Saturday, March 31, 2012

Real amazing Rail guns/lazer!

Okay people, we got the MTHEL (mobile tactical high energy lazer) the size of a semi trailer, HELLADS (high energy liquid laser active defense system) and now bases equiped with telescope for locking on enemy satellites into space and making them explode!

Conservatively is supposed to destroy any CPU on the enemy satellite.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Facade.


Ah, capitalism. You buy shit and nobody comments on your Youtube. They say they will here, yet they won't. Bitches. Facade is a superficial appearance or illusion of something. This guy said he was on Youtube taping his band. Who knows if he lied? This whole conversation was a facade. When I return, my bets new people will put out more facades. It wasn't a real conversation, A FAKE ONE!

Yeah, career professionals tell me that Carrabu Coffee is a great place to make friends, yet they lie through their teeth.

If all Carrabu Coffees are like this, you'd think that becoming Canadian is a real advancement. Canadians don't have these silly problems.

If this continues, I'll have no problem cussing at them if I ever see them.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Honneth’s Social-Psychological Theory

In Part II of his book, Honneth aims to draw on work of the empirical sciences to reconstruct in modern terms concepts of the ‘struggle for recognition’ originally outlined in metaphysical terms by the young Hegel.
The first step in this process is the appropriation of the ideas of George Herbert Mead, an associate of John Dewey, who worked out the application of Dewey’s ideas in social psychology. I question whether G H Mead’s work can be counted as ‘empirical science'; it would be more correct to say that he formulated in naturalistic terms, the application of Dewey’s behaviourist-pragmatic psychology to social-psychological speculation, albeit brilliantly. Dewey and Mead were quite conscious of themselves as Hegel-interpreters, integrating Hegel’s insights into the pragmatist philosophical milieu of the United States. The Progressive movement of early twentieth century America did, however, provide a proving ground for their ideas.
I agree with the idea of exploring the possibilities of grounding Hegel’s ideas in modern social and psychological research, but furthermore, I believe that the Vygotsky School in the Soviet Union provides what may be a superior basis for such a grounding. Dewey visited the Soviet Union in the 1920s and his ideas were among the conditions which led to the emergence of this school. Nevertheless, despite all the difficulties of scientific work in the Stalinist USSR, the Vygotsky school actually did carry out over a period of many decades a highly developed research program, including experimental work, and it was a Marxist rather than a pragmatic philosophical legacy which informed their thinking. In the 1980s, their work became known in the West and has been further developed in the United States and elsewhere, including its reconnection with American Pragmatism.
Let us review Honneth’s appropriation of Mead, however, and then we can explore where a Vygotskyian-Marxist critique of the appropriated behaviourist-pragmatist interpretation of Hegel might lead us.
As an aside, in introducing this project, Honneth defines the task in these terms:
1. Hegel’s model starts from the speculative thesis that the formation of the practical self presupposes mutual recognition between subjects ... but instead of viewing intersubjective relationships as empirical events within the social world, he builds them up into a formative process between singular intelligences ... what is needed, in the first place, is a reconstruction of his initial thesis in the light of empirical social psychology.
Although this paragraph is a little ambiguous, I think it is a miss-formulation of Hegel’s schema. For Hegel “intersubjective relationships” are prior to “singular intelligences”; what Hegel refers to as “intelligence” is a higher stage of subjective spirit, which rises through a process of differentiation from “soul” (the subject matter of anthropology in which an individual subject does not differentiate itself from its objectification in a community of subjects, or, ontogenetically, a child does not distinguish between its own actions and those of its environment), consciousness (the subject matter of phenomenology) and spirit in-and-for-itself (the subject matter of psychology). What Hegel calls “self-consciousness” arises through the famous “master-slave dialectic” in the second phase of subjective spirit. However, Hegel’s starting point is communities living in a way in which subjective consciousness is not differentiated from collective social behaviour, where individual subjects do not fully differentiate themselves from an objective field of social interaction with other people. That is, people are already living in communities and working together prior, whether interpreted ontologically or anthropologically, to becoming self-conscious.
This may be neither here nor there, but I think it is important to avoid presupposing what is to be derived. The question is: how does self-consciousness emerge?
Honneth appropriates Mead’s pragmatist-behaviourist answer to this question:
“I can become aware of what my gesture signifies for the other only by producing the other’s reply in myself.” [p. 73]
So that:
“In perceiving one’s own vocal gesture and reacting to myself as my counterpart does, I take on a decentred perspective, from which I can form an image of myself and thereby come to a consciousness of my identity ... individuals can only become conscious of themselves in the object-position.” [p. 74]
Thus Mead’s well-known contrast between ‘I’ and ‘me':
“Mead thus distinguishes between the ‘me’ — which, since it only reflects the other’s image of me, only preserves my momentary activity as something already past — from the ‘I’, which represents the unregimented source of all my current actions. ... In its spontaneous activity ... ‘I’ not only precedes the consciousness that one has of oneself ... but also constantly refers back to the behavioural expressions contained consciously within the ‘me’ and comments on them. In the individual’s personality, there is a relationship between the ‘I’ and the ‘me’ comparable to the relationship between two partners to dialogue ... a subject can only acquire a consciousness of itself to the extent to which it learns to perceive its own action from the symbolically represented second-person perspective. ... without the experience of having an interaction partner react, one would not be in a position to influence oneself — with the help of utterances that one can perceive oneself — so as to learn to understand one’s reactions as something produced by one’s own person.” [p. 74-75]
Vygotsky and his associates were able to confirm that vocalisations are an integral component in the way in which youngsters learn to control their own behaviour, and a way comparable to the way that communities coordinate their activity by means of symbols, rituals and language. The transitory phenomenon of “egocentric speech” demonstrates that speech is not used initially as a means for one subject to communicate with another, but rather as a means for a subject to coordinate their own behaviour, at a stage of development when their ‘me’ is not yet fully differentiated from the whole field of perception and their ‘I’ has not yet emerged to view.
Honneth draws attention to the fact that the ‘me’ as the “internalisation of norms of action that result from a generalisation of the expectations of all members of society ... ‘the generalised other’,” substantiates the stage of development of subjects of recognition of themselves and their partners to interaction as legal subjects possessing the same rights, but does not yet substantiate the emergence of individuality, in which a subject recognises themselves and others as having unique and differentiated value and identity. For Mead this stage is characterised by the increasing but never-completed recognition of the ‘I’ which always lies beyond perception, but forever intervenes into and disturbs interactive activity with its impulses and demands. Honneth draws out this distinction as it emerges in child development through the move from “role-playing” games to “competitive” games:
“In the stage of role-taking play, the child communicates with himself or herself by imitating the behaviour of a concrete partner to interaction, in order then to react in a complementary manner in his or her own action. By contrast, the second stage — that of the competitive game — requires the maturing child to represent the action-expectations of all of his or her playmates, in order to be able to perceive his or her own role within the functionally organised action-context.” [p. 77]
These games perform not only a cognitive role but a crucial role in the development of moral personality, in which the young person learns to act according to societal rules and develop their personality in activity with others.
Honneth sees in the development of the ‘I’, a driving force for social change, as new demands emerge from within a subject, pressuring social norms to be adapted to satisfy its unique demands. Since the satisfaction of such demands is counterfactual, the subject must be able to “visualise” an ideal community in which its demands are satisfied and in which it is able to coordinate its activity with other subjects. Such an ideal plays an analogous role in social development as does play in the development of a child; the ideal emerges through the activity of a social subject according to counterfactual ethical precepts.
Honneth parts company with Mead on Mead’s conceptualisation of the path by which individualism may emerge in modern society. Mead looks to the functional division of labour as providing the basis for someone to become conscious of their own unique contribution to the community. However Honneth points out that the production of any functional part of social labour is still always determined by the value-system of the whole — the “common good” or “market values”, and therefore, the functional division of labour cannot be the site of counterfactual systems of values which could become an engine of social change and increasing individuation.
Honneth does see the orientation towards shared goals and values that Mead is concerned with in the focus upon the functional division of labour, however, as providing a “motivating experiential nexus” to underpin the development of solidarity — the third stage of recognition which according to Honneth:
“For Hegel ... represents a synthesis of both preceding types of recognition, since it shares with ‘law’ the cognitive point of view associated with universally equal treatment, but shares with ‘love’ the aspect of emotional attachment that arises when love has been refined, under the cognitive impress of the law, into universal solidarity among members of a community. [p. 91]
My problem with this appropriation is that it picks up Mead/Dewey’s pragmatist/behaviourist epistemology along with the naturalistic formulation of Hegel’s speculative insight. Both pragmatism and behaviourism, in their time, made significant contributions to the clarification of concepts of human action and epistemology, both characteristic of the development of the American bourgeoisie. But they both suffer from defects which the Soviet scientists were in a position to transcend. Neither current of course witnessed the flourishing of social movements which enriched social life in the post-World War Two period, until the Soviet and American currents reconnected in the 1980s.
Mead’s image of the pre-conscious subject remains that of an autonomous actor. His behaviourism is useful in shedding light on how a pre-conscious subject develops conditioned reflexes associating their own action-impulses with sense-impressions deriving from both their own vocalisations and the reactions of those around them, but combined with the lack of an experimental program to further probe the process by which self-consciousness emerges in a child, behaviourism blocks the way to a conception of the construction of a self-consciousness as such, since for behaviourism, the ‘ego’ is forever out of sight and metaphysical.
The research of the Soviet activity theorists brought out the important insight that self-consciousness is inextricably tied up with collaborative activity engaging a subject with those around it, something quite distinct from communication between a subject and its partners. Communication arises only later.
