Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences Part III

The Philosophy of Spirit (1830)

§ 377

The knowledge of Mind is the highest and hardest, just because it is the most ‘concrete’ of sciences. The significance of that ‘absolute’ commandment, Know thyself – whether we look at it in itself or under the historical circumstances of its first utterance – is not to promote mere self-knowledge in respect of the particular capacities, character, propensities, and foibles of the single self. The knowledge it commands means that of man’s genuine reality – of what is essentially and ultimately true and real – of mind as the true and essential being. Equally little is it the purport of mental philosophy to teach what is called knowledge of men – the knowledge whose aim is to detect the peculiarities, passions, and foibles of other men, and lay bare what are called the recesses of the human heart. Information of this kind is, for one thing, meaningless, unless on the assumption that we know the universal – man as man, and, that always must be, as mind. And for another, being only engaged with casual, insignificant, and untrue aspects of mental life, it fails to reach the underlying essence of them all – the mind itself.

§ 378

Pneumatology, or, as it was also called, Rational Psychology, has been already alluded to in the Introduction to the Logic as an abstract and generalizing metaphysic of the subject. Empirical (or inductive) psychology, on the other hand, deals with the ‘concrete’ mind: and, after the revival of the sciences, when observation and experience had been made the distinctive methods for the study of concrete reality, such psychology was worked on the same lines as other sciences. In this way it came about that the metaphysical theory was kept outside the inductive science, and so prevented from getting any concrete embodiment or detail: whilst at the same time the inductive science clung to the conventional common-sense metaphysics with its analysis into forces, various activities, etc., and rejected any attempt at a ‘speculative’ treatment.

The books of Aristotle on the Soul, along with his discussions on its special aspects and states, are for this reason still by far the most admirable, perhaps even the sole, work of philosophical value on this topic. The main aim of a philosophy of mind can only be to reintroduce unity of idea and principle into the theory of mind, and so reinterpret the lesson of those Aristotelian books.

§ 379

Even our own sense of the mind’s living unity naturally protests against any attempt to break it up into different faculties, forces, or, what comes to the same thing, activities, conceived as independent of each other. But the craving for a comprehension of the unity is still further stimulated, as we soon come across distinctions between mental freedom and mental determinism, antitheses between free psychic agency and the corporeity that lies external to it, whilst we equally note the intimate interdependence of the one upon the other. In modern times especially the phenomena of animal magnetism have given, even in experience, a lively and visible confirmation of the underlying unity of soul, and of the power of its ‘ideality’. Before these facts, the rigid distinctions of practical common sense are struck with confusion; and the necessity of a ‘speculative’ examination with a view to the removal of difficulties is more directly forced upon the student.

§ 380

The ‘concrete’ nature of mind involves for the observer the peculiar difficulty that the several grades and special types which develop its intelligible unity in detail are not left standing as so many separate existences confronting its more advanced aspects. It is otherwise in external nature. There, matter and movement, for example, have a manifestation all their own – it is the solar system; and similarly the differentiae of sense-perception have a sort of earlier existence in the properties of bodies, and still more independently in the four elements. The species and grades of mental evolution, on the contrary, lose their separate existence and become factors, states, and features in the higher grades of development. As a consequence of this, a lower and more abstract aspect of mind betrays the presence in it, even to experience, of a higher grade. Under the guise of sensation, for example, we may find the very highest mental life as its modification or its embodiment. And so sensation, which is but a mere form and vehicle, may to the superficial glance seem to be the proper seat and, as it were, the source of those moral and religious principles with which it is charged; and the moral and religious principles thus modified may seem to call for treatment as species of sensation. But at the same time, when lower grades of mental life are under examination, it becomes necessary, if we desire to point to actual cases of them in experience, to direct attention to more advanced grades for which they are mere forms. In this way subjects will be treated of by anticipation which properly belong to later stages of development (e.g. in dealing with natural awaking from sleep we speak by anticipation of consciousness, or in dealing with mental derangement we must speak of intellect).

What Mind is
§ 381

From our point of view mind has for its presupposition Nature, of which it is the truth, and for that reason its absolute prius. In this its truth Nature is vanished, and mind has resulted as the ‘Idea’ entered on possession of itself. Here the subject and object of the Idea are one – either is the intelligent unity, the notion. This identity is absolute negativity – for whereas in Nature the intelligent unity has its objectivity perfect but externalized, this self-externalization has been nullified and the unity in that way been made one and the same with itself. Thus at the same time it is this identity only so far as it is a return out of nature.

§ 382

For this reason the essential, but formally essential, feature of mind is Liberty: i.e. it is the notion’s absolute negativity or self-identity. Considered as this formal aspect, it may withdraw itself from everything external and from its own externality, its very existence; it can thus submit to infinite pain, the negation of its individual immediacy: in other words, it can keep itself affirmative in this negativity and possess its own identity. All this is possible so long as it is considered in its abstract self-contained universality.

§ 383

This universality is also its determinate sphere of being. Having a being of its own, the universal is self-particularizing, whilst it still remains self-identical. Hence the special mode of mental being is ‘manifestation’. The spirit is not some one mode or meaning which finds utterance or externality only in a form distinct from itself: it does not manifest or reveal something, but its very mode and meaning is this revelation. And thus in its mere possibility mind is at the same moment an infinite, ‘absolute’, actuality.

§ 384

Revelation, taken to mean the revelation of the abstract Idea, is an unmediated transition to Nature which comes to be. As mind is free, its manifestation is to set forth Nature as its world; but because it is reflection, it, in thus setting forth its world, at the same time presupposes the world as a nature independently existing. In the intellectual sphere to reveal is thus to create a world as its being – a being in which the mind procures the affirmation and truth of its freedom.

