Universal Consciousness, Experience (Erfahrung), and Fashion



This chapter explores the commonality between G. W. F. Hegel’s universal consciousness and Walter Benjamin’s collective consciousness. Benjamin’s theory of experience (Erfahrung) helps clarify how collective consciousness is at work in modern times, consolidating the validity of the Hegelian universal consciousness, the starting point of which is subject-object identity. Fashion reveals the mechanism by which the individual communicates with the collective, supporting Hegel’s exposition of universal consciousness. Benjamin’s philosophy of experience (Erfahrung) also suggests that fashion as a dialectical image evinces unintentional truth, which indeed is a result of the tacit communication between the individual and the collective. Put crudely, for Benjamin, it is the concept of experience (Erfahrung) that touches on the relay between “I” and others; for Hegel, it is universal consciousness.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Fashion DesignSungkyunkwan UniversitySeoulKorea (Republic of)

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