The most vital and pervasive activity in which relations to other human beings first arises for the child is the securing of the assistance of adults in their actions. To adult eyes, the child’s gestures and later, the associated vocalisations, appear to be signals, forms of communication, but in respect to the child who has not yet distinguished between themselves and other people, “communication” is a misnomer. Before the child realises that the world is populated by things, and that the things have names, the words the child utters in her efforts to grasp the thing and satisfy her wants are more like the handles with which things are grasped. In other words, at the very root of the formation of consciousness is collaboration with other people, specifically the adults in their immediate circle.
Mead’s behaviourist observation of the sensuous association of the sound of the child’s own voice along with the sensor-motor activity and the sensuous perception of significant others, reinforcing and conditioning the association of all these actions together in the child’s embryonic psyche, is undoubtedly a valid observation, experimentally confirmed by the Soviet scientists.
Likewise in the social sphere, I would contend that it is not in the communication of a person with another, whether you call that other a “partner to interaction” or “partner in communication”, but rather at first the practical collaboration with others that it at the root of the development of social self-consciousness.
When Marx remarks that “it is with man as with commodities” [note 19 to Chapter One of Capital] and goes on to allude to Hegel’s concept of recognition: “Since he comes into the world neither with a looking glass in his hand, nor as a Fichtean philosopher, to whom ‘I am I’ is sufficient, man first sees and recognises himself in other men. Peter only establishes his own identity as a man by first comparing himself with Paul as being of like kind. And thereby Paul, just as he stands in his Pauline personality, becomes to Peter the type of the genus homo,” Marx clearly has in mind the development of civil society on the basis of commodity production.
I think the first thing to acknowledge about play is that play is an historically constructed activity; play as observed by Mead and Vygotsky in the early 20th century is not like play found in pre-modern times nor like the play of children of the current generation. If we treat play as something eternal, then it does not provide “empirical backing”, but rather speculative philosophy in the unconscious guise of empirical data.
According to Vygotsky, play arises in the activity of the child initially as a means of dealing with desires that cannot be immediately satisfied. As a result of play, the child develops a capacity for imagination:
“The old adage that children’s play is imagination in action can be reversed: we can say that imagination in adolescents and schoolchildren is play without action.” [Play and its Role in the Mental Development of the Child, Vygotsky 1933]
In a very young child, according to Vygotsky, there is such an intimate fusion between word and object, and between meaning and what is seen, that a divergence between the meaning field and the visible field is impossible, and “things” have a motivating force in respect to a very young child’s actions and determine the child’s behaviour. Further, young children are “moral realists” in that they cannot distinguish between what is “possible” and what is “allowed”. Play is a transitional stage in which things lose the motivating force that they have for her as a very young child; the child sees one thing but acts differently in relation to what she sees. At first, the child cannot yet sever thought from object; she must have something to act as a pivot and a stick for example may be used as a focus for imaginative behaviour in lieu of a real horse — meaning is freed from the object with which it was directly fused before, and not only freed, but becomes the predominant determinant of action. In the earliest play, the imaginary situation is only slightly separated from reality, and a child may ‘play’ at doing exactly what they have to do, they may ‘play’ at doing things which would otherwise be difficult or unpleasant for them. Later on the gap between the real and the imagined situation widens. In this transitional stage, the child still needs a “pivot” for the separation of meaning and object, and actually gains enjoyment from doing this. In all cases, play enables the child to ‘act above their age’, doing things which they are unable to do ‘in reality’, and in this way prepare themselves for doing them in reality.
The free adoption of rules in a play situation with other children and adults, gives the child for the first time a possibility to distinguish between moral (voluntary) and ‘instrumental’ (determinant) constraints.
Vygotsky says of role-playing play:
“play gives the child a new form of desires, i.e., teaches him to desire by relating his desires to a fictitious “I” - to his role in the game and its rules. Therefore, a child’s greatest achievements are possible in play - achievements that tomorrow will become his average level of real action and his morality.” [ibid.]
According to Vygotsky, play is the leading factor in the development of a child, even though it is the subordinate part in the life of the child, which is generally oriented to real situations, and while in the early stages of development of play it is the imaginary situation which predominates, in the later stages it is the game’s rules which predominate.
Play is always purposeful, but as play develops the imaginative more and more outweighs the real, and rules become more and more exacting, and the constraints to correctly fulfil one’s role in a game passes over to the aim of winning a game, and finally to the setting of records, a feature of adult games, in each case the successful achievement of the game’s purpose is always a source of pleasure, predominating over the suffering which may be entailed in physical exertion, self-restraint, risk of failure and so on.
According to Daniil Elkonin, children’s role-playing games are themselves an historical product; in times when production was carried out within a family context and no specialised system of education was required, children simply participated in the productive life of the family up to the limits of their own capacities. Correspondingly, the earliest stages of development of play in a young child are barely distinguishable from reality, taking its cue from the immediate challenges, just as the play-fighting of young lion cubs cannot be deemed to be “role playing games” as the cubs are not exercising any degree of imagination in their activity. In a world with a highly developed division of labour, symbolic activity, tools, etc., it is quite beyond a youngster to emulate, far less participate in the activity of the adults. The child’s desire to collaborate in the productive social activity around it is therefore frustrated, and imaginative situation play enters this void. This imaginative play is as deadly necessary and enjoyable as the wrestling of lion cubs, but its key feature is the “suspension of disbelief.”
I am not aware of any evidence that role-taking play involves, as Honneth claims, children imitating the activity of their partner to interaction.
“In the stage of role-taking play, the child communicates with himself or herself by imitating the behaviour of a concrete partner to interaction, in order then to react in a complementary manner in his or her own action. By contrast, the second stage — that of the competitive game — requires the maturing child to represent the action-expectations of all of his or her playmates, in order to be able to perceive his or her own role with the functionally organised action-context.” [p. 77]
I suspect that this stage of symmetrical imitative play is a construction on Mead’s part in order to substantiate his ‘me’-hypothesis. In any event, play may not even involve another human partner to interaction, but may instead involve the autonomous use of an artefact. At the very earliest stages of play, typically the child adopts their own role and ‘plays’ themself in a role play with their real partner to interaction.
When you think about it, the ‘me’-hypothesis, though engaging and with a big grain of truth in it, is not strictly feasible. Mead says, according to Honneth, that one can “call up in oneself the meaning that one’s action has for others.” But this is not true. The reactions of others as perceived by the subject are complementary and not identical to the perception and internal reaction of the others which can only be inferred. The sensori-motor perception of the subject of its own activity which is associated with the audio-visual perception of the reaction of others is something quite distinct from those of the subject’s partners to interaction. On the other hand, Honneth needs this construction to substantiate the ‘analogy’ of rights-based recognition with symmetrical role-taking play and give him the ‘empirical backing’ he is looking for.
According to Vygotsky, there is an intermediate stage in the development of play called “rule-based” play, in which the imaginary ‘situation’ underlying role-taking play is formalised and abstracted into the rules-of-the-game, and the role of artefacts in mediating the activity of players by “standing for” real things has given way to formal rules. These rules frequently have their historical origins in role-playing (e.g. chess from war-games) but these have been lost in time. The competitive side of the game develops, but in its beginning, the rules-based play is just a development of role-taking in which the behaviour required by each player is given not by the hypothetical situation but by formal rules. Athletic competition is the highest stage. Here the player competes not only against the other participants but in setting records and so on, competes in an historically articulated social practice which is real in every sense and may become literally professional. Vygotsky is also at pains to emphasise the distinct roles of role-taking and rules-based games in the development of the child.
It is understandable the role-taking play was such a significant part of children’s play during an era when a child’s life-world was populated by the local grocer, the policeman, doctor, as well as uncles and aunts, etc., etc.. But it is a very different world that surrounds the youngsters of today’s modernity.
Since World War Two, there have been three significant developments in play flowing out of the developments in the labour process: (i) the childhood of baby-boomers which corresponded to them being a new market for mass production of toys, (ii) the emergence of television as the ubiquitous childminder and (iii) the development of video games and in particular the current generation of “character-building” games. According to Jay Lemke, young researchers entering the field are the first generation of those who were themselves raised on video games.
Research on the nature and impact of play under the impact of these changes is only in its infancy. Worthy of mention however are firstly that television has brought about a flourishing of “autonomous role-taking play” among children, where children autonomously act out roles adopted from fictional or celebrity characters on the TV, and secondly, the dungeons-and-dragons-type games which are currently popular among young children, in which the players build the characters they are going to play, adding clothing, physique, weapons, personality, qualities, powers and aims to the character. This activity of constructing the character one is to play in the game may be as engaging as playing the game itself or even more so. In an age when young people are told that they will have to invent their own biography, where they are told that the job they will do does not probably yet exist, the popularity of such games is truly remarkable!
According to Jim Gee [Gee, J. P. What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy, 2003], video games players adopt three distinct roles when playing a game: “real”, “virtual” and “projective”.
If play is subject to historical change, then we have to be careful not to elevate passing phases in the historical development of play into a metaphysical status. I think that the observations quoted from Vygotsky above, about the broad developmental role of play remain valid, but in a more detailed examination of different forms of play, we must consider them as part of an historically developed adult culture. In general play-activity and the various kinds of artefacts that function as “toys”, mediate between what the child is able to do at any given stage in its development, and what the child needs to do later in life.
It would seem to me though, that play does always require some form of external, mediating object to facilitate the development of imagination; and imagination, the ability to separate meaning from the immediate objects of perception and build new forms of activity around newly acquired meanings, is essential to the development of the human personality. Play does not necessarily involve using other people as the mediating object however. Play with others clearly plays a crucial role in moral development however, but not necessarily an exclusive role.

