ARTS2875 Assignment

Much of Hegel’s work regarding the phemonology of the spirit can be interpreted
as a riddle which will never have a solution. He states that an individual is never
autonomous, despite their own beliefs of liberty and freedom. We all believe
ourselves to be the pioneers of our own actions, that everything we do is done
by our own accord, but Hegel convincingly argues against that widely understood
assumption.
Brought to the forefront through the master-slave dialectic, Hegel illustrates to
his audience the theory of the “One”. Paradoxically, he explains that the “One” is
essentially the concept of two distinct self-conscious beings recognising each
other, thus the One can be construed as Two. Each of them think of the other in
terms of themselves, as he states that our self-consciousness “exist for another;
that is, it exists only in being acknowledged”. This clearly poses the question of
why we act the way we do, since if we really want to be autonomous, there must
be another party to recognise our freedom. In life, our ultimate goal is autonomy
and freedom, to be able to provide ourselves with what we need, to be masters.
Hegel addresses our basic human desires of the need to control, and uses this to
explain how this is merely an illusion. We are constantly endeavouring to assert
ourselves over others, exemplifying the life-and-death struggle between the two
self-consciousness’s. We constantly see ourselves in the other which is dreadful
for us, so as an expression of our primitive desire for individuality, our method of
improvement is to fight against the other, producing a master and a slave. Hegel
displays this in his statement, “The one is independent, and its essential nature
is to be for itself; the other is dependent, and its essence is life or existence for
another. The former is the Master, or Lord, the latter is the Bondsman”. In this
process of suppression of the opposition, we must become detached from
ourselves. Thus, if we dismiss our own being, how can we be autonomous?
The master-slave relationship is incredibly prevalent throughout society, seen
within families with parents and children, to large political elections, between
candidates and the public. In each of these situations there is a metaphorical
“Master” and “Slave”, where the Master has a belief of autonomy. Hegel furthers
this concept of the illusion of autonomy by stating that the master becomes
dependent on the slave as they are “transformed into a truly independent
consciousness”, and if one requires dependence on another, by definition they
are not autonomous. We all assume the slave to be the inferior aspect of the
relationship, but Hegel argues that their confrontation of death, development of
certain skills and use of creativity to survive gives them their own form of control
and power. Once again, the sides are reverted. Who becomes the master and
who is the slave? Like a circle, the riddle will continue to revolve, constantly
questioning the status of the two self-consciousness’s, but it hinges on one
primary principle. That is, to exist, we require the realisation of the other, thus
we will never be self-sufficient, and as a result will never be completely
autonomous.
Hegel’s theory draws parallels with the work of other great thinkers. An example
of this would be Jacques Lacan and his concept of the ‘mirror stage’. Through

once again reiterating the fact that our whole life is constructed through culture. “we observe the role of the mirror apparatus in the appearances of the double. We look at the mirror and appalled by our weaknesses are spurred to overcome and develop into greater beings or the “Ideal-I”. This is an example of the master-slave dynamic. However. that one is ultimately two. yet would prefer to be autonomous and self-sufficient. are known widely as the ‘mirror neurons’. Lacan strengthens his own argument. Lacan has given Hegel’s work a very grounded relevance to human nature. Lacan believes it is responsible for “our entire mental development”. seen today through everyone’s bid for control and power we see that society functions merely through the relationships formed between individuals. in which physical realities.reinterpreting Frued’s work. that humans can only function when there is another to influence and recognise our behaviours. with modern research only further confirming the importance of mirror neurons in human relations and functionality. but in this case is directed towards the mirror. and this image is projected onto society. that in an attempt to provide a solution to human nature only further probes into contradictions and inconsistencies that raises even further questions. however heterogenous. yet can only progress due to our need to be better than the other. yet there is unlikely to ever be an answer. meaning biologically. Lacan forms a theory that counterparts Hegel’s. the observance of others and the desire to be masters. which today. Intelligent minds like Lacan and Hegel have hypothesised that the human species can only exist in the presence of another. It is a complicated riddle. intrinsic desire achieved through an “intra-organic mirror”. It is a perplexing paradox. So if we have a master-slave dynamic with our “mirror” image. stating our need to “mirror” each other is in fact a biological. Making comparisons with the animal world. Similar to Hegel. whether they are directed at ourselves or another person. our imagined fragmentation is juxtaposed with the image of the unified self. stating that humans can only exist with each other. we undergo “an identification” which is “the transformation that takes place in the subject when he assumes an image”. This becomes a perpetual motif in our life. we can see how Lacan explains the presence of a master-slave dynamic in the real world. Hegel’s idea that we will never be autonomous is certainly a riddle that will most likely never be solved. As children when we look into a mirror. agreeing that our identity is formed in relation to other people. the only barrier between human beings is the layer of skin that covers our bodies. This draws direct parallels to Hegel’s theory regarding the human species. drawing on biology. . Lacan goes on to state. without the actual need for the other. discussing how we can only mature in the presence of another. It is clear that there is social proof of both these ideas. This initial conceptual abstraction is now a very real possibility. This advocates the idea the that we require another image to observe in the real world to “mirror” in order to gauge our own development. causing our personal growth since our projected image contrasts with our reality as our “insufficiency” is thrust into “anticipation”. These neurons function in the same manner. he talks of how female pigeons only reach sexual maturity when it “should see another member of its species” or “within reach of the field of reflection of a mirror”. By entering the realm of biology. are manifested”.

. J. V.. (1979). N.. Miller. J. & Hoffmeister. Jacques Lacan (1966) The mirror stage as formative of the function of the I as revealed in psychoanalytic experience. A. Oxford [England: Clarendon Press. Findlay. Phenomenology of spirit. F. . W.References Hegel. G.