Hegel's Philosophy of Mind

Author: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

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Sub-Section A. Anthropology. The Soul.

§ 388. Spirit (Mind) came into being as the truth of Nature. But not merely is it, as such a result, to be held the true and real first of what went before: this becoming or transition bears in the sphere of the notion the special meaning of “free judgment.” Mind, thus come into being, means therefore that Nature in its own self realises its untruth and sets itself aside: it means that Mind presupposes itself no longer as the universality which in corporal individuality is always self-externalised, but as a universality which in its concretion and totality is one and simple. At such a stage it is not yet mind, but soul.

§ 389. The soul is no separate immaterial entity. Wherever there is Nature, the soul is its universal immaterialism, its simple “ideal” life. Soul is the substance or “absolute” basis of all the particularising and individualising of mind: it is in the soul that mind finds the material on which its character is wrought, and the soul remains the pervading, identical ideality of it all. But as it is still conceived thus abstractly, the soul is only the sleep of mind—the passive νοῦς of Aristotle, which is potentially all things.

The question of the immateriality of the soul has no interest, except where, on the one hand, matter is regarded as something true, and mind conceived as a thing, on the other. But in modern times even the physicists have found matters grow thinner in their hands: they have come upon imponderable matters, like heat, light, &c., to which they might perhaps add space and time. These “imponderables,” which have lost the property (peculiar to matter) of gravity and, in a sense, even the capacity of offering resistance, have still, however, a sensible existence and outness of part to part; whereas the “vital” matter, which may also be found enumerated among them, not merely lacks gravity, but even every other aspect of existence which might lead us to treat it as material. The fact is that in the Idea of Life the self-externalism of nature is implicitly at an end: subjectivity is the very substance and conception of life—with this proviso, however, that its existence or objectivity is still at the same time forfeited to the sway of self-externalism. It is otherwise with Mind. There, in the intelligible unity which exists as freedom, as absolute negativity, and not as the immediate or natural individual, the object or the reality of the intelligible unity is the unity itself; and so the self-externalism, which is the fundamental feature of matter, has been completely dissipated and transmuted into universality, or the subjective ideality of the conceptual unity. Mind is the existent truth of matter—the truth that matter itself has no truth.

A cognate question is that of the community of soul and body. This community (interdependence) was assumed as a fact, and the only problem was how to comprehend it. The usual answer, perhaps, was to call it an incomprehensible mystery; and, indeed, if we take them to be absolutely antithetical and absolutely independent, they are as impenetrable to each other as one piece of matter to another, each being supposed to be found only in the pores of the other, i.e. where the other is not: whence Epicurus, when attributing to the gods a residence in the pores, was consistent in not imposing on them any connexion with the world. A somewhat different answer has been given by all philosophers since this relation came to be expressly discussed. Descartes, Malebranche, Spinoza, and Leibnitz have all indicated God as this nexus. They meant that the finitude of soul and matter were only ideal and unreal distinctions; and, so holding, these philosophers took God, not, as so often is done, merely as another word for the incomprehensible, but rather as the sole true identity of finite mind and matter. But either this identity, as in the case of Spinoza, is too abstract, or, as in the case of Leibnitz, though his Monad of monads brings things into being, it does so only by an act of judgment or choice. Hence, with Leibnitz, the result is a distinction between soul and the corporeal (or material), and the identity is only like the copula of a judgment, and does not rise or develop into system, into the absolute syllogism.

§ 390. The Soul is at first—

(a) In its immediate natural mode—the natural soul, which only is.

(b) Secondly, it is a soul which feels, as individualised, enters into correlation with its immediate being, and, in the modes of that being, retains an abstract independence.

(c) Thirdly, its immediate being—or corporeity—is moulded into it, and with that corporeity it exists as actual soul.

(a) The Physical Soul(119).

§ 391. The soul universal, described, it may be, as an anima mundi, a world-soul, must not be fixed on that account as a single subject; it is rather the universal substance which has its actual truth only in individuals and single subjects. Thus, when it presents itself as a single soul, it is a single soul which is merely: its only modes are modes of natural life. These have, so to speak, behind its ideality a free existence: i.e. they are natural objects for consciousness, but objects to which the soul as such does not behave as to something external. These features rather are physical qualities of which it finds itself possessed.

(α) Physical Qualities(120).

§ 392. While still a “substance” (i.e. a physical soul) the mind (1) takes part in the general planetary life, feels the difference of climates, the changes of the seasons and the periods of the day, &c. This life of nature for the main shows itself only in occasional strain or disturbance of mental tone.

In recent times a good deal has been said of the cosmical, sidereal, and telluric life of man. In such a sympathy with nature the animals essentially live: their specific characters and their particular phases of growth depend, in many cases completely, and always more or less, upon it. In the case of man these points of dependence lose importance, just in proportion to his civilisation, and the more his whole frame of soul is based upon a substructure of mental freedom. The history of the world is not bound up with revolutions in the solar system, any more than the destinies of individuals with the positions of the planets.

The difference of climate has a more solid and vigorous influence. But the response to the changes of the seasons and hours of the day is found only in faint changes of mood, which come expressly to the fore only in morbid states (including insanity) and at periods when the self-conscious life suffers depression.

In nations less intellectually emancipated, which therefore live more in harmony with nature, we find amid their superstitions and aberrations of imbecility a few real cases of such sympathy, and on that foundation what seems to be marvellous prophetic vision of coming conditions and of events arising therefrom. But as mental freedom gets a deeper hold, even these few and slight susceptibilities, based upon participation in the common life of nature, disappear. Animals and plants, on the contrary, remain for ever subject to such influences.

§ 393. (2) According to the concrete differences of the terrestrial globe, the general planetary life of the nature-governed mind specialises itself and breaks up into the several nature-governed minds which, on the whole, give expression to the nature of the geographical continents and constitute the diversities of race.

