Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences
Part III: The Philosophy of Spirit (1830)


(a) Consciousness Proper - (b) Self-Consciousness - (c) Reason

§ 413

Consciousness constitutes the reflected or correlational grade of mind: the grade of mind as appearance. Ego is infinite self-relation of mind, but as subjective or as self-certainty. The immediate identity of the natural soul has been raised to this pure 'ideal' self-identity; and what the former contained is for this self-subsistent reflection set forth as an object. The pure abstract freedom of mind lets go from it its specific qualities - the soul's natural life - to an equal freedom as an independent object. It is of this latter, as external to it, that the ego is in the first instance aware (conscious), and as such it is Consciousness. Ego, as this absolute negativity, is implicitly the identity in the otherness: the ego is itself that other and stretches over the object (as if that object were implicitly cancelled) - it is one side of the relationship and the whole relationship - the light, which manifests itself and something else too.

§ 414

The self-identity of the mind, thus first made explicit as the Ego, is only its abstract formal ideality. As soul it was under the phase of substantial universality; now, as subjective reflection in itself, it is referred to this substantiality as to its negative, something dark and beyond it. Hence consciousness, like reciprocal dependence in general, is the contradiction between the independence of the two sides and their identity in which they are merged into one. The mind as ego is essence; but since reality, in the sphere of essence, is represented as in immediate being and at the same time as 'ideal', it is as consciousness only the appearance (phenomenon) of mind.

§ 415

As the ego is by itself only a formal identity, the dialectical movement of its intelligible unity, i.e. the successive steps in further specification of consciousness, does not, to it, seem to be its own activity, but is implicit, and to the ego it seems an alteration of the object. Consciousness consequently appears differently modified according to the difference of the given object; and the gradual specification of consciousness appears as a variation in the characteristics of its objects. Ego, the subject of consciousness, is thinking: the logical process of modifying the object is what is identical in subject and object, their absolute interdependence, what makes the object the subject's own.

The Kantian philosophy may be most accurately described as having viewed the mind as consciousness, and as containing the propositions only of a phenomenology (not of a philosophy) of mind. The Ego Kant regards as reference to something away and beyond (which in its abstract description is termed the thing-in-itself); and it is only from this finite point of view that he treats both intellect and will. Though in the notion of a power of reflective judgment he touches upon the Idea of mind - a subject-objectivity, an intuitive intellect, etc., and even the Idea of Nature, still this Idea is again deposed to an appearance, i.e. to a subjective maxim ( 58). Reinhold may therefore be said to have correctly appreciated Kantism when he treated it as a theory of consciousness (under the name of 'faculty of ideation'). Fichte kept to the same point of view: his non-ego is only something set over against the ego, only defined as in consciousness: it is made no more than an infinite 'shock', i.e. a thing-in-itself. Both systems therefore have clearly not reached the intelligible unity or the mind as it actually and essentially is, but only as it is in reference to something else.

As against Spinozism, again, it is to be noted that the mind in the judgment by which it 'constitutes' itself an ego (a free subject contrasted with its qualitative affection) has emerged from substance, and that the philosophy, which gives this judgment as the absolute characteristic of mind, has emerged from Spinozism.

§ 416

The aim of conscious mind is to make its appearance identical with its essence, to raise its self-certainty to truth. The existence of mind in the stage of consciousness is finite, because it is merely a nominal self-relation, or mere certainty. The object is only abstractly characterized as its; in other words, in the object it is only as an abstract ego that the mind is reflected into itself: hence its existence there has still a content, which is not as its own.

§ 417

The grades of this elevation of certainty to truth are three in number: first (a) consciousness in general, with an object set against it; (b) self-consciousness, for which ego is the object; (c) unity of consciousness and self-consciousness, where the mind sees itself embodied in the object and sees itself as implicitly and explicitly determinate, as Reason, the notion of mind.

i. Sensuous consciousness
§ 418

Consciousness is, first, immediate consciousness, and its reference to the object accordingly the simple, and underived certainty of it. The object similarly, being immediate, an existent, reflected in itself, is further characterized as immediately singular. This is sense-consciousness.

