Hegel’s Phenomenology of Mind is noted to be a wide-ranging and extensive investigation of how knowledge is gained of absolute truth and of how spirit prevails itself as an absolute reality. The author maintains that knowledge is not segregated from, or external to, absolute reality. However, such knowledge is itself reality and such reality is noted to be spiritual and mental. The Hegelian dialectic perceives that reality is logical and rational. In this report, the essay will give emphasis on the context of Self-conscious, in which the context in knowing subject who, in the dialectic of the “I”.
According to Hegel, man is conscious, and that he knew that he is superior to nature. In this regard, the subject I can separate himself from objects, consider them and speak of them: it is the object and not the subject, is what reveals itself to the author in and by or better as the act of understanding and knowing. The desire to have knowledge is an emptiness to be filed in so as to be a rational subject, overcoming the biological reality for the life of animal. Herein, the knowing subject is noted to be moving, ‘he’ transcends the context of immanence of urgent experience and biological reality.
Just as on the level of mere objective consciousness there was a first immediate stage which revealed itself as inadequate to its own object, so here on the level of self-consciousness there is a first immediate stage, which we can call the stage of individual self-consciousness, which in turn reveals itself as inadequate and relatively sterile. 30 That the individual be genuinely conscious of himself he must be conscious of being recognized as a self, which recognition he can find only in other selves, whom he in turn recognizes as selves.
Not only is coming to consciousness of self a process, it is a long process and, like the process we have already seen, it is a process of mediation (negation). Experience has already found that consciousness of objects is empty without the mediation of thought originating in the subject; now it will find that consciousness of self is little more than the grasp of another kind of object, when it is not supplemented by the mediation involved in the mutual recognition accorded in a community of selves.
From here on, then, the individual, even as an individual, cannot progress by merely experiencing its own experience; it must take in the experience of others and not stop until its own experience blends with the collective experience of humanity (in its history). Thus it is that the Hegelian phenomenology becomes historical in a way in which no contemporary phenomenology is. Man begins to recognize himself progressively for what he really is, a rational being whose grasp of reality is identified with the autonomy of his own conceptual life.
Consciousness of rationality, then, goes hand in hand with consciousness of freedom, neither of which is present on the level of merely “natural” (naive) consciousness, but is acquired in the process of becoming a “human” consciousness, or in the process of developing into spirit, as opposed to mere nature. Later, when he looks back from a different vantage point, Hegel will be able to entitle his work a Phenomenology of Spirit; up to the present point he can know only that it is still a “Science of the Experience of Consciousness”. Consciousness has now begun to experience itself as free (autonomous, self-determined).
But as an immediate experience of freedom (or an experience of immediate freedom), consciousness experiences not true freedom but only independence, which immediately reveals itself as independence of others; this on careful examination turns out to be dependence on others–the “of” means a necessary relation to others and manifests the meaninglessness of freedom in isolation from others. Man is free only in community with other men, which by implication means that man is rational only in common with other men, not as isolated (even in thought) from them
It can be argued that the self-consciousness exists in the expression “I”, and that desire is the essential element in the Hegelian dialectic. Such notion is noted to be the acknowledgement of a person’s desire, as something to be separated from the desired object, i. e. the key to consciousness. The dialectic is depicted as a forward movement, to the categorization between the object and subject as well as subsequent recognition of the object desired as separate from the individual.
In this phenomenal consciousness, the desire signifies emptiness, a wanting for something that would satisfy an individual, “not-I”. In this regard, the desire then also signifies inadequacy in this system; the desire is said to symbolize emptiness in line with the object of desire so long as the object and subject are not distinguished, in which case, there is no “I”. It is such emptiness which is in need to be negated through the acknowledgment of the “non-I” by the ‘”I”. The subject (“I”) is then envisaged as separate from the object (“non-I”).
The dialectical movement which has been shown in the above discussion depicts an initial or primary affirmation in immediate experience, and followed by a notion of inadequacy in order for the second step to have a negation of such experience in terms of subject/object fusion. In this sense, the third and also considered as the final step in the dialectic of Hegel’s to self-consciousness is an awareness of the subject’ knowing itself to be knowing, hence, identifying its own role in constituting the object for oneself.
