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German Thought


Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



see Hegel Interpretation 2

Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich (1770-1831), German idealist philosopher, who was one of the most influential thinkers of the 19th century.

See also Hegel Texts

Hegel: A Feminist Revision by Kimberly Hutchings (Polity Press) Hegel is a significant reference point for many feminist philosophers and there is already a considerable body of feminist scholarship which engages with Hegel. In Hegel: A Feminist Revision, Hutchings examines the philosophical connections and debates between Hegelian thought and feminist philosophy. However, Hutchings does not simply to catalogue ways in which Hegel figures in different feminist philosophical arguments. Instead Hutchings demonstrates that Hegel's thought has something to contribute to significant philosophical arguments within feminism over sexual difference, epistemology and moral and political theory. The fulfilment of claim clearly requires both the articulation of a particular perspective within feminist philosophy and a specific interpretation of Hegel's thought. Feminist philosophy is not a uniform body of thought and my characterization of feminist debates will reflect a perspective which some feminist philosophers would want to reject. Similarly, Hutchings interpretation of Hegel is a contestable, left-Hegelian one with which other feminist philosophers and Hegelian scholars will find plent to contest This means that the persuasiveness of any of the arguments in Hegel: A Feminist Revision depends on the extent to which readers recognize and identify with the kind of feminist philosophy and the kind of Hegelian philosophy that Hutchings articulates and defends. It should be clear from the outset, however, that Hutchings  does not argue that Hegel himself was in any sense a feminist. It is patently obvious from his own remarks on sexual difference that, even in the context of his own time, Hegel's attitude to women was patriarchal and at times misogynist. If Hegel's work is useful to feminist philosophers it is in spit of his own ideological position on the `woman question'.

Hegel famously complained of the inability of Prefaces or Introductions to accomplish the intellectual journey on which a book is designed to take a reader. In line with this complaint, in this review one can only assert the main claims about feminist philosophy and Hegel. The heart of the argument is the claim that Hegel is battling with the same conceptual conundrum that constitute debates in feminist philosophy. Central is the conundrum of how to escape the conceptual binary oppositions (between culture and nature, reason and emotion, autonomy and heteronomy, universal and particular, ideal and real) which have associated women with the denigrated term and prescribed the exclusion of women from the practices of both philosophy and politics. As Hutchings expoundas it, feminist philosophy can be defined as a project to think the world differently, but one which is forever prey to a tendency to lapse back into the terms it is seeking to transcend. This is particularly clear in debates internal to feminist philosophy, in which the difficulty of thinking differently becomes apparent in feminist characterizations of opposing positions. Hutchings argues that Hegel prefigures the reductive pattern of internal philosophical debates within feminism in his account of the temptations of modern thought to lapse into onesidedness and exclusivity in his Phenomenology of Spirit and Science of Logic. In addition, Hutchings argues that Hegel provides a resource for resisting the temptations of modernist transcendence, through his insistence on the inseparability of being from truth and his historicization of both being and truth. Having made this argument, Hutchings puts forth an account of its implications for feminist ontology, epistemology and moral and political theory. The later part of the book attempts to show how a Hegelian feminism would respond to contemporary feminist debates about knowledge, morality and politics.

The argument which follows is divided into six chapters. Chapter 1 puts forward an account of feminist philosophy as a response to the explicit and implicit masculinism of the philosophical tradition. It is claimed that this masculinism is inherent in the hierarchical binary oppositions which have underpinned the conceptual framework of mainstream Western thought. Feminist philosophy is therefore largely preoccupied with developing frameworks for thought which do not repeat the hierarchical binaries of the tradition. An important aspect of feminist attempts to re-think established philosophical conceptual frameworks has been engaging with canonic philosophical texts. Within this engagement Hutchings suggests that different pathways for feminist philosophy can be discerned, some of which reject the philosophical tradition altogether and some of which `collaborate' with it. On this basis, Hutchings distinguises between four different ideal types of feminist philosophy. These ideal types are labelled: rationalist; critical; sexual difference; and postmodernist. As with any ideal types, these modes of feminist thought are rarely completely distinguishable in practice, but nevertheless this classification provides a tool for analysing the logic of feminist philosophical debate. Hutchings then goes on to demonstrate this logic through the examination of three significant areas of feminist philosophical inquiry in epistemology, moral philosophy and political theory. The chapter concludes that feminist philosophy is caught in a struggle with the binary thinking which it aims to overcome yet which it finds difficult to escape. It is suggested that this pattern is reminiscent of the `way of despair' chronicled in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit and turn to the exploration of this claim.

