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

David Proud
31 min readApr 15, 2024


by Heinrich Heine (1797–1856)

IN her hand the little lamp, and

Mighty passion in her breast,

Psyche creepeth to the couch where

Her dear sleeper takes his rest.

How she blushes, how she trembles,

When his beauty she descries!

He, the God of love, unveil’d thus,

Soon awakes and quickly flies.

Eighteen hundred years’ repentance!

And the poor thing nearly died!

Psyche fasts and whips herself still,

For she Amor naked spied.


In der Hand die kleine Lampe,

In der Brust die große Glut,

Schleichet Psyche zu dem Lager,

Wo der holde Schläfer ruht.

Sie errötet und sie zittert,

Wie sie seine Schönheit sieht -

Der enthüllte Gott der Liebe,

Er erwacht und er entflieht.

Achtzehnhundertjährge Buße!

Und die Ärmste stirbt beinah!

Psyche fastet und kasteit sich,

Weil sie Amorn nackend sah.

Matthew Locke (c. 1621–1677) Psyche: Symphony for the Descending of Venus’:

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

‘In contrast to the empirical sciences, where the material as given by experience is taken up from outside and ordered by an already established universal rule and brought into external interconnexion, speculative thinking has to demonstrate each of its objects and the development of them in their absolute necessity. This happens when each particular concept is derived from the self-producing and self-actualizing universal concept or the logical Idea. Philosophy must therefore comprehend mind as a necessary development of the eternal Idea and must let what constitutes the particular parts of the science of mind evolve purely from the concept of mind’.

- ‘Philosophy of Mind’

The logical Idea we have encountered before, in the ;’Encyclopaedia Logic’. It is the fundamental logical structure of reality, Idea is Idee, a word that is in Hegel’s usage distinct in meaning from Vorstellung, representation, idea, whereby Vorstellung is an idea in one’s mind while an Idee is rather more like an objective Platonic idea. The German language capitalizes nouns while the English language does not but it is a good idea to capitalize Idea like Idee for the purpose of distinguishing it from idea as Vorstellung. As Hegel uses the term an Idee is a concept, Begriff, together with its corresponding reality. An analogy that he frequently employs is that a concept is somewhat like the plan or code embedded in a seed while the full-grown tree actualizes the plan in the seed. The logical Idea is called the concept because in relation to nature and mind it is somewhat like an undeveloped seed however it is normally called an Idea since within itself it undergoes a development that may be likened to the growth of a tree from a seed. Beginning from the simple concept of being it unfolds into an elaborate logical system but this development is not like the growth of a tree a temporal process. The development is logical or as Hegel says eternal and despite this internal development the logical Idea is still comparatively abstract since it has yet to actualize itself in the world, namely in nature and mind.

The manner through which this actualization transpires is barely understood but it is foreshadowed and explained by the internal development of the logical Idea. in the ‘Encyclopadia Logic’ Hegel compared the logical Idea’s self-actualization to God’s creation of the world, the creation is foreshadowed and explained by God’s internal complexity. The ‘Philosophy of Nature’ attended to its actualization in nature. But as for mind, the mind is finite mind, generally speaking the individual mind and also society, but also absolute mind, art, religion, and philosophy, an actualization of the logical Idea. And furthermore, mind is a copy of the logical Idea, which is to say, mind develops from simple beginnings in the same manner as the logical Idea develops internally except that the development of mind is in part a temporal process and what the mind develops from is the concept of mind.

The concept of mind is not the logical Idea as a whole because the mind is a copy of the logical Idea and hence ought to develop from its concept in a similar fashion to that in which the logical Idea develops from its concept. It is rather the initial plan or outline of mind from which the mind develops in a sequence of necessary stages that parallel the stages of the logical Idea. It is the seed from which the mind grows. The concept’ of mind which mind is destined to cognize (erkennen) is now a broader notion than merely the initial plan from which the mind develops, since mind is fated to know not only its initial plan but in addition the stages of its development from this plan. Recall however that the mind’s entire development is implicit in and determined by its initial plan, as the growth of a tree is implicit in and determined by the plan in the seed, and so in knowing the plan the mind knows its whole development.

The self-knowledge (Selbsterkenntnis) to which the mind is called has several meanings. The mind is aware or conscious of itself and its states, and so on. If I am in love I am aware that I am in love, and so on. All activity’ of the mind is an apprehension of itself while also more than this for why would the Delphic oracle be saying ‘know thyself’ if we have this kind of self-knowledge anyway? And upon the mind, be it of the individual or of human beings in general, attaining a particular stage of its development it reflects upon the stage it has reached and acquires knowledge of it. Adolescents reflect upon their adolescence, a historian reflects upon the spirit of the age, a Lothario reflects upon his conquests, and so on, and such reflection plays an important role in the mind’s progression to a higher stage and hence in the development of mind both in the individual and over the course of history. In virtue of the fact that not everyone is so reflective it is something the oracle may recommend it with good reason but to say that all the mind’s activity consists only in self-knowledge of this type would be to overstate the case.

