Self-consciousness is primarily simple existence for self, self-identity by exclusion of every other from itself. It takes its essential nature and absolute object to be Ego; and in this immediacy, in this bare fact of its self-existence, it is individual. That which for it is other stands as unessential object, as object with the impress and character of negation.
There is a quite generally held opinion that the Aristotelian and Platonic philosophies are directly opposed, the one being idealistic and the other realistic, and that, indeed, in the most trivial sense. For Plato is said to have made the ideal his principle, so that the inward idea creates from itself; according to Aristotle, on the contrary, we are told that the soul is made a tabula rasa, receiving all its determinations quite passively from the outer world; and his philosophy is thus mere empiricism – Locke’s philosophy at its worst. But we shall see how little this really is the case. In fact Aristotle excels Plato in speculative depth, for he was acquainted with the deepest kind of speculation – idealism – and in this upholds the most extreme empirical development.
The very essence of spirit is action. It makes itself what it essentially is; it is its own product, its own work. Thus it becomes object of itself, thus it is presented to itself as an external existence. Likewise the spirit of a people: it is a definite spirit that builds itself up to an objective world. This world, then, stands and continues in its religion, its cult, its customs, its constitution and political laws, the whole scope of its institutions, its events and deeds.