Consciousness - as a case of correlation - comprises only the categories belonging to the abstract ego or formal thinking; and these it treats as features of the object ( 415). Sense-consciousness therefore is aware of the object as an existent, a something, an existing thing, a singular, and so on. It appears as wealthiest in matter, but as poorest in thought. That wealth of matter is made out of sensations: they are the material of consciousness ( 414), the substantial and qualitative, what the soul in its anthropological sphere is and finds in itself. This material the ego (the reflection of the soul in itself) separates from itself, and puts it first under the category of being. Spatial and temporal Singularness, here and now (the terms by which in the Phenomenology of the Mind (Werke ii, p. 73), I described the object of sense-consciousness) strictly belongs to intuition. At present the object is at first to be viewed only in its correlation to consciousness, i.e. a something external to it, and not yet as external on its own part, or as being beside and out of itself.

§ 419

The sensible as somewhat becomes an other: the reflection in itself of this somewhat, the thing, has many properties; and as a single (thing) in its immediacy has several predicates. The muchness of the sense-singular thus becomes a breadth - a variety of relations, reflectional attributes, and universalities. These are logical terms introduced by the thinking principle, i.e. in this case by the Ego, to describe the sensible. But the Ego as itself apparent sees in all this characterization a change in the object; and sensuous consciousness, so construing the object, is sense-perception.

ii. Sense-perception
§ 420

Consciousness, having passed beyond the sensible, wants to take the object in its truth, not as merely immediate, but as mediated, reflected in itself, and universal. Such an object is a combination of sense qualities with attributes of wider range by which thought defines concrete relations and connections. Hence the identity of consciousness with the object passes from the abstract identity of 'I am sure' to the definite identity of 'I know, and am aware'.

The particular grade of consciousness on which Kantism conceives the mind is perception: which is also the general point of view taken by ordinary consciousness, and more or less by the sciences. The sensuous certitudes of single apperceptions or observations form the starting-point: these are supposed to be elevated to truth, by being regarded in their bearings, reflected upon, and on the lines of definite categories turned at the same time into something necessary and universal, viz. experiences.

§ 421

This conjunction of individual and universal is admixture - the individual remains at the bottom hard and unaffected by the universal, to which, however, it is related. It is therefore a tissue of contradictions - between the single things of sense apperception, which form the alleged ground of general experience, and the universality which has a higher claim to be the essence and ground - between the individuality of a thing which, taken in its concrete content, constitutes its independence and the various properties which, free from this negative link and from one another, are independent universal matters ( 123). This contradiction of the finite which runs through all forms of the logical spheres turns out most concrete, when the somewhat is defined as object ( 194 seqq.).

iii. The Intellect
§ 422

The proximate truth of perception is that it is the object which is an appearance, and that the object's reflection in self is on the contrary a self-subsistent inward and universal. The consciousness of such an object is intellect. This inward, as we called it, of the thing is, on one hand, the suppression of the multiplicity of the sensible, and, in that manner, an abstract identity: on the other hand, however, it also for that reason contains the multiplicity, but as an interior 'simple' difference, which remains self-identical in the vicissitudes of appearance. The simple difference is the realm of the laws of the phenomena - a copy of the phenomenon, but brought to rest and universality.

§ 423

The law, at first stating the mutual dependence of universal, permanent terms, has, in so far as its distinction is the inward one, its necessity on its own part; the one of the terms, as not externally different from the other, lies immediately in the other. But in this manner the interior distinction is, what it is in truth, the distinction on its own part, or the distinction which is none. With this new form-characteristic, on the whole, consciousness implicitly vanishes: for consciousness as such implies the reciprocal independence of subject and object. The ego in its judgment has an object which is not distinct from it - it has itself. Consciousness has passed into self-consciousness.

§ 424

Self-consciousness is the truth of consciousness: the latter is a consequence of the former, all consciousness of an other object being as a matter of fact also self-consciousness. The object is my idea: I am aware of the object as mine; and thus in it I am aware of me. The formula of self-consciousness is I = I: - abstract freedom, pure 'Ideality'; and thus it lacks 'reality': for as it is its own object, there is strictly speaking no object, because there is no distinction between it and the object.