Such is the process of synthesis which enables a deeper and in-depth view of the process and thus a higher movement, transcendence, each process of affirmation-negation-synthesis of the subject which is called mediation. Such mediation is the mediation of intervention of immediate experience or object/subject fusion in knowledge. Accordingly, in this regard, the standard criterion of consciousness posits a distinguishing aspect within itself, which, nonetheless, for consciousness in is not a distinction at all.
Since self-consciousness identifies itself from itself, the dialectic movement can be considered as distinguishing for which such distinction is irreal. As such, the difference, as a notion of otherness is also considered as superseded for it (167). In its primary genesis, self-consciousness intrinsically sets itself the chore of actualizing or making real in its self-unit. The prevailing over of the anti thesis between the truth of self-consciousness and the obvious world of sensuous otherness is the dialectic movement of self-consciousness in creating explicit its own unity with itself.
It can already be seen that, for Hegelian dialectic, all self-conscious desire is desire for self. And because the unity of self-consciousness is the true unity motivating the obvious different between the sensuous world and self, the negation of the intrinsic difference through a negation of the immediate object comprises the attempted realization of the unity of self-consciousness. As such all desire for the immediate object is really a self-conscious desire for the unity of self-consciousness.
It seems scarcely necessary to describe in detail–for those who are not totally ignorant of Hegel’s philosophizing his approach to knowing through an objective consciousness which does not make sense, even to itself, until it becomes self-consciousness, a self-consciousness which does not really grasp the self of which it is conscious until it becomes reason, a reason which runs the risk of bogging down in its own particularity if it does not move on to identify itself with the truly universal spirit, the ultimate source of all being and all truth.
At the end of the dialectic movement, it is now clear to consciousness how this absolute knowing is to be achieved. For it now understands that it has failed to find satisfaction in the world because it has come to the world in the wrong way, adopting limited conceptions that must be made more complete: absolute knowing therefore relates to the idea of complete or unimpaired rational cognition of the world, rather than to knowledge of some non-worldly entity (‘the absolute’).
Hegel thus briefly sketches ways in which consciousness must learn to bring these limited conceptions together, recapitulating the various stages that the dialectic has already taken. He begins with Consciousness and he argues that it should now be apparent to us, as phenomenological observers, that the standpoints adopted by consciousness (Sense-certainty, Perception, and Understanding) were one-sided, and that the truth lies in seeing how no one of them does justice to the way in which individuality, particularity and universality are related in the object:
Thus the object is in part immediate being or, in general, a Thing – corresponding to immediate consciousness; in part, an othering of itself, its relationship or being-for-an-other, and being-for-itself, i. e. determinateness – corresponding to perception; and in part essence, or in the form of a universal – corresponding to the Understanding. It is, as a totality, a syllogism or the movement of the universal through determination to individuality, as also the reverse movement from individuality through superseded individuality, or through determination, to the universal.
It is, therefore, in accordance with these three determinations that consciousness must know the object as itself. Now, it is not immediately clear from the dialectic what this conception of individuality, particularity and universality as applied to our thinking about objects involves. The dialectic movement is thus a via negativa for consciousness, showing how anything less than this complex conception will fail, and bringing to light the dialectical limitations that have brought about this failure.
It has therefore served its essentially pedagogical and motivational function, of leading us on to the Logic, where the positive doctrine is systematically elaborated in terms of pure categories and thought-forms. All in all, it can be said that the last stage of the dialectic movement has been able to return to the starting stage wherein, self-consciousness is given emphasis to unveil the truth. The last stage has been able to make the dialectic stages stronger in prevailing the truth about self-consciousness.
Hegel then goes on to consider what makes the standpoint of consciousness at the end of the dialectic movement distinctive, as it prepares to undertake Science: that is, a reflective examination of its categories in an attempt to overcome the kind of one-sided positions we have just traversed. For such a Science to be possible, consciousness must have come to see, through a process of self-examination, that it can arrive at a view of the world that will make the world fully intelligible, where until then it has appeared alien to consciousness.