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The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Vol. VII. by Various

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of this divine Idea--which is no mere Ideal--the phantom of a world
whose events are an incoherent concourse of fortuitous circumstances,
utterly vanishes. Philosophy wishes to discover the substantial purport,
the real side of the divine idea, and to justify the so much despised
reality of things; for Reason is the comprehension of the divine work.
But as to what concerns the perversion, corruption, and ruin of
religious, ethical, and moral purposes and states of society generally,
it must be affirmed that, in their essence, these are infinite and
eternal, but that the forms they assume may be of a limited order, and
consequently may belong to the domain of mere nature and be subject to
the sway of chance; they are therefore perishable and exposed to decay
and corruption. Religion and morality--in the same way as inherently
universal essences--have the peculiarity of being present in the
individual soul, in the full extent of their Idea, and therefore truly
and really; although they may not manifest themselves in it _in extenso_
and are not applied to fully developed relations. The religion, the
morality of a limited sphere of life, for instance that of a shepherd or
a peasant, in its intensive concentration and limitation to a few
perfectly simple relations of life has infinite worth--the same worth as
the religion and morality of extensive knowledge and of an existence
rich in the compass of its relations and actions. This inner focus, this
simple region of the claims of subjective freedom, the home of
volition, resolution, and action, the abstract sphere of
conscience--that which comprises the responsibility and moral value of
the individual--remains untouched and is quite shut out from the noisy
din of the world's history--including not merely external and temporal
changes but also those entailed by the absolute necessity inseparable
from the realization of the idea of freedom itself. But, as a general
truth, this must be regarded as settled, that whatever in the world
possesses claims as noble and glorious has nevertheless a higher
existence above it. The claim of the World-Spirit rises above all
special claims.

These observations may suffice in reference to the means which the
World-Spirit uses for realizing its Idea. Stated simply and abstractly,
this mediation involves the activity of personal existences in whom
Reason is present as their absolute, substantial being, but a basis, in
the first instance, still obscure and unknown to them. But the subject
becomes more complicated and difficult when we regard individuals not
merely in their aspect of activity, but more concretely, in conjunction
with a particular manifestation of that activity in their religion and
morality--forms of existence which are intimately connected with Reason
and share in its absolute claims. Here the relation of mere means to an
end disappears, and the chief bearings of this seeming difficulty in
reference to the absolute aim of Spirit have been briefly considered.

(3) The third point to be analyzed is, therefore: What is the object to
be realized by these means--that is, What is the form it assumes in the
realm of reality? We have spoken of means; but, in carrying out of a
subjective, limited aim, we have also to take into consideration the
element of a material either already present or which has to be
procured. Thus the question would arise: What is the material in which
the Ideal of Reason is wrought out? The primary answer would be:
Personality itself, human desires, subjectivity generally. In human
knowledge and volition as its material element Reason attains positive
existence. We have considered subjective volition where it has an object
which is the truth and essence of reality--viz., where it constitutes a
great world-historical passion. As a subjective will, occupied with
limited passions, it is dependent, and can gratify its desires only
within the limits of this dependence. But the subjective will has also a
substantial life, a reality, in which it moves in the region of
essential being and has the essential itself as the object of its
existence. This essential being is the union of the subjective with the
rational will; it is the moral whole, the _State_, which is that form of
reality in which the individual has and enjoys his freedom, but on the
condition of his recognizing, believing in, and willing that which is
common to the whole. And this must not be understood as if the
subjective will of the social unit attained its gratification and
enjoyment through that common will, as if this were a means provided for
its benefit, as if the individual, in his relations to other
individuals, thus limited his freedom, in order that this universal
limitation, the mutual constraint of all, might secure a small space of
liberty for each. Rather, we affirm, are law, morality, government, and
these alone, the positive reality and completion of freedom. Freedom of
a low and limited order is mere caprice, which finds its exercise in the
sphere of particular and limited desires.

Subjective volition, passion, is that which sets men in activity, that
which effects "practical" realization. The Idea is the inner spring of
action; the State is the actually existing, realized moral life. For it
is the unity of the universal, essential will, with that of the
individual; and this is "morality." The individual living in this unity
has a moral life and possesses a value that consists in this
substantiality alone. Sophocles in his _Antigone_ says, "The divine
commands are not of yesterday, nor of today; no, they have an infinite
existence, and no one could say whence they came." The laws of morality
are not accidental, but are the essentially rational. It is the very
object of the State that what is essential in the practical activity of
men and in their dispositions should be duly recognized; that it should
have a manifest existence and maintain its position. It is the absolute
interest of Reason that this moral whole should exist; and herein lies
the justification and merit of heroes who have founded States, however
rude these may have been. In the history of the world, only those
peoples can come under our notice which form a State; for it must be
understood that the State is the realization of freedom, i. e., of the
absolute final aim, and that it exists for its own sake. It must further
be understood that all the worth which the human being possesses--all
spiritual reality--he possesses only through the State. For his
spiritual reality consists in this, that his own essence, Reason, is
objectively present to him, that it possesses objective immediate
existence for him. Thus only is he fully conscious; thus only is he a
partaker of morality, of a just and moral social and political life. For
truth is the unity of the universal and subjective will; and the
universal is to be found in the State, in its laws, and in its universal
and rational arrangements. The State is the Divine Idea as it exists on
earth. We have in it, therefore, the object of history in a more
definite shape than before--that in which freedom obtains objectivity
and lives in the enjoyment of this objectivity. For law is the
objectivity of Spirit, volition in its true form. Only that will which
obeys law is free; for it obeys itself--it is independent and,
therefore, free. When the State or our country constitutes a community
of existence, when the subjective will of man submits to laws, the
contradiction between liberty and necessity vanishes. The rational has
necessary existence, as being the reality and substance of things, and
we are free in recognizing it as law and following it as the substance
of our own being. The objective and the subjective will are then
reconciled and present one identical homogeneous whole. For the
morality (_Sittlichkeit_) of the State is not of that ethical
(_moralische_) reflective kind, in which one's own conviction bears
sway; the latter is rather the peculiarity of the modern time, while the
true antique morality is based on the principle of abiding by one's duty
(to the State at large). An Athenian citizen did what was required of
him, as it were from instinct; but if I reflect on the object of my
activity I must have the consciousness that my will has been called into
exercise. But morality is duty--substantial right, a "second nature," as
it has been justly called; for the first nature of man is his primary,
merely animal, existence.

The development _in extenso_ of the idea of the State belongs to the
philosophy of jurisprudence; but it must be observed that in the
theories of our time various errors are current respecting it, which
pass for established truths and have become fixed prejudices. We will
mention only a few of them, giving prominence to such as have a
reference to the object of our history.

The error which first meets us is the direct opposite of our principle
that the State presents the realization of freedom--the opinion--that
man is free by nature, but that in society, in the State, to which
nevertheless he is irresistibly impelled, he must limit this natural
freedom. That man is free by nature is quite correct in one sense,
namely, that he is so according to the idea of humanity; but we imply
thereby that he is such only in virtue of his destiny--that he has an
undeveloped power to become such; for the "nature" of an object is
exactly synonymous with its "idea." But the view in question imports
more than this. When man is spoken of as "free by nature," the mode of
his existence as well as his destiny is implied; his merely natural and
primary condition is intended. In this sense a "state of nature" is
assumed in which mankind at large is in the possession of its natural
rights with the unconstrained exercise and enjoyment of its freedom.
This assumption is not raised to the dignity of the historical fact; it
would indeed be difficult, were the attempt seriously made, to point
out any such condition as actually existing or as having ever occurred.
Examples of a savage state of life can be pointed out, but they are
marked by brutal passions and deeds of violence; while, however rude and
simple their, conditions, they involve social arrangements which, to use
the common phrase, "restrain freedom." That assumption is one of those
nebulous images which theory produces, an idea which it cannot avoid
originating, but which it fathers upon real existence without sufficient
historical justification.

What we find such a state of nature to be, in actual experience, answers
exactly to the idea of a merely natural condition. Freedom as the ideal
of that which is original and natural does not exist as original and
natural; rather must it first be sought out and won, and that by an
incalculable medial discipline of the intellectual and moral powers. The
state of nature is, therefore, predominantly that of injustice and
violence, of untamed natural impulses, of inhuman deeds and feelings.
Limitation is certainly produced by society and the State, but it is a
limitation of the mere brute emotions and rude instincts, as also, in a
more advanced stage of culture, of the premeditated self-will of caprice
and passion. This kind of constraint is part of the instrumentality by
which only the consciousness of freedom and the desire for its
attainment, in its true--that is, its rational and ideal form--can be
obtained. To the ideal of freedom, law and morality are indispensably
requisite; and they are, in and for themselves, universal existences,
objects, and aims, which are discovered only by the activity of thought,
separating itself from the merely sensuous and developing itself in
opposition thereto, and which must, on the other hand, be introduced
into and incorporated with the originally sensuous will, and that
contrarily to its natural inclination. The perpetually recurring
misapprehension of freedom consists in regarding that term only in its
formal, subjective sense, abstracted from its essential objects and
aims; thus a constraint put upon impulse, desire, passion--pertaining to
the particular individual as such--a limitation of caprice and
self-will is regarded as a fettering of freedom. We should, on the
contrary, look upon such limitation as the indispensable proviso of
emancipation. Society and the State are the very conditions in which
freedom is realized.

We must notice a second view, contravening the principle of the
development of moral relations into a legal form. The patriarchal
condition is regarded, either in reference to the entire race of man or
to some branches of it, as exclusively that condition of things in which
the legal element is combined with a due recognition of the moral and
emotional parts of our nature, and in which justice, as united with
these, truly influences the intercourse of the social units. The basis
of the patriarchal condition is the family relation, which develops the
primary form of conscious morality, succeeded by that of the State as
its second phase. The patriarchal condition is one of transition, in
which the family has already advanced to the position of a race of
people, where the union, therefore, has already ceased to be simply a
bond of love and confidence and has become one of plighted service.

We must first examine the ethical principle of the Family, which may be
reckoned as virtually a single person, since its members have either
mutually surrendered their individual personality and consequently their
legal position toward one another, with the rest of their particular
interests and desires, as in the case of the parents, or, in the care of
children who are primarily in that merely natural condition already
mentioned, have not yet attained such an independent personality. They
live, therefore, in a unity of feeling, love, confidence, and faith in
one another, and, in a relation of mutual love, the one individual has
the consciousness of himself in the consciousness of another; he lives
out of self; and in this mutual self-renunciation each regains the life
that had been virtually transferred to the other--gains, in fact, the
other's existence and his own, as involved with that other. The ultimate
interests connected with the necessities and external concerns of life,
as well as the development that has to take place within their circle,
i. e., of the children, constitute a common object for the members of the
family. The spirit of the family--the _Penates_--form one substantial
being, as much as the spirit of a people in the State; and morality in
both cases consists in a feeling, a consciousness, and a will, not
limited to individual personality and interest, but embracing the common
interests of the members generally. But this unity is, in the case of
the family, essentially one of feeling, not advancing beyond the limits
of the merely natural. The piety of the family relation should be
respected in the highest degree by the State; by its means the State
obtains as its members individuals who are already moral (for as mere
persons they are not) and who, in uniting to form a State, bring with
them that sound basis of a political edifice--the capacity of feeling
one with a whole. But the expansion of the family to a patriarchal unity
carries us beyond the ties of blood-relationship--the simply natural
elements of that basis; and outside of these limits the members of the
community must enter upon the position of independent personality. A
review of the patriarchal condition, _in extenso_, would lead us to give
special attention to the theocratical constitution. The head of the
patriarchal clan is also its priest. If the family in its general
relations is not yet separated from civic society and the State, the
separation of religion from it has also not yet taken place; and so much
the less since the piety of the hearth is itself a profoundly subjective
state of feeling.

