Phenomenology of Spirit explained (2023)


The Phenomenology of Spirit, or simply the Phenomenology, is a discussion about our knowledge, and the truth, and how to reduce the gap between these two concepts. Hegel’s analysis can be summed up in just two words: triadic movement. Everything for Hegel is either a movement or a moment of a movement. Art for example is a movement, whereas the Renaissance for example, is just a moment within that movement. The moments of a movement are not linear: they are triadic - they form a triad. How the triad works is that the moments are broken into three parts: first is the most basic one, then is its opposite, and finally the unity of the two. In this book we will look at something from one perspective, then we'll look at it from the opposite perspective, and finally we will unite the two perspectives into a new perspective.

An important point to note is that while we are going to look at different approaches that people take towards a collection of questions, they are not necessarily in order. What Hegel is demonstrating is how what is implicit in one approach is explicit in another, that the problems with one approach point towards a new one. He isn't saying that all people will start with the first belief and go through these stages throughout their life.


The first question we ask, in our search for the truth, is a place to start us off, a place to look at as the source of truth. The Phenomenology of Spirit was originally titled “Science of Experience of Consciousness”. This is because we start off as mere consciousness, looking to our experience of the world as a source of truth. By the end of this chapter, we find that this path leads to problems, which then leads us to take the logically opposite path: looking to ourselves as the source of truth.


First we start with the simplest, most basic way of claiming to know the truth, which is to “accept only what is immediately sensed”. We accept the world for what it is and nothing more. We take in our senses, without thinking about any of it, and say “this is”. I am experiencing "this", and I am experiencing it "here" and "now".

The hope is that we can avoid any of our own thoughts and feelings affecting our knowledge. The problem is that when we refer to “here”, we could be referring to any "here". The “now” might refer to night-time, but later it might refer to morning. Both the basic experiences, “here” and “now”, are actually universalities - in other words they are not unique, but shared. All “here”s share being “here” in common, and likewise all times (all “now”s) share being “now” in common.

And so we have to reject purely immediate knowledge and move on to another way.


We haven't lost hope yet, though. Our object, before, was the "this", but now we can say it is a "thing". Instead of simply saying "I am experiencing this" we can now say "I perceive this thing" and instead of taking in our senses we can now form concepts from it: greenness, roughness, sweetness. These concepts are universal, but only universality in its most basic form.

The problem in this section is how a thing - for example a mug - is a unity, it's One mug, but it's also a multiplicity of properties. If we accept that every thing is a unity then we can't distinguish between any thing else. If we accept that things are a collection of properties then all we see are properties and not things. These properties, in turn, would become indistinguishable from another. The solution is to propose that properties: whiteness, roughness don't exist by themselves but they exist as a result of something else.


Our last attempt to hold onto this view is instead of believing that our senses tell us the full truth, we instead use our senses to discover deeper, hidden truths. This view is roughly what most physicists believe, it's what most scientists believe, and frankly it is what most people believe full stop. The world is full of real things such as atoms, or quarks, intangible things like forces, and maybe even just mathematics itself. These things cannot be directly sensed, but it doesn't mean that they aren't real or can be discovered.

The problem that we run into with this line of thinking is how we can know anything about these underlying forces if they are invisible to our senses. How we get around this is by discovering or creating laws which explain why things happen the way they do.

This approach to unveiling the truth from behind their appearances has two major problems: Firstly he notices the trend for laws to be consolidated

  • Galileo's Law of Fall explains how things fall
  • Kepler's Law of Planetary Motion explains how the planets move
  • Newton's Law of General Gravitation consolidated both those laws into one grand law
  • Einstein's Theory of Relativity further condensed that together with the Laws of Motion and Attraction, etc

The consolidation of laws into grand laws actually makes them less specific, less useful, and makes you understand less about the world.

The second issue is that laws don't actually explain anything. They merely describe things. Laws don't help explain why things happen at all. The more laws we create, or discover, we never actually get any closer. This realization finally tears down this view of taking our experiences of the other as true, and we move to the opposite position, that the source of truth is from ourselves. The name of this stage is thus self-consciousness - we are conscious of our selves.


