The Phenomenology of Mind HTML version

opposite suit my indeterminate tautological knowledge just as well, and make that the law. But whether this
or the opposite determination is the right, that is settled just as it stands (an und fer sich). I might, for my own
part, have made the law whichever I wanted, and neither of them just as well, and am, by my beginning to
test them, thereby already on an immoral track. That the right is there for me just as it stands−−this places me
within the substance of ethical reality: and in this way that substance is the essence of self−consciousness.
But self−consciousness, again is its actualization and its existence, its self, and its will.
1. Sophocles, Antigone,
[[Translator's comments: In the preceding section there is analysed the attempt on the part of individuality to
operate as its own legislator and judge of laws holding for individuals. Individuality may claim the privilege
of enunciating laws universal in character but having their source and inspiration solely in the single
individual. Such laws can at best only be regulative and cannot be constitutive of the substance of
individuality; for the substance of individuality necessarily involves other individuals within it. In short
individuality is itself only realized as a part of a concrete whole of individuals: its life is drawn from common
life in and with others. To attempt to enunciate laws from itself as if it could create the conditions of its own
inherent universality can only issue in one result: laws are furnished without the content which gives those
laws any meaning, or else the laws and the content remain from first to last external to one another. But if
laws are purely formal, they cease to be i.e. constitutive conditions of individuality. Hence the attempt above
described is sure to break down by its own futility. What is wanted to give the laws meaning is the concrete
substance of social life: and when this concrete substance is provided ipso facto the attempt of individuality
to create laws disappears, for these laws are already found in operation in social life. Only such laws have
reality. But this involves the further step that individuality is only realized, only finds its true universal
content, in and with the order of a society. Here alone is individuality what it is in truth, at once a particular
focus of self−consciousness, and a realization of universal mind. This condition where individuality is
conscious of itself only in and with others, and conscious of the common life as its own, is the stage of
spiritual existence. Spiritual existence and social life thus go together. The following section begins the
analysis of this phase of experience, which extends from the simplest form of sociality−−the Family−−up to
the highest experience of universal mind−−Religion.
The immediately succeeding section may be taken as the keystone of the whole arch of experience traversed
in the Phenomenology. Here it is pointed out that all the preceding phases of experience have not merely been
preparing the way f or what is to follow, but that the various aspects, hitherto treated as separate moments of
experience, are in reality abstractions from the life of concrete spirit now to be discussed and analysed.
It is noteworthy that from this point onwards the argument is less negative in its result either directly or
indirectly, and is more systematic and constructive. This is no doubt largely because hitherto individual mind
as such has been under review, and this is an abstraction from social mind or spiritual existence.]]
REASON is spirit, when its certainty of being all reality has been raised to the level of truth, and reason is
consciously aware of itself as its own world, and of the world as itself. The development of spirit was
indicated in the immediately preceding movement of mind, where the object of consciousness, the category
pure and simple, rose to be the notion of reason. When reason "observes", this pure unity of ego and
existence, the unity of subjectivity and objectivity, of for−itself−ness and in−itself−ness−this unity is
immanent, has the character of implicitness or of being; and consciousness of reason finds itself. But the true
nature of "observation" is rather the transcendence of this instinct of finding its object lying directly at hand,