Los Angeles Southwest College Hegels History of Consciousness Discussion


A“[I] freed my mind of all cares, secured for myself a period of leisurely tranquility, and am withdrawing into solitude.” (Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy)

Discussion Question (Journal Prompt):

A proper philosophical place is always hard-won. An environment that is conducive to philosophical reflection must be actively produced, that is, one cannot passively enter a space and engage in critical philosophical reflection. Meditating with Descartes, describe the different sites/environments your body moves through and how you engineer these various settings to allow for philosophical contemplation and the production of knowledge.

BHegel’s History of Consciousness

For Hegel, it turns out that the servile consciousness of the bondsman is “the truth of independent consciousness.” One of the more ambiguous components of Hegel’s philosophy is the role servitude plays in the development of consciousness. For some philosophers the full development of consciousness requires a period of real servitude to a master much greater than oneself. While other thinkers believe that one can merely engage in a form of labor outside of the master/slave dynamic and still fully develop one’s consciousness.

Why does servitude ultimately reverse itself? What is the effect of work on your present state of consciousness? I would like you to take a moment to reflect on your present-self, the type of work you are currently doing, and how your current work is preparing your future-self for the work that is ahead.

C -: Marx, Estranged (Alienated) Labor

Authentic Production:

  • an affirmation of the true-Self
  • generates feelings of happiness and contentment
  • allows one to develop his/her physical and mental energy
  • one feels at ease and at home at work
  • work is voluntary, in that, it is one’s choice to do that work
  • the work is an end in itself, not merely a means to some other end
  • when one’s work is done, he/she will be eager to get back to work


  • Describe your understanding of Marx’s concept of authentic production?
  • What does authentic production mean to you and what kind of work do you see yourself doing two years from now, five years from now?

DDavis / Douglass

  • Why turn to Douglass?
  • Why do we see thinkers generation after generation turn to the Douglass Narrative?
  • What is it that we find in the Douglass Narrative that we don’t find in other works?

E – Douglass’s Ethos

Ethos: Character Molding / Habituation

  • What I would like you to be sensitive to while reading the Douglass Narrative is his ethos, i.e., his character and spirit; his ability to persevere, and his hunger for knowledge. Here, think about the dialectic as a method of division: dividing a confused Self into clear lines of descent and ascent.
  • What characteristics, qualities, and attributes do you see in Douglass that you yourself would like to possess or do possess? We can learn much from Douglass’s work ethic and temperament.


  • Is there such a thing as a substantial external model?
  • Must each individual ultimately generate their own conception of a good life?
  • What has the Douglass Narrative revealed to you in regard to a proper way of living?


“You don’t have to rely on anything but your own cognitive faculties to understand your situation.” Consciousness is not an all or nothing thing: consciousness necessarily unfolds, necessarily develops, necessarily progresses through stages. Each moment of consciousness is equally important. In this course we’ve took a look at multiple readings revolving around the development of consciousness. You were also asked to shed a dialogical light upon your own lived experience in order to develop an understanding of The History of Consciousness.


  • Which reading and approach to consciousness resonated with you the most? (MLK, Plato, Descartes, Hegel, Marx, Douglass)
  • I would like to encourage you to be creative and to blend the different approaches to understanding the development of consciousness. What is your own understanding of the nature of consciousness and its development?


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