Hegel, Alienation, and the Phenomenological Development of Consciousness

Abstract While it has long been recognized that the concept ?alienation? plays a crucial role in Hegel?s 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? (Entaüsserung); 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 consciousness?s 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 Hegel?s subtle and multi-dimensional account of alienation provides us with insight into this concept, Hegel?s conception of consciousness, and his wider philosophical project.
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DOI 10.1080/09672559.2011.631147
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