The mind engages in scientific or philosophical investigation of itself in contrast to other things as Hegel does in the ‘Philosophy of Mind’ yet this is not all that the mind does for it investigates many things other than itself itself. In dealing with other, non-mental, things, everything in heaven and on earth that is to say, the mind does or ought to know or recognize (erkennen) itself in them for they are not out-and-out Other. In science the mind discovers in the world the structures of its own thought and in its practical activity it makes things conform to its own needs and purposes. Therefore all the mind’s activity is simply an apprehension of itself because in dealing with any object not only scientifically but also practically the mind recognizes itself in it.

We can make the moves from a conception of self-knowledge according to which the mind knows itself in contrast to other things, self-knowledge in the three senses outlined above, to a conception of it according to which the mind knows or recognizes itself in everything else and this recognition of mind in what is other than mind is one of the things meant by the actualization of the concept of mind. The mind cannot know itself without knowing other things or at the very least without recognizing itself in them since the mind is only able to put itself in order to the extent that it finds order in the world. To gain self-knowledge in the first sense is to become aware of one’s mental states and of one’s ownership of them and to attain self-knowledge in the second sense, that is to say, to reflect upon the mind’s current stage of development, the mind has to view the world as conforming to a certain type of order, an order that corresponds to the mind’s own internal order. Immanuel Kant had contended in the ‘Critique of Pure Reason’ that the orderly conceptualization of phenomena, making it possible to have objective experience of them, is a necessary condition of our self-consciousness, generally speaking in the first sense above, but Kant was inclined to look upon such conceptualization as an already an accomplished and irreversible matter of fact whereas Hegel looked upon it as a task to be completed gradually throughout one’s life and throughout history.

‘The difficulty of the philosophical cognition of mind consists in the fact that here we are no longer dealing with the comparatively abstract, simple logical Idea, but with the most concrete, most developed form achieved by the Idea in its self-actualization. Even finite or subjective mind, not only absolute mind, must be grasped as an actualization of the Idea. The treatment of mind is only truly philosophical when it cognizes the concept of mind in its living development and actualization, i.e. just when it comprehends the mind as a copy of the eternal Idea. But it belongs to the nature of mind to cognize its concept. Consequently, the summons to self-knowledge, issued to the Greeks by the Delphic Apollo, does not have the sense of a command externally addressed to the human mind by an alien power; on the contrary, the god who impels to self-knowledge is none other than the mind’s own absolute law. All activity of the mind is, therefore, only an apprehension of itself, and the aim of all genuine science is just this, that mind shall recognize itself in everything in heaven and on earth. There is simply no out and out Other for the mind.s Even the oriental does not wholly lose himself in the object of his worship. But the Greeks were the first to grasp expressly as mind that which they opposed to themselves as the Divine, though even they did not attain, either in philosophy or in religion, to knowledge of the absolute infinity of mind; therefore with the Greeks the relationship of the human mind to the Divine is still not one of absolute freedom. It was Christianity, by the doctrine of the incarnation of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit in the community of believers, that first gave to human consciousness a perfectly free relation to the infinite and thereby made possible the conceptual knowledge of mind in its absolute infinity’.

- ‘Philosophy of Mind’

Oriental refers in the main to Hinduism but perhaps also Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and so on, but the point to note is not so much that the oriental worshipper does not forget him or herself in his or her worship but rather that the object of worship is not wholly unanthropomorphic and alien to the worshipper. The Greek gods were anthropomorphic and yet are considered to be distinct from mortal men hence they are not infinite but other than and therefore bounded or finite by men and women who in worshipping what is other than themselves are not related to the gods freely, one can be related freely only to what is seen as somehow identical to oneself. Christianity resolves this defect whereby God becomes man and the Holy Spirit (Geist) descends into the community of believers therefore the divine is now infinite and embraces the believers and is not bounded by them, they freely worship what is in effect themselves (make of that what you will).

