Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 16, 2008

Modern Philosophy

Paola Giacomoni
Pages 115-124

Desire and Nature in Hegel’s Philosophy

Subject of my paper is the connection between Hegel’s philosophy of nature and the new conception of subjectivity developed in his works. At the centre of my reflection is the origin of desire from biological needs of the animal world, as affirmed by Hegel in the Encyclopaedia of philosophical sciences and in Phenomenology of Spirit. The animal nutrition is periodical: hunger and thirst are forms of lack, from which, in Hegel’s eyes, arises the first form of self‐consciousness: they produce a first, obscure and indefinite sense of self. The correspondent concept in Phenomenology of Spirit is desire, as awareness of limits, and also as necessity to overcome them: as impulse to action. The fight and recognition which follow imply this natural source. The formation (Bildung) of subjectivity itself presupposes in Hegel this fundamental role of desire: What I want to analyse is the measure in which philosophy of nature influenced Hegel’s theory of subjectivity. Researches of the last decades give a new evaluation of the importance of this part of his philosophy and show the evident links to romantic philosophy of nature. My paper intends to demonstrate that desire in Hegel’s philosophy shows an evident cognitive value and can be considered a key-instrument for a new conception of reason, not opposed to passions. This approach can be interesting within the present international debate about the strategic role of passions in our post-modern world.