On Hegel’s ‘Philosophy of Mind’: the self-knowing, actual Idea — part three.

David Proud
40 min readApr 15, 2024

‘The Awakening Soul’

by Percy Stickney Grant (1860–1927)


As a new spirit grieving,

Heaven’s hosts are just receiving,

Pure from cold Death’s dumb shrieving,

Peers through the City gate;

In spite of her fresh wonder

At sight of that life yonder,

Her wish for earth flames fonder

For one now desolate.


She longs for earth and turning,

Looks down where tears are burning,

Where laughter and love’s yearning

Mix in the stream of life.

Where shade the sun enlaces,

Where flesh a soul encases,

Where dust a god embraces,

And man is joined to wife.


The arms death loosed still bind her

With bridal sweet reminder,

And the young years behind her,

Until strange soft tears flow.

Although a spirit gleams she,

Again a woman seems she,

Until God’s angel deems she

Can then no farther go.


So Psyche feels the motion

Of forces deep as ocean;

Strong, strange, sweet as love’s potion, —

Earth’s pulses from the past:

The smell of soil and flowers,

Bare bathing in warm showers,

All fair things once her dowers

In thousand strange forms cast.


She looks down in dejection,

Bowed by the stern perfection

Of human, high election

To life beyond the brute.

She loves her older being, —

So blind to heaven, — but seeing

All life in sense agreeing, —

All love, though love be mute.


She is the crystal’s clearness,

Dense matter purged of blearness,

Will, moulding a new nearness,

To man’s mind and to God’s.

She is the cavern’s brightness,

The frost and snow’s starred whiteness,

The cataract’s frozen lightness;

But ever upward plods.


She is the lotus-flower,

Slime-born, but rich in dower

To pierce, with prescient power

Through every element.

Through mud she blindly passes;

Waves’ cool, translucent glasses,

Past dreaming water grasses,

To sunlight’s gold content.


Free, free, she cleaves the water,

But flees as if death sought her,

For freedom sadly taught her

To fear and watch for foes.

She sounds dark depths or lashes

Blue waves to foam, or dashes

Out of her world and flashes

In heaven that no life knows.


She is a serpent coiling,

Envenomed and entoiling

All life, or all life soiling

At whose kiss all things die.

She is the lark in heaven,

Hymning the planets seven,

At dewy dawn or even —

Earth’s passion winged on high.


She feels the rough surrender

Of flesh to impulse tender,

That mate and cub engender,

In jungles deep and dark.

She knows her own strength matches

The wild, lithe play she watches,

For each fierce thing she catches

She strikes and it is stark.


She is mankind’s great mother

Men conscious serve each other,

Now call a God their brother,

And change the world’s rough face.

But Psyche on life ponders,

Pries secrets from all wonders,

In prayer the beast life sunders,

And clears for mind more space.


Fear flesh? ’Tis no temptation,

Sing soul in exultation

This heaven of creation,

All beauty wrapped in one.

Tint, touch? A rose’s petal,

Past marble or mined metal

To match, wherein is set all

Of grace all love has spun.


Does conscience’s birth distress you,

God’s constant voice oppress you,

Remorse in mourning dress you,

Till you wish God were not?

Be patient with your weakness,

God will not crush your meekness,

Forsake you in stark bleakness,

With all your good forgot.


As leaves laugh in September,

Which fierce gales would dismember,

Leaves dead before December,

Now clasp each tossing bough;

And bend, sway, roar with laughter,

At the mad wind rushing after,

Though it shake roof and rafter,

It cannot strip them now.


Laugh ye at hostile forces,

Unpent from lower sources,

To war on your high courses,

And watch for your weak hour.

Laugh! Hug life as a passion,

In spite of foes that dash on,

Live in heroic fashion

Souls over death must tower.


Your days are short, so hasten,

O architect and mason

Of life, to help the race on

By buildings vast and free;

A palace for all people,

No roof but stars its steeple,

Where love and justice leap all

Lower tyranny.


Say not that God sees weeping,

And wakes not from His sleeping

When man in sin is steeping,

In sin, lean want and care;

So I will be as God is,

Men shall be as the clod is,

My hand hard as the rod is,

No tears shall soften prayer.


For God’s tears are your own tears,

And God’s care but your own fears,

Yes, God’s pain what your soul bears

Of this world’s weary load.

God mourns in your heart broken,

God loves in your fond token,

God speaks when prayers are spoken

That smooth the onward road.

‘Blumengruß am Morgen’ (‘Floral Greeting in the Morning’), Johann Baptist Reiter, (1813–1890)

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, (1770–1831), the ‘Philosophy of Mind’.

§380 The concrete nature of mind involves for the observer the peculiar difficulty that the particular stages and determinations of the development of its concept do not also remain behind as particular existences in contrast to its deeper formations. It is otherwise in external nature. There, matter and movement have a free existence of their own in the solar system; the determinations of the senses also have a retrospective existence as properties of bodies, and still more freely as the elements, etc. The determinations and stages of the mind, by contrast, are essentially only moments, states, determinations in the higher stages of development. As a consequence of this, a lower and more abstract determination of the mind reveals the presence in it, even empirically, of a higher phase. In sensation, for example, we can find all the higher phases of the mind as its content or determinacy. And so sensation, which is just an abstract form, may to the superficial glance seem to be the essential seat and even the root of that higher content, the religious, the ethical, and so on; and it may seem necessary to consider the determinations of this content as panicular species of sensation. But all the same, when lower stages are under consideration, it becomes necessary, in order to draw attention to them in their empirical existence, to refer to higher stages in which they are present only as forms. In this way we need at times to introduce, by anticipation, a content which presents itself only later in the development (e.g. in dealing with natural waking from sleep we speak, by anticipation, of consciousness, in dealing with mental derangement we speak of intellect, etc.) .

