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Da Marx Myths and Legends.

Chris Arthur

Hegel’s Master-Slave Dialectic and a Myth of Marxology
Does such a judgement—as Kojève insinuates and so many later writers boldly assert —rest on Hegel’s discussion of the labour of servitude? The first thing that should give us pause is that immediately after this praise ar! "ualifies it by complaining that #the only labour Hegel $nows and recogni%es is abstract mental labour’&[20] The servant’s labour is clearly material' so this remar$ shows that not only has ar! not drawn on that analysis' but he has actually forgotten all about it and done Hegel a minor injustice([21] )hat ar! does refer us to is #the closing chapter of the Phenomenology &&& *+,bsolute Knowledge-.’' which #contains the concentrated essence of the Phenomenology’ and its dialectic&[22] /t contains the upshot of its whole movement& The #abstract mental labour’ to which ar! refers is the labour of spirit& The Phenomenology is a spiritual odyssey' or' perhaps' a Bildungsroman of spirit' in which spirit discovers that the objective shapes given to it in consciousness and self0 consciousness are nothing but its own self0determination& 1pirit comes to $now itself through producing itself' in the first instance as something which stands over against itself& /n the final chapter' ar! notes' the world of estrangement thus brought to life is overcome' or negated' in a peculiar way in that —as Hegel puts it—#self0consciousness has sublated this alienation 2Entäusserung3 and objectivity &&& so that it is at home with itself in its otherness as such’&[23] )ithin this framewor$ spheres of estrangement such as religion' the state' civil society' and so forth' are grasped as spirit’s own wor$& Hegel emphasi%es that spirit can come to itself only through setting up opposition and then negating it& This is #the labour of the negative’ as he calls it&[24]
20.

ar! Early Writings' p& 456
21. 1ee David

c7ellan Marx before Marxism' 7ondon

89:;' p& 89:&
22. Early Writings' pp& 456&

s far as the Phenomenology of Spirit is concerned' as it is a spiritualodyssey it is "uite wrong to place special stress on this moment of material labour *as is the case with the overly # ar!ist’ readings of arcuse and of Kojève.t this stage the dialectic advances through the despised servant& .' for its importance lies not in the material result but in the spiritual one& The ne!t stage in the dialectic is that' since self0consciousness lac$s unity here in being split between different #selves’' it attempts to find its #freedom’ in .s we have already noted' and now stress' it is an early moment in the story of spirit’s recovery of itself& /t is much less #concrete’ *in Hegel’s terminology.23. Ibid' p& 85 /t is necessary to locate the # aster>1lave’ within this perspective of spirit’s development of its self0awareness& . Phänomenologie p& <==& 24. than cultural achievements such as law' art' religion and philosophy&[25] ?onetheless' it is located at a turning point of some importance' for the problem Hegel faces is how to develop dialectically self0consciousness out of the mere consciousness of e!ternal objects& @onsciousness cannot grasp itself in things& /t must distinguish itself absolutely from them through their radical negation& The consumption of objects of desire accomplishes this in an evanescent way& To ris$ one’s life in forcing another consciousness to grant one recognition represents a more promising mediation& Aut the master finds himself frustrated in reducing the van"uished to his servant' his thing& 1elf0consciousness can only gain proper recognition through mutual respect such as that accorded to individuals constituted in the legal and ethical relations Hegel develops later in the story&[26] .s we have seen' he #finds himself’ through the negating action of wor$ on things& However' it must be stressed that the point of this is that it brings about an advance in self0consciousness& This does not have much in common with ar!’s interest in the reali%ation of an objective being in forming the material worldB /t is worth noting that in Hegel’s Encyclopaedia #Chenomenology’ no mention is made of the wor$er finding himself in his productB the emphasis in the outcome of the # aster>1lave’ there is on #community of need’ and #fear of the lord is the beginning of wisdom’&[27] .

and it is to this ar! refers when he says that' albeit in mystified form' Hegel grasps man as the product of his own labour' through alienation and the overcoming of alienation& Hegel' in common with modern political economy' grasps labour as the essence of human development but not as alienated from itself in capitalist society because' if one is unable to posit a genuine historical negation of the negation' the e!isting conditions become the hori%on which bloc$s off the possibility of a critical standpoint& /n fact' these conditions which twist and distort the objectification of man in and through labour are endorsed as the necessary groundwor$ within which the coming0to0be of man for .& .' and especially with the final chapter #.& This is the process of #absolute negati"ity.bsolute /dea and its alienation of itself in nature that he discusses. and estrangement *Entfremdung.—but he does not find it in the labour of servitude& -ar.bsolute Knowledge’ *and when he mentions the Encyclopaedia' it is the .s own disc#ssion in it does not mention a"ienation /t is perfectly true' however' that ar! finds in Hegel the theme of alienation *Entäusserung.nd on the ne!t pageE #For the reflection of self into self the two moments' fear and service in general' as also that of formative activity' are necessary&&& &’ e!e". Jonathan Rée draws my attention to the fact that e!e" is not rea""y disc#ssin! individuality here$ and a fortiori not socia" re"ationshi%s& ence there is no disc#ssion of master'master or s"a(e's"a(e re"ations& )e are concerned here with conscio#sness in general as a!ainst o*+ects& 27. Op !it ' paras <4<>4D& Ay contrast' in the Phänomenologie Hegel saidE #.#thin$ing’B objectivity is #negated’ in the pure universality of thought in the attitudes Hegel identifies with 1toicism and 1cepticism&[28] This #freedom’ of inner life is compatible with any social position—as Hegel says&[29] 26.lbeit fear of the lord is the beginning of wisdom' consciousness is not therein aware of being self0e!istent& Through labour' however' it comes to itself ’ *p& 88D. main"y concerns himse"f with spirit’s movement of #absolute negati"ity.& what really e!cited him was the #metaphysical’ aspect of the Phenomenology/spirit mediating itself with itself in alienation *Entäusserung.

Lin.himself must occur& The world of estrangement is presented as labour’s absolute self0e!pression&[39] [Cfr. 57] . Dir. Fil. Par.