Hegel, alienation, and the phenomenological development of consciousness

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Philosophy Department

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Research Article

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International Journal of Philosophical Studies

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While it has long been recognized that the concept alienation plays a crucial role in Hegels Phenomenology of Spirit and indeed his overall philosophical project, too often commentators simply note its importance without providing an in-depth discussion of this important concept. I aim to remedy this by providing an extended discussion of the role that alienation plays in the phenomenological development of consciousness. To do so, I first, briefly, outline the project that Hegel undertakes in the Phenomenology of Spirit, before undertaking an analytic of the concept alienation to show that: (a) Hegel distinguishes between alienation as estrangement (Entfremdung) and alienation as externalisation (Entasserung); and (b) the two senses of the term are intimately, if differently, related to concepts such as objectivity and objectification. I then show that, while he recognizes that the experience of alienation may be an undesirable aspect of consciousnesss existence, Hegel maintains that experiencing a particular combination of the two senses of alienation allows consciousness to overcome its alienation. The conclusion drawn is that properly understanding Hegels subtle and multi-dimensional account of alienation provides us with insight into this concept, Hegels conception of consciousness, and his wider philosophical project. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

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