Sunday, August 22, 2010

Circles Drawn in Water

Things in nature are only immediate and single, while man as spirit duplicates himself, in that (i) he is as things in nature are, but (ii) he is just as much for himself; he sees himself, represents himself to himself, thinks, and only on the strength of htis active placing himself before himself is he spirit. This consciousness of himself man acquires in a two-fold way: first, theoretically, in so far as inwardly he must bring himself into his own consciousness, along with whatever moves, stirs, and presses in the human breast; and in general he must see himself, represent himself to himself, fix before himself what thinking finds as his essence, and recognize himself alone alike in what is summoned out of himself and in what is accepted from without. Secondly, man brings himself before himself by practical activity, since has the impulse, in whatever is directly given to him, in what is present to him externally, to produce himself and therein equally to recognize himself. This aim he achieves by altering external things whereon he impresses the seal of his own inner being and in which he now finds again his own characteristics. Man does this in order, as a free subject, to strip the external world of its inflexible foreignness and to enjoy in the shape of things only an external realization of himself. Even a child's first impulse involves this practical alteration of external things; a boy throws stones into the river and now marvels as the circles drawn in the water as an effect in which he gains an intuition of something that is his own doing.
-G.W.F Hegel, Lectures on Aesthetics

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