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I here offer a translation of the third or last part of Hegel's encyclopaedic sketch of philosophy,—the Philosophy of Mind. The volume, like its subject, stands complete in itself. But it may also be regarded as a supplement or continuation of the work begun in my version of his Logic. I have not ventured upon the Philosophy of Nature which lies between these two. That is a province, to penetrate into which would require an equipment of learning I make no claim to,—a province, also, of which the present-day interest would be largely historical, or at least bound up with historical circumstances.The translation is made from the German text given in the Second Part of the Seventh Volume of Hegel's Collected Works, occasionally corrected by comparison with that found in the second and third editions (of 1827 and 1830) published by the author. I have reproduced only Hegel's own paragraphs, and entirely omitted the Zusätze of the editors. These addenda—which are in origin lecture-notes—to the paragraphs are, in the text of the Collected Works, given for the first section only. The psychological part which they accompany has been barely treated elsewhere by Hegel: but a good popular exposition of it will be found in Erdmann's Psychologische Briefe. The second section was dealt with at greater length by Hegel himself in his Philosophy of Law (1820). The topics of the third section are largely covered by his lectures on Art, Religion, and History of Philosophy.I do not conceal from myself that the text offers a hard nut to crack. Yet here and there, even through the medium of the translation, I think some light cannot fail to come to an earnest student. Occasionally, too, as, for instance, in §§ 406, 459, 549, and still more in §§ 552, 573, at the close of which might stand the words Liberavi animam meam, the writer really “lets himself go,” and gives his mind freely on questions where speculation comes closely in touch with life...
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Copyright © 2016 by G.W.F. Hegel
Published by Perennial Press
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Essay I. On The Scope Of A Philosophy Of Mind.
Essay II. Aims And Methods Of Psychology.
Essay III. On Some Psychological Aspects Of Ethics.
Essay IV. Psycho-Genesis.
Essay V. Ethics And Politics.
Section I. Mind Subjective.
Section II. Mind Objective.
Section III. Absolute Mind.
THE ART OF FINDING TITLES, and of striking out headings which catch the eye or ear, and lead the mind by easy paths of association to the subject under exposition, was not one of Hegel’s gifts. A stirring phrase, a vivid or picturesque turn of words, he often has. But his lists of contents, when they cease to be commonplace, are apt to run into the bizarre and the grotesque. Generally, indeed, his rubrics are the old and (as we may be tempted to call them) insignificant terms of the text-books. But, in Hegel’s use of them, these conventional designations are charged with a highly individualised meaning. They may mean more—they may mean less—than they habitually pass for: but they unquestionably specify their meaning with a unique and almost personal flavour. And this can hardly fail to create and to disappoint undue expectations.
(i.) Philosophy and its Parts.
Even the main divisions of his system show this conservatism in terminology. The names of the three parts of the Encyclopaedia are, we may say, non-significant of their peculiar contents. And that for a good reason. What Hegel proposes to give is no novel or special doctrine, but the universal philosophy which has passed on from age to age, here narrowed and there widened, but still essentially the same. It is conscious of its continuity and proud of its identity with the teachings of Plato and Aristotle.
The earliest attempts of the Greek philosophers to present philosophy in a complete and articulated order—attempts generally attributed to the Stoics, the schoolmen of antiquity—made it a tripartite whole. These three parts were Logic, Physics, and Ethics. In their entirety they were meant to form a cycle of unified knowledge, satisfying the needs of theory as well as practice. As time went on, however, the situation changed: and if the old names remained, their scope and value suffered many changes. New interests and curiosities, due to altered circumstances, brought other departments of reality under the focus of investigation besides those which had been primarily discussed under the old names. Inquiries became more specialised, and each tended to segregate itself from the rest as an independent field of science. The result was that in modern times the territory still marked by the ancient titles had shrunk to a mere phantom of its former bulk. Almost indeed things had come to such a pass that the time-honoured figures had sunk into the misery of rois fainéants; while the real business of knowledge was discharged by the younger and less conventional lines of research which the needs and fashions of the time had called up. Thus Logic, in the narrow formal sense, was turned into an “art” of argumentation and a system of technical rules for the analysis and synthesis of academical discussion. Physics or Natural Philosophy restricted itself to the elaboration of some metaphysical postulates or hypotheses regarding the general modes of physical operation. And Ethics came to be a very unpractical discussion of subtleties regarding moral faculty and moral standard. Meanwhile a theory of scientific method and of the laws governing the growth of intelligence and formation of ideas grew up, and left the older logic to perish of formality and inanition. The successive departments of physical science, each in turn asserting its independence, finally left Natural Philosophy no alternative between clinging to its outworn hypotheses and abstract generalities, or identifying itself (as Newton in his great book put it) with thePrincipia Mathematica of the physical sciences. Ethics, in its turn, saw itself, on one hand, replaced by psychological inquiries into the relations between the feelings and the will and the intelligence; while, on the other hand, a host of social, historical, economical, and other researches cut it off from the real facts of human life, and left it no more than the endless debates on the logical and metaphysical issues involved in free-will and conscience, duty and merit.
It has sometimes been said that Kant settled this controversy between the old departments of philosophy and the new branches of science. And the settlement, it is implied, consisted in assigning to the philosopher a sort of police and patrol duty in the commonwealth of science. He was to see that boundaries were duly respected, and that each science kept strictly to its own business. For this purpose each branch of philosophy was bound to convert itself into a department of criticism—an examination of first principles in the several provinces of reality or experience—with a view to get a distinct conception of what they were, and thus define exactly the lines on which the structures of more detailed science could be put up solidly and safely. This plan offered tempting lines to research, and sounded well. But on further reflection there emerge one or two difficulties, hard to get over. Paradoxical though it may seem, one cannot rightly estimate the capacity and range of foundations, before one has had some familiarity with the buildings erected upon them. Thus you are involved in a circle: a circle which is probably inevitable, but which for that reason it is well to recognise at once. Then—what is only another way of saying the same thing—it is impossible to draw an inflexible line between premises of principle and conclusions of detail. There is no spot at which criticism can stop, and, having done its business well, hand on the remaining task to dogmatic system. It was an instinctive feeling of this implication of system in what professed only to be criticism which led the aged Kant to ignore his own previous professions that he offered as yet no system, and when Fichte maintained himself to be erecting the fabric for which Kant had prepared the ground, to reply by the counter-declaration that the criticism was the system—that “the curtain was the picture.”