§ 425

Abstract self-consciousness is the first negation of consciousness, and for that reason it is burdened with an external object, or, nominally, with the negation of it. Thus it is at the same time the antecedent stage, consciousness: it is the contradiction of itself as self-consciousness and as consciousness. But the latter aspect and the negation in general is in I = I potentially suppressed; and hence as this certitude of self against the object it is the impulse to realize its implicit nature, by giving its abstract self-awareness content and objectivity, and in the other direction to free itself from its sensuousness, to set aside the given objectivity and identify it with itself. The two processes are one and the same, the identification of its consciousness and self-consciousness.

i. Appetite or Instinctive Desire
§ 426

Self-consciousness, in its immediacy, is a singular, and a desire (appetite) - the contradiction implied in its abstraction which should yet be objective - or in its immediacy which has the shape of an external object and should be subjective. The certitude of one's self, which issues from the suppression of mere consciousness, pronounces the object null: and the outlook of self-consciousness towards the object equally qualifies the abstract ideality of such self-consciousness as null.

§ 427

Self-consciousness, therefore, knows itself implicit in the object, which in this outlook is conformable to the appetite. In the negation of the two one-sided moments by the ego's own activity, this identity comes to be for the ego. To this activity the object, which implicitly and for self-consciousness is self-less, can make no resistance: the dialectic, implicit in it, towards self-suppression exists in this case as that activity of the ego. Thus while the given object is rendered subjective, the subjectivity divests itself of its one-sidedness and becomes objective to itself.

§ 428

The product of this process is the fast conjunction of the ego with itself, its satisfaction realized, and itself made actual. On the external side it continues, in this return upon itself, primarily describable as an individual, and maintains itself as such; because its bearing upon the self-less object is purely negative, the latter, therefore, being merely consumed. Thus appetite in its satisfaction is always destructive, and in its content selfish: and as the satisfaction has only happened in the individual (and that is transient) the appetite is again generated in the very act of satisfaction.

§ 429

But on the inner side, or implicitly, the sense of self which the ego gets in the satisfaction does not remain in abstract self-concentration or in mere individuality; on the contrary - as negation of immediacy and individuality the result involves a character of universality and of the identity of self-consciousness with its object. The judgment or diremption of this self-consciousness is the consciousness of a 'free' object, in which ego is aware of itself as an ego, which however is also still outside it.

ii. Self-consciousness Recognitive
§ 430

Here there is a self-consciousness for a self-consciousness, at first immediately, as one of two things for another. In that other as ego I behold myself, and yet also an immediately existing object, another ego absolutely independent of me and opposed to me. (The suppression of the singleness of self-consciousness was only a first step in the suppression, and it merely led to the characterization of it as particular.) This contradiction gives either self-consciousness the impulse to show itself as a free self, and to exist as such for the other: - the process of recognition.

§ 431

The process is a battle. I cannot be aware of me as myself in another individual, so long as I see in that other an other and an immediate existence: and I am consequently bent upon the suppression of this immediacy of his. But in like measure I cannot be recognized as immediate, except so far as I overcome the mere immediacy on my own part, and thus give existence to my freedom. But this immediacy is at the same time the corporeity of self-consciousness, in which as in its sign and tool the latter has its own sense of self, and its being for others, and the means for entering into relation with them.

§ 432

The fight of recognition is a life and death struggle: either self-consciousness imperils the other's life, and incurs a like peril for its own - but only peril, for either is no less bent on maintaining his life, as the existence of his freedom. Thus the death of one, though by the abstract, therefore rude, negation of immediacy, it, from one point of view, solves the contradiction, is yet, from the essential point of view (i.e. the outward and visible recognition), a new contradiction (for that recognition is at the same time undone by the other's death) and a greater than the other.

