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The Phenomenology of Mind; The Unhappy Consciousness

by Hegel

In Skepticism consciousness gets, in truth, to know itself as a consciousness containing contradiction within itself. From the experience of this proceeds a new attitude which brings together the two thoughts which skepticism holds apart. The want of intelligence which skepticism manifests regarding itself is bound to vanish, because it is in fact one consciousness which possesses these two modes within it. This new attitude consequently is one which is aware of being the double consciousness of itself as self-liberating, unalterable, self-identical, and as utterly self-confounding, self-peverting; and this new attitude is the consciousness this contradiction within itself.

In Stoicism, self-consciousness is the bare and simple freedom of itself. In Skepticism, it realizes itself, negates the other side of determinate existence, but, in so doing, really doubles itself, and is itself now a duality. In this way the duplication, which previously was divided between two individuals, the lord and the bondsman, is concentrated into one. Thus we have here that dualizing of self-consciousness within itself, which lies essentially in the notion of mind; but the unity of the two elements is not yet present. Hence the Unhappy Consciousness. The Alienated Soul which is the consciousness of self as a divided nature, a doubled and merely contradictory being.

This unhappy consciousness, divided and at variance within itself, must, because this contradiction of its essential nature is felt to be a single consciousness, always have in the one consciousness the other also; and thus must be straightaway driven out of each in turn, when it thinks it has therein attained to the victory and rest of unity. Its true return into itself, or reconciliation with itself, will, however, display the notion of mind endowed with a, life and existence of its own, because it implicitly involves the fact that, while being an undivided consciousness, it is a double consciousness. It is itself the gazing of one self-consciousness into another, and itself is both, and the unity of both is also its own essence; but objectively and consciously it is not yet this essence itself--is not yet the unity of both.

Since, in the first instance, it is the immediate, the implicit unity of both, while for it they are not one and the same, but opposed, it takes one, namely, the simple unalterable, as essential, the other, the manifold and changeable as the unessential. For it, both are realities foreign to each other. Itself, because consciousness of this contradiction, assumes the aspect of changeable consciousness and is to itself the unessential; but as consciousness of unchangeableness, of the ultimate essence, it must, at the same time, proceed to free itself from the unessential, i.e. to liberate itself from itself. For though in its own view it is indeed only the changeable, and the unchangeable is foreign and extraneous to it, yet itself is simple, and therefore unchangeable consciousness, of which consequently it is conscious as its essence, but still in such wise that itself is again in its own regard not this essence. The position, which it assigns to both, cannot, therefore, be an indifference of one to the other, i.e. cannot be an indifference of itself towards the unchangeable. Rather it is immediately both itself; and the relation of both assumes for it the form of a relation of essence to the non-essential, so that this latter has to be canceled; but since both are to it equally essential and are contradictory, it is only the conflicting contradictory process in which opposite does not come to rest in its own opposite, but produces itself therein afresh merely as an opposite.

Here, then, there is a struggle against an enemy, victory over whom really means being worsted, where to have attained one result is really to lose it in the opposite. Consciousness of life, of its existence and action, is merely pain and sorrow over this existence and activity; for therein consciousness finds only consciousness of its opposite as its essence--and of its own nothingness. Elevating itself beyond this, it passes to the unchangeable. But this elevation is itself this same consciousness. It is, therefore, immediately conscious of the opposite, viz. of itself as single, individual, particular. The unchangeable, which comes to consciousness, is in that very fact at the same time affected by particularity, and is only present with this latter. Instead of particularity having been abolished in the consciousness of immutability, it only continues to appear there still.

In this process, however, consciousness experiences just this appearance of particularity in the unchangeable, and of the unchangeable in particularity. Consciousness becomes aware of particularity in general in the immutable essence, and at the same time it there finds its own particularity. For the truth of this process is precisely that the double consciousness is one and single. This unity becomes a fact to it, but in the first instance the unity is one in which the diversity of both factors is still the dominant feature. Owing to this, consciousness has before it the threefold way in which particularity is connected with unchangeableness. In one form it comes before itself as opposed to the unchangeable essence, and is thrown back to the beginning of that struggle, which is, from first to last, the principle constituting the entire situation. At another time it finds the unchangeable appearing in the form of particularity; so that the latter is an embodiment of unchangeableness, into which, in consequence, the entire form of existence passes. In the third case, it discovers itself to be this particular fact in the unchangeable. The first unchangeable is taken to be merely the alien, external Being, which passes sentence on particular existence; since the second unchangeable is a form or mode of particularity like itself, it, i.e. the consciousness, becomes in the third place spirit (Geist), has the joy of finding itself therein, and becomes aware within itself that its particularity has been reconciled with the universal.

