Reading Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind II: Learning Magic

Note: Hegel journal continues.

8 September 1999

After reading sections 396 through 405, I realized that some of Hegel’s words were very familiar. In pondering why that was so, I realized that Hegel’s explanation of the senses reminded me of Aristotle, which only gives more evidence that Hegel is “updating Aristotle” (to use Dr. Wood’s words), and thus his system is greatly influenced by Aristotle.

This is not Hegel.

But Hegel’s explanation of the stages of man’s development from baby to old man reminded me of a more recent thinker – Erik Erikson, the child psychologist. In his “Anthropology,” Hegel outlines and elucidates much of what the modern world calls Psychology today (which mildly confused me when I saw what Hegel calls Psychology is not this broad, modern usage).

I took a couple of psychology classes at UD (once as an undergrad and more recently as a student teacher), and I can see how influential Hegel is to modern-day phenomenological psychology.  The wording was very familiar, even with the emphasis of youth becoming man by finding himself in the world by practical concerns, i.e., work.

His views on the importance of education, i.e., instruction and discipline, also rings influential on American elementary and secondary education in the first part of this century, especially in the call for a teacher-based education in which the student learns both obedience and his lessons at the same time.

What I find Hegel stressing repeatedly is the interplay between the soul and the world, both manifestations of totality but a totality which the soul must discover for itself as lived out in feeling, learning, working man.

In following the practical working out of this development, I was a little startled when Hegel used the word “magic” to describe a state in which the feeling soul has a relationship with an Other (that is, another person) without mediation, signaling a unity on the anthropological level.

Again, I was startled because I have an a priori definition of that word, which I had to quash in order to follow Hegel’s argument. Still, it is an interesting word choice, magic.

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