- ‘Philosophy of Mind’

Nature just like mind involves an ascending series of stages that develop its concept, starting off with a lower stage, for instance matter and movement, that is involved in higher stages, for instance organic life, and yet the lower stage in addition occurs in isolation. The solar system involves matter and motion but not in any manner that is relevant to our theories concerning it, the higher stages, for instance, life. The determinations of the senses are the colours observed through sight, the hardness observed by touch, and so on, and are thereby involved in a relatively advanced stage of nature, the five senses characteristic of lower animals (see the ‘Philosophy of Nature’, §358). However, they also put in an appearance independently of the senses in lower stages, as the properties of bodies and as elements, one supposes the four Greek elements earth, air, fire, water, for against Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier, (1743–94), Hegel baulked at doing away with them (see the ‘Philosophy of Nature’ §2810. And by way of contrast the lower stages of mind are not found separately but merely as elements in higher stages. It may be objected that granted most stages of mind occur together, lower animals and perhaps infants too possess sense-perception, or at the very least sensation, while not having the higher stages of mind, nonetheless one might rejoinder as indeed Hegel does that human sensation differs significantly from that of lower animals, in that for example our inability to sense stimuli above or below a certain level of intensity suggests that we have an internal determinacy of which lower animals are without, that we are less fully determined by our surroundings and our awareness more selective. (See §401).

A lower stage of mind displays signs of a higher stage, even empirically, that is, not merely to the philosopher, who knows a priori that the lower stage has to eventually give rise to the higher stage, but in empirically observable combinations of the lower with the higher stage. For instance, feeling or ‘sensation’ (see §390) is a low grade of mind involving primarily outer sensations of for instance heat and cold, and inner sensations of for instance anger (see §401). And yet its content or determinacy is frequently of a higher grade, one has a sense of justice, a religious or moral sense, and religious feeling, and so on. Some philosophers, for instance Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, (1743–1819), and Friedrich Schleiermacher, (1768–1834), are misled by this into supposing that morality and religion are essentially a type of feeling or sensation (see the ‘Encyclopaedia Logic’ §61) and of course they are mistaken yet nonetheless lower grades of mind cannot be considered without reference to content’ of higher grades for which the lower serve as forms or vehicles, hence in discussing natural waking (see §398) one refers to consciousness, a higher grade dealt with more completely at §§413, and derangement (see §408) involves reference to intellect (see §422).

Different types of case are assimilated. First, it is possible to discuss sensations of heat, anger, and so on without referring to religious and moral feeling. In religious or moral feeling, low grade feeling is a form for a high grade content, doubtless it is important to note that sensation or feeling does accommodate high grade content yet it ought to be discussed when religion and morality arise for consideration rather than in the context of a discussion of sensations of heat, and so on. Second, waking is not a form with consciousness as its content but the event or process of becoming conscious after sleep, waking and sleep are related to consciousness, not merely in their empirical existence but conceptually also. One cannot wake up, or be asleep, unless one is capable of being conscious, albeit Bewusstsein, like consciousness is ambiguous, the consciousness discussed later at §413 is consciousness of objects but the consciousness to which one awakes may merely be consciousness in contrast to unconsciousness, where consciousness can include for instance feeling pain, with no or little awareness of one’s surroundings. Third, derangement or insanity is related to intellect as sleep and not waking is related to consciousness. Insanity is a privation or perversion of intellect, not a form in which it appear and their relationship is once again conceptual and not empirical as# only those capable of intellect can become insane.

‘Tagwache’, Robert Schiff, (1869–1935)

§381 ‘For us mind has nature as its presupposition, though mind is the truth of nature, and is thus absolutely first with respect to it. In this truth nature has vanished, and mind has emerged as the Idea that has reached its being-for-self. The object of the Idea as well as the subject is the concept. This identity is absolute negativity, since in nature the concept has its complete, external objectivity, but this externalization of the concept has been sublated and the concept has, in this externalization, become identical with itself. And so the concept is this identity only so far as it is at the same time a return out of nature’.

- ‘Philosophy of Mind’

Regarding the concept of mind see §379. For us: mind presupposes nature and hence nature is in some manner prior to mind, yet because mind is the truth of nature, mind is nature’s absolut Erstes which may be literally rendered as its absolutely first and hence absolutely prior to nature. For us contrasts with absolutely which perhaps means for us human beings in general or maybe for us philosophers, either way the point to note is that looking on from the outside one cannot as yet observe how mind transfigures nature and as philosophers we have to demonstrate how mind emerges from nature. (See §381).

Mind is the truth of nature, mind accomplishes an agreement of the concept with its actuality, such as nature strives towards but never attains (see §379) on truth, and the Idea is the concept together with its actuality yet here its constituents are described as the subject and the object each of which is the concept. In nature the concept has its object or its objectivity outside itself and yet in mind such externalization is nullified or sublated and the concept becomes identical with itself and this identity is absolute negativity since it is attained by way of a negation of nature’s externality and a return from nature. Two ideas run together here, the actualization of a concept, and the object of or apprehended by a subject. The mind as opposed to any natural entity is a subject with itself as its own object. (See §377 on self-knowledge). This is assimilated to a concept whose actualization is internal to itself, a concept which is its own actualization, and so we may suppose that the actualization of the concept of mind consists in the mind’s acquiring complete knowledge of itself and because nothing other than mind can gain knowledge of itself nothing other than mind can completely actualize itself.

The concept of mind, the self-knowing, actual idea, has to be derived from the universal concept, the logical Idea, by way of nature, but lest one suppose that mind precedes nature, given that a cognition is contained in the logical Idea (see the ‘Encyclopaedia Logic’, §223), and cognition has to do with mind, this was not actual cognition but simply one’s concept of cognition hence one cannot bring in the concept of mind by appeal directly to the Logic, one has to derive its necessity from logic and philosophy of nature. This corresponds to the first of the three syllogisms laid out at the end of ‘Philosophy of Mind’, §575. And conversely, philosophy of mind has to authenticate the concept of mind by developing and actualizing it so that it authenticates it by demonstrating that what is derived from the concept of mind presents one with an adequate and full account of the mind, which is to say that the mind is in fact the self-knowing idea.

