Hegel Phenomenology Of Spirit

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Hegel Phenomenology Of Spirit

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Hence, spirit was in a stage of self-alienation. True freedom only emerged with the rise of Christianity in the Germanic world, when freedom was understood as the very essence of humanity. Christianity was at the fore of intellectual life throughout the Middle Ages. So the world spirit has developed dialectically throughout history by a series of struggles with itself. Spirit can only overcome its stage of alienation from itself through realising this very alienation. What drives the world spirit towards a full consciousness of freedom? And how do individuals become aware of the goal of history, that is, this fulfilled consciousness? They alone are able to influence the tides of history and drive forward the self-consciousness of freedom.

However much these world-historical individuals are inclined to pursue their own interests, they are unknowingly used by spirit to move towards the realisation of its own self-consciousness. But how then can the pursuit of their own interests by world-historical individuals be a result of the working of reason in history and so aid the development of freedom? He notes that any individual who actively supports a historically-prominent cause is not merely a self-interested party who seeks their own satisfaction; they must also be actively interested in the cause itself. For Fukuyama, this realisation of freedom actually occurred with the collapse of the Berlin Wall in , signalling the end of Communism in Europe and the triumph of liberal democracy over all alternative systems of government.

There is, however, nothing to suggest that Hegel would have endorsed anything like the particular kind of liberalism prevalent in modern society. Hegel saw in liberalism - especially in the French liberal government in his own time - a tension between individual rights and social unity. It seems that Hegel himself rejected liberalism as an ideology, because he believed that it would lead people to selfishly put their individual interests above the universal principles which uphold the state; and so liberalism, at least in his own time, could not be a stable socio-economic and political system.

Hegel does not pretend to have knowledge of what lies ahead; even if the consciousness of freedom is now fully manifested in the world, this does not mean that the future must therefore be already written. On the contrary, Hegel believes that because history is contingent there are no foregone conclusions concerning the future. I have argued that for Hegel, history is not determined and closed, and thereby at an end, but is instead both contingent and radically open. The past is preserved in the present to the extent that it has shaped the present in the development of the self-consciousness of human freedom that we now have.

This understanding is the Hegelian legacy we need today. This site uses cookies to recognize users and allow us to analyse site usage. By continuing to browse the site with cookies enabled in your browser, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy. Although Greek sculpture and drama achieved unsurpassed heights of beauty, such art did not give expression to the deepest freedom of the spirit. This is because of a deficiency in the Greek conception of divine and human freedom. Greek religion was so well suited to aesthetic expression because the gods were conceived as free individuals who were wholly at one with their bodies and their sensuous life.

Such an understanding of spirit is expressed, according to Hegel, in Christianity. The Christian God is thus pure self-knowing spirit and love who created human beings so that they, too, may become such pure spirit and love. With the emergence of Christianity comes a new form of art: romantic art. Romantic art, like classical art, is the sensuous expression or manifestation of the freedom of spirit. It is thus capable of genuine beauty. The freedom it manifests, however, is a profoundly inward freedom that finds its highest expression and articulation not in art itself but in religious faith and philosophy.

Unlike classical art, therefore, romantic art gives expression to a freedom of the spirit whose true home lies beyond art. If classical art can be compared to the human body which is thoroughly suffused with spirit and life, romantic art can be compared to the human face which discloses the spirit and personality within. Since romantic art actually discloses the inner spirit, however, rather than merely pointing to it, it differs from symbolic art which it otherwise resembles.

Romantic art, for Hegel, takes three basic forms. The first is that of explicitly religious art. It is in Christianity, Hegel contends, that the true nature of spirit is revealed. Much religious romantic art, therefore, focuses on the suffering and death of Christ. Hegel notes that it is not appropriate in romantic art to depict Christ with the idealized body of a Greek god or hero, because what is central to Christ is his irreducible humanity and mortality. Romantic art, therefore, breaks with the classical ideal of beauty and incorporates real human frailty, pain and suffering into its images of Christ and also of religious martyrs.

Strictly speaking, such spiritual beauty is not as consummately beautiful as classical beauty, in which the spirit and the body are perfectly fused with one another. Spiritual beauty, however, is the product of, and reveals, a much more profound inner freedom of spirit than classical beauty and so moves and engages us much more readily than do the relatively cold statues of Greek gods. These are not the ethical virtues displayed by the heroes and heroines of Greek tragedy: they do not involve a commitment to the necessary institutions of freedom, such as the family or the state.

Rather, they are the formal virtues of the romantic hero: that is to say, they involve a commitment by the free individual, often grounded in contingent choice or passion, to an object or another person. They can, however, also crop up in more modern works and, indeed, are precisely the virtues displayed in an art-form of which Hegel could know nothing, namely the American Western. The third fundamental form of romantic art depicts the formal freedom and independence of character.

