Hegel's Broken Manuscript on Love

Topics: Love, Meaning of life, Life Pages: 5 (1932 words) Published: November 26, 2007
Hegel's broken manuscript on Love is a great transition to one of his more popular works, The Spirit of Christianity, because he begins speculating the idea of love, and what it means to achieve that love. He attempts to answer many philosophical or otherwise unanswerable questions such as what it means to achieve "true union" and what it takes to maintain that bond. Since this manuscript was probably written "a year or eighteen months before The Spirit of Christianity" (pg. 302), many of these ideas were carried over into his new work in hopes of further speculating the conception of love and connecting them to Christianity. One of these ideas he introduces is the concept of dead objects and their relation to true union. Further, he ties it into an important term known as shame, and it is this shame that continually negates true union. In retrospect, the abundance of dead objects surrounding individuals force them into a constant struggle for true unity; thus, these individuals are striving to combat shame, but this very combat for shame contradicts Hegel's overall definition of true unity. Hegel's manuscript, however missing the pages seem to be, is left with no concrete conclusion on the conception of love.

Hegel incorporates a basic but fundamental term known as a "dead object" and a translator defines the dead object as such: "[Here there is no living union between the individual and his world; the object, severed from the subject, is dead; and the only love possible is a sort of relationship between the living subject and the dead objects by which he is surrounded]" (pg. 303). This statement clearly defines the term "dead object", but fails to show which objects can be considered dead. The rest of the paragraph continues to use this term concisely, but it is in the later paragraphs where the flaws in the definition become apparent. For now, the rest of the paragraph continues to explain the relation between man and object, and Hegel concludes through reasoning that "each [subject and object, man and matter] is only relatively necessary; the one exists only for the other…" (pg. 304). If this is the case, fate would play a role in the purpose of an individual. If a man never finds "love", according to Hegel, he also never finds a reason to exist because there is no object for the individual (the subject). As a cause, the man finds love in non-necessities such as material possessions and property to cover up this void, and attaches meaning to both the man(subject) and the object: "He exists only as something opposed [to the object], and one of a pair of opposites is reciprocally condition and conditioned" (pg. 304). Best described in the side notes, "instead of opposing himself to an object outside him, he must realize that subject and object are neither of them absolutes but are reciprocally conditioned and thus elements in a living whole" (pg. 304). This analogy explains how both parts of the relationship must be conditioned for the pair to each have a purpose of existence. In addition, since this quote has a direct relation with attaching meaning to both subject and object, the analogy, elements in a living whole, has a direct parallel "in the sense that the one loves and the other is loved, i.e., that each separate lover is one organ in a living whole" (pg. 308). The term, "dead object", in turn is also targeted between living beings, where in terms of one of the two individuals, the other can act as the object. This is where the flaws in the definition become apparent; where the translations are open to interpretation.

The main link Hegel is trying to define is the connection between two living beings. Although there is also a relation between man and dead object, it is the lovers that are in a constant struggle to find true union, and only become distracted by the man vs. dead object relation. Moreover, "the lovers are in connection with much that is dead; external objects belong to each of them" (pg.308)....
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