We have considered two aspects of freedom--the objective and the
subjective; if, therefore, freedom is asserted to consist in the
individuals of a State, all agreeing in its arrangements, it is evident
that only the subjective aspect is regarded. The natural inference from
this principle is, that no law can be valid without the approval of all.
It is attempted to obviate this difficulty by the decision that the
minority must yield to the majority; the majority therefore bears sway;
but long ago J.J. Rousseau remarked that, in that case, there would no
longer be freedom, for the will of the minority would cease to be
respected. At the Polish Diet each individual member had to give his
consent before any political step could be taken; and this kind of
freedom it was that ruined the State. Besides, it is a dangerous and
false prejudice that the people alone have reason and insight, and know
what justice is; for each popular faction may represent itself as the
people, and the question as to what constitutes the State is one of
advanced science and not of popular decision.

If the principle of regard for the individual will is recognized as the
only basis of political liberty, viz., that nothing should be done by or
for the State to which all the members of the body politic have not
given their sanction, we have, properly speaking, no constitution. The
only arrangement found necessary would be, first, a centre having no
will of its own, but which should take into consideration what appeared
to be the necessities of the State, and, secondly, a contrivance for
calling the members of the State together, for taking the votes, and for
performing the arithmetical operations of reckoning and comparing the
number of votes for the different propositions, and thereby deciding
upon them. The State is an abstraction, having even its generic
existence in its citizens; but it is an actuality, and its simply
generic existence must embody itself in individual will and activity.
The want of government and political administration in general is felt;
this necessitates the selection and separation from the rest of those
who have to take the helm in political affairs, to decide concerning
them, and to give orders to other citizens, with a view to the execution
of their plans. If, for instance, even the people in a democracy resolve
on a war, a general must head the army. It is only by a constitution
that the abstraction--the State--attains life and reality; but this
involves the distinction between those who command and those who obey.
Yet obedience seems inconsistent with liberty, and those who command
appear to do the very opposite of that which the fundamental idea of the
State, viz., that of freedom, requires. It is, however, urged that
though the distinction between commanding and obeying is absolutely
necessary, because affairs could not go on without it, and indeed, this
seems only a compulsory limitation, external to and even contravening
freedom in the abstract--the constitution should be at least so framed
that the citizens may obey as little as possible and the smallest
modicum of free volition be left to the commands of the superiors; that
the substance of that for which subordination is necessary, even in its
most important bearings, should be decided and resolved on by the
people, by the will of many or of all the citizens; though it is
supposed to be thereby provided that the State should be possessed of
vigor and strength as a reality--an individual unity. The primary
consideration is, then, the distinction between the governing and the
governed, and political constitutions in the abstract have been rightly
divided into monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy; this gives occasion,
however, for the remark that monarchy itself must be further divided
into despotism and monarchy proper; that in all the divisions to which
the leading idea gives rise, only the generic character is to be made
prominent, it being not intended thereby that the particular category
under review should be exhausted as a form, order, or kind in its
concrete development. But it must especially be observed that the above
mentioned divisions admit of a multitude of particular modifications--not
only such as lie within the limits of those classes themselves but also
such as are mixtures of several of these essentially distinct classes
and which are consequently misshapen, unstable, and inconsistent forms.
In such a collision, the concerning question is: What is the best
constitution--that is, by what arrangement, organization, or mechanism
of the power of the State can its object be most surely attained? This
object may indeed be variously understood; for instance, as the calm
enjoyment of life on part of the citizens, or as universal happiness.
Such aims have suggested the so-called ideals of constitutions, and,
as a particular branch of the subject, Ideals of the education of
princes (Fenelon), or of the governing body, the aristocracy at large
(Plato); for the chief point they treat of is the condition of those
subjects who stand at the head of affairs, and in these ideals the
concrete details of political organization are not at all considered.
The inquiry into the best constitution is frequently treated as if not
only the theory were an affair of subjective independent conviction,
but as if the introduction of a constitution recognized as the best,
or as superior to others, could be the result of a resolve adopted in
this theoretical manner, as if the form of a constitution were a matter
of free choice, determined by nothing else but reflection. Of this
artless fashion was that deliberation--not indeed of the Persian people,
but of the Persian grandees, who had conspired to overthrow the
pseudo-Smerdis and the Magi, after their undertaking had succeeded
and when there was no scion of the royal family living--as to what
constitution they should introduce into Persia; and Herodotus gives an
equally naive account of this deliberation.

In the present day, the constitution of a country and people is not
represented as so entirely dependent on free and deliberate choice. The
fundamental, but abstractly and therefore imperfectly, entertained
conception of freedom, has resulted in the republic being very generally
regarded--in theory--as the only just and true political constitution.
Even many who occupy elevated official positions under monarchical
constitutions, so far from being opposed to this idea are actually its
supporters; only they see that such a constitution, though the best,
cannot be realized under all circumstances, and that, while men are what
they are, we must be satisfied with less freedom, the monarchical
constitution, under the given circumstances and the present moral
condition of the people, being even regarded as the most advantageous.
In this view also the necessity of a particular constitution is made to
depend on the condition of the people as though the latter were
non-essential and accidental. This representation is founded on the
distinction which the reflective understanding makes between an idea and
the corresponding reality. This reflection holding to an abstract and
consequently untrue idea, not grasping it in its completeness, or--which
is virtually, though not in point of form, the same--not taking a
concrete view of a people and a State. We shall have to show, further,
on, that the constitution adopted by a people makes one substance, one
spirit, with its religion, its art, and its philosophy, or, at least,
with its conceptions, thoughts and culture generally--not to expatiate
upon the additional influences _ab extra_, of climate, of neighbors, of
its place in the world. A State is an individual totality, of which you
cannot select any particular side, although a supremely important one,
such as its political constitution, and deliberate and decide respecting
it in that isolated form. Not only is that constitution most intimately
connected with and dependent on those other spiritual forces, but the
form of the entire moral and intellectual individuality, comprising all
the forces it embodies, is only a step in the development of the grand
whole, with its place pre-appointed in the process--a fact which gives
the highest sanction to the constitution in question and establishes its
absolute necessity. The origin of a State involves imperious lordship on
the one hand, instinctive submission on the other. But even
obedience--lordly power, and the fear inspired by a ruler--in itself
implies some degree of voluntary connection. Even in barbarous states
this is the case; it is not the isolated will of individuals that
prevails; individual pretensions are relinquished, and the general will
is the essential bond of political union. This unity of the general and
the particular is the Idea itself, manifesting itself as a State, and
which subsequently undergoes further development within itself. The
abstract yet necessitated process in the development of truly
independent states is as follows: They begin with regal power, whether
of patriarchal or military origin; in the next phase, particularity and
individuality assert themselves in the form of aristocracy and
democracy; lastly, we have the subjection of these separate interests to
a single power, but one which can be absolutely none other than one
outside of which those spheres have an independent position, viz., the
monarchical. Two phases of royalty, therefore, must be distinguished--a
primary and a secondary. This process is necessitated to the end that
the form of government assigned to a particular stage of development
must present itself; it is therefore no matter of choice, but is the
form adapted to the spirit of the people.

In the constitution the main feature of interest is the self-development
of the rational, that is, the political condition of a people, the
setting free of the successive elements of the Idea, so that the several
powers in the State manifest themselves as separate, attain their
appropriate and special perfection, and yet, in this independent
condition, work together for one object and are held together by
it--i. e., form an organic whole. The State is thus the embodiment of
rational freedom, realizing and recognizing itself in an objective form.
For its objectivity consists in this--that its successive stages are not
merely ideal, but are present in an appropriate reality, and that in
their separate and several workings they are absolutely merged in that
agency by which the totality, the soul, the individuate unity, is
produced, and of which it is the result.

The State is the Idea of Spirit in the external manifestation of human
will and its freedom. It is to the State, therefore, that change in the
aspect of history indissolubly attaches itself; and the successive
phases of the idea manifest themselves in it as distinct political
principles. The constitutions under which world-historical peoples have
reached their culmination, are peculiar to them, and therefore do not
present a generally applicable political basis. Were it otherwise the
differences of similar constitutions would consist only in a peculiar
method of expanding and developing that generic basis, whereas they
really originate in diversity of principle. From the comparison
therefore of the political institutions of the ancient world-historical
peoples, it so happens that, for the most recent principle of a
constitution for the principle of our own times, nothing, so to speak,
can be learned. In science and art it is quite otherwise--that is, the
ancient philosophy is so decidedly the basis of the modern that it is
inevitably contained in the latter and constitutes its basis. In this
case the relation is that of a continuous development of the same
structure, whose foundation-stone, walls, and roof have remained what
they were. In art, the Greek itself, in its original form, furnishes us
the best models, but in regard to political constitution it is quite
otherwise; here the ancient and the modern have not their essential
principle in common. Abstract definitions and dogmas respecting just
government--importing that intelligence and virtue ought to bear
sway--are, indeed, common to both, but nothing is so absurd as to look
to Greeks, Romans, or Orientals, for models for the political
arrangements of our time. From the East may be derived beautiful
pictures of a patriarchal condition, of paternal government, and of
devotion to it on the part of peoples; from Greeks and Romans,
descriptions of popular liberty. Among the latter we find the idea of a
free constitution admitting all the citizens to a share in deliberations
and resolves respecting the affairs and laws of the commonwealth. In our
times, too, this is its general acceptation; only with this
modification, that--since our States are so large, and there are so many
of "the many," the latter (direct action being impossible) should by the
indirect method of elective substitution express their concurrence with
resolves affecting the common weal--that is, that for legislative
purposes generally the people should be represented by deputies. The
so-called representative constitution is that form of government with
which we connect the idea of a free constitution; and this notion has
become a rooted prejudice. On this theory people and government are
separated. But there is a perversity in this antithesis, an
ill-intentioned ruse designed to insinuate that the people are the
totality of the State. Besides, the basis of this view is the principle
of isolated individuality--the absolute validity of the subjective
will--a dogma which we have already investigated. The great point is
that freedom, in its ideal conception, has not subjective will and
caprice for its principle, but the recognition of the universal will,
and that the process by which freedom is realized is the free
development of its successive stages. The subjective will is a merely
formal determination--a _carte blanche_--not including what it is that
is willed. Only the rational will is that universal principle which
independently determines and unfolds its own being and develops its
successive elemental phases as organic members. Of this Gothic-cathedral
architecture the ancients knew nothing.