Iain's Youtube blog (2012 - present)

I've been reviewing my stats. I created clones at wordpress (1300 views), exf3 (800 views), and blogspot (5,000 views). Why delete and start over? The fun doesn't improve.

I feel my blog is obsolete without Youtube. There is a Facebook and blogger icon on! I had these thoughts after Wii U was unrevealed in mid-2011.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Part I. Hegel’s Original Idea Honneth’s Claim

Honneth’s thesis is that the struggle for recognition plays an important role in Hegel’s 1802 System of Ethical Life, but that by the time Hegel wrote the Phenomenology in 1807, the struggle for recognition had receded to a minor role, and had disappeared almost entirely in his later works. This is true. Until Kojève popularised the “master-slave dialectic” in his lectures published after World War Two, the “struggle for recognition” was a relatively forgotten theme.
Honneth describes several interrelated changes in Hegel’s approach in comparing the method of the System of Ethical Life and the fragments written a couple of years later. According to Honneth:
1. The System of Ethical Life is based on an Aristotlean conception of natural ethical life; i.e., rather than the conception of isolated individuals coming together to form a society, in the spirit of Machiavelli, Hobbes and Kant, Hegel returns to the ancient conception of human beings as zoon politikon in which political science is concerned with the training of citizens in the virtues required for participation in political life. This is supplanted in the later works by a philosophy of consciousness. Here Spirit thus replaces Nature, giving much greater scope for the development of cognitive and moral distinctions, but losing touch with the roots of civilisation in the natural life of human beings.
2. In the System of Ethical Life the formation of ethical life is an agonistic process, where development arises out of intersubjective conflict, but in the later works social development is directly the self-formation of spirit, through the mediation of language, tools and family property.
3. Only in the System of Ethical Life is the struggle for recognition a medium of individualisation and increasing ego-competence. The use of a philosophy of Spirit distances Hegel from the explication of a process of simultaneous emancipation and individuation and growing awareness of one another as individuals, driven by the struggle for recognition.
4. Whereas the System of Ethical Life begins with people living in communities in which individualism and private property are unknown, in a philosophy of spirit, communicative relations between subjects can no longer be conceived as something that in principle precedes individuals. Elementary relations of communicative action (strong intersubjectivism) are replaced by a confrontation of individuals with their (social) environment — the relation of each isolated person to the State. Conflict between individuals no longer represents a medium of consciousness formation, but merely a medium for integration into the community.
5. Whereas the System of Ethical Life has the character of a ‘history of society’, with the methodological change to a philosophy of Spirit, Hegel gains the possibility for conceptually distinguishing more precisely between the individual stages of consciousness formation. However, the loss is that Hegel’s political philosophy becomes simply an analysis of the education of the individual for society.
6. In the System of Ethical Life, the “struggle for recognition” makes two distinct appearances, (i) to describe the construction of relations of love and (ii) to describe the formation of legal relations between agents in civil society (rights), but when Hegel comes to the third part of the work, “Constitution”, and the exposition tails off into a series of headings, the opportunity to elaborate a phase of the struggle for recognition in which the political system is formed is not carried through. In the later works, the “Constitution” falls back to being the concluding part of “objective spirit”, and the crowning section of the whole system becomes “Absolute Spirit”. Hegel never carried through the opportunity to elaborate the formation of the state as a third phase of the struggle for recognition.
As a result, unlike burgers, citoyens are not conceived as social persons who owe their capacities and qualities to successful interaction with individuals who know themselves to be citoyens. The categories with which Hegel operates refer not to interactions among citoyens, but rather only to the relation of citoyens to the State as the embodiment of Spirit, which is, moreover, a state of an authoritarian type.
7. Whereas in the System of Ethical Life, crime is driving force for the creation of property and law, in the later works, Hegel makes no mention of progress that would affect the content or structure of legal recognition as a result of challenges to the law. Instead the universal will responds by re-establishing its power over the breakaway individual.
8. Thus Hegel’s analysis fails to live up to its own standards. He originally set out to interpret into the criminal’s deed a radical demand for legal recognition which he ultimately cannot integrate it into the framework of legal relations. He thus fails to fulfil the suggestion that the development of legal relations is itself once again subject to the normative pressure of a struggle for recognition.
9. The respect of each and every person for the biographical particularity of every other would constitute the habitual underpinnings of a society’s common mores, but Hegel can no longer entertain such a conception of ethical life, because he conceives of the ethical sphere as a self-manifestation of Spirit. The consciousness-theoretic foundations prevail over the ‘recognition-theoretic’ substance. According to Honneth, Hegel gives in to the pressure to project into the organisation of the ethical community the hierarchical schema of the whole and its parts, in terms of which he had already laid out constitution of the ethical community as Spirit’s act of reflection on its own externalisation.
10. Ethical life has become a monologically self-developing Spirit, rather than a demanding form of intersubjectivity.
11. Even though Hegel wanted to understand the constitution of both the legal person and social reality as stages of a formative process of Spirit, that did not prevent him from making, within the framework of a philosophy of consciousness, the relationships of interaction between subjects the media of these formative processes of the Spirit. Had he consistently carried the logic of this process into the constitution of ethical community, that would have opened up a form of social interaction in which each person, in his or her individual particularity, could reckon with a feeling of recognition based on what Honneth calls “solidarity”. A struggle for recognition at this level would have made the centrality of the experience of risking one’s life more plausible than it is in the context of conflicts over individual property rights.
12. As a result, the possibility of Hegel returning to the incomplete model of the ‘struggle for recognition’, is blocked. Accordingly, in the later works, one finds only traces of the earlier programme. But neither the intersubjectivist concept of human identity, nor the distinction of various media of recognition, nor the historically productive role for moral struggle acquire a systematic function within Hegel’s political philosophy.
A Response
I now want to respond to these observations, and the drift of my response is that Honneth has correctly identified the particular value of the young Hegel and what was lost in the move to his mature works, though some qualifications need to be made. However, attention needs to be given to what Honneth describes as the methodological advantage of the philosophy of consciousness as against the intersubjectivist methodology. As a result, what I propose as the basis for further development is a partial return to the mature Hegel in order to successfully merge the intersubjective vitality of the young Hegel with the centrality of mediation in the mature Hegel.
“There is nothing, nothing in heaven, or in nature or in mind or anywhere else which does not equally contain both immediacy [Unmittelbarkeit] and mediation [Vermittlung], so that these two determinations reveal themselves to be unseparated and inseparable and the opposition between them to be a nullity.” [Hegel, Science of Logic]
1. Anyone who may be familiar with Hegel’s later works and who may have thought that Hegel was a philosopher whose ideas had social and political implications, when they turn to the System of Ethical Life will quickly realise that the truth is the other way around: Hegel’s primary concerns were political, specifically how was Germany to become a modern nation. But is it entirely true that it was only after writing the System of Ethical Life that Hegel seized upon the idea of giving his ideas the shape of a philosophy of consciousness?
The opening lines of the System of Ethical Life are:
“Knowledge of the Idea of the absolute ethical order depends entirely on the establishment of perfect adequacy between intuition and concept, because the Idea itself is nothing other than the identity of the two. But if this identity is to be actually known, it must be thought as a made adequacy.”
and the first section on Absolute Ethical Life begins with the explanation:
“This absolute ethical life on the basis of relation, or natural ethical life must be so treated that (a) concept is subsumed under intuition and (b) intuition is subsumed under concept.”
So it would seem that while it remains true that it was the problems of modern social and political life which were Hegel’s motivation, from the outset he wanted to solve this problem in the terms of a philosophy of consciousness. He saw that the theoretical problems of analysis and the practical problems of social life were aspects of one and the same process. Hegel’s bold move is to view the ideals reflected in consciousness as objectively existing forms of life, rather than simply as products of subjective thought. Further, he intends from the outset to tackle the disconnection between the daily life of the people and the intellectual life of the political elite in the very terms of the deep-seated problems of Western philosophy which had so far barred the way to a comprehension and solution of the problem of the state.
Consequently, without detracting from the criticisms Honneth makes in respect to the cost of Hegel’s abandonment of the intersubjective themes of the System of Ethical Life, it seems that the aim of constructing a philosophy of consciousness in order to explicate the problems of modernity was present from the beginning. Nevertheless, the terms quoted above about concept and intuition do not undergo very much further development; the rest of the System of Ethical Life looks for all the world very much like a “history of society”. So not only was the project of explicating the construction of human life by means of intersubjective conflict left unfinished, so was the elaboration of a philosophy of consciousness.
2. As impressive and dynamic as is Hegel’s mature system, driven forward at every point by contradiction, I think Honneth is right in observing that the marginalisation of the drama of the direct struggle between two self-consciousnesses represented a significant loss. However, it is not a philosophy of self-forming Spirit which steps into the place of intersubjective conflict, but the mediation of conflict. What is so uncharacteristic about the master-slave dialectic, for example, is the metaphor of a direct, i.e., unmediated, confrontation between two self-consciousnesses.
As the young Marx remarked on the Philosophy of Right:
“This is a kind of mutual reconciliation society. It is as if a man stepped between two opponents, only to have one of them immediately step between the mediator and the other opponent. It is like the story of the man and wife who quarrelled and the doctor who wished to mediate between them, whereupon the wife soon had to step between the doctor and her husband, and then the husband between his wife and the doctor.” [Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, Marx 1843]
The result is contradictory to say the least. Even though for Hegel “contradiction is the root of all movement and vitality” [Science of Logic], this movement takes the form of the successive reconciliation of contradiction. Moreover, it is precisely through these mediating elements, such as tools, language, property, the State, that Spirit is formed.
There can in fact never be such a thing as direct (i.e., unmediated) contact between one self-consciousness and another. But don’t we cry out against such an assertion! Good communication gives us the illusion of directly accessing each other’s self-consciousness.
Thus, as Honneth observes, intersubjective conflict is not given up in Hegel’s mature system and it does not cease to be the very engine and medium of its formative process, but in the mature system, all oppositions are forms of mediation. The creative capacity of conflict in Hegel’s work is inseparable from mediation; intersubjective conflict is inconceivable without mediation, only in the System of Ethical Life this is not yet developed.
3. Honneth claims that only in the System of Ethical Life is the struggle for recognition a medium of individualisation and increasing ego-competence. I question this. In the System of Ethical Life, the media of individualisation and personal development are already the mediating ideal elements of products of labour, language, property and so on. Recognition functions as the immediate initiating moment. Being already familiar with the description of recognition given by Kojève, it is very easy to ascribe the whole dialectic to the “struggle for recognition”, but is this the meaning given to “recognition” by the young Hegel?
The Struggle for Recognition in Hegel’s System of Ethical Life
As Honneth points out, one of the difficulties of the System of Ethical Life is Hegel’s odd choice to locate the negative aspect of the transitions through all the levels of the logical-historical exposition in a separate, second section of the work, leaving the first section to rise from natural ethical life to civil society through a process in which the process of objectification, the internalisation of objective activity and the differentiation of labour appears to happen through a conflict-free ascending process. In later works, this negativity is located within the exposition of each transition, and at the same time the specific conception of the negativity as a “struggle for recognition” is abandoned, in all but the single instance of the formation of self-consciousness in the Master-Slave dialectic.
The one benefit of this construction is that it allows us to focus on a concentrated passage of nine pages to study the form of the “struggle for recognition” as it is presented in the System of Ethical Life.
Hegel introduces the idea of negativity in the development of society with a metaphor about the relation of sense perception and concepts, continuing his theme of a philosophy of consciousness as the means to clarify the nature of social life.
In this context “pure freedom” is found in activity for which the concept (for example, property) is unknown — spontaneous collaboration on one side and mutual indifference on the other. This work is difficult to understand and not lacking in ambiguity, but I agree with Honneth that the starting point, Nature, is a form of life in which property is unknown because people are living in a “natural” community. It seems that Hegel sees property (and therefore culture and ‘concept') arising from a cycle which begins with defending oneself against “natural” (unconscious) transgressions of one’s activity, transgressions which are not of course ‘deliberate’ in the sense that initially there is no concept, no property, and therefore the ‘transgression’ arises not from an attack on property but from a non-recognition of personality and property. In that sense then the attack comes from an outsider or stranger; the assailant maybe human, but their action is in the same category as a natural disaster or attack by a wild animal, and they are not recognised, for their part, as human beings.
