READING QUESTIONS ON OUR 18 PARAGRAPHS OF HEGEL’S “The Master Slave Dialectic”
1. The editors report that most interpreters of Hegel explain that he demonstrates “that selfhood is a social fact.” What does this phrase mean?
2. According to the opening statement of our excerpt from Hegel’s “Master-Slave Dialectic,” what is necessary for the existence of self-consciousness?
3. Hegel explains that the purpose of self-consciousnesses staking their lives in a struggle to the death is to “raise their certainty of being for themselves to truth.” But why is it necessary for this struggle to be to the death? (#187)
4. This section of Hegel’s Phenomenology uses the description of a conflict between a master (lord) and slave (bondsman) to teach the idea that “selfhood is a social fact.” The dialectical struggle is a “model,” as the editors write, “for understanding the complex dynamics of intersubjective relations” (627). Only at the end of paragraph 189 does Hegel introduce the vocabulary of master and slave. How does the life and death struggle between two self-conscious individuals become a relationship between a master and a slave?
5. Why is the surrender of one individual self-consciousness into servitude or bondage a “hollow victory,” as the editors write, for the master? Include in your answer a citation of one or two sentences from Hegel that best communicate the downside of mastery.
6. What does labor provide for the servant?
These are the important terms that you should become conversant with. The recurrence of these terms in our theory readings will demonstrate how Hegel occupies what Foucault calls a “transdiscursive position” (1632).
in itself & for itself