'792' But knowledge of the thing is not yet finished at this point. The thing must become known as self not merely in regard to the immediateness of its being and as regards its determinateness, but also in the sense of essence or inner reality.
This is found in the case of Moral Self-consciousness. This mode of experience knows its knowledge as the absolute essential element, knows no other objective being than pure will or pure knowledge. It is nothing but merely this will and this knowledge.
Any other possesses merely non-essential being, i.e. being that has no inherent nature per se, but only its empty husk. In so far as the moral consciousness, in its view of the world, lets existence drop out of the self, it just as truly takes this existence back again into its self. In the form of conscience, finally, it is no longer this incessant alternation between the “placing” and the “displacing” [dissembling] of existence and self; it knows that its existence as such is this pure certainty of its own self; the objective element, into which qua acting it puts forth itself, is nothing else than pure knowledge of itself by itself.
'793' These are the moments which compose the reconciliation of spirit with its own consciousness proper. By themselves they are single and isolated; and it is their spiritual unity alone which furnishes the power for this reconciliation.
The last of these moments is, however, necessarily this unity itself, and, as we see, binds them all in fact into itself.
Spirit certain of itself in its objective existence takes as the element of its existence nothing else than this knowledge of self.
The declaration that what it does it does in accordance with the conviction of duty – this statement is the warrant for its own action, and makes good its conduct.
Action is the first inherent division of the simple unity of the notion, and the return out of this division. This first movement turns round into the second, since the element of recognition puts itself forward as simple knowledge of duty in contrast to the distinction and diremption that lie in action as such and, in this way, form a rigid reality confronting action. In pardon, however, we saw how this rigid fixity gives way and renounces its claims. Reality has here, qua immediate existence, no other significance for self-consciousness than that of being pure knowledge; similarly, qua determinate existence, or qua relation, what is self-opposed is a knowledge partly of this purely individual self, partly of knowledge qua universal. Herein it is established, at the same time, that the third moment, universality, or the essence, means for each of the two opposite factors merely knowledge. Finally they also cancel the empty opposition that still remains, and are the knowledge of ego as identical with ego:— this individual self which is immediately pure knowledge or universal.
Φ 794. This reconciliation of consciousness with self-consciousness thus proves to be brought about in a double-sided way; in the one case, in the religious mind, in the other case, in consciousness itself as such. They axe distinguished inter se by the fact that the one is this reconciliation in the form of implicit immanence, the other in the form of explicit self-existence. As we have considered them, they at the beginning fall apart. In the order in which the modes or shapes of consciousness came before us, consciousness has reached the individual moments of that order, and also their unification, long before ever religion gave its object the shape of actual self-consciousness. The unification of both aspects is not yet brought to light; it is this that winds up this series of embodiments of spirit, for in it spirit gets to the point where it knows itself not only as it is inherently in itself, or in terms of its absolute content, nor only as it is (objectively) for itself in terms of its bare form devoid of content, or in terms of self-consciousness, but as it is in its self-completeness, as it is in itself and for itself.
Φ 795. This unification has, however, already taken place by implication, and has done so in religion in the return of the figurative idea (Vorstellung) into self-consciousness, but not according to the proper form, for the religious aspect is the aspect of the essentially independent (Ansich) and stands in contrast to the process of self-consciousness. The unification therefore belongs to this other aspect, which by contrast is the aspect of reflexion into self, is that side therefore which contains its self and its opposite, and contains them not only implicitly, (an sich) or in a general way, but explicitly (für sich) or expressly developed and distinguished. The content, as well as the other aspect of self-conscious spirit, so far as it is the other aspect, have been brought to light and are here in their completeness: the unification still a-wanting is the simple unity of the notion. This notion is also already given with the aspect of self-consciousness; but as it previously came before us above, it, like all the other moments, has the form of being a particular mode or shape of consciousness. It is that part of the embodiment of self-assured spirit which keeps within its essential principle and was called the “beautiful soul”. That is to say, the “beautiful soul” is its own knowledge of itself in its pure transparent unity – self-consciousness, which knows this pure knowledge of pure inwardness to be spirit, is not merely intuition of the divine, but the self intuition of God Himself.
