Master and Slave

(b) Self−consciousness Recognitive(6)

¤ 430 Here there is a self−consciousness for a self−consciousness, at first immediately, as one of two thingsfor another. In that other as ego I behold myself, and yet also an immediately existing object, another egoabsolutely independent of me and opposed to me. (The suppression of the singleness of self−consciousnesswas only a first step in the suppression, and it merely led to the characterization of it as particular.) Thiscontradiction gives either self−consciousness the impulse to show itself as a free self, and to exist as such forthe other: − the process of recognition.

¤ 431 The process is a battle. I cannot be aware of me as myself in another individual, so long as I see in thatother an other and an immediate existence: and I am consequently bent upon the suppression of thisimmediacy of his. But in like measure I cannot be recognized as immediate, except so far as I overcome themere immediacy on my own part, and thus give existence to my freedom. But this immediacy is at the sametime the corporeity of self−consciousness, in which as in its sign and tool the latter has its own sense of self,and its being for others, and the means for entering into relation with them.

¤ 432 The fight of recognition is a life and death struggle: either self−consciousness imperils the other's life,and incurs a like peril for its own − but only peril, for either is no less bent on maintaining his life, as theexistence of his freedom. Thus the death of one, though by the abstract, therefore rude, negation ofimmediacy, it, from one point of view, solves the contradiction, is yet, from the essential point of view (i.e.the outward and visible recognition), a new contradiction (for that recognition is at the same time undone bythe other's death) and a greater than the other.

¤ 433 But because life is as requisite as liberty to the solution, the fight ends in the first instance as aone−sided negation with inequality. While the one combatant prefers life, retains his singleself−consciousness, but surrenders his claim for recognition, the other holds fast to his self−assertion and isrecognized by the former as his superior. Thus arises the status of master and slave. In the battle for recognition and the subjugation under a master, we see, on their phenomenal side, theemergence of man's social life and the commencement of political union. Force, which is the basis of thisphenomenon, is not on that account a basis of right, but only the necessary and legitimate factor in thepassage from the state of self−consciousness sunk in appetite and selfish isolation into the state of universalself−consciousness. Force, then, is the external or phenomenal commencement of states, not their underlyingand essential principle.

¤ 434 This status, in the first place, implies common wants and common concern for their satisfaction − forthe means of mastery, the slave, must likewise be kept in life. In place of the rude destruction of theimmediate object there ensues acquisition, preservation, and formation of it, as the instrumentality in whichthe two extremes of independence and non−independence are welded together. The form of universality thusarising in satisfying the want, creates a permanent means and a provision which takes care for and secures thefuture.

¤ 435 But secondly, when we look to the distinction of the two, the master beholds in the slave and hisservitude the supremacy of his single self−hood resulting from the suppression of immediate self−hood, asuppression, however, which falls on another. This other, the slave, however, in the service of the master,works off his individualist self−will, overcomes the inner immediacy of appetite, and in this divestment ofself and in 'the fear of his lord' makes 'the beginning of wisdom' − the passage to universal self−consciousness.

(c) Universal Self−consciousness

¤ 436 Universal self−consciousness is the affirmative awareness of self in an other self: each self as a freeindividuality has his own 'absolute' independence, yet in virtue of the negation of its immediacy or appetitewithout distinguishing itself from that other. Each is thus universal self−consciousness and objective; eachhas 'real' universality in the shape of reciprocity, so far as each knows itself recognized in the other freeman,and is aware of this in so far as it recognizes the other and knows him to be free. This universal reappearance of self−consciousness − the notion which is aware of itself in its objectivity as asubjectivity identical with itself and for that reason universal − is the form of consciousness which lies at theroot of all true mental or spiritual life − in family, fatherland, state, and of all virtues, love, friendship, valour,honour, fame. But this appearance of the underlying essence may also be severed from that essence, and bemaintained apart in worthless honour, idle fame, etc.

¤ 437 This unity of consciousness and self−consciousness implies in the first instance the individualsmutually throwing light upon each other. But the difference between those who are thus identified is merevague diversity − or rather it is a difference which is none. Hence its truth is the fully and really existentuniversality and objectivity of self−consciousness − which is Reason. Reason, as the Idea (¤ 213) as it here appears, is to be taken as meaning that the distinction between notionand reality which it unifies has the special aspect of a distinction between the self−concentrated notion orconsciousness, and the object subsisting external and opposed to it.

Hegel, G.W.F. (2001) Philosophy of Mind Trans. by William Wallace, accessed on 13 March 2008 at:

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