The Hegelian philosophy is an attempt to combine criticism with system, and thus realise what Kant had at least foretold. It is a system which is self-critical, and systematic only through the absoluteness of its criticism. In Hegel’s own phrase, it is an immanent and an incessant dialectic, which from first to last allows finality to no dogmatic rest, but carries out Kant’s description of an Age of Criticism, in which nothing, however majestic and sacred its authority, can plead for exception from the all-testing Elenchus. Then, on the other hand, Hegel refuses to restrict philosophy and its branches to anything short of the totality. He takes in its full sense that often-used phrase—the Unity of Knowledge. Logic becomes the all-embracing research of “first principles,”—the principles which regulate physics and ethics. The old divisions between logic and metaphysic, between induction and deduction, between theory of reasoning and theory of knowledge,—divisions which those who most employed them were never able to show the reason and purpose of—because indeed they had grown up at various times and by “natural selection” through a vast mass of incidents: these are superseded and merged in one continuous theory of real knowledge considered under its abstract or formal aspect,—of organised and known reality in its underlying thought-system. But these first principles were only an abstraction from complete reality—the reality which nature has when unified by mind—and they presuppose the total from which they are derived. The realm of pure thought is only the ghost of the Idea—of the unity and reality of knowledge, and it must be reindued with its flesh and blood. The logical world is (in Kantian phrase) only thepossibility of Nature and Mind. It comes first—because it is a system of First Principles: but these first principles could only be elicited by a philosophy which has realised the meaning of a mental experience, gathered by interpreting the facts of Nature.
Natural Philosophy is no longer—according to Hegel’s view of it—merely a scheme of mathematical ground-work. That may be its first step. But its scope is a complete unity (which is not a mere aggregate) of the branches of natural knowledge, exploring both the inorganic and the organic world. In dealing with this endless problem, philosophy seems to be baulked by an impregnable obstacle to its progress. Every day the advance of specialisation renders any comprehensive or synoptic view of the totality of science more and more impossible. No doubt we talk readily enough of Science. But here, if anywhere, we may say there is no Science, but only sciences. The generality of science is a proud fiction or a gorgeous dream, variously told and interpreted according to the varying interest and proclivity of the scientist. The sciences, or those who specially expound them, know of no unity, no philosophy of science. They are content to remark that in these days the thing is impossible, and to pick out the faults in any attempts in that direction that are made outside their pale. Unfortunately for this contention, the thing is done by us all, and, indeed, has to be done. If not as men of science, yet as men—as human beings—we have to put together things and form some total estimate of the drift of development, of the unity of nature. To get a notion, not merely of the general methods and principles of the sciences, but of their results and teachings, and to get this not as a mere lot of fragments, but with a systematic unity, is indispensable in some degree for all rational life. The life not founded on science is not the life of man. But he will not find what he wants in the text-books of the specialist, who is obliged to treat his subject, as Plato says, “under the pressure of necessity,” and who dare not look on it in its quality “to draw the soul towards truth, and to form the philosophic intellect so as to uplift what we now unduly keep down.” If the philosopher in this province does his work but badly, he may plead the novelty of the task to which he comes as a pioneer or even an architect. He finds little that he can directly utilise. The materials have been gathered and prepared for very special aims; and the great aim of science—that human life may be made a higher, an ampler, and happier thing,—has hardly been kept in view at all, except in its more materialistic aspects. To the philosopher the supreme interest of the physical sciences is that man also belongs to the physical universe, or that Mind and Matter as we know them are (in Mr. Spencer’s language) “at once antithetical and inseparable.” He wants to find the place of Man,—but of Man as Mind—in Nature.
If the scope of Natural Philosophy be thus expanded to make it the unity and more than the synthetic aggregate of the several physical sciences—to make it the whole which surpasses the addition of all their fragments, the purpose of Ethics has not less to be deepened and widened. Ethics, under that title, Hegel knows not. And for those who cannot recognise anything unless it be clearly labelled, it comes natural to record their censure of Hegelianism for ignoring or disparaging ethical studies. But if we take the word in that wide sense which common usage rather justifies than adopts, we may say that the whole philosophy of Mind is a moral philosophy. Its subject is the moral as opposed to the physical aspect of reality: the inner and ideal life as opposed to the merely external and real materials of it: the world of intelligence and of humanity. It displays Man in the several stages of that process by which he expresses the full meaning of nature, or discharges the burden of that task which is implicit in him from the first. It traces the steps of that growth by which what was no better than a fragment of nature—an intelligence located (as it seemed) in one piece of matter—comes to realise the truth of it and of himself. That truth is his ideal and his obligation: but it is also—such is the mystery of his birthright—his idea and possession. He—like the natural universe—is (as the Logic has shown) a principle of unification, organisation, idealisation: and his history (in its ideal completeness) is the history of the process by which he, the typical man, works the fragments of reality (and such mere reality must be always a collection of fragments) into the perfect unity of a many-sided character. Thus the philosophy of mind, beginning with man as a sentient organism, the focus in which the universe gets its first dim confused expression through mere feeling, shows how he “erects himself above himself” and realises what ancient thinkers called his kindred with the divine.
