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Brandom-1992

Self-Consciousness:
Desire, Pride, and Independence
I. Introduction
1. With the exposition of the experience of self-consciousness, we "leave behind the
colorful show of the sensuous here-and-now and the nightlie void of the supersensible
be!ond, and step out into the spiritual da!light," "1##$. With the transition to the %elf-
&onsciousness section, the topic of the 'henomenolog! shifts from conceptions of
empirical ob(ects to conceptions of the sub(ect of such conceptions. )or the first time we
get a setch of what ind of being *egel taes us to be +phenomenal and
phenomenological consciousness alie,. What is special about us is that in addition to
being natural creatures
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, we are what he calls -spiritual- creatures. %pecificall!, each of us
is an "individual self-consciousness" who, in communit! with others, actuali.es the
concretel! and practicall! universal social substance. /he discussion taes place at two
levels, which must not be run together. 0t the phenomenological level, for us who are
being educated b! this exposition, there is a progressive development in our
understanding of the sort of identit! in multiplicit! implicit in taing something to be a
determinate individual. )rom our first glimpse of the issue as directed to the determinate
observable properties and ob(ects, which appear to phenomenal consciousness in
determinatel! contentful perception, our conception has been enriched b! the advent of
the model of the "pla! of forces", which appears to phenomenal consciousness in
determinatel! contentful understanding.
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1ur understanding of determinate individualit!
is to be further developed b! the discussion of the relation between individual living
things and their species, the unfolding of the concept of 2ife. )inall!, the sort of identit!
out of diversit! exhibited b! life, in which the individual enacts the species and the
species produces and preserves the individual is eventuall! revealed as displa!ing in a
merel! implicit form what becomes explicit in the concept of the relation between
individual self-consciousnesses and universal %pirit.
2. 0t the other level, following not the order of exposition corresponding to our
development but the order of development of phenomenal consciousness, a
1
3t is not harmless to paraphrase this in terms of "having a bod!".
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4nderstanding does not differ from perception in essentiall! involving mediation +inferential and
incompatibilit! relations among repeatables,. Both do. /he! differ in that perception deals on with
mediated repeatables that can be noninferentiall! reported, and so are also immediatel! accessible, while
understanding deals also with mediated repeatables that are not accessible noninferentiall!, and so are
purel! mediated. /hese are theoretical entities in general--where this phrase should be understood to
indicate not a difference in ontological ind, but onl! a difference in methodological access.
fundamentall! naturalistic stor! is told about how spiritual creatures can arise out of
merel! natural ones. *ere we tae as our initial ob(ect living things +using the concept
living thing, rather than taling about it,. We see how it is possible to characteri.e
animals that exhibit desire as having a primitive form of consciousness +we might call it
awareness,. 0ccording to this erotic theor! of consciousness, things are something for
desiring beings, a particular can appear as an instance of universal to them.
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3norganic things (ust are what the! are in themselves. But there are other inds of
things, desiring things, such that things can be something for them, as the hungr! animal
distinguishes food from non-food. %ince something can be something for them, since
things can appear as something, sa! food, to them, desiring animals are sub(ects of
experience, as that term is used in the 3ntroduction. What a hungr! animal taes to be
food, b! practicall! treating it as food, "falling to without further ado and eating it up," as
"169$ puts it, ma! reveal itself not to have been what it appeared to be, not to have been
in itself what it was for the animal, if it proves to be offensive-tasting and inedible. 0s
such a sub(ect of experience, what a desiring animal is in itself depends on what things
are for it. /he 7uestion is then what must be true of +what is at least, a desiring animal in
order for it to count not (ust as aware of something as food, when hungr!, but also as
aware of itself as aware, for instance as hungr!. B! turning the erotic account of
conscious awareness on itself, an account of self-awareness is to be offered to explain
what else we are attributing to an animal when we tae it to be conscious of itself as
conscious, or self-conscious. &reatures of this sort are something in themselves, and
things are something for them, but the! also are something for themselves. 3n
conse7uence, the! are historical beings in a stronger sense than are the merel! desiring,
and so experiencing ones. )or an alteration in what the! are for themselves alters also
what the! are in themselves. /hus self-conscious beings can develop progressivel!, from
our phenomenological point of view, when the! change what the! are in themselves b!
changing what the! are for themselves and when the change in what the! are for
themselves is expressivel! clarif!ing, a matter of maing explicit for themselves what
the! implicitl! were in themselves. 3n following the exposition of the 'henomenolog!
we are discerning such expressivel! progressive developments, and b! rehearsing a
sufficientl! complete set of them
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, will so alter what we are for ourselves as to achieve a
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/he consciousness that arises with desire must be distinguished both from the sort of classification that a
chun of iron does when it rusts in some environments and not in others, and from the consciousness
discussed in the first section of the 'henomenolog!. 0s will emerge below, classification b! desire is
distinguished from that of the iron b! its activit!, the impetus it involves toward abolishing itself b! finding
the truth of its certaint! in the satisfaction of desire +determinatel! negating the determinate negation that is
desire,. 3t is also distinguished from the particular shapes discussed under the headings of "%ense
&ertaint!", "'erception", and "4nderstanding". )or that exposition begins with consciousness that is
alread! full! linguisticall! articulated and sophisticated. We start there with attempts to understand
empirical nowledge--attempts that are undertaen b! consciousnesses the alread! have a great deal of
conceptual apparatus. /hus we start with phenomenal consciousness understanding the authorit! of its
claims to empirical nowledge according to a model of %ense &ertaint! that is a determinate model onl! in
virtue of its contrasting the sort of mere indication or pointing-out that it taes to be expressed b! using
indexicals and demonstratives, on the one hand, with inferential articulation of a sort that is explicitl! to be
excluded from immediate sense nowledge, on the other. 3t must have alread! mastered the use of these
sorts of mediation in order to have the +mistaen, model it does of immediac!. 3n an! case, the issue of
how to understand the authorit! peculiar to sense is a sophisticated, late-coming one.
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%pread out in the exposition both verticall! in a stratification of reconstructed historical experiences such
that what we learn from one presupposes what we have learned from the previous ones hierarchicall!, and
new ind of identit! in ourselves where what we are for ourselves and in ourselves
coincide in important formal wa!s--what *egel calls achieving 0bsolute 9nowledge.
5. 3t remains to as what is re7uired for a being to count as being something for itself, as
having a self-conception, or as being aware of itself as aware, that is, as being self-
conscious. /he two aspects whose various dependencies on each other are the structure
that defines %pirit are self-conscious individuals and the substantial universal--the latter
being the evolving tangle of norms and concepts implicit in the actual practices and
practical experience of the communit! that comprises those individuals. *egel
accordingl! offers a social account of self-consciousness, according to which both the
individual and the universal aspects of %pirit depend on mutual recognition b! particular
consciousnesses.
%elf-consciousness exists in and for itself when, and b! the fact that, it so exists for
another: that is, it exists onl! in being acnowledged "0neranntes$.
.../he detailed exposition of the ;otion "Begriff$ of this spiritual unit! in its duplication
will present us with the process of <ecognition "die Bewegung des 0nerennens$. "1#=$
/his structure of recognition produces the "-3- that is -We- and the -We- that is -3-,""1##$.
0s between mutuall! recogni.ing consciousnesses, it is s!mmetric--each is to understand
its own identit! as including its relation to other self-consciousnesses.
>ach is for the other the middle term, through which each mediates itself with itself and
unites with itself: and each is for itself, and for the other, an immediate being on its own
account, which at the same time is such onl! through this mediation. /he! recogni.e
themselves as mutuall! recogni.ing one another "%ie anerennen sich als gegenseitig sich
anerennend$. "1=8$
*egel here is maing an ontological point. Beings that are what the! are recogni.ed to
be b! those the! recogni.e are, as such, a special ind of thing. 1nl! the!, he claims, can
have a concept of conscious selfhood and can appl! it to themselves. /hat is, in the terms
canvassed above, onl! such consciousnesses can be explicitl! for themselves what the!
are implicitl! or in themselves. *is claim is not to be confused with the sort of
ps!chological point 3saiah Berlin maes when he sa!s
/hose who have grasped the notion that men are made miserable not onl! b! povert!,
disease, stupidit!, or the effects of ignorance, but also because the! are misfits or
outsiders or not spoen to, that libert! and e7ualit! are nothing without fraternit!...are in
possession of one of *erder-s id?es maitresses.
Both the ontological and the ps!chological sort of claim are taen b! their authors
ultimatel! to have moral significance, but the! are ver! different.
8. Before seeing how it might be argued that self-consciousness is possible onl!
hori.ontall! across aspects of what we are in ourselves@ our empirical nowledge +&onsciousness,,
constitution of nowing and acting selves +%elf-&onsciousness,, and practical purposive action +<eason,.
according to the structure of mutual recognition, it will be helpful to see what could
motivate one to thin of self-conscious selves as taing themselves to be selves b! taing
themselves to be recogni.ed b! those the! recogni.e. /he antecedents that inspire that
approach are to be found embedded in a voluntarist tradition that extends through 9ant
from <ousseau. 3-ll expound the idea in the terms the! encourage, which emphasi.e
deliberate choice, and then indicate how *egel has broadened the concept b! founding
explicit recognition of that sort on recognition that is implicit in a sort of practice we
alwa!s find ourselves alread! engaged in. 3n his essa! "Was ist 0uflArung", 9ant
interprets the >nlightenment as the coming of age of humanit!, its emergence from
dependence to independence as the enlightened individual taes responsibilit! for claims
and actions that result from rational deliberation about evidence and goals. 9ant counts
<ousseau as a hero of the >nlightenment because of his emphasis on autonom! as a
moral sina 7ua non. 3t is incompatible with the dignit! of mature humanit! to be
constrained b! laws governing belief and conduct that are imposed on it from without.
)or the purposes of this discussion we ma! ignore such minor points as what difference it
maes whether what is within is thought of as ;ature or <eason +or &ustom, as *erder
has it,. 9ant identifies reason with the form of rule-governedness in general. -;ecessar!-
for him means according to a rule. %impl! from the point of view of conceptual
engineering one cannot help but admire the wa! in which 9ant manufactures a notion of
)reedom out of those of 0utonom! and ;ecessit!, b! the use of use rule-based
conception of constraint b! norms. /o be rational is to be constrained b! rules of a
special ind@ rules whose determinate content, if made full! explicit, would not contradict
their form as rules, namel! necessit! and universalit! +to offer a description of this view
in terms that are particularl! important to *egel,. But it is incompatible with our dignit!
to be constrained b! an! rules we have not freel! chosen. %o we are independent in our
choice of rules to be constrained b! or dependent upon, sub(ect onl! to restrictions of
form. /his particular combination of independence and dependence is rational freedom,
which defines the ind of being we are and the ind of moral dignit! we have.
B. *egel endorses both the aspiration for reconciliation that animates this account and
the general outlines of the approach pursued. *e does not thin that we should follow
9ant in restricting the constraint of reason to a purel! formal role, however. /he picture
of
%pirit...this absolute substance which is the unit! of the different independent self-
consciousnesses which, in their opposition, en(o! perfect freedom and independence...,
is to explain how determinatel! contentful and so limited independence +b! contrast to
9ant-s wide open invitation@ "&hoose an! rule..., is constrained b! its determinatel!
contentful dependence on something else concrete +b! contrast to 9ant-s purel! formal
7ualification@ "...so long as its content, if made explicit, is not incompatible with its
form,",. /o see what difference this move maes, interpret for the moment the concept
of recognition--which for us has until now been essentiall! a blac box with certain
reputed capacities but an unnown internal constitution--as "taing to be or treating as a
member of a particular communit!". Cembership in a communit! we might understand
to be a normative matter of liabilit! to assessments of the propriet! of one-s conduct +as if
onl! members of the tribe are beaten with stic for misbehaving, and entitlement to
engage in such assessments of the conduct of others +and so tae up the stic on
appropriate occasions,. *egel-s idea here would tae the form that actuall! being a
member of the communit! means being treated as a member b! those one treats as a
member. <ecogni.ing others can then be a purel! practical matter of to whom one
addresses stic-assessments, and from whom one accepts them. 3 am independent in the
matter of what others 3 recogni.e in the sense that whether or not 3 recogni.e them is
entirel! a matter of how 3 treat them. /his independence has a determinate, limited
content alread! both because onl! some concrete individuals are available to be
recogni.ed, and because 3 alwa!s alread! find m!self in some sort of recognitive posture
towards them, which would need to be modified.
