Illustration by Lynn Klemmer 

#0 15.09.2021

Editorial: Spirit is a Bone?

Mathieu Buchler 

“When being as such, or thinghood, is predicated of Spirit, the true expression of this is that Spirit is, therefore, the same kind of being that a bone is. It must therefore be regarded as extremely important that the true expression has been found for the bare statement about Spirit–that it is. When in other respects it is said of Spirit that it is, that it has being, is a Thing, a single, separate reality, this is not intended to mean that it is something we can see or take in our hands or touch, and so on, but that is what is said; and what really is said is expressed by saying that the being of Spirit is a bone.” [1]

When Hegel writes this passage in his Phenomenology of Spirit on the subject of phrenological theories emerging in the late 18th and early 19th century, he intends to mark an intimate link between the abstract dimension of the human mind, i.e. of our capacity to indulge in conceptual reasoning, and the fact that all thinking is necessarily embedded, in some shape or form, in a material reality. And this not just in the sense that all thinking is always in some sense about a material world, but rather in the sense that thinking itself has a material dimension. Thinking is, it exists, it has a form, and this in two senses: it is as a plastic process taking place in a spatial world of things which it actively shapes and modulates, and it is ossified, situated in a particular objective location: the human skull. 

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