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Phenomenology of Spirit by G. W. F. Hegel
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Phenomenology of Spirit (original 1807; edition 1979)

by G. W. F. Hegel, A. V. Miller (Translator), J. N. Findlay (Foreword)

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1,73984,053 (3.66)14
Member:dbvisel
Title:Phenomenology of Spirit
Authors:G. W. F. Hegel
Other authors:A. V. Miller (Translator), J. N. Findlay (Foreword)
Info:Oxford University Press, USA (1979), Paperback, 595 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
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Tags:german, philosophy, phenomenology

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Phenomenology of Spirit by G. W. F. Hegel (1807)

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My rating for this book is both more and less than it deserves. To start, Hegel is probably the most difficult of all philosophers to read/understand. I’ve had professors say that Hegel’s Phenomenology is like a phone book from Mars. His influence though as one of the last Western metaphysicians is not to be overlooked, for philosophy is moving in what I would call a backwards progression today. Metaphysics is seeing a resurgence, which is often the result of epistemological dead-lock, and so Hegel offers some warning to that backwards slide. If one takes Wittgenstein’s critique of that which can be conceived from the perspective of language/logic, Hegel is nipped from the very first section in his preliminary discussion of Universals.

His is an interesting and insightful piece though – both philosophically and culturally. Though his dialectical method is dubious at best in certain sections (though I am not by far claiming to fully comprehend everything that he speaks of), he has exerted a great influence in social thought. He not only was the springboard for Marx and Engels, but also provided the necessary sociological insights that led to fascist ideology and organicist ideals. As a matter of fact, in social philosophy WWII is sometimes referred to as the war between left wing and right wing Hegelians. I think that there is a rather simple explanation for this. Due to his dialectical method, anyone can so choose to pick the sections which they find support their position, all the while ignoring the evolutionary character of Hegel’s project. The most intimidating section, on lordship and bondage, can be taken in many ways. The part that is often ignored though is its progression into the moral consciousness that was what Hegel supported: the sublation between the opposing moments that find their particular actualization in the individual who confronts absolute Spirit.

Rather than continue on with a cultural analysis here though, my biggest distrust of the Phenomenology of Spirit lies in its lack of determination. Hegel’s goal was essentially to prove that the Kantian noumena and phenomena could in fact co-exist, that we were not separate from the world in-and-of-itself, i.e. that we are not confined to phenomenal reality alone. Yet, given the cultural and individualistic importance/role in the realization of Spirit, we are given very little to go buy in realizing this. It is presented merely as a progression that Spirit alone knows and will find its justification only in its end. He resorts back to an intuitive justification within the moral individual. Granted, Hegel does not claim to know what this end is himself, he is not presenting a theology and does not try to place himself over and above the Historicity of his philosophy, nevertheless it places a tenuous hole in which the future misapplications of his philosophy have placed themselves. In end of fact, Hegel gives us almost nothing. It’s a project that leads to no further understanding of the Kantian noumenal/phenomenal division that he set forth to dirempt. So far as one wishes to read a philosophy which could justify a secularized vision of religion/morality in the conjunction of universal and particular re-interpretations of what it means to have a “soul,” Hegel gives you just that, but it is no less vulnerable to the theological criticisms, and if one is looking for such a philosophy you would be best suited to read Kierkegaard.
( )
  PhilSroka | Apr 12, 2016 |
It is finished. ( )
  DavidCLDriedger | Apr 22, 2015 |
This is probably the hardest book I've ever read. Only after reading pieces of several other of Hegel's works and talking extensively with a professor did I feel like I understood what Hegel was getting at. Once I did, I was pretty excited by it. Hegel's attempt to fit literally EVERYTHING into a single unifying paradigm is probably futile, but nevertheless incredibly cool. ( )
  Audacity88 | Feb 16, 2013 |
This is one of the high points of German Idealism and western philosophy in general. The book draws on Plato and Aristotle from Spirit’s sense certainty and culminates in the Spirit’s absolute knowing. Historically, Hegel was hastily read by Marx in the latter’s own development of dialectic materialism. The Phenomenology of Spirit is a philosophical phenomenology but it takes the ‘Spirit’ as the life of God itself evolving in the conscious world of humanity. Although Hegel, and his legacy of philosophical thought, has been largely ignored since the advent of Deconstructionist thought, he is still one of the West’s greatest systematicians. This dense and massive work lays out only the broadest outlines of his philosophical achievement. ( )
3 vote sacredheart25 | Feb 28, 2012 |
So the story goes: I was talking about this critical theory reading group we started with this professor in my department, Alex Dick, and he said something like "well, of course you can't understand Deleuze without reading Hegel" and I happen to have read a little Hegel and said so in an I-resent-the-imputation voice, and he was all "You've read The Phenomenology of Spirit?" And I guess I thought of The Philosophy of History, which I have read--maybe because they both begin with "ph"--and I was all "oh, yeah" and realized my error a second later but did not correct myself. And as part of a general life programme of scrupulous honesty, to punish myself for saying the thing that was not I actually went out and bought The Phenomenology of (in my copy) Mind and settled in to read it as a self-flagellation thing.

