Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences

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Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences
AuthorGeorg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Original titleEnzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften im Grundrisse
Media typePrint

The Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences (abbreviated as EPS or simply Encyclopaedia; German: Enzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften im Grundrisse, EPW, translated as Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Basic Outline) by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (first published in 1817, second edition 1827, third edition 1830[1]), is a work that presents an abbreviated version of Hegel's systematic philosophy in its entirety, and is the only form in which Hegel ever published his entire mature philosophical system.[1] The fact that the account is exhaustive, that the grounding structures of reality are ideal, and that the system is closed makes the Encyclopedia a statement par excellence of absolute idealism.

Intended as a pedagogical aid for attendees of his lectures, Hegel revised and extended the Encyclopedia over more than a decade, but stressed its role as a "textbook" in need of elucidation through oral commentary.[2] The 1830 text is widely available in various English translations[3] with copious additions (Zusätze) added posthumously by Hegel's students, deriving from their lecture notes. These additions expand on the text with examples and illustrations, and while scholars do not take the Zusätze to be verbatim transcription of Hegel's lectures, their more informal and non-technical style make them good stand-ins for the "necessary oral commentary".

Part I of the work is sometimes referred to as the Lesser Logic (or Shorter Logic) to distinguish it from the Greater Logic, the moniker given to Hegel's Science of Logic.


The Encyclopedia has three main parts, each of which is further subdivided, which together purport to cover all the fundamental aspects of reality, and form a closed systematic unity.

  1. Science of Logic
    1. Being
    2. Essence
    3. Concept (Begriff, or notion)
  2. Science of Nature
    1. Mechanics
    2. Physics
    3. Organics
  3. Science of Geist
    1. Subjective
    2. Objective
    3. Absolute Spirit

Hegel is careful to methodically derive each category of reality ('thought-determination') from its predecessor notion, with the completed system bringing the circle to a close, demonstrating its unity.


The work describes the pattern of the Idea as manifesting itself in dialectical reasoning.

While some believe that the philosophy of nature and mind are applications of the logic, this is a misunderstanding. The purpose of the Encyclopedia is descriptive: to describe how the idea (or reason) develops itself and not to apply the dialectical method to all areas of human knowledge, but the Idea is in process of growing, like a seed growing into a mature tree: it passes through stages. The first stage of the idea's development is described in the Logic. Thus the Logic presents the categories of thought as they are in themselves; they are the minimal conditions for thinking anything at all, the conceptions that run in the background of all our thinking. For Hegel, unlike Kant, reason is not just "for us", but rather it is immanent within being. The rational alone is real, and is the substrate of all things. In order to get at what a thing is, we must think about it. No amount of observing will bring us to the essence of things. Thinking and being are equivalent, and so logic and metaphysics are equivalent as well.

As the idea works itself out more fully, it reaches the point where it simply cannot remain as it is; it is incomplete, and therefore it "others" itself; this is where the philosophy of nature emerges. When this stage of its development is completed, the idea "returns" to itself, which is the emergence of the philosophy of mind, or Geist, out of nature. Spirit is reason become self-conscious of itself as reason.

Hegel used the term "diamond net" in the book. He said, “the entire range of the universal determinations of thought… into which everything is brought and thereby first made intelligible.”[4] In other words, the diamond net of which Hegel speaks are the logical categories according to which we understand our experience, thus making our empirical observations intelligible.

English translations[edit]

English translations of all three parts are available from Oxford University Press (Part One: Hegel's Logic, 1975; Part Two: Hegel's Philosophy of Nature, 2004; Part Three: Hegel's Philosophy of Mind, 1970), with each part bound as a separate book.

An English translation of the first part is also available from Cambridge University Press: Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Basic Outline, Part I: Science of Logic, translated by Klaus Brinkmann, Daniel O. Dahlstrom (Cambridge University Press, 2010).


  1. ^ a b Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Fredrich (2010-10-28). "Introduction". In Brinkmann, Klaus; Dahlstrom, Daniel O. (eds.). Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Basic Outline, Part 1, Science of Logic. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521829144.
  2. ^ Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Fredrich (2010-11-29). Brinkmann, Klaus; Dahlstrom, Daniel O. (eds.). Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Basic Outline, Part 1, Science of Logic. Cambridge University Press. p. 8. ISBN 9780521829144.
  3. ^ See for example  • Hegel, Georg (1991). The encyclopaedia logic, with the Zusätze : Part I of the Encyclopaedia of philosophical sciences with the Zusätze. Indianapolis: Hackett. ISBN 9780872200708.,  • Hegel, Georg (2004). Hegel's philosophy of nature : being part two of the Encyclopaedia of the philosophical sciences (1830), translated from Nicolin and Pöggeler's edition (1959), and from the Zusätze in Michelet's text (1847. Oxford New York: Clarendon Press Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199272670.  • Hegel, Georg (1975). Hegel's Logic : being part one of the Encyclopaedia of the philosophical sciences (1830). Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0198245122.  • Hegel, Georg (2015). Encyclopedia of the philosophical sciences in basic outline. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 1107499690.  • Hegel, Georg (1990). Hegel's Philosophy of mind : being part three of the Encyclopaedia of the philosophical sciences (1830). Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0198750145.
  4. ^ Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature (Being Part Two of the Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences, 1830), trans. A.V. Miller (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), §246.


  • The Encyclopaedia Logic: Part 1 of the Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences, trans. T. F. Geraets, W. A. Suchting, and H. S. Harris (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1991).
  • Philosophy of Nature (Part Two of the Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences), trans. Michael John Petry, 3 vols., (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1970).
  • Hegel's Philosophy of Mind: Being Part Three of the Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences, trans. William Wallace (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971).

External links[edit]