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Phenomenology of the Spirit
G.W.F. Hegel, 1807

trans A.V. Miller


  • "the more conventional opinion gets fixated on the antithesis of truth and falsity, the more it tends to expect that a given philosophical system to be either accepted or contradicted; and hence only finds acceptance or rejection.  It does not comprehend the diversity of philosophical systems as the progressive unfolding of truth, but rather sees simple disagreements.  The bud disappears in the bursting-forth of the blossom, and one might say the former is refuted by the latter...  their fluid nature makes them moments of an organic unity in which they not only do not conflict, but in which each is as necessary as the other; and their mutual necessity alone constitutes the life of the whole." (2)
  • "Since tthe Substance of the individual, the World Spirit itself, has had the patience to go through shapes over the long passage of time, and to take upon itself the huge labor of world-history, in which it embodied in each shape as much of its entire content as that shape was capable of holding, and since it could not have attained consciousness of itself by any lesser effort, the individual certainly cannot by the nature of the case comprehend his own substance more easily.  Yet at the same time he does have less trouble, since all this has already been implicitly accomplished; the content is already the actuality reduced to a possibility, its immediacy overcome, and the embodied shape reduced to abbreviated, simple determination of thought. (17)
  • "The analysis of an idea, as it used to be carried out, was in fact nothing else than ridding it of the form in which it had become familiar.  To break an idea up into its original elements is to return to its moments, which... constitute the immediate property of the self." (18)
  • "...This is the tremendous power of the negative; it is the energy of thought, of the pure 'I'.  Death, if that is what we want to call this non-actuality, is of all things the most dreadful, and to hold fast what is dead requires the greatest strength... But the life of Spirit is not the life that shrinks from death and keeps itself untouched by devastation, but rather the life that endures it and maintains itself in it.  It wins its truth only when, in utter dismemberment, it finds itself... Spirit is this power only by looking the negative in the face... This tarrying with the negative is the magical power that converts it into being." (19)
  • "This is why some of the ancients concieved of the void as the principle of motion, for they rightly saw the moving principle as the negative..."(21)
  • "Truth is not a minted coin that can be given and pocketted ready-made.  Nor is there such a thing as the false, any more than there is something evil... they are mere universals, though each has its own essence as against the other." (22)
  • "The way and the means by which the result [of mathematical proofs] is brought forth belong entirely to the cognitive process.  In philosophical cognition too, the way in which the outer existence qua existence of a thing comes about, is distinct from the way its essence or inner nature comes to be." (24)
  • The evident character of this defective cognition of which mathematics is so proud, and on which it plumes itself before philosophy, rests solely on the poverty of its purpose... Its purpose or notion is magnitude.  It is just this relationship that is unessential, lacking the Notion.... [it] does not touch the thing itself." (25)
  • "Truth is its own self-movement, whereas the method [of mathematics, with its axioms and proofs and sets and theorums] just described is the mode of cognition that remains external to its material."(28)
  • "What results from this method of labelling all that is in heaven and earch with the few determinations of the general schema, and pigeonholing everything in this way is nothing less than a... synoptic table like a skeleton with scraps of paper stuck all over it, or like the closed and labelled boxes in a grocer's stall.... and just as the flesh and blood beens stripped from this skeleton, and the no longer living 'essence' has been packed away in these boxes, so in the report the living essence of the matter has been stripped away or boxed up dead.
  • "In the proposition, 'God is being,' the Predicate is 'being'; it has the significance of something substantial in which the Subject is dissolved.  'Being' is here meant to be not a Predicate, but rather the essence; it seems, consequently, that God ceases to be what he is from his position in the proposition, viz, a fixed Subject...  Similarly when one says: 'the actual is the universal', the actual as subject disappears in its predicate.  The universal is not meant to have merely the significance of a predicate, as if the proposition asserted only that the actual is universal; on the contrary, the universal is meant to express the essence of the actual. --Thinking therefore loses the firm objective basis it had in the subject, when, in the predicate, it is thrown back into the subject, and when, in the predicate, it does not return into itself, but into the subject of the content." (39) [uhhhh....]
  • "In place of the long process of culture toward genuine philosophy, a movement as rich as it is profound, through which Spirit achieves knowlege, we are offered as quite equivilent either direct revelation from Heaven, or the sound common sense that has never laboured over, or informed itself regarding, other knowlege or genuine philosophy; and we are assured that these are quite as good substitutes as some claim chicory is for coffee.  It is not a pleasant experience to see ignorance, and a crudity without form or taste, which cannot focus its thought on a single abstract proposition, still less on a connected chain of them, claiming at one moment to be the freedom of thought and tolleration, and at the next to be even genius." (42) [say no more! I shall labour!]
  • "For it is the nature of humanity to press onward to agreement with others; human nature only really exists in an achieved community of minds." (43) [hence the renunciates path?]