What is set forth here as a mode and relation of the unchangeable, came to light as the experience through which self-consciousness passes in its unhappy state of diremption. This experience is now doubtless not its own one sided process; for it is itself unchangeable consciousness; and this latter, consequently, is a particular consciousness as well; and the process is as much a process of that unchangeable consciousness, which makes its appearance there as certainly as the other. For that movement is carried on in these moments: an unchangeable now opposed to the particular in general then, being itself particular, opposed to the other particular, and finally at one with it. But this consideration, so far as it is our affair, is here out of place, for thus far we have only had to do with unchangeableness as unchangeableness of consciousness, which, for that reason, is not true immutability, but is still affected with an opposite; we have not had before us the unchangeable per se and by itself; we do not, therefore, know how this latter will conduct itself. What has here so far come to light is merely this, that to consciousness, which is our object here, the determinations above indicated appear in the unchangeable.

For this reason, then, the unchangeable consciousness also preserves, in its very form and bearing, the character and fundamental features of diremption and separate self-existence, as against the particular consciousness. For the latter it is thus altogether a contingency, a mere chance event, that the unchangeable receives the form of particularity; just as the particular consciousness merely happens to find itself opposed to the unchangeable, and therefore has this relation per naturam. Finally that it finds itself in the unchangeable appears to the particular consciousness to be brought about partly, no doubt, by itself, or to take place for the reason that itself is particular; but this union, both as regards its origin as well as in its being, appears partly also due to the unchangeable; and the opposition remains within the unity itself. In point of fact, through the unchangeable assuming a definite form, the "beyond", as a moment, has not only remained, but really is more securely established. For if the remote "beyond" seems indeed brought closer to the individual by this particular form of realization, on the other hand, it is hence forward fixedly opposed to the individual, a sensuous, impervious unit, with all the hard resistance of what is actual. The hope of becoming one therewith must remain a hope, i.e. without fulfillment, without present fruition; for between the hope and fulfillment there stands precisely the absolute contingency, or immovable indifference, which is involved in the very assumption of determinate shape and form, the basis and foundation of the hope. By the nature of this existent unit, through the particular reality it has assumed and adopted, it comes about of necessity that it becomes a tiling of the past, something that has been somewhere far away, and absolutely remote it remains.

If, at the beginning, the bare notion of the sundered consciousness involved the characteristic of seeking to cancel it, qua particular consciousness, and become the unchangeable consciousness, the direction its effort henceforth takes is rather that of canceling its relation to the pure unchangeable, without shape or embodied form, and of adopting only the relation to the unchangeable which has form and shape. For the oneness of the particular consciousness with the unchangeable is henceforth its object and the essential reality for it, just as in the mere notion of it the essential object wins merely the formless abstract unchangeable: and the relation found in this absolute disruption, characteristic of its notion, is now what it has to turn away from. The external relation, however, primarily adopted to the formed and embodied unchangeable, as being an alien extraneous reality, must be transmuted and raised to that of complete and thoroughgoing fusion and identification.

The process through which the unessential consciousness strives to retain this oneness, is itself a triple process, in accordance with the threefold character of the relation which this consciousness takes up to its transcendent and remote reality embodied in specific form. In one it is a pure consciousness; at another time a particular individual who takes up towards actuality the attitude characteristic of desire and Labour; and in the third place it is conscious of its self-existence, its existence for itself. We have now to see how these three modes of its being are found and are constituted in that general relation.

In the first place, then, regarded as pure consciousness, the unchangeable embodied in definite historical form seems, since it is an object for pure consciousness, to be established it is in its self-subsistent reality. But this, its reality in and for itself, has not yet come to light, as we already remarked. Were it to be in consciousness as it is in itself and for itself, this would certainly have to come about not from the side of consciousness, but from the unchangeable. But, this being so, its presence here is brought about through consciousness only in a one sided way to begin with, and just for that reason is not found in a perfect and genuine form, but constantly weighted and encumbered with imperfection, with an opposite.