At an earlier stage of the discussion we established the two elemental
considerations: First, the _idea_ of freedom as the absolute and final
aim; secondly, the _means_ for realizing it, i. e., the subjective side
of knowledge and will, with its life, movement, and activity. We then
recognized the State as the moral whole and the reality of freedom, and
consequently as the objective unity of these two elements. For although
we make this distinction in two aspects for our consideration, it must
be remarked that they are intimately connected, and that their
connection is involved in the idea of each when examined separately. We
have, on the one hand, recognized the Idea in the definite form of
freedom, conscious of and willing itself, having itself alone as its
object, involving at the same time the pure and simple Idea of Reason
and, likewise, what we have called Subject, self-consciousness, Spirit,
actually existing in the world. If, on the other hand, we consider
subjectivity, we find that subjective knowledge and will is thought. But
by the very act of thoughtful cognition and volition, I will the
universal object--the substance of absolute Reason. We observe,
therefore, an essential union between the objective side--the Idea, and
the subjective side--the personality that conceives and wills it. The
objective existence of this union is the State, which is therefore the
basis and centre of the other concrete elements of the life of a
people--of art, of law, of morals, of religion, of science. All the
activity of Spirit has only this object--the becoming conscious of this
union, i. e., of its own freedom. Among the forms of this conscious union
_religion_ occupies the highest position. In it Spirit-rising above the
limitations of temporal and secular existence--becomes conscious of the
Absolute Spirit, and, in this consciousness of the Self-Existent Being,
renounces its individual interest; it lays this aside in devotion--a
state of mind in which it refuses to occupy itself any longer with the
limited and particular. By sacrifice man expresses his renunciation of
his property, his will, his individual feelings. The religious
concentration of the soul appears in the form of feeling; it
nevertheless passes also into reflection; a form of worship (_cultus_)
is a result of reflection. The second form of the union of the objective
and subjective in the human spirit is art; this advances farther into
the realm of the actual and sensuous than religion. In its noblest walk
it is occupied with representing, not, indeed, the Spirit of God, but
certainly the Form of God; and, in its secondary aims, that which is
divine and spiritual generally. Its office is to render visible the
divine, presenting it to the imaginative and intuitive faculty. But the
true is the object not only of conception and feeling, as in
religion--and of intuition, as in art--but also of the thinking faculty;
and this gives us the third form of the union in question--philosophy.
This is consequently the highest, freest, and wisest place. Of course we
are not intending to investigate these three phases here; they have only
suggested themselves in virtue of their occupying the same general
ground as the object here considered the _State._



TRANSLATED BY J. LOEWENBERG, PH.D. Assistant in Philosophy, Harvard



The State is the realization of the ethical idea. It is the ethical
spirit as revealed, self-conscious, substantial will. It is the will
which thinks and knows itself, and carries out what it knows, and in so
far as it knows. The unreflected existence of the State rests on custom,
and its reflected existence on the self-consciousness of the individual,
on his knowledge and activity. The individual, in return, has his
substantial freedom in the State, as the essence, purpose, and product
of his activity.

The true State is the ethical whole and the realization of freedom. It
is the absolute purpose of reason that freedom should be realized. The
State is the spirit, which lives in the world and there realizes itself
consciously; while in nature it is actual only as its own other or as
dormant spirit. Only as present in consciousness, knowing itself as an
existing object, is it the State. The State is the march of God through
the world, its ground is the power of reason realizing itself as will.
The idea of the State should not connote any particular State, or
particular institution; one must rather consider the Idea only, this
actual God, by itself. Because it is more easy to find defects than to
grasp the positive meaning, one readily falls into the mistake of
emphasizing so much the particular nature of the State as to overlook
its inner organic essence. The State is no work of art. It exists in the
world, and thus in the realm of caprice, accident, and error. Evil
behavior toward it may disfigure it on many sides. But the ugliest man,
the criminal, the invalid, and the cripple, are still living human
beings. The affirmative, life, persists in spite of defects, and it is
this affirmative which alone is here in question.

In the State, everything depends upon the unity of the universal and the
particular. In the ancient States the subjective purpose was absolutely
one with the will of the State. In modern times, on the contrary, we
demand an individual opinion, an individual will and conscience. The
ancients had none of these in the modern sense; the final thing for them
was the will of the State. While in Asiatic despotisms the individual
had no inner self and no self-justification, in the modern world man
demands to be honored for the sake of his subjective individuality.

The union of duty and right has the twofold aspect that what the State
demands as duty should directly be the right of the individual, since
the State is nothing but the organization of the concept of freedom. The
determinations of the individual will are given by the State
objectivity, and it is through the State alone that they attain truth
and realization. The State is the sole condition of the attainment of
the particular end and good.

Political disposition, called patriotism--the assurance resting in truth
and the will which has become a custom--is simply the result of the
institutions subsisting in the State, institutions in which reason is
actually present.

Under patriotism one frequently understands a mere willingness to
perform extraordinary acts and sacrifices. But patriotism is essentially
the sentiment of regarding, in the ordinary circumstances and ways of
life, the weal of the community as the substantial basis and the final
end. It is upon this consciousness, present in the ordinary course of
life and under all circumstances, that the disposition to heroic effort
is founded. But as people are often rather magnanimous than just, they
easily persuade themselves that they possess the heroic kind of
patriotism, in order to save themselves the trouble of having the truly
patriotic sentiment, or to excuse the lack of it.

Political sentiment, as appearance, must be distinguished from what
people truly will. What they at bottom will is the real cause, but they
cling to particular interests and delight in the vain contemplation of
improvements. The conviction of the necessary stability of the State in
which alone the particular interests can be realized, people indeed
possess, but custom makes invisible that upon which our whole existence
rests; it does not occur to any one, when he safely passes through the
streets at night, that it could be otherwise. The habit of safety has
become a second nature, and we do not reflect that it is the result of
the activity of special institutions. It is through force this is
frequently the superficial opinion-that the State coheres, but what
alone holds it together is the fundamental sense of order, which is
possessed by all.

The State is an organism or the development of the idea into its
differences. These different sides are the different powers of the State
with their functions and activities, by means of which the universal is
constantly and necessarily producing itself, and, being presupposed in
its own productive function, it is thus always actively present. This
organism is the political constitution. It eternally springs from the
State, just as the State in turn maintains itself through the
constitution. If these two things fall asunder, if both different sides
become independent of each other, then the unity which the constitution
produces is no longer operative; the fable of the stomach and the other
organs may be applied to it. It is the nature of an organism that all
its parts must constitute a certain unity; if one part asserts its
independence the other parts must go to destruction. No predicates,
principles, and the like suffice to express the nature of the State; it
must be comprehended as an organism.

The State is real, and its reality consists in the interest of the whole
being realized in particular ends. Actuality is always the unity of
universality and particularity, and the differentiation of the universal
into particular ends. These particular ends seem independent, though
they are borne and sustained by the whole only. In so far as this unity
is absent, no thing is real, though it may exist. A bad State is one
which merely exists. A sick body also exists; but it has no true
reality. A hand, which is cut off, still looks like a hand and exists,
but it has no reality. True reality is necessity. What is real is
internally necessary.

To the complete State belongs, essentially, consciousness and thought.
The State knows thus what it wills, and it knows it under the form of

The essential difference between the State and religion consists in that
the commands of the State have the form of legal duty, irrespective of
the feelings accompanying their performance; the sphere of religion, on
the other hand, is in the inner life. Just as the State, were it to
frame its commands as religion does, would endanger the right of the
inner life, so the church, if it acts as a State and imposes punishment,
degenerates into a tyrannical religion.

In the State one must want nothing which is not an expression of
rationality. The State is the world which the spirit has made for
itself; it has therefore a determinate and self-conscious course. One
often speaks of the wisdom of God in nature, but one must not believe
that the physical world of nature is higher than the world of spirit.
Just as spirit is superior to nature, so is the State superior to the
physical life. We must therefore adore the State as the manifestation of
the divine on earth, and consider that, if it is difficult to comprehend
nature, it is infinitely harder to grasp the essence of the State. It is
an important fact that we, in modern times, have attained definite
insight into the State in general and are much engaged in discussing and
making constitutions; but that does not advance the problem much. It is
necessary to treat a rational matter in the light of reason, in order to
learn its essential nature and to know that the obvious does not always
constitute the essential.

When we speak of the different functions of the powers of the State, we
must not fall into the enormous error of supposing each power to have an
abstract, independent existence, since the powers are rather to be
differentiated as elements in the conception of the State. Were the
powers to be in abstract independence, however, it is clear that two
independent things could never constitute a unity, but must produce war,
and the result would be destruction of the whole or restoration of unity
by force. Thus, in the French Revolution, at one time the legislative
power had swallowed up the executive, at another time the executive had
usurped the legislative power.


The constitution is rational, in so far as the State defines and
differentiates its functions according to the nature of its concept.

Who shall make the constitution? This question seems intelligible, yet
on closer examination reveals itself as meaningless, for it presupposes
the existence of no constitution, but only a mere mass of atomic
individuals. How a mass of individuals is to come by a constitution,
whether by its own efforts or by those of others, whether by goodness,
thought, or force, it must decide for itself, for with a disorganized
mob the concept of the State has nothing to do. But if the question does
presuppose an already existing constitution, then to make a constitution
means only to change it. The presupposition of a constitution implies,
however, at once, that any modification in it must take place
constitutionally. It is absolutely essential that the constitution,
though having a temporal origin, should not be regarded as made. It (the
principle of constitution) is rather to be conceived as absolutely
perpetual and rational, and therefore as divine, substantial, and above
and beyond the sphere of what is made.

Subjective freedom is the principle of the whole modern world--the
principle that all essential aspects of the spiritual totality should
develop and attain their right. From this point of view one can hardly
raise the idle question as to which form is the better, monarchy or
democracy. One can but say that the forms of all constitutions are
one-sided that are not able to tolerate the principle of free
subjectivity and that do not know how to conform to the fully developed

Since spirit is real only in what it knows itself to be, and since the
State, as the nation's spirit, is the law permeating all its affairs,
its ethical code, and the consciousness of its individuals, the
constitution of a people chiefly depends upon the kind and the character
of its self-consciousness. In it lies both its subjective freedom and
the reality of the constitution.

To think of giving a people a constitution _a priori_, though according
to its content a more or less rational one--such a whim would precisely
overlook that element which renders a constitution more than a mere
abstract object. Every nation, therefore, has the constitution which is
appropriate to it and belongs to it.

The State must, in its constitution, permeate all situations. A
constitution is not a thing just made; it is the work of centuries, the
idea and the consciousness of what is rational, in so far as it is
developed in a people. No constitution, therefore, is merely created by
the subjects of the State. The nation must feel that its constitution
embodies its right and its status, otherwise the constitution may exist
externally, but has no meaning or value. The need and the longing for a
better constitution may often indeed be present in individuals, but that
is quite different from the whole multitude being permeated with such an
idea--that comes much later. The principle of morality, the inwardness
of Socrates originated necessarily in his day, but it took time before
it could pass into general self-consciousness.


Because sovereignty contains in ideal all special privileges, the common
misconception is quite natural, which takes it to be mere force, empty
caprice, and synonymous with despotism. But despotism means a state of
lawlessness, in which the particular will as such, whether that of
monarch or people (_ochlocracy_), is the law, or rather instead of the
law. Sovereignty, on the contrary, constitutes the element of ideality
of particular spheres and functions under lawful and constitutional

The sovereignty of the people, conceived in opposition to the
sovereignty residing in the monarch, stands for the common view of
democracy, which has come to prevail in modern times. The idea of the
sovereignty of the people, taken in this opposition, belongs to a
confused idea of what is commonly and crudely understood by "the
people." The people without its monarch and without that whole
organization necessarily and directly connected with him is a formless
mass, which is no longer a State. In a people, not conceived in a
lawless and unorganized condition, but as a self-developed and truly
organic totality--in such a people sovereignty is the personality of the
whole, and this is represented in reality by the person of the monarch.