An interpretation is offerred of Hegel's philosophy as a response to the problems of binary thinking which have been intensified, Hegel argues, in the turn to transcendence which is characteristic of modernity. This is a turn which Hegel associates particularly with Kant's critical philosophy and the principles underpinning the French revolutionary terror. Hutchings account of Hegel treats the Phenomenology of Spirit and the Science of Logic as the key to Hegel's philosophical approach. In addition, it offers a brief exposition of Hegel's philosophies of nature and right which have been important to feminist engagements with Hegel's work. In the final section the argument returns to the domain of feminist philosophy and an overview of the ways in which Hegel's work has been read by feminist thinkers. It is argued that for rationalist feminists, Hegel's work is of limited philosophical interest. However, for critical, sexual difference and postmodernist categories of feminist philosophy Hegel's work has figured as an important interlocutor. This latter claim is the focus of the following chapters, which seek to show both how certain feminist philosophers have used Hegel and how Hegel may be more useful to feminist philosophy than even those who engage constructively with his work generally acknowledge.

Next Hutchings the focuses is on the work of Beauvoir and the uneasy relation to Hegelianism in both Ethics of Ambiguity and The Second Sex. It is argued that Hegel's account of the emergence of selfconscious being in the Phenomenology o f Spirit might have been more useful to Beauvoir's argument than is explicit in her texts, if her encounter with Hegel had not been so decisively mediated by the contestable readings of Hegel offered by Sartre and Kojeve of the `struggle for recognition'. Hutchings suggest that an alternative Hegelianism is

discernible in Beauvoir's phenomenology of women's subject position in The Second Sex and the way in which it (women's subject position) figures as an impossible identity of subject and object and of self and other. Then Hutchings explores how the ways in which feminist philosophy moves beyond Beauvoir in critical, sexual difference and postmodernist directions continue to formulate arguments in part in relation to Hegel's work. In Beauvoir's case it is Hegel's story of the emergence of self-consciousness, and in particular of the `struggle for recognition', which is central to the interpretation and significance of Hegel. For the thinkers explored, Patricia Mills, Luce Irigaray and Judith Butler, it is the story of Sophocles' Antigone (both the play and Antigone the character) retold by Hegel in the Phenomenology which becomes the crucial point of encounter between feminists and Hegel. In the case of all the feminist philosophers the crux of their engagement with Hegel is connected with the way he explains the position of women in his account of the mediation between the realms of nature (organic, animal being) and spirit (self-determination) in the Phenomenology. Hutchings argues that in each case there are problems with the way in which Hegel is interpreted. These problems are important not simply because Hegel can be interpreted differently, but because they are philosophically significant for the tendency of debates between feminist philosophical positions to return to the logic of the `way of despair'. Next Hutchings fleshes out the claim repeatedly made in the preceding analysis, that her alternative interpretation of Hegelian philosophy can be used as a resource for addressing ongoing debates in feminist philosophy concerned with the ontology of sexual difference and its implications for feminist claims to truth. It is argued that Hegel offers an escape from the `way of despair' via a radical historicization of accounts of both being and truth.