‘Lost in thought’, Allan Douglas Davidson, (1873–1932)

‘Self-knowledge in the usual trivial sense of an inquiry into the individual’s own foibles and faults has interest and importance only for the individual, not for philosophy; but even in relation to the individual, the less it deals with knowledge of the universal intellectual and moral nature of man, and the more it degenerates-disregarding duties, the genuine content of the will-into a self-satisfied absorption of the individual in the idiosyncrasies dear to him, the less value that self-knowledge has. The same is true of the so-called understanding of human nature which is likewise directed to the peculiarities of individual minds. … For philosophy, however, this understanding of human nature is a matter of indifference to the extent that it is incapable of rising above the consideration of contingent details to the apprehension of great human characters, by which the genuine nature of man is presented to our vision in undimmed purity. But this understanding of human nature can even become harmful for science if, as happened in the so-called pragmatic treatment of history, through failure to appreciate the substantial character of world-historical individuals and to see that great things can only be accomplished through great characters, it makes the supposedly ingenious attempt to derive the greatest events of history from the contingent peculiarity of those heroes, from their presumed petty intentions, inclinations and passions. In such a procedure history, which is ruled by divine Providence, is reduced to a play of pointless activity and contingent occurrences’.

- ‘Philosophy of Mind’

Polybius in his ‘Histories’ characterised what he was doing as pragmatic history perhaps in the sense of political and military history and so meaning not much more than history without any suggestions of didacticism or political usefulness whereas for Hegel the term means the treatment of history with a view to its lessons for the present, that is to say, the historian’s contemporaries, whereby pragmatic history is inclined towards belittling great men through explaining their deeds in terms of petty motives and petty, everyday motives are more constant from epoch to epoch than the grand designs of heroes and hence heroes are rendered more relevant to the present if they are cut down to size.

We can argue against such reductionism for great things can only be accomplished through great characters and it reduces history from the work of providence to pointless activity and contingent occurrences. On the face of it, it is not so evident as to why providence could not lead agents each of whom was intrinsically insignificant to perform together great and significant deeds. A poet can create great poetry from letters that are severally somewhat insignificant. But providence is not external to agents and their actions in the manner whereby a poet is external to the poem, hence heroes are required to guide more humble performers in great historic upheavals and heroes have to be in part aware of and motivated by the rationality of their goals and not merely by, for instance, boredom or avarice. An historical agent is to some extent aware of the role assigned to him or her by providence. In the above passage individual sometimes translates the adjective einzeln and the noun der Einzelne, sometimes das Individuum. Der Einzelne is the general term for the individual and das Individuum is used in more strictly philosophical contexts and not like English individual’ in the sense of person. We will frequently find the words employed indifferently but Einzelne is less elevated than Individuum and can suggest triviality and so the world-historical individual is always a weltgeschichtliche Individuum, standard examples being the likes of Alexander, Caesar, and Napoleon.

§378 ‘Pneumatology or the so-called rational psychology has already been mentioned in the Introduction as an abstract metaphysic of the intellect. Empirical psychology has as its object the concrete mind and, after the revival of the sciences, when observation and experience had become the principal foundation for knowledge of concrete reality, such psychology was pursued in the same way. Consequently the metaphysical element was kept outside this empirical science, and so prevented from getting any concrete determination or content, while the empirical science clung to the conventional intellectual metaphysics of forces, various activities, etc., and banished the speculative approach. Aristotle ‘s books on the soul, along with his essays on particular aspects and states of the soul, are for this reason still the most admirable, perhaps even the sole, work of speculative interest on this topic. The essential aim of a philosophy of mind can only be to introduce the concept again into the knowledge of mind, and so also to disclose once more the sense of those Aristotelian books’.

- ‘Philosophy of Mind’

Pneuma, Greek for wind, air, breath of life, life, soul, a spirit, and pneumatology is therefore the study of spirit, and it was a word in use in Britain. By Thomas Reid (1710–1796) for instance:

‘As, therefore, all our knowledge is confined to body and mind, or things belonging to them, there are two great branches of philosophy, one relating to body, the other to mind. The properties of body, and the laws that obtain in the material system, are the objects of natural philosophy, as that word is now used- The branch which treats of the nature and operations of minds has, by some, been called Pneumatology. And to the one or the other of these branches, the principles of all the sciences belong. What variety there may be of minds or thinking beings, throughout this vast universe, we cannot pretend to say. We dwell in a little corner of God’s dominion, disjoined from the rest of it. The globe which we inhabit is but one of seven planets that encircle our sun. What various orders of beings may inhabit the other six, their secondaries, and the comets belonging to our system, and how many other suns may be encircled with like systems, are things altogether hid from us’.