The State must be regarded as a great architectonic edifice, a
hieroglyph of reason, manifesting itself in reality. Everything
referring merely to utility, externality, and the like, must be excluded
from its philosophic treatment. That the State is the self-determining
and the completely sovereign will, the final decision being necessarily
referred to it--that is easy to comprehend. The difficulty lies in
grasping this "I will" as a person. By this it is not meant that the
monarch can act arbitrarily. He is bound, in truth, by the concrete
content of the deliberations of his council, and, when the constitution
is stable, he has often nothing more to do than to sign his name--but
this name is important; it is the point than which there is nothing

It may be said that an organic State has already existed in the
beautiful democracy of Athens. The Greeks, however, derived the final
decision from entirely external phenomena, from oracles, entrails of
sacrificial animals, and from the flight of birds. Nature they
considered as a power which in this wise made known and gave expression
to what was good for the people. Self-consciousness had at that time not
yet attained to the abstraction of subjectivity; it had not yet come to
the realization that an "I will" must be pronounced by man himself
concerning the decisions of the State. This "I will" constitutes the
great difference between the ancient and the modern world, and must
therefore have its peculiar place in the great edifice of the State.
Unfortunately this modern characteristic is regarded as merely external
and arbitrary.

It is often maintained against the monarch that, since he may be
ill-educated or unworthy to stand at the helm of the State, its fortunes
are thus made to depend upon chance. It is therefore absurd to assume
the rationality of the institution of the monarch. The presupposition,
however, that the fortunes of the State depend upon the particular
character of the monarch is false. In the perfect organization of the
State the important thing is only the finality of formal decision and
the stability against passion. One must not therefore demand objective
qualification of the monarch; he has but to say "yes" and to put the dot
upon the "i." The crown shall be of such a nature that the particular
character of its bearer is of no significance. Beyond his function of
administering the final decision, the monarch is a particular being who
is of no concern. Situations may indeed arise in which his particularity
alone asserts itself, but in that case the State is not yet fully
developed, or else is ill constructed. In a well-ordered monarchy the
law alone has objective power to which the monarch has but to affix the
subjective "I will."

Monarchs do not excel in bodily strength or intellect, and yet millions
permit themselves to be ruled by them. To say that the people permit
themselves to be governed contrary to their interests, aims, and
intentions is preposterous, for people are not so stupid. It is their
need, it is the inner power of the idea, which, in opposition to their
apparent consciousness, urges them to this situation and retains them

Out of the sovereignty of the monarch flows the prerogative of pardoning
criminals. Only to the sovereignty belongs the spiritual power to undo
what has been done and to cancel the crime by forgiving and forgetting.

Pardon is the remission of punishment, but does not abolish right. Right
remains, and the pardoned is a criminal as he was before the pardon. The
act of mercy does not mean that no crime has been committed. This
remission of punishment may be effected in religion, for by and in
spirit what has been done can be made un-done. But in so far as
remission occurs in the world, it has its place only in majesty and is
due only to its arbitrary decision.


The main point upon which the function of the government depends is the
division of labor. This division is concerned with the transition from
the universal to the particular and the individual; and the business is
to be divided according to the different branches. The difficulty lies
in harmonizing the superior and the inferior functions. For some time
past the main effort has been spent in organizing from above, the lower
and bulky part of the whole being left more or less unorganized; yet it
is highly important that it should become organic, for only thus is it a
power and a force; otherwise it is but a heap or mass of scattered
atoms. Authoritative power resides only in the organic state of the
particular spheres.

The State cannot count on service which is capricious and voluntary (the
administration of justice by knights-errant, for instance), precisely
because it is capricious and voluntary. Such service presupposes acting
according to subjective opinion, and also the possibility of neglect and
of the realization of private ends. The opposite extreme to the
knight-errant in reference to public service would be the State-servant
who was attached to his task solely by want, without genuine duty and

The efficiency of the State depends upon individuals, who, however, are
not entitled to carry on the business of the State through natural
fitness, but according to their objective qualification. Ability, skill,
character, belong to the particular nature of the individual; for a
particular office, however, he must be specially educated and trained.
An office in the State can, therefore, be neither sold nor bequeathed.

Public service demands the sacrifice of independent self-satisfaction
and the giving up of the pursuit of private ends, but grants the right
of finding these in dutiful service, and in it only. Herein lies the
unity of the universal and the particular interests which constitutes
the concept and the inner stability of the State.

The members of the executive and the officials of the State form the
main part of the middle class which represents the educated intelligence
and the consciousness of right of the mass of a people. This middle
class is prevented by the institutions of sovereignty from above and the
rights of corporation from below, from assuming the exclusive position
of an aristocracy and making education and intelligence the means for
caprice and despotism. Thus the administration of justice, whose object
is the proper interest of all individuals, had at one time been
perverted into an instrument of gain and despotism, owing to the fact
that the knowledge of the law was hidden under a learned and foreign
language, and the knowledge of legal procedure under an involved

In the middle class, to which the State officials belong, resides the
consciousness of the State and the most conspicuous cultivation: the
middle class constitutes therefore the ground pillar of the State in
regard to uprightness and intelligence. The State in which there is no
middle class stands as yet on no high level.


The legislature is concerned with the interpretation of the laws and
with the internal affairs of the State, in so far as they have a
universal content. This function is itself a part of the constitution
and thus presupposes it. Being presupposed, the constitution lies, to
that degree, outside the direct province of the legislature, but in the
forward development of the laws and the progressive character of the
universal affairs of government, the constitution receives its
development also.

The constitution must alone be the firm ground on which the legislature
stands; hence it must not be created for purposes of legislation. But
the constitution not only is, its essence is also to _become_--that is,
it progresses with the advance of civilization. This progress is an
alteration which is imperceptible, but has not the form of an
alteration. Thus, for example, the emperor was formerly judge, and went
about the empire administering justice. Through the merely apparent
advance of civilization it has become practically necessary that the
emperor should gradually yield his judicial function to others, and thus
came about the transition of the judicial function from the person of
the prince to a body of judges; thus the progress of any condition is an
apparently calm and imperceptible one. In this way and after a lapse of
time a constitution attains a character quite different from what it had

In the legislative power as a whole are operative both the monarchical
element and the executive. To the former belongs the final decision; the
latter as advisory element possesses concrete knowledge, perspective
over the whole in all its ramifications, and acquaintance with the
objective principles and wants of the power of the State. Finally, in
the legislature the different classes or estates are also active. These
classes or estates represent in the legislature the element of
subjective formal freedom, the public consciousness, the empirical
totality of the views and thought of the many.

The expression "The Many" [Greek: oi polloi] characterizes the empirical
totality more correctly than the customary word "All." Though one may
reply that, under this "all," children, women, etc., are obviously meant
to be excluded, yet it is more obvious that the definite expression
"all" should not be used when something quite indefinite is in question.

There are, in general, current among the public so unspeakably many
distorted and false notions and phrases about the people, the
constitution, and the classes, that it would be a vain task to mention,
explain, and correct them. The prevalent idea concerning the necessity
and utility of an assembly of estates amounts to the assumption that the
people's deputies, nay, the people itself, best understand what would
promote the common weal, and that they have indubitably the good will to
promote it. As for the first point, the case is just the reverse. The
people, in so far as this term signifies a special part of the citizens,
stands precisely for the part that does not know what it wills. To know
what one wills, and, what is more difficult, to know what the absolute
will, viz., reason, wills, is the fruit of deep knowledge and insight;
and that is obviously not a possession of the people. As for the
especially good will, which the classes are supposed to have for the
common good, the usual point of view of the masses is the negative one
of suspecting the government of a will which is evil or of little good.

The attitude of the government toward the classes must not be
essentially a hostile one. Belief in the necessity of this hostile
relation is a sad mistake. The government is not one party in opposition
to another, so that both are engaged in wresting something from each
other. When the State is in such a situation it is a misfortune and not
a mark of health. Furthermore, the taxes, for which the classes vote,
are not to be looked upon as gifts, but are consented to for the best
interests of those consenting. What constitutes the true meaning of the
classes is this--that through them the State enters into the subjective
consciousness of the people and thus the people begin to share in the

In despotic countries, where there are only princes and people, the
people assert themselves, whenever they act, as a destructive force
directed against the organization, but the masses, when they become
organically related to the State, obtain their interests in a lawful and
orderly way. When this organic relation is lacking, the self-expression
of the masses is always violent; in despotic States the despot shows,
therefore, indulgence for his people, and his rage is always felt by
those surrounding him. Moreover, the people of a despotic State pay
light taxes, which in a constitutional State are increased through the
very consciousness of the people. In no other country are taxes so heavy
as they are in England.

There exists a current notion to the effect that, since the private
class is raised in the legislature to a participation in the universal
cause, it must appear in the form of individuals--either that
representatives are chosen for the function, or that every individual
exercises a vote. This abstract atomic view prevails neither in the
family nor in civic society, in both of which the individual appears
only as a member of a universal. The State, however, is in essence an
organization of members, and these members are themselves spheres; in it
no element shall show itself as an unorganized mass. The many, as
individuals, whom one chooses to call the people, are indeed a
collection, but only as a multitude, a formless mass, whose movement and
action would be elemental, irrational, savage, and terrible.

The concrete State is the whole, organized into its particular spheres,
and the member of the State is a member of such a particular class.
Only in this objective determination can the individual find recognition
in the State. Only in his cooeperate capacity, as member of the community
and the like, can the individual first find a real and vital place in
the universal. It remains, of course, open to him to rise through his
skill to any class for which he can qualify himself, including even the
universal class.

It is a matter of great advantage to have among the delegates
representatives of every special branch of society, such as trade,
manufacture, etc.--individuals thoroughly familiar with their branch and
belonging to it. In the notion of a loose and indefinite election this
important matter is left to accident; every branch, however, has the
same right to be represented as every other. To view the delegates as
representatives has, then, an organic and rational meaning only if they
are not representatives of mere individuals, of the mere multitude, but
of one of the essential spheres of society and of its large interests.
Representation thus no longer means substitution of one person by
another, but it means, rather, that the interest itself is actually
present in the representative.

Of the elections by many separate individuals it may be observed that
there is necessarily an indifference, especially in large States, about
using one's vote, since one vote is of such slight importance; and those
who have the right to vote will not do so, no matter how much one may
extol the privilege of voting. Hence this institution turns into the
opposite of what it stands for. The election becomes the business of a
few, of a single party, of a special interest, which should, in fact, be

Through the publicity of the assembly of classes public opinion first
acquires true thoughts and an insight into the condition and the notion
of the State and its affairs, and thus develops the capacity of judging
more rationally concerning them; it learns, furthermore, to know and
respect the routine, talents, virtues, and skill of the authorities and
officers of the State. While publicity stimulates these talents in
their further development and incites their honorable display, it is
also an antidote for the pride of individuals and of the multitude, and
is one of the greatest opportunities for their education.