The Idea appears in logic, in nature, and as mind. The Idea as mind must have a differentia or determinacy to distinguish it from the logical Idea and the Idea in nature and this is ‘ideality’ (see §379), its sublation of its own otherness. The logical Idea is still within-self and hence has not yet become other than itself. In nature the Idea becomes external to itself and hence other than itself. In mind the Idea overcomes this otherness or self-externality. The Idea thereby undergoes a return odyssey albeit the logical Idea has not as yet set out and the Idea in nature has arrived at its destination, the Idea as mind has returned to its starting-point from its destination enhanced by the journey there and back. The otherness of the Idea is not merely cancelled, it is sublated, aufheben, meaning to lift, to cancel, to keep, a term employed in all three senses at once so that what is sublated is elevated, cancelled, and preserved, elevated through compulsive prompting, frequently translated as sublate since sublatum is the perfect participle of the Latin verb tollo which means both to lift, raise up and to remove, destroy annul.

In nature the Idea is external to itself since it is external to the mind and to the mind’s essential inwardness and hence cannot have the unity characteristic of the mind.

‘External nature too, like mind, is rational, divine, a presentation of the Idea. But in nature the Idea appears in the element of asunderness, is external not only to mind but also to itself, precisely because it is external to the inwardness that is in and for itself and which constitutes the essence of mind. This concept of nature, already enunciated by the Greeks and entirely familiar to them, is in complete agreement with our ordinary idea of nature. We know that what is natural is spatial and temporal, that in nature this stands next to that, this follows after that, in brief, that everything natural is mutually external, ad infinitum; further, that matter, this universal foundation of all formations to be found in nature, not only offers resistance to us, subsists outside our mind, but holds itself asunder against its own self, divides itself into concrete points, into material atoms, of which it is composed. The differences into which the concept of nature unfolds are more or less mutually independent existences; of course, through their original unity they stand in mutual relation, so that none can be comprehended without the others; but this relation is in a greater or less degree external to them. We rightly say, therefore, that not freedom but necessity reigns in nature; for necessity in its strictest meaning is precisely the merely internal, and for that reason also merely external, relation of mutually independent existences’.

- ‘Philosophy of Nature’

Hegel’s reference to the Greeks is to do with the Greek philosophers in particular Plato and Aristotle distinguishing nature from mind and regarded natural phenomena as extended in space and time, for it was Hegel’s view that the Greeks attained a midway position between the unity of mind and nature as conceived by their predecessors and the withdrawal into subjectivity characteristic of modernity.

The relation between natural entities is sufficiently close for any one of them to be comprehensible only by reference to others but sufficiently external for them to remain independent existences hence we cannot comprehend the motions of planets without the sun but the sun and the planets are distinct entities and each could exist in some form or other without the other. The relation is external since it does not affect the essence or interior of the related entities and the relation is also internal since it is kept inside each entity and not fully expressed overtly. Therefore natural entities are governed by necessity and are not free, a planet’s movement is not self-determined but determined by something other than itself, namely, the sun. The contradiction between the relation, attraction by the sun, and the independence, centrifugal force, is shown by the planet’s motion round the sun. On the view that what is only external is also only internal, see ‘Encyclopaedia Logic’ §140. On necessity and freedom, see ‘Encyclopaedia Logic’ §158. For the idea that motion is the result of contradiction, see ‘Encyclopaedia Logic’ §119. On planetary motion, see ‘Philosophy of Nature’ §270. On the relation between light and the elements, see ‘Philosophy of Nature’, §281–2.

Unlike a rock, a plant develops from a seed into an articulated whole but each part is the whole plant and not only is each leaf or flower similar to every other leaf or flower on the plant, a part of a plant can be detached without detriment to the rest of the plant and will grow into a distinct whole plant, if it is planted. Hegel is referring to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s (1749–1832) ‘Attempt to Explain the Metamorphosis of Plants’ that contended that every part of a plant, and the plant as a whole is a modified leaf. (See ‘Philosophy of Nature’ §345).

No significant part of an animal can be removed without detriment to the whole or survive in isolation, each part both causes and is caused by, is both end and means for, every other part, hence the parts, unlike those of a plant, are genuinely other’ than each other yet what happens to any part, its determinacy, is also ideal, (see §379) and what happens to one part of a plant hardly affects the plant as a whole yet what happens to one part of an animal affects the whole animal. The animal is a unified universal subject not identical with any one part or with the aggregate of all the parts but permeating each part of the whole. It is hence a subject in a different sense, it is subjectivity and has sensation. The presence of the whole in each part is secured by the messages sent to it from the parts, and so animals are more self-determined, less exposed to external influences than plants are, the animal as a whole can actively respond to messages received from its parts.

The animal’s development is driven by a series of contradictions and their resolution. The first contradiction is that in virtue of its determinate sensation for instance hunger or pain the animal involves a difference, a difference and hence a contradiction between its universal nature that is susceptible to various types of sensation but not identical to any one of them) and its specific hunger or pain. This difference is at first only ideal, a difference within the animal and not between two distinct entities, which is to say, the animal feels the pain or hunger yet does not recognize the source of the pain or the remedy for the hunger. If the contradiction is to be resolved, however, the difference cannot remain ideal, it has to be posited as a difference felt by the animal as a difference and this can only happen if the animal enters into opposition to nature, making explicit the difference between itself and nature, that is to say the source of the pain or the remedy for its hunger.