The contrast between the earth’s poles, the land towards the north pole being more aggregated and preponderant over sea, whereas in the southern hemisphere it runs out in sharp points, widely distant from each other, introduces into the differences of continents a further modification which Treviranus (Biology, Part II) has exhibited in the case of the flora and fauna.

§ 394. This diversity descends into specialities, that may be termed local minds—shown in the outward modes of life and occupation, bodily structure and disposition, but still more in the inner tendency and capacity of the intellectual and moral character of the several peoples.

Back to the very beginnings of national history we see the several nations each possessing a persistent type of its own.

§ 395. (3) The soul is further de-universalised into the individualised subject. But this subjectivity is here only considered as a differentiation and singling out of the modes which nature gives; we find it as the special temperament, talent, character, physiognomy, or other disposition and idiosyncrasy, of families or single individuals.

(β) Physical Alterations.

§ 396. Taking the soul as an individual, we find its diversities, as alterations in it, the one permanent subject, and as stages in its development. As they are at once physical and mental diversities, a more concrete definition or description of them would require us to anticipate an acquaintance with the formed and matured mind.

The (1) first of these is the natural lapse of the ages in man’s life. He begins with Childhood—mind wrapt up in itself. His next step is the fully-developed antithesis, the strain and struggle of a universality which is still subjective (as seen in ideals, fancies, hopes, ambitions) against his immediate individuality. And that individuality marks both the world which, as it exists, fails to meet his ideal requirements, and the position of the individual himself, who is still short of independence and not fully equipped for the part he has to play (Youth). Thirdly, we see man in his true relation to his environment, recognising the objective necessity and reasonableness of the world as he finds it,—a world no longer incomplete, but able in the work which it collectively achieves to afford the individual a place and a security for his performance. By his share in this collective work he first is really somebody, gaining an effective existence and an objective value (Manhood). Last of all comes the finishing touch to this unity with objectivity: a unity which, while on its realist side it passes into the inertia of deadening habit, on its idealist side gains freedom from the limited interests and entanglements of the outward present (Old Age).

§ 397. (2) Next we find the individual subject to a real antithesis, leading it to seek and find itself in another individual. This—the sexual relation—on a physical basis, shows, on its one side, subjectivity remaining in an instinctive and emotional harmony of moral life and love, and not pushing these tendencies to an extreme universal phase, in purposes political, scientific or artistic; and on the other, shows an active half, where the individual is the vehicle of a struggle of universal and objective interests with the given conditions (both of his own existence and of that of the external world), carrying out these universal principles into a unity with the world which is his own work. The sexual tie acquires its moral and spiritual significance and function in the family.

§ 398. (3) When the individuality, or self-centralised being, distinguishes itself from its mere being, this immediate judgment is the waking of the soul, which confronts its self-absorbed natural life, in the first instance, as one natural quality and state confronts another state, viz. sleep.—The waking is not merely for the observer, or externally distinct from the sleep: it is itself the judgment (primary partition) of the individual soul—which is self-existing only as it relates its self-existence to its mere existence, distinguishing itself from its still undifferentiated universality. The waking state includes generally all self-conscious and rational activity in which the mind realises its own distinct self.—Sleep is an invigoration of this activity—not as a merely negative rest from it, but as a return back from the world of specialisation, from dispersion into phases where it has grown hard and stiff,—a return into the general nature of subjectivity, which is the substance of those specialised energies and their absolute master.

The distinction between sleep and waking is one of those posers, as they may be called, which are often addressed to philosophy:—Napoleon, e.g., on a visit to the University of Pavia, put this question to the class of ideology. The characterisation given in the section is abstract; it primarily treats waking merely as a natural fact, containing the mental element implicite but not yet as invested with a special being of its own. If we are to speak more concretely of this distinction (in fundamentals it remains the same), we must take the self-existence of the individual soul in its higher aspects as the Ego of consciousness and as intelligent mind. The difficulty raised anent the distinction of the two states properly arises, only when we also take into account the dreams in sleep and describe these dreams, as well as the mental representations in the sober waking consciousness, under one and the same title of mental representations. Thus superficially classified as states of mental representation the two coincide, because we have lost sight of the difference; and in the case of any assignable distinction of waking consciousness, we can always return to the trivial remark that all this is nothing more than mental idea. But the concrete theory of the waking soul in its realised being views it as consciousness and intellect: and the world of intelligent consciousness is something quite different from a picture of mere ideas and images. The latter are in the main only externally conjoined, in an unintelligent way, by the laws of the so-called Association of Ideas; though here and there of course logical principles may also be operative. But in the waking state man behaves essentially as a concrete ego, an intelligence: and because of this intelligence his sense-perception stands before him as a concrete totality of features in which each member, each point, takes up its place as at the same time determined through and with all the rest. Thus the facts embodied in his sensation are authenticated, not by his mere subjective representation and distinction of the facts as something external from the person, but by virtue of the concrete interconnexion in which each part stands with all parts of this complex. The waking state is the concrete consciousness of this mutual corroboration of each single factor of its content by all the others in the picture as perceived. The consciousness of this interdependence need not be explicit and distinct. Still this general setting to all sensations is implicitly present in the concrete feeling of self.—In order to see the difference of dreaming and waking we need only keep in view the Kantian distinction between subjectivity and objectivity of mental representation (the latter depending upon determination through categories): remembering, as already noted, that what is actually present in mind need not be therefore explicitly realised in consciousness, just as little as the exaltation of the intellectual sense to God need stand before consciousness in the shape of proofs of God’s existence, although, as before explained, these proofs only serve to express the net worth and content of that feeling.

(γ) Sensibility(121).

