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First published in 2002. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
Posted June 16, 2005
my reaction to Hegel's 814 page Phenomenology of Mind. I finished it a week ago, after 18 months of reading a page or so at a time. I turn to the back pages where my notes would be to find I made none. If anyone other than me ever tells you he read this opaque monstrosity, this Finnigans' Wake of philosophy, he is almost certainly lying. I dog eared the bottom of a few pages, which is my way of signaling that there is something there which may be interesting but not succinctly quotable. Rereading those pages, I still find little to distill. From page pages 399-401: 'If we put both sides of the universal ordinance over against one another and consider them, we see that this later universality has for its content restless individuality, which regards opinion or mere individualism as law, the real as unreal, and the unreal as real. That universality is, however, at the same time the side of realization of the ordinance, for to it belongs the independent self-existence (Fursichseyn) of individuality. The other side is the universal in the sense of stable passive essence; but, for that very reason, the absolutely non-existent, but still not an actual reality, and can itself only become actual by canceling the individuality, that has presumed to claim actuality. This type of consciousness, which becomes aware of itself in the law; which finds itself in what is inherently true and good not as mere individual, but only as essentially real; and which knows individuality to be what is perverted and perverting, and hence feels bound to surrender and sacrifice individualism of consciousness - this type of consciousness is Virtue.' ... 'The mood of moral sentimentalism is reduced to confusion and contradiction: but the subjective individualism in which it is rooted is not yet eradicated. Individualism now takes refuge in another attitude which claims to do greater justice to the inherent universality of rational self-realization.... The World's course is this to owe its goodness to the efforts of the individual. A struggle ensues, for the situation is contradictory; and the issue of the struggle goes to prove that the individual is not the fons et origo boni, that goodness does not await his efforts, and that in fact the course of the world is at heart good; the soul of the world is righteous. 'The attitude analyzed here is that of abstract moral idealism, the mood of moral strenuousness, the mood that constantly seeks the improvement and perfectibility of mankind. It is found in many forms, but particularly wherever there is any strong enmity between the 'ideal' life and the 'life of the world'. A mere 179 pages later I found this gem: 'As everything is useful for man, man is likewise useful too, and his characteristic function consists in making himself a member of the human herd, of use for the common good, and serviceable to all. The extent to which he looks after his own interests is the measure with which he must also serve the purpose of others, and so far as he serves their turn, he is taking care of himself: the one hand washes the other. But wherever he finds himself there he is in his right place; he makes use of others and is himself made use of. 'Different things are serviceable to one another in different ways. All things, however, have this reciprocity of utility by their very nature, by being related to the Absolute in the two fold manner, the one positive, whereby they have a being all their own, the other negative, and thereby exist for others. The relation to Absolute Being, or Religion, is therefore of all forms of profitableness the most supremely profitable. . . 'Belief, of course, finds this positive outcome of enlightenment as much an abomination as its negative attitude towards belief. This enlightened insight into absolute Being, that sees nothing in it but just absolute Being, the etre supremen, the great Void - this intention to find that everything in its immediatWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.