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date: 27 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Chapter 5 displays narrative unity in the “Reason chapter” of Hegel’s Phenomenology by showing how consciousness as reason becomes, and takes successive forms as, purposive activity: first, as organism, then, as end-directed human action, and finally, as human action that is its own end. The successive forms of purposive activity in the chapter are generated as attempts to resolve the overarching tension between rational consciousness’s certainty of itself as an existing individual and its certainty of being all reality. The internal criticism of the successive forms of rational consciousness in the chapter amounts to a general criticism of distinctively modern self-consciousness, particularly of its individualism. It is argued that the alleged resolution of reason’s tension in the transition at the end of the chapter to spirit, in particular, to ethical life, itself contains a tension between the realization of reason, on the one hand, and its repudiation, on the other.

Keywords: Hegel, reason, modernity, individualism, purposive activity, organism, ethical life

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