§ 399. Sleep and waking are, primarily, it is true, not mere alterations, but alternating conditions (a progression in infinitum). This is their formal and negative relationship: but in it the affirmative relationship is also involved. In the self-certified existence of waking soul its mere existence is implicit as an “ideal” factor: the features which make up its sleeping nature, where they are implicitly as in their substance, are found by the waking soul, in its own self, and, be it noted, for itself. The fact that these particulars, though as a mode of mind they are distinguished from the self-identity of our self-centred being, are yet simply contained in its simplicity, is what we call sensibility.

§ 400. Sensibility (feeling) is the form of the dull stirring, the inarticulate breathing, of the spirit through its unconscious and unintelligent individuality, where every definite feature is still “immediate,”—neither specially developed in its content nor set in distinction as objective to subject, but treated as belonging to its most special, its natural peculiarity. The content of sensation is thus limited and transient, belonging as it does to natural, immediate being,—to what is therefore qualitative and finite.

Everything is in sensation (feeling): if you will, everything that emerges in conscious intelligence and in reason has its source and origin in sensation; for source and origin just means the first immediate manner in which a thing appears. Let it not be enough to have principles and religion only in the head: they must also be in the heart, in the feeling. What we merely have in the head is in consciousness, in a general way: the facts of it are objective—set over against consciousness, so that as it is put in me (my abstract ego) it can also be kept away and apart from me (from my concrete subjectivity). But if put in the feeling, the fact is a mode of my individuality, however crude that individuality be in such a form: it is thus treated as my very own. My own is something inseparate from the actual concrete self: and this immediate unity of the soul with its underlying self in all its definite content is just this inseparability; which however yet falls short of the ego of developed consciousness, and still more of the freedom of rational mind-life. It is with a quite different intensity and permanency that the will, the conscience, and the character, are our very own, than can ever be true of feeling and of the group of feelings (the heart): and this we need no philosophy to tell us. No doubt it is correct to say that above everything the heart must be good. But feeling and heart is not the form by which anything is legitimated as religious, moral, true, just, &c., and an appeal to heart and feeling either means nothing or means something bad. This should hardly need enforcing. Can any experience be more trite than that feelings and hearts are also bad, evil, godless, mean, &c.? That the heart is the source only of such feelings is stated in the words: “From the heart proceed evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, blasphemy, &c.” In such times when “scientific” theology and philosophy make the heart and feeling the criterion of what is good, moral, and religious, it is necessary to remind them of these trite experiences; just as it is nowadays necessary to repeat that thinking is the characteristic property by which man is distinguished from the beasts, and that he has feeling in common with them.

§ 401. What the sentient soul finds within it is, on one hand, the naturally immediate, as “ideally” in it and made its own. On the other hand and conversely, what originally belongs to the central individuality (which as further deepened and enlarged is the conscious ego and free mind) get the features of the natural corporeity, and is so felt. In this way we have two spheres of feeling. One, where what at first is a corporeal affection (e.g. of the eye or of any bodily part whatever) is made feeling (sensation) by being driven inward, memorised in the soul’s self-centred part. Another, where affections originating in the mind and belonging to it, are in order to be felt, and to be as if found, invested with corporeity. Thus the mode or affection gets a place in the subject: it is felt in the soul. The detailed specification of the former branch of sensibility is seen in the system of the senses. But the other or inwardly originated modes of feeling no less necessarily systematise themselves; and their corporisation, as put in the living and concretely developed natural being, works itself out, following the special character of the mental mode, in a special system of bodily organs.

Sensibility in general is the healthy fellowship of the individual mind in the life of its bodily part. The senses form the simple system of corporeity specified. (a) The “ideal” side of physical things breaks up into two—because in it, as immediate and not yet subjective ideality, distinction appears as mere variety—the senses of definite light, § 287—and of sound, § 300. The “real” aspect similarly is with its difference double: (b) the senses of smell and taste, §§ 321, 322; (c) the sense of solid reality, of heavy matter, of heat and shape. Around the centre of the sentient individuality these specifications arrange themselves more simply than when they are developed in the natural corporeity.

The system by which the internal sensation comes to give itself specific bodily forms would deserve to be treated in detail in a peculiar science—a psychical physiology. Somewhat pointing to such a system is implied in the feeling of the appropriateness or inappropriateness of an immediate sensation to the persistent tone of internal sensibility (the pleasant and unpleasant): as also in the distinct parallelism which underlies the symbolical employment of sensations, e.g. of colours, tones, smells. But the most interesting side of a psychical physiology would lie in studying not the mere sympathy, but more definitely the bodily form adopted by certain mental modifications, especially the passions or emotions. We should have, e.g., to explain the line of connexion by which anger and courage are felt in the breast, the blood, the “irritable” system, just as thinking and mental occupation are felt in the head, the centre of the ’sensible’ system. We should want a more satisfactory explanation than hitherto of the most familiar connexions by which tears, and voice in general, with its varieties of language, laughter, sighs, with many other specialisations lying in the line of pathognomy and physiognomy, are formed from their mental source. In physiology the viscera and the organs are treated merely as parts subservient to the animal organism; but they form at the same time a physical system for the expression of mental states, and in this way they get quite another interpretation.

§ 402. Sensations, just because they are immediate and are found existing, are single and transient aspects of psychic life,—alterations in the substantiality of the soul, set in its self-centred life, with which that substance is one. But this self-centred being is not merely a formal factor of sensation: the soul is virtually a reflected totality of sensations—it feels in itself the total substantiality which it virtually is—it is a soul which feels.

In the usage of ordinary language, sensation and feeling are not clearly distinguished: still we do not speak of the sensation,—but of the feeling (sense) of right, of self; sentimentality (sensibility) is connected with sensation: we may therefore say sensation emphasises rather the side of passivity—the fact that we find ourselves feeling, i.e. the immediacy of mode in feeling—whereas feeling at the same time rather notes the fact that it is we ourselves who feel.