‘Getting Up’, 1942, Alfred Sisquella

The explicit difference between the animal and the external object contradicts the unity of the concept which the animal is and it resolves this by consuming and thus annihilating the object. On the unity of the concept see §378. The first contradiction now makes a comeback and can only be resolved in the same way. The animal is engaged in a fruitless task that it can never finish and it resolves this contradiction by encountering something like itself,of the same species or genus and in the sexual relation animals have a feeling or sensation of their unity and are not mutually external. The soul of the animal, for instance a dog, is one with, wholly absorbed in, its determinate sensation, it senses the genus, because it desires another dog, not usually an individual dog, not caninity or dog as such, and again what results from the union is an individual dog or more likely dogs and not dog as such and these new dogs go through the same processes as their parents, a perpetual cycle.

The death of an animal is only the annihilating negation of it, not its preserving sublation. Recall Aufhebung, sublation, from the verb aufheben, to destroy, to preserve, and to elevate, all three senses at work at once in Hegelian usage, as the addition of preserving here indicates. The death of a human is a preserving sublation of individuality, death gives significance to the individual’s life yet the main concern here is with the universality that is in and for itself. Given what has been said up till now one might suppose this to refer to humankind aware of itself as humankind, in the way that dogs are not aware of themselves as dogs, yet the individuality that is universal in and for itself, that is to say the subjectivity that has itself for object, can only refer to an individual self-conscious human, an I aware of itself as I. We now move from the universality of a species or genus to the universality of the I, the individual I is universal since it is intrinsically indeterminate and can accommodate any of a wide range of contents. A dog is neither aware of itself as I nor does it have universal thoughts about its own or other species and there is a connection between these two abilities that are lacking.

Because a dog is unaware of the dog as such it does not distinguish dogs from things that are not dogs, it falls to us to draw this distinction by our external reflection upon dogs. The mind by contrast distinguishes itself from nature by its overcoming and sublation of externality. Overcoming and sublation are related but not identical, in overcoming externality the mind becomes aware of itself as mind, becomes its own object, thereby attaining the self-duplication of the concept that nature cannot provide. It manages this by sublating externality, that is to say, by reducing to inwardness, idealizing, or assimilating, everything external to itself. The mind can attain rational self-awareness only in so far as it is aware of external reality. On self-knowledge see §377. On ideality see §§379.

In lower phases of mind, the mind cannot refer to itself as I (see §402), but then it is strictly soul (Seele) rather than mind (Geist). Everyone is an I, and to speak of oneself as I implies no more about oneself than that one is a mind hence the I can abstract from everything, even from its life. One can disregard the distinguishing features of oneself and one’s experience, one can imagine that they are all different, yet one is still oneself. One can abstract from one’s life not, at least to begin with, since one would still be oneself if one were dead, but since one can choose to risk or surrender one’s life (see §432). The I or ego is not just simple, like light in contrast to a composite body. (See ‘Philosophy of Nature’ §275Z for the affinity of the ego to light).

It involves two types of differentiation. First, the I is aware of itself as an I, the I is here infinite, it is not bounded by an other, but circles back on itself and this corresponds to overcoming in §381. Second, the I is aware of manifold material confronting it, it poisons, that is to say degrades, this material by depriving it of its independence, but it also transfigures, that is to say, elevates, it by spiritualizing it and this corresponds to sublation in §381. The I proves or authenticates its differentiated being-together-with-itself of stage 1 by sublating the manifold material at stage (2) and by remaining simple and self-aware throughout the multiplicity that it pervades.

‘This sublation of externality belonging to the concept of mind, is what we have called the ideality of mind. All activities of mind are nothing but various ways of reducing what is external to the inwardness which mind itself is, and it is only by this reduction, by this idealization or assimilation of the external that mind becomes and is mind.- If we consider mind more closely, we find that the first and simplest determination of it is that it is I. I is something perfectly simple, universal. When we say /, we indeed mean an individual; but since everyone is I, we thereby say only something entirely universal. The universality of the I enables it to abstract from everything, even from its life. But the mind is not merely this abstractly simple counterpart to light, which is how it was regarded when they talked about the simplicity of the soul in contrast to the complexity of the body; on the contrary, in spite of its simplicity the mind is differentiated within itself, for I posits itself over against itself, makes itself its own object and returns from this difference, which is, of course, at first abstract, not yet concrete difference, to unity with itself. This being-together-with-itself of the I in its differentiation is the infinity or ideality of the I. But this ideality authenticates itself only in the relation of the I to the infinitely manifold material confronting it. When the I grasps it, this material is at once poisoned and transfigured by the universality of the I, loses its individualized, independent subsistence and receives a spiritual reality. The mind is therefore far from being forced out of its simplicity, its being-together-with-itself, by the infinite multiplicity of its representations, into a spatial asunderness; on the contrary, its simple self, in undimmed clarity, pervades this multiplicity through and through and does not let it reach an independent subsistence’.

- ‘Philosophy of Mind’

Mind is as yet still ‘finite’. (On finitude see §386) Objective as well as subjective mind is finite but here the focus is upon subjective mind in spite of talk of its representational activity and the suggestion that mind merely transposes things from outside into its inner space where they remain as diverse and unorganized as they were in external space. The mind is confronted by a multiplicity other than itself which it then proceeds to internalize in an external’ manner, that is to say, leaving the multiplicity more or less unchanged, but also with the suggestion that the finite mind does all the work itself, without the cooperation of the external world. At the stage of absolute mind by contrast the multiplicity of the world is conceived as intrinsically unified and self-unifying and to discern this unity requires some labour on the part of the mind but once it has completed this task it observes the world as a structured whole rather than a disorganized shambles. Why does the mind need religion and philosophy to view the world as an organized whole? Subjective mind itself contains resources for unifying the multiplicity of the world, in particular language (see §459) and thought (see §465), stages of subjective mind that go beyond mere representation. Elsewhere Hegel expatiates upon the mind’s capacity to bring order into the world below the level of absolute mind, (see §402).

