A novel approach to this old question has been adopted. This book will study Hegers account of what he regarded as the dosest "illustrations" of pure thinking, namely the way we find our thought in language and the way philosophieal truths are expressed in religious talk. The preface will indicate the problem and the approach. The introduction will examine three recent works on Hegel and suggest how they invite the sort of study which is pro posedhere.
Both are now past. The attitude of metaphysicians is more cautious, that oftheir opponents more receptive. Each side is better prepared to allow those who hold an assured place in the history of philosophy to speak for themselves and reveal their achievements and their limits.
In this atmosphere there is special reason, on both sides, for the study of Hege!. No one has made such extreme claims for metaphysical thought and developed it so extensively and systematieally. No one has demanded more from posterity in the criticism of such thought. Along with the Encyclopaedia and the Philosophy of Right might be added similar teaching-related writings from the Jena period, prepared as lectures but only published as such much later.
Here we will restrict the discussion to the first three categories. The term clearly suited Kant as he had distinguished the phenomena known through the faculty of sensibility from the noumena known purely conceptually. It is meant to function as an induction or education of the reader to the standpoint of purely conceptual thought from which philosophy can be done. As such, its structure has been compared to that of a Bildungsroman educational novel , having an abstractly conceived protagonist—the bearer of an evolving series of so-called shapes of consciousness or the inhabitant of a series of successive phenomenal worlds—whose progress and set-backs the reader follows and learns from.
Or at least this is how the work sets out: Hegel constructs a series of such shapes that maps onto the history of western European civilization from the Greeks to his own time. When Kant had broached the idea of a phenomenological propaedeutic to Lambert, he himself had still believed in the project of a purely conceptual metaphysics achievable by the use of the regressive or analytic method, but this project conceived as an exercise in theoretical reason was just what Kant in his later critical philosophy had come to disavow. Supporters of the post-Kantian interpretation of Hegel obviously interpret this work and its telos differently.
For example, it has been argued e. As Pinkard had pointed out in that work, this was a conception of the normatively structured practices of human reason found in the American pragmatist Wilfrid Sellars, the inspiration behind the Hegelian dimensions of analytic philosophers such as Willem deVries , Robert Brandom and John McDowell. Chapters 1 to 3 effectively follow a developmental series of distinct shapes of consciousness—jointly epistemological and ontological attitudes articulated by criteria which are, regarded from one direction, criteria for certain knowledge , and from the other, criteria for the nature of the objects of such knowledge.
In chapter 1, the attitude of Sense-certainty takes immediately given perceptual simples—the sort of role played by the so-called sense-data of early twentieth-century analytic epistemology, for example, with which a subject is purportedly acquainted as bare thises —as the fundamental objects known. Hegel is clear that these contents are not merely qualitative simples that are immediately apprehended , but comprehended instances of the conceptual determination of singularity [ Einzelheit ] Phen: The idea seems to be that for Hegel, the same content can play the roles played by both concepts and intuitions in Kant.
By the end of this chapter our protagonist consciousness and by implication, we the audience to this drama has learnt that the nature of consciousness cannot be as originally thought: The general truth that was learned about the apparent qualitative simples in Sense-certainty that they were instances of generals is now explicitly taken as the truth of the object of Perception Wahrnehmung —in German this term having the connotations of taking nehmen to be true wahr.
In contrast to the purported single object of Sense-certainty the object of Perception is taken as instantiating general properties: But this can be conceived in a variety of ways: Predictably, problems will be revealed in these various different ways of thinking of the nature of those everyday objects of our experience.
In fact, such collapse into a type of self-generated skepticism is typical of all the shapes we follow in the work, and there seems something inherently skeptical about such reflexive cognitive processes. But this is not the type of skepticism that is typical of early modern philosophy, such as that used by Descartes in his attempt to find some foundation of indubitability on which genuine knowledge can be built Forster As is clear from his treatment of ancient philosophy in the Lectures on the History of Philosophy , Hegel was attracted to the type of dialectic employed by Socrates in his efforts to get his interlocutors thinking about something beyond that given immediately in sensation LHP II: For Hegel, the ancient skeptics captured the skeptical moment of thought that is the means by which thought progresses beyond the particular categories that have given rise to contradictions.