(b) The Feeling Soul.—(Soul as Sentiency.)(122)

§ 403. The feeling or sentient individual is the simple “ideality” or subjective side of sensation. What it has to do, therefore, is to raise its substantiality, its merely virtual filling-up, to the character of subjectivity, to take possession of it, to realise its mastery over its own. As sentient, the soul is no longer a mere natural, but an inward, individuality: the individuality which in the merely substantial totality was only formal to it has to be liberated and made independent.

Nowhere so much as in the case of the soul (and still more of the mind) if we are to understand it, must that feature of “ideality” be kept in view, which represents it as the negation of the real, but a negation, where the real is put past, virtually retained, although it does not exist. The feature is one with which we are familiar in regard to our mental ideas or to memory. Every individual is an infinite treasury of sensations, ideas, acquired lore, thoughts, &c.; and yet the ego is one and uncompounded, a deep featureless characterless mine, in which all this is stored up, without existing. It is only when I call to mind an idea, that I bring it out of that interior to existence before consciousness. Sometimes, in sickness, ideas and information, supposed to have been forgotten years ago, because for so long they had not been brought into consciousness, once more come to light. They were not in our possession, nor by such reproduction as occurs in sickness do they for the future come into our possession; and yet they were in us and continue to be in us still. Thus a person can never know how much of things he once learned he really has in him, should he have once forgotten them: they belong not to his actuality or subjectivity as such, but only to his implicit self. And under all the superstructure of specialised and instrumental consciousness that may subsequently be added to it, the individuality always remains this single-souled inner life. At the present stage this singleness is, primarily, to be defined as one of feeling—as embracing the corporeal in itself: thus denying the view that this body is something material, with parts outside parts and outside the soul. Just as the number and variety of mental representations is no argument for an extended and real multeity in the ego; so the “real” outness of parts in the body has no truth for the sentient soul. As sentient, the soul is characterised as immediate, and so as natural and corporeal: but the outness of parts and sensible multiplicity of this corporeal counts for the soul (as it counts for the intelligible unity) not as anything real, and therefore not as a barrier: the soul is this intelligible unity in existence,—the existent speculative principle. Thus in the body it is one simple, omnipresent unity. As to the representative faculty the body is but one representation, and the infinite variety of its material structure and organisation is reduced to the simplicity of one definite conception: so in the sentient soul, the corporeity, and all that outness of parts to parts which belongs to it, is reduced to ideality (the truth of the natural multiplicity). The soul is virtually the totality of nature: as an individual soul it is a monad: it is itself the explicitly put totality of its particular world,—that world being included in it and filling it up; and to that world it stands but as to itself.

§ 404. As individual, the soul is exclusive and always exclusive: any difference there is, it brings within itself. What is differentiated from it is as yet no external object (as in consciousness), but only the aspects of its own sentient totality, &c. In this partition (judgment) of itself it is always subject: its object is its substance, which is at the same time its predicate. This substance is still the content of its natural life, but turned into the content of the individual sensation-laden soul; yet as the soul is in that content still particular, the content is its particular world, so far as that is, in an implicit mode, included in the ideality of the subject.

By itself, this stage of mind is the stage of its darkness: its features are not developed to conscious and intelligent content: so far it is formal and only formal. It acquires a peculiar interest in cases where it is as a form and appears as a special state of mind (§ 350), to which the soul, which has already advanced to consciousness and intelligence, may again sink down. But when a truer phase of mind thus exists in a more subordinate and abstract one, it implies a want of adaptation, which is disease. In the present stage we must treat, first, of the abstract psychical modifications by themselves, secondly, as morbid states of mind: the latter being only explicable by means of the former.

(α) The Feeling Soul in its Immediacy.

§ 405. (αα) Though the sensitive individuality is undoubtedly a monadic individual, it is because immediate, not yet as its self not a true subject reflected into itself, and is therefore passive. Hence the individuality of its true self is a different subject from it—a subject which may even exist as another individual. By the self-hood of the latter it—a substance, which is only a non-independent predicate—is then set in vibration and controlled without the least resistance on its part. This other subject by which it is so controlled may be called its genius.

In the ordinary course of nature this is the condition of the child in its mother’s womb:—a condition neither merely bodily nor merely mental, but psychical—a correlation of soul to soul. Here are two individuals, yet in undivided psychic unity: the one as yet no self, as yet nothing impenetrable, incapable of resistance: the other is its actuating subject, the single self of the two. The mother is the genius of the child; for by genius we commonly mean the total mental self-hood, as it has existence of its own, and constitutes the subjective substantiality of some one else who is only externally treated as an individual and has only a nominal independence. The underlying essence of the genius is the sum total of existence, of life, and of character, not as a mere possibility, or capacity, or virtuality, but as efficiency and realised activity, as concrete subjectivity.

If we look only to the spatial and material aspects of the child’s existence as an embryo in its special integuments, and as connected with the mother by means of umbilical cord, placenta, &c., all that is presented to the senses and reflection are certain anatomical and physiological facts—externalities and instrumentalities in the sensible and material which are insignificant as regards the main point, the psychical relationship. What ought to be noted as regards this psychical tie are not merely the striking effects communicated to and stamped upon the child by violent emotions, injuries, &c. of the mother, but the whole psychical judgment (partition) of the underlying nature, by which the female (like the monocotyledons among vegetables) can suffer disruption in twain, so that the child has not merely got communicated to it, but has originally received morbid dispositions as well as other pre-dispositions of shape, temper, character, talent, idiosyncrasies, &c.

Sporadic examples and traces of this magic tie appear elsewhere in the range of self-possessed conscious life, say between friends, especially female friends with delicate nerves (a tie which may go so far as to show “magnetic” phenomena), between husband and wife and between members of the same family.

