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Revelance of Hegel's Jena Phenomenology

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Revision as of 13:52, 11 November 2008 by (talk) (This is the most edited version. I take the whole of Hegel's Phenomenology as the first work on the subject in moderity. Reading this book can be exciting, accessable and one can refer to tradition.)

The subject of this talk started as a response to Kai Forbes' written piece - Is Phenomenology needed or recommended as Introduction to Hegel's System - but after a few edits and readings on G W F Hegel's `Phenomenolog/y/ie der Geistes'<PdG hereafter>,it became clear that the scope of response would be narrow and somewhat self-serving if I did not follow it up by providing few arguments to build a case that Hegel's Phenomenology, despite having the pure immediacy of the `this', `what', not-this, not what',appearances that immediately relate to sense-experience should not be mistaken as a `first philosophy'.Denying any possibility for first philosophy is what the `Preface' is all about. I can start off with qualified `truths' in a architectonic of elevation from one level to the next. That would also explain why Kai can begin straight with a high order question.

This response is sensitive to historical contexts, durations and time especially when the subject is Hegel, whose life mysteriously co-coincided with historical drifts.

There is no dispute that the aftermath of PdG casts a shadow on Hegel's post-Jena work.Its opaque effect that befalls any reader in these times pertains to the language of PdG.It is thought that speaks to itself and equally listens, which arranges density, clears confusions in the manner of the incipient language of early Greek philosophy, rich in phonetic attributes through utterance.Hegel brings philosophers of antiquity upto date.Truths uttered 2500 years ago by philosophy remain truths as of now and well into the future.He deploys a fair amount of native dialects and vernacular traditions that would read not too refined and even clumsy when ordered grammatically.Urges and instinct are more than ambivalent when they end up saying `yes' and `no' at the same time.These paradoxicals come on their own through the medium of instincts and Hegel, it seems, hardly reversed his `urges' though they were kept as negative moments of dialectic.There are other instances of psychic life that brings out the simple naivete.Unlike Egyptians who saw language and words emanating from God's mouth, Hegel was earthier who figured language acquisition as a child's spontaneous mental growth.He could never turn towards any deciphering, like hiero-glyphs, the Egyptian written language made up of sacred signs.

However, I would be cautious about mentioning the Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences in comparative terms with PdG and WL.I know this may sound trite but not without its worth to state the only other book that Hegel wrote was Wissenschaft Logik[WL]. Given this standard of comparison, the only justification for inveighing PdG over WL could only be due to refractive and/or ethereal affect.The importance of WL over PdG lies in the realm of cognition or Philosophy as such. Phenomenology of Spirit, or the study of opposing consciousness [ subject-object to subject-subject relations]is presupposed in WL, which elaborates the method proper to philosophy as science.The method of Philosophy lies in its being freed from oppositions of consciousness showing up in the phenomenal worlds, which is quiet different from `freeing the mind from misconceptions'.

If Kai means by Hegel's Phenomenology a "ladder", <<comparable maybe to Wittgenstein's own rendering of Tractatus-Logico-Philosophicus>>,"because Philosophy does not start from the blue", that would fall in an area of deep-seated disputation. For one,PdG has a definite point of departure, the beginning, so to speak, in sense-experience.

The first chapter of Phenomenology is the world of immediate experience and all the subsequent phenomenologies,beginning with Brentano-Husserl have `experience' as constituting the substrata of their analysis.Second, the metaphor `ladder' can also be thrown away after climbing the last step, as suggested by Wittgenstein. Here, Kai does not provide the consequential logic of the `ladder'; should it be kept, internalized or thrown away, externalized or what? The formulation also begets answer to the question why did'nt Hegel extend whatever he did write in PdG under his earlier piece titled Philosophie der Geistes'?

Moreover, one cannot overlook the transition problem of moving from `here' to `there' while moving from Phenomenology to Philosophy.In Encyclopedia Logik,Hegel puts Phenomenology between Anthropology as the presupposed part and Psychology as the following part.All the three subjects - Anthropology, Phenomenology and Psychology- came under Philosophy.

