' - ' - ' ' - NotaBene.ru
Journal Menu
> Issues > Rubrics > About journal > Authors > About the journal > Requirements for publication > Editorial collegium > Peer-review process > Policy of publication. Aims & Scope. > Article retraction > Ethics > Online First Pre-Publication > Copyright & Licensing Policy > Digital archiving policy > Open Access Policy > Article Processing Charge > Article Identification Policy > Plagiarism check policy > Editorial board
Journals in science databases
About the Journal

MAIN PAGE > Back to contents
Philosophical Thought

The principle of constructing Sociality in Hegel's "Phenomenology of Spirit" and the problem of method in Social and Humanitarian cognition

Korotkikh Vyacheslav Ivanovich

Doctor of Philosophy

professor of the Department of Philosophy and Social Sciences at Yelets State University N. A. Ivan Bunin

399770, Russia, Lipetskaya oblast', g. Elets, ul. Komsomol'skaya, 58, kv. 4

Other publications by this author










Abstract: The subject of the study is the analysis of the construction of social reality in Hegel's "Phenomenology of Spirit". The form of representation of social life found by Hegel acted as one of the prerequisites for the formation of modern socio-humanitarian knowledge. The author seeks to show that Hegel's overcoming of the idea of the immediacy of social relations as a subject of philosophical consideration is a decisive moment in the formation of the method of social and humanitarian sciences. The construction of social reality, which replaces the uncritical perception of society as an object as accessible to observation as natural objects, opens up the possibility of a consistent, methodically verified disclosure of the essential characteristics of social life. The study establishes that Hegel presents the described forms of social reality as necessary steps for the movement of the spirit to self-knowledge. The basis for the assertion of the natural nature of the processes of formation of social relations is their belonging to the sphere of self-consciousness. Thus, consciousness pushes its boundaries, overcomes singularity, establishing social reality as a sphere in which the spirit is able to reveal the concreteness of substance. The topic under consideration has not only philosophical and systematic significance, the article shows that Hegel justifies the possibility of overcoming subjective ("evaluative") approaches to the consideration of social life associated with the idea of the immediacy of social relations, reveals the necessary nature of the formation of social reality and its comprehension in various forms of the spirit. The method of constructing sociality presented in the "Phenomenology of Spirit" ensures the cognizability of social life by rational means and the evidentiary nature of social and humanitarian knowledge.


Hegel 's Philosophy, Phenomenology of the Spirit, method, social sciences, humanities, social reality, social relations, rational cognition, self-awareness, construction

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.


One of the features of the "Phenomenology of Spirit" is the presence in the text of the work of descriptions of various subject areas; in this book, plots concerning the theory of knowledge, natural sciences, psychology, social history, art, morality, religion, etc. have found a place. Moreover, in the process of narration, the author freely moves from one of them to another, as a rule, without paying special attention to the justification of these transitions, and the reader finds himself faced with the need to seek explanations for the bizarre trajectory of the narrative in the positions that were taken by the philosopher at the time of the birth of the idea of the work, however, were not documented in detail. Realizing the difficulty of covering this topic in its entirety, this article is supposed to consider only the question of the regularity of the appearance in the "experience of consciousness" of descriptions of socio-historical issues, which occupies most of the existing text.

The starting point of the study is the hypothesis of the relationship between self-consciousness and sociality, according to which the appearance of features of social relations in the process of evolution of consciousness structures ("doubling of self-consciousness", "lust", "domination" and "service", etc.) is due to the need to disclose the content of self-consciousness, in relation to which in Chapter III, which is "theoretical-cognitive" in nature, only a general idea of "infinity" as its "structural framework" is offered. In this connection, it is established that social reality is not "intended" by the author of the "Phenomenology of Spirit", but is "constructed" in the process of "consciousness experience", and the foundations and patterns of this construction are determined by the needs of revealing the transcendental structure of self-consciousness.