The total sensitivity has its self here in a separate subjectivity, which, in the case cited of this sentient life in the ordinary course of nature, is visibly present as another and a different individual. But this sensitive totality is meant to elevate its self-hood out of itself to subjectivity in one and the same individual: which is then its indwelling consciousness, self-possessed, intelligent, and reasonable. For such a consciousness the merely sentient life serves as an underlying and only implicitly existent material; and the self-possessed subjectivity is the rational, self-conscious, controlling genius thereof. But this sensitive nucleus includes not merely the purely unconscious, congenital disposition and temperament, but within its enveloping simplicity it acquires and retains also (in habit, as to which see later) all further ties and essential relationships, fortunes, principles—everything in short belonging to the character, and in whose elaboration self-conscious activity has most effectively participated. The sensitivity is thus a soul in which the whole mental life is condensed. The total individual under this concentrated aspect is distinct from the existing and actual play of his consciousness, his secular ideas, developed interests, inclinations, &c. As contrasted with this looser aggregate of means and methods the more intensive form of individuality is termed the genius, whose decision is ultimate whatever may be the show of reasons, intentions, means, of which the more public consciousness is so liberal. This concentrated individuality also reveals itself under the aspect of what is called the heart and soul of feeling. A man is said to be heartless and unfeeling when he looks at things with self-possession and acts according to his permanent purposes, be they great substantial aims or petty and unjust interests: a good-hearted man, on the other hand, means rather one who is at the mercy of his individual sentiment, even when it is of narrow range and is wholly made up of particularities. Of such good nature or goodness of heart it may be said that it is less the genius itself than the indulgere genio.

§ 406. (ββ) The sensitive life, when it becomes a form or state of the self-conscious, educated, self-possessed human being is a disease. The individual in such a morbid state stands in direct contact with the concrete contents of his own self, whilst he keeps his self-possessed consciousness of self and of the causal order of things apart as a distinct state of mind. This morbid condition is seen in magnetic somnambulism and cognate states.

In this summary encyclopaedic account it is impossible to supply a demonstration of what the paragraph states as the nature of the remarkable condition produced chiefly by animal magnetism—to show, in other words, that it is in harmony with the facts. To that end the phenomena, so complex in their nature and so very different one from another, would have first of all to be brought under their general points of view. The facts, it might seem, first of all call for verification. But such a verification would, it must be added, be superfluous for those on whose account it was called for: for they facilitate the inquiry for themselves by declaring the narratives—infinitely numerous though they be and accredited by the education and character of the witnesses—to be mere deception and imposture. The a priori conceptions of these inquirers are so rooted that no testimony can avail against them, and they have even denied what they had seen with their own eyes. In order to believe in this department even what one sees with these eyes, and still more to understand it, the first requisite is not to be in bondage to the hard and fast categories of the practical intellect. The chief points on which the discussion turns may here be given:

(α) To the concrete existence of the individual belongs the aggregate of his fundamental interests, both the essential and the particular empirical ties which connect him with other men and the world at large. This totality forms his actuality, in the sense that it lies in fact immanent in him; it has already been called his genius. This genius is not the free mind which wills and thinks: the form of sensitivity, in which the individual here appears immersed, is, on the contrary, a surrender of his self-possessed intelligent existence. The first conclusion to which these considerations lead, with reference to the contents of consciousness in the somnambulist stage, is that it is only the range of his individually moulded world (of his private interests and narrow relationships) which appear there. Scientific theories and philosophic conceptions or general truths require a different soil,—require an intelligence which has risen out of the inarticulate mass of mere sensitivity to free consciousness. It is foolish therefore to expect revelations about the higher ideas from the somnambulist state.

(β) Where a human being’s senses and intellect are sound, he is fully and intelligently alive to that reality of his which gives concrete filling to his individuality: but he is awake to it in the form of interconnexion between himself and the features of that reality conceived as an external and a separate world, and he is aware that this world is in itself also a complex of interconnexions of a practically intelligible kind. In his subjective ideas and plans he has also before him this causally connected scheme of things he calls his world and the series of means which bring his ideas and his purposes into adjustment with the objective existences, which are also means and ends to each other. At the same time, this world which is outside him has its threads in him to such a degree that it is these threads which make him what he really is: he too would become extinct if these externalities were to disappear, unless by the aid of religion, subjective reason, and character, he is in a remarkable degree self-supporting and independent of them. But, then, in the latter case he is less susceptible of the psychical state here spoken of.—As an illustration of that identity with the surroundings may be noted the effect produced by the death of beloved relatives, friends, &c. on those left behind, so that the one dies or pines away with the loss of the other. (Thus Cato, after the downfall of the Roman republic, could live no longer: his inner reality was neither wider than higher than it.) Compare home-sickness, and the like.

(γ) But when all that occupies the waking consciousness, the world outside it and its relationship to that world is under a veil, and the soul is thus sunk in sleep (in magnetic sleep, in catalepsy, and other diseases, e.g. those connected with female development, or at the approach of death, &c.), then that immanent actuality of the individual remains the same substantial total as before, but now as a purely sensitive life with an inward vision and an inward consciousness. And because it is the adult, formed, and developed consciousness which is degraded into this state of sensitivity, it retains along with its content a certain nominal self-hood, a formal vision and awareness, which however does not go so far as the conscious judgment or discernment by which its contents, when it is healthy and awake, exist for it as an outward objectivity. The individual is thus a monad which is inwardly aware of its actuality—a genius which beholds itself. The characteristic point in such knowledge is that the very same facts (which for the healthy consciousness are an objective practical reality, and to know which, in its sober moods, it needs the intelligent chain of means and conditions in all their real expansion) are now immediately known and perceived in this immanence. This perception is a sort of clairvoyance; for it is a consciousness living in the undivided substantiality of the genius, and finding itself in the very heart of the interconnexion, and so can dispense with the series of conditions, external one to another, which lead up to the result,—conditions which cool reflection has in succession to traverse and in so doing feels the limits of its own individual externality. But such clairvoyance—just because its dim and turbid vision does not present the facts in a rational interconnexion—is for that very reason at the mercy of every private contingency of feeling and fancy, &c.—not to mention that foreign suggestions (see later) intrude into its vision. It is thus impossible to make out whether what the clairvoyants really see preponderates over what they deceive themselves in.—But it is absurd to treat this visionary state as a sublime mental phase and as a truer state, capable of conveying general truths(123).