When the consciousness was certain of the other, the existence of the self was causing problems like universality and unity. These internal conflicts, between the self and the self, were driving the movement in consciousness from one stage to another.

Now that self-consciousness is certain of the self, the existence of the other will cause problems. These external conflicts, between the self and the other, are going to drive the movement between stages in 3 parts starting with the conflict between the self and other objects.

Self vs Other Objects

When we come across objects, they initially pose an interesting problem. If all I believe in is myself, what should I think about these objects in the world that are not me? The answer to this problem is actually relatively simple: we can just assert that objects are a part of ourselves. We can assimilate them into ourselves and assert that objects in the world are merely constructions of our own thoughts.

(Video) Hegel: The Spirit Explained

Self vs Other Selves

The real problem arises when we encounter another self-consciousness. Other objects can be a part of our own creation, but other people clearly represent something equal to ourselves, it isn't so easy to just write them off as a mere object in my world if I see that they have just as much right to do the same of me. There are two paths we can take with this problem and Hegel, famously, expresses this dilemma with a story.

Two people encounter each other for the first time, and engage in a "struggle to the death" over the fight to be the one in charge. At some point in the struggle one of the two gives in and says “You win, do what you want, but dont kill me.” This results in an imbalanced relationship titled Herrschaft und Knechtschaft - translated as Master and Slave, or Lordship and Bondage.

The lord then puts the bondsman to work. They are sent out make objects for the lord to satisfy their desires. This dynamic, however, leads the lord to become lazy and complacent and the bondsman, who is doing all the work, to develop their skills.

This story, known as the “Master-Slave dialectic”, is by far the most well known section of the Phenomenology and is Hegel’s way of presenting two problems with self-certainty:

  • If you assert that certainty only extends to your own self and to no other selves, in other words taking the position of the Lord, then the problem of the existence of other selves is solved: you can assimilate them into your world as part of yourself. The problem with this is that it provides no path for the development that Hegel is looking for.
  • If you instead acknowledge the existence of others, you are taking the same philosophical view as the Bondsman. Hegel is much more interested in this position because he says that it leads to further development through analysing the problem of freedom.

Hegel moves on to two philosophies that look as if they might solve this problem:

The first is Stoicism, which is philosophy that originated in ancient Greece and Rome and was believed by many actual slaves of the time. Stoicism’s main idea that we can draw back into ourselves. Sure there might be wars, or famines, or I might literally be a slave, but at least I can draw back into my own mind and find that I at least have my own inner freedom.

This is a nice solution but where stoicism falls down is that it then begins to introduce concepts such as good, wisdom, and virtue. These concepts have no basis in stoicism. Hegel will reintroduce these concepts later but only after laying down a foundation for them. Stoicism tells you to draw into your own thought but then pulls out alien concepts from somewhere else.

Hegel then moves on to Skepticism. Skepticism is similar to stoicism except for the additional concepts. When it comes to certainty, skepticism has none. Hegel views skepticism as an ideological pit that you can fall into with few ways out. His main issue with skepticism is that it provides no freedom. For the slave analogy the slave does get a sense of freedom from the flawed perspective of stoicism, but gets nothing out of skepticism. As for the actual topic of the book, certainty, we get absolutely nothing from skepticism.

Self vs Divinity

The failure of stoicism and skepticism to arrive at freedom or certainty leads us to become what Hegel calls "Unhappy Consciousness". To break out of this unhappiness, Hegel begins a new story: this time about God.

Hegel presents God as a static, unchanging, infinite being. We on the other hand are changing, finite beings. God is universal, whereas we are merely particular. Most importantly, God is an example of a perfect self-consciousness: when it comes to encountering other objects, God is universal, and as such they are a part of God; when it comes to encountering self-consciousnesses, they exist within God too.

