Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 (pp.336-338)
Whenever real, corporeal man, man with his feet firmly on the solid ground, man exhaling and inhaling all the forces of nature, posits his real, objective essential powers as alien objects by his externalisation, it is not the act of positing which is the subject in this process: it is the subjectivity of objective essential powers, whose action, therefore, must also be something objective. An objective being acts objectively, and he would not act objectively if the objective did not reside in the very nature of his being. He only creates or posits objects, because he is posited by objects—because at bottom he is nature. In the act of positing, therefore, this objective being does not fall from his state of “pure activity” into a creating of the object; on the contrary, his objective product only confirms his objective activity, his activity as the activity of an objective, natural being.
Here we see how consistent naturalism or humanism is distinct from both idealism and materialism, and constitutes at the same time the unifying truth of both. We see also how only naturalism is capable of comprehending the action of world history.
(Man is directly a natural being. As a natural being and as a living natural being he is on the one hand endowed with natural powers, vital powers—he is an active natural being. These forces exist in him as tendencies and abilities—as instincts. On the other hand, as a
natural, corporeal, sensuous, objective being he is a suffering, conditioned and limited creature, like animals and plants. That is to say, the objects of his instincts exist outside him, as objects independent of him; yet these objects are objects that he needs—essential objects, indispensable to the manifestation and confirmation of his essential powers. To say that man is a corporeal, living, real, sensuous, objective being full of natural vigour is to say that he has real, sensuous objects as the object of his being or of his life, or that he can only express his life in real, sensuous objects. To be objective, natural and sensuous, and at the same time to have object, nature and sense outside oneself, or oneself to be object, nature and sense for a third party, is one and the same thing. > Hunger is a natural need; it therefore needs a nature outside itself, an object outside itself, in order to satisfy itself, to be stilled. Hunger is an acknowledged need of my body for an object existing outside it, indispensable to its integration and to the expression of its essential being. The sun is the object of the plant—an indispensable object to it, confirming its life — just as the plant is an object of the sun, being an expression of the life-awakening power of the sun, of the sun’s objective essential power.
A being which does not have its nature outside itself is not a natural being, and plays no part in the system of nature. A being which has no object outside itself is not an objective being. A being which is not itself an object for some third being has no being for its object; i.e., it is not objectively related. Its being is not objective. A non-objective being is a non-being. Suppose a being which is neither an object itself, nor has an object. Such a being, in the first place, would be the unique being: there would exist no being outside it—it would exist solitary and alone.
For as soon as there are objects outside me, as soon as I am not alone, I am another—another reality than the object outside me. For this third object I am thus a different reality than itself; that is, I am its object. Thus, to suppose a being which is not the object of another being is to presuppose that no objective being exists. As soon as I have an object, this object has me for an object. But a non-objective being is an unreal, non-sensuous thing—a product of mere thought (i.e., of mere imagination)—an abstraction. To be sensuous, that is, to be really existing, means to be an object of sense, to be a sensuous object, and thus to have sensuous objects outside oneself—objects of one’s sensuousness. To be sensuous is to suffer. Man as an objective, sensuous being is therefore a suffering being—and because he feels that he suffers, a passionate being. Passion is the essential power of man energetically bent on its object.
<But man is not merely a natural being: he is a human natural being. That is to say, he is a being for himself. Therefore he is a species-being, and has to confirm and manifest himself as such both in his being and in his knowing. Therefore, human objects are not natural objects as they immediately present themselves, and neither is human sense as it immediately is—as it is objectively—human sensibility, human objectivity. Neither nature objectively nor nature subjectively is directly given in a form adequate to the human being.>
And as everything natural has to come into being, man too has his act of origin—history—which, however, is for him a known history, and hence as an act of origin it is a conscious self-transcending act of origin. History is the true natural history of man (on which more later).
Thirdly, because this positing of thinghood is itself only an illusion, an act contradicting the nature of pure activity, it has to be cancelled again and thinghood denied. Re 3, 4, 5 and 6. (3) This externalisation of consciousness has not merely a negative but a positive significance, and (4) it has this meaning not merely for us or intrinsically, but for consciousness itself. (5) For consciousness the negative of the object, its annulling of itself, has positive significance—i.e., consciousness knows this nullity of the object—because it alienates itself; for in this alienation it knows itself as object, or, for the sake of the indivisible unity of being-for-itself, the object as itself. (6) On the other hand, there is also this other moment in the process, that consciousness has also just as much superseded this alienation and objectivity and resumed them into itself, being thus at home in its other-being as such.
As we have already seen, the appropriation of what is estranged and objective, or the annulling of objectivity in the form of estrangement (which has to advance from indifferent strangeness to real, antagonistic estrangement), means likewise or even primarily for Hegel that it is objectivity which is to be annulled, because it is not the determinate character of the object, but rather its objective character that is offensive and constitutes estrangement for self-consciousness. The object is therefore something negative, self- annulling—a nullity. This nullity of the object has not only a negative but a positive meaning for consciousness, since this nullity of the object is precisely the self-confirmation of the non-objectivity, of the abstraction of itself. For consciousness itself the nullity of the object has a positive meaning because it knows this nullity, the objective being, as its self-alienation; because it knows that it exists only as a result of its own self-alienation….
The way in which consciousness is, and in which something is for it, is knowing. Knowing is its sole act. Something therefore comes to be for consciousness insofar as the latter knows this something.
Knowing is its sole objective relation.
It [consciousness] then knows the nullity of the object (i.e., knows the non-existence of the distinction between the object and itself, the non-existence of the object for it) because it knows the object as its self-alienation; that is, it knows itself—knows knowing as object—be- cause the object is only the semblance of an object, a piece of mystification, which in its essence, however, is nothing else but knowing itself, which has confronted itself with itself and hence has confronted itself with a nullity—a something which has no objectivity outside the knowing. Or: knowing knows that in relating itself to an object it is only outside itself — that it only externalises itself; that it itself only appears to itself as an object — or that that which appears to it as an object is only itself.
On the other hand, says Hegel, there is here at the same time this other moment, that consciousness has just as much annulled and reabsorbed this externalisation and objectivity, being thus at home in its other-being as such.
In this discussion all the illusions of speculation are brought together.