Just as in the way a new shape of thought, Perception, had been generated from the internal contradictions that emerged within Sense-certainty, the collapse of any given attitude will be accompanied by the emergence of some new implicit criterion that will be the basis of a new emergent attitude. In the case of Perception, the emergent new shape of consciousness, the Understanding, explored in Chapter 3, is a shape identified with the type of scientific cognition that, rather than remaining on the level of the perceived object, posits underlying forces involved in the production of the perceptual episode.
The transition from Chapter 3 to Chapter 4, The Truth of Self-Certainty, also marks a more general transition from Consciousness to Self -consciousness. It is in the course of Chapter 4 that we find what is perhaps the most well-known part of the Phenomenology , the account of the struggle of recognition in which Hegel examines the inter-subjective conditions which he sees as necessary for any form of consciousness.
Such complex patterns of mutual recognition constituting objective spirit thereby provide the social matrix within which individual self-consciousnesses can exist as such. But this is only worked out in the text gradually. So we have to see how the protagonist self-consciousness could achieve this insight. It is to this end that we further trace the learning path of self-consciousness through the processes of reason in Chapter 5 before objective spirit can become the explicit subject matter of Chapter 6 Spirit. Thus Hegel might be seen as adopting the viewpoint that since social life is ordered by customs we can approach the lives of those living in it in terms of the patterns of those customs or conventions themselves—the conventional practices, as it were, constituting specific, shareable forms of life made actual in the lives of particular individuals who had in turn internalized such general patterns in the process of acculturation.
It is not surprising then that his account of spirit here starts with a discussion of religious and civic law. But for non-traditionalists it is not obvious that Hegel, in employing such phrases, is in any way committed to any metaphysical supra-individual conscious being or beings. The idea seems to be that humans in society not only interact, but that they collectively create relatively enduring cultural products repeatable stories, stageable dramas, and so forth within which members of that society can recognise patterns of their own communal life as so reflected.
Furthermore, such cultural products themselves provide conditions allowing individuals to adopt particular cognitive attitudes by appropriating their resources. For Kant, the practical knowledge of morality, orienting one within the noumenal world, exceeds the scope of theoretical knowledge, which had been limited to phenomena. Hegel, however, thought that philosophy had to unify theoretical and practical knowledge, and so the Phenomenology has further to go. Again, this is seen differently by traditionalists and revisionists. Revisionists, on the other hand, tend to see Hegel as furthering the Kantian critique into the very coherence of a conception of an in-itself reality that is beyond the limits of our theoretical but not practical cognition.
However we understand this, absolute knowing is the standpoint to which Hegel has hoped to bring the reader in this complex work. For most of the 20 th century it was not received with the enthusiasm that often marked the reception of Phenomenology of Spirit. First, as a work of logic most have regarded it as radically outdated and relying on an Aristotelian approach that was definitively surpassed in the later nineteenth century—a view promoted especially by Bertrand Russell in the early years of the twentieth.
Recently, this skepticism has started to change. Some advocate that the Science of Logic be read as a first-order ontological doctrine Doz or as a category theory that simultaneously represents structures of being and thought Houlgate b , and so as having very little to do with what has traditionally been known as logic. In short, taking the logic as a category theory opens up two general lines of interpretation: Those, such as the advocates of the revised metaphysical interpretation, interpreting Hegel as basically a metaphysician, typically stress the former, while post-Kantian interpreters typically stress the latter.
A glance at the table of contents of Science of Logic reveals the same triadic structuring among the categories or thought determinations discussed that has been noted among the shapes of consciousness in the Phenomenology. At the highest level of its branching structure there are the three books devoted to the doctrines of being, essence, and concept, while in turn, each book has three sections, each section containing three chapters, and so on.
In general, each of these individual nodes deals with some particular category. Reading into the first chapter of Book 1, Being, it is quickly seen that the transitions of the Logic broadly repeat those of the first chapters of the Phenomenology , now, however, as between the categories themselves rather than between conceptions of the respective objects of conscious experience. Thus, being is the thought determination with which the work commences because it at first seems to be the most immediate, fundamental determination that characterises any possible thought content at all.
