What now?

Stephen Cowley

I have been thinking a more about the structure of the Phenomenology of Spirit and my difficulties with Chapter Four, having finished the book (except for Chapter Five). My feeling is that the structure of the first part (the individual, from chapters one to five) deals with the object (chapters 1-3), then self-consciousness (chapter 4) as preparation for the work of the mature individual inquirer (chapter five). However, as Hegel’s view of self-consciousness is highly socialised, chapter four has to proceed in a precursory fashion, through the content of the remaining social half of the book on Spirit (i.e. chapters 6-8). I found that chapter five on Reason starts, not with naive inquiry, but from the conclusions of the earlier chapters. The content might be said to contain much of the content of absolute knowledge. Hence, I am curious to test this by reading chapter five before going on to the System as such.

This may allow me to come to some final conclusions about Jean Wahl’s analysis of unhappy consciousness. I still think that this is both religious and secular in nature. To be unhappy presupposes a comparison of a state of comparative distress with a better prospect, but this could be either on earth or in heaven. There appear to be elements of both in Hegel’s text. Chapter five focuses on the worldly element (according to para 673 of Pinkard).

The group has gone quiet and I suspect emails may be ending up in people’s spam folders. However, I will stick at it for the time being and hope that people re-emerge from hibernation at some point.

All the best
Stephen Cowley