- ‘Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man’

A rational psychology so-called, since for Hegel’s it was not rational, it was an a priori discipline endeavouring to establish that the human soul is a substance, simple, numerically identical over time, immortal, and so on. Kant had criticized what he designated the paralogisms of rational psychology in ‘Critique of Pure Reason’ and Hegel criticizes it in a similar fashion, rational psychology utilises inappropriate categories such as force and activity, and partly because of such intrinsic defects it does not investigate the concrete mind. The metaphysic of the intellect is Verstandesmetaphysik, the metaphysics of the hard and fast, unilinear Verstand, intellect, understanding, as opposed to the fluid, lateral Vernunft, reason. Hegel’s target is not metaphysics as such, but the pre-Kantian metaphysics of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, (1646–1716), and such followers as Christian Wolff, (1679–1754), Moses Mendelssohn, (1729–1786), and Alexander Baumgarten, (1714–1762). The reference to the Introduction is to the Encyclopaedia Logic’, §34.

Empirical psychology studies that which rational psychology overlooks, which is to say the concrete powers of the mind such as perception, and on occasion the two kinds were practised by the same people. Christian Wolff wrote on empirical as well as rational psychology, but empirical and rational psychology are not brought together in such a manner whereby the powers of the mind are derived from the underlying nature of the mind. Nonetheless empirical psychology presents its discoveries in the inadequate guise of the Verstandesmetaphysik. Hegel’s own approach is speculative seeking to correct the deficiencies of empirical and rational psychology by deriving the empirical manifestation of the mind from its nature or concept and it applies to the mind adequate categories, categories that disclose the connection between the concept of mind and its concrete reality.

Aristotle’s ‘De Anima’, (‘On the Soul’), consists of three books and in addition Aristotle penned briefer works covering such themes as perception, memory, dreams, and so on. Aristotle’s psuche or soul differs in two significant ways from Hegel’s Geist. First, a psuche is that which makes something alive, hence plants and animals as well as men and women have a psuche albeit the human soul is distinguished by its possession of nous, intellect. In a broad sense Geist includes the lower psychological aspects, the Seele, soul, but in its more usual narrower sense it is more intellectual and is restricted to humans. Hence it is nearer to nous than to psuche. And furthermore, Geist includes objective mind and absolute mind but these do not appear in Aristotle’s psychological writings and have no particular connection with the psuche other than presupposing ensouled human beings. Aristotle considers objective mind though not under that title in his works on ethics and politics and in so far as he deals with absolute mind at all he does so in various works, poetry in his ‘Poetics’, God, though not religion, in the ‘Metaphysics’, and the history of philosophy throughout his works, but particularly in the ‘Metaphysics’.

‘Genuinely speculative philosophy, which excludes the approach discussed in the previous Paragraph which is directed to the unessential, individual, empirical appearances of mind, also excludes the directly opposite approach of so-called rational psychology or pneumatology, which deals only with abstractly universal determinations, with the essence supposedly beneath appearances, the in-itself of mind. For speculative philosophy may not take its objects, as something given, from representation/ nor may it determine its objects by mere categories of the intellect, as rational psychology did when it posed the question whether the mind or the soul is simple, immaterial, a substance. In these questions mind was treated as a thing; for these categories were here regarded, in the general manner of the intellect, as inert, fixed; thus they are incapable of expressing the nature of mind. Mind is not an inert entity but is rather what is absolutely restless, pure activity, the negating or the ideality of every fixed determination of the intellect,- not abstractly simple but, in its simplicity, at the same time a distinguishing-of-itself-from-itself,-not an essence that is already complete before its appearing, keeping to itself behind the mountain of appearances, but truly actual only through the determinate forms of its necessary self-revelation,- and not (as that psychology supposed) a soul-thing only externally related to the body, but inwardly bound to the body through the unity of the concept’.

- ‘Philosophy of Mind’

‘Lost in thought’, 1908, James Carroll Beckwith

Begriff, concept, in addition suggests unity because the cognate verb begreifen, to comprehend, and so on, also means to encompass, include. Hegel’s ‘Philosophy of Mind’ will bring in the concept and in that manner unifying the concerns of rational and of empirical inquiry in a way that resolves the defects of each considered on their own whereas Aristotle drew no distinction between philosophy and empirical science and his ‘De Anima’ combines both kinds of inquiry. Spekulativ comes from the Latin speculari, to spy, observe, and so on, in German as in English it frequently refers to daring conjectures, and in medieval philosophers speculativus frequently means theoretical as opposed to practical. In Hegel it retains a suggestion of daring but no suggestion of the conjectural. It contrasts with the merely empirical, with the cut-and-dried thinking of Verstand, and with merely sceptical, negative dialectic that advances to no positive conclusion. The Latin word speculum derives from speculari meaning a mirror. Are we to associate Hegelian Spekulation with mirroring? Hegel does not connect speculation with mirrors but he does connect mirrors with reflexion, which in Hegel’s usage is a less elevated notion than Spekulation.