Kai's `talk' self-negates, if not his own construct but certainly a construct that says 1)it is not necessary to read and get stuck up in the Preface to PdG before/after reading the main body of the text and 2]that PdG is not necessary for `grasping' anything that Hegel wrote afterwords, his system, if'Philosophie der Geistes, 1803-'04,The Jena System, 1804-'05 and Jena Realphilosophie, 1805-'06 is read.The argument is that in these writings all that was hurriedly written by Hegel had already been covered up in the earlier writings where, moreover, the subjects - logic, nature,spirit/mind/history/aesthetics - make a better template for reading all that Hegel wrote after PdG.Kai sees PdG as a work that systematically includes [`sublated']"all reasonable perspectives from all philosophers before him" and none of these philosophers used Phenomenology to teach and come to conclusions.


Why was this the case ? Does it make Hegel's PdG a work of some maverick? As a matter of fact, Hegel viewed Kant's philosophy very close to a phenomenology for giving a theory of consciousness from the appearance of the subject to an object but, as usual, could not push through the concept that would show the truth of the said relation for he could not go beyond appearances. Actually this a-symmetry of Kant's thought has been pointed out repeatedly by Hegel too many times.At any rate, Hegel pushes the argument not just in terms of the shapes of subject-object relations in the experiencing consciousness but goes much further on the direction of positing the truths of all relations, including self-relations, thereby negating the aporias of Kant.

In the realm of philosophy, Hegel observed that with Kant, `consciousness' was "essentially a property", not as the abstract of `ordinary consciousness', but as a derivative property of the transcendental a a priori,i.e.the rules governing our knowledge.Kant will regard such properties as `mental representations', which if anything, are our own.Only in the 20th c. did Sohn-Rethel, who studied Kant under Heidegger, considered grounding the Kantian a priori of transcendental aperception in the reality of the socially abstract commodity world from a Marxist perspective.But this is relative verification, which is not what Kant suggested.

Hegel opposed Geistes/ Spirit, as Mind such as understood by Alcemeon of Creaton [500-450 B C], the ancient Greek writer on medicine but who was the first to discover the brain as the seat and power, understanding and perception united in mind, or, possessing the power to equalize opposites <wet/dry; hot/cold;sweet/bitter, etc.>, which he designated by the use of the original term for democracy, i.e., isonomia.

Hegel could derive speculatively that this Mind <brain> was not stuck up or submerged either in nature or reflection/representation, but has the power to raise itself in increasing degrees, like inspiration, from conventions, blind faith, superstitions so as to unite the single consciousness with the real, vital feelings animating the community.Such "indwelling spirit of community", the prius of Geistes emerging as a co-relate, or consciousness that is on-and-for-itself would both subordinate and transform, aufhaben/sublate by exposition of laws expressing relations of subordinate-mutual reciprocity in the commons [of life]. This would be the Spirit/Geistes having suspended its subjective nature of consciousness.


Kai also considers the conservative construct, mostly those who are inclined towards reading Hegel in a theological sense.Even if almost all of their positions is granted, I would insist why is it compulsive for them to omit the Preface? The Preface is no configuration for what Hegel wrote later.I think that what Hegel says about the truth as the Bacchic ravel the choreographic moment of the rose in the cross, does not sit comfortably with the theologians. But then, even in terms of theology, Christians do not have any monopoly over Hegel on the subject.

On the other hand, the analytical, neo-Kantian, `phenomenological' and positivist/empiricist thinker would also prefer to dispense with the Preface because of the manner of Hegel's break with Descartes, identity logic and the self-certain Ego as the I, when "I say `I', this singular `I', I say in general all `I's'; everyone is what I say, everyone is `I' the singular" [ 'PdG', 83].However, the sense of it can be felt by radicalized souls who see 'PdG' as a book that constitutes a ‎break with previous philosophies in the same way that Heraclitus' systemic notion marked a ‎revolutionary moment in the history of philosophy, according to Hegel.

