The Master-Slave Dialectic

  • M. A. R. Habib


This chapter expounds Hegel’s “master-slave dialectic,” explaining why it provides a necessary framework for approaching Hegel’s views on empire. This dialectic reveals that the human self is born in social interaction, through a process—a struggle—for recognition. In order to understand Hegel’s views on Africa and slavery, and the “mastery” of Europe over the rest of the world, it is crucial to grasp how he conceptualizes mastery and slavery in general. The master-slave dialectic is not only essential to Hegel’s view of subjectivity, but also furnishes a framework for assessing Hegel’s views of the Other in relation to European identity. Moreover, it is a dialectic with which important postcolonial theorists have engaged in their critique of Hegel’s Eurocentric vision.


Master-slave dialectic Subjectivity as intersocial Subjectivity and recognition 


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  3. Wallace, William, trans. 1971. Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind: Being Part Three of the Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences (1830), 424. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. A. R. Habib
    • 1
  1. 1.Rutgers UniversityCamdenUSA

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