Whatever thought is about, that topic must in some sense exist. Like those purported simple sensory givens with which the Phenomenology starts, the category being looks to have no internal structure or constituents, but again in a parallel to the Phenomenology , it is the effort of thought to make this category explicit that both undermines it and brings about new ones.
Being seems to be both immediate and simple, but it will show itself to be, in fact, only something in opposition to something else, nothing. The only way out of this paradox is to posit a third category within which they can coexist as negated Aufgehoben moments. This category is becoming , which saves thinking from paralysis because it accommodates both concepts.
Becoming contains being and nothing in the sense that when something becomes it passes, as it were, from nothingness to being. But these contents cannot be understood apart from their contributions to the overarching category: In general this is how the Logic proceeds: However, in turn the new category will generate some further contradictory negation and again the demand will arise for a further concept that can reconcile these opposed concepts by incorporating them as moments.
It is in terms of this category that we can think, along with Aristotle, of a thing having an underlying substrate within which properties inhere and which, unlike the properties themselves, cannot be thought in general terms, but only in terms of the category of singularity. And yet this will encounter a problem for the determinacy of this underlying substrate— it will have to find determining contrasts that allow it to be determinately conceived. In Book 2 of the Logic we will learn that the category of singularity will rely on particularity just as particularity has been shown to rely on singularlity.
Attempting to unravel the intricacies of the patterns of dependence between such categories will be task of this mammoth work, but here a general point might be made. Hegel only explicitly explores the details of the interactions of these determinations of conceptuality in his discussion of judgments and syllogisms in Book 3, The Doctrine of Concept, suggesting that concerns of logic as traditionally conceived are not as irrelevant to the Science of Logic as often thought.
However, the general point separating his approach from that of Spinoza clearly emerges earlier on. The other basic methodological principle of the Logic will be that this categorical infrastructure of thought is able to be unpacked using only the resources available to thought itself: For Kant, transcendental logic was the logic governing the thought of finite thinkers like ourselves, whose cognition was constrained by the necessity of applying general discursive concepts to the singular contents given in sensory intuitions, and he contrasted this with the thought of a type of thinker not so constrained—God—a thinker whose thought could directly grasp the world in a type of intellectual intuition.
It is also a science of actual content as well, and as such has an ontological dimension. Naturally the logical structures and processes implicit in essence-thinking are more developed than those of being-thinking. In contrast, the categories of Being-logic seem to govern thought processes that are restricted to qualitative phenomena and their co-ordinations.
But distinction between essence and appearance must itself instantiate the relation of determinate negation, and the metaphysical tendency to think of reality as made up of some underlying substrates in contrast to the superficial appearances will itself come to grief with the discovery that the notion of an essence is only meaningful in virtue of the appearance that it is meant to explain away.
In terms of the ultimate conceptual categories of singularity, particularity and universality, this discovery would be equivalent to grasping the idea that the singularity of the underlying, non-perceivable substrate or substantial form is meaningful only in relation to something that can bear the particular qualities that constitutes its worldly appearance.
For Hegel it is the complex modern, but pre-Kantian, versions of substance metaphysics, like those of Spinoza and Leibniz, that bring out in the most developed way the inherently contradictory nature of this form of thought. Book 3, The Doctrine of Concept, effects a shift from the Objective Logic of Books 1 and 2, to Subjective Logic, and metaphysically coincides with a shift to the modern subject-based category theory of Kant. Just as Kantian philosophy is founded on a conception of objectivity secured by conceptual coherence, Concept-logic commences with the concept of concept itself, with its moments of singularity, particularity and universality.
While in the two books of objective logic, the movement had been between particular concepts, being, nothing, becoming etc. S and P are thus meant 1 to be diverse, but 2 to form a unity—a situation we are now familiar with in terms of the Aufhebung of parts in a whole. Hegel takes this as signaling two ways of thinking of the relation of subject and predicate in the judgment. One can take subject and predicate terms as self-subsistent entities that are joined in the judgment, or one can take the judgment itself as the primary unit that splits into subject and predicate terms.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy/Summer Edition)
This in fact coincides with the two different ways in which logical relations have been conceived in the history of philosophy: From the former point of view one thinks of the subject term as designating a substance, typically grasped as an instance of a kind, in which properties, designated by predicate terms, inhere. From the latter point of view, one thinks of predicate terms as abstract universals that subsume or are satisfied by entities to which the subject terms refer, an approach which conceives of the propositional content, in Stoic terminology—the lecton , the what-is-said —as having a primacy over the parts.
