Monday, October 4, 2010

How can an account of the development of consciousness divide itself between two incompatible consciousnesses? The “subservient consciousness” of the bondsman does not have any of the benefit of the developments already conditioning the “independent consciousness” of the lord. It lacks a developed pursuit of recognition, yet it purports to be a result of this development. To be sure, “the action of the [bondsman] is the [lord]'s own action; for what the bondsman does is really the action of the lord.” But the action of the bondsman is what is to become thinking, and at this point doing someone else's action reaches a limit—no one can think for anyone else. On the other hand, it is not the bondsman who encounters this limit of his recognition nor, superseding it, the concomitant vanishing of the one-sidedness of the recognition. Thus, the dialectic seems to allow the lord to have done the thinking of the bondsman.
Perhaps the thinking by which self-consciousness passes from lord to bondsman to develop itself belongs neither to one nor the other. But then, to whom does it belong? The strange drift of the Hegelian wind seems once again to have blown thinking right out of the reach of any one who wanted to accomplish it.