Explaining the position that social reality is constructed only in the process of "experience of consciousness", we note that, unlike previous works, in "Phenomenology" Hegel does not perceive social life, man, culture as some kind of "immediacy", he tries to reveal the way these complex formations arise in the holistic "experience of consciousness", embracing, according to the plan, all types of subjectivity accessible to cognition. At the same time, the correlation of the problems of constructing sociality, which occupied so much space in the text of Phenomenology, with the materials characterizing the spiritual development of the "young Hegel", not only demonstrates the philosopher's overcoming of the idea of the immediacy of social life as a subject of thought, of its unconditional "openness" to thinking, but also explains his refusal to be recognized in philosophy the rights of non-rational ways of cognition, since the idea of the "construction" of social reality relieves the researcher from the need to accept any substratum of social life as inaccessible to rational analysis; in the end, this line of Hegelian reflections ends with the proclamation of the Concept as the only adequate form of comprehension of the Absolute. It is natural to assume that it was the philosopher's "immersion" in social problems that reached the greatest intensity in "Phenomenology", which opened up to him the relationship between the idea of constructing objectivity in the "experience of consciousness" and the possibility of its conceptual comprehension, that turned out to be the decisive moment that made Hegel's departure from the "romantic" worldview of the Frankfurt period inevitable and the formation of that image of systemic philosophy, which has been preserved in the history of European culture.

Further, it seems important from the very beginning of the consideration of the stated topic to bear in mind that the proposed analysis of this problem has not only historical and philosophical, but also philosophical and methodological significance, since it allows us to raise the question of the method of studying socio-cultural reality and substantiate the possibility of overcoming subjective ("evaluative") associated with the idea of the immediacy of social relations approaches to the consideration of public life and culture. The method of constructing sociality presented in the "Phenomenology of Spirit" opens up opportunities for developing a set of rational methods for studying social life and culture and demonstrating the possibility of the scientific nature of socio-humanitarian knowledge. Due to the fact that Hegelian searches, in our opinion, remain important for discussing the problems of the methodology of socio-humanitarian cognition in modern philosophical and methodological discussions, it seems right to preface the consideration of the principle of constructing sociality in the "Phenomenology of Spirit" with a brief analysis of the process of formation of the idea of scientific and philosophical research of social reality in New European philosophy.

The problem of the specifics of the study of society and culture in the New European philosophy

Thinkers who turned to the study of the "book of nature", even at the beginning of the formation of Modern science, came to the conviction that it was "written in the language of mathematics." And mathematical natural science has for four centuries remained a model of scientific knowledge for those areas of human knowledge in which "measure, number and weight" are not really able to guarantee the achievement of adequacy and accuracy of knowledge. Moreover, attempts to extend the principles that have proven fruitful in the study of nature to man, society and culture more than once led to the loss of the very "objectivity" of social and humanitarian knowledge - the illusion of reducing a person to a kind of stable "nonsubjective" being, which, however, could now be described like other natural objects. Some insightful remarks about the identity of man and society as objects of possible scientific knowledge, for which the "geometric mind" is insufficient (recall B. Pascal or J. Vico), could not fundamentally affect the perception of the social sciences and humanities as a set of only random representations, the nature of which is determined not so much by real research as by preferences or arbitrariness of imagination.

By the end of the XVIII century, when the worldview of Romanticism was formed against the background of the "critique of reason", ideas arose that did not fit into the framework of the classical rationalism and Enlightenment ideology oriented towards the natural science ideal, first of all, the ideas of historicism and historical hermeneutics. However, at first it was difficult to incorporate these new approaches into the composition of science, they more easily took root in the artistic or religious consciousness, which was not connected with the ideas of philosophers and scientists about the unity of reason in all spheres of knowledge and the immutability of its principles. And when positivism becomes widespread as a "scientific philosophy" a few decades later, the task of developing methods for studying man and society is still posed in the context of ideas about the universality of the natural science model of cognition. The idea of sociology expressed by O. Comte is just the idea of a "normal" science, which in everything should correspond to the principles that have justified themselves in natural science. Pascal's guesses formulated two centuries earlier that the study of man and society cannot be carried out by the same methods as the study of nature, moreover, that the specifics of the subject itself should be decisive in choosing a research methodology, simply could not be taken into account in the era of the rule of positivism. Only by the end of the XIX century, V. Dilthey and other supporters of the return to classical philosophy as a fruitful context for the revival of philosophical thought and the development of social and humanitarian sciences began to develop prerequisites for enriching the methodology of studying society and culture with approaches that had remained on the periphery of the research interest of philosophy until then.

