Chapter

The Master-Slave Dialectic

In book: Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology, Publisher: Springer, Editors: Teo, Thomas

ABSTRACT The Master-Slave dialectic has its origin in the arguably most famous chapter of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit entitled Lordship and Bondage. In narrative form, Hegel describes the development of self-consciousness through the encounter of two beings. His presentation is, however, not straightforward. It is incredibly dense, Hegel's language appears abstract, detached, and, at times, even incongruent. At the same time, the work has unfolded an undeniable significance not only for philosophical discussions but for literature, history, politics, and psychology. In fact, most of the academic discussions about mind and consciousness, self and other, as well as subjectivity and intersubjectivity can be related back to the Master-Slave dialectic. In particular, it plays a role in developmental and social psychology as well as psychoanalysis.

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