B
3 am dependent for what 3 reall! am,
what communit! if an! 3 am reall! a member of, on how 3 am treated b! those 3
recogni.e. Whether 3 succeed in m! bid to be constrained b! the communal norms 3 have
committed m!self to b! m! recognitive behavior +and in that implicit sense have -chosen-,
depends on more than m! activit!. /here is in the recognitive structure the moment of
the independence of the individual, in which it throw its lot in with a communit! +perhaps
b! behaving in a certain wa!,, and there is the corresponding moment of dependence in
which the communit!, having become b! the individual-s recognition entitled to a sa! in
what the individual reall! +as concerns being one of us,, accepts or re(ects that petition.
D. *ere are two examples in which recognition taes the special form of a conscious and
deliberate choice. &onsider first being a metallurgist. 3 might decide that 3 want to be a
metallurgist, that 3 pro(ect this role for m!self as an ideal. 3 desire to be conscious of
m!self as a metallurgist, a special sort of self-consciousness, corresponding to a specific
sort of self-conception. 3nsofar as this case is lie the basic ones,
D
what gives determinate
content to m! desire is m! recognition of some others as being metallurgists in the sense 3
aspire to. What 3 want is to be one of them. /o succeed is to do whatever is re7uired to
earn their recognition of me as one of them. /heir response to me onl! becomes relevant
to what 3 reall! am, to whether 3 succeed in becoming in actualit! or in m!self, what 3 am
ideall! or for m!self, because 3 have made it relevant b! m! response to them. 3 am
independent in that it is up to me whether to recogni.e metallurgists or, sa!, whitewater
canoeists, but the exercise of that independence entails a corresponding dependence on
the ones 3 have recogni.ed to recogni.e me in turn.
0 second example will show how the balance between the independence of the
B
>ventuall!, of course, the important determinate content is a matter of what 3 approve or disapprove, what
particular commitments and entitlements 3 attribute. But this dimension does not come to the fore until
-<eason-.
D
/he 7ualification is needed because mutual recognition in its most basic instances must not presuppose
antecedent uses of language +it is at most coeval with language, and ma! be presupposed b! it,. But where
conscious deliberation about things lie whether to be a metallurgist is possible , the! onl! tae place
against a bacground of prior language use in a broader communit! to which the deliberator alread!
belongs. With the full powers of language to mae conceptuall! articulated contents available, it is
possible to constitute virtual communities b! linguistic recognition. )or the concrete experience that has
shaped the concepts used to characteri.e a dead of even fictional character ma! suffice to settle what would
be re7uired to entitle one to recognition of a certain sort from that figure +%herloc *olmes, Euleia
Fobson, or whoever,. 3t is for this reason that 3 can aspire to (oin Wordsworth or Blae as poets of the
imagination, and can wonder whether Wallace %tevens has succeeded in doing so.
individual and the dependence of that individual on the communit! can have multiple
e7uilibrium points. %uppose 3 want to be a good chess pla!er. 3 can mae things hard on
m!self or eas! on m!self. 3 can mae it ver! eas! to earn the recognition +in this respect,
of those 3 recogni.e as good chess pla!ers, if 3 am prepared to set m! standards low
enough. 3f 3 count as a good chess pla!er an!one who can pla! a legal game, 3 won-t
have to learn much in order to earn the recognition of those who can pla! a legal game of
m! capacit! to pla! a legal game. /he cost is, of course, that what 3 achieve is onl! to be
entitled to classif! m!self as a member of this not at all exclusive communit!. 1n the
other hand, if 3 want to be entitled to loo up to m!self
#
, 3 can exercise m! independence
and set m! standards high, recogni.ing onl! Grandmasters as good chess pla!ers. /o be
entitled to class oneself with them, be aware of oneself as exhibiting the propert! the!
give concrete determinate content to, would be an accomplishment indeed. But it is not
eas! to earn their recognition as a good chess pla!er. /he difference in the determinate
contents of these self-conceptions, and of the chances of reali.ing them and becoming in
oneself what one is for oneself, illustrates one dimension along which are arra!ed
different constellations of self-consciousness that is determinatel! independent as
recogni.ing, and determinatel! dependent as recogni.ed.
#. 1n this account, then, 3 can constitute m!self as self-conscious, but 3 need help. C!
understanding of m! own identit! is tied up with m! understanding of the identit! of
others, whom 3 recogni.e, and it is tied up with their understanding of m! identit!, their
recognition of me. >ach recogni.ed and recogni.ing self-consciousness has an identit!
that depends on its relation to others. /he individual self-consciousness both
distinguishes itself from those it recogni.es, as other self-consciousnesses, and identifies
itself with them, in recogni.ing them as other self-consciousnesses it is recogni.ing them
as what it itself is. /he certaint! or being-for-self of individual self-consciousness, its
recogni.ing, achieves its ob(ective truth in its being-for-others, in its being recogni.ed.
/he individual who is recogni.ed is thereb! concretel! classified under the universal to
the constitution of which that individual contributes b! recogni.ing. /he individual
would not be the individual it is if it did not fall under that universal +if the self-
consciousness did not belong to that communit!, was not bound b! its norms, was not
entitled to deplo! its concepts,. But the universal would e7uall! not be what it is if it did
not stand in (udgement over this individual: that depends on the recogni.ing activit! of
the individual. /he identit! of each self-consciousness depends on and consists in its
relations to a diversit! of other self-consciousnesses. /he identit! of the recognitive
communit! depends on and consists in its relations to each of the diverse recogni.ed and
recogni.ing self-consciousnesses. /he individual and universal aspects of recognitivel!
constituted %pirit are both identities forged out of each others differences.
=. /hese are the sorts of things *egel sa!s about a communit! of individual self-
consciousnesses in which the roles corresponding to each are constituted b! mutual
recognition. 3 hope b! now we can see what he is sa!ing b! doing so. /his conception of
the social structure of %pirit is what *egel will use to understand practicall! ever!thing.
#
0 contortion *egel insists we are capable of, thereb! inspiring ;iet.sche to a view according to which we
must aspire to the even more difficult feat of simultaneousl! looing up to ourselves and down on
ourselves. %ee the brief discussion of ;iet.sche below.
3t functions in two related wa!s@ as providing a conceptual model b! which to understand
all sorts of identit! in difference and applications of the general to the individual case +in
the practical contexts to be discussed under the heading of <eason as well as the
cognitive contexts alread! discussed under the heading of &onsciousness,, and as
providing a concrete matrix within which the determinatel! contentful norm-governed
activities that when made explicit tae the form of appl!ing general rules to particular
cases tae place. ;ow that we have a preliminar! grip on the recognitive structure that
distinguishes spiritual individuals from the merel! natural particulars, it should be
possible to begin to mae sense of appeals to it as the fixed end of a comparison maing
explicit for us what is implicit in phenomenal consciousness- conceptions of, for instance,
the pla! of forces or the wa! in which the determinate identit! of the ob(ect of perception
consists in the being-for-others +other properties and therefore also other ob(ects, of its
diverse determinate properties. 3n the remainder of the wor this pro(ect is pursued, in
parallel with the exposition of the function of %pirit as the medium in which perception
and action, no less than self-consciousness, alone are possible. /he first part of the
section on %elf &onsciousness provides an account both of how we can understand
concrete %pirit as arising out of ;ature, and an anal!sis of wh!, given its roots in the
natural, self-consciousness must be understood as taing the social form of mutual
recognition.
II. Desire and the Erotic Theory of Consciousness
9. 3n paragraphs "1D9$ to "1#2$ *egel expounds the concept of 2ife. 0lthough a detailed
treatment will not be attempted here, it ma! be worth assembling a couple of reminders.
)irst, we are eventuall! to see the concept of life as involving implicitl! the sort of
identit! through difference that becomes explicit for us in the concept of social self-
consciousness constituted b! mutual recognition. /he following passage is
representative@
/hus the simple substance of 2ife is the splitting-up of itself into shapes and at the same
time the dissolution of these existent differences: and the dissolution of the splitting-up is
(ust as much a splitting-up and a forming of members...
/he fluid element is itself onl! the abstraction of essence, or it is actual onl! as shape:
and its articulation "sich gliedert$ of itself is again a splitting-up of what was articulated
into form or a dissolution of it. 3t is the whole round of this activit! that constitutes
2ife...
2ife consists...in being the self-developing whole which dissolves its development and in
this movement simpl! preserves itself. "1#1$
0 species exists onl! in its members. /his is its "splitting itself up into shapes". /he
"dissolution of the splitting up" is the fact that it is of the essence of the species that it
survives the death of each of the members into which it is split up. /he preservation of
the species is the coming to be and the passing awa! of its individuals. /hus the species
has the identit! it does because of its relation to its diverse individual instances, and each
of those instances has the identit! it does because of its relation to the rest of the species,
from which it has arisen and into which it will pass as its posterit!. /his process is the
life of the species and of the individuals. 0gain, life as a whole is split up into individual
species, and is nothing apart from the collection of these, though it preserves itself across
those differences. But the species survive b! consuming one another, and so are what
the! are b! their differences from one another. 0s differences between individuals are
essential to the process of reproducing the species b! mating, so differences between
species are essential to reproducing life via the food chain.
3n mating we are to find an implicit and immediate form of what, when it is unfolded
explicitl!, becomes mutual recognition. /he social substance that is constituted b!
recognition in this sense is the species, and the animals that produce and are produced b!
this process are more than mere particulars, the! are biological individuals. /he second
point to notice is that *egel is committed to telling a basicall! naturalistic stor! about the
relation between the genuine recognition that institutes both individual self-
consciousnesses and social substance, on the one hand, and the process of life that
comprise both individual organisms and biological species, on the other. 3n particular, he
wants to mae it intelligible how the one could arise out of and be a development of the
other. We are to see how %pirit is rooted in ;ature in the form of 2ife.
16. *obbes said "/o be without Fesire is to be Fead."
=
Fesire is the feature of life that
gives rise to consciousness and self-consciousness. *egel sa!s "%elf-consciousness is
Fesire "Begierde$," "1#8$. 0lthough desire is here and elsewhere is explicitl! identified
connected to self-consciousness rather than consciousness
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, for reasons that will become
clear 3 thin we ought to understand this choice of terminolog! primaril! as reflecting the
official topic of the exposition of this section rather than a restriction in the doctrine. /he
erotic theor! of self-consciousness in fact presupposes an erotic theor! of consciousness.
/he idea is that things are something for desiring beings--the! can tae something as
something. >ach biologicall! based desire involves a response to the presence of an
ob(ect of the desired ind. /he hungr! animal treats something as food b! "falling to
without further ado and eating it up," "169$. 3n this wa! it classifies the particulars it
encounters as being of one of two inds, foodHnonfood, b! how it treats them in practice
in its desiring activit!. We learned from the exposition of the experience of phenomenal
consciousness understanding itself as sense certaint! that consciousness re7uires a
universal or repeatable element. /he basic form of awareness is awareness of something
particular as something universal. 1nl! particulars can satisf! a biological desire, but a
whole class of particulars is e7uall! eligible. /he respect of similarit! +a universal,
shared b! a class of particulars is thus a possible response on the part of the desiring
organism. /he desire disposing the animal to respond differentiall! to presented ob(ects
+e.g. eating some and not others, partitions the world into two e7uivalence classes of
ob(ects, depending on their role as stimuli eliciting or not eliciting the felt satisfaction of
that particular desire. 4niversalit!, we saw in the discussion of 'erception, is a form of
mediation.
=
2eviathan, &h.=.
9
*e is not completel! consistent in this usage, sometimes falling bac into taling (ust about
consciousnesses instead of self-consciousnesses +for instance in the critical paragraph "1#B$,. *e is entitled
to do this because an! individual self-consciousness (ust is a particular consciousness--one, namel!, that
recogni.es and is recogni.ed b! others.
