Mutual Recognition and Relations of Right

Term: Spring 2010

Subject Code: GPHI

Course Number: 6633


How can another person's attitudes - the fact that they accept certain things from me, communicate certain ideas to me, etc. - constitute a valid claim on my own thought and action, one that I must accept if I am to think and act rationally?  In the tradition which moves from Rousseau's notion of amour propre (the desire for the esteem of others), through Kant and Hegel on Recht (Right), to Sartre's notion of "the look," other subjectivities are regarded, not principally as objects of contemplation, but as things I act and live with.  How are to understand this "being toward another"?  What relation are we in when we are bound together by "what we think of each other"?  This question arises in relation to a wide range of phenomena:  moral and legal rights, promising, collective action, love, friendship, shame, resentment, humiliation, communication and testimony, to name a few.  Focusing mainly on "Right," but taking account of some other topics as well, this seminar will ask whether there is a distinctive form of relation or connection between rational subjects which unifies these various inter-subjective phenomena; in short, the seminar will investigate what Kojeve and Sartre might call a "relation of recognition."  Readings include Rousseau, Hegel, Fichte, Sartre, Stephen Darwall, Michael Thompson, Richard Moran, and others.


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