Michael Inwood - 'Self-consciousness and Other Selves in Hegel'. Delivered at the 2015 HPP/DLC Persons and Community colloquium.
Self-consciousness and Other Selves in Hegel In his 1807 book Phenomenology of Spirit Hegel tells a story about two men who meet, and fight each other in order to gain recognition or acknowledgement. Both of these men risk death, but one of them wins and spares the other's life on condition that he acknowledges him as his lord and master and becomes his slave or bondsman. The master does not find this position as satisfying as he expected, since he gains recognition only from an abject slave. Conversely, the slave does better than he expected, since he benefits from discipline and the work he engages in for the master. This passage has been interpreted in many different ways. I argue that it can be understood in at least two ways: firstly as an argument to the effect that a self isolated from other selves could not be a proper self or inhabitant of an objective world, and secondly as an account of how a state of society arises from the state of nature