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On the Role of Intersubjectivity in Hegel's Encyclopaedic Phenomenology and Psychology

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 June 2015

Heikki Ikäheimo*
University of Jyväskylä
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According to a widely shared view, a radical change took place in the role of intersubjectivity in Hegel's philosophy somewhere between Jena and Berlin. For instance, Jürgen Habermas's judgement is that whereas in the Jena writings – in the Jena Realphilosophien, and perhaps still in the 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit – Hegel conceived of intersubjectivity as an essential element in the constitution of subjectivity and of objectivity, in Berlin Hegel's intersubjectivist conception was replaced by a metaphysics of the absolute I or absolute self-consciousness, in which intersubjectivity no longer plays any important constitutive role.

Perhaps it is due to something like this view having been mostly taken for granted even among Hegel-specialists that scholarly literature on intersubjectivity in Hegel's late Encyclopaedic system is indeed very scarce. Robert R. Williams' Hegel's Ethics of Recognition argues convincingly that the theme of intersubjective recognition can be seen as a central thread running through the whole of Hegel's Encyclopaedic philosophy of objective spirit. But very little has so far been written on the theme of intersubjectivity or intersubjective recognition in Hegel's Encyclopaedic philosophy of subjective spirit. My thesis in what follows is that intersubjectivity or intersubjective mediation in recognition can and should in fact be seen as an essential constituent also of subjective spirit as Hegel conceptualises it in the 1830 Encyclopaedia.

Hegel and Social Philosophy
Copyright © The Hegel Society of Great Britain 2004

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1 See e.g. Habermas, Jürgen, ‘From Kant to Hegel and Back — The Move Towards Detranscendentalization’, European journal of Philosophy 7:2, 1999, pp. 129157 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

2 Williams, Robert R., Hegel's Ethics of Recognition (Berkeley: California University Press, 1997)Google Scholar.

3 General works on the Encyclopaedia philosophy of subjective spirit include Fetscher, Iring, Hegels Lehre vom Menschen (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Friedrich Frommann Verlag, 1970)Google Scholar, deVries, Willem, Hegel's Theory of Mental Activity (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1988)Google Scholar, Wolff, Michael, Das Körper-Seele-Problem (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 1992)Google Scholar, Schalhorn, Christoph, Hegels enzyklopädischer Begriff von Selbstbewusstsein, Hegel-Studien Beiheft 43 (Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 2000)Google Scholar, Stederoth, Dirk, Hegels Philosophie des Subjektiven Geistes (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, Halbig, Christoph Objektives Denken, Spekulation und Erfahrung, Abteilung II: Untersuchungen, Band 48 (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, 2002)Google Scholar and the collections of articles, Henrich, Dieter (ed.) Hegels philosophische Psychologie, Hegel-Studien Beiheft 19 (Bonn: Bouvier, 1979)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, Eley, Lothar (ed.) Hegels Theorie des subjektiven Geistes (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, 1990)Google Scholar, Hespe, Franz & Tuschling, Burkhard (eds.) Psychologie und Anthropologie oder Philosophie des Geistes (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, 1991)Google Scholar.

4 I shall concentrate on the 1830 version of the Encyclopaedia ( Moldenhauer, Eva & Michel, Karl Markus (eds.) Werke in 20 Bänden [Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1986ffGoogle Scholar, references to the Encyclopaedia, contained in volumes 8-10, with ‘§’, and to other parts of Werke with ‘X/Y’ where X denotes the volume and Y page number]), except for making a few references to the Erdmann-Walter-Nachschrift on Hegel's lectures on subjective spirit from 1827 ( Hespe, Franz & Tuschling, Burkhard (eds.) Vorlesungen über die Philosophie des Geistes [Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 1994 Google Scholar, hereafter referred to as ‘Erdmann’]). I am responsible for all translations in this article. Many thanks to Robert Williams for letting me consult his forthcoming translation of the Erdmann-Walter-Nachschrift. I have also consulted Perry's bilingual edition of the 1830 subjective spirit ( Perry, Michael John [ed. & trans.] Hegel's Philosophy of Subjective Spirit, [Dordrecht: Reidel, 19781979]Google Scholar).

