‘Spirit’—or the Self-creating Life-form of Persons and its Constitutive Limits

In Vojtěch Kolman & Tereza Matejckova (eds.), Perspectives on the Self – Reflexivity in the Humanities (forthcoming)

Heikki Ikäheimo
University of New South Wales
Australia experienced the most devastating bush-fire season in recorded history, and right after that the world economy stalled due to a global virus outbreak the severity of which has no modern precedent. Crises tend up speed paradigm shifts, and the one begun in 2020 certainly will. In this paper I will contribute to a shift that has been gathering momentum for some time now, the need for which the current crisis has made all too obvious. This is a shift in Kant and Hegel influenced philosophy from thinking of ‘spirit’ (Geist) as an abstract realm or dimension insulated from nature—frictionlessly spinning without touching it, or at least with a tendency to do this as essential to it—to thinking of spirit as a life-form, situated in nature at large, just as all life is. I will work on this theme by elaborating on three broadly Hegelian ideas. Firstly, that the subjective and objective aspects of ‘spirit’, that is to say the psychological and social structures distinctive of persons and their life, are co-constitutive elements of a whole. This whole is the human life-form, or as I call it more technically ‘the life-form of persons’. Secondly, that recognition (Anerkennung) as self-transcendence and inclusion of otherness is ontologically constitutive of both, and key to their internal interrelations. Thirdly, that though freedom as collective autonomy is distinctive of this life-form, thought on the model of abstraction from necessarily determining otherness it is theoretically mistaken and put in practice pathological of the life-form in a literal sense of ‘pathology’.
Keywords Geist  life-form  normativity  recognition  self-legislation
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