We now move directly to absolute mind sidestepping the stage of objective mind. For religious consciousness things are held together by God, no longer simply juxtaposed in inner or outer space and in this way things lose their absolute independence thereby becoming ideal, which is to say, intrinsically interconnected and interdependent. This idealization is realised through religious consciousness rather than by God albeit one need not distinguish sharply between God and religious consciousness, between the human mind and the divine mind. Philosophy completes this idealization in terms of the logical or ‘eternal’ Idea, the categories presented in Hegel’s logic (see §379). Philosophy demonstrates in determinate detail how the eternal Idea manifests itself in things, whereas religion invokes God’s power in a general way and does not explain in detail how it works. The eternal Idea is not equivalent to the actual Idea, yhe eternal Idea does not begin or develop in time, nor does its operation in nature have a temporal beginning or development. By contrast the Idea becomes actual only when the mind discerns or cognizes the eternal Idea in things, that is to say, in nature and ultimately in mind itself.

‘What we have said above about the nature of mind is something which philosophy alone can and does demonstrate; it does not need to be confirmed by our ordinary consciousness. But in so far as our non-philosophical thinking, on its part, needs the developed concept of mind to be made accessible to representation, we can point out that Christian theology, too, conceives God, i.e. the truth, as mind and regards mind not as something quiescent, remaining in empty uniformity, but as something which necessarily enters into the process of distinguishing itself from itself, of positing its Other, and which comes to itself only through this Other, and by the preserving sublation of this Other- not by abandoning it. Theology, as we know, expresses this process in the manner of representation by saying that God the Father (this simple universal, being-within-itself) , giving up his solitude, creates nature (the self-external, being-outside-itself) , begets a son (his other), but by virtue of his infinite love beholds himself in this Other, recognizes his image therein and in it returns to unity with himself; this unity is no longer abstract, immediate unity, but a concrete unity mediated by difference; it is the Holy Spirit which proceeds from the Father and from the Son, reaching its complete actuality and truth in the Christian community; God must be known as the Holy Spirit if he is to be conceived in his absolute truth, conceived as the Idea that is actual in and for itself, and not just in the form of the mere concept, of abstract being-within-self, nor in the equally untrue form of an individual actuality in disagreement with the universality of its concept, but in the full agreement of his concept and his actuality’.

- ‘Philosophy of Mind’

Finite mind involves a return trip from immediate unity with nature (Position) to nature as its Other (Negation) and back to itself in unity with its Other, whose otherness is now overcome (negation of negation).

‘But mind is not content to remain finite mind, transposing things by its representational activity into the space of its inwardness and thus stripping them of their externality in a manner that is itself still external; on the contrary, as religious consciousness, it pierces through the seemingly absolute independence of things to the one, infinite power of God at work in their interior and holding everything together; and as philosophical thinking, it completes this idealization of things by cognizing the determinate way in which the eternal Idea forming their common principle displays itself in them. Through this cognition, the idealistic nature of mind which is already operative in finite mind, attains its completed, most concrete shape, mind makes itself into the actual Idea that perfectly apprehends itself and hence into absolute mindP Already in finite mind, ideality has the meaning of a movement returning to its beginning; by this movement the mind, advancing from its undifferentiatedness, as the first position, to an Other, to the negation of that position, and by means of the negation of this negation returning to itself, proves to be absolute negativity, infinite self-affirmation; and we have to consider finite mind, conformably to this its nature, first, in its immediate unity with nature, then in its opposition to nature, and lastly, in its unity with nature, a unity which contains within itself that opposition as a sublated opposition and is mediated by it. Thus conceived, finite mind is recognised as totality, as Idea, and in fact as the actual Idea which is for itself, which returns to itself out of that opposition. But in finite mind there is only the beginning of this return; it is completed only in absolute mind; for only in absolute mind does the Idea apprehend itself, not merely in the one-sided form of the concept or subjectivity, nor merely in the equally one-sided form of objectivity or actuality, but in the perfect unity of these its distinct moments, that is, in its absolute truth’.

- ‘Philosophy of Mind’

Hence finite mind is an actual Idea and the question arises as to how this differs from philosophy. Hegel had said that the other is overcome only externally and now is saying that finite mind is one-sided, the Idea apprehends itself in the form either of subjectivity (concept) or of objectivity (actuality), but not both together. Remember the distinction between theoretical mind (see §445) and practical mind (see §469). The former absorbs external objects into the mind,while the latter projects the mind or the will into the external world (see §443). Absolute mind gives equal consideration to both of these two moments or aspects thereby combining theory and practice proceeding both from world to mind and from mind to world. But the reference to absolute mind and world-history suggests it is the distinction between subjective mind and objective mind that is in mind here and this differs from the distinction between theoretical mind and practical mind because albeit objective mind is in a broad sense practical rather than theoretical, practical mind falls within the realm of subjective mind in so far as the object it works upon is alien to the mind and not yet formed and structured by our theoretical and practical activity, so the point to note is that absolute mind by some means combines the one-sided accomplishments of subjective and objective mind.

Jeune fille mettant son bas’, 1880, (‘Young Girl Putting on Her Stockings’), Berthe Marie Pauline Morisot

Christianity illustrates the philosophical account of mind and God develops, needing to create nature and to send his son to be properly and fully God. Two triads traditionally regarded as distinct are fused tgether, Father–Son–Holy Spirit and God–Nature–Man. Holy Spirit and man are combined in the idea of the Christian community while Nature and Son are combined thus; Nature is on the face of it quite different from God while the Son is his other I yet Nature is God’s other I particularly in virtue of the presence of the eternal Idea in Nature. The Son symbolizes this affinity of nature to God and the Holy Spirit then symbolizes human’s intellectual and practical conquest of Nature and this is conceived as God’s own reconciliation with Nature and his return to himself in it. If this third stage the Holy Spirit was to be omitted then God may be conceived either in the form of mere concept, of abstract being-within-self or of an individual actuality in disagreement with the universality of its concept. How do such conceptions differ from one another? Assuming that the second stage (Nature, Son) is in place then the situation appears to be the same in both conceptions, God and Nature are out of accord with each other. There is an allusion here to the distinction between acosmism, the doctrine that only God really exists, and atheism, the doctrine that only nature really exists, (see §573). If this is the case then the first conception of God would be acosmism while the second would be atheism. But perhaps what is at issue here is the contrast between subjectivity and objectivity previously discussed, and then the two conceptions of God correspond to the two one-sided ways in which the mind can overcome its Other.

