What we're about
Upcoming events (1)
Along with J.G. Fichte and F.W.J. von Schelling, Hegel (1770–1831) belongs to the period of German idealism in the decades following Kant. We examined the works of both Fichte and Schelling in recent months as preparation for an examination of Hegel’s project, which is complex and relies on a thorough understanding of the works of his contemporaries. The movement commonly known as German idealism effectively ended with Hegel’s death. He is perhaps most well-known for his teleological account of history, an account that was later taken over by Marx and “inverted” into a materialist theory of an historical development culminating in communism as well as his dialectic analysis of Lordship and Bondage.
Hegel's principal achievement was his development of a distinctive articulation of idealism, sometimes termed absolute idealism, in which the dualisms of mind and nature and subject and object are overcome. His philosophy of Spirit conceptually integrates psychology, the state, history, art, religion and philosophy. Of special importance is his concept of spirit as the historical manifestation of the logical concept – and the "sublation" (Aufhebung, integration without elimination or reduction) – of seemingly contradictory or opposing factors: examples include the apparent opposition between necessity and freedom and between immanence and transcendence. (Hegel has been seen in the twentieth century as the originator of the thesis, antithesis, synthesis triad, but as an explicit phrase it originated with Johann Gottlieb Fichte.)
Over the course of the next three months we will examine Hegel’s project as discussed in the Phenomenology of Spirit. Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit can be regarded as a type of propaedeutic or instruction manual to philosophy rather than an exercise in or work of philosophy. It is meant to function as an induction or education of the reader to the standpoint of purely conceptual thought from which philosophy can be done. Its structure has been compared to that of a Bildungsroman (educational novel), having an abstractly conceived protagonist—the bearer of an evolving series of so-called shapes of consciousness or the inhabitant of a series of successive phenomenal worlds—whose progress and set-backs the reader follows and learns from. The progression ends in the attainment of what Hegel refers to as Absolute Knowing, the standpoint from which “real philosophy” gets done, seems to support a culminating narrative of the growth of western civilization combined with the theological interpretation of God’s self-manifestation and self-comprehension.
The three sessions will discuss selected readings from the Phenomenology;
- Session 1: Discussion of the Introduction and the section “Consciousness”, which includes a notoriously complex, but important discussion of the ‘inverted world’.
- Session 2: Discussion of the section B, “Self-alienated Spirit, Culture” and C, “Spirit that is certain of Itself. Morality”
- Session 3: Discussion of the famous section entitled “Absolute Knowing” as well as a final critique of Hegel’s overall project.
For these sessions we’ll be using the version of the Phenomenology of Spirit translated by A.V. Miller (ISBN[masked] -1). For this session we’ll discuss the Introduction (~12 pages) and Section A – Consciousness (~44 pages). I will also be sending out a list of key definitions of terms used by Hegel, where the terms have been defined within the work itself.
Some helpful sites;