‘In the middle, between observation directed to the contingent individuality of mind and pneumatology concerned only with mind’s essence behind appearances, stands empirical psychology intent on the observation and description of the particular faculties of mind. But this too does not get to the genuine unification of the individual and the universal, to knowledge of the concretely universal nature or the concept of mind, and therefore it, too, has no claim to the name of genuinely speculative philosophy. Empirical psychology takes not only the mind in general, but also the particular faculties into which it analyses it, from representation as givens, without deriving these particularities from the concept of mind and so proving the necessity that in mind there are just these faculties and no others’.

- ‘Philosophy of Mind’

The empirical approach rejected here is not the empirical psychology mentioned in §378 but the understanding of human nature referred to in §377. This attends simply to the surface appearances of the mind while rational psychology attends simply with the mind’s essence or in itself (Ansich), what it is in itself (an sich), apart from its appearances and its relations to other entities. The ‘Encyclopaedia Logic’ put forth general objections to endeavours to separate an essence from its appearance or appearances. An essence such as electricity essentially appears or manifests itself in such phenomena as light and heat, and conversely electrically generated light, heat, motion, and so on depend upon an underlying essence, electricity, and likewise a psychology attending simply to the essence of mind and a psychology attending simply to its appearance are both deficient, and so it is that the understanding of human nature of §377 is excluded. Speculative philosophy cannot just simply take things over from Vorstellung, representation, here empirical observation, it has to in some manner or other derive them from the concept of mind, an objection also raised later against the empirical psychology of §378.

Rational psychology looks at the mind as a static thing as opposed to pure activity, the mind is conceived in terms of the categories of Verstand, as simple to the exclusion of all complexity, as immaterial to the exclusion of all materiality, and so on. Generally speaking if the mind is F then rational psychology takes this to exclude completely the negation or opposite of F-ness and this accounts for rational psychology’s disregard of the appearances of the mind. If the mind is a self-contained essence it has no essential connexion with its appearances, if it is simple and immaterial to the complete exclusion of their opposites it can be related to the body only externally. What is needed to set things straight are the fluid, self-negating categories of reason. The mind is simple and yet it also distinguishes itself from itself in a variety of ways, given that it is conscious of itself, it counterposes to itself an object that it apprehends, it branches out into a diversity of functions and activities, it is intimately, and not just externally, related to its body, it is an essence but an essence that is in need of appearance for its completion, and the internal defects of rational psychology account for its seclusion from the empirical.

The empirical psychology of §378 is distinct from and lies between the understanding of human nature discarded in §377 and rational psychology. Whereas the understanding of human nature paid attention merely to the peculiarities of certain types of men and women (for instance that men and women frequently resent their benefactors .. don’t we all know it? just think of asylum seekers allowed asylum and then continually slag off the country that helped them) empirical psychology pays attention to faculties that are common to all human beings, such as thought, perception, and memory. It merely assumes upon the basis of empirical observation that there are minds and that minds have just these faculties and no others without endeavouring to demonstrate the necessity of this from the concept of mind. The inability to derive logically the mind’s faculties and the consequent dependence on Vorstellung goes with a de-spiritualization (Entgeistigung) of the mind or Geist treating it as a bundle of forces that interact but are in essence independent of each other, no one mental force can be logically derived from the others, or from the concept of mind itself.

The modes of treatment thus far described are understanding of human nature, that looks at the individual, and rational psychology, that looks at the universal. Empirical psychology attends to neither of these but with particular forms, Besonderungen, that is the mind’s faculties, and we can distinguish the objects of the three rejected types of psychology as respectively individual, universal, and particular. Particularity combines the notion of a particular judgement (some women are wise), in contrast to the singular (Diotima is wise) and the universal (all women are wise) judgement, and the notion of a determinate or particular property (earwig, brown) as opposed to a determinable or generic property (insect, coloured) but the triad is to be employed in cases such as this one where neither of these notions is particularly suitable. A faculty such as perception is a particular or type of way in which the mind works. Concerning this threesome have a look at the ‘Encyclopaedia Logic’ §§163–4.

‘For though [empirical] psychology also demands the production of a harmonious interconnexion between the various mental forces-an oft-recurring catch-phrase on this topic, but one which is just as indefinite as ‘perfection’ used to be-this expresses only a unity of mind which ought to be, not the original unity of mind, and still less does it recognize the particularization to which the concept of mind, the unity of mind that is in itself, progresses, as a necessary and rational particularization. This harmonious interconnexion remains, therefore, a vacuous idea which expresses itself in high-sounding but empty phrases and remains powerless in face of the mental forces presupposed as independent’.

