Talk:Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

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Reading Hegel[edit]

I have added the following under the reading hegel section. My intention is not to overload the article with references to Kaufmann. I feel he has unique insights and comments that are not expressed anywhere else. Hopefully we can find a place for the following if not under the reading hegel section.

According to Kaufmann, the basic idea of Hegel's works, especially the Phenomenology of the Spirit is that a philosopher should not "confine him or herself to views that have been held but penetrate these to the human reality they reflect." In other words, it is not enough to consider propositions, or even the content of consciousness; "it is worthwhile to ask in every instance what kind of spirit would entertain such propositions, hold such views, and have such a consciousness. Every outlook in other words, is to be studied not merely as an academic possibility but as an existential reality."[1]

Hegel is fascinated by the sequence Kaufmann writes:

How would a human being come to see the world this way or that? And to what extent does the road on which a point of view is reached color the view? Moreover, it should be possible to show how every single view in turn is one-sided and therefore untenable as soon as it is embraced consistently. Each must therefore give way to another, until finally the last and most comprehensive vision is attained in which all previous views are integrated. That way the reader would be compelled – not by rhetoric or by talk of compelling him, but by the successive examination of forms of consciousness – to rise from the lowest and least sophisticated level to the highest and most philosophical; and on the way he would recognize stoicism and skepticism, Christianity, and Enlightenment, Sophocles and Kant.[2]

Many sympathetic commentators have argued that this is surely one of the most imaginative and poetic conceptions ever to have occurred to any philosopher. Kaufmann even argues that the parallel between Hegel's Phenomenology and Dante's journey "through hell and purgatory to the blessed vision meets the eye." He also makes a comparison with Goethe's Faust claiming that "two quotations from ‘The First Part of the Tragedy’ could have served Hegel as mottoes." The first of these passages (lines 1770-75) Kaufmann argues Hegel knew from Faust: A Fragment (1790)": "And what is portioned out to all mankind, I shall enjoy deep in myself, contain; Within my spirit summit and abyss, Pile on my breast their agony and bliss, And thus let my own self grow into theirs, unfettered.[3]

These lines express much of the spirit of the book Kaufmann writes: "Hegel is not treating us to a spectacle, letting various forms of consciousness pass in review before our eyes to entertain us as he considers it necessary to re-experience what the human spirit has gone through in history and he challenges the reader to join him in this Faustian undertaking." [4] Hegel asks readers not merely to read about such possibilities but according to Kaufmann, to "identify with each in turn until their own self has grown to the point where it is contemporary with world spirit. The reader, like the author, is meant to suffer through each position, and to be changed as he/she proceeds from one to the other. Mea res agitur: my own self is at stake. Or, as Rilke put it definitively in the last line of his great sonnet on an “Archaic Torso of Apollo”: du must dein Leben andern – you must change your life.” [5]

Hegel's writing style and language has also been a source of criticism.Schopenhauer for example, called Hegel "this Caliban of the spirit." [6] He also spoke of "Hegel's philosophy of absolute nonsense." [7] Abserwitzig meaning insane is a word that recurs frequently in Schopenhauer's remarks about Hegel, along with the claims that Hegel had no Geist at all.[8]

Kaufmann claims that while it is "widely considered bad form to speak irreverently about Kant, disrespect for Hegel is still good form. Many writers and lecturers enjoy making scurrilous remarks about Hegel while others -- and sometimes actually the very same people -- make use of his ideas without giving credit to him."[9] — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ditc (talkcontribs) 17:40, 27 May 2014 (UTC)

Hegel's Aesthetics?[edit]

I think it might be helpful to include something about Hegel's aesthetics, specifically content from Lectures on Aesthetics, under the "Thought" section. What do other people think? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Tiberius Aurelius (talkcontribs) 14:02, 5 December 2014 (UTC)

PatrickJWelsh (talk) 20:12, 13 December 2014 (UTC) I agree wholeheartedly (I am writing a dissertation on the topic!). Time permitting, I will pull something together for the site. Honestly though, the whole "Thought" section could use an overhaul. Not that there is anything egregiously wrong with it, but it's weirdly selective in its treatment (my main objection) and sometimes lapses into jargon without adequately adumbrating the terms. Do any others feel this way?

Secondary literature[edit]

Hello everyone. I recently added an extensive Hegel bibliography to the external links section. It is much more comprehensive than what is listed on this page and has the additional merit of singling out certain works as either introductory or especially recommended. To me, what is listed on this page is rather useless. The best case scenario, I believe would be to replace it with a selective annotated bibliography of only introductory-level works. For example, H.S. Harris's two-volume Hegel's Development is the most comprehensive account of Hegel's development leading up the PhS, perhaps in any language. But who coming to Wikipedia to learn about Hegel is going to take that on? Let alone technical works in German or French about specific aspects of his philosophy. People coming to this page should be assumed to have a very low level of acquaintance with Hegel. What would be useful to this audience is just a short list of useful introductions with a few words explaining their strengths, weakness, possible biases, etc.