In that total process of the mind’s liberation and self-realisation the portion specially called Morals is but one, though a necessary, stage. There are, said Porphyry and the later Platonists, four degrees in the path of perfection and self-accomplishment. And first, there is the career of honesty and worldly prudence, which makes the duty of the citizen. Secondly, there is the progress in purity which casts earthly things behind, and reaches the angelic height of passionless serenity. And the third step is the divine life which by intellectual energy is turned to behold the truth of things. Lastly, in the fourth grade, the mind, free and sublime in self-sustaining wisdom, makes itself an “exemplar” of virtue, and is even a “father of Gods.” Even so, it may be said, the human mind is the subject of a complicated Teleology,—the field ruled by a multifarious Ought, psychological, aesthetical, social and religious. To adjust their several claims cannot be the object of any science, if adjustment means to supply a guide in practice. But it is the purpose of such a teleology to show that social requirements and moral duty as ordinarily conceived do not exhaust the range of obligation,—of the supreme ethical Ought. How that can best be done is however a question of some difficulty. For the ends under examination do not fall completely into a serial order, nor does one involve others in such a way as to destroy their independence. You cannot absolve psychology as if it stood independent of ethics or religion, nor can aesthetic considerations merely supervene on moral. Still, it may be said, the order followed by Hegel seems on the whole liable to fewer objections than others.
Mr. Herbert Spencer, the only English philosopher who has even attempted a System of Philosophy, may in this point be compared with Hegel. He also begins with a First Principles,—a work which, like Hegel’s Logic, starts by presenting Philosophy as the supreme arbiter between the subordinate principles of Religion and Science, which are in it “necessary correlatives.” The positive task of philosophy is (with some inconsistency or vagueness) presented, in the next place, as a “unification of knowledge.” Such a unification has to make explicit the implicit unity of known reality: because “every thought involves a whole system of thoughts.” And such a programme might again suggest the Logic. But unfortunately Mr. Spencer does not (and he has Francis Bacon to justify him here) think it worth his while to toil up the weary, but necessary, mount of Purgatory which is known to us as Logic. With a naïve realism, he builds on Cause and Power, and above all on Force, that “Ultimate of Ultimates,” which seems to be, however marvellously, a denizen both of the Known and the Unknowable world. In the known world this Ultimate appears under two forms, matter and motion, and the problem of science and philosophy is to lay down in detail and in general the law of their continuous redistribution, of the segregation of motion from matter, and the inclusion of motion into matter.
Of this process, which has no beginning and no end,—the rhythm of generation and corruption, attraction and repulsion, it may be said that it is properly not a first principle of all knowledge, but the general or fundamental portion of Natural Philosophy to which Mr. Spencer next proceeds. Such a philosophy, however, he gives only in part: viz. as a Biology, dealing with organic (and at a further stage and under other names, with supra-organic) life. And that the Philosophy of Nature should take this form, and carry both the First Principles and the later portions of the system with it, as parts of a philosophy of evolution, is what we should have expected from the contemporaneous interests of science. Even a one-sided attempt to give speculative unity to those researches, which get—for reasons the scientific specialist seldom asks—the title of biological, is however worth noting as a recognition of the necessity of a Natur-philosophie,—a speculative science of Nature.
The third part of the Hegelian System corresponds to what in the Synthetic Philosophy is known as Psychology, Ethics, and Sociology. And here Mr. Spencer recognises that something new has turned up. Psychology is “unique” as a science: it is a “double science,” and as a whole quite sui generis. Whether perhaps all these epithets would not, mutatis mutandis, have to be applied also to Ethics and Sociology, if these are to do their full work, he does not say. In what this doubleness consists he even finds it somewhat difficult to show. For, as his fundamental philosophy does not on this point go beyond noting some pairs of verbal antitheses, and has no sense of unity except in the imperfect shape of a “relation” between two things which are “antithetical and inseparable,” he is perplexed by phrases such as “in” and “out of” consciousness, and stumbles over the equivocal use of “inner” to denote both mental (or non-spatial) in general, and locally sub-cuticular in special. Still, he gets so far as to see that the law of consciousness is that in it neither feelings nor relations have independent subsistence, and that the unit of mind does not begin till what he calls two feelings are made one. The phraseology may be faulty, but it shows an inkling of the a priori. Unfortunately it is apparently forgotten; and the language too often reverts into the habit of what he calls the “objective,” i.e. purely physical, sciences.
Mr. Spencer’s conception of Psychology restricts it to the more general physics of the mind. For its more concrete life he refers us to Sociology. But his Sociology is yet unfinished: and from the plan of its inception, and the imperfect conception of the ends and means of its investigation, hardly admits of completion in any systematic sense. To that incipiency is no doubt due its excess in historical or anecdotal detail—detail, however, too much segregated from its social context, and in general its tendency to neglect normal and central theory for incidental and peripheral facts. Here, too, there is a weakness in First Principles and a love of catchwords, which goes along with the fallacy that illustration is proof. Above all, it is evident that the great fact of religion overhangs Mr. Spencer with the attraction of an unsolved and unacceptable problem. He cannot get the religious ideas of men into co-ordination with their scientific, aesthetic, and moral doctrines; and only betrays his sense of the high importance of the former by placing them in the forefront of inquiry, as due to the inexperience and limitations of the so-called primitive man. That is hardly adequate recognition of the religious principle: and the defect will make itself seriously felt, should he ever come to carry out the further stage of his prospectus dealing with “the growth and correlation of language, knowledge, morals, and aesthetics.”
(ii.) Mind and Morals.
A Mental Philosophy—if we so put what might also be rendered a Spiritual Philosophy, or Philosophy of Spirit—may to an English reader suggest something much narrower than it actually contains. A Philosophy of the Human Mind—if we consult English specimens—would not imply much more than a psychology, and probably what is called an inductive psychology. But as Hegel understands it, it covers an unexpectedly wide range of topics, the whole range from Nature to Spirit. Besides Subjective Mind, which would seem on first thoughts to exhaust the topics of psychology, it goes on to Mind as Objective, and finally to Absolute mind. And such combinations of words may sound either self-contradictory or meaningless.