The story begins with a self-consciousness entering into a subservient relationship with God, mirroring the master-slave relationship from before. This time, however, the self-consciousness is happy to take that position with respect to God rather than a mere self-consciousness like themselves. As the self-consciousness tries to get closer to the divine, it requires a “divine mediator” AKA a priest. They completely devote themself to the priest and surrender whatever they possess to them. However, as they get closer to the priest, the more they realise that the priest is just another self-consciousness like them, and that the priest has no greater connection to God than they do. After this, they try to bypass the priest as an unnecessary mediator and gain access to God directly. This leads them to a revelation: The unchanging, the thing being desired throughout self-consciousness is, in the end, reason.


Now that we have examined the two different paths, we unite them into one. We don't simply take the self to be the most basic truth, nor simply the other, but instead we take them both together as one unity: I am everything, everything is me. Hegel calls this view of being all reality “idealism”. Initially, however, it is “empty idealism” because there is no positive reason to believe in this idealism, but it is believed regardless.

The new goal is to “fill” this empty idealism. What we need to know our place in the world. We need to look at the world and see our place in it, and we need to look at ourselves and see the world in us. How we will do this is triadically: first we will observe the world and try to find our place in it that way, then we will try to make our place in the world through our own actions, and finally we will explore a union of the two ways.

Observing Reason

Observing Nature

Once again we will begin with immediacy, which in this case is viewing ourselves as mere physical objects. Objects which obey, and can be predicted by, the laws of motion, chemistry, etc…

These laws are very rigid and predictable, but not universal. Living things may fall in the same way as rocks, and they might boil or freeze at expected temperatures, but they are still unpredictable from these simple laws.

Observing Organic Nature

We then move on to observation of Organic Nature, where we try to find more specific laws to understand animals. In this stage we also think of our place in the world as mere animals.

When studying animals, and more importantly studying ourselves as animals, the first thing to look at is purpose. The first kind of purpose we see in animals is from their outer phyisical features such as claws, hair, limbs. Even though these features are the product of evolution, a process with no consciousness, we still clearly see a purpose behind these features. Secondly, we can see the reactions and choices that individual animals make as exhibiting purpose.

Our next job is to find laws to study animals with. The first place to look would be that outer, physical part. Animals in cold climates have thicker fur, those that fly have feathers - but all of these kinds of laws have exceptions.

The second way is to divide the animal into parts, and then imagine that each part is has some inner control, but when you take one part of an animal in isolation - it dies. The only way to understand the relationship between the inner and outer is by taking entire animal as a whole - which we cannot do because it is alien to us, except if we examine ourselves.

Observing Self-Consciousness

It is here that we move to Observation of Self-consciousness, where we look at ourselves not as mere animals but specifically as humans, and evem more specifically self-consciousnesses.

The first approach taken is to observe logical laws about our thoughts (e.g. a thought cannot be true and false), but this is far too limited, and can't help us predict human behaviour. The next obvious approach to observing our inner is through psychology, which looks at our experiences and our past to understand and predict our actions. The issue with it is that while there may be relationships between a particular experience of ours and a particular action of ours, the experience is not a definitive cause. There may be a link between what country you are born in and what sports team you support, but our actions are actually determined by all of our experiences, not just one. Interestingly, one of the choices that we make in our lives, is which experiences we let define who we are.

(Video) Diagram of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit

We then move to observing The Outer again where Hegel's two examples are Physiognomy and Phrenology. His critique of these disciplines can be applied to modern equivalents, such as racism, horoscopes, zodiacs, etc… they simply notice some empty correlations without justifying the link. If I say that it always rains when I put my washing out to dry. There may be a link, but without reasoning it is empty.

Hegel closes off the Observing Reason section with a dick joke. Using this approach, he says, we can't even explain why the penis is responsible for both sex and urination.

“The ignorance of this consciousness about what it says are the same kind of connection of higher and lower which, in the case of the living being, nature itself naively expresses in the combination of the organ of its highest fulfillment, the organ of generation, with the organ of urination.”

