Genesis and Structure of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit

Hyppolite, Jean. Genesis and Structure of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, tr. John Heckman, 1974


The dialectic that Hegel presents in the first part of his book on consciousness is not very different from Fichte’s or Schelling’s. One must begin with naïve consciousness, which knows its object immediately or, rather, thinks that it knows it, and show that in the knowledge of its object it is in fact self-consciousness, knowledge of itself. The movement specific to the dialectic, a dialectic effected in three stages (sensuous consciousness, perception, understanding), is hence that movement which goes from consciousness to self-consciousness. Yet the object of this consciousness becomes for us the concept (Begriff). Hegel differs from Fichte and Schelling in that he does not start with self-consciousness, with the equation I = I, but reaches it while claiming to follow the very steps of non-philosophical consciousness.

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