A “natural” activity is not something known; it is not a concept — until it has been taken away, and you become aware of it as a loss; ideal in the sense that it exists now only in the mind, but still determinate, since it has not been generalised. “But against this negation there must be a reaction”, an attempt to restore the negated conditions of natural activity. “The negating subject makes himself a cause,...What he negated is equally to be negated in him”. [System of Ethical Life, Part 2]
Hegel then moves to referring to the negating subject as the “criminal”, and the action of the reacting subject as “revenge”. “The criminal has directly injured something he regards as external and foreign to himself”. That is, the criminal sees no property or right, no personality, in the injured party. But the injured party will exact revenge. In bringing this revenge upon itself “he has ideally injured and cancelled himself”. Initially, “consciousness of this his own destruction is a subjective and inner one, or a bad conscience. ... It also manifests itself externally as avenging justice ... until it sees the ideal reaction or reversal confronting it and threatening its reality from without as its enemy”. “It begins to be satisfied because it discerns the beginning of its own reality in its enemy. It produces an attack on itself so as to be able to defend itself”. Hegel goes on to describe how a return to mutual indifference does not suffice to establish the ‘concept’. And “peace” only means that the fear of the external enemy remains, and ultimately only annihilation of the enemy will suffice.
Difficult as the text is, I must concur with Honneth that Hegel appears to follow the emergence of subjectivity here from the view point of the “criminal,” that is, from the point of view of the subject who has unconsciously injured the other party, and followed up the initial injury with the establishment of property rights and the annihilation of the initially injured party. However, the concept of crime is to break a law, and in the instance we are looking at there is no law to be broken. What is violated is natural activity, not “law”, something taken for granted, something natural, objective, purely determinate and not ideal.
Hegel looks at three forms of the negation, viz., murder, revenge and war.
“Murder precludes the recognition of this relation [the transformation of specific determinacy into personality]”.
Revenge, reverses the form, i.e., one dead body is matched with another, being that of the perpetrator, but “the real life properly belonging to the spirit has remained; the spirit has preserved its body and the murder has destroyed only one single member or organ of the whole, and so this still living body, i.e., the family, takes on itself the work of revenge”.
“The totality of this relation is what is rational and it makes the middle term emerge. The indifference of the justice which lies in revenge, but as something material and external, enters the individuals as a like consciousness of the emerging negation, and therefore the reality of this emergence is alike too on both sides.”
The act of revenge eradicates the relation of indifference between the families: “for revenge the avenger is not a stranger ... but a member of a family ... Similarly the injurer is not a single individual; it is not as single individual but as the member of a whole that he has done injury”. ... “In this way, the middle term is directly posited at the same time, i.e., negatively as the cancelling of superiority and lack of consciousness in the one, and equality of peril for both, i.e., battle. ... Right is on the side that has been injured.”
However, if this activity of murder and revenge continues it can escalate to war, and “equality is what rules” ... “Both parties are identical”. “Either neither party can prevail and the two sides return to a state of mutual indifference, or one party is defeated and completely subjugated and enslaved.” “In this case it is a higher principle, not the trivial question of the original injury that is decisive, but the greater or lesser strength ... with the establishment of a relationship of mastery”.
I don’t think this can be squared with Honneth’s view that Hegel “interprets into the criminal’s deed a radical demand for legal recognition”; firstly, the initial “infringement” is unconscious; secondly, the outcome is just as likely to be annihilation of the criminal. All that matters when two parties go to war is their relative strength.
Hegel’s exposition of these conflicts reads like the relations between families, tribes and nations, rather than relations between individuals, but my reading is that Hegel is talking about “self-consciousness” in the broad sense, as social/historical agents, whether collective or individual.
About honour: where an injury to the particular takes on the implication of a threat to the totality, it is nothing to do with “psychology” or chivalry, but the fact that a particular injury or insult calls into question the whole personality of the injured party. In a situation where there is no “higher authority”, the smallest insult, if not restored, indeed opens the injured party to total loss of rights and life. The act of revenge therefore is a necessary measure to engender in the assailant party recognition of personhood at pain of death. It doesn’t matter at what level this insult and restitution occurs, if there is no existent means of mediation and law, life is indeed on the line.
Nevertheless, when Hegel talks of annihilation and “mastery” I believe he is talking about the ideal element rather than simply the material annihilation of a people; more likely, mutual recognition is established, but on terms dictated by one party and not the other. This is how “the middle term” emerges.
What is particularly appealing about this part of Hegel’s writing is the personal, immediate and dramatic character of the confrontation described, which is in such marked contrast to the mutual indifference of the preceding relationship and the mediated form of succeeding relationships. Those who feel that they are not recognised within a given social arrangement, who are subject to random incursions against their livelihood and can only carry out random acts of revenge or battle to restore their honour, for whom there is no court to whom appeal could be made — such people, the excluded, could identify with this.
Let us assume that the cycle of murder, revenge and war described by Hegel is indicative of the general form of the struggle for recognition. What sets the process in motion therefore is not necessarily murder, but an injury done by one party to the other through failure of recognition of the other as a human being, or a failure of a recognition of a tie to something objective, such as in the usage of land, etc., intrusion into which threatens the livelihood and life of the other. The cycle of counter-attacks which follow serve the function of forcing the assailant to “get a conscience” a recognise the rights of the other. Such a struggle for recognition cannot occur so long as people live in indifference to one another. But material contact brings into question the ties of each party to the material things subject to contact.
The point is that mediation is constructed; normally people interact within a social environment in which everything is highly mediated; development happens through conflict and failures in mediation, but it is not normally the case that one self-consciousness confronts another in a life-and-death struggle without mediation. To what extent can the “struggle for recognition” function as a “model” or archetype for all conflict and development? To what extent can social development, and the human condition generally, be understood in terms of unmediated conflict?
Well Hegel of course would have been the last person to propose such a thing. The whole development is outlined in the first part of System of Ethical Life with very little recourse to the notion of a struggle for recognition at all, and as we know, in his later works, the role of the struggle for recognition underwent further and further attenuation.
Honneth points out that in the System of Ethical Life, the struggle for recognition plays a key role in the formation of ties of community and in the formation of property rights, and in the Phenomenology is retained just as a moment in the formation of self-consciousness. Hegel, clearly, did not see the “struggle for recognition” as a concept which could be generalised as a model for the process of “negation” in the way it is placed in the System of Ethical Life.
The fact remains of course, that at a certain point in history failure of recognition emerged in far from primeval conditions, but more of this later.
4. Honneth claims that in a philosophy of spirit, communicative relations between subjects can no longer be conceived as something that in principle precedes individuals, and further that instead of shedding light on person-to-person relations, a confrontation of individuals with society and the State is thematised, and that conflict between individuals no longer represents a medium of consciousness formation, but merely a medium for integration into the community.
Hegel was subject to criticism from a number of directions after his death, some of which are not dissimilar to the points made here by Honneth.
Honneth connects the move to a philosophy of spirit with the marginalisation of the “struggle for recognition”, but let us separate the question of a philosophy of spirit versus a theory of communicative action, from the separate question of the proper place of unmediated “struggle for recognition” within a theory of communicative action.
Marx for example responded to the idea of a Spirit which “remains in the background, untouched and uninjured,” while “states, nations, and individuals ... are all the time the unconscious tools and organs of the world mind at work within them” with the dictum: “Men make their own history, but ... under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past”.
But in any case, as Honneth points out, the adoption of a philosophy of spirit “that did not prevent him from making, within the framework of a philosophy of consciousness, the relationships of interaction between subjects the media of these formative processes of the Spirit”.
The real point is whether a theory of communicative action can be rationally developed on the basis of intersubjective relations which lack mediation. When Honneth claims that elementary relations of communicative action are replaced by Hegel with a confrontation of individuals with their (social) environment and the State, he is decrying a conception of communicative action which is essentially and necessarily mediated.
So for example, when people talk, can we marginalise the fact that they communicate through language? when they work together, can we marginalise the means and relations of production that are mobilised in the labour process? in domestic activity, can we marginalise the place children play in the relation between husband and wife or the family property in the relation between parents and children? The questions are meant to be rhetorical. It was Hegel’s view and I share the view, that sense can be made of communicative action only by understanding the specific form of mediation engaged in the communicative action. I have made a critique elsewhere of Habermas’s theory of communicative action and everything I said there stands in relation to a theory of communicative action built around the metaphor of a struggle for recognition.
The distinctive feature of the “struggle for recognition” which disappears in the developed Hegelian system is that the life-and-death confrontation it portrays is unmediated. The metaphor of a direct, unmediated contact between two self-consciousnesses also represents a desire; not only does the “struggle for recognition” capture the viewpoint of the excluded, who are not recognised and “treated like doormats” within the existing culture, it also captures the desire of the citizen of modernity to recover real person-to-person immediacy in a world so layered in text and mass-produced images that reality — direct, human relationships — seems to have disappeared from view. The recognition formerly accorded people through familial and professional relationships is now swamped by external rewards of money and fame.
Now to Honneth’s point that without the struggle for recognition, conflict between individuals can no longer constitute a medium of consciousness formation, but merely a medium for integration into the community. This “allegation” has a ring of truth. Marx put it this way: “The important thing is that Hegel at all times makes the Idea the subject and makes the proper and actual subject ... the predicate. But the development proceeds at all times on the side of the predicate.” I think that the ring of truth in Honneth’s allegation reflects another aspect of modernity: every manifestation of human creativity is subsumed into and appears as the action of the generalised other, of capital. I think that Honneth’s observation has merit, but Hegel should be given credit for expressing the power of capital so well as a philosophy of Spirit. Hegel’s mature philosophy expresses the still-dominant truth of the rule of capital, that human creative energies, far from expressing freedom, are integrated into an alien, ruling power. As a result, the idea of capturing the dynamics of the “struggle for recognition” as an expression of consciousness formation acting within the rule of “Spirit” is attractive, even if Hegel cannot be blamed for failing to do so.
5. Honneth refers to the change from the System of Ethical Life to the later works as a methodological change from a ‘history of society’ to a philosophy of Spirit. While granting the advantage of a capacity to more precisely distinguish between the individual stages of consciousness formation, Honneth claims that the historical element lost from the ‘history of society’ falls to the individual, so that Hegel’s political philosophy becomes an analysis of the education of the individual for society.
I think that the historical character of the exposition in the System of Ethical Life is unmistakable, and outside of the Philosophy of History itself, the historical exposition nowhere else plays such a role as it does here. But Hegel does not of course claim that the System of Ethical Life is a work of history, and nor could he. This raises the question, as valid for all the later works equally as for the early works, of the relation Hegel intends between the logical and historical aspects of his exposition, as well as the ontogenetic and phylogenetic historical expositions within the Phenomenology and the Encyclopedia.
In the first place, although the historical method of presentation of the whole system is not later adopted in quite the direct way as it is in the System of Ethical Life, it pervades the whole work; it would be impossible to read Hegel’s mature work without gaining an insight into culture as historical constructs. Hegel’s work is not so much a work of history, but a logical reconstruction which allows history to do its work, and that is how a ‘history of society’ becomes a philosophy of spirit. Our work now is to logically reconstruct the “struggle for recognition” from the material given by history. But history poses the question from which logical enquiry begins only at the end of the story. Thus the logical and historical enquiries proceed in opposite directions.
In the second place, Hegel’s work can never be read like a story from beginning to end; it is always many stories one within the other, each providing the beginnings and endings for other stories within the construction. The starting point for a child, for instance, is the adult world into which they are born, which is to be the end point for their own development, or rather its negative, for the world will have changed by the time they grow up and join the world of adults. History on the other hand, always begins with fully competent and independent adults, and winds up with citizens more dependent than ever on their social environment.
