law of the heart

b. The law of the heart and the frenzy of self-conceit

367. What necessity truly is in self-consciousness, it is for this new form of self-consciousness, in which it knows its own self to be the principle of necessity. It knows that it has the universal of law immediately within itself, and because the law is immediately present in the being-for-self of consciousness, it is called the law of the heart. This form takes itself to be, qua individuality, essence like the previous form; but the new form is richer because its being-for-self has for it the character of necessity or universality.

368. The law, therefore, which is immediately self-consciousness’s own law, or a heart which, however, has within it a law, is the End which self-consciousness proceeds to realize. We have to see whether its realization corresponds to this Notion and whether in that realization it will find that this its law is its essential nature.

369. This heart is confronted by a real world; for in the heart the law is, in the first place, only for its own self, it is not yet realised, and is therefore at the same time something other than what the Notion is. This other is thereby characterized as a reality which is the opposite of what is to be realized, and consequently is the contradiction of the law and the individuality. This reality is, therefore, on the one hand a law by which the particular individuality is oppressed, a violent ordering of the world which contradicts the law of the heart, and, on the other hand, a humanity suffering under that ordering, a humanity that does not follow the law of the heart, but is subjected to an alien necessity. It is evident that this real world which appears over against the present form of consciousness is nothing else but the foregoing discordant relationship of individuality and its truth, the relationship of a cruel necessity by which the former is oppressed. For us, the preceding movement appears to stand over against the new form, because the latter in itself has resulted from it, and the moment from which it has come is therefore necessary for it; but to the new form that moment appears as something already given, since it is not conscious of its origin, and it holds that its essential nature is rather to be for its own self, or the negative clement relatively to this positive in-itself.

370. This individuality therefore directs its energies to getting rid of this necessity which contradicts the law of the heart, and also the suffering caused by it. And so it is no longer characterized by the levity of the previous form of self-consciousness, which only wanted the particular pleasure of the individual; on the contrary, it is the earnestness of a high purpose which seeks its pleasure in displaying the excellence of its own nature, and in promoting the welfare of mankind. What it realizes is itself the law, and its pleasure is therefore at the same time the universal pleasure of all hearts. To it the two are undivided; its pleasure is what conforms to the law, and the realization of the law of universal humanity procures for it its own particular pleasure. For within its own self, individuality and the necessary are immediately one; the law is the law of the heart. Individuality is not as yet dislodged from its seat, and the unity of both has not been brought about by the mediating agency of the individuality itself, has not yet been achieved by discipline. The realization of the immediate undisciplined nature passes for a display of its excellence and as productive of the welfare of humanity.

371. The law, on the other hand, which confronts the law of the heart is separated from the heart, and exists in its own right. Humanity which is bound by this law does not live in the blessed unity of the law with the heart; but either lives in their cruel separation and in suffering, or at least dispenses with the enjoyment of itself obeying the law, and lacks the consciousness of its own excellence in transgressing it. Because that authoritative divine and human ordinance is separated from the heart, it is for the latter a mere show which ought to lose what is still associated with it, viz. the power of authority and reality. In its content it may well by chance agree with the law of the heart, and then the latter can submit to it; but for the heart, what is essential is not the bare conformity to law as such, but that in the law it has the consciousness of itself, that therein it has satisfied itself. Where, however, the content of universal necessity does not agree with the heart then necessity, even as regards its content, is in itself nothing and must give way before the law of the heart.

G. W. F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit; EN: A. V. Miller


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