Said The Slave to The Master: A Conversation

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Johnson said better evidence that the letter is almost certainly real is that, according to the federal manuscript census, a Jourdan Anderson, his wife and four school-age children are listed as living in the 8th ward of Dayton, Ohio.

Men as witnesses

Johnson said the records state that Anderson is a hostler, 45, and that he and his family are listed as "black. Two younger children, ages 5 and 1, were born in Ohio, "which would in turn have him and his family showing up in Ohio at about the right time to have escaped during the Civil War," Johnson said. The professor said that Jourdan Anderson could not read or write, according to manuscript census. But the letter could have been written by his year-old daughter, Jane, who was listed as literate in It is also possible one of them may have written the letter for him, Johnson said.

But the person who most likely wrote the dictated letter is another person listed in Anderson's letter. In the letter Anderson refers to a V. Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin's to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable.

Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.

‘It changed my whole life. It helped me to understand who I am’

I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here. I get twenty-five dollars a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy,—the folks call her Mrs. Anderson,—and the children—Milly, Jane, and Grundy—go to school and are learning well.

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The teacher says Grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday school, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated. Sometimes we overhear others saying, "Them colored people were slaves" down in Tennessee. The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks; but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Colonel Anderson.

What Does it Mean When We Call a Key a “Slave”?

Many darkeys would have been proud, as I used to be, to call you master. Now if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again. As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in from the Provost-Marshal-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you.

This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy twenty years. At twenty-five dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor's visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to.

Please send the money by Adams's Express, in care of V. Winters, Esq. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises in the future.

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The essence of the dialectic is the movement or motion of recognizing, in which the two self-consciousnesses are constituted in being each recognized as self-conscious by the other. This movement, inexorably taken to its extreme, takes the form of a "struggle to the death" in which one masters the other, only to find that such lordship makes the very recognition he had sought impossible, since the bondsman, in this state, is not free to offer it.

It is preceded in the chapter by a discussion of "Life" and "Desire", among other things, and is followed by "Free Self-Consciousness: Stoicism, Skepticism, and the Unhappy Consciousness". Hegel wrote this story or myth in order to explain his idea of how self-consciousness dialectically sublates into what he variously refers to as Absolute Knowledge, Spirit, and Science.

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As a work, the Phenomenology may be considered both as an independent work, apparently considered by Hegel to be an a priori for understanding the Science of Logic , and as a part of the Science of Logic , where Hegel discusses absolute knowledge. Crucially, for Hegel, absolute knowledge, or Spirit, cannot come to be without first a self-consciousness recognizing another self-consciousness. Such an issue in the history of philosophy had only ever been explored by Johann Gottlieb Fichte and its treatment marks a watershed in European philosophy.

In order to explain how this works, Hegel uses a story that is in essence an abstracted, idealized history about how two people meet. However, Hegel's idea of the development of self-consciousness from consciousness, and its sublation into a higher unity in absolute knowledge, is not the contoured brain of natural science and evolutionary biology, but a phenomenological construct with a history; one that must have passed through a struggle for freedom before realising itself.

The abstract language used by Hegel never allows one to interpret this story in a straightforward fashion. It can be read as self-consciousness coming to itself through a child's or adult's development, or self-consciousness coming to be in the beginning of human history see hominization or as that of a society or nation realising freedom. That the master—slave dialectic can be interpreted as an internal process occurring in one person or as an external process between two or more people is a result, in part, of the fact that Hegel asserts an "end to the antithesis of subject and object ".

What occurs in the human mind also occurs outside of it.

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The objective and subjective, according to Hegel, sublate one another until they are unified, and the "story" takes this process through its various "moments" when the lifting up of two contradictory moments results in a higher unity. First, the two abstract consciousnesses meet and are astounded at the realisation of the self as a foreign object. Each can choose to ignore the other, in which case no self-consciousness forms and each views the other merely as an animated object rather than an equivalent subject.

Or, they become mesmerized by the mirror-like other and attempt, as they previously had done in controlling their own body, to assert their will. When initially confronted with another person, the self cannot be immediately recognized: 'Appearing thus immediately on the scene, they are for one another like ordinary objects, independent shapes, individuals submerged in the being [or immediacy] of Life'. A struggle to the death ensues. However, if one of the two should die, the achievement of self-consciousness fails. Hegel refers to this failure as "abstract negation" not the negation or sublation required. This death is avoided by the agreement, communication of, or subordination to, slavery. In this struggle the Master emerges as Master because he does not fear death since he does not see his identity dependent on life, while the slave out of this fear consents to the slavery.

This experience of fear on the part of the slave is crucial, however, in a later moment of the dialectic, where it becomes the prerequisite experience for the slave's further development. Truth of oneself as self-conscious is achieved only if both live; the recognition of the other gives each of them the objective truth and self-certainty required for self-consciousness. However, this state is not a happy one and does not achieve full self-consciousness.

The recognition by the slave is merely on pain of death. The master's self-consciousness is dependent on the slave for recognition and also has a mediated relation with nature: the slave works with nature and begins to shape it into products for the master. As the slave creates more and more products with greater and greater sophistication through his own creativity , he begins to see himself reflected in the products he created, he realises that the world around him was created by his own hands, thus the slave is no longer alienated from his own labour and achieves self-consciousness, while the master on the other hand has become wholly dependent on the products created by his slave; thus the master is enslaved by the labour of his slave.

One interpretation of this dialectic is that neither a slave nor a master can be considered as fully self-conscious.