  • "Consciousness, however, is explicitly the Notion of itself.  Hence it is something that goes beyond limits, and since these limits are its own, it is something that goes beyond itself.   With the positing of a single particular the beyond is also established for consciousness, even if it is only alongside the limited object as in the case of spatial intuition." (51)

A. Consciousness

1. Sense certainty: or the 'this' and 'meaning' [meinen]

  • "In this respect we can tell those who assert the truth and certainty of the reality of sense-objects that they should go back to the most elementary schools of wisdom, viz. the ancient Eleusinian Mysteries of Ceres and Bacchus, and that they have still to learn the secret meaning of the eating of bread and the drinking of wine.  For he who is initiated into these mysteries not only comes to doubt the being of sensuous things, but to dispair of it; in part he brings about the nothingness of such things himself in his dealings with them, and in part he sees them reduce themselves to nothingness.  Even the animals are not shut out freom this wisdom but, on the contrary, show themselves to be most profoundly initiated into it; for they do not just stand idly in front of sensuous things as if these possessed intrinsic being, but, dispairing of their reality, and completely assured of their nothingness, they fall to without ceremony and eat them up." (65) [ummm...]
  • "If they wanted to say 'this' bit of paper which they mean, it they actually wanted to say it, then this is impossible, because  the sensuous This that is meant cannot be reached by language, which belongs to consciousness...  But if I wanted to help out language--which has the divine nature of directly reversing the meaning of what is said, if making it into something else and thus not letting what is meant get into words at all--...I point it out as a Here, which is a Here of Heres... i.e. a universal. (66)

II. Perception: or the Thing and Deception

  • "'I' is a universal and the object is a universal.  That principle has arisen for us, and therefore the way we take in perception is no longer something that just happens to us like sense-certainty; on the contrary, it is logically necessitated."(67)
  • The wealth of sense knowlege belongs to perception, not to immediate certainty, for which it was only the source of instances; for only perception contains negation, that is, difference or manifoldness within its own essense." (67)
  • "The Thing is the Also, or the universal medium in which the many properties subsist apart from one another, without touching or cancelling one another; and when so taken, the Thing is perceived as what is true... Positing these properties as a oneness is the work of consciousness alone which, therefore, has to prevent them from collapsing into into oneness in the Thing.  To this end it brings in the 'insofar', in this way perserving the properties as mutually external, and the Thing as the Also." (73)
  • "...since it becomes a collection of 'matters' and, instead of being a One, becomes merely an enclosing surface." (74) [Deleuze?]
  • "The conceptual necessity of the experience through which consciousness discovers that the Thing is demolished by the very determinateness that constitutes its essense and its being-for-self, can be summarized as follows.  The thing is posited as being for itself, or as the absolute negation of all otherness, therefore as purely self-related negationl but the negation that is self-related is the suspension of itself; in other words, the Thing has its essential being in another Thing." (76)
  • "These empty abstractions of a 'singleness' and a 'universality' opposed opposed to it, and of an 'essence' that is linked with something unessential--a non-essential aspect which is necessary all the same--these are powers whose interplay is the perceptual understanding, often called 'sound common sense'... it sets itself against the truth and holds the opinion that philosophy is concerned only with mental entities.  As a matter of fact philosophy does have to do with them too,...recognizes them in their specific determinateness, and is therefore master over them, whereas perceptual understanding takes them for the truth and is led on by them from one error to another." (77-8) [refutes madyamika]

