Kristeva on Hegel
The Nephew with Hegel: Culture as Strangeness
Kristeva begins:’ When in its dialectical motion, the world of the Spirit becomes foreign to itself, Hegel deems that two parts of the spiritual world start facing each other: actuality and pure consciousness’ (144). It is a process, ‘constituted by culture (Bildung)—political, economic, social, intellectual …—as estrangement of the natural being’ (144). In this strangeness, ‘individuality becomes stable only by giving up the self fro the universal: that is the role of Myself the philosopher’ (144). Hegel thinks of estrangement in a number of ways:
• the self-estrangement of the French monarchy ‘where language becomes alienated in turn as a pure appearance in order to seek an empty power’ (145);
• and the distraught utterance as representative of cultural estrangement which creates pure self-consciousness.
Kristeva writes how ‘Culture in Hegel’s sense, in its scission and essential strangeness, proceeds by way of disunion and contradiction, which it unifies in its wrenching discourse’ (146). Kristeva sees this kind of culture as prevailing particularly in France.