Hegel: Master and Servant Essay

In feudalism there was a separation of classes, such as the peasants from the kings and the noblemen from the middle class. “Each individual has his position; he knows, on the whole what a lawful and honorable course of conduct it is. ” (Baird 76). Shown by this quote, there is still an ethical statute of status in society one must have. How Hegel would put why people would be segregated into different classes is because conformity is part of universal reason in which humans are human agents of universal spirit.Absolute reason and spirit is free movement and self defined, but in relation to other objects. The universal spirit gets to know itself by manifesting itself into other human beings and thus creates self development through the human.

In the 19th century there is still a division of class between the “masters” who have superiority over the “servant”. this has been created by absolute spirit to recognize itself further in a historical sense. All though there are different stages of the master than the servant in which comes to recognize one’s self and the other.At the start of the relationship between the master and servant they are at two different conciousnesses. The master is for-itself. This would mean, in a Hegelian sense, that the master is self conscious of one’s self while trying to get to their own telos.

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The servant, on the other hand, is in-itself. This means that the servant takes what his externalities are. Thus, his consciousness is external. So, the servant doesn’t really think of what he is feeling only what others matters and affairs are to appease the master.Because of these two different starting points, the master sees the servant not having a consciousness, so the master can use the servant to the full effects of his very own needs and wants. The servant as stated before, doesn’t recognize itself, but recognizes the needs and wants of the master.

Even though both master and servant may reject being objects for one another, absolute spirit needs to further itself. Thus, manifests action into the relation of the two individuals. What happens when the master and servant interact with one another?The degrees of for-itself and in-itself transition slightly with one another. An example is the master telling the servant to do a household chore. The master sees from the external aspect that he is becoming more dependant on the servant and seeing an external-consciousness of himself produced in the world, such as the servant doing the chore for the master. On the other hand, the servant, when given the chore, he is given a task of completion which is directly correlated with himself.

Since he is given a task by the master to do, he gains understanding of himself being important for the master. Seen from this point of view, the roles have reversed themselves from in-itself to for-itself and vice-versa for the servant and master. If this happened though, society would always be changing drastically every single day and society would be over thrown by revolts of peasants. So, how was this negated through the time of the 19th century? Each one would essentially resist being objects for one another.This would mean that the master would deny that the servant is a reason why he would see himself as a combination of for-itself and in-itself and also is the case for the servant. But what would be the end result if we just put off the denial of our type of consciousness? The result is that both master and servant will turn out to be for one another.

This would further absolute reason by the fact of self-consciousness and external-consciousness being integrating with one another to complete the understanding of the universe.The master and servant then could understand the self-consciousness and external-consciousness of the other by politely asking each other about their own points of view on certain situations. Plato said He who isn’t a good servant will not be a good master.

However, Plato must have forgotten what it meant to be a good master in correlation to a servant. This is what Hegel trys to provide, a bridge between the servant and master relation in a dialectic approach that can better the society once and for all.


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