III Force and the understanding: Appearance and the supersensible world

  • "In general, it is clear that this movement is nothing else than the movement of perceiving, in which the two sides, the percipient and what is perceived, are indistinguishably one in the apprehension of the True, and yet each side is at the same time equally reflected into itself, or has a being of its own.  Here, these two sides are moments of Force; they are just as much in a unity, as this unity, which appears as the middle term over against the independent extremes, is a perpetual diremption [?] of itself into just these extremes which exist only through this process." (82-3)
  • "But since force must be this oneness which it is not as yet posited as being, this 'other' approaches it, soliciting it to reflect itself into itself; in other words, Force supercedes its expression.  But in fact Force is itself this reflectedness-into-self, or this supersession of expression." (83)
  • "Force, as actual, exists simply and solely in its expression, which at the same time is nothing else than a supersession of itself.  THis actual Force, when though of as free from its expression and as being for itself, is Force driven back into itself; but in fact this determinateness, as we have found, is itself only a moment of Force's expression.  Thus the truth of Force remains only the thought of it; the moments of its actuality, their substances and their movement, collapse unresistingly into an undifferentiated unity..." (86)
  • "The inner world is, for consciousness, still a pure beyond, becuase consciousness does not as yet find itself in it.  It is empty, for it is merely the nothingness of appearance, and positively the simple or unitary universal." (88)
  • "The inner world, or supersensible beyond, has, however, come into being: it comes from the world of appearance which has mediated it; in other words, appearance is its essence and, in fact its filling. ...The world of appearance is not the world of sense-knowlege and perception as a world that positively is, but this world posited as superseded or as in truth an inner world." (89)
  • "The unification of all laws in universal attraction [of physics] expresses no other content than just the mere notion of law itself, wihch is posited in that law in the form of being.  Universal attraction merely asserts that everything has a constant difference in relation to other things.  The Understanding imagines that in this unification it has found a universal law which expresses universal reality as such; but in fact it has only found the Notion of law itself, although in such a way that what it is saying is that all reality is in its own self, conformable to law." (91)
  • "For motino is not itself thought of as something simple, or as a pure essence, but as already divided; time and space are in themselves its independant parts or essences, or, distance and velocity are modes of being or ways of thinking, either of which can well be without the other; and motion is, therefore, only their superficial relation, not their essence."(94)
  • "In another sphere, revenge on an enemy is, according to the immediate law, the supreme satisfaction of the injured individuality.  THis law however, which bids me to confront him ans himself a person who does not treat me as such, and in fact bids me to destroy him as an individuality--this law is turned around by the principle of the other world into its opposite: the reinstatement of myself as a person through the destruction of the alien individuality is turned into self-destruction." [?] (97)
  • "But through the notion of inner difference, these unlike and indifferent moments, space and time, etc. are a difference which is no difference, or only a difference of what is self-same, and its essence is a unity." (99)
  • "This simple infinity, or the absolute Notion, may be called the simple essence of life, the soul of the world, the universal blood, whose omnipresence is neither dulled nor disturbed nor interrupted by any difference, but rather is itself every difference, as also their supersession; it pulsates within itself but does not move, inwardly vibrates, yet is at rest.  It is self-identical, for the differences are tautological; they are differences that are none.  This self-identical essence is therefore related only to itself; to itself implies relationship to other, and the relation-to-self is rather a self-sundering; or, in other words, that very self-identicalness is an inner-difference." (100)
  • "Understanding falls short of infinity as such, since it again apportions to two worlds, or to two substantial elements, that which is a difference in itself--the self-repulsion fot he selfsame and the self-attraction of the unlike." (102)
  • "We see that in the inner world of appearance, the Understanding is truth comes to know nothing else but appearance, but not in the shape of a play of Forces, but rather that play of Forces in its absolutely universal moments and in their movement; in fact, the Understanding experiences only itself.  Raised above perception, consciousness exhibits itself closed in a unity with the supersensible world through the mediating term of appearance, through which it gazes into this background.  The two extremes [of this syllogism], the one of the pure inner world, the other, that of the inner being gazing into this pure inner world, have now coincided, and just as they, qua extremes, have vanished, so too has the middle term, as something other than these extremes, also vanished.  This curtain [of appearance] hanging before the inner world is therefore drawn away, and we have the inner being [the 'I'] gazing into the inner world--the vision of the undifferentiated selfsame being, which repels itself from itself, posits itself as an inner being containing different moments, but for which equally these moments are immediately not different--self-consciousness." (102-3)
  • what happens next is "an even more complex movement" [aaah]