- ‘Philosophy of Mind’

The harmonious interconnexion (harmonische Zusammenhang) is something that the empirical psychologist anticipates each mind to attain for itself, not something that the psychologist aspires to attain in his own theory, and considered in this way it is analogous to the perfection that followers of Leibniz, especially Wolff, encouraged us to aspire towards. If the mind were merely a congeries of independent forces it could never attain such integration but by contrast the mind has an original unity, the concept of mind itself, and this particularizes itself in a necessary and rational way, not into a congeries of forces, but into a rationally articulated structure. The concept (Begriff ) is here conceived not as a concept that we form but as rather like the plan embedded in a simple seed that grows and furcates into a full-grown tree.

§379 ‘The self-feeling of the mind’s living unity spontaneously resists the fragmentation of the mind into different faculties, forces, or, what comes to the same thing, activities, represented as independent of each other. But the need for comprehension here is stimulated even more by the oppositions, which at once present themselves, between the mind’s freedom and the mind’s determinism, of the free agency of the soul in contrast to the bodiliness external to it, and again the intimate connection between the two. In experience too the phenomena of animal magnetism in particular have given, in recent times, a visible illustration of the substantial unity of the soul, and of the power of its ideality. Before these phenomena, the rigid distinctions of the intellect are thrown into disarray; and the necessity of a speculative examination for the dissolution of the contradictions is displayed more directly’.

- ‘Philosophy of Mind’

Self-feeling is the mind’s feeling of its own unity, a unity that persists throughout the variety of its states and activities. The opposition between freedom and determinism concerns the mind (Geist) whereas the second opposition is between the body and the soul (Seele) and there is a distinction to be made between mind and soul for while the mind is the rational and intellectual principle the soul is our animating principle making the body a living body. Mind or Geist thus approaches the sense of nous as Aristotle understood it while Seele approaches psuche as Aristotle understood it although granted not in the sense of rational psychology. On the first opposition what is implied is that if the mind is a congeries of independent forces it can in virtue of that fact not be any more free than a similar congeries of physical forces each determining and determined by the others, but mind being both free and determined is also intended and the intellect as a single progressive sequence cannot take on board such an apparent incongruity. Freedom of the mind will be considered in more detail later but as for the second opposition the implication is that the soul is at the same time free and intimately connected with the body which amounts to yet another incongruity that the intellect struggles to handle.

The soul and its community with the body are also be dealt with later, to attend to both problems we have to bring up comprehension (begreifen). 3. A Viennese physician, Franz Anton Mesmer (1734–1815), attempted to cure nervous illnesses by hypnosis, induced by e.g. the patient’s grasping a suitably ‘magnetized’ iron bar. Animal magnetism was, in his view, a physical force permeating the whole universe. Illness resulted from an imbalance between the animal magnetism in the patient’s body and that in the external world, and was to be cured by directing animal magnetism into the patient from outside.

Animal magnetism is equivalent to mesmerism and will be looked into in more detail later, but it is the phenomena of magnetism and not Mesmer’s odd theory, (the existence of an invisible natural force (Lebensmagnetismus) possessed by all living things, including humans, animals, and vegetables a force with physical effects including healing) that implicates the unity of the soul and bewilders the rigid distinctions of the intellect, such phenomena as clairvoyance, enabling the patient to foretell such world events as Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, though not the winning numbers in a lottery (§406Z.). The mesmerized patient withdraws into the inner depths of his or her psyche which are more sensitive to such matters than our normal waking consciousness and the substantial unity of the soul is primarily the soul’s internal unity, the fact that it is not divided into separate faculties nor divisible in the way that the body is. And further, under hypnosis one person’s soul merges with another’s, see §406. The ideality of the soul is its ability to overcome or negate distinctions within itself whether between it putatively distinct faculties or between the rigid categories applied to it, see §403.

