The Phenomenology of Seinfeld

In the last week, I have been rereading Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, despite the fact that — as Anthony pointed out on Twitter — it’s now much more fashionable to read the Science of Logic.

As I work my way through the dialectical unfolding of Geist, a strange and yet plausible idea has occurred to me: it must be possible to recapitulate the movement of Spirit in the Phenomenology using clips from Seinfeld.

Indeed, it is a project that I believe we can get started on today, in comments. Which Seinfeld scenes or episodes correspond to your favorite passages in the Phenomenology? Who is the master and who is the slave, for instance? Or one can take it the opposite direction: in what passage did Hegel anticipate the dialectic of “good naked” and “bad naked”?

10 thoughts on “The Phenomenology of Seinfeld

  1. Markus Gabriel actually brought this up both times I’ve seen him lecture on Hegel. I can’t exactly remember which clips he used to exemplify it, but I know he noted that both are about ‘nothing’ and most recently he made the corny joke of calling it ‘zeinfeld’.

  2. I’m relatively sure that Adrian Johnston used clips from the Simpsons to illustrate movements in the PoS.

    The joke that Michael is alluding to by Markus Gabriel, I believe, goes something like this: Seinfeld is very much like the Science of Logic because they are both about nothing and everything at the same time. If Markus is floating out there somewhere, I apologize if I’m butchering your joke.

  3. “Independent self-consciousness partly finds its essential reality in the bare abstraction of Ego. On the other hand, when this abstract ego develops further and forms distinctions of its own, this differentiation does not become an objective inherently real content for that self-consciousness. Hence this self consciousness does not become an ego which truly differentiates itself in its abstract simplicity, or one which remains identical with itself in this absolute differentiation. The repressed and subordinate type of consciousness, on the other hand, becomes, in the formative activity of work, an object to itself, in the sense that the form, given to the thing when shaped and moulded, is his object; he sees in the master, at the same time, self-existence as a real mode of consciousness. But the subservient consciousness as such finds these two moments fall apart — the moment of itself as an independent object, and the moment of this object as a mode of consciousness, and so its own proper reality.”

    “Worlds collide, Jerry. Worlds collide.”

  4. Again (and better): “Hence the Unhappy Consciousness, the Alienated Soul which is the consciousness of self as a divided nature, a doubled and merely contradictory being.”

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