I question the assertion that the mature Hegelian system is any less historical than his early work, but I think the fact remains that Honneth has identified an element which was contained within the “struggle for recognition” which is lacking in the mature system, but I think it is one which was not available to Hegel, simply because the “struggle for recognition” in the sense in which we have come to understand it, had not yet been posed by history in Hegel’s time. More of this later.
6. Honneth points out that while a struggle for recognition was used to describe the basic bonds of love and the constitution of the relations of mutual respect between property-owners, no such struggle for recognition was used in the construction of the state and the formation of political consciousness. That is to say, Hegel failed to outline the necessary formative intersubjective experiences that would allow people to know themselves as political actors. Instead Honneth argues, a person’s development as a political actor or citoyen is centred on his relation to the State, an authoritarian state. Later Honneth refers to the particular kind of self-affirmation which forms the basis for the development of such a social and political consciousness as “solidarity”.
I think this is a profound observation. The word “solidarity” — in German solidarität — did not enter the language until 1848, from the French solidarité, and in both cases they entered the language via the workers’ movement. That is, the concept arose only 17 years after Hegel’s death. In other words, certain kinds of social and political experiences and activities were indeed necessary for this concept to emerge, but the relevant kind of experiences were not known to Hegel.
For Hegel, “society” was composed of people with rights and consequently with property. The “rabble” constituted a serious social problem, but they were not part of society. The “rabble” had no voice. Hegel had not “forgotten” about them, far from it, but it never entered Hegel’s mind that the problem of the rabble would be solved by the rabble itself.
So Honneth’s observation is spot-on, but it is not just a theoretical shortcoming or error. Until the Chartist uprisings and Parisian street battles of the 1830s, there was no social basis for a concept of solidarity and no basis for building the concept into a philosophy of consciousness or political philosophy.
We will return to this extremely important issue later.
I think Honneth is mistaken to so off-handedly dismiss Hegel’s conception of the state. As a constitutional monarchy it is no more authoritarian than modern day England. Though Hegel’s hostility to popular suffrage would not stand up today, the system of collegial and participatory democracy he envisaged (for male property-owners only of course) looks good in the light of a century or two’s experience of popular suffrage. Hegel was writing at a time when The Absolute Idea rode around Europe on horseback (this was how Hegel described Napoleon when he entered Jena) and the implementation of Rousseau’s social contract in France had been very ugly. Nevertheless, on the basic point I am in agreement: “solidarity” is a fundamental mode of interpersonal experience which forms the basis for the development of social and political consciousness, and the social basis for such experiences entered the historical scene in the 1830s and 40s with the proletarian opposition to capitalist exploitation.
7. Honneth goes on to point to the absence of a kind of crime which would stimulate the development of social and political mores, and that to the contrary, what Hegel outlines is a system aimed at strengthening the capacity of every citizen to see in the action of the State an expression of their own will. This view is characterised as one of social conformism.
I think this is a fair characterisation of Hegel’s vision for a nation-state in which the class struggle did not exist.
Honneth pointed out that even though Hegel wanted to understand the constitution of both the legal person and social reality as the work of Spirit, that did not prevent him from making, within the framework of a philosophy of consciousness, the relationships of interaction between subjects the media of this work. He suggests that a continuation of this logic into the constitution of ethical community would have led to a struggle for recognition as the formative process for social and political consciousness based on “solidarity”.
With some qualifications, I think Honneth is right on this. What remains is to uncover the nature of the intersubjective experience which constitutes solidarity, and how this relation comes to be mediated, and the specific form of mediation characteristic of solidarity.
Mediation and the development of self-consciousness
In summary, from Honneth’s reading of the System of Ethical Life, we have learnt that: the struggle for recognition is the direct (unmediated) confrontation between two self-consciousnesses; it’s movement begins with a failure of recognition associated with the lack of mediation; in the course of the struggle which results, each self-consciousness mediates the development of the other.
1. What transformation took place in the struggle for recognition in the System of Ethical Life and the philosophy of Spirit of the mature Hegel?
2. How can we retain the immediacy of the struggle for recognition in a conception of communicative action which is compatible with a dialectical consideration?
3. What can Hegel tell us about the notion of “solidarity” as the formative experience which underlies the development of political consciousness?
The Master-Slave Dialectic in The Phenomenology
Despite the drama and immediacy of Hegel’s master-slave narrative, it is a story of mediation from beginning to end. The answer to the riddle as to how two self-consciousnesses may make contact is simply that in the first place, the two self-consciousnesses are not differentiated at all, and in the second place that the objectification of each self-consciousness acts as the middle term for the relation of a self-consciousness with itself.
Duplicated Self-consciousness: Thinking of this in terms of individuals or families living in a community (or equally well, communities living in proximity without any division of labour, exchange or unifying state, etc.), the “individuals” concerned work cooperatively and do not differentiate themselves from the community as a whole, there is no surplus for redistribution, no division of labour or exchange; the others in the community are others just like themselves, the world is organised in accord with the customs and beliefs of their times and all act in accord with those customs and beliefs. The self-consciousnesses are not “mediated” with each other because they are not differentiated at all; there is in a sense only one self-consciousness, objectified in a single, “natural” ethical life; and everyone sees themselves in the activity of the others, and expects others to behave as they do.
So this “embryonic” self-consciousness has a double form, one subjective and one objective, one is self and one is other; each is both the objectification and internalisation of the other. We have an undifferentiated objective/subjective self-consciousness.
Hegel sums up this “Duplicated Self-Consciousness” with the following:
“The middle term is self-consciousness which breaks itself up into extremes; ... Each is the mediating term to the other, through which each mediates and unites itself with itself; and each is to itself and to the other an immediate self-existing reality; which at the same time, exists thus only through this mediation. They recognise themselves as mutually recognising one another” [Phenomenology, § 184]
Self-consciousness in self-opposition: The process of self-consciousness which Hegel demonstrates from here involves “the break-up of the middle term into the extremes ... of which one is merely recognised, while the other only recognises”.
The purpose is to logically reconstruct modernity from the self-differentiation of “duplicated self-consciousnesses”; phylogenetically, think of neighbouring “natural” communities coming into relation with one another, ontogenetically, of a child developing a personality.
Hegel claims that each self-consciousness needs to demonstrate that “it is fettered to no determinate existence” and that “each aims at the destruction and death of the other.” Self-consciousness enjoys self-certainty on the basis of the other as either a duplicate of itself or as an object, subsumed within the objectification of itself. As soon as the other demonstrates a will of its own, the existence of a self-consciousness is mortally threatened. There exists no basis for cooperation of two mutually independent self-consciousnesses; each self-consciousness should rightly feel in danger of being treated like prey or used as a “door-mat” by the other. This mortal crisis can be solved by reduction of the other to an object, its subordination or death.
Viewed from the present, this seems to be an unreasonable overstatement. But for the newly emergent self-consciousness, it is pre-supposed that there are no laws or social customs or “civil rights” capable of coordinating the activity of the subject with another independent self-consciousness. This phase of the process of self-consciousness described by Hegel ends in the destruction of one or the other or their mutual withdrawal into indifference. That is,
“the middle term collapses into a lifeless unity which is broken up into lifeless extremes, merely existent and not opposed.”
Master-Slave: This life-and-death struggle gives rise the possibility of the subjugation of one self-consciousness by the other — the famous Master-Slave dialectic — in which the “master” appropriates the social surplus produced by the “slave.”
The dominant subject is mediated with itself through the activity of the other; “it is a consciousness existing on its own account which is mediated with itself through another self-consciousness”; that is to say, the objectification of the dominant subject is the labour-activity of the other self-consciousness.
“The bondsman being a self-consciousness in the broad sense, also takes up a negative attitude to things and cancels them; ... but he merely works on it. ... The master, however, who has interposed the bondsman between it and himself, thereby relates himself merely to the dependence of the thing, and enjoys it without qualification and reserve. The aspect of its independence he leaves to the bondsman, who labours upon it”.
The two self-consciousnesses in the master-slave dialectic are therefore mediated by the labour product of the slave, in a labour process which is the material objectification of the needs of the dominant subject. The whole dynamic of this relationship then unfolds according to mediation by a labour process in which theory and practice are separated into opposite poles.
In summary, in the first stage, self-consciousness is undifferentiated and each mediates the relation of the other to itself; in the second stage, when self-consciousness emerges in the absence of mediation the result is either destruction of one or other self-consciousness or their mutual repulsion; in the third stage, the conflict is resolved by the incorporation of the dominated subject within the labour process of the dominant subject and the appropriation of the surplus.
It is only in this third stage that recognition is completed, albeit one-sided and unequal. For the “independent” self-consciousness, its truth is the activity of the unfree consciousness. “The consciousness that toils and serves ... attains by this means the direct apprehension of that independent being as its self. ... shaping or forming the object has not only the positive significance that the bondsman becomes thereby aware of himself as factually and objectively self-existent. ... having and being a ‘mind of his own’.” The labour process is no longer immediate and natural, but mediated through a ruling class; consumption is no longer immediate and natural, but mediated through a process of distribution of the social surplus.
Thus, through the last stage in this dialectic, we have the self-consciousness of an individual really distinguished that the community as a whole, the essential basis for the development of civil society and rights.
I have traced the description of the “struggle for recognition” as it is found in the Phenomenology in order to bring out the fact that for Hegel the issue in tracing the emergence of self-consciousness is to trace the specific forms of mediation which can arise from the situation where there is no self-consciousness and no mediation, and create the pre-conditions for individualism and civil society.
The point of interest is how this particular passage of the mature Hegelian system, with its emphasis on intersubjective action, can be generalised as an explication of the formation of different components of self-consciousness. I have briefly indicated above the possible reading of the dialectic of self-consciousness in phylogenetic and ontogenetic terms. Honneth wants a third form which provides an insight into the basic forms of experience underlying political consciousness.
“Self-consciousness” is a category capable of any number of conceivable materialisations. The broadly common form is as follows: (i) Both subjects, despite their determinate positions within the division of labour, each see themselves in the other, any division of labour appearing as natural and unremarkable aspects of a single culture; (ii) the different activity of a group generates a distinct sub-culture or subordinate consciousness, alien to the dominant culture; (iii) the consciousness of the labourer of their mastery of the dominant culture, the enjoyment of which they are excluded from, generates the “struggle for recognition” as such.
Thus, while at first sight, the struggle for recognition appears to be the direct confrontation between two self-consciousnesses, it turns out that when the subjective and objective sides of each self-consciousness are brought into the picture, what is going on is a complex process of reciprocal mediation.
So how does the notion of “solidarity” fit into this picture? Solidarity is the process of subject-formation in which a person voluntarily places themself outside of the dominant culture to identify with an emergent other, and conversely, where a subject (willingly or not) in conflict with the dominant power experiences others “standing up to be counted” alongside them. What is essential to the process of solidarity is that those giving solidarity risk their lives under conditions when they could stay with the dominant power, and those receiving solidarity are already fighting.
I agree with Honneth that solidarity is a key concept, amenable to understanding in terms of the Hegelian “struggle for recognition”, which forms the formative experience for political (rather than administrative) consciousness. My qualification though is that there is an essential mode of mediation involved in the process of solidarity, namely the struggle for survival of the first subject. It is by people voluntarily joining the struggle that solidarity comes about. The individual who is fighting for their life does not know about solidarity so long as they are joined only by others who likewise have no choice but to fight. Political consciousness arises when aid comes from an ‘unexpected’ quarter.
How does this conception of ‘solidarity’ square with Honneth’s demand that the young Hegel could have used it to conceptualise the formation of the state? Perhaps a different word should be used, but it seems to me that ‘solidarity’ has nothing to do with the formation of a bourgeois state. Hegel saw the state as mediating conflicts between the various estates and industries in civil society, but I don’t know that ‘solidarity’ is the right word for this process.
The “struggle for recognition” as a conception of social development in terms of intersubjectivity has the potential for application to the understanding of social and political development. The struggle for recognition, as described by Hegel, is never a binary relationship however, it represents an approach to intersubjectivity which explores how subjects mediate the relationships between each other and themselves.
An exploration of the struggle for recognition as an approach to political consciousness formation through solidarity should be fruitful, provided use is made of the concepts of mediation we can learn from the mature Hegel.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Honneth’s “Struggle for Recognition”