But although the "unhappy consciousness" does not possess this actual presence, it has, at the same time, transcended pure thought, so far as this is the abstract thought of Stoicism, which turns away from particulars altogether, and again the merely restless thought of Skepticism--so far, in fact, as this is merely particularity in the sense of aimless contradiction and the restless process of contradictory thought. It has gone beyond both of these; it brings and keeps together pure thought and particular existence, but has not yet risen to that level of thinking where the particularity of consciousness is harmoniously reconciled with pure thought itself. It rather stands midway, at the point where abstract thought comes in contact with the particularity of consciousness qua particularity. Itself is this act of contact; it is the union of pure thought and individuality; and this thinking individuality or pure thought also exists as object for it, and the unchangeable is essentially itself an individual existence. But that this its object, the unchangeable, which assumes essentially the form of particularity, is its own self, the self which is particularity of consciousness --this is not established for it.

In this first condition, consequently, in which we treat it as pure consciousness, it takes up towards its object an attitude which is not that of thought; but rather (since it is indeed in itself pure thinking particularity and its object is just this pure thought, but pure thought is not their relation to one another as such), it, so to say, merely gives itself up to thought, devotes itself to thinking..., and is the state of Devotion .... Its thinking as such is no more than the discordant clang of ringing bells, or a cloud of warm incense, a kind of thinking in terms of music, that does not get the length of notions, which would be the sole, immanent, objective mode of thought. This boundless pure inward feeling comes to have indeed its object; but this object does not make its appearance in conceptual form, and therefore comes on the scene as something external and foreign. Hence we have here the inward movement of pure emotion...which feels itself. but feels itself in the bitterness of soul-dirempeion. It is the movement of an infinite Yearning, which is assured that its nature is a pure emotion of this kind, a pure thought which thinks itself as particularity--a yearning that is certain of being known and recognized by this object, for the very reason that this object thinks itself as particularity. At the same time, however, this nature is the unattainable "beyond" which, in being seized, escapes or rather has already escaped. The "beyond" has already escaped, for it is in part the unchangeable, thinking itself as particularity, and consciousness, therefore, attains itself therein immediately ,-attains itself, but as something opposed to the unchangeable; instead of grasping the real nature consciousness merely feels, and has fallen back upon itself. Since, in thus attaining itself, consciousness cannot keep itself at a distance as this opposite, it has merely laid hold of what is unessential instead of having seized true reality. Thus, just as, on one side, when striving to find itself in the essentially real, it only lays hold of its own divided state of existence, so, too, on the other side, it cannot grasp that other [the essence) as particular or as concrete. That "other" cannot be found where it is sought; for it is meant to be just a "beyond", that which can not be found. When looked for as a particular it is not universal, a thought-constituted particularity, not notion, but particular in the sense of an object, or a concrete actual, an object of immediate sense-consciousness, of sense certainty; and just for that reason it is only one which has disappeared. Consciousness, therefore, can only come upon the grave of its life. But because this is itself an actuality, and since it is contrary to the nature of actuality to afford a lasting possession, the presence even of that tomb is merely the source of trouble, toil, and struggle, a fight which must be lost. (i.e., the Crusades). But since consciousness has found out by experience that the grave of its actual unchangeable Being has no concrete actuality, that the vanished particularity as vanished is not true particularity, it will give up looking for the unchangeable particular existence as something actual, or will cease trying to hold on to what thus has vanished. Only so is it capable of finding particularity in a true form. a form that is universal. In the first instance, however, the withdrawal of the emotional life into itself is to be taken in such a, way that this life of feeling, in its own regard, has actuality as particular existence. It is pure emotion which, for us or per se, has found itself and satiated itself, for though it is, no doubt, aware in feeling that the ultimate reality is cut off front it, yet in itself this feeling is self-feeling; it has felt the object of its own pure feeling, and this object is its own self. It thus comes forward here as self-feeling, or as something actual on ifs own account. In this return into self, We find appearing its second attitude, the condition of desire and labour, which ensures for consciousness the inner certainty of its own self (which, as we saw, it has obtained) by the process of canceling and enjoying the alien external reality, existence in the form of independent things. The unhappy consciousness, however, finds itself merely desiring and toiling; it is not consciously and directly aware that so to find itself rests upon the inner certainty of its self, and that its feeling of real being is this self-feeling. Since it does not in its own view have that certainty, its inner life really remains still a shattered certainty of itself; that confirmation of its own existence which it would receive through work and enjoyment, is, therefore, just as tottering and insecure in other words, it must consciously nullify this certification of its own being, so as to find therein confirmation indeed, but confirmation only of what it is for itself, viz. of its disunion.

The actual reality, on which desire and work are directed, is, from the point of view of this consciousness, no longer something in itself null and void, something merely to be destroyed and consumed.