Man is spirit. But what is spirit?
Spirit is the self. But what is the self?
The self is a relation which relates itself to its own self, or it is that in the relation [which accounts for it] that the relation relates itself to its own self; the self is not the relation but [consists in the fact] that the relation relates itself to its own self.
Man is a synthesis of the infinite and the finite, of the temporal and the eternal, of freedom and necessity, in short it is a synthesis. A synthesis is a relation between two factors. So regarded, man is not yet a self.
Such a derived, constituted, relation is the human self, a relation which
relates itself to its own self, and in relating itself to its own self relates
itself to another. Hence it is that there can be two forms of despair
properly so called. If the human self had constituted itself, there could
be a question only of one form, that of not willing to be one’s own
self, of willing to get rid of oneself, but there would be no question of
despairingly willing to be oneself.
This formula [i.e. that the self is constituted by another] is the expression for the total dependence of the relation (the self namely), the expression for the fact that the self cannot of itself attain and remain in equilibrium and rest by itself, but
only by relating itself to that Power which constituted the whole
relation. Indeed, so far is it from being true that this second form of
despair (despair at willing to be one’s own self) denotes only a
particular kind of despair, that on the contrary all despair can in the
last analysis be reduced to this.
If a man in despair is as he thinks conscious of his despair, does not talk about it meaninglessly as of something which befell him (pretty much as when a man who suffers from vertigo talks with nervous self-deception about a weight upon his
head or about its being like something falling upon him, etc., this weight and this pressure being in fact not something external but an inverse reflection from an inward experience), and if by himself and by himself only he would abolish the despair, then by all the labor he expends he is only laboring himself deeper into a deeper despair. The disrelationship of despair is not a simple disrelationship but a
disrelationship in a relation which relates itself to its own self and is constituted by another, so that the disrelationship in that self-relation reflects itself infinitely in the relation to the Power which constituted it.
This then is the formula which describes the condition of the self when
despair is completely eradicated: by relating itself to its own self and
by willing to be itself the self is grounded transparently in the Power
which posited it.
More to come in Piece VI …