Axel Honneth has produced a useful and convincing account of the “struggle for recognition.” Honneth comes from a study of Habermas rather than Kojève, but gives his account of interaction a much firmer empirical basis (drawing on the social psychologist Herbert Mead and the child psychotherapist Donald Winnicott rather than Piaget, as well as Jean-Paul Sartre, Georges Sorel and others) and in my opinion a superior philosophical base in the young Hegel rather than Kant. The somewhat vague concept of recognition is unpacked into three distinct kinds of recognition, which support three distinct stages in the development of individuals, each with quite different social and political implications. In each case, instances of the failure of recognition constitute a kind of insult or threat stimulating a struggle to overcome the attack which in turn brings about a development in the corresponding form of life.
“The Struggle for Recognition” comes in three parts. Part I is an examination of the development of the young Hegel, prior to the writing of the Phenomenology, in which Honneth argues that Hegel abandoned his original idea of building a social theory on the basis of an intersubjectivist account of the “struggle for recognition” in favour of a philosophy of spirit, and advocates a return to the young Hegel and a carrying through of the methodology abandoned by Hegel.
In Part II Honneth seeks to systematically renew the “struggle for recognition” with “empirical backing” from the social psychology of the pragmatist George Herbert Mead, the child psychoanalyst David Winnicott and others. Here the three phases of the struggle for recognition left uncompleted by Hegel, are given a foundation in the psychology of social and personal development through “love, rights and solidarity”.
In Part III, Honneth moves to explore the use of ideas of recognition in social theory and how this concept has been and could be used to shed light on how norms of behaviour are changed through moral struggle. Social and historical struggles are then seen as a combination of “utilitarian” struggles for group-interests and “moral” struggles for recognition which generate new needs and norms.
The three phases of the struggle for recognition are: (i) the demand for love, confirming the reliability of one’s basic senses and needs and creating the basis for self-confidence, (ii) the demand for rights, through which one learns to recognise others as independent human beings with rights like oneself, creating the basis for self-respect, and (iii) the demand for recognition as a unique person, the basis for self-esteem and a complex and tolerant social life.