The arguments proposed next explor the implications of the feminist Hegelianism for moral and political agency and judgement. Hutchings then examines the recent trajectory of work in feminist ethics following Gilligan's intervention and the introduction of the idea of an `ethic of care', with the ensuing debate over `care' versus `justice'. A variety of theoretical positions are explored, in particular those of Elisabeth Porter and Rosalind Diprose who represent critical (Porter) and postmodernist (Diprose) modes of feminist philosophy respectively, and who are both concerned to move beyond the care versus justice debate. It is argued that this move entails a radical shift in the ambitions of moral philosophy, which is not fully accomplished by either Porter or Diprose themselves. However, both Porter and Diprose articulate their own positions partly via a reading of Hegel which is used as a prompt to examine Hegel's critique of what he terms the `moral point of view' and to assess the extent to which Hegel may be useful in drawing out the implications of the critique of the either/or of care versus justice which Porter and Diprose are anxious to transcend. An account is given of Hegelian ethics, and strong parallels are found between this and the kind of moral philosophy championed by the feminist philosopher Margaret Urban Walker. This approach to moral theory abandons the invocation of a privileged ground for moral judgement and prescription, encouraging the feminist moral philosopher to concentrate on phenomenological adequacy and genealogical honesty in accounting for moral claims and goals. In conclusion, Hutchings argues that this kind of development within feminist moral theory does not preclude critique and commitment to transformative political goals, but it does preclude the invocation of a moral high ground as a short cut to definitive judgement and prescription. Crucial to this development is a shift of the ground of authority of moral claims to the relations of recognition between the philosopher, the object of moral concern and the recipients of the philosopher's judgement. This means that moral judgement can never be anything other than risky.

In the course of the exploration of both feminist and Hegelian ethics it becomes clear that both approaches to moral theory problematize distinctions between the realms of morality and politics. Next Hutchings turns explicitly to feminist political theory and the question of how women's position within the liberal state is to be understood, judged and challenged. The argument focuses on evaluating the contributions to addressing this question in the work of Carole Pateman and Catharine MacKinnon respectively. Hutchings argues that there is a fundamental ambiguity in both Pateman's and MacKinnon's arguments about the meaning of what Pateman defines as `the sexual contract'. In both cases the contract is presented as simultaneously oppressive and as offering possibilities for resistance and political transformation. It is argued that Hegel's account of women's position in the modern state in the Elements of Philosophy of Right helps to explain the ambiguities diagnosed in Pateman's and MacKinnon's analyses. Moreover, Hegel's argument also helps to articulate a way forward for feminist political philosophy which involves the strategic mobilization of the normative resources of the liberal state. The kinds of practical implications this entails are spelled out in relation to ongoing debates within feminist political theory about conceptions of citizenship and political agency both within and across the boundaries of the liberal state. The conclusion to the book comprises a brief set of reflections on the characteristics of Hegelian feminism for which the book has been arguing. This is accomplished through examining the commonalities and differences between Hegelian feminism and the other trajectories of feminist philosophy with which the book has been mostly concerned (critical, sexual difference and postmodernist feminisms). The book concludes with the claim that Hegelian feminist philosophy is distinguished by its focus on a phenomenological project of comprehension, by its modesty concerning the status of its own philosophical claims and by a this-worldly ethics and politics.

The Heterdox Hegel by Cyril O'Regan, Foreword by Louis Dupre (SUNY: State University of New York Press) The attempt to delineate the foundations of Hegel's ontotheological rendition of Christianity should be accompanied by the cautionary note that Hegel's debts are many, his influences varied, his allegiances multiverse. But, having said this, despair at determining the broad pattern of Hegelian circumscription and the major lines of demarcation between his view and others in the theological or ontotheological tradition does not logically follow. If such patterns and lines are not on the surface, excavation does not need to reach impossibly deep levels to discern them. Chapter 1 represents ORegans attempt to elucidate Hegel's infrastructural commitments and the basic principles in and through which Hegel circumscribes the essence of Christianity, the core of the Christian vision of the divine and the divine‑human relation. Such an elucidation is vital if Hegel's articulation in its complex detail is to be understood, for Hegelian rendition of the Christian vision is decisive for what he has to say with regard to specific theologoumena such as the intradivine Trinity, creation, incarnation, redemption, church, salvation, mystical union, etc. Moreover, such elucidation allows us not only to see the correspondence or lack of correspondence between Hegelian rendition of Christian theologoumena and more standard accounts, but makes possible an account of relation that goes beyond the purely descriptive.