This is freedom in its modern, secular form. Note that what interests us about such individuals is not any moral purpose which they invariably lack anyway , but simply the energy and self-determination and often ruthlessness that they exhibit. Such characters must have an internal richness revealed through imagination and language and not just be one-dimensional, but their main appeal is their formal freedom to commit themselves to a course of action, even at the cost of their own lives.

These characters do not constitute moral or political ideals, but they are the appropriate objects of modern, romantic art whose task is to depict freedom even in its most secular and amoral forms. After meeting Romeo, Hegel remarks, Juliet suddenly opens up with love like a rosebud, full of childlike naivety. Her beauty thus lies in being the embodiment of love. One should note that the development of romantic art, as Hegel describes it, involves the increasing secularization and humanization of art.

With the Reformation, however, religion turned inward and found God to be present in faith alone , not in the icons and images of art. Furthermore, art itself was released from its close ties to religion and allowed to become fully secular. Art satisfied our highest needs when it formed an integral part of our religious life and revealed to us the nature of the divine and, as in Greece, the true character of our fundamental ethical obligations. In the modern, post-Reformation world, however, art has been released or has emancipated itself from subservience to religion. This does not mean that art now has no role to play and that it provides no satisfaction at all. Yet art in modernity continues to perform the significant function of giving visible and audible expression to our distinctively human freedom and to our understanding of ourselves in all our finite humanity.

His view is, rather, that art plays or at least should play a more limited role now than it did in ancient Greece or in the Middle Ages. Yet Hegel does think that art in modernity comes to an end in a certain respect. His view is that such works count as genuine works of art only when they do more than merely imitate nature. The naturalistic and prosaic works that best meet this criterion, he maintains, are the paintings of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Dutch masters. In such works, Hegel claims, the painter does not aim simply to show us what grapes, flowers or trees look like: we know that already from nature.

Often, indeed, the painter seeks to delight us specifically with the animated play of the colors of gold, silver, velvet or fur. A genuine work of art is the sensuous expression of divine or human freedom and life. Paintings that are no more than prosaic, naturalistic depictions of everyday objects or human activity would thus appear to fall short of genuine art. The paintings of such artists may lack the classical beauty of Greek art, but they exhibit magnificently the subtle beauties and delights of everyday modern life. A much more overt expression of subjectivity is found by Hegel in works of modern humor. In this respect, Hegel does after all proclaim that art comes to an end in modernity.

As was noted above, however, this does not mean that art as a whole comes to an end in the early nineteenth century. For Hegel, the distinctive character of genuine art in contemporary and future modernity—and thus of genuinely modern art—is twofold. On the one hand, it remains bound to give expression to concrete human life and freedom; on the other hand, it is no longer restricted to any of the three art-forms. That is to say, it does not have to observe the proprieties of classical art or explore the intense emotional inwardness or heroic freedom or comfortable ordinariness that we find in romantic art. Modern art, for Hegel, can draw on features of any of the art-forms including symbolic art in its presentation of human life.

Indeed, it can also present human life and freedom indirectly through the depiction of nature. The focus of modern art, therefore, does not have to be on one particular conception of human freedom rather than another. For this reason, there is little that Hegel can say about the path that art should take in the future; that is for artists to decide. There is reason to suspect, however, that Hegel might not have welcomed many of the developments in post-Hegelian art. This is due to the fact that, although he does not lay down any rules that are to govern modern art, he does identify certain conditions that should be met if modern art is to be genuine art.

Robert Pippin takes a different view on this last point; see Pippin From his point of view, however, he was trying to understand what conditions would have to be met for works of art to be genuine works of art and genuinely modern. The conditions that Hegel identified—namely that art should present the richness of human freedom and life and should allow us to feel at home in its depictions—are ones that many modern artists for example, Impressionists such as Monet, Sisley and Pissarro have felt no trouble in meeting.

For others, these conditions are simply too restrictive. They have thus taken modern art in a direction in which, from a Hegelian perspective, it has ceased to be art in the true sense any longer. Each art has a distinctive character and exhibits a certain affinity with one or more of the art-forms. Hegel does not provide an exhaustive account of all recognized arts he says little, for example, about dance and nothing, obviously, about cinema , but he examines the five arts that he thinks are made necessary by the very concept of art itself. Art, we recall, is the sensuous expression of divine and human freedom. If it is to demonstrate that spirit is indeed free, it must show that spirit is free in relation to that which is itself unfree, spiritless and lifeless—that is, three-dimensional, inorganic matter, weighed down by gravity.