And it is no coincidence that today, as in Dilthey's time and even regardless of the question of whether researchers belong to one or another ideological direction the need to rethink the methodology of the social and humanitarian sciences prompts us to turn to the experience of the era of the formation of historicism and hermeneutics, which can be called the era of "Romanticism" in the broad sense of the word. Thus, M. Foucault argued that it was at the end of the XVIII beginning of the XIX centuries that the emergence of man as a new subject of science and, accordingly, the emergence of the "humanities" in the modern sense. In this context, it is all the more natural to pay attention to Foucault's concept, since before our eyes, in the form of "transhumanism", "posthumanism", etc., his famous prediction is also fulfilled, according to which "a person will disappear, as a face inscribed on coastal sand disappears" [1, p. 404]. Accordingly, in the conditions of the crisis of "classical humanism", the need to preserve humanitarian knowledge as a common cultural heritage of mankind is also increasing. And regardless of how long fate has allowed a person to remain the "main hero" of the social sciences and humanities, it can be stated that even today researchers engaged in this field retain the desire to reliably reflect human existence and retain hope for an objective analysis of social problems.

Not limited to the framework of the paradigm of "scientific sociology", they constantly return to the historical and methodological foundations of social and humanitarian cognition, which first began to be realized in the era of Herder, Schleiermacher, Hegel. In this article, the task is to assess the significance for modern socio-humanitarian knowledge of its most important historical and philosophical premise - the "construction" of social reality undertaken by Hegel and the corresponding subject of activity and cognition, which is reflected in the pages of the "Phenomenology of Spirit". In our opinion, Hegel's comprehension of the nature of sociality marked the most important stage in the search for new methodological foundations of the social sciences and humanities. Unfortunately, the scope of the article only allows us to point out the very principle of constructing sociality, but does not allow us to trace its detailed implementation in the text of the work. Therefore, we will analyze only one fragment of "Phenomenology" that is key to understanding the nature of socio-humanitarian knowledge. However, the understanding of the meaning of even this fragment of Hegel's work, which was created just at that turning point, when the discoverers and enthusiasts were just beginning to hone the tools with which, in the end, the project of "new science", formulated a century before by J. P. Blavatsky, turned out to be realized. Vico is able to bring us closer to understanding the significance of the reconstruction of the historical and philosophical prerequisites for the formation of the social and humanitarian sciences. Only after achieving this goal, among the random observations and information that remained for the model of science based solely on "measure, number and weight", something like coastal sand, it becomes possible for the first time to see a "face" - a person in his social and cultural environment, which has been the subject of sociohumanitarian for two centuries knowledge.

Methodological aspects of studying the problem of constructing sociality in the "Phenomenology of Spirit"

First of all, we will make the necessary remarks about two terms related to the chosen methodology of analyzing the "Phenomenology of Spirit" as a prerequisite for the emergence of modern socio-humanitarian knowledge. The term "construction" in relation to Hegel's philosophy may not seem quite successful, since, as is known, it was widely used by his opponents, which could not but form a negative attitude towards this word in the philosopher (approximately the same situation took place with the word "transcendental"). However, it is "construction" that best describes the process that opens up to us in "Phenomenology": social relations and forms of culture arise, are formed from some simpler elements of "consciousness experience" that are not yet conditioned by sociality; these elements, like threads, intertwining with each other, form the "fabric" of social life, history, culture. There is no doubt that Hegel himself tried to describe precisely the content of self-consciousness, but in reality the movement of the "experience of consciousness", revealing the content of transcendental structures, asserted the idea of the objectivity of social relations. We will try to substantiate the position according to which the philosopher considered the construction of sociality as the most important element of the substantiation of socio-humanitarian knowledge, which in the case of Hegel opened the possibility for the inclusion of this type of knowledge in the "System of Science" (the Jena project of the system of philosophy) or, later, in the "Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences". Understanding the "structurality" of social life, understanding that its images arise in the "experience of consciousness" as a result of synthesis, and ultimately determines its cognizability by rational means and the "evidence" of the knowledge obtained.