(δ) An essential feature of this sensitivity, with its absence of intelligent and volitional personality, is this, that it is a state of passivity, like that of the child in the womb. The patient in this condition is accordingly made, and continues to be, subject to the power of another person, the magnetiser; so that when the two are thus in psychical rapport, the selfless individual, not really a “person,” has for his subjective consciousness the consciousness of the other. This latter self-possessed individual is thus the effective subjective soul of the former, and the genius which may even supply him with a train of ideas. That the somnambulist perceives in himself tastes and smells which are present in the person with whom he stands en rapport, and that he is aware of the other inner ideas and present perceptions of the latter as if they were his own, shows the substantial identity which the soul (which even in its concreteness is also truly immaterial) is capable of holding with another. When the substance of both is thus made one, there is only one subjectivity of consciousness: the patient has a sort of individuality, but it is empty, not on the spot, not actual: and this nominal self accordingly derives its whole stock of ideas from the sensations and ideas of the other, in whom it sees, smells, tastes, reads, and hears. It is further to be noted on this point that the somnambulist is thus brought into rapport with two genii and a twofold set of ideas, his own and that of the magnetiser. But it is impossible to say precisely which sensations and which visions he, in this nominal perception, receives, beholds and brings to knowledge from his own inward self, and which from the suggestions of the person with whom he stands in relation. This uncertainty may be the source of many deceptions, and accounts among other things for the diversity that inevitably shows itself among somnambulists from different countries and under rapport with persons of different education, as regards their views on morbid states and the methods of cure, or medicines for them, as well as on scientific and intellectual topics.

(ε) As in this sensitive substantiality there is no contrast to external objectivity, so within itself the subject is so entirely one that all varieties of sensation have disappeared, and hence, when the activity of the sense-organs is asleep, the “common sense,” or “general feeling” specifies itself to several functions; one sees and hears with the fingers, and especially with the pit of the stomach, &c.

To comprehend a thing means in the language of practical intelligence to be able to trace the series of means intervening between a phenomenon and some other existence on which it depends,—to discover what is called the ordinary course of nature, in compliance with the laws and relations of the intellect, e.g. causality, reasons, &c. The purely sensitive life, on the contrary, even when it retains that mere nominal consciousness, as in the morbid state alluded to, is just this form of immediacy, without any distinctions between subjective and objective, between intelligent personality and objective world, and without the aforementioned finite ties between them. Hence to understand this intimate conjunction, which, though all-embracing, is without any definite points of attachment, is impossible, so long as we assume independent personalities, independent one of another and of the objective world which is their content—so long as we assume the absolute spatial and material externality of one part of being to another.

(β) Self-feeling (Sense of Self)(124).

§ 407. (αα) The sensitive totality is, in its capacity of individual, essentially the tendency to distinguish itself in itself, and to wake up to the judgment in itself, in virtue of which it has particular feelings and stands as a subject in respect of these aspects of itself. The subject as such gives these feelings a place as its own in itself. In these private and personal sensations it is immersed, and at the same time, because of the “ideality” of the particulars, it combines itself in them with itself as a subjective unit. In this way it is self-feeling, and is so at the same time only in the particular feeling.

§ 408. (ββ) In consequence of the immediacy, which still marks the self-feeling, i.e. in consequence of the element of corporeality which is still undetached from the mental life, and as the feeling too is itself particular and bound up with a special corporeal form, it follows that although the subject has been brought to acquire intelligent consciousness, it is still susceptible of disease, so far as to remain fast in a special phase of its self-feeling, unable to refine it to “ideality” and get the better of it. The fully-furnished self of intelligent consciousness is a conscious subject, which is consistent in itself according to an order and behaviour which follows from its individual position and its connexion with the external world, which is no less a world of law. But when it is engrossed with a single phase of feeling, it fails to assign that phase its proper place and due subordination in the individual system of the world which a conscious subject is. In this way the subject finds itself in contradiction between the totality systematised in its consciousness, and the single phase or fixed idea which is not reduced to its proper place and rank. This is Insanity or mental Derangement.

In considering insanity we must, as in other cases, anticipate the full-grown and intelligent conscious subject, which is at the same time the natural self of self-feeling. In such a phase the self can be liable to the contradiction between its own free subjectivity and a particularity which, instead of being “idealised” in the former, remains as a fixed element in self-feeling. Mind as such is free, and therefore not susceptible of this malady. But in older metaphysics mind was treated as a soul, as a thing; and it is only as a thing, i.e. as something natural and existent, that it is liable to insanity—the settled fixture of some finite element in it. Insanity is therefore a psychical disease, i.e. a disease of body and mind alike: the commencement may appear to start from one more than other, and so also may the cure.