The art that gives heavy matter the explicit form of spiritual freedom—and so works stone and metal into the shape of a human being or a god—is sculpture. Architecture, by contrast, gives matter an abstract, inorganic form created by human understanding. In so doing architecture turns matter not into the direct sensuous expression of spiritual freedom, but into an artificially and artfully shaped surrounding for the direct expression of spiritual freedom in sculpture. The art of architecture fulfills its purpose, therefore, when it creates classical temples to house statues of the gods VPK , The constructions that fall into this category do not house or surround individual sculptures, like classical Greek temples, but are themselves partly sculptural and partly architectural.

They are works of architectural sculpture or sculptural architecture. Such constructions are sculptural in so far as they are built for their own sake and do not serve to shelter or enclose something else. They are works of architecture, however, in so far as they are overtly heavy and massive and lack the animation of sculpture. They are also sometimes arranged in rows, like columns, with no distinctive individuality. They were not built simply to provide shelter or security for people like a house or a castle , but are works of symbolic art.

Pyramids thus remain works of symbolic art that point to a hidden meaning buried within them. Indeed, as was noted above, Hegel claims that the pyramid is the image or symbol of symbolic art itself Aesthetics , 1: The epitome of symbolic art is symbolic architecture specifically, the pyramids. Architecture itself, however, comes into its own only with the emergence of classical art: for it is only in the classical period that architecture provides the surrounding for, and so becomes the servant of, a sculpture that is itself the embodiment of free spirit. Hegel has much to say about the proper form of such a surrounding. The main point is this: spiritual freedom is embodied in the sculpture of the god; the house of the god—the temple—is something quite distinct from, and subordinate to, the sculpture it surrounds; the form of that temple should thus also be quite distinct from that of the sculpture.

The temple, therefore, should not mimic the flowing contours of the human body, but should be governed by the abstract principles of regularity, symmetry and harmony. Hegel also insists that the form of the temple should be determined by the purpose it serves: namely to provide an enclosure and protection for the god VPK , This means that the basic shape of the temple should contain only those features that are needed to fulfill its purpose.

It is this latter requirement that makes columns necessary. There is a difference, for Hegel, between the task of bearing the roof and that of enclosing the statue within a given space. The second task—that of enclosure—is performed by a wall. If the first task is to be clearly distinguished from the second, therefore, it must be performed not by a wall but by a separate feature of the temple. Columns are necessary in a classical temple, according to Hegel, because they perform the distinct task of bearing the roof without forming a wall.

The classical temple is thus the most intelligible of buildings because different functions are carried out in this way by different architectural features and yet are harmonized with one another. Herein, indeed, lies the beauty of such a temple VPK , , In the Gothic cathedral columns are located within, rather than around the outside of, the enclosed space, and their overt function is no longer merely to bear weight but to draw the soul up into the heavens. Consequently, the columns or pillars do not come to a definite end in a capital on which rests the architrave of the classical temple , but continue up until they meet to form a pointed arch or a vaulted roof.

Hegel considers a relatively small range of buildings: he says almost nothing, for example, about secular buildings. One should bear in mind, however, that he is interested in architecture only in so far as it is an art, not in so far as it provides us with protection and security in our everyday lives. Yet it should also be noted that architecture, as Hegel describes it, falls short of genuine art, as he defines it, since it is never the direct sensuous expression of spiritual freedom itself in the manner of sculpture see Aesthetics , 2: In no case is architecture the explicit manifestation or embodiment of free spirituality itself.

This does not, however, make architecture any less necessary as a part of our aesthetic and religious life. In contrast to architecture, sculpture works heavy matter into the concrete expression of spiritual freedom by giving it the shape of the human being. The high point of sculpture, for Hegel, was achieved in classical Greece. In Egyptian sculpture the figures often stand firm with one foot placed before the other and the arms held tightly by the side of the body, giving the figures a rather rigid, lifeless appearance. By contrast, the idealized statues of the gods created by Greek sculptors, such as Phidias and Praxiteles, are clearly alive and animated, even when the gods are depicted at rest.

Indeed, Greek sculpture, according to Hegel, embodies the purest beauty of which art itself is capable. Hegel was well aware that Greek statues were often painted in quite a gaudy manner. He claims, however, that sculpture expresses spiritual freedom and vitality in the three-dimensional shape of the figure, rather than in the color that has been applied to it. In painting, by contrast, it is color above all that is the medium of expression. The point of painting, for Hegel, is not to show us what it is for free spirit to be fully embodied. It is to show us only what free spirit looks like , how it manifests itself to the eye. The images of painting thus lack the three-dimensionality of sculpture, but they add the detail and specificity provided by color.