The Absolute is Mind (Spirit) – this is the supreme definition of the Absolute. To find this definition and to grasp its meaning and burden was, we may say, the ultimate purpose of all education and all philosophy: it was the point to which turned the impulse of all religion and science: and it is this impulse that must explain the history of the world. The word ‘Mind’ (Spirit) – and some glimpse of its meaning – was found at an early period: and the spirituality of God is the lesson of Christianity. It remains for philosophy in its own element of intelligible unity to get hold of what was thus given as a mental image, and what implicitly is the ultimate reality; and that problem is not genuinely, and by rational methods, solved so long as liberty and intelligible unity is not the theme and the soul of philosophy.

§ 385

The development of Mind (Spirit) is in three stages:

  1. In the form of self-relation: within it it has the ideal totality of the Idea – i.e. it has before it all that its notion contains: its being is to be self-contained and free. This is Mind Subjective.
  2. In the form of reality: realized, i.e. in a world produced and to be produced by it: in this world freedom presents itself under the shape of necessity. This is Mind Objective.
  3. In that unity of mind as objectivity and of mind as ideality and concept, which essentially and actually is and for ever produces itself, mind in its absolute truth. This is Mind Absolute.

§ 386

The two first parts of the doctrine of Mind embrace the finite mind. Mind is the infinite Idea, and finitude here means the disproportion between the concept and the reality – but with the qualification that it is a shadow cast by the mind’s own light – a show or illusion which the mind implicitly imposes as a barrier to itself, in order, by its removal, actually to realize and become conscious of freedom as its very being, i.e. to be fully manifested. The several steps of this activity, on each of which, with their semblance of being, it is the function of the finite mind to linger, and through which it has to pass, are steps in its liberation. In the full truth of that liberation is given the identification of the three stages – finding a world presupposed before us, generating a world as our own creation, and gaining freedom from it and in it. To the infinite form of this truth the show purifies itself till it becomes a consciousness of it.

A rigid application of the category of finitude by the abstract logician is chiefly seen in dealing with Mind and reason: it is held not a mere matter of strict logic, but treated also as a moral and religious concern, to adhere to the point of view of finitude, and the wish to go further is reckoned a mark of audacity, if not of insanity, of thought. Whereas in fact such a modesty of thought, as treats the finite as something altogether fixed and absolute, is the worst of virtues; and to stick to a post which has no sound ground in itself is the most unsound sort of theory. The category of finitude was at a much earlier period elucidated and explained at its place in the Logic: an elucidation which, as in logic for the more specific though still simple thought-forms of finitude, so in the rest of philosophy for the concrete forms, has merely to show that the finite is not, i.e. is not the truth, but merely a transition and an emergence to something higher. This finitude of the spheres so far examined is the dialectic that makes a thing have its cessation by another and in another: but Spirit, the intelligent unity and the implicit Eternal, is itself just the consummation of that internal act by which nullity is nullified and vanity is made vain. And so, the modesty alluded to is a retention of this vanity – the finite – in opposition to the true: it is itself therefore vanity. In the course of the mind’s development we shall see this vanity appear as wickedness at that turning-point at which mind has reached its extreme immersion in its subjectivity and its most central contradiction.


§ 387

Mind, on the ideal stage of its development, is mind as cognitive. Cognition, however, being taken here not as a merely logical category of the Idea (§ 223), but in the sense appropriate to the concrete mind.

Subjective mind is:

(A) Immediate or implicit: a soul – the Spirit in Nature – the object treated by Anthropology.[NB]

(B) Mediate or explicit: still as identical reflection into itself and into other things: mind in correlation or particularization: consciousness – the object treated by the Phenomenology of Mind.

(C) Mind defining itself in itself, as an independent subject – the object treated by Psychology.

In the Soul is the awaking of Consciousness: Consciousness sets itself up as Reason, awaking at one bound to the sense of its rationality: and this Reason by its activity emancipates itself to objectivity and the consciousness of its intelligent unity.

For an intelligible unity or principle of comprehension each modification it presents is an advance of development: and so in mind every character under which it appears is a stage in a process of specification and development, a step forward towards its goal, in order to make itself into, and to realize in itself, what it implicitly is. Each step, again, is itself such a process, and its product is that what the mind was implicitly at the beginning (and so for the observer) it is for itself – for the special form, viz. which the mind has in that step. The ordinary method of psychology is to narrate what the mind or soul is, what happens to it, what it does. The soul is presupposed as a ready-made agent, which displays such features as its acts and utterances, from which we can learn what it is, what sort of faculties and powers it possesses – all without being aware that the act and utterance of what the soul is really invests it with that character in our conception and makes it reach a higher stage of being than it explicitly had before.

We must, however, distinguish and keep apart from the progress here to be studied what we call education and instruction. The sphere of education is the individuals only: and its aim is to bring the universal mind to exist in them. But in the philosophic theory of mind, mind is studied as self-instruction and self-education in very essence; and its acts and utterances are stages in the process which brings it forward to itself, links it in unity with itself, and so makes it actual mind.

NB: Until about 1860, ‘Anthropology’ meant ‘the science of the nature of man, embracing Human Physiology and Psychology’, and in Hegel’s day ‘Anthropology’ was more concerned with these sciences, than with comparative religion, cultural practices, etc., as is the case today.

On the other hand, Hegel used the term ‘Phenomenology’ in the sense given to the word by Kant, that is, ‘the study of the appearances of things, as opposed to their being’, rather than in the sense given to the word by Husserl which has been predominant since his time. ‘Phänomenologie des Geistes’ meant therefore, the study of the forms of Appearance of Spirit.

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