The first Section deals with the range of what is usually termed Psychology. That term indeed is employed by Hegel, in a restricted sense, to denote the last of the three sub-sections in the discussion of Subjective Mind. The Mind, which is the topic of psychology proper, cannot be assumed as a ready-made object, or datum. A Self, a self-consciousness, an intelligent and volitional agent, if it be the birthright of man, is a birthright which he has to realise for himself, to earn and to make his own. To trace the steps by which mind in its stricter acceptation, as will and intelligence, emerges from the general animal sensibility which is the crowning phase of organic life, and the final problem of biology, is the work of two preliminary sub-sections—the first entitled Anthropology, the second the Phenomenology of Mind.
The subject of Anthropology, as Hegel understands it, is the Soul—the raw material of consciousness, the basis of all higher mental life. This is a borderland, where the ground is still debateable between Nature and Mind: it is the region of feeling, where the sensibility has not yet been differentiated to intelligence. Soul and body are here, as the phrase goes, in communion: the inward life is still imperfectly disengaged from its natural co-physical setting. Still one with nature, it submits to natural influences and natural vicissitudes: is not as yet master of itself, but the half-passive receptacle of a foreign life, of a general vitality, of a common soul not yet fully differentiated into individuality. But it is awaking to self-activity: it is emerging to Consciousness,—to distinguish itself, as aware and conscious, from the facts of life and sentiency of which it is aware.
From this region of psychical physiology or physiological psychology, Hegel in the second sub-section of his first part takes us to the “Phenomenology of Mind,”—to Consciousness. The sentient soul is also conscious—but in a looser sense of that word: it has feelings, but can scarcely be said itself to know that it has them. As consciousness, the Soul has come to separate what it is from what it feels. The distinction emerges of a subject which is conscious, and an object of which it is conscious. And the main thing is obviously the relationship between the two, or the Consciousness itself, as tending to distinguish itself alike from its subject and its object. Hence, perhaps, may be gathered why it is called Phenomenology of Mind. Mind as yet is not yet more than emergent or apparent: nor yet self-possessed and self-certified. No longer, however, one with the circumambient nature which it feels, it sees itself set against it, but only as a passive recipient of it, a tabula rasaon which external nature is reflected, or to which phenomena are presented. No longer, on the other hand, a mere passive instrument of suggestion from without, its instinct of life, its nisus of self-assertion is developed, through antagonism to a like nisus, into the consciousness of self-hood, of a Me and Mine as set against a Thee and Thine. But just in proportion as it is so developed in opposition to and recognition of other equally self-centred selves, it has passed beyond the narrower characteristic of Consciousness proper. It is no longer mere intelligent perception or reproduction of a world, but it is life, with perception (or apperception) of that life. It has returned in a way to its original unity with nature, but it is now the sense of its self-hood—the consciousness of itself as the focus in which subjective and objective are at one. Or, to put it in the language of the great champion of Realism, the standpoint of Reason or full-grown Mind is this:“The world which appears to us is our percept, therefore in us. The real world, out of which we explain the phenomenon, is our thought: therefore in us.”
The third sub-section of the theory of Subjective Mind—the Psychology proper—deals with Mind. This is the real, independent Psyché—hence the special appropriation of the term Psychology.“The Soul,” says Herbart, “no doubt dwells in a body: there are, moreover, corresponding states of the one and the other: but nothing corporeal occurs in the Soul, nothing purely mental, which we could reckon to our Ego, occurs in the body: the affections of the body are no representations of the Ego, and our pleasant and unpleasant feelings do not immediately lie in the organic life they favour or hinder.” Such a Soul, so conceived, is an intelligent and volitional self, a being of intellectual and “active” powers or phenomena: it is a Mind. And “Mind,” adds Hegel, “is just this elevation above Nature and physical modes and above the complication with an external object.” Nothing is external to it: it is rather the internalising of all externality. In this psychology proper, we are out of any immediate connexion with physiology. “Psychology as such,” remarks Herbart, “has its questions common to it with Idealism”—with the doctrine that all reality is mental reality. It traces, in Hegel’s exposition of it, the steps of the way by which mind realises that independence which is its characteristic stand-point. On the intellectual side that independence is assured in language,—the system of signs by which the intelligence stamps external objects as its own, made part of its inner world. A science, some one has said, is after all only une langue bien faite. So, reversing the saying, we may note that a language is an inwardised and mind-appropriated world. On the active side, the independence of mind is seen in self-enjoyment, in happiness, or self-content, where impulse and volition have attained satisfaction in equilibrium, and the soul possesses itself in fullness. Such a mind, which has made the world its certified possession in language, and which enjoys itself in self-possession of soul, called happiness, is a free Mind. And that is the highest which Subjective Mind can reach.
At this point, perhaps, having rounded off by a liberal sweep the scope of psychology, the ordinary mental philosophy would stop. Hegel, instead of finishing, now goes on to the field of what he calls Objective Mind. For as yet it has been only the story of a preparation, an inward adorning and equipment, and we have yet to see what is to come of it in actuality. Or rather, we have yet to consider the social forms on which this preparation rests. The mind, self-possessed and sure of itself or free, is so only through the objective shape which its main development runs parallel with. An intelligent Will, or a practical reason, was the last word of the psychological development. But a reason which is practical, or a volition which is intelligent, is realised by action which takes regular shapes, and by practice which transforms the world. The theory of Objective Mind delineates the new form which nature assumes under the sway of intelligence and will. That intellectual world realises itself by transforming the physical into a social and political world, the given natural conditions of existence into a freely-instituted system of life, the primitive struggle of kinds for subsistence into the ordinances of the social state. Given man as a being possessed of will and intelligence, this inward faculty, whatever be its degree, will try to impress itself on nature and to reproduce itself in a legal, a moral, and social world. The kingdom of deed replaces, or rises on the foundation of, the kingdom of word: and instead of the equilibrium of a well-adjusted soul comes the harmonious life of a social organism. We are, in short, in the sphere of Ethics and Politics, of Jurisprudence and Morals, of Law and Conscience.