11. 0t this point one might as wh! desire +and so life, needs to be invoed here. )or it
seems that all sorts of things could pla! the role assigned here to desire, of inducing
classifications. 0 chun of iron rusts in some environments and not in others, and
thereb! classifies particulars as falling under two different repeatables. 0n! repeatable
response will partition the universe of particular stimuli into two e7uivalence classes,
those that elicit a response of that ind and those that do not. What is special about
desireI
*egel-s answer is that desire is a ind of negation. 0 number of different features of
desire are invoed under this heading. )irst, desire is active, restless, an impetus toward
abolishing itself. 3t is a striving
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to cancel itself through satisfaction. What a desire is
implicitl! is expressed in a disposition to transform the desiring state into a different
state, its satisfaction, and it is in this sense a negative state or it "contains negation within
it". ;otice also that if desire is in this sense a negative state, then satisfaction of a desire
is negating the negation, a formula that is central to *egel-s logical characteri.ation of
consciousness +for instance in the 'reface,.
12. /hus desire introduces not onl! a universal element +because a given desire can be
satisfied b! an!thing of a certain ind,, but an ideal element. Fesire enforces a felt
contrast between the present actual state and the ideal future state it is promoting. Fesire
is both the origin of the ideal element in consciousness, and the cause of its reali.ation.
Because of this active, motivating side of desire, things can be something for desiring
beings in the sense that a particular can appear as an instance of universal to them. /hings
can appear as something, sa! food, to desiring animals in that the! are sub(ects of
experience, as that term is used in the 3ntroduction. What a hungr! animal taes to be
food, b! practicall! treating it as food, "falling to without further ado and eating it up,"
ma! reveal itself not to have been what it appeared to be, not to have been in itself what it
was for the animal, if it proves to be offensive-tasting and inedible.
%elf-consciousness which is simpl! for itself and directl! characteri.es its ob(ect as a
negative element, or is primaril! desire, will therefore, on the contrar!, learn through
experience that the ob(ect is independent. "1D=$
/he distinction between what things are in themselves and what the! are for the desiring
animal is thus something that the desiring animal itself experiences in its practical
activit!. What the desiring animal taes things to be, its certaint! regarding them, for
instance that there is food in front of it, ma! not find its truth in satisfaction. 0 chun of
iron responds differentiall! to its environment, and things happen to it, but it has nothing
corresponding to this experience, with its historical determinate negations of taings that
reveal themselves as mistaings.
15. Besides being a d!namicall! self-negating state, desire has a "negative relation to the
16
'ointing out the apparent unavoidabilit! of using patentl! inappropriatel! voluntaristic language
+-striving-, -tr!ing-, -aiming-, in taling about the d!namic aspect of desire on which all deliberate or
explicitl! purposive action is based is simpl! another wa! of getting to the point *egel is tr!ing to mae in
taling about 2ife as being implicitl! what %pirit is explicitl!.
ob(ect" of desire "1#B$. 0s desire self-consciousness "characteri.es its ob(ect as a
negative element," "1D=$. /he ob(ect of desire is felt as a determinate lac. Fesiring
being feels itself incomplete in the sense that it is motivated to develop into its full!
satisfied self, what it feels itself to be ideall!, apart from this actual lac. /he ob(ect of
desire is present to the desirer precisel! as absent, as something that is not there,
something it does not have. )urther, because desire involves a tendenc! to abolish itself,
it involves e7uall! a tendenc! to abolish the ob(ect of desire, 7ua ob(ect of desire. /his
ma! involve destro!ing the particular that satisfies the desire +"eating it up",, but it need
not. )or once the desire is satisfied that particular is no longer an ob(ect of the desire,
even if it is otherwise unchanged.
18. 3 have been taling as though desire can onl! constitute a two-sorted world +e.g.
foodHnon-food ,. %uch a situation would be 7uite exceptional, though
conceivable--"*ume imagined a variant of 'lato-s simple sea creature "from the
'hilebus$, a consciousness -reduc-d even below the life of an o!ster- whose appetitive life
was one monotonous hunger-cum-thirst--a one desire consciousness..."
11
/he general case is 7uite different. )or an! animal has man! desires. Fepending on
mood, the world ma! be divided also into possible sexual partners and the rest, or into
level places in full sunlight and the rest, or things it would be fun to chase and the rest. 0
complicated preconceptuall! articulated world can thus be generated b! a comparable set
of desires.
/he satisfaction responses corresponding to some of the desires will be incompatible with
one another. 0s a practical matter, the animal cannot both sleep in the sun and chase a
rabbit. /he universals induced b! desires which cannot be simultaneousl! satisfied will
accordingl! be incompatible with one another. %o incompatibilit! relations on universals
are induced b! incompatibilities of practical performance. 0s we have seen,
incompatibilit! relations among predicates in turn induce inferential relations among
them, so that the application of one can entail the application of another. /he desiring
animal-s world will thus alread! be articulated b! determinate negation +incompatibilit!,
and mediation +inference,. 0wareness or consciousness is classificator!, for *egel as for
others. /o be aware of something one must be aware of it as something, as falling into
some class or other. /here is no bare or immediate awareness. /he desiring animal first
is capable of becoming aware of something as, e.g., food, as the ind of thing which
would +or would not, satisf! an occurrent desire. 0s we shall see, this classificator!
demand is one crucial constraint on the possibilit! of self-consciousness. 1ne cannot be
aware of oneself simpl! as oneself +this particular,, for some universal notion of
consciousness which one can then be aware of oneself as falling under is re7uired.
1B. /he consciousness as awareness that arises with desire must be distinguished from
the particular shapes discussed under the headings of %ense &ertaint!, -'erception, and
4nderstanding, which are ver! sophisticated developments of the primitive animal
variet!. )or that exposition begins with consciousness that is alread! full! linguisticall!
11
Juoted from 0. Baier, in "What >motions 0re 0bout," pp. 1-29 in 'hilosophical 'erspectives 8@ 0ction
/heor! and 'hilosoph! of Cind 1996, <idgeview 'ress, p. B. /he 'lato reference is to 'hilebus 21 F: the
*ume reference is to p. D58 of the /reatise.
articulated and sophisticated. We start there with attempts to understand empirical
nowledge theoreticall!, attempts that are undertaen b! consciousnesses that alread!
have control of a great deal of conceptual apparatus. /hus we start with phenomenal
consciousness understanding the authorit! of its empirical nowledge according to a
model of sense certaint! that is a determinate model onl! b! contrasting the sort of mere
indication it taes to be expressed b! using indexicals with inferential articulation of a
sort that is explicitl! to be excluded. 3t must have mastered the use of these sorts of
mediation to have the model it does of immediac!. 3n an! case, the issue of how to
understand the authorit! of sense is a sophisticated, late-coming one--hardl! the sort of
issue that arises for the beasts of the field.
1D. /he naturalistic starting-point *egel has found in the erotic theor! of the origins of
consciousness will permit him to avoid erecting a divide of the 9antian ind between the
theoretical and the practical exercise of thought. &ognitive activit! is to be understood in
the first instance in terms of implicitl! purposive activit!. *egel is here bringing down
out of the clouds the insight )ichte had gathered from 9ant, that theoretical reason finds
its proper place as a province of practical reason. B! beginning an account of what
eventuall! develops into discursive, rational consciousness with primitive concepts of
2ife and Fesire, *egel also la!s the foundation for overcoming some of the <omantic
oppositions of heart and head, organic desire conceived as feeling versus reason
conceived as mechanical calculation. *egel-s use of the biological shows us a robust
practical conception of desire, which he thins the <omantics have sub(ectivi.ed in a bad
&artesian wa! in rendering it as feeling, sensation, frisson. 3t is because of this error that
the! placed such mistaen emphasis on intensit! and diversit! of feelings for their own
sae. )or *egel, b! contrast, what matters is that desire-s introduction of an ideal
element into actualit! maes possible a specials sort of development in the expressive
powers of such things as variations of feeling. +&ompare being interested in the
amplitude and fre7uenc! of a signal onl! insofar as modulations of them can conve!
complex messages.,
III. From Erotic Consciousness to Erotic Self-Consciousness
1#. Fesire, then, maes possible a certain sort of primitive consciousness, awareness of
something particular as being or not being of a certain desired ind. /he desiring sub(ect
is conscious of particulars as +being or not being, ob(ects of desire. /his is consciousness
b! the desiring sub(ect of something else. /he sub(ect is not itself the ob(ect of
consciousness. 3n particular, merel! b! desiring the sub(ect is not aware of itself as
conscious, that is, as desiring.
12
1ne of the lessons that we learned from the
&onsciousness section of the exposition is the incoherence of the idea of a form of
consciousness that is immediate in the sense of not involving the application of
repeatables. /he form of the primitive consciousness that is all we understand at this
stage in the %elf-&onsciousness section is of something particular as something universal.
/hese constraints appl! to the special form of consciousness that is self-consciousness as
well. /here is no form of self-consciousness that is immediate in the sense of involving
12
/he perhaps not wholl! irrelevant claim "3 need therefore 3 am," is as !et onl! implicitl! the principle of
desiring consciousness, which is accordingl! not !et self-conscious.
no application of universals--(ust taing oneself as oneself. /he same problems and
presuppositions arise for an attempt to remain within the confines of the immediac! of
-3-K-3- as were rehearsed for -/his-K-/his- in the discussion of %ense &ertaint!. %elf-
consciousness accordingl! must tae the form of taing a particular, oneself, as
instantiating a universal, consciousness, that is, classif!ing oneself as conscious.
/his other 2ife, however, for which the genus as such exists and which is for itself its
own genus
15
vi.. self-consciousness, exists in the first instance for self-consciousness
onl! as this simple essence, and has itself as pure -3- for ob(ect. 3n the course of its
experience which we are now to consider, this abstract ob(ect will enrich itself for the -3-
and undergo the unfolding which we have seen in the sphere of life. "1#5$
/he "pure -3-", the "genus as such", the "simple essence", is the concept of consciousness
in general. %elf-consciousness is consciousness that grasps +some version of, that
concept +"for which the genus as such exists", and applies it to itself +"has itself as pure -3-
as ob(ect",. /he 7uestion is how this particular universal arises in practice. /his
unfolding of the concept of consciousness, enriching the pure -3-, under which it classifies
itself +and which accordingl! is then a concept of self-consciousness, reveals the
fundamentall! social character of self-consciousness. /his latter doctrine is one of the
primar! reasons to be interested in *egel, so the argument b! which it is introduced is of
particular importance, and is worth looing at in some detail.
1=. /hat argument presents a pu..ling face. /he concept of consciousness that a
desiring consciousness must grasp and appl! to its own case is the concept of desiring in
general. &onsciousness is to be aware of itself as desiring, or as an instance of desiring
being. /he first move *egel presents us with in thining about what self-consciousness
of this sort involves is couched as an exposition of the process b! which "%elf-
consciousness... which is primaril! desire,...learns through experience that the ob(ect is
independent,""1D=$. /he initial issue is to be what sorts of independence and dependence
are exhibited b! the desiring sub(ect and desired ob(ect.
...self-consciousness is Fesire. &ertain of the nothingness of this other, it explicitl!
affirms that this nothingness is for it the truth of the other: it destro!s the independent
ob(ect and thereb! gives itself the certaint! of itself as a true certaint!, a certaint! which
has become explicit for self-consciousness itself in an ob(ective manner. "1#8$
/here is in consciousness as desire a moment of independence, in canceling the
independence of ob(ects of desire and maing them into what one taes them to be--the
rabbit is food because 3 eat it. 0s ob(ect of desire, it is dependent on the desirer.
