Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 29:53 — 27.4MB)
This is a 30-minute preview of a 1 hr, 28-minute episode.
Discussing G.F.W. Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), Part B (aka Ch. 4), "Self-Consciousness," plus recapping the three chapters before that (Part A. "Consciousness").
This is discussion one of two: here we only get as far as "The Truth of Self-Certainty," i.e. sections 166-177. This is plenty, though, as this may be the most difficult text in the history of philosophy.
We discuss Hegel's weird dialectical method and what it says about his metaphysics, in particular about ourselves: not static, pre-formed balls of self-interest, but something that needs to be actively formed through reflection, which in turn is only possible because of our interactions with other people. Featuring guest podcaster Tom McDonald.
Buy the book, or you look at this alternate translation by Terry Pinkard online. I highly recommend having one of these open to read along, as the text is very hard to follow.
End song: "Ann(e)" by Mark Lint, written in late 1991 shortly after my exposure to this book and completed in 2010 for the music blog.
Nice episode. Tom has a great ‘radio voice’ (so do the PEL trinity). The song (by Mark?) was good – sounded like Ferry’s Roxie Music in the beginning.
Mark, you ended talking about mutual immanence of things, which I had touched on when asking in a logic comment session
“I am in the room, and the room is an item in my present experience. But my present experience is what I now am.”
Joe Varo says
After 55-60 hours per week at work with folks who don’t know who Napoleon Bonaparte is, much less G.W.F. Hegel, being able to hang-out for a couple of hours with a new installment of PEL is kind of like coming home.
Seth Paskin says
Thanks Joe! I’m not sure which is worse – that you work 55-60 hrs a week or with people who don’t know who Napoleon was.
I unthinkingly put “a priori” into a work email recently, which required a lengthy response in which no one was really interested and which killed the thread. Lesson learned.
When I greet someone with “Here I am,” I do not feel the need to add “and I brought my body along, too.” We are organized as a society of organs (bodies) participating in a field of activity with a unpty of purpose that is dominated by our self/psyche/soul, or simply stated, we are a body-mind unity. I cannot see it otherwise; it is a fact of all higher order creatures with a CNS and so capable of consciousness.
Could self-consciousness be a heightened realization of our body’s role in its supporting our mentality – a form of consciousness unique to humans since the body is merely taken for granted by other creature species? Could UNITY be the elusive sense of “I-ness’ that Hegel and current philosophy of mind theorists are hunting down?
If so, the self in self-consciousness is simply the relationship of our soul to our body. Seth may have planted the seed for this thought in the opening of the first Hegel episode when he spoke of the perplexing “the relation relates itself to itself in the body mind”, or something like that.
I immediately thought of the classis description of the triune God: The Soul (Creator/Father) is in relationship to the embodied Jesus via the relational unifying action of the Holy Ghost.
God is made aware of Himself thru the experience of his body (Jesus), and this Unity, this Self of awareness is the Holy Spirit.
O.K., you may now skip Bible study this week!
I just reread my last comment…it sounds like I was pushing a triune God as the answer to consciousness and self-consciousness. I wasn’t, I was just making an interesting analogy.
I have listened to the Hegel episode 3 times now! All sorts of associations are swirling about consciousness. I probably linked the following before, but just in case, it may assist your thinking for the follow-up Hegel show…
In addition to the paper I linked to on another combox about the way ANW sees propositions, http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=2770 , the following paper shows how ANW explains how consciousness arises infrequently and it is the awareness associated with the feeling of an affirmation-negation proposition – the entertainment of a contrast between what is but might not be, or what might be but is not. You can skip the mind-body theories and just read to part 5.
Thank you for this!
Just wanted to note that when he Hegel is referring to the “I am I” it is not directly Descartes he is referring to, it is most directly a Fichte reference, as that was his “twist” on the Kantian debate. Hegel talks about it a bit in the paper he wrote contrasting Fichte and Schelling’s Idealism (at the time he is decidedly on Schelling’s side of the fence.)
Seth Paskin says
Thanks! Coincidentally I was just re-listening to these two episodes last week and this. We noted the difficulty of Hegel’s lack of attribution.