A few words should also be said about the term "sociality". In the "Phenomenology of Spirit" there is no expression that could be translated as "sociality". Nevertheless, in the Hegelian text, the "layers" of the narrative are clearly distinguished, the main characteristic of which is the connection with social existence, the inclusion of the processes of the evolution of consciousness in the complex of social relations. We will designate the common features of these levels of objectivity by the term "sociality". It seems that the researcher has the right to use concepts that are absent in the texts themselves in the process of analyzing the content of the studied works, since the creation of a "metalanguage" that optimally meets the tasks set is an important condition for scientific research. In addition, in our case, we should also remember the specific nature of the language of "Phenomenology", which was very carefully built by the author to describe the universal "experience of consciousness", excluding from it, if possible, expressions that are not necessary to achieve this goal.

In numerous publications on socio-philosophical, sociological, psychological issues, the concept of sociality today receives a very different semantic load from the generalized designation of socio-psychological characteristics of a person, the basis of socialization processes, etc. to the designation of a set of social relations within the boundaries of an epoch or region or a set of typological and other characteristics of society [2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9]. The use of this term in this article is rather adjacent to its "object" interpretation (regardless of the principles on the basis of which sociality is determined), since in our reading of "Phenomenology", the concept of sociality combines precisely the levels, "types" of subjectivity identified by the philosopher. (Therefore, if we try to imagine how this term could be incorporated into the Hegelian text, then it would have to correspond not to "die Sozialit?t", which has just an emphatically "subjective" meaning, but to "das Gesellschaftswesen".) The return of Hegel to the subjectivity conceived in the context of social life, which is carried out several times in the process of describing the "experience of consciousness", forms the content of the concept that we designate as "sociality".

As you know, Hegel, despite his grandiose "Science of Logic" or "Philosophy of Nature", is traditionally perceived primarily as a social thinker, and it should be recognized that this widespread view is essentially correct. One of the arguments in favor of this provision is the "youthful manuscripts" of the thinker, that is, all his early work up to the beginning of the "Jena period" [10; 11]. The opinion has long been established in Russian literature that it would be more natural to call the author of such a focus a historian, sociologist or cultural critic, rather than a philosopher. And only in Jena both under the influence of the traditions of university teaching, and as a result of the desire to create a complete system there is a "universalization" of Hegel's interests, mastering all new areas of philosophical knowledge, which does not, however, lead to a rejection of the consideration of social issues.

But attention to social issues does not necessarily entail a systematic reflection on the objectivity of the results obtained. During the Bern and Frankfurt periods of the philosopher's work, we have not yet seen such reflection. Perhaps the fact that the "youth manuscripts" were created before Hegel's idea of a consistent justification of socio-historical knowledge was formed, and predetermined their subsequent fate. Obviously, they were dear to the philosopher, it was not by chance that he kept them despite frequent moves, which were sometimes carried out in a very dramatic situation. However, Hegel did not attempt to publish or even process these materials, which would bring them closer to a form suitable for publication.

Discovered after the philosopher 's death and partially made famous by K. Rosencrantz [12], they more fully entered the circle of reading specialists only at the beginning of the last century, thanks to V. Diltay [13] and G. Nol [14]. The Russian reader is also familiar with the main materials of this period thanks to the translations made according to the results of the work of G. Zero [15; 16] (the mentioned name of which, by the way, contains a typo causing a comic effect in one of the publications) [16, pp. 645, 647]. Within the framework of the historical and critical edition of Hegel's works, it was found that G. Zero mistakenly tried to see in the fragments known to him the image of a single growing creation, in fact, there was a return to the same material, attempts at its new editions [17].