He then finishes with a pun by saying that thus far all we have been doing is effectively “pissing around”.

“The infinite judgment as infinite would be the completion of self-comprehending life, whereas the consciousness of the infinite judgment which remains within representational thought conducts itself like pissing.”

Active Reason

This moves us from observing reason to active reason. Before we were finding our place in the world through observation, but in now we will make our place in the world through our actions.

Pleasure and Necessity

The first approach is through pursuing pleasure. This is an approach that many people take in life: we are here to be happy and have pleasure, and that is all that life is about. My place in the world is not something natural, but something that I do by having a satisfying life. The problem with this world view, of course, comes from the the way that the world intrudes in on us. It is just like in self-consciousness, when the other intruded on our self-certainty, but here it is the necessities of the world that interupt our peace. Things such as having to earn money, having to be warm and eat food, etc…

Law of the Heart

The contradiction between pursuing pleasure and the intrusion of outside necessity moves us to a new stage where we now focus on pursuing our own vision for the world, and pushing our views onto others. This section is labeled the Law of our Heart. Back in observing reason, we were observing all kinds of phsical laws, biological laws, but now the Law of the Heart is one we create. In pursuing the Law of the Heart we initially rally against the state, the church and the social order as enemies of our law.

But this stage has two major flaws. Firstly others will see my law being imposed on them the same way I see the intitutions that I am resisting being imposed on me. Secondly others have their own laws of their own hearts, which they will be imposing upon me equally. This conflict between the different laws of different hearts leads to a breakdown of this stage, where we enter a period of self-conceit, hateful of the world whcih we are too powerless to change.


We then move on to the third stage, where we reject the Way of the World, which consists of millions of inidividuals pushing against each other with their own wills, and instead draw into ourselves and act as a knight of virtue. Rather than pushing for our own personal Law of our Heart, we instead pursue virtue - a universal and selfless good. This approach, however, suffers from its own arrogance. Virtue utters ‘empty, ineffectual words’ which ‘edify, but raise no edifice’

Practical Reason

The emptiness we are left with at the end of virtue brings us to Practical Reason. This stage begins to focus on what makes us, us - our individuality.

If you think about "what makes you, you", there are two main perspectives: firstly that I am an individual because I share qualities with other individuals, the second perspective is that I am an individual because I am different from other individuals - I am not them, I am this individual. These two opposing approaches can be found in the previous two sections. In observing reason we looked to see what made us the same as other things: we are the same because we are physical objects, we are animals, we are people. The other view was found in active reason where we came into conflict with others due to our differences. Here we are going to unify the two.

Our first attempt to find a unity is in action. In Observing Reason, the problem with Physiognomy was that we were looking at just one action and thinking of it as a persons true nature. Now we can look at all of a person's actions in their entirety as an expression of themselves.

In this view, every individual has an inner purpose which causes us to perform the actions that we perform. We have the inner purpose from observing reason, but we require the individual to make active contributions on the world too.

So my actions express who I am, the actions of others express who they are. The problem is that sometimes I make mistakes, and sometimes I have an idea in my head which my actions don’t successfully carry out and as a result I feel alienated when I look back on my own actions. Additionally when I look back on my prior actions I see the work of a different person, someone who has different views and experiences to the current me.

“what really matters” -> community AKA the “ethical community”.

We then attempt to satify this ethical substance, create a universal "what really matters", by coming up with maxims which seem obvious to us such as

  • “Everyone ought to speak the truth.” - The problem with this is that not everyone knows the truth, so the maxim has to be changed to
  • “Everyone ought to speak the truth if they know it.” - The problem with this maxim is that no one can know if what they think it really the truth, so we have to change the maxim to
  • “Everyone ought to speak what they think.” - At this point the maxim is so watered down that it has become meaningless.