And flagellation it was. The Philosophy of History had its moments, and if many of them were unintentional comic high art, like his description of Chinese and Indian civilizations, the grim hierarchy and the teeming masses, others had undeniable value. The dialectic, the zeitgeist, world-historical peoples. Even if you think it's a pile of shit the way Hegel expresses these ideas, you can't deny their importance--and I have mellowed a bit as regard the expression, because he was dealing with Plato's problem--trying to come up with analytical language of a sort which did not yet exist.

But as for the present volume, I can't see that there's much to love for utility, or that anyone else has tried to love with the exception of some other philosophers of latter but equal obscurity. And what there might be is totally obscured by this problem of language. We are looking at a hypothetical interplay between two ways of realizing concepts or conceptualizing entities--one potential, unsaturated, a priori, progressive, simple, naive, grounded in (without getting into the subject/object problem) itself; the other actual, overdetermined, realized, complete, complex, ideological, representing itself to itself and the world. That much I get. Discard any terms you find unhelpful. But to tack onto this already overabstracted structure the labels "an sich" and "fuer sich", opaque as anything, and translate each of them with a million different terms and individual terms with both of them in different contexts is just risible, caricature-ready.

The other day I failed to finish my first book, a volume of Hegel criticism. This is not as bad as that; Hegel can put together a sentence, even if you have no idea what it means. But its great project is either almost entirely worthless in itself or is made worthless by presentation (and take a look through my LibraryThing; I have some, though not infinite, tolerance for philosophese and theorese). And there are light moments, like the 25-page digression contra phrenology (Hegel using Hegelian philosophy to combat phrenology is almost too delightful as unintentional self-parody) or the liturgical quality, the hermetic meaninglessness to the incantatory end section on religion and art (although the "Oriental Light" thing will always more make me think of Pynchon's "Kirghiz Light" as, in my paraphrase of Hegel, a transcendent enjoyment of the mysteries of being. But they are too few. I didn't "not finish" this--that is, I looked at every page, and usually even started again after the first time my eyes glazed over (though not usually the second).

Overall, my standing commission of $40 or all the beer you can drink to whoever can make me an ASCII graphic of me giving Hegel the finger still stands, waiting to be claimed. ( )
3 vote MeditationesMartini | Dec 10, 2009 |
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Omtale :

Boken er den første komplette norske utgave av Hegels hovedverk. Den fremstiller menneskeåndens utvikling og historie som en lang rekke erfaringer, eventyr eller episoder, i et forsøk på å finne seg selv, og erkjenne verden og sin plass i den ved å utprøve muligheter og høste nederlag, etterfulgt av... Les mer

Boken er den første komplette norske utgave av Hegels hovedverk. Den fremstiller menneskeåndens utvikling og historie som en lang rekke erfaringer, eventyr eller episoder, i et forsøk på å finne seg selv, og erkjenne verden og sin plass i den ved å utprøve muligheter og høste nederlag, etterfulgt av nye erfaringer og nye erkjennelser.
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0198245971, Paperback)

This brilliant study of the stages in the mind's necessary progress from immediate sense-consciousness to the position of a scientific philosophy includes an introductory essay and a paragraph-by-paragraph analysis of the text to help the reader understand this most difficult and most influential of Hegel's works.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:01 -0400)

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