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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 56, Issue 2, June 2016

Timothy L. Brownlee
Pages 187-201

Ethicality and the Movement of Recognition in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit

In this paper I consider the contribution that Hegel’s discussion of ethicality (Sittlichkeit) makes to his account of recognition in the Phenomenology of Spirit. While the famous relation of lord and bondsman might prompt us to think of all failures of recognition as failures of reciprocity, Hegel’s account of ethicality shows that it is possible for forms of social life to be structured so that no one is recognized. This failure of recognition is unique since its source does not lie in a lack of reciprocity between individuals but in the absence of an explicit and shared conception of the “self.” In conclusion I point to the importance of the idea of the self to Hegel’s account of reciprocal intersubjective recognition in the text and contrast it with Pippin’s recent interpretation.

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