Using a distinction from the Medievals, we can describe the first type of judgments as de re about things and the second as de dicto about sayings. These alternative joining and splitting approaches can in turn be applied to the relationship of judgments within inferences or syllogisms. In contrast with Kant, Hegel seems to go beyond a transcendental deduction of the formal conditions of experience and thought and to a deduction of their material conditions.
Such a psychologistic attitude was opposed by Hegel just as it was opposed by a figure as central to modern logic as Gottlob Frege. For Frege, thoughts are not mental, rather they are abstract entities like numbers, so the problem facing us is not how to go from mental contents to the concrete world, it is how to go from abstract to concrete ones. In fact Bertrand Russell had, at points in his career, entertained such an idea of propositional content itself.
Thus when Hegel characterizes some judgment structures typically perception based judgments as judgments of existence one might take the perceived thing itself as straightforwardly part of the content of the judgment. It is a concrete object, but not grasped as a concrete simple , but grasped in relation to what is judged of it in the predicate. And to the extent that judgments can be considered components of syllogisms, we might appreciate how syllogisms might have become contentful in a process that has culminated in the concrete syllogism of necessity.
In the Phenomenology it turned out that the capacity for a subject to entertain objects of consciousness such as perceptual ones was that such a subject was capable of self-consciousness. It then turned out that to be capable of self-consciousness the subject had to exist in a world with other embodied subjects whose intentions it could recognize. Formally considered we might think of this syllogism as the logical schematization of the most developed form of recognition in which thinkers acknowledge others as free thinkers. What we see here is a reprise of the conception of logos as an objective process running through the world as had been conceived by the ancient Stoics and neo-Platonists.
But it is now embedded not simply in the world as such—in nature —but in objectivized spirit , in human communities of thinkers. We are now returned to the domain of objectivity that had characterized Books 1 and 2 of the Science of Logic , but we might expect such a return from subjectivity to have effected a change in objectivity as earlier understood. To cross straight into a consideration of the objectivity of the human world of action and thought—spirit—would be to break the developmental pattern of the logic because thought about such a complex form of objective existence will presuppose thought about simpler forms.
And so the starting point for the consideration of objectivity will again be that of the simple object as something immediately grasped by thought. But this object can now be developed with that elaborate conceptual apparatus that has emerged in the preceding section.
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This adequate concept is the Idea , which, after tracking through considerations of the living individual and theoretical and practical cognition, emerges as the Absolute Idea. The first part of the Encyclopaedia is essentially a condensed version of his earlier Science of Logic , considered above. Was not Hegel simply trying to pre-empt the work of empirical scientists by somehow attempting to anticipate the very contents of their discoveries from logical considerations alone?
Krug is mentioned explicitly in a footnote at this point. In these sciences the empirical element is the sole confirmation of the hypothesis, so that everything has to be explained. In keeping with the more general idea that that philosophy attempts to discern or recognize concepts in representations Vorstellungen or empirical appearances, philosophy of nature investigates the conceptual structures that are manifest in the products of the scientific work that is done on the basis of those appearances.
Traces of conceptual determination will certainly survive in the most particularized product, although they will not exhaust its nature. Clearly, philosophy of nature is not in competition with the empirical natural sciences; it takes as its subject matter the results of those sciences in order to discover within them the particular ways in which the necessary categorial structures deduced in the logic are expressed.
In terms of topics treated, the Philosophy of Nature largely coincides with those treated in the third book of the Science of Logic when the logical processes and relations in question have returned to objectivity after the excursion into the subjectivity of formal logic at the outset of Book 3.
In Mechanism Hegel had reconstructed a movement in thought from a primitive cosmology in which all objects are conceived in relation to a central object the sun that exemplifies objecthood per se , to a system of objects within which any such self-sufficient center has been eliminated.
