Philosophy Bro explains complex ideas of philosophy in easy to understand language, created by Tommy Maranges, the author of Descartes' Meditations, Bro.

G. W. F. Hegel's "Lordship and Bondage": A Summary

Self-consciousness is a tricky motherfucker. Like every other idea, it has to encounter its opposite before it can be complete. Why? Because otherwise, it’s way too fucking abstract. Have you ever had a friend get really high and say, “Bro, I think I understand ultimate reality!” And then after you listen to his explanation about how we’re just a simulation or a computer game or some bullshit you say, “That’s fucking retarded. There has to be some level of reality that isn’t a simulation - why should I believe this isn’t it?” And unless your friend has baked himself beyond comprehension, he’ll stare into space for ten minutes and then say, “Oh. I don’t know, bro, it just occurred to me. But maybe we just misinterpret things sometimes so they don’t seem real. I guess this is reality, just with some glitches.” It’s not a perfect explanation, but it’s closer than it was. An idea encounters its opposite, and after some struggle, a new idea emerges, more concrete than before. And it happens at every level of consciousness.

So why is self-consciousness so fucking tricky? Because its opposite is just  other self-consciousnesses. To become aware of ourselves, something else has to be aware of us, too - otherwise, we see everywhere but inwards. It’s like having a flashlight that only points away from you and into the world. Sure, it helps you see everything else, but you can’t see yourself for shit because you’re cloaked in darkness. And you can’t infer your existence from everything else; nothing can resist you, since you’re a bro and bros get what they want. You exist for yourself and no one else, and when the entire world also exists for you, the line is blurry. When the world is identical to your desires, you can’t tell the difference between the two. It’s not until you meet another bro with a flashlight that you becomes illuminated. Self-consciousness absolutely must meet another self-consciousness, or else it can’t exist - it’s just plain consciousness, a bro with a flashlight and no sense of self.

Once the flashlights meet, two things happen - both bros see each other, and they immediately see themselves. And once one recognizes the other as outside itself, and vice versa, that’s when shit gets crazy. Normally, any bro considers himself the most important fucking thing on the planet; so far, everything he’s encountered with his flashlight, he’s been able to bend to his will. And then he meets another bro, who he realizes is exactly like himself. “Fuck that bro; that other consciousness thinks it’s more real than me. He’s exactly like me, except I’m real and he isn’t. How fucking dare he intrude on my reality like that! I’ll fucking show him.” Bros hate not having control, and the one thing a bro can’t control is another bro. We’re exactly like consciousness itself.

And then the struggle begins. Two bros, both convinced they’re more real, fighting for control of the other. Except that each bro only knows he’s real, knows himself, because of the other bro’s light. So if one bro kills the other, or decides not to risk his life and walks away from the fight, he is blind again; he loses himself. Instead of being made better by his opposite, he has destroyed it, and is no better off. So bros (and consciousnesses) must risk themselves to become completed; if both bros risk take the proper risks, then eventually, one taps out, and becomes the servant of the other bro.

So now one bro is the master, and the other is the servant. It sucks to be the servant, but it turns out it sucks way more to be the master. Why? Because the master has to keep saying, “Hey servant, shine your fucking light on me!” to remind himself that he exists - he depends on another consciousness for his self-awareness. Have you ever had someone really creepy, whom you hated, tell you how awesome you are? That’s not fucking helpful. You feel weird afterward, because you’ve been complimented by someone whose opinion you don’t respect. “He thinks I’m cool, but he also wears fucking cargo shorts. Does he think I’m as cool as cargo shorts?” The master has made this servant his bitch, and now he depends on the affirmation of a bitch. That fucking sucks, and of course the master begins to doubt himself.

Meanwhile the servant has to do work, something he’s never had to do before. He used to just get his desires fulfilled, since objects can’t resist being shaped, which was awesome. When he was just a bro with a flashlight, everything bent to his will; now, he has to bend his own desires to his will, because his fear of the master outweighs his desires. That’s miserable for a little while, but this internal conflict between desire and fear turns out to be really fucking helpful. Suddenly consciousness is interacting with itself without needing a flashlight to see. And as the servant shapes the world according to the desires of another, he begins to see it distinct from himself. When the flashlight shines on something he made but doesn’t want, he realizes that the world doesn’t exist only according to his will; he recognizes his desires are different from the world, that the holder of the flashlight exists apart from the world, and he comes to know himself.

Finally, when the servant has fully become aware of himself on his own, without needing the light of another, and the master is full of self-doubt, there is another struggle, a rebellion, and the bro who was the servant becomes the master, until the new servant also finds himself through work. At this point, the two bros can go their separate ways, for they no longer fear each other; they no longer have to prove to anyone that they are the bro-in-charge. They’ve discovered it themselves. They have become truly self-conscious, without needing the help of any other consciousness to do it.

And so in this way self-consciousness arises and becomes independent, by encountering the other, struggling with it, and emerging renewed and improved by it. We must know fear before we can conquer it; we come to know ourselves first by knowing others.

Arthur Schopenhauer's "The World as Will and Idea": A Summary

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