Here,—as always in Hegel’s system—there is a triad of steps. First the province of Law or Right. But if we call it Law, we must keep out of sight the idea of a special law-giver, of a conscious imposition of laws, above all by a political superior. And if we call it Right, we must remember that it is neutral, inhuman, abstract right: the right whose principle is impartial and impassive uniformity, equality, order;—not moral right, or the equity which takes cognisance of circumstances, of personal claims, and provides against its own hardness. The intelligent will of Man, throwing itself upon the mere gifts of nature as their appointed master, creates the world of Property—of things instrumental, and regarded as adjectival, to the human personality. But the autonomy of Reason (which is latent in the will) carries with it certain consequences. As it acts, it also, by its inherent quality of uniformity or universality, enacts for itself a law and laws, and creates the realm of formal equality or order-giving law. But this is a mere equality: which is not inconsistent with what in other respects may be excess of inequality. What one does, if it is really to be treated as done, others may or even must do: each act creates an expectation of continuance and uniformity of behaviour. The doer is bound by it, and others are entitled to do the like. The material which the person appropriates creates a system of obligation. Thus is constituted—in the natural give and take of rational Wills—in the inevitable course of human action and reaction,—a system of rights and duties. This law of equality—the basis of justice, and the seed of benevolence—is the scaffolding or perhaps rather the rudimentary framework of society and moral life. Or it is the bare skeleton which is to be clothed upon by the softer and fuller outlines of the social tissues and the ethical organs.
And thus the first range of Objective Mind postulates the second, which Hegel calls “Morality.” The word is to be taken in its strict sense as a protest against the quasi-physical order of law. It is the morality of conscience and of the good will, of the inner rectitude of soul and purpose, as all-sufficient and supreme. Here is brought out the complementary factor in social life: the element of liberty, spontaneity, self-consciousness. The motto of mere inward morality (as opposed to the spirit of legality) is (in Kant’s words): “There is nothing without qualification good, in heaven or earth, but only a good will.” The essential condition of goodness is that the action be done with purpose and intelligence, and in full persuasion of its goodness by the conscience of the agent. The characteristic of Morality thus described is its essential inwardness, and the sovereignty of the conscience over all heteronomy. Its justification is that it protests against the authority of a mere external or objective order, subsisting and ruling in separation from the subjectivity. Its defect is the turn it gives to this assertion of the rights of subjective conscience: briefly in the circumstance that it tends to set up a mere individualism against a mere universalism, instead of realising the unity and essential interdependence of the two.
The third sub-section of the theory of Objective Mind describes a state of affairs in which this antithesis is explicitly overcome. This is the moral life in a social community. Here law and usage prevail and provide the fixed permanent scheme of life: but the law and the usage are, in their true or ideal conception, only the unforced expression of the mind and will of those who live under them. And, on the other hand, the mind and will of the individual members of such a community are pervaded and animated by its universal spirit. In such a community, and so constituting it, the individual is at once free and equal, and that because of the spirit of fraternity, which forms its spiritual link. In the world supposed to be governed by mere legality the idea of right is exclusively prominent; and when that is the case, it may often happen that summum jus summa injuria. In mere morality, the stress falls exclusively on the idea of inward freedom, or the necessity of the harmony of the judgment and the will, or the dependence of conduct upon conscience. In the union of the two, in the moral community as normally constituted, the mere idea of right is replaced, or controlled and modified, by the idea of equity—a balance as it were between the two preceding, inasmuch as motive and purpose are employed to modify and interpret strict right. But this effect—this harmonisation—is brought about by the predominance of a new idea—the principle of benevolence,—a principle however which is itself modified by the fundamental idea of right or law into a wise or regulated kindliness.
But what Hegel chiefly deals with under this head is the interdependence of form and content, of social order and personal progress. In the picture of an ethical organisation or harmoniously-alive moral community he shows us partly the underlying idea which gave room for the antithesis between law and conscience, and partly the outlines of the ideal in which that conflict becomes only the instrument of progress. This organisation has three grades or three typical aspects. These are the Family, Civil Society, and the State. The first of these, the Family, must be taken to include those primary unities of human life where the natural affinity of sex and the natural ties of parentage are the preponderant influence in forming and maintaining the social group. This, as it were, is the soul-nucleus of social organisation: where the principle of unity is an instinct, a feeling, an absorbing solidarity. Next comes what Hegel has called Civil Society,—meaning however by civil the antithesis to political, the society of those who may be styled bourgeois, not citoyens:—and meaning by society the antithesis to community. There are other natural influences binding men together besides those which form the close unities of the family, gens, tribe, or clan. Economical needs associate human beings within a much larger radius—in ways capable of almost indefinite expansion—but also in a way much less intense and deep. Civil Society is the more or less loosely organised aggregate of such associations, which, if, on one hand, they keep human life from stagnating in the mere family, on another, accentuate more sharply the tendency to competition and the struggle for life. Lastly, in the Political State comes the synthesis of family and society. Of the family; in so far as the State tends to develope itself on the nature-given unit of the Nation (an extended family, supplementing as need arises real descent by fictitious incorporations), and has apparently never permanently maintained itself except on the basis of a predominant common nationality. Of society; in so far as the extension and dispersion of family ties have left free room for the differentiation of many other sides of human interest and action, and given ground for the full development of individuality. In consequence of this, the State (and such a state as Hegel describes is essentially the idea or ideal of the modern State) has a certain artificial air about it. It can only be maintained by the free action of intelligence: it must make its laws public: it must bring to consciousness the principles of its constitution, and create agencies for keeping up unity of organisation through the several separate provinces or contending social interests, each of which is inclined to insist on the right of home mis-rule.