In this Newtonian world, that which gives order to the whole now has the ideality of law, but this is itself thought of as external to the system of objects. After an Introduction, Section One of the Philosophy of Nature , Mechanics, expands on this progression through considerations of space and time, matter considered as the diversity of individual bodies distributed in space and time, and finally the idea of universal gravitation as the determinate concept of such corporeal matter realized as idea PN: In the Newtonian laws of mechanics, however, the unity of matter is still only formal , and in Section Two, Physics, the determinateness of form is now considered as immanent within such corporeal matter.
Matter has individuality to the extent that it is determined within itself by having being-for-self developed within it. It is through this determination that matter breaks away from gravity and manifests itself as implicitly self-determining. While Mechanics clearly reflects the more space-filling conception of matter dominant in British thought, Physics is consistent with the more dynamic continental European conception of matter originating in Leibniz with his idea of living forces. Within this framework, Hegel attempts to organize a vast array of areas of contemporary physical investigation including meteorology, theories of sound and heat, light and electricity up to and including chemical processes which stand on the threshold of Organic Physics, dealt with in Section Three.
From such a conception, the first body to be considered is that of the earth itself , along with its history. Chapter Two moves to a consideration of the plant and Chapter Three, the animal organism. From the point of view of the actual content of scientific theories and approaches that Hegel summarizes and locates within his system, his Philosophy of Nature is clearly a product of his time.
Nevertheless, many of the underlying philosophical issues dealt with are still now far from settled. Within subjective spirit, we may anticipate that the first division, Anthropology, will follow on from topics with which Philosophy of Nature ends—the animal organism—and so it does. If soul and body are absolutely opposed to one another as is maintained by the abstractive intellectual consciousness,.
The community was, however, recognized by ancient metaphysics as an undeniable fact. The Seele of Anthropology should therefore not be confused with the modern subjective conception of mind, as exemplified by Descartes and other early modern philosophers. Aristotle had conceived of the soul as the form of the body, not as a substance separate from that of the body, and had attributed lesser souls to animals and even plants. Concomitantly, in this section Hegel describes spirit as sunk in nature, and treats consciousness as largely limited to what now might be described as sentient or phenomenal consciousness alone—the feeling soul.
Consciousness in the sense of the modern subject—object opposition only makes its appearance in the following second section, Phenomenology of Spirit, which, reprising key moments from the earlier book of that name, raises a problem for how we are to understand the relation of phenomenology and systematic philosophy: Given that the recognitive approach to self-consciousness presupposes that potential self-consciousnesses are in fact embodied and located in the world, we would expect the mind as treated in Psychology to be no less embodied as the way in which it is conceived in Anthropology.
What in fact distinguishes the mind of Psychology from that of Anthropology is its rational capacities, considered in terms that would now be described as normative rather than simply naturalistic, and this for Hegel clearly signals a difference in the way in which an actual psychological subject relates to his or her own body. The type of abstractive thinking found in Psychology does not, of course, as in mythical images of metempsychosis—a favorite trope of Platonists—involve the mind leaving the body.
This would count for Hegel as a piece of mythical picture thinking—a Vorstellung. Rather, it involves a certain capacity of the psychological subject to suspend unreflected-upon endorsement of the claims made on behalf of his or her body, for example, to subject the evidence given by the senses to rational scrutiny.
In this sense, we are witnessing within another mode, the type of progression seen in the movement in Phenomenology from shapes of consciousness to shapes of spirit. The internal Phenomenology of Spirit seems to play an important role in setting up this transition from Psychology to Objective Spirit Williams , but it might also be seen as crucial in relating the more cognitive dimensions of Psychology back to the theme of embodiment prominent in Anthropology Nuzzo a. Thus any naturalistic analysis is ultimately surpassed by a social and historical one, which itself cannot be understood as anti -naturalistic.
The philosophy of subjective spirit passes over into that of objective spirit, which concerns the objective patterns of social interaction and the cultural institutions within which spirit is objectified. The Philosophy of Right as it is more commonly called can be read as a political philosophy that stands independently of the system Tunick , despite the fact that Hegel intended it to be read against the background of the developing conceptual determinations of the Logic.
The text proper starts from the conception of a singular willing subject grasped from the point of view of its individual self-consciousness as the bearer of abstract right.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
While this conception of the individual willing subject possessing some kind of fundamental rights was in fact the starting point of many modern political philosophies such as that of Locke, for example the fact that Hegel commences here does not testify to any ontological assumption that the consciously willing and right-bearing individual is the basic atom from which all society can be understood as constructed—an idea at the heart of standard social contract theories.