Apparently, Hegel understood that between the fragments that arose before the systematic substantiation of the objectivity of social and humanitarian knowledge and his mature creations there is a line that does not allow combining these talented sketches (it is not by chance that they will produce such an effect when they are available to the reader!) with the "system", the beginning of which was laid in the Yen. In this article we are trying to show that the point that initiated a completely new way of cognition of man and society is a kind of "construction of sociality", which has become one of the most important tasks of the "Phenomenology of Spirit" and allows in today's situation of distrust of the social and humanitarian sciences to reraise the question of the possibility of their scientific and philosophical justification.

At the same time, the peculiarities of the construction of the text of "Phenomenology", which cause the need to return to the topic of constructing sociality (as, indeed, to all other basic plots), we will not discuss specifically in this article, we will only note that the "linear" dimension of the movement of "consciousness experience" consists of a sequence of structurally homogeneous cycles separated by "breaks" and "return movements" of the narrative. However, these features of the text are not fundamental for understanding the justification of the possibility of cognition of social life by means of "science" ("systematic philosophy"), the disclosure of which is assumed by the intent of the article. However, we should take into account one of the features of the "phenomenological method", according to which the content of the "experience of consciousness" initially appears for the author and the reader ("for us", for "our consciousness"), and then appears to "consciousness itself", consciousness, the movement of which is a direct subject consideration, and this is precisely the characteristic of the method of "Phenomenology", which determines its linear-cyclic structure.

The principle of constructing sociality in the "Phenomenology of Spirit"

So, let's turn to the consideration of the principle of constructing social reality as a type of objectivity that allows us to recreate the basis of objective, evidence-based knowledge about a person, society, culture. The philosopher's conviction that universal laws prevail over "historical accidents" in socio-historical existence is based on the idea that the starting point of constructing sociality in phenomenological experience is the emergence of self-consciousness. That is why the emergence of self-consciousness (the transition to chapter IV) gives rise to the consideration of social relations. If we approach the issue from a "methodological" point of view, the reasons for this become obvious, and the philosopher himself directly points to them: self-consciousness as a new type of objectivity is "empty" if we ignore the external connections of the "carriers" of self-consciousness, that is, the emerging relationships of individuals, whose system, in the end, forms a mobile ("historical") social reality: "there is nothing to see behind the so-called veil, which should hide the "inner", unless we ourselves go behind it, both so that it can be seen, and so that there is something to look at" [18, p. 93-99].

The construction of sociality in the process of the movement of the "experience of consciousness", as already mentioned in connection with the nature of the "youthful manuscripts", comes to Hegel to replace the understanding of social life as a kind of "immediacy", homogeneous with the simplest forms of perception of the objective world. At this stage of the unfolding of the content of the "Phenomenology of the Spirit", the "structurality" of social life, the orderliness, the lawfulness of its main characteristics are revealed and it becomes possible to substantiate the objectivity of the knowledge reflecting them. However, the achievement of this result does not save the researcher from another important problem of the social sciences and humanities - the problem of the correlation of stability, stability of social characteristics and their variability. Yes, the perception of sociality as immediacy inevitably leads to the recognition of its "fluidity" (in the sense that in the history of philosophy is associated with the images of Heraclitus and Cratylus), but the "synthetic" nature of social reality also entails raising the question of the possibility of its "restructuring". It would seem that in each specific case (in one era or another and in one culture or another), the specificity of sociality is determined by a unique constellation of the determinations of social life that developed during the previous historical development. Does it make sense in this case to single out a certain "invariant", which, if we proceed only from the process of "phenomenological construction" of sociality, could be perceived as a "norm", or at least a guideline? (Obviously, only in relation to such a guideline can real society be understood as an original pattern in each particular case, reproducing, however, the necessary structural elements of the same phenomenological construct.) Can we believe that the model of sociality recreated in the "experience of consciousness" should be preserved in any concrete historical situation, and the laws of its evolution discovered by "Phenomenology" should be reproduced in a more or less "pure form" in the real historical experience of various peoples and epochs?