The State—which in its actuality must always be a quasi-national state—is thus the supreme unity of Nature and Mind. Its natural basis in land, language, blood, and the many ties which spring therefrom, has to be constantly raised into an intelligent unity through universal interests. But the elements of race and of culture have no essential connexion, and they perpetually incline to wrench themselves asunder. Blood and judgment are for ever at war in the state as in the individual: the cosmopolitan interest, to which the maxim is Ubi bene, ibi patria, resists the national, which adopts the patriotic watchword of Hector. The State however has another source of danger in the very principle that gave it birth. It arose through antagonism: it was baptised on the battlefield, and it only lives as it is able to assert itself against a foreign foe. And this circumstance tends to intensify and even pervert its natural basis of nationality:—tends to give the very conception of the political a negative and superficial look. But, notwithstanding all these drawbacks, the State in its Idea is entitled to the name Hobbes gave it,—the Mortal God. Here in a way culminates the obviously objective,—we may almost say, visible and tangible—development of Man and Mind. Here it attains a certain completeness—a union of reality and of ideality: a quasi-immortality, a quasi-universality. What the individual person could not do unaided, he can do in the strength of his commonwealth. Much that in the solitary was but implicit or potential, is in the State actualised.
But the God of the State is a mortal God. It is but a national and a limited mind. To be actual, one must at least begin by restricting oneself. Or, rather actuality is rational, but always with a conditioned and a relative rationality: it is in the realm of action and re-action,—in the realm of change and nature. It has warring forces outside it,—warring forces inside it. Its unity is never perfect: because it never produces a true identity of interests within, or maintains an absolute independence without. Thus the true and real State—the State in its Idea—the realisation of concrete humanity,—of Mind as the fullness and unity of nature—is not reached in any single or historical State: but floats away, when we try to seize it, into the endless progress of history. Always indeed the State, the historical and objective, points beyond itself. It does so first in the succession of times. Die Weltgeschichte ist das Weltgericht. And in that doom of the world the eternal blast sweeps along the successive generations of the temporal, one expelling another from the stage of time—each because it is inadequate to the Idea which it tried to express, and has succumbed to an enemy from without because it was not a real and true unity within.
But if temporal flees away before another temporal, it abides in so far as it has, however inadequately, given expression and visible reality—as it points inward and upward—to the eternal. The earthly state is also the city of God; and if the republic of Plato seems to find scant admission into the reality of flesh and blood, it stands eternal as a witness in the heaven of idea. Behind the fleeting succession of consulates and dictatures, of aristocracy and empire, feuds of plebeian with patrician, in that apparent anarchy of powers which the so-called Roman constitution is to the superficial observer, there is the eternal Rome, one, strong, victorious, semper eadem: the Rome of Virgil and Justinian, the ghost whereof still haunts with memories the seven-hilled city, but which with full spiritual presence lives in the law, the literature, the manners of the modern world. To find fitter expression for this Absolute Mind than it has in the Ethical community—to reach that reality of which the moral world is but one-sidedly representative—is the work of Art, Religion, and Philosophy. And to deal with these efforts to find the truth and the unity of Mind and Nature is the subject of Hegel’s third Section.
(iii.) Religion and Philosophy.
It may be well at this point to guard against a misconception of this serial order of exposition. As stage is seen to follow stage, the historical imagination, which governs our ordinary current of ideas, turns the logical dependence into a time-sequence. But it is of course not meant that the later stage follows the earlier in history. The later is the more real, and therefore the more fundamental. But we can only understand by abstracting and then transcending our abstractions, or rather by showing how the abstraction implies relations which force us to go further and beyond our arbitrary arrest. Each stage therefore either stands to that preceding it as an antithesis, which inevitably dogs its steps as an accusing spirit, or it is the conjunction of the original thesis with the antithesis, in a union which should not be called synthesis because it is a closer fusion and true marriage of minds. A truth and reality, though fundamental, is only appreciated at its true value and seen in all its force where it appears as the reconciliation and reunion of partial and opposing points of view. Thus, e.g., the full significance of the State does not emerge so long as we view it in isolation as a supposed single state, but only as it is seen in the conflict of history, in its actual “energy” as a world-power among powers, always pointing beyond itself to a something universal which it fain would be, and yet cannot be. Or, again, there never was a civil or economic society which existed save under the wing of a state, or in one-sided assumption of state powers to itself: and a family is no isolated and independent unit belonging to a supposed patriarchal age, but was always mixed up with, and in manifold dependence upon, political and civil combinations. The true family, indeed, far from preceding the state in time, presupposes the political power to give it its precise sphere and its social stability: as is well illustrated by that typical form of it presented in the Roman state.
So, again, religion does not supervene upon an already existing political and moral system and invest it with an additional sanction. The true order would be better described as the reverse. The real basis of social life, and even of intelligence, is religion. As some thinkers quaintly put it, the known rests and lives on the bosom of the Unknowable. But when we say that, we must at once guard against a misconception. There are religions of all sorts; and some of them which are most heard of in the modern world only exist or survive in the shape of a traditional name and venerated creed which has lost its power. Nor is a religion necessarily committed to a definite conception of a supernatural—of a personal power outside the order of Nature. But in all cases, religion is a faith and a theory which gives unity to the facts of life, and gives it, not because the unity is in detail proved or detected, but because life and experience in their deepest reality inexorably demand and evince such a unity to the heart. The religion of a time is not its nominal creed, but its dominant conviction of the meaning of reality, the principle which animates all its being and all its striving, the faith it has in the laws of nature and the purpose of life. Dimly or clearly felt and perceived, religion has for its principle (one cannot well say, its object) not the unknowable, but the inner unity of life and knowledge, of act and consciousness, a unity which is certified in its every knowledge, but is never fully demonstrable by the summation of all its ascertained items. As such a felt and believed synthesis of the world and life, religion is the unity which gives stability and harmony to the social sphere; just as morality in its turn gives a partial and practical realisation to the ideal of religion. But religion does not merely establish and sanction morality; it also frees it from a certain narrowness it always has, as of the earth. Or, otherwise put, morality has to the keener inspection something in it which is more than the mere moral injunction at first indicates. Beyond the moral, in its stricter sense, as the obligatory duty and the obedience to law, rises and expands the beautiful and the good: a beautiful which is disinterestedly loved, and a goodness which has thrown off all utilitarian relativity, and become a free self-enhancing joy. The true spirit of religion sees in the divine judgment not a mere final sanction to human morality which has failed of its earthly close, not the re-adjustment of social and political judgments in accordance with our more conscientious inner standards, but a certain, though, for our part-by-part vision, incalculable proportion between what is done and suffered. And in this liberation of the moral from its restrictions, Art renders no slight aid. Thus in different ways, religion presupposes morality to fill up its vacant form, and morality presupposes religion to give its laws an ultimate sanction, which at the same time points beyond their limitations.
