Date of Award
Master of Arts
William F Bristow
Nataliya Palatnik, Julius Sensat
Hegel develops an account of self-consciousness in the Phenomenology of Spirit in which a self-consciousness fights another in a life-and-death struggle. There are many readings of the motivations for self-consciousness’s risking of its own life and aiming at the life of the other in the struggle. I argue that Robert Stern’s account of these motivations is problematic because he attributes more rational self-awareness to self-consciousness than it possesses at this stage in the dialectic. John McDowell’s reading presents advantages over Stern’s, but still leaves us with the problem of how to understand that self-consciousness “in the other sees its own self,” as Hegel writes. I argue that Stern’s and McDowell’s accounts—and others like them—miss an important component behind the motivation for the struggle. This missing component is that self-consciousness takes the other to be itself. I also argue that this missing component helps us to understand other parts of the dialectic in the “Self-Consciousness” chapter, including the “dialectic of desire” and the instability of the lord-bondsman relation.
Martin, Jordon Kent, "Taking the Other to Be Itself: the Struggling Self-consciousness’s Motivations in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit" (2019). Theses and Dissertations. 2223.