Concept of Alienation in Hegel’s Social Philosophy

Journal of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research 37 (1):51-66 (2020)
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In this paper I made an attempt to discuss how the concept of alienation has been discussed in G.W.F. Hegel’s (1770–1831) social philosophy. In Hegel’s philosophy, alienation is part of the process of self-creativity and self-discovery. According to Hegel, initially our consciousness is alienated from itself. It cannot understand its own true nature. In order to realize its own true nature consciousness’s needs to develop absolute knowledge. The development of consciousness’s absolute knowledge is possible through the overcoming of self-alienation of consciousness. Here, concept of alienation plays an important role in bringing consciousness to the shape of itself called absolute knowing. According to Hegel, consciousness cannot easily know itself with certainty. Consciousness has to develop its self-understanding to fully understand itself. In his discussion of the concept of alienation Hegel compares the dialectic of self-consciousness and consciousness which is not self-realised with the famous dialectic of the lord and the bondsman. It means while discussing the relation of lord and bondsman Hegel compares lord with independent consciousness and bondsman with dependent consciousness. This dialectic of lord and bondsman is sometimes referred to as the dialectic of the master and the slave relationship. In the productive system when everybody regards themselves to be producer and as a member of productive activity, when everybody participates in the large collaborative activity, then there exists no alienation in the society. But when people forget this identity then alienation arises in the society. Hegel thinks that when our consciousness reaches at the stage of itself called Absolute knowledge then it clearly comes to know that it is a differentiated spiritual unity of subjectivity and objectivity. Then it comes to know its own true nature and it overcomes its self-alienation. In the same way in society people overcome their self-alienation when everyone can think themselves to be a part of the whole community. In the present study, I shall deal with how Hegel has applied the concept of alienation in his social philosophy and how does he try to show that through overcoming his alienation a man gets united with the other or the whole community.



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A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
Critique of Pure Reason.I. Kant - 1787/1998 - Philosophy 59 (230):555-557.
Phenomenology of Spirit.G. W. F. Hegel & A. V. Miller - 1977 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 10 (4):268-271.

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