&lassification has a moment of constitution. )urthermore, the certaint! of such
classification can be show itself to be truth b! the satisfaction of the original desire. /he
importance of Fesire is that something can be something for it +e.g. a possible source of
satisfaction, or not,. 3t is therefore possible for us +and indirectl! for desiring being, to
compare and contrast the ob(ect as it is in itself to the ob(ect as it is for this sort of
15
3-ve altered Ciller here: *egel has@ "Fies andere 2eben aber, fLr welches die Gattung als solche und
welches fLr sich selbst Gattung ist."
consciousness. What the ob(ect is for consciousness is a negativit! in the dual sense we
have alread! considered. /he ob(ect of desire is negative for consciousness in that it is
experienced as a lac or absence. /he ob(ect of desire is negative for consciousness in
that it is experienced as a means for the transformation of the desiring state into the ideal
or desired state, and is to be destro!ed, abolished, or used up as ob(ect of desire in
fulfilling that instrumental function. &onsidered in itself, however, the ob(ect is not
negative in either of these senses. 3t is onl! as ob(ect of desire, that is, as it is for desiring
consciousness that the ob(ect is a lac with respect to that consciousness. Jua ob(ect of
Fesire, the ob(ect exists onl! in relation to that desire, and hence is dependent upon it. 3n
itself it is what it is and would be that whether or not there were desiring animals in its
vicinit!. /he negativit! of the ob(ect in the sense of its being a lac is due entirel! to its
relation to Fesire, and is nothing apart from that relation.
1n the other hand, the ob(ect shows that in itself it is not a pure means subordinate to the
satisfaction of Fesire in the resistance it offers to that satisfaction. /he ob(ect shows its
independence and that its existence in itself transcends its existence for Fesire b! its
recalcitrance, the fact that it must be found or caught or persuaded to cooperate in the
abolition of a determinate Fesire. /he ver! existence of Fesire not-!et-abolished in its
satisfaction shows the stubborn independence of the ob(ect of Fesire from the Fesire it is
the ob(ect of, and so that what it is in itself transcends what it is for Fesire. /his
transcendence manifests itself not onl! for us, but for the desiring animal who
experiences the stubbornness and lac of cooperation of the world in the form of the
prolongation of unsatisfied Fesire. /he certaint! of Fesire is thus not !et the truth of its
ob(ect. /he stubbornness of the ob(ect with respect to Fesire +which is a necessar! aspect
of its appearance as absent though desired, shows that there is more to the ob(ect than
desiring being is aware of in desiring it.
19. %o desire involves e7uall! a moment of dependence on the ob(ect. 0s the
philosopher said, "Mou can-t alwa!s get what !ou want." "1#B$ points out@
i, 3n this satisfaction, however, experience maes it aware that the ob(ect has its own
independence. Fesire and the certaint! obtained in its gratification, are conditioned b!
the ob(ect, for self-certaint! comes from superseding this other: in order that this
supersession can tae place, there must be this other.
/he passage continues@
ii, /hus self-consciousness, b! its negative relation to the ob(ect, is unable to supersede
it: it is reall! because of that relation that it produces the ob(ect again, and the desire as
well. 3t is in fact something other than self-consciousness that is the essence of Fesire:
and through this experience self-consciousness has itself reali.ed this truth...
Fesire itself is the certaint! of desire, but the desired ob(ect is its truth, and that truth
retains a moment of recalcitrance or independence. Fependence on ob(ects of desire in
general cannot be overcome as dependence on particular ones sometimes can.
iii, 1n account of the independence of the ob(ect, therefore, it can achieve satisfaction
onl! when the ob(ect itself effects the negation within itself: and it must carr! out this
negation of itself in itself, for it is in itself the negative, and must be for the other what it
is.
iv, %ince the ob(ect is in its own self negation, and in being so is at the same time
independent, it is consciousness. 3n the sphere of 2ife, which is the ob(ect of Fesire,
negation is present either in an other, vi. in Fesire, or...as absolute negation,...the genus
as such, or the genus as self-consciousness. %elf-consciousness achieves its satisfaction
onl! in another self-consciousness. "1#B$.
/he decisive moves in the con(uring tric are the ones recounted in +iii, and +iv,. Wh!
does the independence of the ob(ect mean that self-consciousness can ac7uire satisfaction
+Kdf. achieving truth with its certaint!, as in satisf!ing a desire b! getting its ob(ect, onl!
b! desiring an ob(ect with negation in it, another consciousness or self-consciousness, as
in +iii,I 0nd wh! does desiring such a negative ob(ect re7uire finding it in another
desired consciousnessI
26. /hese 7uestions are put starl! in the following paragraph@
/he notion of self-consciousness is onl! completed in these three moments@
+a, the pure undifferentiated -3- is its first immediate ob(ect.
+b, But this immediac! is itself an absolute mediation, it is onl! as the supersession of the
independent ob(ect, in other words, it is Fesire...
+c, But the truth of this certaint! is reall! a double reflection, the duplication of self-
consciousness...
/he ob(ect of self-consciousness, however, is e7uall! independent in this negativit! of
itself: and thus it is for itself a genus, a universal fluid element in the peculiarit! of its
own separate being: it is a living self-consciousness. "1#D$
+a, is the idea of the simple genus of consciousness, which consciousness must grasp in
order to be able to classif! itself under, and so to be aware of itself as conscious, which is
what self-consciousness is all about.
+b, is pointing out that that genus is Fesiring being in general. /his is mediated and
negative in the sense in which Fesire is mediated and negative. 3t is mediated in
essentiall! involving a relation. 3t is negative in being a felt lac, an active motive force
leading to the annihilation of the desired being 7ua desired +satisfaction,, and hence
aiming at cancelling also itself. /his is what is being said in passage +iii, above in "1#B$@
the universal that consciousness must grasp in order to become conscious of itself as
conscious is desire in general. /he 7uestion that remains is then how to fill in the steps
that lead from +iii, to +iv,, or e7uivalentl! from +a, and +b, to +c,, the duplication of self-
consciousness. *ow is the social element in self-consciousness supposed to emerge in
this expositionI
IV. The Parado of Desire
21. /hese steps can be supplied, if we fill in and develop the underl!ing idea of desiring
consciousness becoming self-conscious, that is, conscious of itself as falling into the class
of desiring things in general. /o rehearse a bit@ Fesire is cancelled with its satisfaction.
When Fesire is satisfied, the thing no longer exists 7ua ob(ect of Fesire, and the animal
no longer exists 7ua desirer. Fesire is a negation +of ob(ect as laced, and of self as
lacing or contrasted with a potential or merel! ideal pro(ected state of organism,. /hus
satisfaction of Fesire is the negation of such negation. &onsciousness, which is negation
in the same dual sense, is thereb! abolished as well. )or consciousness exists onl! as
long as a sub(ective and an ob(ective pole +corresponding to certaint! and truth, are
distinguished +though still related,. With the satisfaction of Fesire the distinction
between desiring and desired state in which this sub(ect-ob(ect split originates disappears,
and consciousness with it. 0gain, it is onl! in virtue of the felt lac that external ob(ects
can be sorted accordingl! as the! would or would not repair that lac, and hence that
their practical classification under universals permitting them to appear as something is
possible. /hus consciousness, born out of the differentiation of self felt to be incomplete
and ideal pro(ected complete self ceases with the satisfaction of Fesire. %o animal
consciousness is a sometime thing, flicering and intermittent. 3ndeed, animal
consciousness as desire is negation in the further sense of negating itself. )or Fesire is in
principle a self-destructive state, destructive of the state of desire. 3t is essential to the
nature of Fesire that it provide the motive for its own supercession. 0n animal with onl!
one sort of Fesire would be conscious onl! when driven b! that desire. /he success of
the desire in achieving satisfaction eliminates the desire and its concomitant awareness.
>ven with a variet! of desires, so that one of them is alwa!s active and consciousness is
never entirel! abolished, still animal awareness will shift aleidoscopicall!, as different
active desires animate different principles of classification. /hus the animal will be aware
onl! of food at one time, onl! of sun at another. &onsciousness is a b!-product or
epiphenomenon of desire-driven activit!.
22. /he satisfaction of desire is a determinate negation of desire, however. /he satisfied
organism is left in a particular determinate state which in general is not simpl! a return to
the state occupied before the onset of Fesire, a state of abstract un-Fesire. )or Fesire is
satisfied b! some particular ob(ect, not b! a universal itself. 0s a particular, the
satisf!ing ob(ect falls under man! universals, has man! properties, besides that in virtue
of which it satisfies the desire in 7uestion. /hese other properties are constituted b! their
relation to other possible desires of the organism, and as such come in incompatibilit!
classes and hence are determinate. %o the determinate negation b! satisfaction of the
determinate negation which is a particular desire is more lie a spiral than a circle. 3f the
animal-s hunger is satisfied b! some fruit rather than b! the grain which would e7uall!
have abolished the hunger, it ma! not become thirst! as rapidl! as if some other
particular had provided the satisfaction. 1n the other hand, having its hunger satisfied in
that particular wa! ma! refine the beast-s tastes, so that it ac7uires a new species of
desire, hunger-for-fruit, satisfiable b! a more restricted class of particulars than
previousl!.
25. 3n this c!clic rh!thm of Fesire and satiation something new has arisen for the animal,
namel! occasional states of consciousness. /hese are conse7uences and concomitants of
Fesire. /he next stage in the development of human consciousness is taen when these
states become for the first time ob(ects of Fesire instead of merel! effects of it.
&onsciousness at this stage consists in the active differentiation of sub(ect and ob(ect in
the form of the distinction between actual desiring state and the ob(ect lacing to
transform that state into the ideal completed or satisfied state. 3n maing that distinction,
the animal becomes aware of the ob(ects of desire, which accordingl! are the ob(ects of
consciousness. But this is to be aware of onl! one side of the sub(ect-ob(ect double,
namel! the side of the ob(ect. /o be aware of the other, sub(ective, side, one must mae
consciousness +or, what is here the same thing, Fesire, the ob(ect of one-s desire. %o self-
consciousness, consciousness of consciousness, re7uires Fesire for Fesire ""0t the height
of pleasure 3 long for desire."$. /he new state of consciousness which arises in Fesire
must itself become desirable. %elf-reflection originates in Fesire-s directing of itself on
itself. Fesire must now be for desiring, and not (ust for the ob(ect desired.
28. But a paradox arises concerning this re7uirement. )or Fesire exists onl! as long as it
remains unsatisfied, that is lacs the desired ob(ect needed to satisf! it. 3f what is desired
is Fesire then@
a, 3f the Fesire +for Fesire, is not satisfied, then it remains Fesire. But this is what was
desired, the ob(ect of Fesire. *ence in this case the ob(ect of Fesire has been achieved,
and the Fesire for Fesire is satisfied. %o if that Fesire is not satisfied, then it is satisfied.
b, 3f the Fesire is satisfied, then Fesire is abolished in satisfaction. But then the ob(ect
of the Fesire is not present but absent, for it is exactl! the cancelled Fesire which is that
ob(ect. %o if the Fesire for Fesire is satisfied, then it is not satisfied. /his is the 'aradox
of Fesire. Fesire itself is one thing that cannot be the ob(ect of Fesire. %ince the
possibilit! of Fesire for Fesire is presupposed b! that of &onsciousness of
&onsciousness, in the framewor of the erotic theor! of consciousness, we must
understand how the paradox can be resolved.
2B. 3t might seem that the paradox here is merel! apparent, due to the failure to specif!
the ob(ects of the desires in 7uestion. But suppose that what is desired is that something
or other be desired, that is that we have a 7uantified desire. 3n Fesire+1, for Fesire+2,,
the ob(ect of Fesire+1, is that there is an x such that x is the ob(ect of Fesire+2,. /he
paradox still obtains. )or if Fesire+1, exists as desire, i.e. is not !et satisfied, then given
the specification of its ob(ect (ust above this entails that there is no Fesire+2, for an!
ob(ect at all. /his is incompatible with the assumption that there is at least one desire,
namel! Fesire+1, which has not !et achieved its ob(ect. %o such a Fesire+1, will be
satisfied +and hence abolished, whenever it exists, and hence cannot exist as a desire.
1ne might of course have a desire whose ob(ect is an un7uantified desire, as one might
desire to desire a sloop. *egel is ultimatel! concerned with consciousness of oneself as
conscious in general, so this case is of little interest to him. But there is nothing
paradoxical about a desire for a particular desire in this sense. 1n the other hand, *egel
ma! well believe that at the animal stage here considered, a desire for a desire for x (ust is
a desire for x. )or the complicated circumstances which permit us to eep such iteration
of desire from collapsing ma! not appl! to merel! animal desires.