B. Self Consciousness

IV The Truth of Self-Certainty

  • "In the previous modes of certainty what is true for consciousness is something other than itself.  But the Notion of this truth vanishes in the experience of it... this in-itself turns out to be a mode in which the object is only for an other.  The Notion of the object is superceded in the actual object, or the first immediate presentation of the object is superceded in experience..." (104)
  • "Self-consciousness which is simply for itself and directly characterizes its object as a negative element, or is primarily desire, will therefore, on the contrary, learn through experience that the object that the object is independent. ...Essence is infinity as the supersession of all distinctions." (106)
  • "The unity is divided within itself because it is an absolutely negative or infinite unity; and because it is what subsists, the difference, too, has independence only in it.
    "Life in the universal fluid medium, a passive separating-out of the shapes becomes, just by so doing, a movement of those shapes or become life as a process." (107)
  • "The simple 'I' is this genus or the simple universal, for which the differences are not differences only by its being the negative essence of the shaped independent moments; and self-consciousness is thus certain of itself only by superseding this other that presents itself to self-consciousness as an independent life; self-consciousness is Desire.  Certain of the nothingness of this other, it explicitly affirms that this nothingness is for it the truth of the other; it destroys the independent object and thereby gives itself the certainty of itself as a true certainty, a certainty which has become explicit for self-consciousness itself in an objective manner." (109)
  • "The notion of self-consciousness is only completed in these three moments; a) the pure, undifferentiated 'I' is its first immediate object. b) But this immediacy is itself an absolute mediation, it is only as supersession of the independent object, in other words, it is Desire.  The satisfaction of Desire is, it is true, the reflection of self-consciousness into itself, or the certainty that it has become truth. c) But the truth of this certainty is really a double reflection, the duplication of self-consciousness." (110)
  • "...And it is only through staking one's life that freedom is won.
    Similarly, just as each stakes his own life, so each must seek the other's death." (114)
  • "[Self-consciousness and Life] exist as two opposed shapes of consciousness; one is independant consciousness whose essential nature is to be for itself, the other is the dependent consciousness whose essential nature is simply to live, or to be for another.  The former is lord, the other is bondsman." (115)
  • "However, the feeling of absolute power both in general, and in the particular form of service, is only implicitly this dissolution, and although the fear of the lord is indeed the beginning of wisdom, consciousness is not therein aware that it is a being-for-self.  Through work, however, the bondsman becomes conscious of what he truly is... [the] negative middle term, or the formative activity is at the same time the individuality or pure being-for-self of consciousness which now, in the work outside of it, acquires an element fo permanence." (117-8)
  • "Without the discipline of service and obedience, fear remains at the formal stage, and does not extend to the known real world of existence... If consciousness fashions the thing without that initial absolute fear, it is only an empty self-centered attitude... If it has not experienced absolute fear but only some lesser dread, the negative being has remained for it something external, its substance has not been infected by it through and through." (119)
  • "Self-will is the freedom which entrenches itself in some particularity and is still in bondage, while Stoicism is the freedom which always comes directly out of bondage and returns into the pure universality of thought." (121)
  • "But this self-identity of thought is again only the pure form in which nothing is determined.  The True and the Good, wisdom and virtue, the general terms beyond which Stoicism cannot get, are therefore in a general way, no doubt uplifting, but since they cannot in fact produce any expansion of the content, they soon become tedious." (122)
  • "Skepticism is the realization of that of which Stoicism was only the Notion, and is the actual experience of what the freedom of thought is. This is in itself the negative and must exhibit itself as such." (123)
  • "There has arisen for consciousness the idea of Reason, of the certainty that, in its particular individuality, it has being absolutely in itself, or is all reality." (138)
  • "Reason appeals to the self-consciousness of each and every consciousness: 'I am I, my object and my essence is I'; and no one will deny Reason this truth.  But in basing itself on this appeal, Reason sanctions the truth of the other certainty, viz. that there is for me an 'other'; that an other than 'I' is object and essence for me...." (141)
  • "Reason is the certainty of being all reality" (142)
  • "This idealism is involved in this contradiction because it asserts the abstract Notion of Reason to be the True; consequently, reality directly comes to be for it a reality that is just as much not that of Reason. while Reason is at the same time supposed to be all reality.  This Reason remains a restless searching and in its very searching declares that the satisfaction of finding is sheer impossibility." (145)