It is a widespread popular notion that everybody already knows what is
good for the State, and that it is this common knowledge which finds
expression in the assembly. Here, in the assembly, are developed
virtues, talents, skill, which have to serve as examples. To be sure,
the ministers may find these assemblies onerous, for ministers must
possess large resources of wit and eloquence to resist the attacks which
are hurled against them. Nevertheless, publicity is one of the best
means of instruction in the interests of the State generally, for where
publicity is found the people manifest an entirely different regard for
the State than in those places where there are no assemblies or where
they are not public. Only through the publication of every one of their
proceedings are the chambers related to the larger public opinion; and
it is shown that what one imagines at home with his wife and friends is
one thing, and what happens in a great assembly, where one feat of
eloquence wrecks another, is quite a different thing.


Public opinion is the unorganized way in which what a people wants and
thinks is promulgated. That which is actually effective in the State
must be so in an organic fashion. In the constitution this is the case.
But at all times public opinion has been a great power, and it is
particularly so in our time, when the principle of subjective freedom
has such importance and significance. What shall now prevail, prevails
no longer through force, little through use and custom, but rather
through insight and reasons.

Public opinion contains, therefore, the eternal substantial principles
of justice, the true content, and the result of the whole constitution,
legislation, and the universal condition in general. The form
underlying public opinion is sound common sense, which is a fundamental
ethical principle winding its way through everything, in spite of
prepossessions. But when this inner character is formulated in the shape
of general propositions, partly for their own sake, partly for the
purpose of actual reasoning about events, institutions, relations, and
the recognized wants of the State, there appears also the whole
character of accidental opinion, with its ignorance and perversity, its
false knowledge and incorrect judgment.

It is therefore not to be regarded as merely a difference in subjective
opinion when it is asserted on the one hand--

"Vox populi, vox dei";

and on the other (in Ariosto, for instance)--[2]

"Che'l Volgare ignorante ogn' un riprenda
E parli piue di quel che meno intenda."

Both sides co-exist in public opinion. Since truth and endless error are
so directly united in it, neither one nor the other side is truly in
earnest. Which one is in earnest, is difficult to decide--difficult,
indeed, if one confines oneself to the direct expression of public
opinion. But as the substantial principle is the inner character of
public opinion, this alone is its truly earnest aspect; yet this insight
cannot be obtained from public opinion itself, for a substantial
principle can only be apprehended apart from public opinion and by a
consideration of its own nature. No matter with what passion an opinion
is invested, no matter with what earnestness a view is asserted,
attacked, and defended, this is no criterion of its real essence. And
least of all could public opinion be made to see that its seriousness is
nothing serious at all.

A great mind has publicly raised the question whether it is permissible
to deceive a people. The answer is that a people will not permit itself
to be deceived concerning its substantial basis, the essence, and the
definite character of its spirit, but it deceives itself about the way
in which it knows this, and according to which it judges of its acts,
events, etc.

Public opinion deserves, therefore, to be esteemed as much as to be
despised; to be despised for its concrete consciousness and expression,
to be esteemed for its essential fundamental principle, which only
shines, more or less dimly, through its concrete expression. Since
public opinion possesses within itself no standard of discrimination, no
capacity to rise to a recognition of the substantial, independence of it
is the first formal condition of any great and rational enterprise (in
actuality as well as in science). Anything great and rational is
eventually sure to please public opinion, to be espoused by it, and to
be made one of its prepossessions.

In public opinion all is false and true, but to discover the truth in it
is the business of the great man. The great man of his time is he who
expresses the will and the meaning of that time, and then brings it to
completion; he acts according to the inner spirit and essence of his
time, which he realizes. And he who does not understand how to despise
public opinion, as it makes itself heard here and there, will never
accomplish anything great.


The freedom of public utterance (of which the press is one means, having
advantage over speech in its more extended reach, though inferior to it
in vivacity), the gratification of that prickling impulse to express and
to have expressed one's opinion, is directly controlled by the police
and State laws and regulations, which partly hinder and partly punish
its excesses. The indirect guarantee lies in its innocuousness, and
this again is mainly based on the rationality of the constitution, the
stability of the government, and also on the publicity given to the
assemblies of the classes. Another security is offered by the
indifference and contempt with which insipid and malicious words are, as
a rule, quickly met.

The definition of the freedom of the press as freedom to say and write
what one pleases, is parallel to the one of freedom in general, viz., as
freedom to do what one pleases. Such views belong to the uneducated
crudity and superficiality of naive thinking. The press, with its
infinite variety of content and expression, represents what is most
transient, particular, and accidental in human opinion. Beyond the
direct incitation to theft, murder, revolt, etc., lies the art of
cultivating the expression which in itself seems general and indefinite
enough, but which, in a measure, conceals a perfectly definite meaning.
Such expressions are partly responsible for consequences of which, since
they are not actually expressed, one is never sure how far they are
contained in the utterances and really follow from them. It is this
indefiniteness of the content and form of the press which prevents the
laws governing it from assuming that precision which one demands of
laws. Thus the extreme subjectivity of the wrong, injury, and crime
committed by the press, causes the decision and sentence to be equally
subjective. The laws are not only indefinite, but the press can, by the
skill and subtlety of its expressions, evade them, or criticise the
judgment of the court as wholly arbitrary. Furthermore, if the utterance
of the press is treated as an offensive deed, one may retort that it is
not a deed at all, but only an opinion, a thought, a mere saying.
Consequently, impunity is expected for opinions and words, because they
are merely subjective, trivial, and insignificant, and, in the same
breath, great respect and esteem is demanded for these opinions and
words--for the opinions, because they are mine and my mental property,
and for the words, because they are the free expression and use of that
property. And yet the basic principle remains that injury to the honor
of individuals generally, abuse, libel, contemptuous caricaturing of the
government, its officers and officials, especially the person of the
prince, defiance of the laws, incitement to revolt, etc., are all
offenses and crimes of different grades.

However, the peculiar and dangerous effect of these acts for the
individuals, the community, and the State depends upon the nature of the
soil on which they are committed, just as a spark, if thrown upon a heap
of gunpowder, has a much more dangerous result than if thrown on the
mere ground, where it vanishes and leaves no trace. But, on the whole, a
good many such acts, though punishable by law, may come under a certain
kind of nemesis which internal impotence is forced to bring about. In
entering upon opposition to the superior talents and virtues, by which
impotence feels oppressed, it comes to a realization of its inferiority
and to a consciousness of its own nothingness, and the nemesis, even
when bad and odious, is, by treating it with contempt, rendered
ineffectual. Like the public, which forms a circle for such activity, it
is confined to a harmless malicious joy, and to a condemnation which
reflects upon itself.


There is an ethical element in war. It must not be regarded as an
absolute ill, or as merely an external calamity which is accidentally
based upon the passions of despotic individuals or nations, upon acts of
injustice, and, in general, upon what ought not to be. The recognition
of the finite, such as property and life, as accidental, is necessary.
This necessity is at first wont to appear under the form of a force of
nature, for all things finite are mortal and transient. In the ethical
order, in the State, however, nature is robbed of its force, and the
necessity is exalted to a work of freedom, to an ethical law. The
transient and negative nature of all things is transformed in the State
into an expression of the ethical will. War, often painted by edifying
speech as a state in which the vanity of temporal things is
demonstrated, now becomes an element whereby the ideal character of the
particular receives its right and reality. War has the deep meaning that
by it the ethical health of the nations is preserved and their finite
aims uprooted. And as the winds which sweep over the ocean prevent the
decay that would result from its perpetual calm, so war protects the
people from the corruption which an everlasting peace would bring upon
it. History shows phases which illustrate how successful wars have
checked internal unrest and have strengthened the entire stability of
the State.

In peace, civic life becomes more extended, every sphere is hedged in
and grows immobile, and at last all men stagnate, their particular
nature becoming more and more hardened and ossified. Only in the unity
of a body is health, and, where the organs become stiff, there is death.
Eternal peace is often demanded as an ideal toward which mankind should
move. Thus Kant proposed an alliance of princes, which should settle the
controversies of States, and the Holy Alliance probably aspired to be an
institution of this kind. The State, however, is individual, and in
individuality negation is essentially contained. A number of States may
constitute themselves into a family, but this confederation, as an
individuality, must create an opposition and so beget an enemy. Not only
do nations issue forth invigorated from their wars, but those nations
torn by internal strife win peace at home as a result of war abroad. War
indeed causes insecurity in property, but this real insecurity is only a
necessary commotion. From the pulpits much is preached concerning the
insecurity, vanity, and instability of temporal things, and yet every
one, though he may be touched by his own words, thinks that he, at
least, will manage to hold on to his possessions. Let the insecurity
finally come, in the form of Hussars with glistening sabres, and show
its earnest activity, and that touching edification which foresaw all
this now turns upon the enemy with curses. In spite of this, wars will
break out whenever necessity demands them; but the seeds spring up anew,
and speech is silenced before the grave repetitions of history.

The military class is the class of universality. The defense of the
State is its privilege, and its duty is to realize the ideality
contained in it, which consists in self-sacrifice. There are different
kinds of bravery. The courage of the animal, or the robber, the bravery
which arises from a sense of honor, the chivalrous bravery, are not yet
the true forms of it. In civilized nations true bravery consists in the
readiness to give oneself wholly to the service of the State, so that
the individual counts but as one among many. Not personal valor, but the
important aspect of it, lies in self-subordination to the universal

To risk one's life is indeed something more than mere fear of death, but
this is only negative; only a positive character--an aim and
content--gives meaning to bravery. Robbers and murderers in the pursuit
of crime, adventurers in the search of their fanciful objects, etc.,
also possess courage, and do not fear death. The principle of the modern
world--the power of thought and of the universal--has given to bravery a
higher form; the higher form causes the expression of bravery to appear
more mechanical. The brave deeds are not the deeds of any particular
person, but those of the members of a whole. And, again, since hostility
is directed, not against separate individuals, but against a hostile
whole, personal valor appears as impersonal. This principle it is which
has caused the invention of the gun; it is not a chance invention that
has brought about the change of the mere personal form of bravery into
the more abstract.


Just as the individual is not a real person unless related to other
persons, so the State is no real individuality unless related to other
States. The legitimate power of a State, and more especially its
princely power, is, from the point of view of its foreign relations, a
wholly internal affair. A State shall, therefore, not interfere with the
internal affairs of another State. On the other hand, for a complete
State, it is essential that it be recognized by others; but this
recognition demands as a guarantee that it shall recognize those States
which recognize it, and shall respect their independence. Hence its
internal affairs cannot be a matter of indifference to them.

When Napoleon, before the peace of Campoformio, said, "The French
Republic requires recognition as little as the sun needs to be
recognized," his words suggest nothing but the strength of existence,
which already carries with it the guarantee of recognition, without
needing to be expressed.

When the particular wills of the State can come to no agreement their
controversy can be decided only by war. What offense shall be regarded
as a breach of a treaty, or as a violation of respect and honor, must
remain indefinite, since many and various injuries can easily accrue
from the wide range of the interests of the States and from the complex
relations of their citizens. The State may identify its infinitude and
honor with every one of its single aspects. And if a State, as a strong
individuality, has experienced an unduly protracted internal rest, it
will naturally be more inclined to irritability, in order to find an
occasion and field for intense activity.

The nations of Europe form a family according to the universal principle
of their legislation, their ethical code, and their civilization. But
the relation among States fluctuates, and no judge exists to adjust
their differences. The higher judge is the universal and absolute Spirit
alone--the World-Spirit.