Ultimately, both in the Phenomenology of Spirit and in his later works, Hegel answers these questions in the affirmative. And the basis of his conviction that in socio-historical existence universal laws prevail over "historical accidents" is the idea according to which the starting point of the construction of sociality in phenomenological experience is the emergence of self-consciousness. The principled nature of this position for understanding the nature of sociality is due to the fact that self-consciousness no longer sees the truth in the subject, as the previous formations, but in itself, in unity with itself; at the same time, the connections due to the structural relations revealed in the "experience of consciousness" are predominant over the "external" influence of objectivity (hence the later the thesis about the consciousness of freedom as a criterion of social progress). In accordance with this, nothing can arise in socio-historical being that does not exist in the "transcendental prehistory", in sociality as a kind of transcendental-phenomenological "framework" of any manifestations of social life. The main points of constructing the initial form of sociality, which will be carried out in the sphere of self-consciousness (where there is no self-consciousness, there are also no social characteristics), we must now indicate.

The fragment of the text in which the plot of the doctrine of the nature of sociality originates is the introductory part of chapter IV [18, pp. 93-99]. Here, as in the introductory parts of most other sections, Hegel offers a "sketch" of the subsequent more specific description of the experience. In order to understand the nature of such passages of the work (localized, however, not only in the introductory parts of the sections), we must return to the above-mentioned moment of the method of "Phenomenology", namely: the content of these "anticipatory sketches" appears "while" (in the "time" of the "experience of consciousness") not "itself consciousness", but only "for us", for the "observing consciousness". (I think we should, if possible, preserve Hegel's insistent use of constructions describing the "experience of consciousness": the object appears in experience "to him", but "for us".) The observing "our consciousness", occupying a more "comfortable" position that allows him to perceive the movement of experience as a whole, already sees what the consciousness itself involved in the experience will see "later", and then the same content (but with many details, due to the "difficulty" of his experience) will be reproduced with his point of view. The movement of experience in this regard can be explained by comparing it with the course of the battle: the commander, who is located on the hill, already sees where the decisive battles are unfolding, the "logic" of the battle and its outcome are already clear to him, but it will become clear to the fighters only after the battle is over and only at the cost of terrible suffering.

Now, returning to the position of selfconsciousness as the starting point of the construction of sociality, let us pay attention to the fact that its objectivity is twofold - it is consciousness as its own object, and the objectivity of the previous stages of movement, which is preserved, except for the recognition of the independence of the existence of objects of sensory authenticity, perception and reason. But since, as already mentioned, self-consciousness sees the truth only in unity with itself, and not in the object, then this "external" component of the objectivity of self-consciousness must be removed, it appears to self-consciousness as something negative. The removal of objectivity in the process of constructing sociality Hegel designates as "lust" (die Begierde). "Lust" is the first concrete element of sociality in Hegel. Naturally, the question arises about the status of this and the following "concepts". Can they be called concepts? Strictly speaking, no, moreover, this is not a category, because we are talking about the "experience of consciousness", in which (especially at this rather early stage of the movement) the crystallization of the meanings of the concept is just beginning, the movement towards the element of the logical. Note that in "Phenomenology" all semantic formations have a sensory-intuitive component, which is associated with the figurative nature of speech in a significant part of the volume of this work. But in the context of our topic, we can afford not to delve into this problem, designating the fixed semantic formations of experience simply as elements of the construction of sociality.

Further, the subject of self-consciousness, which has a "negative character" in its perception, "for us or in itself" (here again, the "observing consciousness" of the author and the reader, the "commander", sees what "consciousness itself" does not yet see, which for self-consciousness immersed in experience still resides in "in to himself") "went back into himself, as well as consciousness .... Thanks to this reflection into himself, he became life"[18, p. 94]. So, the objective correlate of selfconsciousness is life, something alive; referring to this object with the character of negativity, self-consciousness acts as "lust". Returning several times to the ways of life in "Phenomenology", Hegel seeks to distinguish them terminologically. Thus, referring in the first section of chapter V to the same seemingly objective, but no longer with a "practical", but with a "cognitive" interest, he will designate it as "organic".