5 Hösle, Vittorio, Hegels System (Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 1987 Google Scholar, hereafter ‘Hösle’), 338-411.

6 Hegel writes: ‘The three logical stages, 1) immediate Being, 2) … Essence and 3) Concept … have their concrete determinate being (Daseyn) as 1) the universal logical Idea itself, 2) nature in which it is only as essence and 3) as Spirit, the free Idea, the Concept existing to itself. Similarly, Idea as natural (Naturidee) is further as Being mechanical nature, 2) as Essence … inorganic and as 3) Concept organic nature. Spirit is as Being the Soul, 2) as Essence or the stage of reflection Consciousness, 3) as Concept Spirit as such’ (‘Unveröffentliche Diktate aus einer Enzyklopädie-Vorlesung Hegels’. Eingeleitet und hrsg. Nicolin, von Friedhelm. Hegel-Studien 5, 1969, 21 Google Scholar). See Hösle, 110-115, where Hösle dismisses this passage as confusion on Hegel's part. Hösle himself has a strongly ‘corrective’ attitude towards Hegel's architectonics and insists on a straightforwardly linear correspondence between the logic and the Realphilosophien. As I see it, the implications of this insistence distort Hösle's reading of subjective spirit from the beginning, but I must pass over this theme here.

7 Stederoth agrees. See his reconstruction of the principles according to which Hegel organises his material in the Reaphilosophie in Stederoth, chapter 2.3.

8 This does not lead Hösle to question the reading. See e.g. Hösle, 387, where, after pointing out the difficulty of conceiving why reason does not appear straight after understanding in Phenomenology, he quite bluntly rejects the possibility of anything other than a purely linear way of understanding the architectonics: ‘diese Reihenfolge ist rein linear’ (emphasis, Hösle).

9 ‘Cognition (Erkennen) must certainly be distinguished from mere knowing (Wissen), for already consciousness is knowing’ (§ 445 Add.).

10 Werke 4/117: ‘Self-consciousness posits itself through the negation of otherness and is practical consciousness. When thus in consciousness proper, which is also called theoretical …’. Although we cannot be sure, due to Rosenkranz's dubious editorial practices, whether this passage is originally from Hegel's pen, it clearly reflects one aspect of what Hegel wants to discuss under the title ‘Self-consciousness’.

11 This is, for instance, Forster's, Michael claim in his Hegel's Idea of a Phenomenology of Spirit (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 558 Google Scholar.

12 For Hegel, contra Kant, space and time are not ‘merely subjective forms’ of intuition, but also real forms of the world, which intuition grasps: ‘things are in their truth themselves spatial and temporal’ (§ 448).

13 Hegel's formulations in § 418 give the misleading impression that consciousness would independently effectuate its own Urteil into subject from object: ‘The object is now initially to be taken only according to the relationship that it has to consciousness, namely being external to it, and not yet as in itself external or as external to itself; ‘According to consciousness, content is only an object for it, a relative other; from spirit it receives the rational determination of being an other to itself’ This impression is contrary to Hegel's statements about the general division of labour of consciousness and spirit, as well as many of his statements in the sub-chapter Intuition (see § 447, 448 and 448 Add.).

14 On the several levels of complexity or development that intuition takes, see DeVries, 108-118. I disagree with DeVries on two points. Firsdy, according to DeVries attention cannot be responsible for the spatio-temporal organisation of the environment, since it implies ‘a high degree of conscious mental activity and wilful self-control’ (ibid., 112). But this ignores the fact that Hegel speaks of several developmental stages of attention, as well as the fact that the will has several layers or developmental levels, the most primitive of which is ‘practical feeling’, corresponding to ‘desire’ in Phenomenology. Secondly, accordingly to DeVries, ‘the objects of consciousness in the Phenomenology do not have spatio-temporal form’ (ibid., 112, note 3). But what, for instance, would perception (Wahrnehmung) be (B.a.ß.) – ‘the standpoint of our ordinary consciousness and more or less that of the sciences’ (§ 420) – without spatio-temporal organisation?