The relation of one particular State to another presents, on the largest
possible scale, the most shifting play of individual passions,
interests, aims, talents, virtues, power, injustice, vice, and mere
external chance. It is a play in which even the ethical whole, the
independence of the State, is exposed to accident. The principles which
control the many national spirits are limited. Each nation as an
existing individuality is guided by its particular principles, and only
as a particular individuality can each national spirit win objectivity
and self-consciousness; but the fortunes and deeds of States in their
relation to one another reveal the dialectic of the finite nature of
these spirits. Out of this dialectic rises the universal Spirit, the
unlimited World-Spirit, pronouncing its judgment--and its judgment is
the highest--upon the finite nations of the world's history; for the
history of the world is the world's court of justice.



TRANSLATED BY J. LOEWENBERG, PH.D. Assistant in Philosophy, Harvard


The appropriate expression for our subject is the "Philosophy of Art,"
or, more precisely, the "Philosophy of Fine Arts." By this expression we
wish to exclude the beauty of nature. In common life we are in the habit
of speaking of beautiful color, a beautiful sky, a beautiful river,
beautiful flowers, beautiful animals, and beautiful human beings. But
quite aside from the question, which we wish not to discuss here, how
far beauty may be predicated of such objects, or how far natural beauty
may be placed side by side with artistic beauty, we must begin by
maintaining that artistic beauty is higher than the beauty of nature.
For the beauty of art is beauty born--and born again--of the spirit. And
as spirit and its products stand higher than nature and its phenomena,
by so much the beauty that resides in art is superior to the beauty of

To say that spirit and artistic beauty stand higher than natural beauty,
is to say very little, for "higher" is a very indefinite expression,
which states the difference between them as quantitative and external.
The "higher" quality of spirit and of artistic beauty does not at all
stand in a merely relative position to nature. Spirit only is the true
essence and content of the world, so that whatever is beautiful is truly
beautiful only when it partakes of this higher essence and is produced
by it. In this sense natural beauty appears only as a reflection of the
beauty that belongs to spirit; it is an imperfect and incomplete
expression of the spiritual substance.

[Illustration: ROYAL OLD MUSEUM IN BERLIN _By Schinkel_]

Confining ourselves to artistic beauty, we must first consider certain
difficulties. The first that suggests itself is the question whether art
is at all worthy of a philosophic treatment. To be sure, art and beauty
pervade, like a kindly genius, all the affairs of life, and joyously
adorn all its inner and outer phases, softening the gravity and the
burden of actual existence, furnishing pleasure for idle moments, and,
where it can accomplish nothing positive, driving evil away by occupying
its place. Yet, although art wins its way everywhere with its pleasing
forms, from the crude adornment of the savages to the splendor of the
temple with its marvelous wealth of decoration, art itself appears to
fall outside the real aims of life. And though the creations of art
cannot be said to be directly disadvantageous to the serious purposes of
life, nay, on occasion actually further them by holding evil at bay, on
the whole, art belongs to the relaxation and leisure of the mind, while
the substantial interests of life demand its exertion. At any rate, such
a view renders art a superfluity, though the tender and emotional
influence which is wrought upon the mind by occupation with art is not
thought necessarily detrimental, because effeminate.

There are others, again, who, though acknowledging art to be a luxury,
have thought it necessary to defend it by pointing to the practical
necessities of the fine arts and to the relation they bear to morality
and piety. Very serious aims have been ascribed to art. Art has been
recommended as a mediator between reason and sensuousness, between
inclination and duty, as the reconcilor of all these elements constantly
warring with one another. But it must be said that, by making art serve
two masters, it is not rendered thereby more worthy of a philosophic
treatment. Instead of being an end in itself, art is degraded into a
means of appealing to higher aims, on the one hand, and to frivolity and
idleness on the other.

Art considered as means offers another difficulty which springs from
its form. Granting that art can be subordinated to serious aims and that
the results which it thus produces will be significant, still the means
used by art is deception, for beauty is appearance, its form is its
life; and one must admit that a true and real purpose should not be
achieved through deception. Even if a good end is thus, now and then,
attained by art its success is rather limited, and even then deception
cannot be recommended as a worthy means; for the means should be
adequate to the dignity of the end, and truth can be produced by truth
alone and not by deception and semblance.

It may thus appear as if art were not worthy of philosophic
consideration because it is supposed to be merely a pleasing pastime;
even when it pursues more serious aims it does not correspond with their
nature. On the whole, it is conceived to serve both grave and light
interests, achieving its results by means of deception and semblance.

As for the worthiness of art to be philosophically considered, it is
indeed true that art can be used as a casual amusement, furnishing
enjoyment and pleasure, decorating our surroundings, lending grace to
the external conditions of life, and giving prominence to other objects
through ornamentation. Art thus employed is indeed not an independent or
free, but rather a subservient art. That art might serve other purposes
and still retain its pleasure-giving function, is a relation which it
has in common with thought. For science, too, in the hands of the
servile understanding is used for finite ends and accidental means, and
is thus not self-sufficient, but is determined by outer objects and
circumstances. On the other hand, science can emancipate itself from
such service and can rise in free independence to the pursuit of truth,
in which the realization of its own aims is its proper function.

Art is not genuine art until it has thus liberated itself. It fulfils
its highest task when it has joined the same sphere with religion and
philosophy and has become a certain mode of bringing to consciousness
and expression the divine meaning of things, the deepest interests of
mankind, and the most universal truths of the spirit. Into works of art
the nations have wrought their most profound ideas and aspirations. Fine
Art often constitutes the key, and with many nations it is the only key,
to an understanding of their wisdom and religion. This character art has
in common with religion and philosophy. Art's peculiar feature, however,
consists in its ability to represent in _sensuous form_ even the highest
ideas, bringing them thus nearer to the character of natural phenomena,
to the senses, and to feeling. It is the height of a supra-sensuous
world into which _thought_ reaches, but it always appears to immediate
consciousness and to present experience as an alien _beyond_. Through
the power of philosophic thinking we are able to soar above what is
merely _here_, above sensuous and finite experience. But spirit can heal
the breach between the supra-sensuous and the sensuous brought on by its
own advance; it produces out of itself the world of fine art as the
first reconciling medium between what is merely external, sensuous, and
transient, and the world of pure thought, between nature with its finite
reality and the infinite freedom of philosophic reason.

Concerning the unworthiness of art because of its character as
appearance and deception, it must be admitted that such criticism would
not be without justice, if appearance could be said to be equivalent to
falsehood and thus to something that ought not to be. Appearance is
essential to reality; truth could not be, did it not shine through
appearance. Therefore not appearance in general can be objected to, but
merely the particular kind of appearance through which art seeks to
portray truth. To charge the appearance in which art chooses to embody
its ideas as deception, receives meaning only by comparison with the
external world of phenomena and its immediate materiality, as well as
with the inner world of sensations and feelings. To these two worlds we
are wont, in our empirical work-a-day life, to attribute the value of
actuality, reality, and truth, in contrast to art, which is supposed to
be lacking such reality and truth. But, in fact, it is just the whole
sphere of the empirical inner and outer world that is not the world of
true reality; indeed it may be called a mere show and a cruel deception
in a far stricter sense than in the case of art. Only beyond the
immediacy of sense and of external objects is genuine reality to be
found. Truly real is but the fundamental essence and the underlying
substance of nature and of spirit, and the universal element in nature
and in spirit is precisely what art accentuates and makes visible. This
essence of reality appears also in the common outer and inner world, but
it appears in the form of a chaos of contingencies, distorted by the
immediateness of sense perception, and by the capriciousness of
conditions, events, characters, etc. Art frees the true meaning of
appearances from the show and deception of this bad and transient world,
and invests it with a higher reality, born of the spirit. Thus, far
removed from being mere appearances, the products of art have a higher
reality and a more genuine being than the things of ordinary life.


The content of art is spiritual, and its form is sensuous; both sides
art has to reconcile into a united whole. The first requirement is that
the content, which art is to represent, must be worthy of artistic
representation; otherwise we obtain only a bad unity, since a content
not capable of artistic treatment is made to take on an artistic form,
and a matter prosaic in itself is forced into a form quite opposed to
its inherent nature.

The second requirement demands of the content of art that it shall be no
abstraction. By this is not meant that it must be concrete, as the
sensuous is alleged to be concrete in contrast to everything spiritual
and intellectual. For everything that is genuinely true, in the realm
of thought as well as in the domain of nature, is concrete, and has, in
spite of universality, nevertheless, a particular and subjective
character. By saying, for example, that God is simply One, the Supreme
Being as such, we express thereby nothing but a lifeless abstraction of
an understanding devoid of reason. Such a God, as indeed he is not
conceived in his concrete truth, can furnish no content for art, least
of all for plastic art. Thus the Jews and the Turks have not been able
to represent their God, who is still more abstract, in the positive
manner in which the Christians have represented theirs. For in
Christianity God is conceived in his truth, and therefore concrete, as a
person, as a subject, and, more precisely still, as Spirit. What he is
as spirit appears to the religious consciousness as a Trinity of
persons, which at the same time is One. Here the essence of God is the
reconciled unity of universality and particularity, such unity alone
being concrete. Hence, as a content in order to be true must be concrete
in this sense, art demands the same concreteness; because a mere
abstract idea, or an abstract universal, cannot manifest itself in a
particular and sensuous unified form.

If a true and therefore concrete content is to have its adequate
sensuous form and shape, this sensuous form must--this being the third
requirement--also be something individual, completely concrete, and one.
The nature of concreteness belonging to both the content and the
representation of art, is precisely the point in which both can coincide
and correspond to each other. The natural shape of the human body, for
example, is a sensuous concrete object, which is perfectly adequate to
represent the spiritual in its concreteness; the view should therefore
be abandoned that an existing object from the external world is
accidentally chosen by art to express a spiritual idea. Art does not
seize upon this or that form either because it simply finds it or
because it can find no other, but the concrete spiritual content itself
carries with it the element of external, real, yes, even sensuous,
representation. And this is the reason why a sensuous concrete object,
which bears the impress of an essentially spiritual content, addresses
itself to the inner eye; the outward shape whereby the content is
rendered visible and imaginable aims at an existence only in our heart
and mind. For this reason alone are content and artistic shape
harmoniously wrought. The mere sensuously concrete external nature as
such has not this purpose for its only origin. The gay and variegated
plumage of the birds shines unseen, and their song dies away unheard;
the torch-thistle which blossoms only for a night withers without having
been admired in the wilds of southern forests; and these forests, groves
of the most beautiful and luxuriant vegetation, with the most odorous
and fragrant perfumes, perish and waste, no more enjoyed. The work of
art is not so unconsciously self-immersed, but it is essentially a
question, an address to the responsive soul, an appeal to the heart and
to the mind.

Although the sensuous form in which art clothes its content is not
accidental, yet it is not the highest form whereby the spiritually
concrete may be grasped. A higher mode than representation through a
sensuous form, is thought. True and rational thinking, though in a
relative sense abstract, must not be one-sided, but concrete. How far a
definite content can be adequately treated by art and how far it needs,
according to its nature, a higher and more spiritual form, is a
distinction which we see at once if, for example, the Greek gods are
compared with God as conceived in accordance with Christian notions. The
Greek god is not abstract but individual, closely related to the natural
human form. The Christian God is also a concrete personality, but he is
pure spiritually, and can be known only as spirit and in spirit. His
sphere of existence is therefore essentially inner knowledge, and not
the outer natural shape through which he can be represented but
imperfectly and not in the whole depth of his essence.