This is because the absence of bodily solidity and the presence of color allow the more inward spirituality of the Christian world to manifest itself as such. Painting, however, is also able—unlike sculpture—to set divine and human spirit in relation to its external environment: it is able to include within the painted image itself the natural landscape and the architecture by which Christ, the Virgin Mary, the saints or secular figures are surrounded Aesthetics , 2: Indeed, Hegel argues that painting—in contrast to sculpture, which excels in presenting independent, free-standing individuals—is altogether more suited to showing human beings in their relations both to their environment and to one another: hence the prominence in painting of, for example, depictions of the love between the Virgin Mary and the Christ child.

It, too, comes into its own in the period of romantic art. Like sculpture and painting, but unlike architecture, music gives direct expression to free subjectivity. Yet music goes even further in the direction of expressing the inwardness of subjectivity by dropping the dimensions of space altogether. It thus gives no enduring visual expression to such subjectivity, but expresses the latter in the organized succession of vanishing sounds. Music is thus not just a sequence of sounds for its own sake, but is the structured expression in sounds of inner subjectivity. Through rhythm, harmony and melody music allows the soul to hear its own inner movement and to be moved in turn by what it hears. Music expresses, and allows us to hear and enjoy, the movement of the soul in time through difference and dissonance back into its unity with itself.

It also expresses, and moves us to, various different feelings , such as love, longing and joy Aesthetics , 2: Hegel notes that music is able to express feelings with especial clarity when it is accompanied by a poetic text, and he had a particular love of both church music and opera. Interestingly, however, he argues that in such cases it is really the text that serves the music, rather than the other way around, for it is the music above all that expresses the profound movements of the soul Aesthetics , 2: Over and above this expression, however, independent music pursues the purely formal development of themes and harmonies for its own sake. The danger he sees, however, is that such formal development can become completely detached from the musical expression of inward feeling and subjectivity, and that, as a result, music can cease being a genuine art and become mere artistry.

At this point, music no longer moves us to feel anything, but simply engages our abstract understanding. Hegel admits that he is not as well versed in music as he is in the other arts he discusses. He has a deep appreciation, however, for the music of J. Bach, Handel and Mozart and his analyses of musical rhythm, harmony and melody are highly illuminating. He was familiar with, though critical of, the music of his contemporary Carl Maria von Weber, and he had a particular affection for Rossini Aesthetics , 1: , 2: Surprisingly, he never makes any mention of Beethoven. The last art that Hegel considers is also an art of sound, but sound understood as the sign of ideas and inner representations—sound as speech.

This is the art of poetry Poesie in the broad sense of the term. Poetry is capable of showing spiritual freedom both as concentrated inwardness and as action in space and time. Poetry, for Hegel, is not simply the structured presentation of ideas, but the articulation of ideas in language, indeed in spoken rather than just written language. Epic poetry presents spiritual freedom—that is, free human beings—in the context of a world of circumstances and events. What they do is thus determined as much by the situation in which they find themselves as by their own will, and the consequences of their actions are to a large degree at the mercy of circumstances.

Epic poetry thus shows us the worldly character—and attendant limitations—of human freedom. This can be done directly or via the poetic description of something else, such as a rose, wine, or another person. Dramatic poetry combines the principles of epic and lyric poetry. Drama thus presents the—all too often self-destructive—consequences of free human action itself. He has in mind in particular the operas of Gluck and Mozart. In drama as such , by contrast, language is what predominates and music plays a subordinate role and may even be present only in the virtual form of versification. Drama, for Hegel, does not depict the richness of the epic world or explore the inner world of lyric feeling.

It shows characters acting in pursuit of their own will and interest and thereby coming into conflict with other individuals even if, as in the case of Hamlet, after some initial hesitation. Hegel distinguishes between tragic and comic drama and between classical and romantic versions of each. The tragedy of Oedipus is that he pursues his right to uncover the truth about the murder of Laius without ever considering that he himself might be responsible for the murder or, indeed, that there might be anything about him of which he is unaware Aesthetics , 2: — Greek tragic heroes and heroines are moved to act by the ethical or otherwise justified interest with which they identify, but they act freely in pursuit of that interest.

Tragedy shows how such free action leads to conflict and then to the violent or sometimes peaceful resolution of that conflict. At the close of the drama, Hegel maintains, we are shattered by the fate of the characters at least when the resolution is violent. Berlin, Hegel: the man, his vision, and work. New York: Pageant Press. Maker, William, Philosophy Without Foundations: Rethinking Hegel. State University of New York Press. Marcuse, Herbert , Pinkard, Terry , Hegel's Dialectic: The Explanation of Possibility. Temple University Press Pinkard, Terry , Hegel's Phenomenology: The Sociality of Reason.

Riedel, Manfred , Rosen, Stanley, Reading Hegel's Phenomenology. Indiana University Press. Hegel's Idealism: the Satisfactions of Self-Consciousness. Cambridge University Press. Hegel: An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell Singer, Peter , Hegel: A Very Short Introduction.

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