Hegel’s Phenomenology: Preliminary Remarks

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In the Encyclopedia, the parallelism between the Philosophy of Nature and the Philosophy of the Spirit is forsaken. The Absolute is not real, neither as essence (“Logic”) nor as Nature (existence). Nature (existence) is the negation of essence. Nature is abstract since it abstracts from Spirit. The Synthesis is only concrete, that is, Man in whom the essence of the Absolute is fully realised and revealed as the telos of the whole thing. We could therefore write the Philosophy of the Spirit from the Encyclopedia: Plan: I — Subjective Spirit: Individual Elements of Man: A. — Soul (anthropology) B. — Consciousness (phenomenology) C. — Spirit (Geist) (psychology) II. — Objective spirit: Elements that are realised only in Society. III. — Absolute spirit: A. — art B. — religion C. — philosophy. The Philosophy of Spirit culminates in the Philosophy of History, which describes the real becoming of the Absolute.

I, B corresponds to the first two chapters of the Phenomenology (Bewusstsein und Selbstbewusstsein), and I, C to the rest of the Phenomenology.

Absolute Philosophy has, so to speak, no object, or it is itself its own subject. Only the whole in its totality possesses a concrete reality. Philosophy, by studying concrete reality, therefore, studies the Totality. This Totality implies consciousness and also absolute Philosophy (since it is actually realised by Hegel). Absolute Philosophy has no object external to its “dialectical method”: this is a misunderstanding. (See Appendix I, pp. 447 et seq.) The three-step dialectic (thesis – • antithesis – synthesis) is not a method. Dialectics is the proper, true nature of things themselves (Enc. § 81) and not an “art” external to things (Enc. § 274): concrete reality is itself dialectical. The philosophical method can only be the passive contemplation of reality and its pure and simple description. Absolute knowledge is apparent inaction (Jena course, 1801-1802). The philosopher’s thought is dialectical because it reflects (reveals) the real, which is dialectical. The Phenomenology (of 1807) can be considered as: a) pedagogical introduction (secondary point of view); b) subjective introduction (Hegel himself must have thought up and written the Phenomenology); c) or else objectively, as awareness of the absolute Spirit in and through it. Historically, the Spirit has been realised; but it must become aware of itself; and this is what it does by thinking—in the person of Hegel—the “Phenomenology of the Spirit”, that is to say, the of its progress, “appearances” or “revelations” (“ phenomena”).

The Phenomenology is a phenomenological description (in the Husserlian sense of the word); its “object” is man as an “existential phenomenon”; man as he appears (er-scheint) to himself in his existence and through it. And the Phenomenology itself is its last “appearance.” [This Phenomenology is falsified — in Hegel — by the monist prejudice (with a view to Logic); by the prejudice that the being of man is not different from the being of nature.] Two tendencies in the Phenomenology: ancient monism (predominant) on the one hand, and on the other, Judeo – Christianity (negativity, in Hegel, corresponds to the Christian ideas of freedom, individuality, and death). Hegel’s method is an ideating abstraction (Husserl). Hegel considers a concrete man, a concrete epoch, but to discover in it the possibility (that is to say, the “essence’ of the “concept”, of the” idea”, etc.) which is realised there (Hegel does not cite therefore proper names). For Hegel, the essence is not independent of existence. Also, man does not exist outside of history. Hegel’s Phenomenology is, therefore, “existential” like that of Heidegger. And it must serve as the basis for an ontology. [This ontology, in the Logic, is, in fact, anthropological; it is, therefore, falsified when it interprets Nature. It is not universal, despite what Hegel thought: it is an ontology of Man (“Spirit”) and not of Nature. Phenomenology considers all possible philosophical attitudes as existential attitudes. But each is based on only one “possibility”. Each is therefore false if it wants to express the whole truth. It is true as a “moment” of absolute Philosophy. Independently of what Hegel thinks of it, Phenomenology is a philosophical anthropology. Its theme is man as human, the real being in history. His method is phenomenological in the modern sense of the word. This anthropology is, therefore, neither psychology nor ontology. It wants to describe the integral “essence” of man, that is to say, all the human “possibilities” (cognitive, affective, active). In an epoch, a given culture only realises in its action (effectively) a single “possibility.

System der Wissenschaft.1. Wissenschaft System ** Philosophy. “Scientific” philosophy is necessarily “systematic”; Wissenschaft or System. Philosophy must be scientific. Science or Philosophy is “necessary and complete”; it is not individual speculation. The system must be circular; only then is it necessary and complete. Circularity is, therefore, the criterion of the (absolute) truth of philosophy. It is the only possible (immanent) criterion of truth in idealistic monism (and perhaps in general). We have demonstrated that a philosophy implies the totality of what is thinkable (that is to say that it is absolutely true) when we have demonstrated that we cannot go beyond, without returning to the starting point, the point of view that necessarily ends the logical development of the System (which can, moreover, begin almost where it wishes). In this sense, Phenomenology has a circular character. 2. Wissenschaft der Phaenomenologie des Geistes = Wissenschaft der Erfahrung des Bewusstseins: Erfahrung = experience. It is the path that Consciousness (Bewusstsein) follows to arrive at self-knowledge (Selbstbewusstsein), that is, to understand that it is reality itself. This path is a reminder of the historicity of man, the “interiorising memory” (Er-innerung) of completed universal History. The historical development of man is a series of active (“negative”) creations, of successive realisations, which are the stages in the of philosophy and which are integrated into and through the Phenomenology, which are in their totality this Phenomenology, and representing a series of passive, lived experiences (Erfahrung). {[Hegel does not always remain faithful to his guiding idea. Sometimes, historical evolution appears as the successive realisation (in Time) of an eternal (“pre-existing”) Idea. According to the historicity of man (Judeo-Christian in origin), man is what he becomes (or has become). (eternity, as an Idea) Pagan morality: become what you are (as an Idea = Ideal.) Christian morality: become what you are not (yet); (the morality of “conversion” (as opposed to the “stoic” morality of “permanence”, of identity with oneself)}].

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