But art, religion, and philosophy still rest on the national culture and on the individual mind. However much they rise in the heights of the ideal world, they never leave the reality of life and circumstance behind, and float in the free empyrean. Yet there are degrees of universality, degrees in which they reach what they promised. As the various psychical nuclei of an individual consciousness tend through the course of experience to gather round a central idea and by fusion and assimilation form a complete mental organisation; so, through the march of history, there grows up a complication and a fusion of national ideas and aspirations, which, though still retaining the individuality and restriction of a concrete national life, ultimately present an organisation social, aesthetic, and religious which is a type of humanity in its universality and completeness. Always moving in the measure and on the lines of the real development of its social organisation, the art and religion of a nation tend to give expression to what social and political actuality at its best but imperfectly sets in existence. They come more and more to be, not mere competing fragments as set side by side with those of others, but comparatively equal and complete representations of the many-sided and many-voiced reality of man and the world. Yet always they live and flourish in reciprocity with the fullness of practical institutions and individual character. An abstractly universal art and religion is a delusion—until all diversities of geography and climate, of language and temperament, have been made to disappear. If these energies are in power and reality and not merely in name, they cannot be applied like a panacea or put on like a suit of ready-made clothes. If alive, they grow with individualised type out of the social situation: and they can only attain a vulgar and visible universality, so far as they attach themselves to some simple and uniform aspects,—a part tolerably identical everywhere—in human nature in all times and races.
Art, according to Hegel’s account, is the first of the three expressions of Absolute Mind. But the key-note to the whole is to be found in Religion: or Religion is the generic description of that phase of mind which has found rest in the fullness of attainment and is no longer a struggle and a warfare, but a fruition. “It is the conviction of all nations,” he says, “that in the religious consciousness they hold their truth; and they have always regarded religion as their dignity and as the Sunday of their life. Whatever excites our doubts and alarms, all grief and all anxiety, all that the petty fields of finitude can offer to attract us, we leave behind on the shoals of time: and as the traveller on the highest peak of a mountain range, removed from every distinct view of the earth’s surface, quietly lets his vision neglect all the restrictions of the landscape and the world; so in this pure region of faith man, lifted above the hard and inflexible reality, sees it with his mind’s eye reflected in the rays of the mental sun to an image where its discords, its lights and shades, are softened to eternal calm. In this region of mind flow the waters of forgetfulness, from which Psyche drinks, and in which she drowns all her pain: and the darknesses of this life are here softened to a dream-image, and transfigured into a mere setting for the splendours of the Eternal.’”
If we take Religion, in this extended sense, we find it is the sense, the vision, the faith, the certainty of the eternal in the changeable, of the infinite in the finite, of the reality in appearance, of the truth in error. It is freedom from the distractions and pre-occupations of the particular details of life; it is the sense of permanence, repose, certainty, rounding off, toning down and absorbing the vicissitude, the restlessness, the doubts of actual life. Such a victory over palpable reality has no doubt its origin—its embryology—in phases of mind which have been already discussed in the first section. Religion will vary enormously according to the grade of national mood of mind and social development in which it emerges. But whatever be the peculiarities of its original swaddling-clothes, its cardinal note will be a sense of dependence on, and independence in, something more permanent, more august, more of a surety and stay than visible and variable nature and man,—something also which whether God or devil, or both in one, holds the keys of life and death, of weal and woe, and holds them from some safe vantage-ground above the lower realms of change. By this central being the outward and the inward, past and present and to come, are made one. And as already indicated, Religion, emerging, as it does, from social man, from mind ethical, will retain traces of the two foci in society: the individual subjectivity and the objective community. Retain them however only as traces, which still show in the actually envisaged reconciliation. For that is what religion does to morality. It carries a step higher the unity or rather combination gained in the State: it is the fuller harmony of the individual and the collectivity. The moral conscience rests in certainty and fixity on the religious.
But Religion (thus widely understood as the faith in sempiternal and all-explaining reality) at first appears under a guise of Art. The poem and the pyramid, the temple-image and the painting, the drama and the fairy legend, these are religion: but they are, perhaps, religion as Art. And that means that they present the eternal under sensible representations, the work of an artist, and in a perishable material of limited range. Yet even the carvers of a long-past day whose works have been disinterred from the plateaux of Auvergne knew that they gave to the perishable life around them a quasi-immortality: and the myth-teller of a savage tribe elevated the incident of a season into a perennial power of love and fear. The cynic may remind us that from the finest picture of the artist, readily
To yonder girl that fords the burn.”
And yet it may be said in reply to the cynic that, had it not been for the deep-imprinted lesson of the artist, it would have been but a brutal instinct that would have drawn our eyes. The artist, the poet, the musician, reveal the meaning, the truth, the reality of the world: they teach us, they help us, backward younger brothers, to see, to hear, to feel what our rude senses had failed to detect. They enact the miracle of the loaves and fishes, again and again: out of the common limited things of every day they produce a bread of life in which the generations continue to find nourishment.