2D. /he paradox of desire, 3 am claiming, is what warrants the step from conceiving of
self-consciousness as desire for desiring in general to the conclusion that one can onl!
become conscious of oneself as one of us, as one of a ind among which others, whom 3
recogni.e, are as well. /he form that *egel-s resolution of the paradox taes is to
mediate consciousness of oneself as sub(ect with consciousness of another as sub(ect.
Fesire can be the ob(ect of Fesire, as long as the sub(ects of the two Fesires are different.
3t is b! coming to be aware of other sub(ects of Fesire and awareness as such sub(ects,
that one will ac7uire the universal notion of conscious sub(ectivit!. /hat universal can
then be applied to oneself, and classif!ing oneself as particular under that universal will
be awareness of oneself as sub(ect. Without the detour through other sub(ects conceived
of as sub(ects, self-consciousness can be pursued onl! in the form of the futile attempt to
classif! oneself as oneself, to be aware of a particular onl! as that particular, which is
forbidden b! the classificator! nature of consciousness.
2#. /he paradox of desire pla!s a role in some wa!s analogous, in the practical sphere, to
that pla!ed b! the paradox of the liar, in the theoretical sphere. )or it exhibits a ind of
paradoxical self-reference with respect to the satisfaction of desire, as the liar paradox
does with respect to the truth of belief. 3nstead of a belief that is true (ust in case it is not
true, and not true (ust in case it is true, we have a desire that is satisfied (ust in case it is
not satisfied, and is not satisfied (ust in case it is satisfied. /here is an important respect,
however, in which the concept of desire for desire is not as paradoxical as that of the
claim that sa!s of itself that it is not true, at least on some understandings of the latter.
/hought of this wa!, the paradox of desire belongs in a box rather with the paradox of the
barber in the small %panish town who shaves all those who do not shave themselves. /he
right thing to sa! about this case is that when one examines the description of the barber
carefull!, one sees that there can be no such barber. 3n the same wa!, when one unpacs
the concept of desire for desire in general, one sees that there can be no single
consciousness that is directl! characteri.ed b! such a state. 3t is not clear that the claim
made b! the self-described liar can be dismissed along these lines.
18
/he weaer
conclusion is still strong enough for the conclusion *egel needs from it, however. )or
what the concept that the paradox seems to forbid the applicabilit! of, b! analog! to
"barber who shaves all those who do not shave themselves", namel! that of desire for
desiring in general, has been shown to be what must be true of a consciousness for it to
become self-conscious, according to the erotic theor! of consciousness. %o the paradox
genuinel! threatens to mae it impossible to develop a theor! of self-consciousness
starting with the conceptual raw materials provided b! the model of consciousness as
desire. 3t is this difficult! that is then overcome b! the move to a social conception,
within which alone the erotic model of consciousness provides a conception of self-
consciousness that is not paradoxical.
18
/his point is due to 3rad 9imhi.
2=. /his move can be liened to that recounted in the exposition of the experience of
perceiving consciousness, where the fact that the determinateness of each propert!
consists in its determinate incompatibilities with other properties. /his seemed
paradoxical, for, as incompatible with it, these other properties are precisel! excluded
from the propert! whose identit! their differences with it nonetheless somehow
constituted. /he resolution there, as here, was to distinguish different centers in which
the incompatible but mutuall! defining properties could inhere. /here is nothing
paradoxical about incompatible properties characteri.ing distinct ob(ects. 3ndeed, the
identit! of the ob(ects that come to be discriminated according to this reali.ation then can
be seen to derive precisel! from its distinctions from ob(ects characteri.ed b!
incompatible properties. 0nalogousl!, distinct self-consciousnesses are defined b! the
wa! in which the satisfaction of the one-s desires excludes or is incompatible with the
satisfaction of the other-s. /he dialectic of Caster! rehearses the significance attributed
to such incompatibilit! b! self-consciousness that misunderstands itself according to
categories of independence.
V. The Ideal of !utual "eco#nition
29. 3n this wa! it is possible to see how desiring consciousness can come to be able to
classif! things as desiring, and wh! the possibilit! of appl!ing that universal to
particulars other than itself is essential to its capacit! to deplo! the universal at all.
&lassif!ing something as desiring, that is as conscious, is taing that particular to be a
taer, something for which things are something. /his is the origin out of which the full-
blown concept of recognition grows. /hat concept is rooted in awareness of another as
aware, which translates into desire for another as desiring. +/his is how *egel
understands love, which in the spiritual communit! constituted b! mutual recognition is
expressed as trust,. <ecogni.ing others is taing them to be taers. 3t is a practical
attitude in which what someone is for some +recogni.ing, consciousness is a +recogni.ed,
consciousness that things are something for. /he paradox of desire, it has been claimed,
shows that recognition must in principle be a social affair. /his does not !et show how
self-consciousness, that is self-recognition, is possible however. /he paradox shows that
self-recognition cannot be immediate. 1ne-s capacit! to recogni.e oneself +tae oneself
as a taer, and so be for oneself what one is in oneself, must be mediated b! one-s
capacit! to recogni.e others. But mediated how, exactl!I Cediation b! recognition of
others has been shown to be a necessar! condition of self-recognition. But what sort of
mediation is sufficientI Wh! doesn-t the paradox of desire still bloc the application of
the concept of desiring being in general to the desirer-s own caseI
56. *egel-s answer is his s!mmetricall! social stor! of the constitution of individual self-
consciousnesses and universal spiritual substance b! mutual recognition. 3t is the
principle that full! explicit self-recognition is that in which the certaint! that is m!
recognition of m!self achieves its truth in m! being recogni.ed b! those 3 recogni.e. /he
wa! this wors is that 3 come to be able to classif! m!self under the universal of
recogni.ers-of-me, which is a universal that 3 also classif! others under. Grasping and
attributing this universal depends on being able to grasp and attribute that of being a
recogni.er in general, but the two universals are not identical. %tructurall!, *egel-s
picture is lie this. <eflexive recognition, cannot be achieved immediatel!. *ow can
recognition of others mediate m! recognition of m!selfI 3 cannot desire m! own
desiring, but can desire the desiring of another. /his seems to preclude exactl! the case
in which 3 appl! that concept to m!self. *ow does m! being able to appl! it to others
help resolve the paradox involved in m! appl!ing it to m!selfI /he answer is to mae
recognition both transitive and s!mmetric, from which it will follow that it is reflexive.
/his is wh! the social form of self-consciousness as self-recognition is an e7uivalence
relation. /ransitivit! means recogni.ing those recogni.ed b! those one recogni.es.
1B

%!mmetr! is what *egel calls mutual "gegenseitig$ recognition. /he idea is that one-s
self-recognition +reflexive recognition, is mediated b! another in case it is achieved b!
being recogni.ed b! someone one recogni.es +s!mmetric or mutual recognition,, in the
context of a general commitment to recogni.e those recogni.ed b! those one recogni.es
+transitivit! of recognition,.
51. /he structural point about recognition will eventuall! be seen to concern not (ust
taings, but the authorit! of taings. C! certaint! consists in m! taings having a certain
sort of authorit! for me. /o become for m!self what 3 am in m!self, to mae explicit to
m!self what 3 am implicitl!, 3 must be able to classif! m!self as a taer whose taings
have that sort of authorit!. /o do so, we have seen, re7uires taing others to be taers
whose taings have that same sort of authorit!. But this is to sa! that the tas of self-
consciousness is to become entitled to classif! itself as belonging to a group of taers,
whose taings have the same sort of authorit! that mine do. <ecogni.ing them is
recogni.ing their authorit!.
1D
/his means that recognition can be transitive. Where
recognition is transitive, when 0 recogni.es B and B recogni.es &, 0 recogni.es &. 3n
such a context, for 0 to be entitled to recogni.e itself it is sufficient for 0 to secure the
recognition of someone 0 recogni.es. /ransitivit! of recognition maes the achievement
of s!mmetric or mutual recognition sufficient for reflexive recognition or self-
consciousness. /he transitivit! of recognition is the concrete form taen b! the
identification of each self-consciousness with those it recogni.es. <ecogni.ing those
recogni.ed b! those one recogni.es is classif!ing oneself as one of them. >xactl! what
one has attributed to oneself in this wa!, the determinate content of the commitment
undertaen in recogni.ing someone in a sense that involves commitment to recogni.ing
those whom the! recogni.e, need not at all be apparent. 0ttributing the certaint! of self-
recognition to someone is attributing a commitment to recogni.e those recogni.ed b!
those that individual recogni.es. /he truth attaching to such an attributed certaint! then
consists in the extent to which those recogni.ed in fact +s!mmetricall!, reciprocate the
recognition. /he determinate extent to which the! do, the actual content of their
1B
1ne conception of recognition that is explicitl! committed to its transitivit! is, as will be seen, the
conception of Caster!, which understands its own independence as a matter of being a constitutive taer--
one whose taing it so is maing it so, as the desirer is independent in maing something an ob(ect of desire
b! taing it to be such. /hus 3 am committed to taing as a constitutive taer an!one taen to be such b!
an!one 3 tae to be a constitutive taer. /he commitment to transitivit! is one bit of truth revealing itself
even in this disastrousl! defective conception of recognition.
1D
Which is not to sa! that that authorit! cannot be overridden--that an!one +m!self included, is such that
their taings cannot show themselves to mistaings. But that possibilit! is not to the fore here.
reciprocated recognitions
1#
determines the truth of their self-consciousness, the implicit
in-itself that is to become explicit for-itself in self-consciousness. 3t follows that what
each of us actuall! does and is depends, on this view, on what others actuall! do and are.
/he claim is that recogni.ing oneself in the sense that one recogni.es others implicitl!
involves a commitment to recogni.e those whom the! recogni.e, and so to be entitled to
one-s self-recognition onl! in the case where the! reciprocate the recognition. 3t is this de
(ure transitivit! of recognition that, when (oined with a de facto achievement of s!mmetr!
of recognition, results in the reflexivit! of recognition that is self-consciousness. /his is
the answer to the 7uestion of how the demand for mutual recognition arises.
52. *egel-s view is that ever!one +at least ever!one we now, each of us, is the
individual self each of us is b! being recogni.ed b! those we recogni.e. 'henomenal
+self-,consciousness does not alwa!s reali.e this about itself, of course. 0s this truth
about what we alwa!s alread! implicitl! are graduall! becomes explicit to us in its
various aspects, what we are for ourselves and so what we are in ourselves changes in an
expressivel! progressive wa!, and we ascend the ladder of %pirit into the da!light of the
completel! explicit, where these coincide in what *egel calls 0bsolute 9nowledge, the
end of histor!.
1=
Before that point, we loo bac over various misunderstandings and
inade7uate explicitations of the structure that is implicit in all self-consciousness. What
sort of recognitive commitments a particular shape of phenomenal self-consciousness is
undertaing from our phenomenological point of view need not at all coincide with the
commitments that shape of phenomenal self-consciousness taes itself to be undertaing.
We are offered a striing example of this sort of deception in the treatment of self-
consciousness understanding itself on the model of independence, that is, the shape of
Caster! or domination. We see there how the fact that %pirit alwa!s implicitl! is a
recognitive e7uivalence class of self-consciousnesses--that is, one bound together b!
recognition relations that are s!mmetric, transitive, and reflexive
19
--appears as an ideal
that expresses itself from our phenomenological perspective in metaph!sical iron!, the
wa! in which domination as a strateg! of self-consciousness is doomed to achieve (ust
the opposite of what it aims at.
1#
3n the eventual conceptuall! articulated development of recognition, this content consists in the specific
taings--thought of as undertaings or commitments attributed to an individual. /his is the determinatel!
contentful certaint! that the! attribute in taing someone to be a taer, an undertaer of commitments, that
is, to be normativel! bindable and bound. /his sort of development is discussed in the "<eason" section.
