A Study of Images in the Phenomenology of Spirit

High School ・Psychology ・Chicago ・1 Sources

A Study of Pictures in the Phenomenology of Spirit is summarized below. In this description, it is clear that the text is not for beginners who are unfamiliar with Hegel's works, and that the reader should be well knowledgeable in the disputes that surround his work. Hegel's book has been a Calvary, the spiritual zoo, the manufactured universe, and other polemic texts that bring out Hegel's thesis of enterprise and accomplishment in order to highlight the function of metaphors and sarcasm. Thus, it contributes to his extraordinary philosophical prowess with an added advantage of the discursive power and a rhetorical power of expression.
In order to begin comprehending Hegel’s philosophy, he puts forward a saying that: consciousness confronts itself in a bid to gain absolute knowledge to illustrate metaphor, irony and memory. More of this will be summarized in Hegel’s imagination and then look at the method in itself whereby we grasp necessity as the inability of one thing to accompany another before summarizing Das Meinen.

In this work of the Phenomenology of spirit, there is Avast imagination embedded in between the lines and a very rational structure, a colossus without equal in modern philosophy. We will see how Hegel sees unhappy consciousness in the summary of chapter six. He views religion and philosophy as the avenues that individuals seek when they need to take refuge due to fear and objectification. In chapter 6, we will see the epitome of the book with a focus on the spirit as the great measure of reason. We encounter the three aspects of the spirit as self-reflexive, Geist and speculative. Geist will be translated to thinking for easier comprehension. In general, we will why Hegel is a philosopher of the solid concept and illustrates why any critic to his work has to be discursive and conceptual in tone.

In the first three chapters, we see Hegel focus entirely on consciousness. At the end of a stage, when consciousness exhausts itself, a new connection between things is the trick to bring it back. What this simply means is that when a thought is blocked, all it requires is a simple connection with itself. The forging of a new connection does not take place as a simple act of novelty. Hegel uses the tropes of metaphors and irony to characterize various stages in the phenomenology and as a weapon to attack opposing positions and state of mind. In the traditional discussions on this point, it is shown that the deductive proposition that is formulated by the understanding is a form of interrupted or internally broken up rational thought.

Human knowledge is put to scale, and its nature and conditions are defined. We find a very philosophical argument where he incorporates Kant’s theory that states that the mind does not comprehend things in the world because knowledge is not in itself knowledge but “items in themselves”. It illustrates an original personal point of view on knowledge of Kant but Hegel in this book, see a component as an accumulated recognition of components to make up experience. According to Hegel, the process of acquiring knowledge and the concepts that accompany this endeavour are interconnected.

The moment of sense-certainty of the process entails the mind working on different levels to grasp the idea of something. It is fundamentally the primary requirement that sets apart different individuals, the reason being that different people can only fathom so much of a particular concept. Therefore, is the main component in understanding the quest for knowledge among individual which then leads Hegel to look at perception as a mode of consciousness.

Different categories of thought and language are emphasized in the search for certainty when it comes to an understanding. It makes consciousness have two separate perceptions whereby the sixth sense informs us about the world around us while the classifications or categories tend to make sense in the same context. This escalates to very alluring levels of uncertainty and in turn, leads frustration which eventually makes an individual sceptical. Once a person finds themselves in such a situation, their judgment becomes impaired and wholly or partly suspends their reasoning. This makes Hegel place consciousness in a learning category and the highest of them all.

Throughout the text, application of German to bring about ingenious puns is evident. An example is when in chapter 3, Hegel portrays consciousness upside down. It comes to its first stage by a reversal to its opposite. He uses a Wart spiel or a pun using the term das meinem. We see that this is not an actual pun but an irony. What we see here is a conscious decision to bring about a double meaning using the power of words. Consciousness becomes so involved in trying to express the meaning of particulars and therefore nears missing the intellect in animals. In chapter 4, Hegel dives in the top-turvy world. Here he describes his problem solely in abstract terms. He uses syllogism as a means for structuring his presentations. “The sense of the reversal of the world order and the sense of the revelation of a beyond that exists as an inner within things is the natural province of metaphorical language or mythical-religious language”. Syllogism accomplishes the daunting task of transposing the image’s power of holding together oppositions into a particular kind of conceptual power.

This is a genius because the reader is denied a metaphor as was the norm in the previous chapters. This makes the reader experience a feeling similar to sleepwalking without knowledge of where they are headed. The play of forces gets intense when syllogism is used to make the distinction clearer. We see Hegel use the ‘thing’ as the basis of perceptions to activate a force field, a kind of monad with an outer dimension of substance and an inner dimension that has no consciousness immediacy. This ends with Hegel getting rhetorical on Kant’s critique by saying asking “What is immediate for the understanding is the play of forces; but what is true for it, is the simple inner world.”

