The self and the other “The self is for itself only by being for an other, and the self is for an other only by being for itself” (Williams’-“Recognetion”, p. 151) This statement which is taken from Robert Williams’ book “Hegel’s Eidetics of Intersubjectivity” is a summary of the process of mutual recognition that occurs between two selves.
Hegel’s claim is that the self cannot recognize itself unless through an other, thus the self always needs an other for recognition, “Since the self is hidden from itself, it depends on the other for its own self-discovery. ” (Williams’-“Recognetion”, p. 151). This shows the contradiction between Hegel and Descartes, since Descartes claims that we recognize our selves by being thinking things, and by that he is cancelling the “other” during the self recognition process. Hegel first discussed the three phases that the self faces in the process of recognition.
The third phase, which is the phase of emergent concrete, in which the pre-selves emerge as actual selves in the process of mutual self recognition, is where the self starts to perceive that it needs an other in order to achieve self recognition. Thus, having an other helps by seeing oneself through the eyes of that “other”. In Hegel’s first phase, the self thinks it is the only one present, or universal, and that is called the state of particularity. Therefore, the self will not be able to see its flaws and errors that are present in it, since it is not able to see itself.
When it is first introduced to the other, it will get into a state of, I would properly call it, denial or rejection because it actually denies the “otherness” of an other and it still reassures itself that everyone is just “a copy of it” and no one is different from itself, and it will demand reassurance from that “other” and that is the stage where the self makes the other as the slave that reassures the otherness of the self. Nevertheless, the master and slave phase does not necessarily have to occur in the mutual recognition process.
After this process of elimination or cancellation of the other, the self realizes that an other is needed in order to recognize itself as an independent self. Hence, recognition will not be achieved until both selves start to recognize each other as both different selves and as not a “copy” of one another. Until then, both selves will appreciate the “otherness” of the other. By that, it will be possible to conceive the errors that a self has, and thus try to fix them. Each and every person of us is not able to live absolutely by him/her self without the presence of someone else in his/her life.
From that, we can realize the power of love in our lives as human beings. Love is an example of the Hegelian phases; it shows the interaction and recognition that occurs between the two selves, the man and the women. First, one of them views the other as a self that is very much similar to him/her, but after giving that self a chance to prove that it is not the same it will see that it is actually different from him/her. As a result, it will start to view this self from a different perspective that shows the differences they have, and finally this will help both of them in improving their selves and to become a better person.