1=
3 tae this not to mean that we won-t stub our toes or eat vile things an!more. >xperience of the
immediate will go on, and so the evolution of our concepts. But our practical understanding of it will have
so altered in terms of its fundamental categories that we will be, for and in ourselves, 7uite different sorts of
beings than we have hitherto been. 1ur development will not then tae the form of histor!--an
expressivel! progressive process of self-explicitation we discern retrospectivel! within the seething mass of
immediate experience. )or that is precisel! what we will have undestood ourselves well enought to have
gotten be!ond. Nust what form it might tae we are not in a position to sa!. /o understand it would re7uire
actuall! passing over into 0bsolute 9nowledge, as the 'henomenolog! aspires to prepare us to do.
19
/his point can be put b! sa!ing that according to *egel-s theor!, the structure of genuine communities is
%B. )or the modal logic induced semanticall! b! a relational accessibilit! structure that is s!mmetric,
reflexive, and transitive, that is, in which accessibilit! is an e7uivalence relation, is %B. 0nd as its
accessibilit! semantics shows, modal logic maes explicit the structure of discourse of a certain general
sort about a relational structure as it appears from one of its nodes. /his is how things are for individual
self-consciousnesses in a recognitivel! structured social substance, according to *egel.
55. 3n line with some previous remars, it ma! be pointed out for future reference that
the relation of individual self-consciousnesses to the social substance constituted +along
with themselves, b! their mutual recognition serves in the rest of the boo not onl! as the
matrix within which ever!thing else that happens in the boo must be understood--action,
as discussed in the section on <eason +cf. "<eason is purposive action,",, for instance,
alwa!s being the action of such individuals in such a communit!--but also the model
according to which we are to understand various things. /hus, although we are not !et in
a position to appreciate the details of the stor!, the relation of particulars to the universals
that characteri.e them is to be understood according to the model of determinatel!
mutuall! dependent because mutuall! constituting individuals and communities. 0gain,
the relation between rules or norms embodied in practice, on the one hand, and the
particular concrete cases that fall under them or to which the! appl! is to be conceived
according to this same model. +/he stor! we are still missing is the one that will elaborate
the path that taes us from the recognitive communities as a matrix in which rules etc. are
applied to the appropriateness of using their structure as a model. )or that we need the
elaboration of particular respects of recognition, that is, attribution of particular
commitments and other normative statuses, which we will hear about under the heading
of <eason., 0 communit! is open to more members than it actuall! contains, so there
will be something in the model that corresponds to the distinction between the extension
of a universal +what actuall! falls under it, and its comprehension +what things would fall
under it under other circumstances,. But notice that according to this model, not onl!
does what individual something is depend on what universals it falls under, but also what
universal something is depends on what individuals actuall! fall under it +indeed, when
the model is full! elaborated, even what individuals are taen to fall under it,. /his two-
wa! dependence is unusual and difficult to get a hold of--we are used to thining of
universals, at least, as independent of what in fact the! are true of. When made full!
explicit, such a view is, *egel thins, incompatible with the possession of determinate
content b! such universals. 3t is perhaps easier to see how this account will wor for
universals such as -...is self-conscious- than for "...is red-, but it is meant to appl! to both.
VI. Pride
58. Being self-conscious is being conscious of oneself as a conscious self. We have so
far discussed what is re7uired, according to the theor! of consciousness as desire, for a
desiring consciousness to be able to deplo! the universal that is re7uired for self-
consciousness. We have not taled about what it is for a desirer to appl! the concept of
desiring in general, not (ust to other particulars, but to itself. What is re7uired for a
desiring animal to count as taing or treating itself as a desiring animal in the sense
re7uired for self-consciousnessI /here is another element to *egel-s stor!, which has not
!et been considered. &onsciousness is born of Fesire, but humanit! is the offspring of
'ride.
26
/he desiring animal is merel! accidentall! conscious. &onsciousness is a b!-
product or epiphenomenon of Fesire. 0t the level of humanit!, one becomes essentiall!
conscious.
26
*egel doesn-t give us special terms for the consciousness that counts as -staing its own life- "1=#$, so 3
have supplied these.
/he presentation of itself, however, as the pure abstraction of self-consciousness consists
in showing itself as the pure negation of its ob(ective mode, or in showing that it is not
attached to an! specific existence, not to the individualit! common to existence as such,
that it is not attached to life. "1=#$
)or pride, then, a new element is re7uired. 1ne must identif! oneself with an ideal or
desired state of oneself rather than with the actual desiring state. /he identification with
the ideal is expressed as the willingness to ris one-s biological life rather than relin7uish
the pursuit of that self-conception. /his is the attempt to become in oneself +actuall! or
in truth, what one is for oneself +ideall!, or merel! certainl!,. We have alread! seen that
for a universal to count as a self-conception, it must be a conception of oneself as a
sub(ect +of consciousness,, as something for which things are something, or which taes
things as something. /hus, consciousness must be transformed from a b!-product of
Fesire to an ob(ect of Fesire. /his element is a form of Fesire for Fesire, specificall!
Fesire for desiring.
5B. 0ccording to this re7uirement, proud consciousness must tae the element of idealit!
which Fesire has introduced and identif! itself with an ideal +merel! thought or desired,
self rather than with the actual +thining or desiring, self. /hat one identifies with that
ideal rather than with the actual self is shown b! one-s willingness to ris one-s life in the
pursuit of that ideal.
3t is onl! through staing one-s life that freedom is won: onl! thus is it proved that for
self-consciousness, its essential being is not "(ust$ being, not the immediate form in which
it appears, not its submergence in the expanse of life, but rather that there is nothing
present in it which could not be regarded as vanishing moments, that is onl! pure being-
for-self. "1=#$
*ere the claim is that in taing someone to be essentiall! something more than merel!
biological +ultimatel!, something spiritual, someone rather than something,, one taes it
that there is something toward which its desire is directed that it is committed to being
willing to ris its life for. 0n extreme example is the classical Napanese samurai code of
Bushido, which re7uired ritual suicide under a daunting variet! of circumstances. /o be
samurai was to identif! oneself with the ideal code of conduct. 3n a situation re7uiring
seppuu, either the biological organism or the samurai must be destro!ed. )ailure to
commit biological suicide in such a case would be the suicide of the samurai, who would
be survived onl! b! an animal. /he animal had been a merel! necessar! condition of the
existence of the samurai +lie the presence of ox!gen in the atmosphere, which is
important to us, but which we do not for that reason identif! ourselves with,. ;o doubt
even good samurai must have hoped that such situations would not arise. But when and
if the! do, failure to act appropriatel! according to samurai practices shows that one
never was a samurai, but onl! an animal who sometimes aspired to be one. 1ne would
thereb! demonstrate that one was not, in oneself, what one had taen oneself to be, what
one was for oneself. /he decision as to whether to ris one-s life or to surrender the ideal
self-conception is a decision about who one is.
5D. 3n such a case one not onl! finds out who one is +animal or samurai, b! one-s
performance, but constitutes oneself as animal or samurai b! it. 1ne can turn oneself into
something higher than an animal simpl! b! valuing something more than one values
one-s biological existence. B! such an expression of preference one becomes a new ind
of thing, a thing whose biological existence is not its essence, but merel! a necessar!
condition. *enceforth one-s self-conception, what one is for oneself, becomes essential
to what one actuall! is, what one is in oneself. /he taing of oneself to be, e.g., samurai,
is, lie all taings, a matter of responsive dispositions. /he response which defines such
self-taings is the willingness to ris life. Being willing to ris life for various features of
one-s self-conception maes those features essential to what one reall! is. 3t is b! this
means that desiring animals lift themselves b! ideal bootstraps to a new plane of
existence where the actual is governed b! the ideal. /hat for this ver! special case
consciousness appears to constitute its ob(ect, that these practical self-taings are self-
maings, exhibits a crucial feature of consciousness. /hat feature is misunderstood,
however, b! the first form of proud consciousness, and becomes the conception of
consciousness as independent, that is as sovereign or constitutive of its ob(ects, which we
discuss below.
5#. 3 have been taling about these practical self-taings as -decisions- here for dramatic
effect. /his is misleading insofar as it suggests that what is at issue generall! is
something deliberatel! done. But nothing that is not alread! a spiritual being can literall!
deliberate and mae decisions. /he difference that is being invoed here must be
applicable alread! to animals that cannot tal, and so cannot reason instrumentall!. /he
transition in 7uestion is one that we discern, looing bacwards at our antecedents. %o
the proper wa! to put the general view is that offered above@ in attributing to something
more-than-merel!-biological existence, one is committing oneself +as attributor, to there
being some aspect of the practical self-conception, some ideal or ob(ect of desire, for
which the organism in 7uestion would be disposed to rising its life. )or those of us who
alwa!s alread! find ourselves as spiritual beings in a spiritual communit!, not (ust bound
b! but constituted b! its practical norms, it ma! be too strong to insist even on the
disposition. 3t ma! be that for us the difference pointed to b! the re7uirement of pride
consists (ust in that there is something for which we are committed to ris our lives under
suitable circumstances. /his commitment need not even be acnowledged within the
communit! +though it sometimes is, as for instance b! Caster!,. )or it ma! be
something we discern, as the basis for our distinguishing this phenomenal communit! as
spiritual, while treating a superficiall! similar case as merel! a constellation of social
animals. 1n such a reading, members of a communit! can be accorded the status of
being proud 7uite apart from an! ris-taing dispositions the! ma! exhibit, a status that
the! could at worst lose upon being tested b! circumstance. )or the game to get going in
the first place, however, 3 understand *egel to be sa!ing that we must be able to discern
actual dispositions to ris life under some circumstances.
5=. /he claim here is not that one identifies oneself with whatever ob(ect of Fesire one is
prepared to ris one-s life in continued pursuit of. &ra.ed animals ma! ris their lives in
pursuit of the ob(ects of all sorts of desires. 0 predator who overcomes accustomed fear
and plunges into dangerous rapids pursuing pre! it will not starve without does not
thereb! identif! itself with the ob(ect of the Fesire which leads it to that act. /o count as
'ride, willingness +or commitment, to ris one-s biological life must be in the service of a
self-conception. /he ob(ect of the Fesire for which one will ris all must be one-s self,
the ver! sub(ect of Fesire. 3t is onl! ris for such an ob(ect of Fesire that shows that one
is not essentiall! a living being that onl! happens to exhibit consciousness-as-Fesire, but
essentiall! a conscious being who happens to re7uire life as a merel! necessar! condition
of existence. )or the ob(ect of Fesire for which one is willing to ris life to be a self-
conception is for it to be a conception of a taer, one for whom things are something, a
sub(ect. 1ne must thus tae oneself to be a taer. 3f one is disposed to ris one-s life to
mae that self-taing true or actual, then the taing becomes constitutive of a new ind of
being. 1ne ma! not become essentiall! or in oneself a taer simpl! b! so taing oneself
+though independent consciousness does not understand this,. But one at least becomes
something which essentiall! taes itself to be a taer. /hus what this new sort of being is
for itself it part of what it is in itself. /aing something to be a taer, its being for one
something that things are for, is recogni.ing it. /he resolution of the paradox of desire
for desiring re7uires that to satisf! this desire and constitutivel! tae oneself to be a taer
+recogni.e oneself, one also recogni.e others and be recogni.ed b! them. But this lesson
can be appropriated explicitl! onl! b! a thorough understanding of the "causalit! of )ate"
whereb! each strateg! emplo!ed to evade that conclusion b! consciousness
understanding itself as independent is doomed to be frustrated.
59. 'ride thus re7uires practical commitment to the ideal of oneself as a taer, and
*egel-s account of what such practical commitment consists in for the original -bootstrap-
cases is identif!ing oneself with that desired ideal state in the sense of being willing to
ris life for it. 1ne must be for oneself a taer, and willing to ris one-s life to become in
oneself a taer. 1ne must be both recogni.er and recogni.ed b! oneself. /he %lave-
to-be is an!one who won-t ris her life for this self-recognition. /he Caster-to-be is
an!one who will. )or the %lave must repress desire. %he pursues not her own desires and
ideals, but those of her Caster. /he %lave-s consciousness-as-Fesire is not hers but her
Caster-s. /he %lave does not desire her own desiring enough to ris life for it. /hings are
to be for the %lave what the! are for her Caster, so onl! the Caster taes himself to be a
taer, and, b! being willing to die for that taing, initiall! onl! the Caster is one. *uman
histor! separates itself from the accidental and flicering self-feeling of merel! desiring
animals with the advent of Caster! as the first form of proud consciousness.
