Christoph Menke
Goethe University Frankfurt
While in neo-Aristotelian conceptions of virtue and Bildung the concept of “second nature” describes the successful completion of human education, Hegel uses this term in order to analyze the irresolvably ambiguous, even conflictive nature of spirit. Spirit can only realize itself, in creating (1) a second nature as an order of freedom, by losing itself, in creating (2) a second nature—an order of externality, ruled by the unconscious automatisms of habit. In the second meaning of the term, “second nature” refers to spirit’s inversion of itself: the free enactment of spirit produces an objective, uncontrollable order; "second nature" is here a critical term. On the other hand, the very same inversion of free positing into objective existence is the moment of the success of ("absolute") spirit. The paper exposes this undecidable ambiguity of second nature and claims that its acceptance and development are the conditions of an adequate understanding of the constitution and forms of second nature
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DOI 10.5840/symposium20131713
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