‘Tankefull’, (‘Thoughtful’), 1881, Sophie Werenskiold

‘All those finite conceptions of mind outlined in the two previous paragraphs have been ousted, partly by the vast transformation undergone by philosophy in general in recent years, and partly, from the empirical side itself, by the phenomena of animal magnetism which are a stumbling-block to finite thinking. As regards the former, philosophy has left behind the finite viewpoint of merely reflective thinking which, since Wolff, had become universal, and also the Fichtean standstill at the so-called facts of consciousness, and risen to the conception of mind as the self-knowing, actual Idea, to the concept of the living mind which, in a necessary manner, differentiates itself within itself and returns out of its differences to unity with itself. But in doing this, philosophy has not only overcome the abstractions prevalent in those finite conceptions of mind, the merely individual, merely particular, and merely universal, reducing them to moments of the concept which is their truth; it has also, instead of externally describing the material it finds, vindicated as the only scientific method the rigorous form of the necessary self-development of the content. In contrast to the empirical sciences, where the material as given by experience is taken up from outside and ordered by an already established universal rule and brought into external interconnexion, speculative thinking has to demonstrate each of its objects and the development of them in their absolute necessity’.

- ‘Philosophy of Mind’

Finite (endlich) means bounded, the forces or faculties of empirical psychology are distinct from, and hence bounded by, each other. A category of the intellect, such as simplicity, is bounded by its opposite, complexity, and the self-contained essence of the mind and the mind’s appearances, as they are conceived by rational psychology, bound to each other, the mind itself transcends these boundaries, and so does speculative philosophy and in doing so they are infinite. 9§386). Christian Wolff was an exemplar of reflective thinking that sharply separates concepts from each other, and Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762–1814), albeit not a reflective thinker in the Hegelian sense, did in his ‘Science of Knowledge’ of 1794 discourse upon the I or the proposition ‘I am I’ and the non-I or the proposition ‘A is not = A’ as ‘facts of empirical consciousness. To consider something as a fact is to imply that it is not capable of further derivation or explanation (see §415) although Fichte does express reservations concerning the concept of a fact of consciousness in ‘A Comparison between Prof. Schmid’s System and the Wissenschaftslehre’, 1795.

The mind is an Idea since it is a concept which develops into a reality corresponding to it (cf. §377) and the mind’s development consists in differentiating itself in a necessary way and then overcoming these differences to unify itself once again by acquiring knowledge of its own concept in absolute mind, particularly philosophy. The development of the mind from its concept is like the growth of a plant from a seed which suggests that the development of the mind is a process in time, to begin with the development of an embryo into a complete human being but in later passages the development of man or woman over history, but for much of the time Hegel follows the logical order of the mind’s unfolding with no indication that this is also the temporal order of its growth, that, say, recollection (§452) emerges first and is then followed in time by imagination (§455).

it seems as though the concept of mind is identified with the logical or eternal Idea put forth in the ‘Encyclopaedia Logic’ but is not the logical Idea an apparently neutral logical system with no more to do particularly with mind than with nature? There are however good reasons for so identifying them. The logical Idea has to divide into two branches, nature and mind, in order that the mind emerges from the logical Idea in much the same way as it emerges from the concept of mind. Furthermore, the development of the mind throughout the ‘Philosophy of Mind’ follows the same pattern as the development of the logical Idea for the logical Idea is the blueprint of the mind’s development. And even further, the logical Idea, an implicit system of thoughts, forms the core of the mind, it is not just the plan of the mind’s development but also propels its development, therefore the concept embedded in the embryonic mind is the logical Idea. On the relationship between the logical Idea and the mind as the self-knowing, actual Idea see §381.

That which makes the implicit logical Idea develop be it temporally or non-temporally into a fully fledged mind is its intrinsic contradictoriness, the contradiction between the difference implicit in the logical Idea akin to the roots, branches, leaves, and so on implicit in the seed and the simple, homogeneous form in which it takes place. This impels it to develop actually into the whole that it is potentially and speculative philosophy follows the mind’s development like a spectator, and unlike empirical psychology demonstrates how every phase is derived necessarily from the logical Idea. Like the mind itself it begins with the logical Idea and traces the development of mind from it owing to contradictions immanent in the logical Idea and in any phase of its development short of the mind’s complete actuality, hence philosophy mirrors the development of the mind itself, we merely look on at the object’s own development but in a somewhat different way from that in which an empirical psychologist might observe the development of the mind from infancy to adulthood.

Non-speculative philosophy has to appeal to empirical observation or subjective ideas and notions in order to develop a coherent account of the mind and this depends in particular upon the seclusion from each other of the individual, particular, and universal, (§378) and non-speculative philosophy acknowledges no a-priori path from the universal (for instance animal) to the particular species of it (for instance kangaroo, dolphin) and from there to the individual (for instance Skippy, Flipper, with all their individual features. Likewise it recognises no apriori route from the universal concept of mind as such to the particular powers of the mind, such as perception, nor from there to the individual mind and its individual features. Rather, the particular powers or stages of the mind develop with a discernible necessity and as to the part assigned to individuality see §389.

