Paper Example on Self-Consciousness and the Evolution of Human Knowing

Published: 2021-07-22
1187 words
5 pages
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Sewanee University of the South
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In self-consciousness, the I regards itself. In its development, it has three stages, the desire, the relation of mastery and slavery and the universal self-consciousness. The activity of desire rises above the otherness of the object and joins it with the subject, thus fulfilling the desire. Self-consciousness relates as an individual to itself. The universal self-consciousness regards itself as a self-existing universal self (Hegel 112). In simple terms, it puts into consideration itself with the other self-consciousnesses existing and recognized by itself. It becomes the foundation of all love, friendships, virtues, fame, and self-sacrifice since it knows itself as a pure spiritual universality that belongs to an individuals home, family or land. Both the positive and the negating aspects of self-consciousness are united with each other. This concept ascertains itself by negating otherness hence there is a feeling of otherness within itself. The negation presents as consciousness, something external yet it is determined via self-consciousness as a negative thing itself or as directive commensurate. Self-consciousness entails subjectivity that is pure and undifferentiated, self-certain and the truth of self-certainty which is a duplication of self-consciousness (Rauch et al.80).

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel moved from consciousness to self-consciousness due to the failure of formulating a satisfactory theory of knowledge based on the consciousness level. An objects unified conception cannot be reached only through the theory of consciousness ("Cognition"). The account of self-consciousness by Hegel is significant in the development of human knowledge since consciousness can only be accounted through self-consciousness and any accountability of knowledge must involve self-consciousness analysis.

Hegel, like the previous idealist philosophers, believes that the consciousness of an object implies some self-awareness as a subject. This is different from the perceived object. He makes an assertion that subjects can also become objects to other subjects. In simpler terms, an individual becomes self-aware by seeing oneself via anothers eyes. A self-aware human being can see himself or herself as existing and not merely alive. This means that self-awareness stretches beyond what is biological (Pippin, Robert 79). The idea of our existence out of our natural life have been distorted by us getting self-conscious. As a result, we have we have been made aware of the unlimited possibilities of existence and definite limits. In spite of this lavishly risky humanization, the one-way progress from an uncaring and unknowing life to a self-concerned presence resembles a change from a primordial life (where time is not felt) to a presence wherein there is a temporalized transience.

Hegel also speaks about the struggle of recognition which is implied in self-consciousness. The struggle arises between two tendencies that oppose each other. These tendencies are the moment when self and other are together making self-consciousness possible and when there is a difference that comes about when one-self is conscious of the otherness of other selves. He explains how the realization of self-consciousness has become a struggle for recognition among people who have been bound to each other as unequals as a result of dependence. One is a bondsman while the other one is the servant. They are dependent on the lord. He knows that before the lord, he is just an object and not a subject. He desires to ascertain his pure self-consciousness, but he becomes frustrated by the lord since he is not considered a self-aware being. The lord is an independent being, and he takes negative the otherness reflected in the slave. He denies the impulse to recognize the bondsman as a conscious self like himself. The bondsman finds satisfaction in labor, and he is able to rediscover himself and claim a mind of his own and become objective in his work ("Cognition").

The engendered epistemic concepts make us appreciate the natural world in a specific way and this determines our personal and collective self-perceptions. This dynamic alienates the slave and the master from each other hence themselves. It also separates them from the objects existing in the natural world. The separation from self, other and the natural worlds objects results in stoicism, skepticism and unhappy consciousness which does not satisfactorily redress these problems (Rauch et al.103).

The intellectual freedom that is needed for knowledge is provided by self-consciousness and cannot be directly reached via little introspection as Sartre and Descartes hold nor is it simply given. Self-consciousness only arises from social conflict. Freedom is a vital condition of knowledge. A subject should be aware of itself to be able to make a distinction between truth and error. Hegel argues that freedom only exists within a social struggle which becomes the condition of self-consciousness (Hegel 119).

The relation of the master and the slave is a depiction of the struggle that exists between two individuals who are held up in an unequal relationship. The modern society can be easily grasped from this metaphor. This concept of self-consciousness majorly constitutes a turning point of modern philosophy in the history. The struggle for recognition by the master and the slave indicated a new approach that can be used to understand ourselves and also the way through we could know the world we live in (Rauch et al. 87). Additionally, it has influenced the generations of the next thinkers profoundly, the relationship that exists between the self and otherness is fundamental in defining the existence of human awareness and activities which are based on the emotion of desire for objects and their estrangement. This forms the primordial experience of the world by the humans.

According to Hegel, through the meeting of the two self-consciousness, the concept of spirit arrives. This signals nothing not as much as his revocation of the philosophical custom's affinity for tackling epistemological inquiries from an own outlook. The spirit relates to the subjectivity of the human group, and it is the relational medium whose fundamental character shapes by our self-conceptions, which condition how we perceive the world around us.

Earlier philosophers, for example, Kant, brought out the difference that exists between the object and the subject. But in contrary, Hegel ascertained that the self which is the subject is aware of its self by seeing through another self distinctly. The concept of oneself cannot be achieved without having an experience of identifying with the other. The concept of self-consciousness is easier to grasp for many readers than other concepts of Hegel since we encounter this account in our everyday experience. We get to understand ourselves by identifying with the image that we suppose others hold of us. The image could either be positive or negative, and this depends on who the individual is, the position they have in the society. This, in turn, raises everyday stresses as individual attempts to ascertain their freedom against the images of objectivity that others have placed on them.

Works Cited

"Cognition." Publishing.Cdlib.Org, 2017,

Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. Phenomenology of spirit. Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1998.

Rauch, Leo, and David Sherman. Hegel's Phenomenology Of Self-Consciousness.

Albany, N.Y, State University Of New York Press, 1999,.

Pippin, Robert B. Hegel On Self-Consciousness. Princeton, N.J., Princeton

University Press, 2015,.

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