Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 7

If we consider the appearance of a claim like this in its more general setting, and look at the stage at which self-conscious spirit at present stands, we shall find that it has gotten beyond the substantial life that it otherwise introduced in the element of thought – beyond this immediacy of its belief, beyond the satisfaction and security of certainty which consciousness possessed of being reconciled with the essence and its general presence, within as well as without. It has not merely passed beyond that to the opposite extreme of substance-less reflection of itself into itself, but beyond this too. It has not merely lost its essential life, it is also conscious of this loss and of the finitude characteristic of its content. Turning away from the husks it has to feed on, and confessing that it lies in wickedness and sin, it reviles itself for so doing, and now desires from philosophy not so much to bring it to a knowledge of what it is, as to obtain once again through philosophy the restoration of that solidity and substantiality of being which it has lost. Philosophy is thus expected not so much to meet this want by opening up the closed-ness of substance and elevating this to self-consciousness, not so much to bring chaotic consciousness back to thoughtful order and the simplicity of the concept, as to run together thought’s separations, to suppress the distinguishing concept and to restore the feeling of essence, to vouchsafe not so much insight as edification. The beautiful, the holy, the eternal, religion, love – these are the bait required to awaken the desire to bite: not the concept but ecstasy, not the advancing necessity of the matter but ferment and enthusiasm – these are to be the stance and onward expansion of the wealth of substance.

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