Part 2 of our text wishes to explore in detail the important, narratively related Christian theologoumena that in Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion 3 and the Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences are subjected to Trinitarian contraction and elevation under the auspices of the language of Father, Son, and Spirit, or Universality, Particularity, and Singularity. Chapter 2, the first chapter in a cycle of five, examines the immanent sphere of the divine which Hegel regards as exhausting the first Trinitarian phase or epoch of divine autogenesis. Keeping in mind both Hegel's apparent anxiousness to correlate the first Trinitarian epoch with the "Immanent Trinity" of the classical Trinitarian tradition, and the difficulties of making such a presumption, the first Trinitarian epoch will be identified as the "Immanent Trinity". The characteristics of Hegelian elaboration of the "Immanent Trinity" will be elucidated, as will its relation to and departure from the classical determination of the intradivine Trinity. Chapter 3 focuses on Hegelian rendition of the theologoumenon of creation as this theologoumenon is plotted as the narrative consequent of the first Trinitarian epoch, the epoch of the Immanent Trinity. Paying attention to, but not overestimating, the fact that in the Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences the theologoumenon exhausts the second Trinitarian epoch, whereas in Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion 3 and Phenomenology of Spirit it is the first phase of a two‑phased epoch with incarnation and the passion narrative being the second, superficial examination of the theologoumenon reveals oddities sufficient to raise the question of just how closely Hegelian rendition corresponds to the avowals of the mainline Christian tradition or traditions. The observation of a considerable degree of swerve, a phenomenon noted also in the case of Hegel's treatment of the immanent divine, encourages the search for precedent(s) within the ontotheological tradition. Acknowledging its somewhat different narrative locus, Enc (first movement of third epoch) on the one hand and Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion and Phenomenology of Spirit (third movement of the second) on the other, chapter 4 examines Hegel's treatment of the theologoumenon of Christ and/or the Christ story. Just as Hegel's elaboration of the theologoumenon does not obviously replicate the conciliar view, its patent theology of the cross color situates it broadly within the Lutheran tradition. Yet this still leaves open the question of difference from or transformation of theology of the cross in the narrative, trinitarianly contexted Hegelian rendition of the theologoumenon of the story of Christ. Ideally, pursuit of the question of difference/transformation would not concern itself exclusively with the elements of Luther's christological deposit that are not absolutely faithfully recapitulated but also with uncovering any systemic structures of transformation, i.e., a transformational grammar, that might exist. Any such uncovering would greatly assist construing the specificity of Hegelian rendition of the christological theologoumenon. Any precedent that could be found in the ontotheological tradition for Hegelian‑like transformation of Luther's theology of the cross, any evidence for a similar operation of a transformational grammar, would not only greatly assist taxonomic identification of the species of Hegelian Christology but Hegel's Trinitarian elaboration as a whole. Chapter 5 examines the Hegelian rendition of the theologoumenon of Spiritual Community (Gemeinde) which, in Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion 3 and Phenomenology of Spirit, has sole occupancy of the third and final Trinitarian epoch, but which in the Enc is identified with the third and last phase of the third and final Trinitarian epoch. Elucidation of the salient features of Hegelian depiction raise doubts as to whether Hegel can legitimately claim to be recapitulating the Lutheran doctrine of the church. The patent evocation of the Christian mystical tradition raises the question as to whether the Christian mystical tradition (or traditions) might not be the circumambient context within which the Lutheran view is interpreted. Chapter 6 is, at once, continuous with the delineation of the theologoumenon of Spiritual Community of chapter 5 and provides a summary of the Christian theologoumena, trinitarianly contracted and elevated, whose narrative interlocking identifies the nature of the divine. As before, precedents are sought with regard to notable swerves observed in Hegelian treatment of a specific Christian theologoumenon. Here, however, the emphasis shifts to search for precedents regarding the complete narrative elaboration of the divine, at once an exhaustive narrative configuration of Christian theologoumena and an exhaustive narrative configuration of swerves that systematically disfigure basic Christian meaning.