In addition, many philologists would also join the bandwagon because of anomalies in language and the spontaneous, `stream of consciousness' type writing that may be found there.However, the anomalous part belongs very much to the discourse of Grammarians ever since the days when the school of Alexandria flourished, and it is not possible to write on consciousness without giving its own streaming automatic flow the requisite due.

Other than this ,to wit, points 7-10 made by Kai are well accepted. As a matter of fact they just go on to show the congruence between the `structure ' of PdG and Hegel's later system.

To begin with the production side of the first book on Phenomenology, the `Geistes'/Spirits was part of the first, original title covering around 750 pages in all, the number of pages being equivalent to the number of copies released in April 1807 and published by J Hoffmeister in Hamburg/Bamberg.Hegel reached there in Jan. 1807, remained preoccupied with the book-release in April, 1807.Other than proof reading, because proofing-cum-typesetting-cum-formatting constituted the last stage of publication, self-proofing of handwritten pages by the author must have been made clear, edited, copy-edited, details from contents, written matter for Hoffmeister the publisher, due to Hegel's involvement.

It was in that period,from January winters, 1807, that he wrote the Preface.Almost the entire book seems written straight, on the singular plane that makes writing a volitional and responsible deed, without too much, rather minimalist reworking of drafts.

The thinking that lead to the book, however,covered at least five years prior to its writing.The timing of publication had to await the appearance of Napoleon during the battle of Jena.Hegel had prided' himself for having "predicted the entire upheaval", the revolution in France, and the book "completed the night before the battle of Jena" makes the dramatic point of intersection where the abstract freedom of French republic " passes out of its own self-destructive activity over to another land" that would be Germany.< Letter to Naithammer, Apr. 29, 1814>Jena,for Hegel was this apparent,visible passage of self-consciousness for truth awaiting `refreshment' while remaining in thought, from `the brown rivulet of coffee' and original `Rhine wine'.This event had to mark and impress the discovery, not recovery,of Phenomenology of Spirit as the novel beginning the ending of via moderna.

The prescencing/appearing of world-spirit completed the labours of philosophy by the philosopher Hegel, given that there was hardly any philosopher who had identified herself with philosophy as Hegel.Sometimes the identification bets so personal and completed that philosophy seems to become an euphemism for the use of `I' by Hegel in certain contexts, by pitching himself as identical with philosophy, Hegel would say in his preface to Rechtsphilosophie that philosophy arrives late, after the event, like the Owl of Minerva taking flight after the dusk has fallen.

Hegel saw a philosophical calling before the world historical spirit and this was resolved by announcing the new born as Phenomenology, as (an already) absolute self-consciousness. The main body comprised in the working of the way by the use of a revolutionary method of the knowledge that knows itself both in endothermic and exothermic unity.I am referring to thermic to signify `fire', the fire that stood for `objective time' for both Heraclitus and Hegel.

The spirit of the age seen as Napoleon,as the external appearance was destined to get recognized by Hegel for `aufheben'/sublation of all that preceded the arrival of this absolute Spirit,of man as man, at Golgotha, as that level of the brim beyond which the froth spills over.The inner, philosophical engagement and dialoguing with Christianity as religion and spending of long periods of time with Christ would also terminate in a Phenomenology whose contents,the becoming encompassed by consciousness resulted in a Spirit/`Geist,which was absolutely adequate for Philosophy that had sublated/`aufheben Religion.

This needs to be restated somewhat axiomatically, on the diagonal that without the appearance of the exothermic/eternal in-and-for-itself moment there would not have been a Phenomenology that would have united the diachronic and the synchronous, the latter prescencing [presenting itself]/``darstallungen',or in the dramatic progression/procession of consciousness from experience to perception to understanding and force.The orientation and thinking of all that appears before consciousness is posited dynamically.After exposition of the main structure of neoma < the invisibility of consciousness> consciousness moves to the diachronic plane, i.e., self-consciousness.