  • "Reason in its observational activity approaches things in the belief that it truly apprehends them as sensuous things opposite to the 'I'; but what it actually does, contradicts this belief, for it apprehends them intellectually, it transforms their sensuous being into Notions... it maintains, in fact, tht it is only as Notions that things have truth." (147)
  • "The universal is only that which remains identical to itself." (147)
  • "That a stone falls, is true for consciousness because in its heaviness the stone has in and for itself that essential relation to the earth which is expressed in falling.  Consciousness thus has in experience the being of the law, but it also has too the law in the form of a Notion; and it is only because of the two aspects together that the law is true for consciousness.  The law is valid as a law because it is manifested in the world of appearance, and is in its own self a Notion." (152)
  • "Matter is not an existent thing, but is being in the form of a universal, or in the form of a Notion." (154)
  • "In the Notion of acid lies the Notion of base, just as the Notion of positive electricity implies that of negative."
  • "...A teleological relation, [is] a relation that is external to the related terms, and therefore really the antithesis of a law."
  • "In the abstract shape of  [bodily] systems as such, the organism is apprehended from the abstract aspect of a dead existence; its moments so taken pertain to anatomy and the corpse, not to cognition and the living organism.  In such parts, the moments have really ceased to be, for they cease to be processes."(166)
  • [fuck I'm here to do note taking and by force of habit reading instead]
  • "A new field thus opens up for observation in the behaviour of consciousness in its actuality.  Psychology contains the collection of laws in accordance with which Spirit relates itself in various ways to the various modes of its actuality as an otherness already given." (182)
  • "We should have a double gallery of pictures, one if which would be the reflection of the other: the one, the gallery of external circumstances which completely determine and circumscribe the individual, the other, the same gallery translated into the form in which those forms are present in the conscious individual: the former the spherical surface, the latter the centre which represents that surface within it." (184)
  • "Psychological observation discovers no law for the relation of self-consciousness to actuality, or to the world over against it; and, through mutual indifference to both, ti is forcer fo fall back on the peculiar determinateness of real individuality which exists in and for itself, or contains the antithesis of being for self and being in itself effaced within its own mediation.  Individuality has now become the object for observation, or the object to which observation now turns." (185)
  • This outer, in the first place, acts only as an organ in making the inner visible or, in general, a being-for-another; for the inner in so far as it is in the organ, is the activity itself.  The speaking mouth, the working hand, and if you like too, the legs too are organs of performance and actualization which have within them the action qua action or, the inner as such. (187)
  • "If now the outer shape could express the inner individuality only insofar as that shape is neither an organ nor an action, hence only in so far as it is a passive whole, it would behave as an existent thing, which passively received the inner as an alien element into its passive existence, and thereby became a sign of it--an external contingent expression whose actual aspect lacked any meaning of its own--a language whose sounds and sound-combinations are not the real thing itself, but are linked with it by sheer caprice and are contingent in relation to it." (188)
  • "The manifest immediate being of the individuality is... for the individuality merely a sign indifferent to what is signified,... for... it is as much its countenance as its mask which it can lay aside." (191)
  • "The true being of a man is rather his deed... It is true that, in the deed, he is not explicitly present as Spirit; but when it is a question of his being qua being, and on the one hand, the twofold being of bodily shape and deed are contrasted, each purporting to be what he actually is, then it is the deed alone that must be affirmed as his genuine being."
  • "Brain and spinal chord, however, may be considered as the immediate presence of self-consciousness, a presence which abides within itself, is not objective and also does not look outwards... when, however, anyone thinks of the proper location of Spirit's outer existence, it is not the back that comes to mind but only the head." [ah, and therein lies the problem...] (196-7)
  • the thing itself = Notion
  • "Look and gesture, tone of voice, even a pillar or post erected on a desert island, directly proclaim that they mean something else than what they simply are at first sight.  They at once profess to be signs, since they have in them a particularity which points to something else." (201) [Ranting about physiognomy and phrenology i.e. "I regard a bone as your reality. To reply to such judgement with a box on the ear [as before, but]... here the retort would, strictly speaking, have to go the length of beating in the skull of one making such a judgement, in order to demonstrate in a manner just as palpable as his wisdom, that for a man, a bone is nothing in itself, much less his true reality." (205)].
  • <stopping for "now" on 211> [stopping for months? years?]
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