The Phenomenology of Mind HTML version

incorporeal and yet objective existence.
We have now to see what turn its result takes, and what new shape this activity of observation will, in
consequence, assume. As the outcome and truth of this experimentation we find pure law, which is freed
from sensuous elements; we see it as a concept, which, while present in sense, operates there independently
and unrestrained, while enveloped in sense, is detached from it and is a concept bare and simple. This, which
is in truth result and essence, now comes before this consciousness itself, but as an object; moreover, since
the object is not exactly a result for it and is unrelated to the preceding process, the object is a specific kind of
object, and the relation of consciousness to it takes the form of another kind of observation.
Such an object which sustains the procedure in the simple activity of the notion is an organism.
Organic existence is this absolutely fluid condition wherein determinateness, which would only put it in
relation to an other, is dissolved. Inorganic things involve determinateness in their very essence; and on that
account a thing realizes the completeness of the moments of the notion only along with another thing, and
hence gets lost when it enters the dialectic movement. In the case of an organic being, on the other hand, all
determinate characteristics, by means of which it is palpable to another, are held under the control of the
simple organic unity; none of them comes forward as essential and capable of detaching itself from the rest
and relating itself to an other being. What is organic, therefore, preserves itself in its very relation.
The aspects of law on which the instinct of reason directs its observation here are, as we see from the above,
in the first instance organic nature and inorganic nature in their relation to one another. The latter means for
organic nature just the free play−a freedom opposed to the simple notion of organic nature−−loosely
connected characteristics in which individuated nature is at once dissolved, and out of the continuity of which
the individuated unit of nature at the same time breaks away and exists separately. Air, water, earth, zones
and climate are universal elements of this sort, which make up the indeterminate simple being of natural
individualities, and in which these are at the same time reflected into themselves. Neither the individuality
nor the natural element is absolutely self−contained. On the contrary: in the independent detachment, which
observation finds these assuming towards one another, they stand at the same time in essential relation to one
another, but in such a way that their independence and mutual indifference form the predominating feature,
and only in part become abstractions. Here, then, law appears as the relation of an element to the formative
process of the organic being, which at one moment has the element over against itself, at another exhibits it
within its own self−determining organic structure. But laws like these: animals belonging to the air are of the
nature of birds, those belonging to water have the constitution of fish, animals in northerly latitudes have
thick coats of hair, and so on−such laws exhibit a degree of poverty which does not do justice to the manifold
variety of organic nature. Besides the fact that the free activity of organic nature can readily divest its forms
of determinate characters like theses and everywhere presents of necessity exceptions to such laws or rules, as
we might call them; the charac− terization of those very animals to which they do apply is so very superficial
that even the necessity of the "laws" can be nothing else but superficial too, and does not carry us further than
what is implied in speaking of the "great influence" of environment on the organism. And this does not tell us
what properly is due to that influence and what is not. Such like relations of organic beings to the elements
they live in cannot therefore be strictly called laws at all. For, on the one hand, such a relation, when we look
at its content, does not exhaust, as we saw, the range of the organic beings considered, and on the other, the
terms of the relation itself stand indifferently apart from one another and express no necessity. In the concept
of an acid lies the notion of a base, just as the notion of positive electricity implies that of negative; but even
though we do find as a fact a thick coat of hair associated with northerly latitudes, the structure of a fish with
water, or that of birds with air, there is nothing in the notion of the north implying the notion of a thick
covering of hair, the notion of the structure of fish does not lie in the notion of the sea, nor that of birds in that