Christianity represents a combination of theoretical understanding of the world and practical transformation of it, and/or of subjective mind and objective mind for the two one-sided ways in which finite mind idealizes nature are not theoretical and practical mind but subjective and objective mind. The will is practical while thinking is theoretical but in so far as they both belong to subjective mind thinking and the will have the same defect, that all the work is done by the mind, whether as will or thought, while nature is merely passive. Nature’s indifference to our alteration of it does not mean that it is due solely to our way of viewing them that for instance the planets revolve or appear to revolve around the sun but that albeit the planets actually do orbit the sun, they do nothing special to enable us to view them in this way. Likewise a field that we cultivate though it is intrinsically cultivable does not assist us in cultivating it, it passively puts up with our work upon it.

‘We have said that mind negates the externality of nature, assimilates nature to itself and thereby idealizes it. In finite mind, which posits nature outside itself, this idealization has a one-sided form; here the activity of our willing, as of our thinking, is confronted by an external material which is indifferent to the alteration we carry out on it and undergoes the idealization conferred on it with complete passivity. But a different relationship obtains in the case of the mind that produces world history. Here, there no longer stands, on the one side, an activity external to the object, and on the other side, a merely passive object; the spiritual activity is directed towards an object which is active within itself, an object that has itself worked its way up to the result to be brought about by that activity, so that in the activity and in the object one and the same content is present. Thus, for example, the people and the time on which the activity of Alexander and Caesar operated as their object, had by their own efforts become capable of the work to be accomplished by those individuals; the time created these men for itself just as much as it was created by them; they were as much the instruments of the spirit of their time and their people, as conversely their people served these heroes as an instrument for the accomplishment of their deeds. — Similar to the relationship just outlined is the way in which the philosophizing mind approaches external nature. That is to say, philosophical thinking knows that nature is idealized not merely by us, that nature’s asunderness is not an entirely insuperable limitation for nature itself, for its concept, but that the eternal Idea immanent in nature or, what is the same thing, the implicit mind at work in the interior of nature itself effects the idealization, the sublation of asunderness, because this form of mind’s realization stands in contradiction with the inwardness of its essence. Therefore philosophy has, as it were, only to watch and see how nature itself sublates its externality, how it takes back what is self-external into the centre of the Idea, or lets this centre emerge in the external, how it liberates the concept concealed in nature from the covering of externality and thereby overcomes external necessity. This transition from necessity to freedom is not a simple transition but a gradual progression of many moments, whose exposition constitutes the philosophy of nature. At the highest stage of this sublation of asunderness, in sensation, the implicit mind held captive in nature reaches the beginning of being-for-self and and thus of freedom. By this being-for-self which is itself still burdened with the form of individuality and externality, consequently also with unfreedom, nature is driven onwards beyond itself to mind as such, that is, to the mind which, by thinking, is for itself in the form of universality and actually free’.

- ‘Philosophy of Mind’

Heroes such as Alexander and Caesar did not actively work upon their passive people and their time in the way that we work on nature, the people actively prepared itself for the deeds of the hero, the hero is a product of his people as much as it is his instrument. The mind or spirit that produces world-history is a stage of objective mind, in fact its highest stage (see §548). But previously Hegel had assigned the perfect unity of subjectivity and objectivity not to objective mind, but to absolute mind, objective mind was taken to be as one-sided as subjective mind, but now the reconciliation of objectivity and subjectivity has to occur within objective mind. The reconciliation occurs only at the final stage of objective mind when it is on the brink of becoming absolute mind, that earlier phases of objective mind are as one-sided as subjective mind, but it may be objected that it is not only historic heroes who work upon an object that co-operates with them, social actors regularly deal with objects that meet them halfway just as a farmer who tills a field finds the field passive and uncooperative, but a farmer who claims a field as his property may well find that others recognize his claim and a politician who calls an election relies upon the co-operation of the citizens. One must reserve the perfect unity for absolute mind and situate its beginnings in the highest stage of objective mind.

Philosophy of nature resembles world-history more than does our pre-philosophical idealizing of nature as nature co-operates with philosophy in the way that a people co-operates with its hero but the philosopher is an onlooker who has merely to observe how nature itself overcomes its externality. Four clsaims are now presented. First, the logical Idea or the concept is not simply the categories we apply to nature but is embedded in nature itself. Second, nature develops albeit not over time from lower to higher stages and as it advances it discards its asunderness or externality, liberates the concept and becomes more and more free culminating in the animal’s sensation which leads us to the edge of mind. Third, mind proper hence emerges from nature in a manner not entirely unlike the emergence of a hero from the people. Fourth, this non-temporal development is driven by mind, not the philosopher’s mind but the mind in itself or implicit mind at work in nature, which is equivalent to the eternal Idea immanent in Nature. All this remains the case during one’s pre-philosophical idealization of nature but it is not evident to the non-philosopher who does not discern the Idea in nature or survey nature in all its ascending phases. There is thus an analogy with world history albeit Alexander and Caesar were leaders and not onlookers and without them their battles would not have been won nor their empires founded whereas the development of nature does not need the philosopher of nature (or does it develop philosophically?.