15 Many aspects of my discussion of desire and recognition are indebted to Paul Redding's highly illuminating discussion of these themes in the 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit in his Hegel's Hermeneutics (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996, chapter 5Google Scholar).

16 See the classifications of emotions in § 401 Add. and § 472 Add.

17 See § 472: ‘Practical feeling contains the ought, its self-determination in itself, related to existing singularity [i.e. object] that is valid only in its conformity with the practical feeling’. I believe this means that practical feeling directs the attention of the immediate subject in its function of identifying objects as separate objects or ‘existing singularities’.

18 Hegel uses the term ‘drive’ in various senses. Here for instance not exactly in the sense in which he uses it in the sub-chapter Drives and Wilfulness (C.b.ß). Compare also § 225 in the Encyclopaedia logic on the ‘drive of knowing towards truth’ and the ‘drive of the good towards realising it, the will, the practical activity of the idea’ (8/378).

19 This way of looking at § 429-430 was first put to me by Christoph Halbig in discussion.

20 The apparent inconsistency of these passages – that in the first passage desire is purely primitive and drive represents cultivation, whereas in the second passage desire itself allows for cultivation – can be resolved by noting that although desire is in the beginning purely natural, it too will assume more cultivated forms in the process of socialisation. Desire as immediate is a developmental stage, but as mediated and cultivated it will become a moment of the concrete whole that the functions of the cultivated subjectivity form together.

21 Hösle refers to roughly similar ideas in Peirce and Apel, who replace the dyadic subject-object model with a triadic subject-object-subject model, and laments that Hegel did not do so (Hösle, 124-5). This is a serious underestimation of the complexity of Hegel's model of intentionality. See also Franz Hespe's reading, which is close to mine and critical of Hösle in Hespe, , ‘System und Funktion der Philosophie des Subjektiven Geistes’ (in Hespe, & Tuschling, (ed.) 1991, pp. 490521)Google Scholar. I disagree with Hespe, however, when he says that Psychology as a whole discusses moments or functions of the concrete subjectivity which are intersubjectively mediated (515, note 59). This gets the a-sub-chapters wrong.

22 Cf. Hespe 1991, 516.

23 See also § 459.

24 ‘Since the opposition of subjective and objective is dominant at this standpoint’ (§ 451 Add.).

25 ‘Self-consciousness reaches beyond itself, it continues into another self-consciousness, there are no more two self-consciousness opposed to each other, but rather it is one self-consciousness, and thus it is universal self-consciousness.’ (Erdmann, 174)

26 Things are actually more complicated, since recognising has several species: to follow Axel Honneth's analysis, those of love, respect and esteem (see Honneth, , The Struggle for Recognition [Cambridge: Polity Press, 1995]Google Scholar, and Ikäheimo, Heikki, ‘On the Genus and Species of Recognition’ in Inquiry, volume 45/2000, number 4 Google Scholar). I believe that all of these are implied in the notion of recognition in the Self-Consciousness chapter of the Encyclopaedia, but these further complexities will be ignored here.

27 Siep, Ludwig, ‘Leiblichkeit, Selbstgefühl und Personalität in Hegels Philosophie des Geistes’ (in Eley, (ed.) 219)Google Scholar.

28 The law does not reside on the surface of phenomena, rather it takes great effort to discover it’ (Erdmann, 158 Google Scholar). There is an attempt to grasp the world of appearances as a realm, a system … of laws’ (Erdmann, 159 Google Scholar).

29 Of course, Hegel himself does not emphasise very strongly the importance of individual or communal reflection on the validity of practical ‘laws’, but this moment is built into his theory of the rational concrete subject living with others in the state of ‘being recognised’ (Anerkanntsein).