But what virtually happens in the realising of the End is that the one sided subjectivity and the show of objective independence confronting it are both cancelled. In laying hold of the means, the notion constitutes itself the very implicit essence of the object. In the mechanical and chemical processes, the independence of the object has been already dissipated implicitly, and in the course of their movement under the dominion of the End, the show of that independence, the negative which confronts the Notion, is got rid of. But in the fact that the End achieved is characterised only as a Means and a material, this object, viz. the teleological, is there and then put as implicitly null, and only 'ideal'. This being so, the antithesis between form and content has also vanished. While the End by the removal and absorption of all form characteristics coalesces with itself, the form as self identical is thereby put as the content, so that the notion, which is the action of form, has only itself for content. Through this process, therefore, there is made explicitly manifest what was the notion of design: viz. the implicit unity of subjective and objective is now realised. And this is the Idea.
This finitude of the End consists in the circumstance, that, in the process of realising it, the material, which is employed as a means, is only externally subsumed under it and made conformable to it. But, as a matter of fact, the object is the notion implicitly: and thus when the notion, in the shape of End, is realised in the object, we have but the manifestation of the inner nature of the object itself. Objectivity is thus, as it were, only a covering under which the notion lies concealed. Within the range of the finite we can never see or experience that the End has been really secured. The consummation of the infinite End, therefore, consists merely in removing the illusion which makes it seem yet unaccomplished. The Good, the absolutely Good, is eternally accomplishing itself in the world: and the result is that it need not wait upon us, but is already by implication, as well as in full actuality, accomplished. This is the illusion under which we live. It alone supplies at the same time the actualising force on which the interest in the world reposes.
In the course of its process the Idea creates that illusion, by setting an antithesis to confront it; and its action consists in getting rid of the illusion which it has created. Only out of this error does the truth arise. In this fact lies the reconciliation with error and with finitude. Error or other being, when superseded, is still a necessary dynamic element of truth: for truth can only be where it makes itself its own result.
Third Subdivision: The Notion The Idea Development of The Idea Life Cognition Absolute Idea
The Idea is truth in itself and for itself the absolute unity of the notion and objectivity. Its 'ideal' content is nothing but the notion in its detailed terms: its 'real' content is only the exhibition which the notion gives itself in the form of external existence, while yet, by enclosing this shape in its ideality, it keeps it in its power, and so keeps itself in it. The definition, which declares the Absolute to be the Idea, is itself absolute. All former definitions come back to this. The Idea is the And yet, again, everything actual, in so far as it is true, is the Idea, and has its truth by and in virtue of the Idea alone. Every individual being is some one aspect of the Idea: for which, therefore, yet other actualities are needed, which in their turn appear to have a self subsistence of their own. It is only in them altogether and in their relation that the notion is realised.
The individual by itself does not correspond to its notion. It is this limitation of its existence which constitutes the finitude and the ruin of the individual.
The Idea itself is not to be taken as an idea of something or other, any more than the notion is to be taken as merely a specific notion. The Absolute is the universal and one idea, which, by an act of 'judgement', particularises itself to the system of specific ideas; which after all are constrained by their nature to come back to the one idea where their truth lies. As issued out of this 'judgement' the Idea is in the first place only the one universal substance: but its developed and genuine actuality is to be as a subject and in that way as mind.
Because it has no existence for starting point and point d'appui, the Idea is frequently treated as a mere logical form. Such a view must be abandoned to those theories which ascribe so called reality and genuine actuality to the existent thing and all the other categories which have not yet penetrated as far as the Idea. It is no less false to imagine the Idea to be mere abstraction. It is abstract certainly, in so far as everything untrue is consumed in it: but in its own self it is essentially concrete, because it is the free notion giving character to itself, and that character, reality. It would be an abstract form, only if the notion, which is its principle, were taken as an abstract unity, and not as the negative return of it into self and as the subjectivity which it really is.
Truth is at first taken to mean that I know how something is. This is truth, however, only in reference to consciousness; it is formal truth, bare correctness. Truth in the deeper sense consists in the identity between objectivity and the notion. It is in this deeper sense of truth that we speak of a true state, or of a true work of art. These objects are true, if they are as they ought to be, i.e. if their reality corresponds to their notion. When thus viewed, to be untrue means much the same as to be bad. A bad man is an untrue man, a man who does not behave as his notion or his vocation requires. Nothing however can subsist, if it be wholly devoid of identity between the notion and reality. Even bad and untrue things have being, in so far as their reality still, somehow, conforms to their notion. Whatever is thoroughly bad or contrary to the notion is for that very reason on the way to ruin. It is by the notion alone that the things in the world have their subsistence; or, as it is expressed in the language of religious conception, things are what they are, only in virtue of the divine and thereby Creative thought which dwells within them.
When we hear the Idea spoken of, we need not imagine something far away beyond this mortal sphere. The Idea is rather what is completely present: and it is found, however confused and degenerated, in every consciousness. We conceive the works to ourselves as a great totality which is created by God, and so created that in it God has manifested himself to us. We regard the world also as ruled by Divine Providence: implying that the scattered and divided parts of the world are continually brought back, and made conformable, to the unity from which they have issued. The purpose of philosophy has always been the intellectual ascertainment of the Ideal; and everything deserving the name of philosophy has constantly been based on the consciousness of an absolute unity where the understanding sees and accepts only separation. It is too late now to ask for proof that the Idea is the truth. The proof of that is contained in the whole deduction and development of thought up to this point. The Idea is the result of this course of dialectic. Not that it is to he supposed that the idea is mediate only, i.e. mediated through something else than itself. It is rather its own result, and being so, is no less immediate than mediate. The stages hitherto considered, viz. those of Being and Essence, as well as those of Notion and of Objectivity, are not, when so distinguished, something permanent, resting upon themselves. They have proved to be dialectical; and their only truth is that they are dynamic elements of the idea.