“Self consciousness exists in and for itself when, and by the fact that, it so exists for another; that is, it exists only in being acknowledged.”(Phenomenology of the Spirit 111).
In his Phenomenology of the Spirit Hegel describes consciousness as an independent thing whose independence is only achieved through the acknowledgment of its own dependence on outside objects and the subsequent struggle to negate this “self externality” in order to achieve true independence (Phenomenology of the Spirit 114). He retells this elaborate genesis as a dramatic “life and death struggle”, in the story of the Lord and the Bondsman where each must engage in this struggle in order to “raise their certainty of being” (Phenomenology of the Spirit 113). In both stories one thing is clear: in order to develop a truly independent consciousness it is essential to first acknowledge and be acknowledged by another consciousnesses. In other words, we need the recognition of other consciousnesses — this is the first step to attaining our own freedom. Continue reading