Self-consciousness is the activity of knowledge of its truth after having grasped the truths of of sense-certainty, beginning the arche of desire that exceeds the appetative/appetizing object as desired,which appears in the field of perception-that finds its truth in `recognition', the terrain where desire is consummated through the dialectic of lordship and bondage prescencing with force, as a fight unto death between two embodiments of consciousness.The fight is a metaphor, a ruse of reason because one embodied consciousness submits to `recognizing' because the submitted consciousness knows in advance that its truth can only be constituted in the diachronic through work/labour/production, as unfolding by production of time,the knowledge that the present can only become dialectical, as becoming,opposed to the eternal, fixed knowing of the recognized consciousness, only by the effect of the future on the present since each such moment of actualization marks the road to freedom.

Freedom starts in the interiority at first, but whenever the opposition externalizes through combats, interiority too externalizes itself as expansive, multiple units of the self. Thus the self that returns back into its indwelling site after the combat is an enriched self that can only progress concretely whenever the action of the future - the time to be made- is universal.In other words,the free self-activity of recognizing consciousness sublates/`aufheben fixed, constant, eternal knowledge of recognized consciousness. In terms of a dialectical procession that consciousness progresses, which makes the truth of freedom as universal, a moment that cannot be grasped by the recognized consciousness even though it learns about freedom by a limited unity with its other. The limits are the one's that it has already realized in the first two moments of individuality [ in desire]and particularity [of recognition by the other].

Hegel's `Phenomenology of Spirit/s' was seen as a journey through a picture gallery later on by Hegel himself and this gallery turns out to be a vision-in-the-making as we move from conceptualizing one picture, as mental image,to another conceptualization to yet another and in this sense Phenomenology is linked to earlier traditions their initial glimmerings may be found in Plato, especially in `Georgias', which is the most paradoxical dialogue marking the great moment in Greek ontology where conceptions/`ennoiai of genera and species/ ''`ennoimeta end up in thoughts/`noemaas concepts/`'en-noema. Plato introduces these themes and in the course of dialogues the difficulties of the themata emerge prominently instead of resolutions. Aristotle appealed to internal representations or fractals of Plato's `noemaas a resolution and this was contradicted by Stoical arguments on non-existent representations of thought-objects.

Later Stoics used propositional and semantic logic applied to entities/`ens'.Shifted to the ontological terrain, that had already been problematized by Plato but remained suppressed through philology though in Latin the cognates of `intentio were interpreted variously by Sextus Empiricus,Diogenes Leaterus and most prominently, Zeno of Cleanthes.`Intentio had different meanings though as the two-fold division between mental state and mental acts clarified the terms of references.Early Arabic philosophy referred to terms such as `ma'naand `ma'qul mean more like `mood' of soul as it occurs in Indian philosophical term,`mana and mental acts that had more to do with practical, `to do' of ontology instead of pure mental states , thought-objects that were self-generating and not as they were mentioned in religious scriptures.


Hegel saw these excursions, except for Plato's conceptions and ma'na, as a mood of the soul, as so many pseudo philosophical inanities that had to be cleared. Hegel's task was compounded by such inanities that would block him from even getting a post in a faculty vacancy though diachronic progression developing out of French revolution, even as it appeared in its `old age' before Hegel spurred him to arrive, in the least,maybe as the owl of Minerva, at the intersection with the remains of the spirit of the age.It was at this juncture, after encountering the limit of ethical actuality in politics that Phenomenology could irrupt.

Leaving the Preface aside, what Hegel wrote on the abstract ending of the notion of French revolution in Terror, or revolutionary terror as the `Feurie des Verschnwadens'is the description provided by Hegel to show the culminated act of revolution. With this act, the logic of the revolution turned into its opposite, from the dialectical logic it turned into sheer abstraction, or abstract freedom that was unmediated in the act of Terror dissolved all the earlier promises and determinations, turning the intellectual landscape into a barren desert. It is only at this point that the Spirit falls, turns into abyss, into meaninglessness and consequently, meaningless death.

