Readings of “Consciousness”: Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit

Journal of General Philosophy 1 (1):15-26 (2014)
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This paper walks through four different approaches to Hegel's notion of Consciousness in the Phenomenology of Spirit. Through taking four different approaches our aim is to explore the multifaceted nature of the phenomenological movement of consciousness. The first part provides an overview of the three chapters of the section on Consciousness, namely Sense-Certainty, Perception and Force and the Understanding, attempting to unearth the implicit logic that undergirds Consciousness’ experience. The second part focuses specifically on the shape of Sense-Certainty, providing an analysis of the movement from Sense-Certainty to Perception from a neuroscientific view. Thirdly, we consider an inferentialist reading of the chapters on Consciousness which has been made popular by Robert Brandom. We think that while this view elucidates the connection that Hegel draws between meaning and use, it fails to account for the vital place of immediacy in each of the shapes. Finally, the fourth part suggests that Hegel’s notion of Consciousness improves the reading of tragedy he develops in chapters 5 and 7 of the Phenomenology. While many critics have noted that Hegel fails to do justice to tragic experience, Consciousness contains an epistemology that develops analogously to the heroes of ancient tragedy. Each approach in this paper comes at Hegel’s description of the journey of Consciousness from a different angle, and together they paint a multi-layered picture of a highly important part of Hegel’s corpus.

Author Profiles

Agemir Bavaresco
Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul
Andrew James Latham
Aarhus University
Andrew Cooper
University of Warwick


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