This problem of obvious maxims being watered down leads us to try arriving at a moral law by thinking it through logically. To analyze this idea he uses the idea of property, as in the idea that certain objects can belong to some individuals:

  • This idea is important because it governs things like theft
  • Property in and of itself has no logical contradictions, since it is just a simple idea
    • Lack of property has no logical contradictions either


Spirit is where the book really starts to change. We started with the Science of Experience of Consciousness - an examining of truth from the perspective of a conscious being - and now we reach an entirely new concept: spirit. Spirit is similar in idea to a community, but really it is community treated as a consciousness. A community can have a collective experience, have collective opinions and memories, and in this way it can be considered spirit.

The spirit section continues our analysis but with spirit as the focus and again we look at two competing approaches before a unity. Instead of approaches that an individual might have towards a problem (pleasure and necessity for the problem of what our place in the world is), we are going to look at approaches that real communities take and thus the chapter has a kind of historical narrative.

Ethical Spirit

The first approach we look at mirrors the consciousness and observing reason sections. It is spirit that looks outwards for guidance. The term ethical spirit refers to the way that this form of spirit is founded on an ethical system, AKA a rules based order, but one that comes from something outside it such as biology or nature. For this reason it is also titled Objective Spirit.

(Video) PHILOSOPHY - Hegel

Ancient Greece

The first historical setting that Hegel examines is Ancient Greece.

Hegel tells us that ethics in Ancient Greece was split into two parts, along the lines of biological sex:

  • The first is the female side, concerned with the family, the gods, weddings and funerals.
  • The second is the male side, concerned with the state, and the military.

This system initially seems functional: not necessarily progressive or ideal, but at least it appears to function. Hegel points out, however, that in cases where the two spheres come into conflict, there is no resolution.

To explain his point he uses the 5th Century BCE play “Antigone” by Sophocles. In the play a man named Polynices dies in a civil war for the control of the city Thebes. After the civil war, the new king Creon publicly condemns Polynices and rules that he cannot be formally buried. This presents a problem for Polynices’ sister, Antigone: should she obey the state and refuse to perform a burial for her brother, or should she obey the gods?

Using Greece's ethical system, there is no correct solution here.

Ancient Rome

We then move on to Ancient Rome which still uses an ethical system but this one is a singular sphere all under the legitimacy of the emperor. While Greece's form of looking to nature involved looking to biological sex, rome's version is from the concept of rights. Rather than being something earned, rights are something we all have naturally.

The problem with this system is that while the emperor initially appears to legitimize and guarantee these rights, they actually represent the opposite of it. When the emperor exercises their power, granted to them arbitrarily, it alienates the everyday roman citizen.

Cultural Spirit

The next approach is one that mirrors self-consciousness and active reason - one that looks inward. It is called cultural spirit, and in these kinds of society the individual doesn't have positions due to their biology, nor natural rights, but rather gains status and recognition through their departure from nature. The less you resemble nature, the more you are cultured and civilised.

This section concerns mainly the middle ages in Europe.

General Interest vs Self Interest

Society is divided into two spheres again: "state power" and "wealth". In the Greek system we had two equal spheres. This time, however, we decide which one is good and which one is bad - they dont have equality.

The immediate assumption is that the state sphere represents general interest, doing things for the sake of all, and is seen as good, whereas the wealth sphere is seen as self interest, doing things for the sake of oneself, and as such is bad. Through the process of alienation, where once again the individual finds themselves alienated by the state due to its demand for obedience. What was previously putting aside selfishness and fighting for common good, is now seen as alien and oppresive. Wealth on the other hand represents a sphere with tangible effects, a sphere that actually helps us as individuals.

Noble vs Ignoble

The first resolution of this conflict between the state sphere and wealth sphere is to divide society into two new spheres. This time both state power and wealth are on one side, and the common man is on the other. The inequality between the two spheres is now about power. The nobles are on top, and the ignobles are below.

The dynamic that plays out here is again about alienation. The nobles are initially considered to exhibit virtue and service to the greater cause. The deeper truth is that the nobles have their own particular interests, and that they only pretend to care about virtue and service in order to satisfy those interests. While bowing to the king was once humbling, it is now seen as humiliating.