A considerable number of points in part 2 could use amplification. The relation between Boehmian and Hegelian narrative‑as these narratives are trinitarianly schematized‑demands further explanation, as does the relation between Hegelian and Valentinian narrative. In addition, it would be appropriate to raise the issue of whether the category Valentian Gnostic narrative is applicable, not only to the second-century field of esoteric narrative, but also applies to Boehmian and Hegelian narrative. Finitude dictates, however, that the case presented thus far will here have to suffice as a good enough explanation, with the amplification being postponed to the sequel of this text. What is not a candidate for postponement is the issue of the relation‑difference of representation and concept and the relationdifference of their respective spaces, 'narrative space' on the one hand 'logical space' on the other. Throughout part 2, ORegan concentrated on the often-suggested compatibility between representation and concept, especially to the extent that representation was identified with a Trinitarian synopsizing of an encompassing ontotheological narrative. But Hegel does not simply assume such a relation; he thematizes and problematizes it. This thematization and problematization marks Hegel's mature oeuvre. Phenomenology of Spirit, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion and Phenomenology of Spirit all equally point to the difference between representation and concept, a difference between their respective spaces that is most conspicuous when the level of representation does not reach the kind of heights that would make it possible to speak of the narrative sphere as being a structure of Universality, Particularity, and Individuality.

Even where philosophers have not been especially exercised about the issue of the relation‑difference of religion and philosophy that is the privileged context in Hegelian texts for the issue of the relation‑difference of representation and concept, there is a real sense that it is an issue of crucial philosophical importance insofar as it has something to say about the relation between narrative and knowledge, mythos and Logos. Theodore Gereats is one Hegelian commentator who thinks that, not only is the issue crucial for Hegel, but that despite enunciation of distinction, in the last analysis Hegel suggests the continuity of narrative and concept, the fundamental narrativity of concept, the fundamental conceptuality (if not of narrative in general, and even all versions of the Christian narrative) at least of some thinkable versions of the Christian narrative.' Needless to say, Gereats's view that Hegel ultimately supports the case for the inextricability of narrative and thought‑that some narratologists assume to be announced in the Sanskrit word for knowledge, i.e., gna‑‑cannot be taken as an answer to the question of the relation‑difference of representation and concept. Yet it does help to focus the issue on the relation between these various spaces, neither of which may in the long run remain insulated from each other. The crux of the issue is whether, on analogy with modern structuralist attempts to dechronologize narrative,' Hegel's articulation of concept represents an attempt to denarratize or logicize narrative. As with even the very best of analogies, the analogy has to be contextualized and limited. First, the substitution of denarratize for dechronologize is necessary since, if it is clear that Hegel understands most narratives, both Christian and non‑Christian, to have an explicitly chronological element, it is not clear that all narratives necessarily need be defined by their chronological implication. Hegel seems to except, for example, the kind of Trinitarian narrative he proposes in his mature oeuvre, which at once represents his normative proposal and, at the same time, finds instantiation in the margins of the Western ontotheological tradition in general, the Christian ontotheological tradition in particular. Second, the analogy should not be taken to imply any exact one‑to‑one correspondence between the logical space pointed to by structuralism and that of Hegel. Even if logical space in Hegel transcends the temporal features that Marcuse, for instance, finds present in Hegelian texts, this neither means that all narrative features have been erased, nor that some erased narrative features are not palimsestically recoverable. Though the thrust of our investigation is on the difference between narrative and logical space to the extent to which this specifies the difference between representation and concept, one cannot immediately rule the Derridian suspicion of 'white mythology' to be meritless. It is this suspicion that informs chapter 7 and determines the use of the locution speculative rewriting.