But the task of art is to represent a spiritual idea to direct
contemplation in sensuous form, and not in the form of thought or of
pure spirituality. The value and dignity of such representation lies in
the correspondence and unity of the two sides, of the spiritual content
and its sensuous embodiment, so that the perfection and excellency of
art must depend upon the grade of inner harmony and union with which the
spiritual idea and the sensuous form interpenetrate.

The requirement of the conformity of spiritual idea and sensuous form
might at first be interpreted as meaning that any idea whatever would
suffice, so long as the concrete form represented this idea and no
other. Such a view, however, would confound the ideal of art with mere
correctness, which consists in the expression of any meaning in its
appropriate form. The artistic ideal is not to be thus understood. For
any content whatever is capable, according to the standard of its own
nature, of adequate representation, but yet it does not for that reason
lay claim to artistic beauty in the ideal sense. Judged by the standard
of ideal beauty, even such correct representation will be defective. In
this connection we may remark that the defects of a work of art are not
to be considered simply as always due to the incapacity of the artist;
defectiveness of form has also its root in defectiveness of content.
Thus, for instance, the Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, in their artistic
objects, their representations of the gods, and their idols, adhered to
formlessness, or to a vague and inarticulate form, and were not able to
arrive at genuine beauty, because their mythological ideas, the content
and conception of their works of art, were as yet vague and obscure. The
more perfect in form works of art are, the more profound is the inner
truth of their content and thought. And it is not merely a question of
the greater or lesser skill with which the objects of external nature
are studied and copied, for, in certain stages of artistic consciousness
and artistic activity, the misrepresentation and distortion of natural
objects are not unintentional technical inexpertness and incapacity, but
conscious alteration, which depends upon the content that is in
consciousness, and is, in fact, demanded by it. We may thus speak of
imperfect art, which, in its own proper sphere, may be quite perfect
both technically and in other respects. When compared with the highest
idea and ideal of art, it is indeed defective. In the highest art alone
are the idea and its representation in perfect congruity, because the
sensuous form of the idea is in itself the adequate form, and because
the content, which that form embodies, is itself a genuine content.

The higher truth of art consists, then, in the spiritual having attained
a sensuous form adequate to its essence. And this also furnishes the
principle of division for the philosophy of art. For the Spirit, before
it wins the true meaning of its absolute essence, has to develop through
a series of stages which constitute its very life. To this universal
evolution there corresponds a development of the phases of art, under
the form of which the Spirit--as artist--attains to a comprehension of
its own meaning.

This evolution within the spirit of art has two sides. The development
is, in the first place, a spiritual and universal one, in so far as a
gradual series of definite conceptions of the universe--of nature, man,
and God--finds artistic representation. In the second place, this
universal development of art, embodying itself in sensuous form,
determines definite modes of artistic expression and a totality of
necessary distinctions within the sphere of art. These constitute the
particular arts.

We have now to consider three definite relations of the spiritual idea
to its sensuous expression.


Art begins when the spiritual idea, being itself still indefinite and
obscure and ill-comprehended, is made the content of artistic forms. As
indefinite, it does not yet have that individuality which the artistic
ideal demands; its abstractness and one-sidedness thus render its shape
defective and whimsical. The first form of art is therefore rather a
mere search after plasticity than a capacity of true representation. The
spiritual idea has not yet found its adequate form, but is still engaged
in striving and struggling after it. This form we may, in general, call
the _symbolic_ form of art; in such form the abstract idea assumes a
shape in natural sensuous matter which is foreign to it; with this
foreign matter the artistic creation begins, from which, however, it
seems unable to free itself. The objects of external nature are
reproduced unchanged, but at the same time the meaning of the spiritual
idea is attached to them. They thus receive the vocation of expressing
it, and must be interpreted as if the spiritual idea were actually
present in them. It is indeed true that natural objects possess an
aspect which makes them capable of representing a universal meaning, but
in symbolic art a complete correspondence is not yet possible. In it the
correspondence is confined to an abstract quality, as when, for example,
a lion is meant to stand for strength.

This abstract relation brings also to consciousness the foreignness of
the spiritual idea to natural phenomena. And the spiritual idea, having
no other reality to express its essence, expatiates in all these natural
shapes, seeks itself in their unrest and disproportion, but finds them
inadequate to it. It then exaggerates these natural phenomena and shapes
them into the huge and the boundless. The spiritual idea revels in them,
as it were, seethes and ferments in them, does violence to them,
distorts and disfigures them into grotesque shapes, and endeavors by the
diversity, hugeness, and splendor of such forms to raise the natural
phenomena to the spiritual level. For here it is the spiritual idea
which is more or less vague and non-plastic, while the objects of nature
have a thoroughly definite form.

The incongruity of the two elements to each other makes the relation of
the spiritual idea to objective reality a negative one. The spiritual as
a wholly inner element and as the universal substance of all things, is
conceived unsatisfied with all externality, and in its _sublimity_ it
triumphs over the abundance of unsuitable forms. In this conception of
sublimity the natural objects and the human shapes are accepted and left
unaltered, but at the same time recognized as inadequate to their own
inner meaning; it is this inner meaning which is glorified far and above
every worldly content.

These elements constitute, in general, the character of the primitive
artistic pantheism of the Orient, which either invests even the lowest
objects with absolute significance, or forces all phenomena with
violence to assume the expression of its world-view. This art becomes
therefore bizarre, grotesque, and without taste, or it represents the
infinite substance in its abstract freedom turning away with disdain
from the illusory and perishing mass of appearances. Thus the meaning
can never be completely molded into the expression, and, notwithstanding
all the aspiration and effort, the incongruity between the spiritual
idea and the sensuous form remains insuperable. This is, then, the first
form of art-symbolic art with its endless quest, its inner struggle, its
sphinx-like mystery, and its sublimity.


In the second form of art, which we wish to designate as the
_classical_, the double defect of symbolic art is removed. The symbolic
form is imperfect, because the spiritual meaning which it seeks to
convey enters into consciousness in but an abstract and vague manner,
and thus the congruity between meaning and form must always remain
defective and therefore abstract. This double aspect disappears in the
classical type of art; in it we find the free and adequate embodiment of
the spiritual idea in the form most suitable to it, and with it meaning
and expression are in perfect accord. It is classical art, therefore,
which first affords the creation and contemplation of the completed
ideal, realizing it as a real fact in the world.

But the congruity of idea and reality in classical art must not be
taken in a formal sense of the agreement of a content with its external
form; otherwise every photograph of nature, every picture of a
countenance, landscape, flower, scene, etc., which constitutes the aim
of a representation, would, through the conformity of content and form,
be at once classical. The peculiarity of classical art, on the contrary,
consists in its content being itself a concrete idea, and, as such, a
concrete spiritual idea, for only the spiritual is a truly essential
content. For a worthy object of such a content, Nature must be consulted
as to whether she contains anything to which a spiritual attribute
really belongs. It must be the World-Spirit itself that _invented_ the
proper form for the concrete spiritual ideal--the subjective mind--in
this case the spirit of art--has only _found_ it, and given it natural
plastic existence in accordance with free individual spirituality. The
form in which the idea, as spiritual and individual, clothes itself when
revealed as a temporal phenomenon, is _the human form_. To be sure,
personification and anthropomorphism have frequently been decried as a
degradation of the spiritual; but art, in so far as its task is to bring
before direct contemplation the spiritual in sensuous form, must advance
to such anthropomorphism, for only in its body can mind appear in an
adequately sensuous fashion. The migration of souls is, in this respect,
an abstract notion, and physiology should make it one of its fundamental
principles that life has necessarily, in its evolution, to advance to
the human shape as the only sensuous phenomenon appropriate to the mind.

The human body as portrayed by classical art is not represented in its
mere physical existence, but solely as the natural and sensuous form and
garb of mind; it is therefore divested of all the defects that belong to
the merely sensuous and of all the finite contingencies that appertain
to the phenomenal. But if the form must be thus purified in order to
express the appropriate content, and, furthermore, if the conformity of
meaning and expression is to be complete, the content which is the
spiritual idea must be perfectly capable of being expressed through the
bodily form of man, without projecting into another sphere beyond the
physical and sensuous representation. The result is that Spirit is
characterized as a particular form of mind, namely, as human mind, and
not as simply absolute and eternal; but the absolute and eternal Spirit
must be able to reveal and express itself in a manner far more

This latter point brings to light the defect of classical art, which
demands its dissolution and its transition to a third and higher form,
to wit, the _romantic_ form of art.


The romantic form of art destroys the unity of the spiritual idea and
its sensuous form, and goes back, though on a higher level, to the
difference and opposition of the two, which symbolic art left
unreconciled. The classical form of art attained, indeed, the highest
degree of perfection which the sensuous process of art was capable of
realizing; and, if it shows any defects, the defects are those of art
itself, due to the limitation of its sphere. This limitation has its
root in the general attempt of art to represent in sensuous concrete
form the infinite and universal Spirit, and in the attempt of the
classical type of art to blend so completely spiritual and sensuous
existence that the two appear in mutual conformity. But in such a fusion
of the spiritual and sensuous aspects Spirit cannot be portrayed
according to its true essence, for the true essence of Spirit is its
infinite subjectivity; and its absolute internal meaning does not lend
itself to a full and free expression in the confinement of the bodily
form as its only appropriate existence.

Now, romantic art dissolves the inseparable unity which is the ideal of
the classical type, because it has won a content which goes beyond the
classical form of art and its mode of expression. This content--if
familiar ideas may be recalled--coincides with what Christianity
declares to be true of God as Spirit, in distinction to the Greek
belief in gods which constitutes the essential and appropriate subject
for classical art. The concrete content of Hellenic art implies the
unity of the human and divine nature, a unity which, just because it is
merely _implied_ and _immediate_, permits of a representation in an
immediately visible and sensuous mold. The Greek god is the object of
naive contemplation and sensuous imagination; his shape is, therefore,
the bodily shape of man; the circle of his power and his essence is
individual and confined. To man the Greek god appears as a being and a
power with whom he may _feel_ a kinship and unity, but this kinship and
unity, are not reflected upon or raised into definite knowledge. The
higher stage is the _knowledge_ of this unconscious unity, which
underlies the classical form of art and which it has rendered capable of
complete plastic embodiment. The elevation of what is unconscious and
implied into self-conscious knowledge brings about an enormous
difference; it is the infinite difference which, for example, separates
man from the animal. Man is an animal, but, even in his animal
functions, does not rest satisfied with the potential and the
unconscious as the animal does, but becomes conscious of them, reflects
upon them, and raises them--as, for instance, the process of
digestion--into self-conscious science. And it is thus that man breaks
through the boundary of his merely immediate and unconscious existence,
so that, just because he knows himself to be animal, he ceases in virtue
of such knowledge to be animal, and, through such self-knowledge only,
can characterize himself as mind or spirit.

