Zeke Goggin on Selfhood in Hegel’s PhG

Zeke Goggin (Div School, Philosophy of Religions PhD Student)

“Selfhood and Sacrifice in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit

Wed, Nov 19th, 4:30 PM

Swift 208


In this paper I argue that Hegel’s account of self-consciousness marks a break in the phenomenological method of “immanent” criticism, and that this is instructive for the self/no-self debate in that it points the way to a concept of socially achieved selfhood which would not constitute an exclusive disjunction between conceptions of the self as real, substantial, and enduring self-identity on the one hand, and the self as transient, contingent, and epiphenomenal on the other. Both “self” and “no-self” would be moments of the concept in the process of adjudicating claims about what selves are as well as shaping them in concrete social practices –particularly those which have a renunciative character, and which Hegel describes in terms of sacrifice. I then consider possible criticisms of Hegel’s position, namely those which we might draw from Heidegger’s analysis of temporality and those explicitly given in Derrida’s account of mechanical memory and dialectical “conservation.” I will finally argue that Hegel’s account of ritual and repetition provides a rejoinder to their critiques which may serve to reconcile their objections to a Hegelian intention. I conclude by suggesting that the “sacrificial” and ritualistic character of these social processes –which performatively resist an exclusive disjunction between the positive and negative assessments of the epistemic and ontological status of selfhood –serve to locate Philosophy of Religions, specifically, in a unique and privileged position with regard to the question of selfhood.

Wednesday, November 5 Philosophy of Religions and Global Christianities Joint Workshop and Pub Night!

Hannah Roh (Divinity PhD Student in the Philosophy of Religions):

“Interrogating Cross-Cultural Inquiry in Philosophy of Religions:  A Case Study of Self and Agency in Modern Korean Christianity”

Swift 208 – 4:30pm, adjourning afterwards to The Pub at Ida Noyes



Cross-cultural inquiries of the self in philosophy of religions can proceed to frame the philosophical distinction between ‘self’ and ‘no-self’ as a cultural distinction—between some Western religious traditions and some Eastern religious traditions. One of the more obvious examples that can apply this cultural analysis is the comparative study of the Christian self as part of the Western tradition and the Buddhist non-self as an Eastern practice. What kinds of philosophical and political problems emerge, however, when one religious tradition is historically saturated with cultural dissonance and multiplicity—that is, when the cultural encounter or dissonance between ‘East’ and ‘West’ occurs not between religious traditions, but within (and sometimes, because of) one religious tradition? When the Orthodox Church emerges as a distinct Christian tradition in the East? Or when contemporary Buddhist practices take root in North America or Europe, or when Christianity spreads (through missionary or colonial activity or for other complex reasons) over the East? Defending the significance of culturally and politically embodied historical moments, this paper considers the philosophical complexities of culturally heterogeneous religious traditions by undertaking a specific case study of selfhood and agency in twentieth century Korean Christianity. The first part of the paper will sketch the  historical elements opened up by theories of the Christian self in the West by considering contemporary works in philosophy of religion that examine modernity and subjectivity. The second part of the paper will then reflect on the implications of displacing and re-constituting those questions of the Christian self in another cultural context. Finally, I hope to open up further methodological questions concerning the political implications of cross-cultural inquiry in philosophy of religions.



For more information or accessibility assistance, please visit http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/philofreligions/