Estrangement and Alienation in The Phenomenology of Mind

  • John Torrance


The ideas of estrangement and alienation received their first full-dress philosophical presentation in Hegel’s The Phenomenology of Mind.1 The climax of this presentation is in the second section.(the ‘antithesis’) of the historical development of Geist (spirit, mind) in Chapter VI, entitled ‘Spirit in Self-estrangement’. To discuss only that section, however, would not do justice to Hegel’s arguments, which depend on preceding preparatory stages. Thus ‘Spirit in Self-estrangement’, which refers to the development of European Christendom, demands to be discussed against the background of its ‘thesis’, ‘Objective Spirit’, which refers to Graeco-Roman civilisation. Furthermore, as Hegel himself insisted, these analyses of historical socio-cultural systems can scarcely be understood in abstraction from the presentation of corresponding modes of self-consciousness in Chapter IV. These are the well-known sections that culminate, respectively, in the dialectic of master and slave and that of the ‘unhappy consciousness’. Not only is the discussion of these earlier sections necessary to situate Hegel’s treatment of self-estranged spirit in context, but in addition, each of these sections contains its own partial development of ideas of estrangement and alienation.


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  1. 1.
    All page references in this chapter, unless noted otherwise, are to G. W. F. Hegel, The Phenomenology of Mind trans. J. Baillie (London, 1949).Google Scholar
  2. 25.
    G. W. F. Hegel, The Philosophy of Histog, trans. Sibree (New York, 1956) p. 318.Google Scholar
  3. 39.
    H. S. Harris, Hegel’s Development. Towards the Sunlight, 1770–1801. (Oxford, 1972) pp. 511–12.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John Torrance 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Torrance
    • 1
  1. 1.Hertford CollegeOxfordUK

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