A Very Heterodox Reading of the Master-Servant Episode in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit

In my paper I will argue that Hegel’s phenomenology contains a series of theories of intentionality that all fail for different reasons. In particular, I will closely look on a famous sub-chapter of the analysis of self-consciousness. This chapter has been the object of highly influential readings from the Marxist tradition to Sartre, psychoanalysis, and the Frankfurt School. However, the paper argues that these readings miss the essential structure of the chapter and are unable to account for the arguments presented. Instead it offers a detailed reconstruction of Hegel’s analysis of the failure of the positions he calls “the lord” and “the servant” respectively to account for self- consciousness in a sufficiently general theory of intentionality. (Gabriel)

After a Postdoc at NYU and a position at the New School for Social Research, since 2009, Markus Gabriel holds the chair in Epistemology, Modern and Contemporary philosophy at the University of Bonn, Germany, where he also serves as the Director of the International Center for Philosophy. He works mainly in epistemology and metaphysics (ontology) drawing his inspirations from the history of philosophy (in particular, 19th century Post-Kantian philosophy, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein). He has a particular interest in problems of skepticism and their history. His recent books are Transcendental Ontology: Essays in German Idealism and Die Erkenntnis der Welt. Eine Einführung in die Erkenntnistheorie (Knowledge of the World. An Introduction to Epistemology). His forthcoming books are Warum es die Welt nicht gibt (Why the World does not Exist) and Fields of Sense. A New Realist Ontology.

Co-sponsored with the Department of German.