Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 9, No 2 (2013)

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Why We Fight: Hegel’s ‘Struggle to the Death’ Revisited

Jim Vernon

Abstract


My goal in this paper is to counter an increasingly common interpretation of the most famous moment in Hegel's thought - the struggle for recognition. Specifically, through a close reading of the movement from self-conscious desire to the moment of struggle, I seek to refute three key claims: a) that self-consciousness finds itself, qua determining center, challenged by another desire, b) that self-consciousness responds to this challenge by seeking to somehow subjugate the other as determining desire, and c) that self-consciousness risks its own life primarily as a consequence of seeking the death of the other.  I close with some (somewhat speculative) comments on the import of this reversal for understanding the role of recognition in Hegel's thought.

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