The destabilization of the dialectic by abstract unmediated negativity returns us back to the ancients, especially, the problematique of cognition in relation to inadmissible ideas that Plato brings up in `Georgias' and to our own times when we ask, yet again, how can a/any/the dialectic surmount the increasingly resurgent abstract, meaningless actions, thoughtlessly repetitive beating in the heart of current world history.

PdG may also be seen as transformation of preconscious to the fully developed form of consciousness is also in addition to the discovery, creating a product [eidos], or idea-product though work is a mark of general, social labour, which is what makes the `we' in Hegel's philosophy..When Hegel worked out the path to write Phenomenology, Kai is correct in tracing its genealogy to 1801-'02, the organization of that, as demanded by cumulative non-quantified logic, in 1806 did not qualify as Phenomenology to Hegel.However one should not infer that Phenomenology is something of an advance from Philosophy. There is a difference and an opposition resulting in subordination of Phenomenology to Logic or the method proper to Philosophy.


Resemblances are and should be deceptive, fully recognized as intrinsic to aesthetics. But in Philosophy, where the right word may be `meme' [ contentious terrain for sure], yet all such acts remain subordinate to the concept [begriff],when the world is actively involved, as with prayers,with the `Enlightenment Idea' about opinion [doxa]governing the world.In terms of dialectic Hegel broke a barrier of linearity and the work of 1807 was preceded by a leap that could only be found in the Preface where Hegel shows how and why he breaks from Descartes- the Cartesian Ego.A break that is hardly passive. It is a dialectical sublation that reverses the entire mode of the `Cogito Ego into a past transcended, long dead or eternally passive.Spirit, according to Hegel, cannot infuse life into all the dead bones of Philosophy sunk in oblivion.

To round up what is being said, there is the difference between Hegel's perception of the product of his labours [and the use of `we' by Hegel contains others in the course of work]and the perception of social labour that produced 750 copies. If that is self-evident then the next unity must be the dynamic unity of these two modes of work and perception all the way to the moment of absolute synthetic, non-oppositional/oppositional, non-differentiated/differentiated unity.That would be the work of Spirit.

‎ >>>>Dialectic as the unfolding on musico-poetic <complex> plane underlying ‎Phenomenology of Spirit

1/The question whether Phenomenologie der Geist' [PhG]is necessary for comprehending Hegel's ‎Philosophical System needs be considered since philosophy demands ‎that it begin without presuppositions, prejuduces of judgments or a priori.  ‎

‎ 2/This does not mean that Wissenschaft Logik remains the quintessence for grasping Hegel's philosophy.

3/One response given by Hegel to a question having similar import before the second edition was ‎going for print, in 1830, evoked mild humour, but Hegel did not say that any part, section, page, word, ‎etc. needed any change. Nothing should be changed was put across to the publishers. He was ‎emphatic in this response while he would also let others know that the times and mood at Jena of ‎‎1806-'07 was youthful;‎ ‎ ‎4/ Even if we were to put matters widely, studying PhG is like the experience of the `new', an attractor, and one may add ‎conventional logic for asserting that his philosophical work in 1806 having written or covered the whole ‎of PhG, as we are given to understand should be studied as well, but the `preference’ for the 1806 ‎drafts have no priority and supposing that were it to be so, this present is definitely not the time. It is weird to suggest with basic ‎reasonableness why should the Preface that was composed by Hegel while the book was being ‎printed be severed from the book published 1807 since both are open to reading. This question is very ‎absurd since the author himself published PhG with the Preface with no hint about any ambiguity and many themes that crop up in Preface emerge later in a dar more systematic manner.‎ ‎ 5/ Hegel's ‎Berlin Phenomenology is another `text' that has yet to receive its due attention. Ignoring or suppressing this shorter and precise version may seem no more than pure and simple `bad faith'. ‎ ‎ 6/ Husserl’s, elimination of Hegel’s system was simply reactionary and ‎nowhere close to Kierkegaard since the latter already knew Hegel so well that he even knew other ‎than been foreseen by Hegel’s system, that in parts Hegel’s Philosophy of Right that he took as ethics ‎based on rights was written in order to conceal Hegel’s `bad faith’.

