The 19th century was a revolutionary era in many ways

The 19th century was a revolutionary era in many ways -...

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Winter 1 Cornelia Winter History 40 Essay 3 11/25/07 Lindsey Moore Hegel and Nietzsche: Reflections on the 19 th Century The 19 th century was a revolutionary era in many ways. It marks a critical juncture in history because it signifies the departure from feudal absolutism to liberalism. This transition was not always smooth, for revolutions rarely are, and the French revolution illustrated just how bloody revolutions can be. This period was also exceptionally innovative because of a surge of progress in technology and industry. The industrial revolution, as a foil to the French Revolution, was revolutionary without being bloody. With all of these changes taking place many old concepts were replaced with new more liberal and revolutionary ideals. Concepts as fundamental as self- consciousness and our relationships to others were rethought and redefined. Two theorists in particular exemplify the changes in thought that evolved over the course of the 19 th century. Hegel and Nietzsche, while separated by only eighty years, illustrate the remarkable changes that occurred during that time period, and how their different conceptions of the master and slave relation were influenced by their respective historical periods. At the beginning of the 19 th century, Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Mind” reflected
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Winter 2 many of the historical events that took place while he was writing. Hegel was a Prussian intellectual who admired the French revolution and Napoleon’s efforts to spread its’ liberal ideals. Hegel respected the French even during the Franco Prussian war, for the French embodied revolution and democracy whereas the Prussian state personified a strong oppressive absolutist state averse to social reform and change 1 . In particular he likely connected with the liberal belief of human equality, as this is an apparent theme in his master and slave dialectic. The most dramatic manifestation of said belief, at the time, was the Haitian Revolution. These events demonstrated in flesh what Hegel’s book said with words, that it was possible for slaves to recognize their equality and overthrow their masters. Thus for Hegel the beginning of the 19 th century epitomized the triumph of the individual over an oppressive slave-like absolutist state. These historical events and concepts are reflected in his work “Phenomenology of Mind”, in particular his essays on the master and slave dialectic. The problem posed by Hegel in the master-slave dialectic is the struggle for recognition of individual self- consciousness’, and the inability for each to recognize the other
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The 19th century was a revolutionary era in many ways -...

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