The subsequent disclosure of the concept of life puts the object of self-consciousness's lust "on the same level" with it, since in the way of life, as in the image of self-consciousness, "infinity" is revealed as the fundamental structure of speculative objectivity, to which, in fact, at each of the stages, the movement of its experience leads consciousness. Life appears as a process in which fluidity as its simple essence and the differences (species and individuals) residing in it simultaneously confront each other and merge into unity. As we can see, at the level of life as an object of selfconsciousness, the universal hostility of individuals that stimulates the emergence of society is reflected - "bellum omnium contra omnes" by T. Hobbes or "unsociable sociability" by I. Kant.

From the point of view of self-consciousness, the meaning of this experience is that in "lust" it establishes the insignificance of its object and thereby becomes convinced of its own authenticity. And then Hegel notes that in reality self-consciousness is not exhausted by "lust", the latter is only the first point of the movement of his experience. This correlation that opens up to the reader of what "our consciousness" already sees "anticipating" the experience, and how this picture will be transformed in connection with the activity of "consciousness itself" confirms the validity of the idea, according to which the role of general schemes, models, universal structures of social existence and their specific manifestations in the fabric the socio-historical life of mankind always remains problematic. Based on the material of "Phenomenology", it is revealed to us that the conceptual-categorical understanding of social reality as a kind of "antagonist" of the supposedly reliable (at least immoderately revered by some historians and sociologists) comprehension of socio-historical processes exclusively "on the basis of facts" is not the only way to understand social being.

Constructing social being as the most important "layer" of the "experience of consciousness", Hegel opens up the possibility of moving along the path of creating a kind of "phenomenology of socio-historical being", the distinctive feature of which (in comparison with his philosophy of spirit, philosophy of law, philosophy of history) is an appeal not to rational (logical) structures in the usual sense, but to the "gestalts" of the "experience of consciousness". Selfconsciousness, reason, spirit and other images of consciousness, realizing at each of its stages "infinity" as a speculative completion of its experience, do not exhaust the life of consciousness, in which all elements of experience are preserved - and, accordingly, manifest themselves in sociohistorical being, for example, the same "lust" as the basis of all subsequent structures of sociality.

So, self-consciousness again and again generates not only "lust", but also its object, therefore, it is also independent, is a necessary element of its experience. The independence ("subjectivity") of an object means that it is not just removed by self-consciousness, but is negation in itself, i.e. it has the same dialectical-speculative nature as consciousness. Hence the famous Hegelian statement about the "doubling of self-consciousness". If selfconsciousness as lust initially sees a "thing" in the object being filmed, then his experience reveals to him that this object is self-consciousness: "Self-consciousness reaches its satisfaction only in some other self-consciousness" [p. 98]. The "doubling of selfconsciousness" is the true birth of sociality, since in "lust" self-consciousness has not yet recognized itself in its subject, but now we can say that the "circle of self-consciousness" has closed.

And this closing "circle of selfconsciousness" is spirit ("for us there is already a concept of spirit" [18, p. 160]; however (let us recall again the main characteristic of the method of "experience of consciousness"), this truth is revealed so far only "for us", "our consciousness", whereas the consciousness we observe, "woven" into the difficult, dramatic movement of experience, will only have to survive two more "battles" within the boundaries of chapter IV, a detailed description of which will make up its main content.

Thus, sociality as a specific characteristic of the subject of consideration is formed in the "experience of consciousness" when the substance that forms the basis of individual self-consciousness acts as their "negative essence". In this respect, the activity of selfconsciousness can be illustrated by the example of its subject - life: in the genus, as a fluid negative essence of life, individual living beings disappear, and sociality as the substance of the life of self-consciousness also appears only in the struggle and mutual withdrawal of individual individuals. Lust, negation of another independent self-consciousness, gives impetus to the process of constructing sociality, and the spirit in which the "other" self-consciousness is accepted as "one's own" marks the culmination of this process. At the same time, only the negative attitude to the independence of another self-consciousness ("lust") is replaced by its "incorporation" into the emerging structure of sociality, its "removal" in the more familiar "dialectical" meaning, as a result of which sociality is formed as a "reflected unity" of independent self-consciousnesses entering into interaction.