§ 432n

To prevent any possible misunderstandings with regard to the standpoint just outlined, we must here remark that the fight for recognition pushed to the extreme here indicated can only occur in the natural state, where men exist as single, separate individuals; but it is absent in the civil society and the state because here the recognition for which the combatants fought already exists. For although the state may originate in violence, it does not rest on it; violence, in producing the state, has bought into existence only what is justified in and for itself, namely, laws and a constitution. What dominates in the state is the spirit of the people, custom and law. There man is recognised and treated as a rational being, as free, as a person; and the individual, on his side, makes himself worthy of this recognition by overcoming the natural state of his self-consciousness and obeying a universal, the will that is in essence and actuality will, the law; he behaves, therefore, towards others in a manner that is uniuversally valid, recognising them – as he wishes others to recognise him – as free, as persons. In the state, the citizen derives his honour from the post he fills, from the trade he follows, and from any other kind of working activity. His honour is worthy of the content that is substantial, universal, objective, and no longer dependent on an empty subjectivity; honour of this kind is still lacking in the natural state where individuals, whatever they may be and whatever they may do, want to compel others to recognise them.

§ 433

But because life is as requisite as liberty to the solution, the fight ends in the first instance as a one-sided negation with inequality. While the one combatant prefers life, retains his single self-consciousness, but surrenders his claim for recognition, the other holds fast to his self-assertion and is recognized by the former as his superior. Thus arises the status of master and slave.

In the battle for recognition and the subjugation under a master, we see, on their phenomenal side, the emergence of man's social life and the commencement of political union. Force, which is the basis of this phenomenon, is not on that account a basis of right, but only the necessary and legitimate factor in the passage from the state of self-consciousness sunk in appetite and selfish isolation into the state of universal self-consciousness. Force, then, is the external or phenomenal commencement of states, not their underlying and essential principle.

§ 434

This status, in the first place, implies common wants and common concern for their satisfaction - for the means of mastery, the slave, must likewise be kept in life. In place of the rude destruction of the immediate object there ensues acquisition, preservation, and formation of it, as the instrumentality in which the two extremes of independence and non-independence are welded together. The form of universality thus arising in satisfying the want, creates a permanent means and a provision which takes care for and secures the future.

§ 435

But secondly, when we look to the distinction of the two, the master beholds in the slave and his servitude the supremacy of his single self-hood resulting from the suppression of immediate self-hood, a suppression, however, which falls on another. This other, the slave, however, in the service of the master, works off his individualist self-will, overcomes the inner immediacy of appetite, and in this divestment of self and in 'the fear of his lord' makes 'the beginning of wisdom' - the passage to universal self- consciousness.

iii. Universal Self-consciousness
§ 436

Universal self-consciousness is the affirmative awareness of self in an other self: each self as a free individuality has his own 'absolute' independence, yet in virtue of the negation of its immediacy or appetite without distinguishing itself from that other. Each is thus universal self-consciousness and objective; each has 'real' universality in the shape of reciprocity, so far as each knows itself recognized in the other free man, and is aware of this in so far as it recognizes the other and knows him to be free.

This universal reappearance of self-consciousness - the notion which is aware of itself in its objectivity as a subjectivity identical with itself and for that reason universal - is the form of consciousness which lies at the root of all true mental or spiritual life - in family, fatherland, state, and of all virtues, love, friendship, valour, honour, fame. But this appearance of the underlying essence may also be severed from that essence, and be maintained apart in worthless honour, idle fame, etc.

§ 437

This unity of consciousness and self-consciousness implies in the first instance the individuals mutually throwing light upon each other. But the difference between those who are thus identified is mere vague diversity - or rather it is a difference which is none. Hence its truth is the fully and really existent universality and objectivity of self-consciousness - which is Reason.

Reason, as the Idea ( 213) as it here appears, is to be taken as meaning that the distinction between notion and reality which it unifies has the special aspect of a distinction between the self-concentrated notion or consciousness, and the object subsisting external and opposed to it.

§ 438

The essential and actual truth which reason is, lies in the simple identity of the subjectivity of the notion with its objectivity and universality. The universality of reason, therefore, whilst it signifies that the object, which was only given in consciousness qua consciousness, is now itself universal, permeating and encompassing the ego, also signifies that the pure ego is the pure form which overlaps the object and encompasses it.

§ 439

Self-consciousness, thus certified that its determinations are no less objective, or determinations of the very being of things, than they are its own thoughts, is Reason, which as such an identity is not only the absolute substance, but the truth that knows it. For truth here has, as its peculiar mode and immanent form, the self-centred pure notion, ego, the certitude of self as infinite universality. Truth, aware of what it is, is mind (spirit).

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