The self-possessed and healthy subject has an active and present consciousness of the ordered whole of his individual world, into the system of which he subsumes each special content of sensation, idea, desire, inclination, &c., as it arises, so as to insert them in their proper place. He is the dominant genius over these particularities. Between this and insanity the difference is like that between waking and dreaming: only that in insanity the dream falls within the waking limits, and so makes part of the actual self-feeling. Error and that sort of thing is a proposition consistently admitted to a place in the objective interconnexion of things. In the concrete, however, it is often difficult to say where it begins to become derangement. A violent, but groundless and senseless outburst of hatred, &c., may, in contrast to a presupposed higher self-possession and stability of character, make its victim seem to be beside himself with frenzy. But the main point in derangement is the contradiction which a feeling with a fixed corporeal embodiment sets up against the whole mass of adjustments forming the concrete consciousness. The mind which is in a condition of mere being, and where such being is not rendered fluid in its consciousness, is diseased. The contents which are set free in this reversion to mere nature are the self-seeking affections of the heart, such as vanity, pride, and the rest of the passions—fancies and hopes—merely personal love and hatred. When the influence of self-possession and of general principles, moral and theoretical, is relaxed, and ceases to keep the natural temper under lock and key, the earthly elements are set free—that evil which is always latent in the heart, because the heart as immediate is natural and selfish. It is the evil genius of man which gains the upper hand in insanity, but in distinction from and contrast to the better and more intelligent part, which is there also. Hence this state is mental derangement and distress. The right psychical treatment therefore keeps in view the truth that insanity is not an abstract loss of reason (neither in the point of intelligence nor of will and its responsibility), but only derangement, only a contradiction in a still subsisting reason;—just as physical disease is not an abstract, i.e. mere and total, loss of health (if it were that, it would be death), but a contradiction in it. This humane treatment, no less benevolent than reasonable (the services of Pinel towards which deserve the highest acknowledgment), presupposes the patient’s rationality, and in that assumption has the sound basis for dealing with him on this side—just as in the case of bodily disease the physician bases his treatment on the vitality which as such still contains health.

(γ) Habit(125).

§ 409. Self-feeling, immersed in the detail of the feelings (in simple sensations, and also desires, instincts, passions, and their gratification), is undistinguished from them. But in the self there is latent a simple self-relation of ideality, a nominal universality (which is the truth of these details): and as so universal, the self is to be stamped upon, and made appear in, this life of feeling, yet so as to distinguish itself from the particular details, and be a realised universality. But this universality is not the full and sterling truth of the specific feelings and desires; what they specifically contain is as yet left out of account. And so too the particularity is, as now regarded, equally formal; it counts only as the particular being or immediacy of the soul in opposition to its equally formal and abstract realisation. This particular being of the soul is the factor of its corporeity; here we have it breaking with this corporeity, distinguishing it from itself,—itself a simple being,—and becoming the “ideal,” subjective substantiality of it,—just as in its latent notion (§ 359) it was the substance, and the mere substance, of it.

But this abstract realisation of the soul in its corporeal vehicle is not yet the self—not the existence of the universal which is for the universal. It is the corporeity reduced to its mere ideality; and so far only does corporeity belong to the soul as such. That is to say, as space and time—the abstract one-outside-another, as, in short, empty space and empty time—are only subjective form—pure act of intuition; so that pure being (which through the supersession in it of the particularity of the corporeity, or of the immediate corporeity as such has realised itself) is mere intuition and no more, lacking consciousness, but the basis of consciousness. And consciousness it becomes, when the corporeity, of which it is the subjective substance, and which still continues to exist, and that as a barrier for it, has been absorbed by it, and it has been invested with the character of self-centred subject.

§ 410. The soul’s making itself an abstract universal being, and reducing the particulars of feelings (and of consciousness) to a mere feature of its being is Habit. In this manner the soul has the contents in possession, and contains them in such manner that in these features it is not as sentient, nor does it stand in relationship with them as distinguishing itself from them, nor is absorbed in them, but has them and moves in them, without feeling or consciousness of the fact. The soul is freed from them, so far as it is not interested in or occupied with them: and whilst existing in these forms as its possession, it is at the same time open to be otherwise occupied and engaged—say with feeling and with mental consciousness in general.

This process of building up the particular and corporeal expressions of feeling into the being of the soul appears as a repetition of them, and the generation of habit as practice. For, this being of the soul, if in respect of the natural particular phase it be called an abstract universality to which the former is transmuted, is a reflexive universality (§ 175); i.e. the one and the same, that recurs in a series of units of sensation, is reduced to unity, and this abstract unity expressly stated.

Habit, like memory, is a difficult point in mental organisation: habit is the mechanism of self-feeling, as memory is the mechanism of intelligence. The natural qualities and alterations of age, sleep and waking, are “immediately” natural: habit, on the contrary, is the mode of feeling (as well as intelligence, will, &c., so far as they belong to self-feeling) made into a natural and mechanical existence. Habit is rightly called a second nature; nature, because it is an immediate being of the soul; a second nature, because it is an immediacy created by the soul, impressing and moulding the corporeality which enters into the modes of feeling as such and into the representations and volitions so far as they have taken corporeal form (§ 401).

In habit the human being’s mode of existence is “natural,” and for that reason not free; but still free, so far as the merely natural phase of feeling is by habit reduced to a mere being of his, and he is no longer involuntarily attracted or repelled by it, and so no longer interested, occupied, or dependent in regard to it. The want of freedom in habit is partly merely formal, as habit merely attaches to the being of the soul; partly only relative, so far as it strictly speaking arises only in the case of bad habits, or so far as a habit is opposed by another purpose: whereas the habit of right and goodness is an embodiment of liberty. The main point about Habit is that by its means man gets emancipated from the feelings, even in being affected by them. The different forms of this may be described as follows: (α) The immediate feeling is negated and treated as indifferent. One who gets inured against external sensations (frost, heat, weariness of the limbs, &c., sweet tastes, &c.), and who hardens the heart against misfortune, acquires a strength which consists in this, that although the frost, &c.—or the misfortune—is felt, the affection is deposed to a mere externality and immediacy; the universal psychical life keeps its own abstract independence in it, and the self-feeling as such, consciousness, reflection, and any other purposes and activity, are no longer bothered with it. (β) There is indifference towards the satisfaction: the desires and impulses are by the habit of their satisfaction deadened. This is the rational liberation from them; whereas monastic renunciation and forcible interference do not free from them, nor are they in conception rational. Of course in all this it is assumed that the impulses are kept as the finite modes they naturally are, and that they, like their satisfaction, are subordinated as partial factors to the reasonable will. (γ) In habit regarded as aptitude, or skill, not merely has the abstract psychical life to be kept intact per se, but it has to be imposed as a subjective aim, to be made a power in the bodily part, which is rendered subject and thoroughly pervious to it. Conceived as having the inward purpose of the subjective soul thus imposed upon it, the body is treated as an immediate externality and a barrier. Thus comes out the more decided rupture between the soul as simple self-concentration, and its earlier naturalness and immediacy; it has lost its original and immediate identity with the bodily nature, and as external has first to be reduced to that position. Specific feelings can only get bodily shape in a perfectly specific way (§ 401); and the immediate portion of body is a particular possibility for a specific aim (a particular aspect of its differentiated structure, a particular organ of its organic system). To mould such an aim in the organic body is to bring out and express the “ideality” which is implicit in matter always, and especially so in the specific bodily part, and thus to enable the soul, under its volitional and conceptual characters, to exist as substance in its corporeity. In this way an aptitude shows the corporeity rendered completely pervious, made into an instrument, so that when the conception (e.g. a series of musical notes) is in me, then without resistance and with ease the body gives them correct utterance.