Just as the categories of the Logic develop in a way meant to demonstrate that what had at the start been conceived as simple is in fact only made determinate in virtue of its being a functional part of some larger structure or process, here too it is meant to be shown that any simple willing and right-bearing subject only gains its determinacy in virtue of a place it finds for itself in a larger social, and ultimately historical, structure or process.
Thus, even a contractual exchange the minimal social interaction for contract theorists is not to be thought simply as an occurrence consequent upon the existence of two beings with natural animal wants and some natural calculative rationality, as in Hobbes, say; rather, the system of interaction within which individual exchanges take place the economy will be treated holistically as a culturally-shaped form of social life within which the actual wants of individuals as well as their reasoning powers are given determinate forms. Hegel is well aware of the distinctive modernity of this form of social-life.
Here too it becomes apparent that Hegel, taking up themes from the Phenomenology, follows Fichte in treating property in terms of a recognitive analysis of the nature of such a right. A contractual exchange of commodities between two individuals itself involves an implicit act of recognition in as much as each, in giving something to the other in exchange for what they want, is thereby recognizing that other as a proprietor of that thing, or, more properly, of the inalienable value attaching to it PR: Such an interactive constitution of the common will means that for Hegel that the identity among wills is achieved because of not in spite of co-existing differences between the particular wills of the subjects involved: Each wants something different from the exchange.
Hegel passes from the abstractly individualistic frame of Abstract Right to the social determinacies of Sittlichkeit or Ethical Life PR: In punishing the criminal the state makes it clear to its members that it is the acknowledgment of right per se that is essential to developed social life: This dependence shows how anthropological determinations do no simply disappear with the development of more psychological ones—they are preserved as well as negated as in the pattern of what is aufgehoben. It also shows the mutual dependence of the determinations of the singularity of the atomistic subjects of civil society and their particularity as members parts of holistically conceived families.
These two opposite but interlocking principles of social existence provide the basic structures in terms of which the component parts of the modern state are articulated and understood.
As both contribute particular characteristics to the subjects involved in them, part of the problem for the rational state will be to ensure that each of these two principles mediates the other, each thereby mitigating the one-sidedness of the other. Thus, individuals who encounter each other in the external relations of the market place and who have their subjectivity shaped by such relations also belong to families where they are subject to opposed influences.
Moreover, even within the ensemble of production and exchange mechanisms of civil society individuals will belong to particular estates the agricultural estate, that of trade and industry, and the universal estate of civil servants PR: Concretely, for Hegel it is representation of the estates within the legislative bodies that is to achieve this PR: As the estates of civil society group their members according to their common interests, and as the deputies elected from the estates to the legislative bodies give voice to those interests within the deliberative processes of legislation, the outcome of this process might give expression to the general interest.
To declare that for Hegel the monarch plays only a symbolic role here is to miss the fundamentally idealist complexion of his political philosophy. The expression of the general will in legislation cannot be thought of as an outcome of some quasi-mechanical process: If legislation is to express the general will, citizens must recognize it as expressing their wills; and this means, recognising it as willed. Thus while Hegel is critical of standard social contract theories, his own conception of the state is still clearly a complicated transformation of those of Rousseau and Kant.
From within the type of consciousness generated within civil society, in which individuals are grasped as bearers of rights abstracted from the particular concrete relationships to which they belong, Smithean optimism may seem justified. But this simply attests to the one-sidedness of this type of abstract thought, and the need for it to be mediated by the type of consciousness based in the family in which individuals are grasped in terms of the way they belong to the social body.
In fact, the unfettered operation of the market produces a class caught in a spiral of poverty. Hegel, however, did not draw this conclusion. Rather, the economy was to be contained within an over-arching institutional framework of the state, and its social effects offset by welfarist intervention. The final 20 paragraphs of the Philosophy of Right and the final 5 paragraphs of objective spirit section of the Encyclopaedia are devoted to world history die Weltgeschichte , and they also coincide with the point of transition from objective to absolute spirit.