Do others agree? I do not want to presume to delete the whole thing to replace it with a short list entirely of my own devising. I usually recommend Houlgate's intro or Pinkard's intellectual biography to people looking for a general intro. Reason and Revolution may also belong on the list, as it provides a summary of much of Hegel's thought (albeit rather too simplistically for my taste) and situates it in the Marxist tradition, which many will be interested in. I have not read it, but I've heard Rosen's intro highly praised by a scholar hyper-critical of what seems like just about everything written about Hegel in the English language. Apparently it does an especially good job of illustrating the Aristotelean underpinning of so much of Hegel's thought. I could list a few more, but will leave it here for now so that others may weigh in.

Thanks for your consideration. PJ — Preceding unsigned comment added by PatrickJWelsh (talkcontribs) 20:01, 13 December 2014 (UTC)

As you will see, I have gone ahead and done something like this, albeit less selectively than I would really like to be in order to avoid controversy (and without the annotations I obviously cannot supply to everything on my own). See the Aristotle or Wittgenstein pages for precedent. Having looked at a sampling of other major philosophers' pages, there seems to be no standard practice. Although this was mostly an act of removal, I also added an introduction much better than some of the stuff up there and two volumes on Hegel's ethical and political thought. (Unfortunately, I do not know of any decent book-length introductory treatments of Hegel's philosophy or art or religion. These subjects, however, are covered in most of the general introductions.)

Overhaul of “Thought” Section?[edit]

Okay, so I have no idea whether I’m actually willing to do such an overhaul, but it might be a good exercise for me. And I think I could be successful in soliciting further improvements from other Hegel scholars. If, however, this is just going to outrage everyone who contributed to the current version and be immediately taken down, I definitely will not waste my time.

What I have in mind is something like this:

Hegel’s Idealism

  • clarify Hegel’s general idealistic thesis as articulated in the Phenomenology and Logic, i.e., explain what he means by "absolute knowing" and the claim that "substance is essentially subject"
  • maybe cite one of Pinkard or Pippin’s single-paragraph attempts at a summary of the PhS (which has its own page, but is totally useless)
  • explain what the logic is, why there is so much confusion about this (reference to “metaphysical,” “non-metaphysical, “revised metaphysical” accounts)
  • cite recent scholarship articulating and defending revisionary metaphysical reading
  • elucidate distinction between scientific portion of Hegel’s philosophy (the PhS in its capacity as a “science of experience” and the logic) and the Realphilosophie, which is “its own time comprehended in thought—and so needs to be read and assessed quite differently

Hegel’s System

The Philosophy of Nature

  • pretty much just that it exists and is a presupposition of spirit
  • the reasons few take it seriously anymore, but noting that some still do

The Philosophy of Spirit

  • distinction between subjective, objective, and abs spirit

Subjective Spirit

  • very brief description of subjective spirit

Objective Spirit

  • Hegel's concept of freedom and how it achieves actuality in Ethical Life
  • the doctrine of world history and its problems

Absolute Spirit

  • present the concept of the beautiful ideal, why Greek sculpture is most perfectly beautiful art
  • explain infamous claim about “passing away” of art to clarify that Hegel does indeed secure an ongoing place for art in the modern world
  • present concept of religion
  • brief explication of Hegel’s interpretation of Lutheranism as “consummate religion” in which spirit, knowing itself, knows god
  • logic as mode of spirit most at one with itself, but entirely in thought—hence ongoing need for art and religion

Sections on his intellectual context and his pre-Jena writing would also be valuable, but I am not in the position to write them without reviewing more material than I have time for.

Do people like this idea? Is there anything conspicuously missing? I can provide citations to primary sources and recent scholarship to establish that I am not doing “original research.” There's no question that this is how the system is organized, and broad scholarly consensus about what he took himself to accomplish (albeit, of course, massive disagreement about the extent which he actually succeeded). — Preceding unsigned comment added by PatrickJWelsh (talkcontribs) 20:54, 13 December 2014 (UTC)

Lede re-write?[edit]

Rereading the first paragraphs, I realize it’s more than just the absurd request for a “citation” to support the claim that he was “influential to” Continental Philosophy, which is essentially defined by whether one took Kant in the idealist direction of Fichte, Schelling, et al. of which Hegel presents himself (controversially, but with a still impressive consensus among those scholars persuaded by that tradition’s criticisms of the Kantian program) or the neo-Kantian route of the Marburg and Baden Schools (Cassirer being probably the most famous representative). As is well known, these two traditions largely developed in mutual contempt with little significant interaction for arguably over a century (British Hegelianism, the primary exception, being a disaster). Fortunately this distinction is fairly well broken down. All of which is just a long-winded way of stating that I think, not only that the claim needs no citation, but that it ought to come down altogether. Also, “historicism,” not really a unified or at all well-defined movement.