Concluding the analysis of the process of constructing social being in the introductory part of chapter IV, let's take a look at its last sentence, in which Hegel, very figuratively presenting the achieved moment of the development of experience, essentially answers the question of the meaning of the sphere of sociality in the context of the "experience of consciousness" as a whole: "Only in selfconsciousness as a concept of spirit is the turning point of consciousness where it enters the spiritual daylight of the present from the colorful visibility of the sensuous worldly and from the empty darkness of the supersensible otherworldly" [18, p. 99].

As already mentioned, the description of socio-historical existence occupies a very large place in the text of the work, but what is the reason for this situation? This formula allows us to state that it is in sociality that Hegel sees the immanent element of the spirit found in the "experience of consciousness", in which its content is revealed and that degree of speculative concreteness is achieved, which under the name of "Absolute Knowledge" will crown the whole path of the "Phenomenology of the Spirit".


Peer Review

Peer reviewers' evaluations remain confidential and are not disclosed to the public. Only external reviews, authorized for publication by the article's author(s), are made public. Typically, these final reviews are conducted after the manuscript's revision. Adhering to our double-blind review policy, the reviewer's identity is kept confidential.
The list of publisher reviewers can be found here.

This article is devoted to the analysis of the problem of the social in Hegel's "Phenomenology of the Spirit". On the one hand, we can say that this is a well-developed and well-known problem, but, on the other hand, Hegel's work is so diverse that it is always possible to find some new facets or nuances that had not previously been paid attention to, or relevance was not in demand. As a starting point of the research, the author starts from the hypothesis of the relationship between self-consciousness and sociality, which turns out to be due to the need to disclose the content of self-consciousness, that is, a problem that is fundamentally important for Hegel's work. In fact, in the "Phenomenology of Spirit" the idea of constructing the internal structure of sociality begins to be realized in the description of the "experience of consciousness" from the introductory part of chapter IV. In the description of sociality, first of all, the process of constructing social relations is determined by the initial assumptions of the analysis of the "experience of consciousness", and not borrowed from the "historical memory". Therefore, in the form of a "description" of the forms of sociality, its "construction" actually appears. Fragmentary approaches to various aspects of social existence should still be understood in the perspective of their movement towards revealing the internal structure of social relations, and not as a fixation (albeit in the form of "theoretical understanding") famous epochs of historical life. At the same time, it can be noted that this topic is quite relevant at the present time, responding to numerous social demands and is present in numerous publications on socio-philosophical, sociological, psychological issues, and the concept of sociality today receives a very different semantic load from the generalized designation of socio-psychological characteristics of a person, the basis of socialization processes, etc. to the designation of a set social relations within the boundaries of an epoch or region. It should be noted that the work is written in detail, there is an appeal to numerous approaches and existing traditions of understanding, and not only those points of view that share the author's approach are taken into account, but also alternative points of view presented in the literature. I would like to specially note that as literary sources there is not only domestic, but also original literature, which is appropriately introduced into the domestic research field. In principle, one can agree with the author's statement that by constructing social being as a significant layer of the "experience of consciousness", Hegel opens up the possibility of moving towards the creation of a kind of "phenomenology of socio-historical being", the distinctive feature of which is an appeal not to rational structures in the usual sense, but to the phenomenology of the "experience of consciousness". The importance of the sphere of social relations in Hegel's "Phenomenology", in turn, is conditioned again by the idea of the "structural" identity of the internal content of the subject of activity and the system of its external relations. In other words, outside of the specified method of self-knowledge of the subject, it would simply be impossible to continue the disclosure of the content of consciousness on its way to the spirit, that is, the central idea of the entire work would remain unrealized. It seems that the issues under consideration will be of interest to a certain part of the journal's audience, besides, Hegel's philosophical ideas are the basis for a colossal conceptual block of socio-philosophical reflection from the point of view of the problem of method in socio-humanitarian cognition.
Link to this article

You can simply select and copy link from below text field.

Other our sites:
Official Website of NOTA BENE / Aurora Group s.r.o.