Re: [xmca] ego, self, etc.

From: Andy Blunden <ablunden who-is-at>
Date: Mon Feb 04 2008 - 21:12:07 PST

Paul, I can't take this up in detail here. I have a way of reading the
master-servant dialectic in the light of reading the preceding works and
the context of the time which is quite different from teh way it is read by
the French, though I have to say that its application to anticolonial
struggles is very appropriate. But still its use at the expense of almost
everything else Hegel ever said in the post-WW2 period is only partly
because Kojeve saw its value as a weapon for the anticolonial struggle, and
partly fortuitous, as I said before, simply because the Hypollite
translation of the PhG in the 1930s, was the first *readable* French
translation of Hegel that had appeared.
My reading of the Master-Servant Section is at with some
explanation about it at

At 07:06 PM 4/02/2008 -0800, you wrote:
> As I understand Hegel, the dialectic of the Master-Slave
> (Lord-Bondsman) emerges from the inability of sensory
> consciousness',i.e., self-consciousness as appetite and its
> satisfaction, to establish its own truth. This absence of absence can
> be thought of as the non-existence of any meal or food that eliminates
> the recurrence of hunger or any joyous epiphany that doesn't dissolve
> into everyday existence. Such food or experience would, of course, be
> an absolutely truthful food or sensory experience (you always do have to
> come down, right?). Utopian.
> However in the Phenomenology Hegel proposes that an OTHER
> self-consciousness can continually affirm the individual
> self-consciousness's (subject of the hunger) existence. Hegel really
> doesn't go into the grounds of intersubjectivity that this resolution of
> solipsism implies. However, upon establishing itself, the dialectic of
> Master-Slave turns again: the truth of the conquering Lord over the
> cowering Slave dissolves away just like the momentary truth of a full
> belly.\: the Lord's consciousness of the truth of his own consciousness
> depends on the alienated consciousness of the serf/bondsman/slave, this
> is labor in the broadest sense of the term, ACTIVITY. \
>Echoing Andy, I would like to point out that among those people who have a
>passing acquaintance with Hegel's philosophy, beyond the
>thesis-antithesis-synthesis caricatures, the Master-Slave dialectic is
>probably the most commonly encountered. But that's not the key to the
>theory of Self-Consciousness Hegel presents in these parts of the
>Phenomenology.. In the sub-section , "the Unhappy Consciousness fthat
>follows the Master-Slave", he describes how the subordinated "individual"
>self-consciousnesses realize their truth), the truth of their own
>self-consciousness, as the absolutely universal, self-consciousness
>devoid of indivdually differentiating properties vis a vis the
>other bondsman/slaves; the Slave's consciousness is an alienated
>consciousness, its free, creative activity affirming not its own but an
>Other's self-consciosness. But in that commonality of alienated
>self-consciousness, the Slaves realize the collective, intersubjective basis of
> self-consciousness itself, without having to go out and have knife
> fights to prove it. The next step in the Phenomenology is the domain of
> Spirit; i.e. the domain of all humankind"s collective traditions and
> institutions.
> I'm might be misreading Andy's responses to you, but it seems that he
> is diminishing the importance of the Master-Slave moment of the section
> on Self-Consciousness and the Phenomenology overall, dismissing it as
> some kind of socio-pathic reaction to their own subordination in WWII. I
> don't agree about that. I think this section of the Phenomenology,
> especially the M-S sub-section, is one of the most important for various
> reasons; for example, it is the section in which the , Hegel develops a
> social/intersubjective theory of the self- consciousness. To the best of
> my knowledge hobody ever did that before..
> In some ways this section plays the same role in the Phenoomenology
> as the scene ) in which the projected shadows of Mickey Mouse
> and Stokowski shake hands plays in Disney's Fantasia (1940) Prior to
> that we have only seen purely aesthetic skating seed pods, fanciful
> dancing Cossak mushrooms and other objects of pure fantasy, after that
> we are treated to fkying Pegasii and other mythical figurers, to
> narratives imparting a moral order. The MSD is the hinge of the
> Phenomenology and Lenin probably would have loved it. In "The Rational
> Kernel in the Hegelian Dialectic" (Telos Fall 1970 ) ,the Vietmese
> philosopher, Tran Duc Thao , demonstrated the importance of this section
> of Hegel's philosophy for the anti-colonialist, anti-imperialist struggles.
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  Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380 9435,
mobile 0409 358 651

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Received on Mon Feb 4 21:14 PST 2008

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