Hegel's "Master/Slave Dialectic" in Phenomenology of Spirit

A Study Guide for Students in Bill Gay's Modern Philosophy Class

A. Social Definition of Consciousness (#178-#181)
    1. Self-Consciousness and Social Recognition (#178)
        a. Need others to achieve status of "in itself" and "for itself"
        b. "Self-consciousness exists in and for itself when...it so exists for another; that is, it exists only in being
            acknowledged" (111/#178)
            1) I am "Other" to the other: I find myself "as an other being"
            2) Other is object for me who can serve as Mirror, not an "essential being"
    2. Aim of Domination in this duality (#180)
        a. Each wants "to become certain of itself as the essential being"
        b. Each unwittingly "proceeds to supersede its own self, for this other is itself"

B. Desire and Recognition (#182-#186)
    1. Desire for another subject is different from desire for simple object (112/#182)
        a. Desire brings negation into the world
        b. Problem when the Other as object of my desire is also a Subject
    2. From mutual to one-sided recognition
        a. "The recognize themselves as mutually recognizing one another" (#184)
            b. One-Sidedness occurs with "inequality of the two" (#185)
                1) Subjectively, egologically, "Each isÖcertain of its own self" (#186)
                2) Objectively, socially, certainty of self "still has no truth"
C. Struggle to Death (#187-#189)
    1. Ultimate "not take no for an answer": others give recognition
        a. "Each seeks the death of the other" (#187)
            1) Maximizing external recognition involves "staking of its own life"
            2) Each seeks to be THE Sovereign Subject
                b. Freedom: "only through staking one's life that freedom is won" (114)
                    1) To be conscious of life, must be conscious of death
                    2) When risk death, recognize life as realm of my freedom
    2. Problem of Death
        a. Not receive Truth of Certainty of Self if I die or if Mirror is Shattered
        b. "In this experience, self-consciousness learns that life is as essentialÖas pure self-consciousness" (115/#189):
            not philosophy of "live free or die"
            1) Others do not know when, for what values, you should risk your life
            2) Surrender and preservation of the possibility of freedom

D. Mastery as Self-Defeating (#190-#193)
    1. Status of Master's Recognition
        a. "That other consciousness is expressly something unessential"
        b. "The outcome is a recognition that is one-sided and unequal"
    2. Slavery is the Truth (External/Objective Meaning) of Mastery
        a. "The unessential consciousness is for the lord the object, which constitutes the truth of his certainty of himself"
        b. "The truth of the independent consciousness is accordingly the servile consciousness of the bondsman" (#193)

E. Slavery and the Possibility of True Liberation (#194-#196)
    1. Initially, slave sees master as its truth
        a. "Servitude is not yet aware of that this truth is implicit in it"
        b. Slave may think that to be free is to be master: the reproduction of the consciousness of the master in the slave
    2. Slave "has experienced the fear of death, the absolute Lord"
        a. Surrender as refusal to play power games risking life for false recognition
        b. Labor and alternative form of recognition