasps fate purely as blind fate, that is as absolute alienation from the concept, and as such it is after all identical with itself knowing itself at once to be and not to be itself. - Distraction can be seen as the beginning of madness; in it is the spirit in itself and it has no present in its corporeality, though it does exist in it, and mistakenly reverses the situation. The highest level is anger, whereby the singularity of selfhood fixes arbitrariness in its pure abstraction against the objective idea into a static reality, and exchanges itself with pure will.

Psychic treatment rests on the insight that madness is not the loss of reason, from the side of both the intellect and the will, but is only madness, and presupposes therefore the treatment of the sick as reasonable beings, thereby providing a fixed basic assumption on which the rest can build.

§ 322

(c) The soul is substantial, however, as the general concept for itself the overarching power and fate of the other reality which is essentially its own immediacy. The soul's relation to judgment is, therefore, a suspension of its form and the positing of the form as its own.

§ 323

Because it is originally identical to this corporeality, and has its reality in it, the soul's activity is not directed against the body as against an external and antagonistic object. To injure organic life and to foster an antagonistic, destructive treatment of corporeality would instead make this into a negative objectivity aimed against the subject, producing thereby a power and a fate, and would derange the standpoint of the spirit.

§ 324

The activity of the soul against the body is, rather, to establish its self-subsisting identity with its corporeality, only to suspend the form of the immediacy of this unity, and to posit as general the pervasive soul in its body for itself.

§ 325

The soul forms itself then, in the body which it has from nature (§ 318). It builds up, in this immediate being, its generality through the repetition of actions purposively determined, through induction. Thus it remembers itself in the body in such a way, on the one hand, that its identity with the body is determined by the soul and forms its subjective unity with itself On the other hand, it achieves being in the body, a being as a general habit, a determinate habit, and as historical authenticity. In this way, as a thoroughly formed instrument, it dominates the body.

(c) The Reality of the Soul
§ 326

The soul, in its thoroughly formed corporeality, exists as an individual subject, and the corporeality is an externality which stands as a predicate of the subject, which in this way only relates to itself in itself This externality thus does not represent itself but the soul, of which it is the sign. In this identity of interior and exterior the soul is actual, and has only in its corporeality its free shape, its human, pathognomonic and physiognomic expression.

Under the heading of human expression are included, for example, the upright figure in general, the formation of limbs, especially the hand, as the absolute instrument, of the mouth, of laughter, weeping, and so on, and the intellectual tone diffused over the whole, which immediately announces the body as the exteriority of a higher nature. This tone is a slight, indefinite, an inexpressible modification. For the spirit is identical with its general exteriority and thus free, whereas the shape is immediate and natural, and can therefore only be an indefinite sign for the spirit, for it represents the spirit as an other, and not for itself in its generality. For the animal, then, the human figure is the highest form in which the spirit appears. But for the spirit it is only its first appearance, because it is reality still sunken in the sphere of immediacy.— Spirit is, therefore, absolutely finite and isolated in the human figure as sign. It is, to be sure, its existent form, but at the same time the human figure is something entirely contingent in its physiognomic and pathognomonic determinacy for the spirit. Thus to want to raise physiognomy and, above all, cranioscopy (phrenology) to the level of sciences is one of the emptiest ideas there could be, emptier than a signature rerum, which supposed that the shape of a plant would reveal its true medicinal uses.

§ 327

In and for itself spirit as the general soul shows the untruth of matter. Corporeality, which is at first nothing but a form of immediacy, can therefore achieve its formation in general and without any resistance. Through this first formation of being in itself the spirit, which will be against it, is suspended, has lost its own determinate meaning of the soul, and becomes an "I".

§ 328

This infinity of the spirit as the relationship of itself to itself in its immediacy is its own suspension, which has been produced first and is therefore still a moment, though against and in this infinity. What is included here with itself in otherness is also determinate individuality, which is the subject for itself and contains itself as this negativity. The judgment, in which the subject becomes "I" in contrast to an object, as if in contrast to a foreign world, is thus reflected immediately into itself. Thus the soul becomes consciousness.

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