Corrected subject: Does work allow us to become aware of ourselves?
This subject was both a subject of the bac philo 2013 and a possible subject for the concours commun des IEP 2014, one of whose two themes was work.
Analysis of the subject :
Two key notions : work and consciousness.
– Work: work is a vast notion that will have to be specified throughout the assignment, starting with these classical definitions of work.
– Permit it : calls for a dialectical plan (I. II. III)
– To become aware of oneself : Consciousness in general is the organization of man’s psyche which, by allowing him to be aware of his states, his acts and their moral value, allows him to feel himself existing, to be present to himself. However, consciousness is an equally vast and debated notion that will have to be specified in the essay.
One must find the problem that is posed by the subject. Why is this question being asked?
why are we asking this question? Is man, who acts on nature, aware of being himself? Or on the contrary, would not work tend to make him lose his self-consciousness?
I. Work makes it possible to become aware of oneself
– Hegel is the one who has best theorized the awareness of work. For Hegel, work is anthropogenic: it makes man
man. Confronted with reality, man distinguishes the in-itself (that is to say the real) from the for-me (what he thinks is the real). And better, by the action,
that is to say work, the consciousness becomes aware of itself. The desire of transformation of the nature is manifested by the work.
– Work even makes it possible to look after its conscience: “Work moves away from
us three great evils: boredom, vice and need Voltaire in Candide.
Through work, man spares his conscience, man spares himself from evils,
the work thus guarantees to take conscience of oneself and to keep its
II. But work could also make him lose his self-awareness
– the ancients, especially the Greeks, considered work as enslavement to the necessities of life. If work is only a low necessity, there is no room for the development of
– More seriously, Marx thought that work could make people lose their self-consciousness. The work alienates the man, that is to say makes him foreign
to him even, and thus makes him lose his conscience:“The foreign character of work appears clearly in the fact that, as soon as there is no physical or other constraint, work is fled like the plague. External work, the work in which man alienates himself, is a work of self-sacrifice, of mortification. Finally, the external character of labor to the worker appears in the fact that it is not his own property, but that of another, that it does not belong to him, that in labor the worker does not belong to himself, but belongs to another.”
III. Work allows one to become aware of oneself, an awareness that must define the limits of this work in order not to lose oneself
– the dialectic of the master and the slave shows this ambiguity well :￼
Hegel, The Phenomenology of Spirit:“the slave thus transforms it by his work. Conversely, through this mediation the immediate relationship becomes for the master the pure negation of this same
thing or enjoyment; what is not performed by desire is performed by the master’s enjoyment; to finish with the thing; but the master, who has interposed the slave between the thing and himself, thus links himself to the dependence of the thing, and purely enjoys it. He abandons the independence of the thing
to the slave, who elaborates it.”
To keep one’s self-consciousness, one must not be enslaved by work.
→ The second subject of S de philo in the 2013 bac: Can we act morally without being interested in politics?
→ Topic 3: Corrected commentary on the excerpt from Henri Bergson’s Thought and Motion
3 thoughts on “Does work allow for self-awareness (correction)”
In college, we are taught that philosophy is the history of philosophy. Moreover, it is said that to treat a subject is not to recite its course. Here, the correction is based essentially on the theses of Hegel, The dialectic of the master and the slave, more difficult to understand than there is seems, especially for terminal students, is in my opinion, poorly suited to the world around us. Hegel’s language, his reflection, are obsolete and dusty, poorly adapted to the concrete and current reality of a thought on work. There remain the concepts of self-awareness, in-itself, for-itself: you can have studied them in class, have understood them more or less, but handling them correctly in the baccalaureate test makes me smile… yellow. Who are we laughing at? Marx, Voltaire, the Greeks: okay; but Hegel, as an essential reference for a baccalaureate subject, is distressing.
Marie, let me answer you. At first glance, the plan appears to be contradictory. But in reality, everything is in the nuance and the turn of phrase. An antithesis does not consist in totally denying the stated thesis, but invites to qualify it by presenting here some conditions which would lead to a partial or total loss of self-awareness. I hope I was able to help you
Your conception of the dialectical plan leaves me perplexed .. How to affirm a thing then its opposite? Does an already established plan really allow a progression of reflection? Cordially
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