The Philosophy of Hegel

The Philosophy of Hegel

Allen Speight
Copyright Date: 2008
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  • Book Info
    The Philosophy of Hegel
    Book Description:

    Few philosophers are as puzzling for students as Hegel. His works are notoriously dense and make very few concessions to a reader unfamiliar with his systematic view of the world. Allen Speight's introduction to Hegel's philosophy takes a chronological perspective on the development of Hegel's system, examining works such as the Phenomenology and the Logic in their respective contexts to help explicate some of the most important questions in Hegelian scholarship. Speight begins with the young Hegel and his writings prior to the Phenomenology, focusing on the notion of positivity and how Hegel's social, economic, and religious concerns became linked to systematic and logical ones. He then examines the Phenomenology in detail, including its treatment of scepticism, the problem of immediacy, the transition from "consciousness" to "self-consciousness", and the emergence of the social and historical category of "Spirit". Other chapters explore the Logic, paying particular attention to a number of contested issues associated with Hegel’s claims to systematicity and the relation between the categories of Hegel's logic and nature or spirit (Geist). The final chapters discuss Hegel's ethical and political thought and the three elements of his notion of "absolute spirit" - art, religion, and philosophy - as well as the importance of history to his philosophical approach as a whole.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-9490-6
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    Hegel is the first great philosopher to makemodernity– in all its historical, cultural and philosophical complexity – his subject.¹ And on whatever lines that modernity is to be explored by our own present generation – as a project that has failed, is discernible only in traces, or that has come to fruition in some ways crucial for our practices and commitments – the Hegelian construal of it remains essential for coming to terms with how we understand ourselves, as agents in and contemplators of a world with a number of characteristics that Hegel was either the first or...

  6. CHAPTER ONE German Idealism and the young Hegel
    (pp. 9-26)

    The story of the “young Hegel” – Hegel in the earliest years of his development before the writing of thePhenomenology of Spirit– is one that has been told from a number of different and not necessarily incompatible perspectives: some have read it as the story of a young man focused on political issues and the task of being a philosophical educator of some sort, while others have read it as the story of a former seminarian whose concern for essentially theological issues gave way to a critical stance on existing forms of religion and moved him to systematic...

  7. CHAPTER TWO The Phenomenology of Spirit
    (pp. 27-50)

    ThePhenomenology of Spirit(Phenomenology; PhS) is at once one of the strangest and most fascinating of philosophical works. Its uniqueness has much to do with the union of two philosophical capabilities that do not always fall together in a single work or philosopher: a genuinely sympathetic philosophical imagination for what the experience of various “forms of life” – Hegel’s word is “shapes of consciousness” – might belike(the “phenomenological” side of Hegel’s project) and a speculative rigour concerned with what would be required for the enterprise of philosophy to become in a genuine way “science” (and hence for...

  8. CHAPTER THREE The logic and Hegel’s system
    (pp. 51-66)

    As we saw in Chapter 2, thePhenomenology of Spiritis concerned with the ascent, through the various finite modes of consciousness, to the standpoint of Science – a standpoint which, says Hegel, “exists solely in the self-movement of the Concept” (PhS: §71). Hegel’s prefatory and introductory remarks to theScience of Logicstress the purity and presuppositionlessness of this standpoint. “Pure Science presupposes liberation from the opposition of consciousness” – i.e. the very sort of opposition we have seen to be characteristic of the various moments of thePhenomenology; “it contains thought in so far as this is just...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Ethics and politics
    (pp. 67-86)

    Hegel’s ethical and political philosophy has had more than its share of critics. Marx’s early critique of Hegel’s central political work, thePhilosophy of Right, is perhaps the most famous point of attack in the German tradition, but others in that tradition, such as the scholar Rudolf Haym, have voiced unusually harsh criticisms of Hegel’s supposed links to the most authoritarian currents within Prussian politics.¹ In the Anglophone world, the high point of suspicion towards Hegel’s ethics and politics can be found especially in the immediate aftermath of World War II, with Bertrand Russell’s notorious claim that Hegel’s concept of...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Hegel and the narrative task of history
    (pp. 87-100)

    If there is anything for which Hegel is thought to be most philosophically guilty, it is for enmeshing philosophy more deeply than almost any of his predecessors in the problems and contingencies of history. We have seen in the preceding chapters the importance of history to Hegel’s phenomenological and encyclopaedic projects in general, but we have noticed at the same time how contentiously the historical character of those projects is regarded. Thus, although almost all readers of thePhenomenology of Spiritacknowledge that the project is tied broadly – at least in its chapters on Spirit and Religion – to...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Art, aesthetics and literary theory
    (pp. 101-116)

    Among the most striking features of the cultural and intellectual world in which Hegel came of age was its new and often enthusiastic appetite for art, which, together with an increasing sense of art’s philosophical importance, may be said to be a characteristic element of the immediate post-Kantian era as a whole. This renewed exploration of art can be traced in an arc running from Kant’sCritique of Judgmentand Schiller’sLetters on Aesthetic Education, through the endless journals and projects of the Romantics, to what finally emerge as the most ambitious attempts to present a comprehensive philosophy of art...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN Religion and philosophy
    (pp. 117-132)

    Perhaps no facet of the philosophical turn taken by modernity has been so essential to the self-construal of philosophy itself as the stance it has taken towards the traditional place of religion and theology. Certainly no element of the modern philosophical project proved to be as controversial as the philosophical demand for the autonomy of its own enterprise. The importance of Hegel’s philosophy of religion as a consummate moment in that modern philosophical turn may be estimated both by its immediate impact on the philosophical world and by its continuing importance for the modern – and postmodern – construal of...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 133-144)
  14. Guide to further reading
    (pp. 145-150)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 151-160)
  16. Index
    (pp. 161-168)