In the Topsy-turvy world, Hegel presents Verkehrte welt by conceptual terms, common-sensual examples and by poetic images of the upside-down world. An example of this is when he says that “The selfsame really repels itself from itself and that what is not selfsame really posits itself as selfsame.” As if that is not poetic enough, he follows through with his discursive terms an]to postulate that in his inverted world, the south pole is the north pole and vice versa. In this inverse world, our ability to know our nature as moral agents is perverted. This discursive conclusion leads us to unveil that the word ‘top-turvy' is just an apt term for the Verkehrte welt image. In simple terms, Top-Turvy is the top where the bottom should be.

In the next chapters of the book, Hegel continues to look at the aspects of consciousness in metaphors and imagery. He is the thought that by tuning to a supernatural being, one can take comfort in something that exists only in itself rather than in the fight for acknowledgement among species. This is usually an effort by an individual to enter the realm of unconsciousness experienced under the transcendent being. It is a topic Hegel covers extensively, and he mainly sees the spirit as a place of moral laws and customs whereby the degree of internalization and compliance varies from one person to another. However, despite these variations in the level of conformity, the individuals are usually under the community spirit. Hegel then classifies the governing forces into actions and the culture or civilization that the people live in. He is the view that individualism is the primary factor when assessing enlightenment while despotism and terrorism are at the upper extremes of individualism.

In master hood and Servitude, he shows desire in a unique way. He says that the sense of mine is desire, that self-consciousness is a desire in general. This active stance that motivates consciousness is to be assumed as self-awareness and desire. We see consciousness try to eliminate the object as something outside of itself. Hegel expresses life as the universal fluid medium, a passive separating out of the shapes becomes, life as a process.

Another interesting philosophy is found in chapter eight whereby Hegel looks at the forms of defective selfhood. He postulates a huge picture in lieu to the spiritual animal kingdom and the beautiful soul. He ascertains that the world we live in, has no real goals, what we have in place of goals is a business that has to be attended. These goals have to be immediate and come with no moral or teleological directions. That the self in place is completing its work and that the only thing that lies beyond their individuality is just the spirit of things. When all the individuals get busy and active, they eventually find themselves together in the fields of their activities.

When it comes to religion versus absolute knowing, a lot of imagery is used to illustrate this philosophy. The image of Calvary is used together with the cup and the throne to bring about the last irony in the chapter. Hegel is of the opinion that religion is not absolute knowing because it delivers the content of independent spirit as an image. To be able to understand this imagery, we look at it from the point that Calvary is an image of an end that is also a beginning. It is an image of suffering and triumphs through suffering. Hegel sees it as a picture of opposites, finitude and infinitude or the circle of beginning and the end. In the chapter on absolute knowing, we can distinguish between two senses of thought-that which presents meaning through another medium other than itself. An image is regarded as mere poetry if it has no other meaning apart from itself.

It is in absolute knowledge, therefore, that we have come to see Hegel make a distinction between the two moments of the in itself and the difference between the image and the concept. This has been achieved by using recollection, where the thought process that internalizes allows us only to approach the idea through the image. In simpler terms, The philosophical act of the self as absolute knowing forces it into time. This means that it has no illusions about the opposition of the in itself and the for itself. Hegel continues to show why reflection is a tool of modern philosophy which always leaves the self or subject external to the object.

Hegel's transformation of a substance into subject overcomes this vacuous actuality of the object by making the object a moment of the subject’s recollection. Therefore, it is right to say that critical reflection is overcome through the recollective, memorial nature of the speculative act that produces the inward being of the real. In the final chapters, Hegel drops a final a final irony whereby he sees phenomenology as a comedy for consciousness as it achieves absolute knowing. However, the joys are short lived as it realizes the highways of despair have begun. This is where those not keen enough realize Hegel’s final irony. They get a profound understanding of absolute knowing and acknowledge the fact that they had grasped it in only a half-night. The ‘we’ once in the darkness, then find themselves in the limelight and no longer as acting as observers but pilgrims. Pilgrims is on the path of the seen and unseen.


Interpreting Hegel’s whole system is cumbersome, that is why the phenomenology cover in this summary is sufficient for now. To grasp how the whole system of Hegel works, it is advisable that one delves deeper into his work. The way Hegel brings the two books discussed in the beginning together is a show of class and genius. Despite there being differences in the two books, the two pose the same question of the position of logic in the system. Hegel differentiates the two by saying that ‘a process of becoming is not a movement of an idea to nature’.


Donald Phillip Verene, Hegel’s Recollection: A Study of Images in the Phenomenology of Spirit (Albany: SUNY Press, 1985)

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