Such a doctrine involves three claims. First, mind proper, mind that is in and for itself, is the truth or fulfilment of its presuppositions, of the logical Idea (the mind that is only within itself), and of nature (the mind that is only outside itself), in something like the manner in which the tree is the fulfilment of the seed, (see §379). Second, but mind proper is not simply a smooth continuation of nature, mind becomes independent of nature and reacts against it by cultivating it for instance and by studying it. Third, in spite of appearances it is actually mind proper that posits the logical Idea and nature in the first place. Its presuppositions are its positings in advance. The tree produces the seed from which it emerges. Thr first two claims show Aristotle’s influence. As for the third claim the question arises as to how the fully developed human mind posit the conditions of its own emergence if by posit is meant to establish rather than simply to overcome or sublate. Even were mind implicitly at work in nature, directing it towards the emergence of the human mind, does it follow that the fully developed human mind produces nature and its implicit mind? Two doctrines are working together here, the theological doctrine that God is a kind of implicit and undeveloped mind that establishes the conditions (nature) that will eventually enable it to become a fully developed actualized mind in the shape of human beings. And the doctrine that human beings upon reaching the level of absolute mind gain complete philosophical insight into the conditions of their own emergence, namely the logical Idea and nature. On the first of these doctrines the third claim entails the first claim and suggests the second claim but the third claim by this doctrine is not entailed by the first and second claims. By the second doctrine the third claim differs little from the second claim declaring that mind proper fully understands the conditions of its own emergence, not that it literally posits them or sets them up.

The transition from nature to mind is a return to itself of externalized mind but mind is radically different from nature and this difference is expressed by saying that the mind emerges from, or in, the death of the animal, (see ‘Encyclopaedia Logic’ §222, and ‘Philosophy of Nature’ §376). This emergence is not fleshly as though a mind emerged from a dead animal like a butterfly from a chrysalis, it is like all the transitions throughout the Encyclopaedia, a development of the concept. Nature culminates in two one-sided aspects that it cannot fuse together, the individual animal and the universal genus that emerges in the death of its members. Mind by contrast combines universality and individuality. Human beings do what dogs cannot, they become aware of their own genus or species as such, an animal species needs the death of individuals if it is to become explicit or for itself, (see ‘Encyclopaedia Logic’, §221).

‘What we have said already implies that the transition of nature to mind is not a transition to an out-and-out Other, but is only a coming-to-itself of the mind that is outside itself in nature. But equally, the determinate difference of nature and mind is not sublated by this transition; for mind does not emerge in a natural manner from nature. When we said in §222 that the death of the merely immediate, individual form of life is the emergence of mind, this emergence is not in the flesh but spiritual, it is not to be understood as a natural emergence but as a development of the concept, the concept that sublates the one-sidedness of the genus which does not reach adequate actualization, proving in death to be rather the negative power opposed to that actuality, and also sublates the opposite onesidedness of the animal reality bound to individuality; both one-sidednesses are sublated in the individuality which is in and for itself universal or, what is the same thing, in the universal which is for itself in a universal manner, the universal that is mind’.

- ‘Philosophy of Mind’

‘Early in the Morning’, 1883, Edvard Munch

However the human species becomes explicit in the minds of individuals and hence does not require their deaths for this purpose. So why do human individuals die?

‘Death necessarily results from the contradiction between individuality and the genus, but since it is not the preserving sublation of individuality, only the empty, annihilating negation of it, itself appearing in the form of immediate individuality, death likewise does not produce the universality that is in and for itself, or the individuality that is universal in and for itself, the subjectivity that has itself as its object. Therefore, even in the most perfect form to which nature raises itself, in animal life, the concept does not attain to an actuality resembling its soulful essence, to the complete overcoming of the externality and finitude of its embodied reality. This first happens in the mind, which, precisely by this overcoming accomplished in it, distinguishes itself from nature, so that this distinguishing is not merely the doing of an external reflection on the essence of mind’.

- ‘Philosophy of Mind’

Not much attention is given to the Christian doctrine of individual immortality, yet has a response to this objection in two parts, human individuals do not die in the same way as animals do for they are remembered as individuals and their achievements are preserved and developed, and furthermore the death of individuals is required by the development of mind over history.

‘The semblance of mind’s being mediated by an Other is sublated by mind itself, since mind has, so to speak, the sovereign ingratitude of sublating, of mediatizing, that by which it seems to be mediated, of reducing it to something subsisting only through mind and in this way making itself completely independent. — What we have said already implies that the transition of nature to mind is not a transition to an out-and-out Other, but is only a coming-to-itself of the mind that is outside itself in nature. But equally, the determinate difference of nature and mind is not sublated by this transition; for mind does not emerge in a natural manner from nature. When we said in §222 that the death of the merely immediate, individual form of life is the emergence of mind, this emergence is not in the flesh but spiritual, it is not to be understood as a natural emergence but as a development of the concept, the concept that sublates the one-sidedness of the genus which does not reach adequate actualization, proving in death to be rather the negative power opposed to that actuality, and also sublates the opposite onesidedness of the animal reality bound to individuality; both one-sidednesses are sublated in the individuality which is in and for itself universal or, what is the same thing, in the universal which is for itself in a universal manner, the universal that is mind’.

- ‘Philosophy of Mind’

An animal is completely absorbed by each current individual sensation or feeling hence it lacks self-knowledge. As J. S. Mill, (1806–1873), wrote:

‘If. . . we speak of the Mind as a series of feelings, we are obliged to complete the statement by calling it a series of feelings which is aware of itself as past and future; and we are reduced to the alternative of believing that the Mind, or Ego, is something different from any series of feelings, or possibilities of them, or of accepting the paradox, that something which ex hypothesi is but a series of feelings, can be aware of itself as a series’. The importance of the ‘universality of thought’, in contrast to the ‘individuality of sensation’, for our self-awareness, explains why Hegel regards mind as the ‘individuality which is in and for itself universal’.

