One of the more neglected chapters of Hegel's Phenomenology, which contains neither the obvious drama of the master and slave dialectic nor the deep enigmas of the final pages on absolute knowledge, carries the somewhat puzzling title Das geistige Tierrefrh und der Bertrug oder die Sache selbst. Of the major commentators on Hegel only Lukács has suggested its central place in the design of the whole: Kojéve and Lowenberg (following Royce) have suggested vivid readings of it as an analysis of the conflicts and jealousies of intellectual, artistic, and professional work. What follows is a series of remarks and variations on Hegel's text which agrees in the main with Lukács' notion of its imponance and with Kojéve’s and Lowenberg's account of what is important in it. To begin with an expression of indebtedness to one's intellectual sources is an important gesture, for part of the point of Hegel's chapter is to trace the illusions of ownership and sole responsibility to which intellectuals are liable. Just as the sheer meinen of sense-certainty (my attempt to really mean that which is truly mine - my present sensation) collapses into the most abstract and universal language, so mywork, the more rigidly I insist that it is mine, turns out to be one more minor variation on the texts, commentaries, thematics, and traditions of one school of thought or another.

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 1979

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 1979 IPFW. This article first appeared in Clio 8, no. 3 (Spring 1979): 323-38.

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