Hegel's Phenomenology of Self-Consciousness

Text and Commentary

By Leo Rauch, David Sherman
Edited by Leo Rauch, and David Sherman

Subjects: Continental Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Hegelian Studies
Paperback : 9780791441589, 236 pages, May 1999
Hardcover : 9780791441572, 236 pages, June 1999

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Table of contents

Preface and Acknowledgments

Introduction by David Sherman

Part I. G. W.F. Hegel
Phenomenology of Spirit: Self-Consciousness
translated by Leo Rauch

1. Chapter IV: The Truth of Self-Certainty
2. Hegel's Summary of Self-Consciousness from the "Phenomenology of Spirit" in the Philosophical Propaedeutic (1809)

Part II. A Discussion of the Text
by Leo Rauch

3. What is "Self-Consciousness"?: An Overview
4. On Hegel's Aims and Methods
5. Before "Self-Consciousness"
6. Self-Consciousness and Self-Certainty (Para. 1-12)
7. Mastery and Slavery (Para. 13-31)
8. Stoicism, Skepticism, and the Unhappy Consciousness (Para. 32-65)
9. After "Self-Consciousness"
10. Early-Twentieth-Century European Criticism

Part III. The Denial of the Self: The Repudiation of Hegelian Self-Consciousness in Recent European Thought
by David Sherman

11. Overview
12. Georges Bataille
13. Gilles Deleuze
14. Jacques Lacan
15. Jurgen Habermas and Axel Honneth


Presents a new translation with commentary of chapter IV (“Self-Consciousness”) of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit.


Offering a new translation of the famous chapter IV ("Self-Consciousness") of Phenomenology of Spirit, this book reflects the far-reaching insights of contemporary Hegelian scholarship. Included is extensive commentary as well as a review of its reception by such important twentieth-century thinkers as Kojeve, Heidegger, Sartre, Gadamer, Bataille, Deleuze, Lacan, and Habermas.

Interest in Hegel has historically centered around the Phenomenology of Spirit. In particular chapter IV, including Hegel's celebrated "master-slave dialectic," has influenced philosophers, political theorists, social psychologists, cultural anthropologists, and literary theorists alike. Hegel began this chapter with an influential discussion of the nature of human "desire," and then described a hypothetical encounter between two pre-social human beings who engage in a life-and-death struggle for recognition. Out of this struggle that gave rise to self-identity, emerged such forms of consciousness as master and slave, stoicism, skepticism, and what Hegel referred to as "the unhappy consciousness," which he took to be paradigmatic of early Christianity. These forms of consciousness, in turn, are transcended by other, more comprehensive, forms of consciousness that ultimately come to reflect the highest elaborations of societal life. The impetus for these dynamic changes comes from the dialectical contradictions that inhere within our most basic conceptions of personhood.

Leo Rauch was Professor of Philosophy of Babson College and the author of several books including Hegel and the Human Spirit: A Translation and Discussion of the Jena 1805–6 Lectures. David Sherman is a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin.


"It provides a focussed presentation and discussion of this single, all-important chapter from Hegel's Phenomenology, and sets it in the context of a review of major commentaries from twentieth-century continental philosophy on this particular text. " —Philip T. Grier, Dickinson College

"This is an intelligent, insightful, and friendly presentation of chapter IV of Hegel's Phenomenology, a most perplexing, multifaceted, and fertile chapter in an exciting, difficult, and enigmatic book. " — Peter G. Stillman, editor of Hegel's Philosophy of Spirit