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Regular version of the site

Book chapter

Subjectivity, Madness, and Habit: Forms of Resistance in Hegel’s Anthropology

P. 101-116.

Hegel’s anthropology is not just a doctrine of the human soul, feeling, and the subconscious, and not just the foundational section of Hegel’s philosophy of spirit as it took its final shape in the philosopher’s Berlin years. It is also, among many other things, a tale of resistance – of how the natural and the bodily resist their ‘idealization’ by Geist but ultimately become an ‘assimilated’ part of Geist (both ‘idealization’ and ‘assimilation’, as well as occasionally ‘resistance’, being Hegel’s own terms), although not without generating multiple moments of smaller, and more subtle, resistances and counter-resistances along the way. The goal of this chapter is not to address or question this assimilatory narrative of Hegel’s anthropological idealism as such, but to elucidate the more important of those moments and to introduce the anthropological logic of resistance as it permeates and runs through Hegel’s anthropology. To that end, I first turn to the inaugurative event of the anthropology in    Hegel, that of the birth of Geist in its distinction from Natur, considered as a moment of resistance (against the natural) and transformation (of the natural). Next, I analyze the logic of anthropological subjectivity as it is developed further by Hegel through individuation and subjectivation, and argue that idealization is closely tied to resistance via the logic of the body and "self-feeling." Finally, I provide a reading of two of the anthropology’s culminating moments, madness and habit, which I take to be resisting each other within the two-center structure of subjectivity that Hegel puts forward. Taken together, these moments help uncover a motif of resistance running through the entire logic of Hegel's anthropology.