The Greek play Antigone demonstrated the conclusion of the Greek section, and this section is concluded with references to the Diderot novel "Rameau's Nephew", which is a dialogue between two characters. The book discusses how talented people are forced to beg, while liars and idiots can hold onto wealth and power through flattery and cheating.

The Enlightenment

This break down brings us to yet another dichotomy, this time between "faith" and "pure insight". This section is about The Enlightenment, which was a period in European history where a theological debate broke out. The side of faith finds the resolution of the previous conflict in religious faith, whereas pure insight rejected the notion of faith entirely.

Pure insight doesn't reject God, but instead proposes "Deism" - the belief in a god, but not any particular god. Secondly insight champions utilitarianism, viewing everything as practical and useful. Insight also makes criticisms of faith but faith rejects them all as one sided. Insight, for example, says that god is just a creation of the faith's mind, but faith responds saying that god had always been one with faith from the start.

The problem with each of insight's critiques is that they don't come from a place of genuinely understanding faith. Faith, on the other hand, should be learning from each of the insight's critiques. Eventually faith comes to a breakdown, where it realises that in the end its idea of god was just as empty as insight's view. The section ends with everything that had been taken for granted now put into question.

The French Revolution

The very last thing that is discussed in this long section is the French Revolution, which is portrayed here as the logical answer to the problems raised in the Enlightenment. Now that the old truths have been pulled down, the people rise up and bring about the French Revolution, which ends in the Terror. With the moral decay left in the wake of the Absolute Freedom brought about by this revolution, a great terror rises up in France where nothing is questioned. Tens of thousands are murdered in the name of this freedom, which leads us to the next stage where we search for a new moral framework.

Moral Spirit

Moral spirit tries to build a moral system through rationality and logic.

In this system we have both nature and divergience from nature brought into one shape of spirit. Nature is expressed in our natural inclinations, and it is opposed to our duty.

It ends with a debate between two hypothetical individuals - the hypocrite and the judge, who settle their differences through forgiveness. This brings us to the religion chapter which contains what was missing in all of the previous discussions of spirit.


That launches us into the penultimate chapter, titled “Religion.” In religion we do the same thing that we did for the spirit section, which is to analyze and categorize religions according to Hegel's triadic structure.

Natural Religion

The first set of religions are called natural religions. They mirror the consciousness, observing reason, and the ethical spirit sections. Firstly they worship conscious deities, secondly they come to their religion through observation, and finally they see their religion as coming from an outside divinity. Like how ethical spirit was objective spirit - natural religion is objective religion.

Natural religions are divided into three sections: light, life, and artisan.

"Light" religions worship light or some other immaterial being. Their deities are implicitly conscious, but not explicitly. "Life" religions worship animals or parts of nature. "Artisan" is Hegel's term for the Egyptian religion which had animal-human hybrids for deities.

These religions form an obvious progression: we start with an implicitly conscious divine, then move to explicitly divine, then to a half-conscious half-self-conscious divine, before moving later to the next section with self-conscious divinity. The Egyptian religion also acts as a transition from the observational religions to active religions, because they built things like obelisks, pyramids and sphinxs.

Art Religion

We then move on to Art Religions, which is Hegel's term for Greek religion. In the Greek religion, the gods were self-conscious people. Greek religion doesn't observe its deities in nature, nor does it think of its beliefs as objective, coming from outside. Instead this religion mirrors active reason and cultural spirit. The religious practice comes from the actions of its believers, and the beliefs come from those actions. These actions come in the form of art, which is split into three parts:

First we have abstract works of art. This starts with statues, which have permanence but no individuality, followed by hymns which have individuality but no permanence, all of which culminates in the Greek cults, which had performed rituals involving statues and hymns.

Second is living works of art. Here, Hegel describes the Olympian tradition as the second practice in his analysis of Greek religion. The Olympians treated their own bodies as works of art.