If in the manner just described the unity of the human and divine nature
is raised from an _immediate_ to a _conscious,_ unity, the true mold for
the reality of this content is no longer the sensuous, immediate
existence of the spiritual, the bodily frame of man, but
self-consciousness and internal contemplation. For this reason
Christianity, in depicting God as Spirit--not as particularized
individual mind, but as absolute and universal Spirit--retires from the
sensuousness of imagination into the sphere of inner being, and makes
this, and not the bodily form, the material and mold of its content; and
thus the unity of the human and divine nature is a conscious unity,
capable of realization only by spiritual knowledge. The new content, won
by this unity, is not dependent upon sensuous representation; it is now
exempt from such immediate existence. In this way, however, romantic art
becomes art which transcends itself, carrying on this process of
self-transcendence within its own artistic sphere and artistic form.

Briefly stated, the essence of romantic art consists in the artistic
object being the free, concrete, spiritual idea itself, which is
revealed in its spirituality to the inner, and not the outer, eye. In
conformity with such a content, art can, in a sense, not work for
sensuous perception, but must aim at the inner mood, which completely
fuses with its object, at the most subjective inner shrine, at the
heart, the feeling, which, as spiritual feeling, longs for freedom
within itself and seeks and finds reconciliation only within the inner
recesses of the spirit. This _inner_ world is the content of romantic
art, and as such an inner life, or as its reflection, it must seek
embodiment. The inner life thus triumphs over the outer world--indeed,
so triumphs over it that the outer world itself is made to proclaim its
victory, through which the sensuous appearance sinks into worthlessness.

On the other hand, the romantic type of art, like every other, needs an
external mode of expression. But the spiritual has now retired from the
outer mode into itself, and the sensuous externality of form assumes
again, as it did in symbolic art, an insignificant and transient
character. The subjective, finite mind and will, the peculiarity and
caprice of the individual, of character, action, or of incident and
plot, assume likewise the character they had in symbolic art. The
external side of things is surrendered to accident and committed to the
excesses of the imagination, whose caprice now mirrors existence as it
is, now chooses to distort the objects of the outer world into a bizarre
and grotesque medley, for the external form no longer possesses a
meaning and significance, as in classical art, on its own account and
for it own sake. Feeling is now everything. It finds its artistic
reflection, not in the world of external things and their forms, but in
its own expression; and in every incident and accident of life, in every
misfortune, grief, and even crime, feeling preserves or regains its
healing power of reconciliation.

Hence, the indifference, incongruity, and antagonism of spiritual idea
and sensuous form, the characteristics of symbolic art, reappear in the
romantic type, but with this essential difference. In the romantic
realm, the spiritual idea, to whose defectiveness was due the defective
forms of symbolic art, now reveals itself in its perfection within mind
and feeling. It is by virtue of the higher perfection of the idea that
it shuns any adequate union with an external form, since it can seek and
attain its true reality and expression best within itself.

This, in general terms, is the character of the symbolic, classical, and
romantic forms of art, which stand for the three relations of the
spiritual idea to its expression in the realm of art. They consist in
the aspiration after, and the attainment and transcendence of, the ideal
as the true idea of beauty.


But, now, there inhere in the idea of beauty different modifications
which art translates into sensuous forms. And we find a fundamental
principle by which the several particular arts may be arranged and
defined--that is, the species of art contain in themselves the same
essential differences which we have found in the three general types of
art. External objectivity, moreover, into which these types are molded
by means of a sensuous and particular material, renders them independent
and separate means of realizing different artistic functions, as far as
each type finds its definite character in some one definite external
material whose mode of portrayal determines its adequate realization.
Furthermore, the general types of art correspond to the several
particular arts, so that they (the particular arts) belong each of them
_specifically_ to _one_ of the general types of art. It is these
particular arts which give adequate and artistic external being to the
general types.


The first of the particular arts with which, according to their
fundamental principle, we have to begin, is architecture. Its task
consists in so shaping external inorganic nature that it becomes
homogeneous with mind, as an artistic outer world. The material of
architecture is matter itself in its immediate externality as a heavy
mass subject to mechanical laws, and its forms remain the forms of
inorganic nature, but are merely arranged and ordered in accordance with
the abstract rules of the understanding, the rules of symmetry. But in
such material and in such forms the ideal as concrete spirituality
cannot be realized; the reality which is represented in them remains,
therefore, alien to the spiritual idea, as something external which it
has not penetrated or with which it has but a remote and abstract
relation. Hence the fundamental type of architecture is the _symbolical_
form of art. For it is architecture that paves the way, as it were, for
the adequate realization of the God, toiling and wrestling in his
service with external nature, and seeking to extricate it from the chaos
of finitude and the abortiveness of chance. By this means it levels a
space for the God, frames his external surroundings, and builds him his
temple as the place for inner contemplation and for reflection upon the
eternal objects of the spirit. It raises an inclosure around those
gathered together, as a defense against the threatening of the wind,
against rain, the thunder-storm, and wild beasts, and reveals the will
to gather together, though externally, yet in accordance with the
artistic form. A meaning such as this, the art of architecture is able
to mold into its material and its forms with more or less success,
according as the determinate nature of the content which it seeks to
embody is more significant or more trivial, more concrete or more
abstract, more deeply rooted within its inner being or more dim and
superficial. Indeed, it may even advance so far as to endeavor to create
for such meaning an adequate artistic expression with its material and
forms, but in such an attempt it has already overstepped the bounds of
its own sphere, and inclines towards sculpture, the higher phase of art.
For the limit of architecture lies precisely in this, that it refers to
the spiritual as an internal essence in contrast with the external forms
of its art, and thus whatever spirit and soul are possessed it must
point to as something other than itself.


Architecture, however, has purified the inorganic external world, has
given it symmetric order, has impressed upon it the seal of mind, and
the temple of the God, the house of his community, stands ready. Into
this temple now enters the God himself. The lightning-flash of
individuality strikes the inert mass, permeates it, and a form no longer
merely symmetrical, but infinite and spiritual, concentrates and molds
its adequate bodily shape. This is the task of sculpture. Inasmuch as in
it the inner spiritual element, which architecture can no more than hint
at, completely abides with the sensuous form and its external matter,
and as both sides are so merged into each other that neither
predominates, sculpture has the _classical_ form of art as its
fundamental type. In fact, the sensuous realm itself can command no
expression which could not be that of the spiritual sphere, just as,
conversely, no spiritual content can attain perfect plasticity in
sculpture which is incapable of being adequately presented to perception
in bodily form. It is sculpture which arrests for our vision the spirit
in its bodily frame, in immediate unity with it, and in an attitude of
peace and repose; and the form in turn is animated by the content of
spiritual individuality. Therefore the external sensuous matter is here
not wrought, either according to its mechanical quality alone, as heavy
mass, nor in forms peculiar to inorganic nature, nor as indifferent to
color, etc., but in ideal forms of the human shape, and in the whole of
the spatial dimensions. In this last respect sculpture should be
credited with having first revealed the inner and spiritual essence in
its eternal repose and essential self-possession. To such repose and
unity with itself corresponds only that external element which itself
persists in unity and repose. Such an element is the form taken in its
abstract spatiality. The spirit which sculpture represents is that which
is solid in itself, not variously broken up in the play of contingencies
and passions; nor does its external form admit of the portrayal of such
a manifold play, but it holds to this one side only, to the abstraction
of space in the totality of its dimensions.


After architecture has built the temple and the hand of sculpture has
placed inside it the statue of the God, then this sensuously visible God
faces in the spacious halls of his house the _community_. The community
is the spiritual, self-reflecting element in this sensuous realm, it is
the animating subjectivity and inner life. A new principle of art begins
with it. Both the content of art and the medium which embodies it in
outward form now demand particularization, individualization, and the
subjective mode of expressing these. The solid unity which the God
possesses in sculpture breaks up into the plurality of inner individual
lives, whose unity is not sensuous, but essentially ideal.

And now God comes to assume the aspect which makes him truly spiritual.
As a hither-and-thither, as an alternation between the unity within
himself and his realization in subjective knowledge and individual
consciousness, as well as in the common and unified life of the many
individuals, he is genuinely Spirit--the Spirit in his community. In his
community God is released from the abstractness of a mysterious
self-identity, as well as from the naive imprisonment in a bodily shape,
in which he is represented by sculpture. Here he is exalted into
spirituality, subjectivity, and knowledge. For this reason the higher
content of art is now this spirituality in its absolute form. But since
what chiefly reveals itself in this stage is not the serene repose of
God in himself, but rather his appearance, his being, and his
manifestation to others, the objects of artistic representation are now
the most varied subjective expressions of life and activity for their
own sake, as human passions, deeds, events, and, in general, the wide
range of human feeling, will, and resignation. In accordance with this
content, the sensuous element must differentiate and show itself
adequate to the expression of subjective feeling. Such different media
are furnished by color, by the musical sound, and finally by the sound
as the mere indication of inner intuitions and ideas; and thus as
different forms of realizing the spiritual content of art by means of
these media we obtain painting, music, and poetry. The sensuous media
employed in these arts being individualized and in their essence
recognized as ideal, they correspond most effectively to the spiritual
content of art, and the union between spiritual meaning and sensuous
expression develops, therefore, into greater intimacy than was possible
in the case of architecture and sculpture. This intimate unity, however,
is due wholly to the subjective side.

Leaving, then, the symbolic spirit of architecture and the classical
ideal of sculpture behind, these new arts in which form and content are
raised to an ideal level borrow their type from the _romantic_ form of
art, whose mode of expression they are most eminently fitted to voice.
They form, however, a totality of arts, because the romantic type is the
most concrete in itself.


The first art in this totality, which is akin to sculpture, is painting.
The material which it uses for its content and for the sensuous
expression of that content is visibility as such, in so far as it is
individualized, viz., specified as color. To be sure, the media employed
in architecture and sculpture are also visible and colored, but they are
not, as in painting, visibility as such, not the simple light which
contrasts itself with darkness and in combination with it becomes color.
This visibility as a subjective and ideal attribute, requires neither,
like architecture, the abstract mechanical form of mass which we find in
heavy matter, nor, like sculpture, the three dimensions of sensuous
space, even though in concentrated and organic plasticity, but the
visibility which appertains to painting has its differences on a more
ideal level, in the particular kinds of color; and thus painting frees
art from the sensuous completeness in space peculiar to material things
only, by confining itself to a plane surface.

On the other hand, the content also gains in varied particularization.
Whatever can find room in the human heart, as emotion, idea, and
purpose, whatever it is able to frame into a deed, all this variety of
material can constitute the many-colored content of painting. The whole
range of particular existence, from the highest aspirations of the mind
down to the most isolated objects of nature, can obtain a place in this
art. For even finite nature, in its particular scenes and aspects, can
here appear, if only some allusion to a spiritual element makes it akin
to thought and feeling.


The second art in which the romantic form finds realization, on still a
higher level than in painting, is music. Its material, though still
sensuous, advances to a deeper subjectivity and greater specification.
The idealization of the sensuous, music brings about by negating space.
In music the indifferent extension of space whose appearance painting
admits and consciously imitates is concentrated and idealized into a
single point. But in the form of a motion and tremor of the material
body within itself, this single point becomes a concrete and active
process within the idealization of matter. Such an incipient ideality of
matter which no longer appears under the spatial form, but as temporal
ideality, is sound the sensuous acknowledged as ideal, whose abstract
visibility is transformed into audibility. Sound, as it were, exempts
the ideal from its absorption in matter.

This earliest animation and inspiration of matter furnishes the medium
for the inner and intimate life of the spirit, as yet on an indefinite
level; it is through the tones of music that the heart pours out its
whole scale of feelings and passions. Thus as sculpture constitutes the

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