Wednesday, February 18, 2009

End of Chapter 4

So as I reread the end of chapter four I caught something which puzzles me. “It does, indeed, go against itself, and consume its own existence…as its labor elevates it into a new form.”(76) How?, why? would it consume its own existence? Doesn’t it want to become conscious of itself? Does it consume itself because it doesn’t yet know it’s true self? And again on page (78) he says, “That Spirit does not die a merely natural death.” Natural death according to who, nature because isn’t it separate from nature?

Another thing that crossed my mind and it may be off topic a bit, but what about when he talks about nature being an eternally repeated cycle. So if nature is a never ending cycle, and spirit needs to come to full self-consciousness through humanity; what about the fact that nature goes through ‘ice ages’ where it kills off all its own inhabitants. So, in this sense is Spirits goal of achieving full self-consciousness even achievable? Or am I way off by asking this question?


  1. On page 82 Hegel writes "Spirit is immortal, i.e., Spirit is not the past, nor the non-existent future, but is an essential now". I'm confused, does Spirit die or is it immortal, Furthermore I feel that when using both terms death and immortal Hegal is using a different definition of the words then we may be accustomed to using, also the fact that we are talking about 'the Spirit' puts things in a different perspective. Thoughts?

  2. I think you may have misread what Hegel was trying to say on pg. 76. Hegel states (just above that) that just as nations disappear and appear over time that this fact must suggest universally prevalent 'change'. Just a bit later he suggests that the decline of a nation at the same time emerges new life, as in a new nature will appear that will, supposedly, be better than the last one - holding onto all that was good and responding to the problems that were apparent in the time before it. He gives multiple examples of this thought through the Eastern Philosophy of rebirth (although I think this is a good metaphor) and the metaphor of a Phoenix, but even he states that these metaphors are lacking. The Spirit is not simply reborn, it is made harder, better, faster, and stronger than before (to use the jazz-to-rock metaphor ;) ). Thus the Spirit emerges as a much "purer Spirit", closer to the actualization of itself.

    In response to the natural death: "The universal Spirit does not die a merely natural death at all. It does not simply subside into the senility of habit. On the contrary, because it is the Spirit of a people and a part of world history, it also comes to know what its special work is, and so to think of itself in that light. (79)" Habit, being activity without opposition, brings natural death because there is nothing new. Thus for the truly universal, Hegel says the Spirit of a people must want change (for the better). Thus, a new Spirit is the universal goal of the Spirit. This doesn't mean some completely different Spirit is to replace the old Spirit, but at the same time it kinda does. The Spirit that is reborn is simply a more realized Spirit than before. Moving away from an individual Spirit to a more universal one.

    This means the Spirit is not the past. Although it remembers it historically, as in it remembers where it has been and what happened so that it is no longer there, and could not be in the past anymore. It isn't the future since it cannot tell where its realization will take it next. This leaves the now. And the Spirit must always be in the present because that is where it can change, be born anew, and become itself. The potential is in the now, not the past that has already been, nor the future that is yet to be.