Part I (Ch 1-3). Hegel’s Original Idea. Honneth’s Claim
Part II Chap. 4. Honneth’s Social-Psychological Theory
Part II Ch 5 & 6. Love, Rights and Solidarity
Part III (Ch 7-9). Conclusion


The basic idea of looking for an understanding of modernity in the quality of interpersonal relationships is good, and Hegel’s ideas are surely a fruitful place to turn for such a project, and the aim of finding support for this project in the work of the social sciences is valid. However, this is about as far as I can go in accepting what Honneth has produced.
Firstly, his failure to even consider the significance of the dominant relationship of modernity, the commodity relationship, shows a blindness which is inexcusable. The project to uncover a “moral grammar” in contradistinction to a “utilitarian/class struggle” reading of history, has perhaps caused him to overlook what he may deem to be a purely “economic” relationship, relying on what would be a species counterposition of economics and ethics.
Consequently, the two relations-to-self which are fostered by the commodity relation, self-respect and self-esteem, are for Honneth two distinct stages in moral development associated with rights and solidarity. But on the contrary, the commodity relation in which one relates to the other as an independent agent and measures their worth on the same yardstick as one’s own, important as it is in the construction of modernity, is the root cause of the decline in solidarity.
Honneth is able to fall into, in my view, such fundamental misjudgments because he approaches Hegel as a theorist of intersubjectivity, when in fact Hegel is the theorist of mediation par excellence. Honneth is able to obscure Hegel’s idea of the emergence of spirit as mediation by confining himself to Hegel’s earliest works and the master-slave dialectic of the Phenomenology and systematically marginalising the concept of mediation in these works.
Honneth’s failure to grasp even the meaning of the word solidarity, let alone his attempt to locate the source of solidarity in the market, only highlights the need to further probe the possible source of solidarity in modernity.

Monday, March 26, 2012

1994 Hondas are the way to go

I like this bike's price of $1700! It's a 1994 Honda CBR600 F2 with under 1000 miles, crashed twice, but had body work. I'd be happy with this bike with my paycheck. Lots of bang for the buck. I don't have to go with a 250 CC for under $3000.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

PC-BSD 9 didn't have WiFi

By now, I logged in more hours in Linux Mint 11 than Ubuntu 10.10! I was going to install PC-BSD 9.0, yet I couldn't find a Broadcom WiFi PBI file for it. Linux Mint 11 was much more stable running Opera 11.62 than Firefox 10.0.2. (have both). I own Linux Mint 12, yet installation wasn't stable.


add to /boot/loader.conf


According to the man page, we need the firmware port for this

/usr/ports/net/bwn-firmware-kmod # make install clean

We also need to enable this firmware port in /boot/loader.conf,


Finally, add the following to /etc/rc.conf

ifconfig_wlan0="WPA DHCP"

Will this work???