Third is spiritual works of art, where spiritual of course refers to collective or communal practices. This is found in Greek epics, tragedies and comedies. Epics, tragedies and comedies on the one hand are created and acted out by the religious community, but on the other hand literally believed by the community too. This shows how active the greek religions really were in contrast to the natural religions.

It is actually in the analysis of Greek comedies that the transition into the next stage takes place, which is to Revealed Religion.

Revealed Religion

So far we have seen two kinds of religions that mirror the previous stages of consciousness. Natural religions had conscious deities, and art religions had self-conscious deities. Natural religions came to their beliefs through observing nature, and art religions came to their beliefs through their own actions. Natural religions had an ethical spirit to them, and art religions had a cultural spirit. What follows should represent the logical third of all of these one-sided paths, a religion with a deity of spirit (or community), a religion that comes to its beliefs practically, a religion with a moral spirit.

The third chapter of religion does not contain this kind of religion. Instead it contains all three. But where could we find a religion with a divinity split into three parts: one conscious, one self-conscious, and one spirit? Hegel was a Christian and maybe it seems a bit suspect for his study of religion in this section to end with the religion he happened to be raised under - but Christianty fits into this system better than you might expect.

Firstly there is the Trinity. Not only does this sound like Triad, but it contains God, who is conscious, Jesus, who is self-conscious, and the Holy Spirit, which is Spirit. The Jews worshipped God like in natural religion. God was something other, that brings rules and guides them. Jesus on the other hand represented Art Religion. He was an active participant in religion, a self-conscious man pushing his followers to continue his plan through their actions such as with Holy Communion. Lastly, Jesus was cruxified and then reborn in all Christians as the Holy Spirit.

(Video) Hegel: Philosophy of world history and spirit

Absolute Knowing

We now, at last, move on to the final chapter of the book. While Christianity seemed to fit perfectly into the structure of the Phenomenology - Hegel believed that religion was not the highest development but that philosophy was, and so he ends the Phenomenology with a perfect Philosophy called Absolute Knowing.

The chapter begins with a look back at everything covered so far: TBD

All of these stages, these moments of consciousness, are single and isolated. But the last moment it the unity of all of them. The last moment that we look at is the moment that we art left with after studying all the previous moments. ; and it is their spiritual unity alone which furnishes the power for this reconciliation. In other words the Phenomenology of Spirit starts with analyzing different kinds of consciousness, and ends with the kind of consciousness that we are left with after having read it.

So where do we go from here?

The book is actually titled "System of Science pt 1: Phänomenologie des Geistes"

After finishing all of the negations, we are finally ready to engage in Science - the whole point of this two book series - and the way we are going to engage in science is by analysing the Notions. Rather than coming negatively from the perspective of experience we are now going to examine each moment positively as a set of Notions to be built from the ground up.

This work is going to be done in the second book - the Science of Logic.

Hegel finishes the book with a deliberate misquote of Friedrich Schiller:

“The chalice of this realm of spiritsFoams forth to God His own Infinitude”

(Video) Hegel Phenomenology of Spirit Summary & Structure of Whole Book Explained


There are many things to take away from this work. One of the most important parts is it serves as an example of Hegel's dialectical analysis of a problem. The dialectic process itself is covered in much closer detail in the next book.

When it comes to Hegel, the best parts are in the detail. You can skim over the surface and see a pattern from one stage to another, but you can then look closer and see another path of development within each stage, with its own interesting detail. You can keep looking closer and closer and find interesting insights all throughout this work.

It can be a very difficult work to just pick up and read. Hopefully this explanation can at least give you some context on what the general topic of each section is.


1. G.W.F Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit (Complete Overview)
(Cadell Last)
2. Georg W.F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, Introduction - Introduction to Philosophy
(Gregory B. Sadler)
3. G.W.F. Hegel's "Phenomenology of Spirit" (Part 1/4)
(Theory & Philosophy)
4. Great Minds - Part 4 - Hegel: The Phenomenology of Geist
(Michael Sugrue)
5. Intro to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit
6. Understand ALL OF HEGEL in a Half Hour
(Paul Joseph Krause)
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