Phenomenology of Flesh: Fanon’s Critique of Hegelian Recognition and Buck-Morss’ Haiti Thesis

Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge 1 (40):1-17 (2024)
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Abstract

This philosophical investigation interrogates the relationship between G.W.F. Hegel’s concept of the master-slave dialectic in The Phenomenology of Spirit and the critique and reformulation of it by Frantz Fanon in Black Skin, White Masks. As a means of contextualization and expansion of Hegel’s original textual account, I consider Susan Buck-Morss’ seminal defense through grounding the dialectic in Hegel’s possible historical knowledge of the Haitian Revolution. I maintain that despite a compelling picture, Buck-Morss’ insights are unable to fully vindicate Hegel from the rebukes of Fanon, and as a result, Hegel’s phenomenology necessitates a concrete analysis of the actual conscious experiences of the racialized and colonized subject in order to realize its aims. In pursuit of this critical methodology, I develop the upshot and positive movement of Fanon’s critique through what I describe as a “phenomenology of flesh” in conversation with Maurice Merleau Ponty’s The Visible and the Invisible.

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Grant Brown
Villanova University

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