What about simply:

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (/ˈheɪɡəl/;[2] German: [ˈɡeɔɐ̯k ˈvɪlhɛlm ˈfʁiːdʁɪç ˈheːɡəl]; August 27, 1770 – November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher of the late Enlightenment who achieved wide renown in his day and, while primarily influential within the Continental philosophy tradition of philosophy, has becoming increasingly influential in the Anglophone world as well [citation to SEP entry]. Although he remains a decisive figure, his canonical stature within Western philosophy is universally recognized [citation to “Any introductory text to the history of philosophy written in the past century.”].

The second paragraph could also be improved, but that is enough from me for now. I’ll let this sit for a while and then make the change in a few days or so if no one objects or wants to tweak it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by PatrickJWelsh (talkcontribs) 19:30, 15 July 2015 (UTC)

I support the rewrite, although I think "English-speaking world" would be better than "Anglophone world" (Anglophone world redirects to English-speaking world article). Abierma3 (talk) 06:08, 20 July 2015 (UTC)

Great. Re-write implemented with slight changes and with what I hope are some additional improvements to the 2nd paragraph as well. I don't know Wikipedia's policy on this, but I also removed the link from "state," which just seemed totally (and conspicuously) arbitrary, given that there are surely pages on all of the other items in that catalog (psychology, art, etc.). It seems to me that the principle of selection in this context ought to be biographical, historical, or philosophical relevance to Hegel. If anyone disagrees, by all means restore the link or add links to everything. I just find this practice distracting and unhelpful.

French Revolution[edit]

Removing this from Works section where it does not belong. It's accurate, though, so someone may wish to integrate elsewhere:

The French Revolution for Hegel constitutes the introduction of real individual political freedom into European societies for the first time in recorded history. But precisely because of its absolute novelty, it is also unlimited with regard to everything that preceded it: on the one hand the upsurge of violence required to carry out the revolution cannot cease to be itself, while on the other, it has already consumed its opponent. The revolution therefore has nowhere to turn but onto its own result: the hard-won freedom is consumed by a brutal Reign of Terror. History, however, progresses by learning from its mistakes: only after and precisely because of this experience can one posit the existence of a constitutional state of free citizens, embodying both the benevolent organizing power of rational government and the revolutionary ideals of freedom and equality. Hegel's remarks on the French revolution led German poet Heinrich Heine to label him "The Orléans of German Philosophy".

I do think Hegel's interpretation of the French Revolution is important and should be included somewhere in the article (especially since "French Revolution" and "Reign of Terror" are used as examples of thesis and antithesis in the "Triad" subsection of the "Legacy" section). From Susan Buck-Morss: "Hegel, writing The Phenomenology of Mind in his Jena study in 1806, interpreted the advancing army of Napoleon (whose cannons he could hear roaring in the distance) as the unwitting realization of Reason." From Philip Cunliffe: "It is well established that the thrust of [Hegel's] project was an attempt to absorb the impact of modernity by offering a philosophical response to the French Revolution and the unfolding of the modern division of labour." Maybe we can incorporate some of this text into the "Progress" subsection of the "Thought" section? Abierma3 (talk) 19:35, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

Yeah, it probably belongs in the Thought section, but that whole section is such a mess I don't even what to touch it unless it is to completely rewrite per earlier comment.

New archive[edit]

Hi editors,

I created a new Talk page archive (Archive 3) and then removed all the topics that I take to have been resolved. If anyone disagrees, by all means, please restore unresolved section and, if possible, expand upon what issue you believe remains outstanding.

Thanks, PJ

  1. ^ Kaufmann, Hegel: A Reinterpretation, Anchor, p.115
  2. ^ Ibid., p.116
  3. ^ Faust cited in Kaufmann, Hegel: A Reinterpretation, Anchor Books, p.118
  4. ^ Kaufmann, p.119
  5. ^ Kaufmann, p.119
  6. ^ Diesen geistigen Kaliban in the Preface to the second ed. of Die Welt alt Wille und Vorstellung
  7. ^ In the Introduction to Uber den Willen in der Natur
  8. ^ Kaufmann, Discovery of the Mind Goethe, Kant, and Hegel, p.199
  9. ^ Ibid., p.200