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Heathcare law update

The court should rule that this individual mandate is unconstitutional. To do otherwise would give Congress almost unlimited power.

The court's mystique and reputation for silence means there have been no special warnings from the justices for employees not to spill the beans on the health care decision. It's not that the health care decision isn't important. It's that clerks, secretaries, aides, janitors, and all of the other staff know they are not supposed to talk about anything the court does until the official announcement.

The government's tax-clause argument is similarly flawed. It asserts that the individual mandate isn't really a restriction on freedom, it's just a tax; violators are forced to pay a fine. If this logic is correct, it would justify any mandate enforced by a monetary fine, whether it be for broccoli, a car or anything else. Every lower court to have considered this constitutional issue has ruled that the mandate is not a tax but a penalty. As President Barack Obama acknowledged in 2009, "for us to say that you've got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase."

he commerce clause gives Congress authority to regulate interstate commerce. Since the 1930s, Supreme Court decisions have interpreted the commerce clause broadly. But every previous case expanding the commerce power involved some sort of "economic activity," such as operating a business or consuming a product. Failure to purchase health insurance is neither commerce nor an interstate activity. Indeed, it is the absence of commerce.

If the "necessary and proper" clause allows Congress to adopt the individual mandate, the same logic would justify almost any other mandate. Virtually every mandate has some economic effect and could be portrayed as a "useful or convenient" way to regulate some market. A broccoli mandate could be defended as an effort to regulate the market in food.

The threat to liberty raised by this case isn't just theoretical. Many industries would be happy to lobby for laws requiring people to buy their products, and Congress has a long history of enacting special-interest legislation.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nintendo Wii U not working and PS4/720 too late to market? ccording to 01Net's report, the hardware powering the Wii U simply isn't up to scratch to do what Nintendo needs it to: Namely, run not just the console, but beam data to its fancy touch-screen controller as well. Apparently developers working on the console are having to use "tethers" to ensure serviceable communication between the Wii U and its controller, but even then things still aren't working that well, and progress is reportedly halted daily with repeated software updates for the pad. Xbox 720 and PS4 could be years too late on the market. CNN news thought that Wii U is an accesesory for Wii. Videogames look so much more interesting than Hollywood at this point. There isn't anything out that excites me. I end up buying some old 1950's "Twelve Angry Men" and John Wayne boxsets. New shows are complete trash.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Next possible R/C: Traxxas E-Revo VXL

I've been eying the Traxas E-Revo VXL for next year purchase. I can afford a E-Revo now, but isn't the Wii U or Xbox Loop a much better purchase due to the sheer openGL 3.3 / DirectX 11 GPU technology behind them. Sometime in 2013, I will be buying a Xbox Loop along with Forza Motorsport 5, Perfect Dark 2, and Gears of War 4.

The Savage XS Flux and $50 Tonka Ricochet (1994) are the only R/Cs I own.

FEATURES: Chassis: Nylon composite construction 0.08 (2mm) thick bathtub type
Drive: Four wheel
Radio: Traxxas 2.4GHz with waterproof digital high-torque steering
servo waterproof receiver box
Electronic Speed Control: Traxxas VXL-3m waterproof with high-
current connector training mode reverse and low voltage detection
for use with 2S and 3S LiPo packs
Motor: Traxxas Velineon 380 brushless motor with Neodymium magnets
sintered rotor and high RPM ball bearings 3.5mm gold plated bullet
Spur Gear: 45 tooth
Pinion Gear: 28 tooth 48 pitch extra pinion gear included for 50+
MPH operation with extra battery (see below)
Battery: One Traxxas Power Cell 1200mAh 6-cell NiMH w/high current
connector dual NiMH battery capability (extra battery (TRAC2925)
and series adapter (TRAP3063) not included and must be purchased
Vehicle is also compatible with one 2S or 3S LiPo pack (not
included) LiPo mode on ESC must be selected.
**NOTE the ESC and motor CANNOT handle dual LiPos if using dual
batteries both must be NiMH.**
Battery Charger: 110V wall type
Body: Painted and trimmed with applied decals
Bumper: Front black chrome
Shocks: GTR oil filled
Suspension: Revo-spec rocker actuated long travel inboard type with
telescoping universal joint shafts
Transmission: Ball bearing equipped with adjustable slipper clutch
Differentials: Sealed silicone filled planetary gear type
Ball Bearings: Rubber sealed
Caster: Non-adjustable
Camber: Adjustable camber refers to the angle of the tops of the
tires from vertical when viewed from front or behind vehicle
Tires: Multi terrain with foam inserts 1.8 (46mm) wide 3.2
(82mm) diameter
Wheels: Gemini 5-spoke with black chrome finish 1.5 (38mm) wide
2 (51mm) diameter standard size 12mm hex
Steering arm with spring loaded servo protection

INCLUDES: RTR Traxxas E-Revo VXL Racing Monster Truck with 2.4GHz radio
painted body 6-cell battery charger extra pinion gear and
instruction manual

REQUIRES: AA Batteries: Four for transmitter

SPECS: Vehicle-
Length: 12.9 (328mm)
Width: 9.4 (239mm)
Height: 4.6 (117mm)
Front and Rear Track: 9.4 (239mm) distance between outer edges of
Wheelbase: 7.9 (202mm)
Ground Clearance: 1.7 (43mm)
Length: 11.3 (288mm)
Width: 4.3 (110mm)
Height: 2.8 (71mm)

Reviewer 8.5

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Gearbox wants best tech specs for Wii U

Gearbox is the developer of Borderlands and Halo for PC. Our hope at Gearbox is that the final specification for the hardware is much more powerful than the current competitive consoles so that studios like ours can bring a better standard of high definition image not only to television, but to the controller's screen at the same time. Pitchford didn't talk exact specifications, but was insistent on the need for Nintendo to pack the machine with as much graphical horsepower as possible to put Xbox 360 and PS3 in the shade: We've been intrigued by what we've seen so far and are encouraging Nintendo to go as aggressively as they can afford with the performance specifications. We imagine that performance specifications are within affordable reach that would provide undeniable performance advantages over competitive platforms. Nintendo have a lot more experience than we do in managing the balance between performance and cost with their hardware, of course, so I do not want to be presumptuoion

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Daytona USA 2: Super Model emulator

I downloaded the Sega Model 3 emulator known as Supermodel_0.2a_Win64 and played a game of Daytona USA 2! I had to re-download the Daytona USA and Daytona USA 2 zips. These Roms already stored on DVDR somewhere in the case anyways. I'm too lazy to fetch the DVDR. I know I had SSF working in 2005, and this is 7 years later. I owned Daytona USA for Saturn since 2000, and for Dreamcast since 2001. Daytona USA surpassed Crazy Taxi 1/2 and Metropolis Street Racer as my favorite Dreamcast racing game. I played Daytona USA multiplayer with a relative.

I'm running Daytona USA 2 tracks on the PC. There was a Daytona USA 2 at the Hudson Cinema, but I played on it every time at the cinema. What's two dollars? LOL

Saturday, March 10, 2012

HPI Savage XS Flux RTR

I bought a HPI Racing Savage XS Flux. I know my cousin had a nitro Red cat RC when he was 10. Now I finally have my own.

I was supposed to break this in on top of a box for 2 charges.


TF-40/RF-40 2.4Ghz radio
SF10W waterproof servo
Waterproof receiver box
Vapor Pro waterproof brushless ESC
Vektor 4000Kv 1410 4 Pole brushless motor with cooling fan
Fits standard size 1/10th scale electronics
Silicone oil filled shocks with threaded bodies
All-metal bulletproof drivetrain
2.2" wheels and tires (can use most 1/10th scale truck wheels and tires)
Shock towers have multiple shock mounting positions (2)
Quick access to the front or rear differential by removing just 4 screws
Cam type servo saver
Spacious battery box w/locking battery box door
All socket head hardware
Dual pad slipper clutch
Full set of ball bearings
Aluminum motor plate with 4 motor mounting positions
Aluminum hex hubs
TVP (Twin Vertical Plate) chassis
Integrated chassis carry handle
Tough 4-gear differentials
Aluminum front and rear suspension braces
Stainless steel bulkhead lower plates
Front and rear skid plate bumpers

Length: 360mm
Width: 280mm
Wheelbase: 225mm

Needed to Complete:

2S or 3S LiPo Battery & Compatible Charger
AA Batteries for Transmitter

I heard many stories on user reviews where a 3S LiPo battery will fry the motor so likewise bought 2S LiPo battery and charger.





My 4000 Mah 2S battery should still work! It should run slower.

Pro reviewer