03. Ideology as Artificial Respiration: Hegel on Stoicism, Skepticism and Unhappy Consciousness


  • Arvi Särkelä University of Frankfurt & University of Lucerne




This paper draws upon Hegel’s analysis of Stoicism, Skepticism and the Unhappy Consciousness as intellectual reactions to social pathology. He argues that, in Hegel’s view, the true and the false are held together in ideology by its being recognitively educational: ideology presents both a moment of social pathology and a moment of its overcoming. It gives, so to speak, artificial respiration for a social life fallen ill. The paper argues against two readings of these passages (as distinguished by Robert Stern). For the ‘historical materialist’ interpretation put forward by Alexandre Kojève, Stoicism, Skepticism and Unhappy Consciousness are treated as servile ‘ideologies’ and given a ‘purely socio-political rationale.’ The conceptual realist reading, by contrast, identifies a clear conceptual progress in these shapes as they bring self-consciousness forth from what initially appeared to be a dead-lock in the preceding relation of Lordship and Bondage. The paper argues that both readings are partly right and partly wrong: the conceptual realist gets it right that Stoicism, Skepticism and Unhappy Consciousness are indeed distinctively novel shapes of consciousness; the historical materialist correctly points out that Stoicism, Skepticism and Unhappy Consciousness are ideologies functionally sustaining the dead equilibrium of Lordship and Bondage. Both aspects can be reconciled by regarding ideology as productive and potentially educative. Ideology works not only to maintain the dead equilibrium of Lordship and Bondage, but also revives the organic means of overcoming it. Thereby this paper argues for the necessity of ideology-critique as a component of an inclusive diagnosis that understands social pathologies as systematic disturbances in the reproduction of characteristically social life.

Author Biography

Arvi Särkelä, University of Frankfurt & University of Lucerne

Arvi Särkelä (arvi.saerkelae@unilu.ch) is a PhD student in the philosophy department at the University of Frankfurt, and lecturer (wissenschaftlicher Assistent) in the philosophy department of the University of Lucerne.


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How to Cite

Särkelä, A. (2015) “03. Ideology as Artificial Respiration: Hegel on Stoicism, Skepticism and Unhappy Consciousness”, Studies in Social and Political Thought, 250. doi: 10.20919/sspt.25.2015.26.