7/ Husserl isolates Hegel from Descartes , Kant, Fichte, not for acknowledging the knowing, as was ‎the case with Kierkegaard, as the composer of the first modern book on Phenomenology but for ‎opposite reasons, attacking Hegel as a `system builder', `unscientific', lacking a critique of reason and other inanities said by Husserl together with the winning chorus of post-1870’s Germany, after `defeating ‎metaphysics’ and `philosophy of science’ while hailing technology in ascent, in the universities and ‎faculties, while accepting the subservience to major ‎growth industries by doing research on their behalf.

‎‎8/The supreme irony that can now be stated with the benefit of hindsight, to be explicit, consisted ‎in the difference that with PdG as the presupposition in sublating/aufhaben moments in WL, Hegel wold go on to write on truth as something like a circle that has its beginning and ending joined at any point, absolute idea of ‎science in the Science of Logic that was the next presupposition of the elaboration of the Hegelian ‎system of `philosophical science', as it was elaborated in the university,‎ arrives at the point for `lecturing on any science' and academic discipline. ‎ 9/Because the truths of philosophy, even as independent proposition depend upon the context ‎when the system was founded, or as stated without any paradox or indeterminacy, "Unless it is a ‎system philosophy is not a scientific production";‎ ‎ 10/Since the value of philosophy only made sense as a part of interdependence and/with `organic ‎whole', any advanced state of mind, which was found in plenitude in many commons such as the ‎‎`we', `communion in the sphere of religion', `common language', etc. is in a position to see the real in ‎the unapparent, < unapparent connections are truer than apparent ones'- Heraclitus>and that is also ‎the point of access to science, its dimensions as explored in Hegel's Phenomenology as the science of ‎both laws and unfolding of consciousness.‎‎ ‎ 11/ The urge to certainty, exactitude was the work of uncovering all the moments of ‎Reason, which is a Section in PdG that the critics just overlook since they are neither ready to devote ‎attention and study beginning to look like a rarity, while they would readily jump to conclusions only to create confusion ‎from their confused faculty to reason or even see the Real mainly by pointing to the bare externals, as ‎obtains in the apparently arbitrary nature of the table of contents, which combines Latin and Greek ‎letters, roman-English letters, affixed double letters - AA,BB.DD, etc.- absence of numerals and so forth ‎ ‎ 16/ e.g., in Philosophy of Mind', under the rubric Self-Consciousness, the first part under the Greek ‎alpha, Appetite corresponds to the sense-certainty of PdG, holding `desire' within,double-alpha would correspond to the noema of perception and self-consciousness ‎negative under the Greek sign `beta' would correspond to PdG section on `Lordship and Bondage', ‎holding `recognition' within and universal self consciousness under the Greek letter epsilon does not, ‎as the moment of sublation has any identical equivalent, though it is subsumed in its meaning as ‎belonging to the sphere of Right as `self-certainty .

17/ Lastly‎,the reason for putting PdG on a musico-poetic plane/scale owes to the influence of Holderlin.In a letter to Hegel, Holderlin made a critique of Fichte's `absolute spirit', which encompassed all reality, resembling post-modern blabber on the absence of any outside.Holderlin made clear that without the object self-consciousness was impossible and without consciousness `I am for myself nothing; absolute self is nothing for me.Holderlin imparted the notion of Bildung [ popular education] to Geistes.As he wrote to Schelling:" Poetry made me contemplate the Bildung, the formation of character and impulse for improvement.Consciousness of its ground and essence in Geistes/Spirit" provided the material to instinctively inspire him to draft a humanistic journal including poetry.

Holderlin sought how to make the transition from prose to poetry and, with it, the transience of the body.