- ‘The Philosophy of Sir William Hamilton’

§382 ‘For this reason formally the essence of mind is freedom, the concept’s absolute negativity as identity with itself. In accordance with this formal determination, the mind can abstract from everything external and from its own externality, from its very life; it can endure the negation of its individual immediacy, infinite pain, i.e. it can maintain itself affirmatively in this negativity and be identical for itself. This possibility is its intrinsic abstract universality, a universality that is for itself’.

- ‘Philosophy of Mind’

Because an animal is aware of nothing except its current sensation it is completely determined by it, it cannot ignore or resist the sensation because it has no ground for doing so, no inner residence to which it can withdraw away from the sensation, it is without a persisting identity underlying its sensations, it is naught but a sequence of sensations, and as a result it is completely at the mercy of the external things that create its sensations. Humans on the other hand can and at some level invariably do negate external things, negativity, the negation of the external things of nature, is a necessary condition of proper self-identity, it is only if entanglements with other things are severed that something can be genuinely identical with itself. In addition negativity is a sufficient condition of self-identity, it is not merely that there is nothing for the mind to be, once its external relationships are severed, except self-identical, but that negativity presupposes a withdrawal. An animal can purloin fodder loosely speaking but it lacks choice in the matter being entirely engrossed in its sensation or desire. A human who commits theft from a desire for wealth is not engrossed by desire or by his or her project, he or she chooses to act upon this desire, to pursue this project, when he or she might have chosen otherwise. He or she opts for extreme individuality because he or she puts his own desires above those of everyone else and hence suffers extreme rupture because his or her individuality now is as far as it could be from his or her universality and his or her ethical nature. Nonetheless the thief remains universal and ethical by nature otherwise he or she would be no better and no worse, than a lower animal.

A piece of metal cannot have both the specific gravity of gold and a different specific gravity for this would be an obvious contradiction, it cannot have nor attain a different specific gravity from that of gold and yet be or remain gold for this would contradict the essential nature of gold, gold like other natural stuffs and entities cannot sustain such contradictions. A mind sustains what are comparable contradictions. I am not a house, nor am I the idea or representation of a house yet I can have the idea of a house, something contradictory to my I while still remaining an I. Not all such contradictions are painful but every pain is or presupposes a contradiction. This is not peculiar to minds for mirror can mirror things quite different from itself, trees, houses, and so on. But the mind is aware of having posited every such determination and of its ability to sublate, that is to say, get rid of it. This differentiates a mind from a mirror albeit ordinary logic does not deny that we can assert or even believe a contradictory proposition merely that such a proposition can be true, nor does it deny that the mind can sustain contradictions of the Hegelian kind, it does not deal with the question of concern here, that is to say, that which distinguishes specifically human consciousness from the consciousness’ of lower animals.

The distinction between mind in its immediacy and mind in actual freedom is different from the distinction between mind fleeing from the Other and mind that posits and overcomes its other. Mind in its immediacy posits the idea of house and overcomes it by being able to endure and sublate it but it has to do more than this to gain actual freedom, overcoming all the forms of its reality (Dasein) that fall short of its concept, and since mind, even in its immediacy, is not determined by external things, mind’s ascent to actual freedom is effected by the mind itself.

‘What belongs to external nature is destroyed by contradiction; if, for example, gold were given a different specific gravity from what it has, it would have to perish as gold. But mind has the power to preserve itself in contradiction and, therefore, in pain (pain aroused by evil, as well as by the disagreeable) . Ordinary logic is, therefore, in error in supposing that mind is something that completely excludes contradiction from itself. On the contrary, all consciousness contains a unity and a separation, hence a contradiction. Thus, for example, the representation of house is something completely contradictory to my I and yet endured by it. But the contradiction is endured by the mind because the mind contains no determination that it does not recognize as a determination posited by itself and consequently as a determination that it can also sublate again. This power over all the content present in it forms the basis of the freedom of mind. But in its immediacy, mind is free only implicitly, in concept or possibility, not yet in actuality; actual freedom is thus not something that is immediately in the mind but something to be produced by mind’s activity. So in science we have to regard mind as the producer of its freedom. The entire development of the concept of mind displays only mind’s freeing of itself from all the forms of its reality which do not correspond to its concept: a liberation which comes about by the transformation of these forms into an actuality perfectly adequate to the concept of mind’.

- ‘Philosophy of Mind’

‘Red-Headed Woman Sitting on the Couch’ (Justine Dieuhl), 1897, Toulouse-Lautrec

For my muse. Speaking of feeling, there is one in particular that I am hooked on ❤️

Ooga-chaka ooga-ooga

Ooga-chaka ooga-ooga

Ooga-chaka ooga-ooga

Ooga-chaka ooga-ooga

I can’t stop this feeling

Deep inside of me

Girl, you just don’t realize

What you do to me

When you hold me

In your arms so tight

You let me know

Everything’s all right

I’m hooked on a feeling

I’m high on believing

That you’re in love with me

Lips as sweet as candy

Its taste is on my mind

Girl, you got me thirsty

For another cup of wine

Got a bug from you, girl

But I don’t need no cure

I just stay a victim

If I can for sure

All the good love when we’re all alone

Keep it up, girl Yeah, you turn me on

I’m hooked on a feeling

I’m high on believing

That you’re in love with me

All the good love

When we’re all alone

Keep it up, girl

Yeah, you turn me on

I’m hooked on a feeling

I’m high on believing

That you’re in love with me

I’m hooked on a feeling

And I’m high on believing

That you’re in love with me

I said I’m hooked on a feeling

And I’m high on believing

That you’re in love with me

Blue Swede — ‘Hooked On A Feeling’:

Coming up next:

The mind’s abstract universality.

To be continued …



David Proud

David Proud is a British philosopher currently pursuing a PhD at the Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool, on Hegel and James Joyce.