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Hegel on Self-Consciousness

Desire and Death in the Phenomenology of Spirit

Robert B. Pippin

Publication Year: 2010

In the most influential chapter of his most important philosophical work, the Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel makes the central and disarming assertions that "self-consciousness is desire itself" and that it attains its "satisfaction" only in another self-consciousness. Hegel on Self-Consciousness presents a groundbreaking new interpretation of these revolutionary claims, tracing their roots to Kant's philosophy and demonstrating their continued relevance for contemporary thought.

As Robert Pippin shows, Hegel argues that we must understand Kant's account of the self-conscious nature of consciousness as a claim in practical philosophy, and that therefore we need radically different views of human sentience, the conditions of our knowledge of the world, and the social nature of subjectivity and normativity. Pippin explains why this chapter of Hegel's Phenomenology should be seen as the basis of much later continental philosophy and the Marxist, neo-Marxist, and critical-theory traditions. He also contrasts his own interpretation of Hegel's assertions with influential interpretations of the chapter put forward by philosophers John McDowell and Robert Brandom.

Published by: Princeton University Press

Series: Princeton Monographs in Philosophy


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Title Page, Series Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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p. v

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pp. vii-viii

The following is an expanded and revised version of the Spinoza Lectures given at the University of Amsterdam in April and May of 2009. The idea was to combine an interpretation of what I and many others regard as the most...

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Introductory Remarks

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pp. 1-5

One of Hegel’s main concerns in the revolutionary book he wrote in the German city of Jena while only in his thirties, his Phenomenology of Spirit, is a familiar modern philosophical concern: the attempt to understand the various...

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CHAPTER ONE: On Hegel’s Claim That Self-Consciousness Is “Desire Itself ” (Begierde überhaupt)

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pp. 6-53

Kant held that what distinguishes an object in our experience from the mere subjective play of representations is rule-governed unity. His famous definition of an object is just “that in the concept of which a manifold is united”...

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CHAPTER TWO: On Hegel’s Claim That “Self-Consciousness Finds Its Satisfaction Only in Another Self-Consciousness”

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pp. 54-87

You all at this moment know what you are doing—reading a book about Hegel, let us say—and, as Elizabeth Anscombe among others made famous, you know it not by observation (the way you would know that someone else is reading...

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Concluding Remarks

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pp. 88-97

In ¶184, Hegel sums up what he takes himself to have shown to be the basic “movement,” as he calls it, of selfconsciousness. Self-consciousness, that is, is never the direct presence of anything like a “self-object” to itself; it is a processual...


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pp. 99-103

E-ISBN-13: 9781400836949
E-ISBN-10: 1400836948
Print-ISBN-13: 9780691148519
Print-ISBN-10: 0691148511

Page Count: 120
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: Course Book
Series Title: Princeton Monographs in Philosophy
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OCLC Number: 699720611
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Hegel on Self-Consciousness