The form of habit applies to all kinds and grades of mental action. The most external of them, i.e. the spatial direction of an individual, viz. his upright posture, has been by will made a habit—a position taken without adjustment and without consciousness—which continues to be an affair of his persistent will; for the man stands only because and in so far as he wills to stand, and only so long as he wills it without consciousness. Similarly our eyesight is the concrete habit which, without an express adjustment, combines in a single act the several modifications of sensation, consciousness, intuition, intelligence, &c., which make it up. Thinking, too, however free and active in its own pure element it becomes, no less requires habit and familiarity (this impromptuity or form of immediacy), by which it is the property of my single self where I can freely and in all directions range. It is through this habit that I come to realise my existence as a thinking being. Even here, in this spontaneity of self-centred thought, there is a partnership of soul and body (hence, want of habit and too-long-continued thinking cause headache); habit diminishes this feeling, by making the natural function an immediacy of the soul. Habit on an ampler scale, and carried out in the strictly intellectual range, is recollection and memory, whereof we shall speak later.

Habit is often spoken of disparagingly and called lifeless, casual and particular. And it is true that the form of habit, like any other, is open to anything we chance to put into it; and it is habit of living which brings on death, or, if quite abstract, is death itself: and yet habit is indispensable for the existence of all intellectual life in the individual, enabling the subject to be a concrete immediacy, an “ideality” of soul—enabling the matter of consciousness, religious, moral, &c., to be his as this self, this soul, and no other, and be neither a mere latent possibility, nor a transient emotion or idea, nor an abstract inwardness, cut off from action and reality, but part and parcel of his being. In scientific studies of the soul and the mind, habit is usually passed over—either as something contemptible—or rather for the further reason that it is one of the most difficult questions of psychology.

(c) The Actual Soul.(126)

§ 411. The Soul, when its corporeity has been moulded and made thoroughly its own, finds itself there a single subject; and the corporeity is an externality which stands as a predicate, in being related to which, it is related to itself. This externality, in other words, represents not itself, but the soul, of which it is the sign. In this identity of interior and exterior, the latter subject to the former, the soul is actual: in its corporeity it has its free shape, in which it feels itself and makes itself felt, and which as the Soul’s work of art has human pathognomic and physiognomic expression.

Under the head of human expression are included, e.g., the upright figure in general, and the formation of the limbs, especially the hand, as the absolute instrument, of the mouth—laughter, weeping, &c., and the note of mentality diffused over the whole, which at once announces the body at the externality of a higher nature. This note is so slight, indefinite, and inexpressible a modification, because the figure in its externality is something immediate and natural, and can therefore only be an indefinite and quite imperfect sign for the mind, unable to represent it in its actual universality. Seen from the animal world, the human figure is the supreme phase in which mind makes an appearance. But for the mind it is only its first appearance, while language is its perfect expression. And the human figure, though its proximate phase of existence, is at the same time in its physiognomic and pathognomic quality something contingent to it. To try to raise physiognomy and above all cranioscopy (phrenology) to the rank of sciences, was therefore one of the vainest fancies, still vainer than a signatura rerum, which supposed the shape of a plant to afford indication of its medicinal virtue.

§ 412. Implicitly the soul shows the untruth and unreality of matter; for the soul, in its concentrated self, cuts itself off from its immediate being, placing the latter over against it as a corporeity incapable of offering resistance to its moulding influence. The soul, thus setting in opposition its being to its (conscious) self, absorbing it, and making it its own, has lost the meaning of mere soul, or the “immediacy” of mind. The actual soul with its sensation and its concrete self-feeling turned into habit, has implicitly realised the ’ideality’ of its qualities; in this externality it has recollected and inwardised itself, and is infinite self-relation. This free universality thus made explicit shows the soul awaking to the higher stage of the ego, or abstract universality in so far as it is for the abstract universality. In this way it gains the position of thinker and subject—specially a subject of the judgment in which the ego excludes from itself the sum total of its merely natural features as an object, a world external to it,—but with such respect to that object that in it it is immediately reflected into itself. Thus soul rises to become Consciousness.


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Chicago: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, "Sub-Section A. Anthropology. The Soul.," Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind (University of Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1894), Original Sources, accessed February 3, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=85DMDCHHX27N4EL.

MLA: Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. "Sub-Section A. Anthropology. The Soul." Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind, University of Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1894, Original Sources. 3 Feb. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=85DMDCHHX27N4EL.

Harvard: Hegel, GW 1894, 'Sub-Section A. Anthropology. The Soul.' in Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind, Clarendon Press, University of Oxford. Original Sources, retrieved 3 February 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=85DMDCHHX27N4EL.