Since this notion keeps itself fixedly opposed to its realization, it is the one-sided shape which we saw before disappear into thin air, but also positively relinquish itself and advance further. Through this act of realization, this objectless self-consciousness ceases to hold fast by itself, the determinateness of the notion in contrast with its fulfilment is canceled and done away with. Its self-consciousness attains the form of universality; and what remains is its true notion, the notion that has attained its realization – the notion in its truth, i.e. in unity with its externalization. It is knowledge of pure knowledge, not in the sense of an abstract essence such as duty is, but in the sense of an essential being which is this knowledge, this individual pure self-consciousness which is therefore at the same time a genuine object; for this notion is the self-existing self.
Φ 796. This notion gave itself its fulfilment partly in the acts performed by the spirit that is sure of itself, partly in religion. In the latter it won the absolute content qua content or in the form of a figurative idea or of otherness for consciousness. On the other hand, in the first the form is just the self, for that mode contains the active spirit sure of itself; the self accomplishes the life of Absolute Spirit. This shape (mode), as we see, is that simple notion, which however gives up its eternal essential Being, takes upon itself objective existence, or acts. The power of diremption or of coming forth out of its inwardness lies in the purity of the notion, for this purity is absolute abstraction of negativity. In the same way the notion finds its element of reality, or the objective being it contains, in pure knowledge itself; for this knowledge is simple immediacy, which is being and existence as well as essence, the former negative thought, the latter positive thought. This existence, finally, is just as much that state of reflexion into self which comes out of pure knowledge – both qua existence and qua duty – and this is the state of evil. This process of “going into self” constitutes the opposition lying in the notion, and is thus the appearance on the scene of pure knowledge of the essence, a knowledge which does not act and is not real. But to make its appearance in this opposition is to participate in it; pure knowledge of essence has inherently relinquished its simplicity, for it is the diremption of negativity which constitutes the notion. So far as this process of diremption is the process of becoming self-centred, it is the principle of evil: so far as it is the inherently essential, it is the principle which remains good.
Now what in the first instance takes place implicitly is at once for consciousness, and is duplicated as well – is both for consciousness and is its self-existence or its own proper action. The same thing that is already inherently established, thus repeats itself now as knowledge thereof on the part of consciousness and as conscious action. Each lays aside for the other the independence of character with which each appears confronting the other. This waiving of independence is the same renunciation of the one-sidedness of the notion as constituted implicitly the beginning; but it is now its own act of renunciation, just as the notion renounced is its own notion. That implicit nature of the beginning is in truth as much mediated, because it is negativity; it now establishes itself as it is in its truth; and the negative element exists as a determinate quality which each has for the other, and is essentially self-cancelling, self-transcending. The one of the two parts of the opposition is the disparity between existence within itself, in its individuality, and universality; the other, disparity between its abstract universality and the self. The former dies to its self-existence, and relinquishes itself, makes confession; the latter renounces the rigidity of its abstract universality, and thereby dies to its lifeless self and its inert universality; so that the former is completed through the moment of universality, which is the essence, and the latter through universality, which is self. By this process of action spirit has come to light in the form of pure universality of knowledge, which is self-consciousness as self-consciousness, which is simple unity of knowledge. It is through action that spirit is spirit so as definitely to exist; it raises its existence into the sphere of thought and hence into absolute opposition, and returns out of it through and within this very opposition.
Φ 797. Thus, then, what was in religion content, or a way of imagining (Vorstellen) an other, is here the action proper of the self. The notion is the connecting principle securing that the content is the action proper of the self. For this notion is, as we see, the knowledge that the action of the self within itself is all that is essential and all existence, the knowledge of this Subject as Substance and of the Substance as this knowledge of its action. What we have done here, in addition, is simply to gather together the particular moments, each of which in principle exhibits the life of spirit in its entirety, and again to secure the notion in the form of the notion, whose content was disclosed in these moments, and which had already presented itself in the form of a mode or shape of consciousness.