21

VII. Independence
86 3ndependence is the concept of consciousness that initiall! corresponds to 'ride.
'roud consciousness maes itself more than merel! a desiring animal simpl! b! taing
itself to be more, in its practical willingness to ris its animal existence. /he attitude that
21
0 note on anaphoric polic! and politics@ 3n the exposition of the dialectic of domination and submission
3-ll distinguish between Casters and %laves b! gender. /hough the main purpose of emplo!ing this
linguistic device is disambiguation of pronoun antecedents, this practice can also serve as a reminder that
the metaph!sicall! ironic structure of domination and submission that *egel is diagnosing is not intended
to be restricted in its application to ancient peoples threatening each other +individuall! or en masse, with
swords. 3 trust it will not be taen as a bachanded endorsement of the 0ristotelian notion that some are fit
b! nature to slaves.
understands consciousness as independent generali.es this achievement to all possible
ob(ects of consciousness. )or phenomenal +self-,consciousness to understand itself
according to the conception of independence is for it to tae consciousness as constitutive
of its ob(ects. >ver!thing is taen b! this concept of consciousness to be in-itself exactl!
what it is for consciousness. /hus, independent consciousness is consciousness that taes
itself to be constituting consciousness, consciousness that maes things so b! taing them
so. 0s is apparent alread! from the discussion of the independence of the ob(ect of
desire, no consciousness can be in itself independent in this sense. /he independence
consists rather in how consciousness taes itself to be, that is, how it is for itself.
81. /he independent consciousness, then, insists on the sovereignt! of its taings.
Fescartes formulated and developed an old tradition that finds the boundaries of the self
b! tracing the extent of cognitive and practical sovereignt!. )or him, the mind consists
of that which we cannot mis-tae. &ognitive mental activit! +cognition, is that which is
whatever it is for the mind i.e. whatever it seems or is taen to be. 'ractical mental
activit! +volition, is that over which we have total dominion, where no means are
necessar! to satisf! one-s desires. 0s there is no gap between seeming and being in our
cognitive sovereignt! over our mental states +seemings or taings,, there is no gap
between tr!ing and succeeding in our practical sovereignt! over our volitions +minimal
tr!ings,. +We will see *egel explicitl! arguing against the practical part of this theor! in
his discussion of action in the <eason section., 3n this context the independent
consciousness can be seen as extending sovereignt! over self to sovereignt! over
ever!thing, to be expanding in its self-conception the boundaries of itself until the! are
all-inclusive. 3t is important to reali.e that the "independence" of independent
consciousness is not compatible with the existence of other beings that are independent in
the same sense. /he insistence on being a constitutive sub(ect +a sovereign taer,
precludes the recognition of others as being sub(ects in the sense one is oneself. /his is
imperial rather than pluralistic independence, where ever!thing else must depend upon
the sovereign sub(ect. /his ultimatel! unworable demand follows inexorabl! from the
self-concept b! which independent consciousness understands and defines itself +unto
death,. 3f independent consciousness too itself to be (ust a taer rather than a
constitutive taer, something things are for without the addition that things (ust are
whatever the! are for that taer, then that consciousness could be what it taes itself to be
compatibl! with others taing and correctl! taing themselves to be sub(ects of the same
ind, and with ob(ects retaining some independence in the form of resistance to desire.
But for independent consciousness as consciousness conceiving itself as constitutive this
is not possible, for structural reasons rehearsed below.
82. Wh! does proud consciousness tae the form of independent consciousnessI 'ride
re7uires onl! that one be willing to ris death in preference to relin7uishing one-s concept
of oneself as essentiall! a taer, someone for whom things are something. What is the
origin of the additional and ultimatel! self-defeating condition of the sovereignt! of the
sub(ect in those taingsI /he process of pride b! which humanit! arises exhibits two
important aspects. 3ndependent consciousness fastens on one of them, and learns a
mistaen lesson from its self-formative process. 1ne can constitutivel! tae oneself to be
essentiall! a taer, b! being willing to ris one-s life for that self-conception. 3n this self-
constitution, the self appears both as sub(ect and as sub(ect-as-ob(ect, the +constitutivel!,
taing self and that which is taen to be that self. 3ndependent consciousness fastens on
the constitutiveness of itself as taing taer +in this special self-taing,, and assumes that
constitutiveness characteri.es itself as taen taer. %ince its taing of itself was
constitutive, it taes itself to be a constitutive taer. /he formal difficulties this taing
engenders stem from the fact that while one can constitutivel! tae oneself to be
essentiall! a taer, one cannot constitutivel! tae oneself to be a constitutive taer. 1ne
cannot even in general be a constitutive self-taer. %ome self-concepts one can
constitutivel! attribute to oneself +e.g. being a taer, and others one cannot constitutivel!
attribute to oneself +e.g. being a constitutive taer,. 3ndependent consciousness is the
result of drawing an incorrectl! generali.ed conclusion from the success of the pro(ect of
pride.
85. 3ndependent consciousness understands consciousness as independence--taing as
constitutive taing. )or it to recogni.e something, to tae it as a taer, is to tae it as a
constitutive taer. 0 proud consciousness, even if it does not conceive of itself as
independent cannot recogni.e another consciousness as independent +in the sense of
sovereign,. )or to do so is to tae it that ever!thing is whatever it is for that recogni.ed
sovereign taer, including oneself. 0nd the refusal to surrender one-s self conception in
this wa! is what pride is. 3f the one who is recogni.ed as sovereign +taen to be a
constitutive taer, too the proud consciousness not to be a taer, then in virtue of its
recognition of the constitutiveness of those taings, the proud consciousness is committed
to not being a taer, either in itself +for it is in itself whatever it is for the constitutive
consciousness, or for itself. %o a proud +self-,consciousness cannot recogni.e another as
a constitutive taer. 0nd since independent consciousness understands taing as
constitutive taing, for it no one else can be recogni.ed as a taer at all. /his does not
show that it is impossible to constitutivel! tae oneself to be a constitutive taer, onl!
that if one does one must be careful not to tae an!one else to be one as well. %o the
independent consciousness must treat itself as the onl! sub(ect +it understands "sub(ect"
to mean sovereign sub(ect,. >ver!thing must be ob(ect for it. )urther, the independence
of ob(ects, their resistance and recalcitrance to desire, must be cancelled in the ob(ective
realm. 3ndependence +sovereignt!, of taing and independence of things are each abstract
moments.
22
But independent consciousness +what *egel for that reason calls an "abstract
ego", identifies itself with onl! one of these abstract aspects, and cancels or denies the
other. 3ndependent consciousness is committed b! its self-concept to satisf!ing its
desires without having to transform its world to overcome the absence of the desired
ob(ect. 3ts strateg! is Caster!.
VIII. !astery or Domination
88. /he Caster-s self-conception, which he will not relin7uish short of death, re7uires
that he recogni.e no others but himself +that is, tae no one else to be a taer or sub(ect,
22
/heir ultimate reconciliation will be social, when we see how the communit! as a whole constitutes its
ob(ects and itself, while its activit! consists entirel! of the activities of its individual members, each of
whom is constrained, via the sociall! constituting practices, b! the independence of things. But the
communit! as a whole develops onl! itself. &onstraint on the individuals is onl! a necessar! aspect of the
free development of the communit!.
and that he cancel in actualit! the independence of ob(ects which he has alread! cancelled
in his conception of himself and them. /he servitude of the %lave is meant to be a single
solution to both of these problems, permitting the Caster to reali.e his self-conception
and be in himself what he is for himself, namel! a constitutive taer who maes
ever!thing +himself included, be in itself whatever it is for him. /he problem of the other
as sub(ect is solved b! turning him into an ob(ect. /he problem of the recalcitrance of
ob(ects is solved b! using subservient %laves as ob(ects to subdue ob(ects which are less
immediatel! obedient than the %lave +whose will is her Caster-s though her wor is her
own and onl! for the Caster,. /hese ma! be other ob(ects, or the! ma! be human beings
not !et subdued.
88. /he %lave becomes an ob(ect for herself and for the Caster b! recogni.ing the
Caster under the same concept under which the Caster recogni.es himself, namel! as
constitutive taer. %ince the Caster taes the %lave to be an ob(ect +without the pride
re7uired for humanit!, and the %lave taes the Caster-s taings as constitutive of what
things are in themselves, the %lave can conceive of herself onl! as ob(ect, not as sub(ect.
/o be even potentiall! a proud sub(ect, one must at least conceive of oneself as a sub(ect,
so that one ma! ac7uire the courage to ris one-s life for that conception. What things are
for the %lave is not determined b! the %lave-s desires, but b! the Caster-s. %o what the!
are for the %lave is whatever the! are for the Caster. %he is not a separate taer, either of
self or of other things. )or herself she is what she is for the Caster, an ob(ect. Both she
and the Caster tae this to be what the %lave is in herself as well, though the! are wrong.
8B. 0 putative consciousness is treated as an ob(ect b! being used to cancel the
independence of stubborn ob(ects. /he %lave wors so that the Caster-s desires can be
satisfied without trouble or dela! +for the Caster,. /he effect of the wor is then that the
stubbornness of ob(ects in impeding satisfaction is nothing for the Caster. )or him a
desire expressed is a desire satisfied. But both the Caster and the %lave tae it that things
are in themselves whatever the! are for the Caster. %o both tae it that in the cancelling
of the independence of things as it is for the Caster, that independence has been
cancelled in itself. /he! are both wrong, of course. /he Caster is wrong in an abstract
wa!, since he simpl! ignores the independence of the ob(ects the %lave wors on. /he
%lave is determinatel! wrong, since she still confronts the independence of ob(ects that
her concept of consciousness +the Caster, and of herself +whom she taes not to be a
consciousness, attempt to den!. 1ut of this confrontation grows the rest of human
histor!, which henceforth leaves the Caster behind. /hat the independence of things has
not been cancelled for the %lave in that the %lave must still wor on them is taen b! both
to be of no significance. )or woring is not taen b! either to prove that things are
something for the %lave +though it does and the! are,, and in an! case would not show
that she was a constitutive taer and hence a sub(ect such that whether things are
independent for her matters to whether things are independent in themselves.
8D. /he Caster is for himself and the %lave the consciousness constituting himself, the
%lave, and other ob(ects. But the Caster as he is in himself is not a constituting
consciousness. *e is not in himself what he is for himself +namel! constituting
consciousness,. )or such a gap to exist is for his consciousness not to be sovereign. /he
Caster fails even to be self-constitutive, b! insisting on a self-concept re7uiring him to be
constitutive of ever!thing. /he Caster accordingl! is not what he thins he is, he has
failed to have his desire +as expressed in his self-concept, satisfied, though he doesn-t
now that. /o be a Caster is to be (ust this combination of what one is in oneself and
what one is for oneself. 0s a +confused, form of proud consciousness, what it is in itself
depends on +though it is not constituted b!, what it is for itself. 3t is b! being what he is
for himself +independent, that the Caster is what he is in himself +dependent,. 3t is the
%lave who maes him the Caster. 3t is the %lave-s recognition of him as constitutive that
permits the Caster to cancel for himself the independence of ob(ects, including the
independence of the %lave. /he %lave-s failure of pride +humilit!,--consisting in her
acnowledgment of right motivated onl! b! fear of power--is what constitutes the %lave
as ob(ect to be used b! the Caster. %o both in relation to sub(ects used as ob(ects and
ob(ects wored on b! them and so cancelled as independent of Caster-s desire, the
sovereignt! of the Caster is actuall! constituted b! the %lave-s recognition of the Caster.
