What Hegel means with the Idea must be clearly distinguished from the Concept, without separating both of them completely. The Idea is the Concept and the reality of the Concept, that is, the unity of both. Although concept and idea are used interchangeably, we must say that the concept as such is not the idea yet. Only when we see the concept as present in its own reality, the concept as it is itself set in unity with its reality, we speak of Idea. Continue reading
What is the task of philosophy? How does Hegel describe this task?
A brief description goes as as follows: the task of philosophy is to understand what is, because what is, is reasonable, and is reason itself.
What people imagine as the boundary between the self-conscious mind and the rational reality is usually an abstract term, an assumption without foundation or understanding. The self-conscious mind is defined by this opposition between consciousness and the external reality. Two separate realities that in a miraculous way go together in human knowledge. The true reasonable insight, however, is that philosophyis about the reconciliation of the concept with reality. By recognizing the inner unity of human reason as a self-conscious spirit on the one hand, and the same reason as objective reality on the other, philosophy comes to its full development.
The assumption of this boundary or gap between spirit and reality is motivated by our daily consciousness. After all, the human spirit is also feeling and contemplating and has as its object sensory and imagined images. In the same manner the practical spirit as free will, has certain goals as objects. In all of these cases there is a distinction or contrast between the form of the mind and its objects. This contrast is also necessary at this level of spiritual development. It is in the understanding of thinking, the highest in the equality of man, that thinking itself is made into an object. This is how the human spirit ultimately comes to itself itself. After all, the beginning and the principle of the human spirit is thinking.
In the first stage of this “thinking of thinking” the spirit as finite reason (Verstand, intellect) becomes entangled in contradictions. Contradictions that are not yet understood as such, but remain trapped in the form in which they exist only as a reference to reality. It is the finite reason that loses itself in this domain of contradictions.
When thinking does not shy away from these contradictions, but remains true to itself, it comes to a victory over finite intellectual thinking. In thinking itself, the solution to these contradictions is unlocked. The result of intellectual thinking without this urge to move beyond it, would only be skepticism. However, true philosophy is the victory over this intellectual skepticism that sees the simple contradiction as the highest result.
Thinking that has moved beyond this skepticism and has rid itself of the intellectual contradictions is the Idea, the Spirit, or mind or the absolute. The philosophy of the Idea is essentially System. After all, the truth is concrete. (Concrete as from the ;latin concrescere, growing together.) That is to say, it is a totality that unfolds in itself, bringing everything together in a unity that makes distinctions that do not stand side by side, but differ from one another as organic growth phases of the whole.
The true philosophical system contains all the special principles in themselves in an organic development. Generally speaking, a philosophical system is defined as an attempt to understand the world on the basis of a limited principle that is distinct from others. So one can develop an empirical or idealistic system, or a sceptical or metaphysical system. True philosophy, as Hegel sees it, includes all these particular principles within itself and determines their mutual relationship.
All the stipulations that we have given up to now of philosophy have at most the value of a provisional anticipation of the real concept of philosophy. Only the totality of the systematic development and unfolding of the Idea is the real concept of philosophy. Only the whole of philosophy is the concept of philosophy. In anticipation of this whole, it may be said that the Idea is thinking that is identical to being. That it is the activity to set oneself against itself in order to be so for oneself, and in this respect, in its other being with itself. This suggests the general classification of philosophy:
- The concept of the Idea in itself and for itself is carried out in the Science of Logic.
- The Idea as an opposite reality or the Idea in her being different is carried out in Natural Philosophy.
- The Idea as in returning from being different – being with oneself in the other of itself – is the Philosophy of the Spirit.
The philosophy of nature is not a science of something other than the Idea. Nature is the Idea, but then as being in itself, and becoming for itself. Nature is the Idea in the form of the externality of the concept. Now that is not an absolute determination, but a fleeting moment. The philosophy of nature not only comprehends nature, but also undergoes a transition to a higher method of understanding. In this view of the three sciences that make up philosophy, it seems that these sciences exist side by side, while in reality they are three different stages of growth of one and the same science. Logic moves itself tot externalization in Nature, in which the Spirit moves back toward itself to ultimately express itself as philosophy proper.
(Free rendition of the Preface of the Philosophy of Right, Encyclopedia par. 11, 14 Zusatz, and par 18.)
When Kant concludes that the objects of our experience are only phenomena, our spontaneous consciousness protests against that view. In our daily awareness, the objects in our experience are independent “things” that rest in themselves. When they are seen as interdependent, as being connected, then that relation is regarded as something external, which comes to things from the outside. The independent things are not substantially interconnected. It seems obvious. The chair is next to the stove and this “next to” does not belong to the things themselves. Continue reading
Lecture on the concepts of Freedom and Liberty. We have been reading par. 4-9 of the Introduction to the Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts (Outline of the Philosophy of Right), published in 1820.
Next lecture is scheduled for Tuesday, July 24th, 7.30 PM CEST, at WiZiQ.com.