We have already seen the relevance of historical issues for Hegel in the context of the Phenomenology of Spirit , such that a series of different forms of objective spirit can be grasped in terms of the degree to which they enable the development of a universalizable self-consciousness capable of rationality and freedom.
Just the same dialectic that we have first seen operative among shapes of consciousness in the Phenomenology and among categories or thought-determinations in the Logic can be observed here. An historical community acts on the principle that informs its social life, the experience and memory of this action and the consequences it brings—a memory encoded in the stories that circulate in the community—results in this principle becoming available for the self-consciousness of the community, thus breaking the immediacy of its operation.
This loss of immediacy brings about the decline of that community but gives rise to the principle of a new community:. It is a dialectic, however, which only passes through some communities. The actual world is full of contingencies from which empirical historians will have already abstracted in constructing their narratives, for example, when writing from particular national perspectives. Hegel clearly thinks that there is a way of cognitively relating to history in a way that goes beyond the standpoint of consciousness and the understanding—the standpoint of what we now think of as informing scientific history.
From the perspective of consciousness history is something that stands over against me qua something known, but from the standpoint of self -consciousness I grasp this history as the history of that which contributes to me , qua rational and free being. Assembled and published in the years immediately following his death, these were the works through which Hegel was to become known as perhaps the most significant synoptic theorist of these cultural phenomena.
Rather than to attempt to capture the richness of his thought here in a few paragraphs, which would be bound to be futile, I will simply try to allude to how this material is meant to draw upon the conceptual resources noted so far.
Hegel: From Logic to Nature
Hegel was writing in a time of intense development of ideas about the arts. Kant had treated aesthetic experience largely in relation to the experience of the beauty of nature, but for Hegel aesthetics becomes primarily about art. The reason for this is simple: The peculiarity of art lie in the sensuousness of the medium in which its content is objectified. Again, the romantic or modern here will be characterized by the depth of a form of individual subjective consciousness that is largely missing in antiquity.
But those in Greek antiquity, where psychological determinations were closer to anthropological ones, had lived with a comfortable felt unity between spirit and body and between the individual and society. A characteristic of the Greeks was their Heimatlichkeit —their collective feeling of being at home in the world as they were each at home in their bodies.
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- Hegel and Evolution by Stephen Houlgate.
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Modern subjectivity is thereby purchased as the expense of a sense of abstraction and alienation from the actual world and from the self—a consequence of the way the modern subject has become related to his or her body in a different way. The symbolic art of pantheistic religions of the East used natural elements to symbolize the gods of their cultures: Zoroastrianism had taken light, for example, to symbolize the divine Aes I: A new form of art will be needed to resolve these contradictions, and this is provided by romantic art.
But the material for this form will not come from within art itself. While Greek art can be understood as simultaneously belonging to aesthetic and religious realms, romantic art results from a fission within the symbolic realm of what in the Phenomenology Hegel had treated as a single category, Art-Religion. The transition from classical art to romantic art represents both a liberation of art from religion and of religion from art and the sensuous. Thus Christianity, whose rituals centered around the myth of God becoming man in the person of Jesus, had avoided the type of reliance on the beautiful productions of art in the way that characterized Greek religions.
The shift from classical to romantic art, then, represents a broader shift between a culture whose final authority was an aesthetic one and a culture in which this authority was handed over to religion, and thus represents a shift in the authoritativeness of different cognitive forms. While officially declaring that philosophy and religion had the same content —God—Hegel claimed that the conceptual form of philosophy dealt with this concept in a more developed way than that which was achievable in the imagistic representational form of religion.
The limitations of Greek at-homeness in the world had to do with the inability of Greek life and thought to sustain that dimension of human existence that is reflected in the category of singularity of the subject. The fate of Socrates had thus represented the ultimate incompatibility with the Greek form of life itself of the type of individual, reflective individual who could reflectively bring any belief into question and take a stand against convention.
Similar incompatibilities could be seen reflected in Greek tragedies such as Antigone. With the decline of the Greek world and the rise of the Roman one, movements such as Stoicism and Christianity would come to give expression to an individual point of view, but under the social conditions of Rome or the Middle Ages such a subjective point of view could only be an alienated one attracted to what, in contrast to Greek concreteness, would be seen as abstractions.