The development of a seed is complete when the plant produces another seed of the same type and the seed is the sensuously present concept and in general a concept completes its development in generating an actuality that perfectly corresponds to it, and the concept of mind does this not by creating offspring with minds of their own but rather by gaining complete consciousness of its concept, which is to say, by gaining as absolute mind philosophical comprehension of its own nature and development. The final stage of mind is one and the same as the concept that produces it, the seed or germ engendered by an organism albeit numerically distinct from the seed or germ from which the organism developed is more or less qualitatively identical to it, although a mind that knows its own concept is not qualitatively identical to that concept prior to it being known. Furthermore the philosophical mind that emerges at the end of the ;Philosophy of Mind’ knows more than merely its own concept, it knows about nature and also about the development of mind, but the point to note is that development of mind terminates upon knowing all about itself and furthermore the final stage of mind is the logical Idea from which the mind originally developed and the system outlined by the Encyclopaedia forms a circle, beginning and concluding with the logical Idea. (§577).

Truth is not the truth of a judgement such as ‘The grass is green’ when the grass referred to is indeed green, such a judgement is correct rather than true (§172). Truth is the agreement of the concept with its actuality, a true tree is a fully grown tree, a true lover is a lover who fully satisfies the concept of a lover and as to what this amounts to as far as mind goes is that true mind, as opposed to merely immediate, which is to say undeveloped, mind makes its concept an object to itself, transforms what is immediate into something posited (Gesetzten, from setzen, ‘to set, put, posit’) by itself, makes its actuality appropriate to its concept. However, we discern differences, depending on what we mean by know. It may be objected that a true lover need not know the concept of a lover, and a true tree does not know the concept of a tree, but since self-knowledge is of the mind’s essence to be appropriately actualized the mind must become its own object. The mind’s inner, immediate, nature has to be developed, posited, externally, as the inner nature of the seed is posited as a tree, and the mind has to recognize itself in things other than itself. (Cf. §377, on self-knowledge).

The natural side of the mind is its knowledge, usually perceptual, of objects and events located at specific times and places, as opposed to science and philosophy, and the intellect can explain more or less everyday knowledge of this sort in terms of causality, and so on, however it cannot explain the magnetized patient’s knowledge of events remote in space and time, albeit the magnetized patient sinks below the level of ordinary consciousness because it cannot distinguish itself from surrounding nature it is related to philosophy in that its knowledge is not limited by its position in space and time.

‘Young Woman with a Book’, José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior, (1850–1899)

‘As already remarked, animal magnetism has played a part in ousting the untrue, finite, merely intellectual conception of mind. That remarkable state has had this effect especially with regard to the treatment of the natural aspect of the mind. If the other states and natural determinations of mind, as well as its conscious activities, can be understood, at least externally, by the intellect, and if the intellect is able to grasp the external connection of cause and effect obtaining both within itself and in finite things, the so-called natural course of things, yet, on the other hand, intellect shows itself incapable of even just believing in the phenomena of animal magnetism, because in these the bondage of mind to place and time — which in the opinion of the intellect is thoroughly fixed — and to the intellectual interconnexion of cause and effect, loses its meaning, and the elevation of mind above asunderness and above its external connexions, which to the intellect remains an unbelievable miracle, comes to light within sensory realiry itself. Now although it would be very foolish to see in the phenomena of animal magnetism an elevation of mind above even its conceptual reason, and to expect from this state higher disclosures about the eternal than those granted by philosophy, although the magnetic state must be declared a disease and a decline of mind itself below ordinary consciousness, in so far as in that state the mind surrenders its thinking, the thinking that proceeds in determinate distinctions and contrasts itself with nature, yet, on the other hand, in the visible liberation of mind in those magnetic phenomena from the limitations of space and time and from all finite connexions, there is something that has an affinity to philosophy, something that, with all the brutality of an established fact, defies the scepticism of the intellect and so necessitates the advance from ordinary psychology to the conceptual cognition of speculative philosophy, for which alone animal magnetism is not an incomprehensible miracle’.

- ‘Philosophy of Mind’

For my muse who brings out the animal in me 🐻❤️I am mesmerised.

You get me loose I want ya, that’s all I do

You leave me loose I want ya, that’s all I do

Make love to me right now

Love me till I’m down

You make me groove I want ya, that’s all I do

You let me groove I want ya, that’s all I do

Make love to me right now

Love me till I’m down

Who are you? Your magic is strange and new

Who are you? I want ya, that’s all I do

Make love to me right now

Love me till I’m down

Make love to me right now

Love me till I’m down…

Scorpions — ‘Animal Magnetism’:

Coming up next:

Further preambles.

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.