;ow no one can in fact be a constituting consciousness, for sub(ects and ob(ects are in
part independent +in a non-imperialistic sense,. But insofar as the independence of
ob(ects is cancelled, it is the %lave who cancels it, and insofar as the Caster is a Caster, it
is the %lave who constitutes him. 3nsofar, then, as there is a constituting consciousness in
this situation, it is the %lave rather than the Caster. /he Caster-s sovereignt! over
sub(ects as ob(ects and over ob(ects as stripped of their impermeabilit! to desire is
constituted b! the %lave-s concrete recognition of the Caster, as expressed in her practical
discipline and wor. /he Caster is thus consciousness constituted b! being recogni.ed,
rather than constituting b! recogni.ing. /he Caster-s strateg! of independence b!
dominion ensures that the Caster will b! pursuing that strateg! achieve (ust the reverse of
what he desires.
8#. /he "causalit! of fate" that enforces this reversal *egel attributes to the nature of true
recognition, which re7uires mutual recognition for the constitution of social substance,
and of individuals who b! being recogni.ed and recogni.ing and understanding
themselves as such have overcome the opposition of dependence and independence and
passed over to freedom. /he Caster wants to recogni.e himself +tae himself to be a
constitutive taer,, and be recogni.ed b! no one else since he recogni.es no one as
competent to recogni.e him, taes no one else to be a taer and hence no one else to be a
recogni.er. 0s we have seen, for *egel, true recognition is alwa!s an e7uivalence
relation -- reflexive, s!mmetric, and transitive. <ecognition is to be de (ure transitive. 3t
is re7uired that one recogni.e those recogni.ed b! those one recogni.es. 3n order to
mae it de facto reflexive, for it to be possible to recogni.e oneself, it is necessar! and
sufficient that one mae the relation de facto s!mmetric, that is, that one in fact be
recogni.ed +taen to be a taer, b! ever!one one recogni.es. )or s!mmetr! and
transitivit! entail reflexivit!. /his is a prospective account of the recognitive structure of
Geist, of which the Caster has no inling. But the nature of the ideal is nonetheless
active in even in the distorted actual approximation of recognition entertained b!
consciousness conceiving itself as independent. 3t is this efficac! *egel calls the
"causalit! of fate". What happens to the Caster is the metaph!sical version of what
happens ps!chologicall! to someone who aspires to celebrit!, ac7uiring along the wa! a
contempt for the mass of admirers whose acnowledgement constitutes that celebrit!.
%elf-respect is difficult to achieve b! regarding oneself as reflected in a mirror of morons.
/he Caster is who he is insofar as he is recogni.ed as Caster b! those whom the Caster
is committed to regarding onl! with contempt. *e is no more than the! can mae him.
*is low opinion of them is in fact a low opinion of himself. /he mechanism of reversal
here is not m!sterious. 3t is (ust an absoluti.ed version of what we alread! saw happen in
discussing someone who sees to recogni.e himself as a good chess pla!er. /he less
worth! those are whom one recogni.es, the less worth does their recognition in turn
establish. 3t is combining this simple feature of mediated self-recognition with the
peculiar structure of domination and submission that is metaph!sicall! ironic, turning
both the dominating and the submissive consciousness in themselves into the opposite of
what the! are for themselves.
8=. <ecognition is taing to be a taer. 3ndependent consciousness understands taing as
constitutive taing, and hence recognition as constitutivel! taing to be a constitutive
taer. We have seen how this mistaen conception arose from the original self-
constitutive achievement of proud consciousness, which maes itself more than animal
b! taing +concretel! and unto death, itself to be more. But recognition for independent
consciousness displa!s the two crucial formal features which lead to the re7uirement for
true mutual recognition. )or taing to be a constitutive taer is de (ure transitive, and it
cannot be immediatel! reflexive. 3t is transitive because if 0 taes B to be a constitutive
taer, and B taes & to be a constitutive taer, then 0 must tae & to be what the
constitutive taer B too him to be, namel! a constitutive taer. %o independent
consciousness is committed to recogni.ing whoever is recogni.ed b! those it recogni.es.
0nd recognition is not immediatel! or de (ure reflexive, because although one can
constitutivel! tae oneself to be a taer, one cannot constitutivel! tae oneself to be a
constitutive taer. 0s we have seen, the independence of other sub(ects and ob(ects must
be cancelled if one is to tae oneself to be a constitutive taer. 0nd this cancelling
re7uires an other, the %lave, to mediate between independent consciousness and stubborn
world. /hus the Caster can in fact onl! recogni.e himself insofar as he is recogni.ed b!
the %lave. 4nderstanding this is recogni.ing the %lave +taing her to be at least a taer,.
0s we have seen, the Caster-s self-concept and corresponding concept of recognition
precludes his recogni.ing the %lave. But the structure of that concept of recognition as
transitive but not immediatel! reflexive ensures that reflexivit! of recognition can be
achieved onl! b! s!mmetr!, onl! b! such recognition of the %lave and b! the %lave. 3t is
thus the real or ideal structure of recognition which, peeing through the distorted
appropriation of that structure b! independent consciousness, ensures that the Caster
cannot get what he wants.
89. /he causalit! of fate thus exhibited exists and operates in itself or for us. 3t is
implicit in the self-conception of independent consciousness, but need not be explicit for
it. 3f it were made explicit, however, surel! the account (ust given would be the best
possible motive for a change of self-conception. %eeing that the nature of one-s desire
maes it certain that one will be frustrated is a good reason to change that desire. What
*egel tals about as the end of histor! is the shift that occurs when forms of
consciousness become explicitl! or for themselves what the! are implicitl! or in
themselves. /he blind causalit! of fate is then replaced b! conscious understanding and
control. )reedom in a new sense becomes possible because the formation and
transformation of self-concepts is not now governed b! a blind because unappreciated
causalit! of fate. *istor! begins with the self-formative process of proud consciousness,
and ends when the opposition between what one is for oneself and what one is in oneself
is overcome through the maing explicit of all that is implicit in that self-formative
process. *egel-s logic will be the tool which maes that explicitation, and hence the end
of histor! +though not of self-formation, possible.
I$. Sla%ery or Su&mission, and Thou#ht
B6. /he Caster, as the first form of proud consciousness, is the catal!st who begins
human histor!. But his mistaen pro(ection of the significance of the success of the
initial pro(ect of pride into the ideal of independence free.es the Caster into essential
self-deception, which remains opa7ue to him so long as he remains Caster. Caster! is
accordingl! a developmental dead-end. 3ron!, ontologicall! explicated as the causalit! of
fate, becomes an active metaph!sical and social principle as the deluded Caster forces
the %lave, through Wor and Fiscipline, to develop the power to overthrow the Caster,
and to become in fact the free consciousness the Caster onl! believes himself to be.
B1. /he Caster-s relations to desiring sub(ect and desired ob(ect are immediate. *e is the
desiring sub(ect, and his consciousness waxes and wanes with that desiring. *is relation
to the desired ob(ects is also immediate, namel! satisfaction +*e "falls to without further
ado and eats them up""169$,. /he %lave-s relation to both desiring and the desired is
mediated. /he %lave conceives the Caster as desiring, but is not permitted this herself.
/he %lave conceives the ob(ect as desired, but does not feel the desire herself. %he is
motivated not b! desire, but b! her conception of desire. Where desiring consciousness
immediatel! is the distinction between actual desiring state ideal desired one, the %lave-s
consciousness is the mediated +inferentiall! articulated, conception of that distinction.
/he %lave accordingl! has desiring and the desired as an ob(ect in a sense prohibited for
the Caster. 3n being an ideal being in this new sense, not to be confused with the idealit!
of 'ride with which it must ultimatel! be united, the %lave is in herself a new ind of
+self-,consciousness.
B2. /he new form of consciousness of which the %lave is an inchoate and incipient form,
is /hought. 0s *egel puts it in the long introductor! paragraph to the discussion of the
development of the %lave through %toicism, %cepticism, and the 4nhapp! &onsciousness@
We are in the presence of self-consciousness in a new shape, a consciousness which, as
the infinitude of consciousness or as its own pure movement, is aware of itself as
essential being, a being which thins or is a free self-consciousness. "19#$
1f course the %lave has not !et full! reali.ed this new form. /he passage continues@
)or to thin does not mean to be an abstract ego, but an ego which has at the same time
the significance of 0nsichsein: of having itself for an ob(ect, or relating itself to ob(ective
being in such a wa! that the significance of ob(ective being for it is the being-for-self of
the consciousness for which it is an ob(ect. "19#$
/he merel! abstract ego referred to b! contrast is the Caster, who identifies himself with
one moment of consciousness namel! independence, abstracting this from its necessar!
unit! with the moment of dependence of consciousness on its ob(ects. *egel also puts
this point here b! sa!ing that the Caster b! this identification fails to develop his inner or
implicit differences. /he Caster thus tries to be immediatel! self-identical, without the
mediation of inferentiall! articulated concepts. /he freedom of the Caster is merel!
apparent, it exists onl! for a consciousness which is not free in itself. 1nl! the %lave can
develop freedom 0nsich b! thining. /he two remaining conditions mentioned in the
passage specif! the access %laver! has which Caster! is denied to the ideal of thought
and the conception of oneself as thining. /he text clearl! dis(oins these +"oder",, but
the! seem to function conceptuall! as individuall! necessar! and perhaps (ointl!
sufficient conditions of thought +the! are in an! case (ointl! sufficient for the imperfect
sort of thought exhibited b! the %lave,.
B5. <ecall that the re7uirement motivating the paradox of desire for desiring was that to
be self-conscious one must be an ob(ect for oneself, and that what one taes that ob(ect as
+classif!ing something as something being the invariant form of consciousness or
awareness, be a sub(ect. /his the Caster fails to do +though he believes he succeeds,.
But the %lave actuall! succeeds +though she does not believe she does,. /he sense in
which the %lave is an ob(ect for herself is dual, and the imperfection of the %lave-s
reali.ation of the ideal of thining is in part expressed in the fact that these two sides do
not coincide for the %lave. )irst, the %lave taes herself to be whatever she is constituted
as b! the taings of the Caster. %ince the %lave is an ob(ect for the Caster, she is an
ob(ect also for herself. %econd, the %lave has as an ob(ect of her consciousness the
Caster, whom she taes to be a sub(ect. %o the %lave both has herself as an ob(ect, and
has an ob(ect which she is conscious of as a sub(ect. /he latter she does not tae to be an
awareness of herself, since she taes the Caster to be the constitutive taer. But as we
have seen, insofar as there is a constitutive taer in the structure of domination, it is the
%lave. %o the %lave-s concept of sub(ect under which she classifies the Caster is in fact
though not for her a self-concept.
B8. %ubservient or submissive consciousness in fact has two sorts of ob(ect@ ordinar!
ob(ects, of which the %lave taes herself to be one, and the Caster, as being-for-self or
sub(ect, the ind of being things are something for. /he %lave sees herself in ordinar!
ob(ects in that man! of them are products of her formative activit! and hence direct
expressions of her conceptual development, and the rest are potential raw material for
such expressive transformation. /he second condition for thought specified in the passage
above concerns the concept of the sub(ect which is ob(ect for the %lave. 3t is the
re7uirement that ob(ective being must have the significance for the %lave of the being-
for-self or sub(ect for which the! are ob(ects of consciousness. /hat is, she must treat
ob(ects as constituted b! a sub(ect, and so have the concept of independentl! active
consciousness. What the %lave taes the Caster to be is what the %lave in fact is, and so
the %lave-s concept of the Caster is reall! a self-concept. /he %lave has both the propert!
of being a constituting consciousness +insofar as an!thing can be one, and the concept of
such a consciousness. %he is constituting consciousness in herelf, and constituting
consciousness is something that things can be for her. /hese are the raw materials of
thought, which the %lave has not !et reali.ed because the two do not !et coincide for her.
/he %lave does not recogni.e herself in her concept of the Caster, though what the
Caster is for the %lave is what the %lave in fact is in herself +insofar as an!thing can be
one,. *uman histor! is the woring out of the interdependence of the %lave-s two sorts of
self-conception@ of herself as merel! dependent or constituted +compare@ recogni.ed,
being, and as independent of constituting +compare@ recogni.ing, being. /he correct
understanding of the latter is not +pace the Caster, possible without seeing its
presupposition of the former. /his is the road to the appreciation of the essentiall! social
nature of sub(ectivit!, which re7uires mutual recognition s!nthesi.ing independence and
dependence in freedom, and universalit! and particularit! in individualit!.
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