The Phenomenology of Mind HTML version

It therefore possesses its own peculiar content and operates in a process peculiar to itself. Its aim is to become
completely conscious of its own nature; and to acquire this it must develop itself through its various phases.
The process of development is from immediate to mediate, from what it is implicitly to what it is explicitly.
The first step therefore is reason as immediate−where universal self is simply and directly aware of itself in
the universal object. The operation of concrete mind at this stage is found where reason "observes". The
analysis of observation as this operates in the various domain covered by the empirical sciences is thus the
subject−matter of the following section. The processes of these various sciences are assumed in Hegel's
analysis. Observation must change in character with the objects observed; hence the difference between
observation of inorganic and organic nature, observation of mind, and of the relation of mind and nature. The
difficulties reason has to face in this operation, and the contradictions into which it falls in seeking to find
laws, etc., to satisfy its aim, form the substance of the following analysis.
The nature of reason as here conceived is the source and origin of philosophical Idealism, whether the
idealism be one−sided or absolute. Idealism is in fact the philosophical expression of the principle of reason,
just as the various empirical sciences may be said to be the development, in the several ways which
experience dictates, of the operation of rational observation. Hence the introductory pages of the following
analysis are devoted to a statement of the character of true and false idealism.
The historical material behind the abstract argument elaborated here is provided by the awakened scientific
spirit that appeared after the Reformation, and the methods and results of the empirical sciences at the time
Hegel wrote. In particular the physiological conceptions of "irritability", "sensibility" and "reproduction",
discussed on p. 302 ff., were first formulated by Haller, Elementa Physiologiae (1757−66). For a list of the
chief scientific works which appeared shortly before or about the time the following analysis was written, and
which doubtless provided art of the material for the analysis, see Merz, History of European Thought, Vol. 1,
pp. 82−83.
The polemical criticism which runs through this as through almost every section of the work is directed
against the one−sided idealism of Hegel's predecessors and the imperfect conception of scientific method
displayed by the current science of nature.]]
WITH the thought which consciousness has laid hold of, that the individual consciousness is inherently
absolute reality, consciousness turns back into itself. In the case of the unhappy consciousness, the inherent
and essential reality is a "beyond" remote from itself. But the process of its own activity has in its case
brought out the truth that individuality, when completely developed, individuality which is a concrete actual
mode of consciousness, is made the negative of itself, i.e. the objective extreme;−−in other words, has forced
it to make explicit its self−existence, and turned this into an objective fact. In this process it has itself become
aware, too, of its unity with the universal, a unity which, seeing that the individual when sublated is the
universal, is no longer looked on by us as falling outside it, and which, since consciousness maintains itself in
this its negative condition, is inherently in it as such its very essence. Its truth is what appears in the process
of synthesis−−where the extremes were seen to be absolutely held apart−−as the middle term, proclaiming to
the unchangeable consciousness that the isolated individual has renounced itself, and to the individual
consciousness that the unchangeable consciousness is no longer for it an extreme, but is one with it and
reconciled to it. This mediating term is the unity directly aware of both, and relating them to one another; and
the consciousness of their unity, which it proclaims to consciousness and thereby to itself, is the certainty and
assurance of being all truth.
From the fact that self−consciousness is Reason, its hitherto negative attitude towards otherness turns round
into a positive attitude. So far it has been concerned merely with its independence and freedom; it has sought