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Hegel's method in philosophy consists in following out the triadic development (Entwicklung) in each concept and in each thing. Thus, he hopes, philosophy will not contradict experience, but will give to the data of experience the philosophical, that is, the ultimately true, explanation. If, for instance, we wish to know what liberty is, we take that concept where we first find it, in the unrestrained action of the savage, who does not feel the need of repressing any thought, feeling, or tendency to act. Next, we find that the savage has given up this freedom in exchange for its opposite, the restraint, or, as he considers it, the tyranny, of civilization and law. Thirdly, in the citizen under the rule of law, we find the third stage of development, namely liberty in a higher and a fuller sense than that in which the savage possessed it, the liberty to do and to say and to think many things which were beyond the power of the savage. In this triadic process we remark that the second stage is the direct opposite, the annihilation, or at least the sublation, of the first. We remark also that the third stage is the first returned to itself in a higher, truer, richer, and fuller form. The three stages are, therefore, styled:
in itself (An-sich)
out of itself (Anderssein)
in and for itself (An-und-für-sich).
These three stages are found succeeding one another throughout the whole realm of thought and being, from the most abstract logical process up to the most complicated concrete activity of organized mind in the succession of states or the production of systems of philosophy.