But if Art embodies for us the unseen and the eternal, it embodies it in the stone, the colour, the tone, and the word: and these are by themselves only dead matter. To the untutored eye and taste the finest picture-gallery is only a weariness: when the national life has drifted away, the sacred book and the image are but idols and enigmas. “The statues are now corpses from which the vivifying soul has fled, and the hymns are words whence faith has departed: the tables of the Gods are without spiritual meat and drink, and games and feasts no longer afford the mind its joyful union with the being of being. The works of the Muse lack that intellectual force which knew itself strong and real by crushing gods and men in its winepress. They are now (in this iron age) what they are for us,—fair fruits broken from the tree, and handed to us by a kindly destiny. But the gift is like the fruits which the girl in the picture presents: she does not give the real life of their existence, not the tree which bore them, not the earth and the elements which entered into their substance, nor the climate which formed their quality, nor the change of seasons which governed the process of their growth. Like her, Destiny in giving us the works of ancient art does not give us their world, not the spring and summer of the ethical life in which they blossomed and ripened, but solely a memory and a suggestion of this actuality. Our act in enjoying them, therefore, is not a Divine service: were it so, our mind would achieve its perfect and satisfying truth. All that we do is a mere externalism, which from these fruits wipes off some rain-drop, some speck of dust, and which, in place of the inward elements of moral actuality that created and inspired them, tries from the dead elements of their external reality, such as language and historical allusion, to set up a tedious mass of scaffolding, not in order to live ourselves into them, but only to form a picture of them in our minds. But as the girl who proffers the plucked fruits is more and nobler than the natural element with all its details of tree, air, light, &c. which first yielded them, because she gathers all this together, in a nobler way, into the glance of the conscious eye and the gesture which proffers them; so the spirit of destiny which offers us those works of art is more than the ethical life and actuality of the ancient people: for it is the inwardising of that mind which in them was still self-estranged and self-dispossessed:—it is the spirit of tragic destiny, the destiny which collects all those individualised gods and attributes of substance into the one Pantheon. And that temple of all the gods is Mind conscious of itself as mind.”
Religion enters into its more adequate form when it ceases to appear in the guise of Art and realises that the kingdom of God is within, that the truth must be felt, the eternal inwardly revealed, the holy one apprehended by faith, not by outward vision. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, the things of God. They cannot be presented, or delineated: they come only in the witness of the spirit. The human soul itself is the only worthy temple of the Most High, whom heaven, and the heaven of heavens, cannot contain. Here in truth God has come down to dwell with men; and the Son of Man, caught up in the effusion of the Spirit, can in all assurance and all humility claim that he is divinified. Here apparently Absolute Mind is reached: the soul knows no limitation, no struggle: in time it is already eternal. Yet, there is, according to Hegel, a flaw,—not in the essence and the matter, but in the manner and mode in which the ordinary religious consciousness represents to itself, or pictures that unification which it feels and experiences.
“In religion then this unification of ultimate Being with the Self is implicitly reached. But the religious consciousness, if it has this symbolic idea of its reconciliation, still has it as a mere symbol or representation. It attains the satisfaction by tacking on to its pure negativity, and that externally, the positive signification of its unity with the ultimate Being: its satisfaction remains therefore tainted by the antithesis of another world. Its own reconciliation, therefore, is presented to its consciousness as something far away, something far away in the future: just as the reconciliation which the other Self accomplished appears as a far-away thing in the past. The one Divine Man had but an implicit father and only an actual mother; conversely the universal divine man, the community, has its own deed and knowledge for its father, but for its mother only the eternal Love, which it only feels, but does not behold in its consciousness as an actual immediate object. Its reconciliation therefore is in its heart, but still at variance with its consciousness, and its actuality still has a flaw. In its field of consciousness the place of implicit reality or side of pure mediation is taken by the reconciliation that lies far away behind: the place of the actually present, or the side of immediacy and existence, is filled by the world which has still to wait for its transfiguration to glory. Implicitly no doubt the world is reconciled with the eternal Being; and that Being, it is well known, no longer looks upon the object as alien to it, but in its love sees it as like itself. But for self-consciousness this immediate presence is not yet set in the full light of mind. In its immediate consciousness accordingly the spirit of the community is parted from its religious: for while the religious consciousness declares that they are implicitly not parted, this implicitness is not raised to reality and not yet grown to absolute self-certainty.”
Religion therefore, which as it first appeared in art-worship had yet to realise its essential inwardness or spirituality, so has now to overcome the antithesis in which its (the religious) consciousness stands to the secular. For the peculiarly religious type of mind is distinguished by an indifference and even hostility, more or less veiled, to art, to morality and the civil state, to science and to nature. Strong in the certainty of faith, or of its implicit rest in God, it resents too curious inquiry into the central mystery of its union, and in its distincter consciousness sets the foundation of faith on the evidence of a fact, which, however, it in the same breath declares to be unique and miraculous, the central event of the ages, pointing back in its reference to the first days of humanity, and forward in the future to the winding-up of the business of terrestrial life. Philosophy, according to Hegel’s conception of it, does but draw the conclusion supplied by the premisses of religion: it supplements and rounds off into coherence the religious implications. The unique events in Judea nearly nineteen centuries ago are for it also the first step in a new revelation of man’s relationship to God: but while it acknowledges the transcendent interest of that age, it lays main stress on the permanent truth then revealed, and it insists on the duty of carrying out the principle there awakened to all the depth and breadth of its explication. Its task—its supreme task—is to explicate religion. But to do so is to show that religion is no exotic, and no mere revelation from an external source. It is to show that religion is the truth, the complete reality, of the mind that lived in Art, that founded the state and sought to be dutiful and upright: the truth, the crowning fruit of all scientific knowledge, of all human affections, of all secular consciousness. Its lesson ultimately is that there is nothing essentially common or unclean: that the holy is not parted off from the true and the good and the beautiful.
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