Needless to say, in neither the case of Derrida's metaphor about the metaphorical implication of philosophy, nor my own metaphor about metaphor, do I intend to unmask the foundational pretensions of a philosophy that finds itself ironically succumbing to the law of one metaphor too many. Philosophy may not be necessarily emasculated when it discovers that it indelibly consorts with metaphor, no more than philosophy need be totally undone when it is forced to recognize with Godel the fundamental truth that no semiotic or semantic system can be simultaneously consistent and complete. Moreover, the category of 'speculative rewriting' is not intended as a code insinuating that something like Derridean archiwriting represents the legitimate focus of Hegelian concept, whose difference from traditional conceptuality specifies its transcendence of Logos as speech. Whatever differences pertain between the Hegelian view of the sphere of concept and that of the tradition‑select differences will be touched on in chapter 7‑they will not be such as to remove Hegelian thought from logocentric gravitational pull; indeed, they may not be such as to persuade that Hegel is not the apogee of the ontotheological tradition that has the Word at its center. For is not Hegelian Geist the Word uttered and the Word heard in the autodialogue that both constitutes and is supported by a Trinitarian frame?

Gnostic Return in Modernity by Cyril O'Regan (SUNY: State University of New York Press) demonstrates the possibility that Gnosticism haunts certain modern discourses. Studying Gnosticism of the first centuries of the common era and utilizing narrative analysis, the author shows how Gnosticism returns in a select band of narrative discourses that extends from the seventeenth century German mystic Jacob Boehme through Hegel and Blake down into the contemporary period. The key concept is that of narrative grammar. Unlike the hypothesis of an invariant narrative, a Gnostic narrative grammar allows room for the differences between modern and ancient forms of Gnosticism, and respects the dignity of both periods.

Initially ORegan made a fundamental decision regarding the most promising line of inquiry into the possibility of constructing a Gnostic genealogy of discourses in modernity. I judged that the early Baur of Die christliche Gnosis, and to an extent also Staudenmaier and Balthasar, offer a more sound methodological entree in their focus on narrative than nineteenth‑ and twentieth‑century proponents of Gnostic return, who focus on experience. Although numerous twentieth‑century thinkers focus on either narrative structure or experience, parsing the fundamental opposition of paradigm by the opposition of two nineteenth‑century German theologians, Baur and Mohler, who were colleagues at Tiibingen, I affirmed the value of the Baurian paradigm over the Mohlerian. I acknowledged, however, that both paradigms find a precedent in heresiological discourse, above all in the discourse of Irenaeus. Irenaeus provides us with both classical examples of narrative structure and motif‑the myths of the gnostikoi‑and attempts to analyze the motives of the purveyors of myths and the kinds of selves that create them." To the extent to which I wish to claim that, in some analogical sense, the general character of the Baurian model of Gnostic return I am in the process of constructing is Irenaean, I am forced to decide between two equally essential drifts in Irenaeus. That the preference for a narrative focus in genealogical construction does not automatically guarantee a more irenic disposition is shown by the example of Staudenmaier, who could not be more vituperative with regard to Hegel," whom he regards as the supreme instance of Valentinianism in the modern period. Nevertheless, narrative focus, arguably, promotes a measure of irenicism, if only because a narrative criterion is in principle more analytic. Diagnosing states of mind, which is a feature of the Mohlerian paradigm, tends to encourage (e.g., Voegelin), although it does not demand, pathological description as the examples of Bloom and Jung clearly show.

Despite the merit of its narrative focus, Baur's Gnostic genealogy of the third line of post‑Reformation discourses has to be extended culturally, generically, and temporally. Specifically, a Baurian Gnostic genealogy has to cover more than German Protestant thought, although this continues to be a major part of the story. A Baurian genealogy must include nontheological and nonphilosophical discourses that refigure Christian narrative in a unique way. Thus, it must include not simply Romantic theoretical reflection or its echo in a religious thinker such as Schleiermacher, but also must include Romantic poetry itself in its predilection to totalizing narrative as an object of analysis. Of course, we are also obliged to ask whether Hegel and Schelling, as good Gnostics, have any nineteenth‑ or twentieth‑century successors. That I answer in the affirmative provides the raison d'etre of this entire genealogical project.

But Baur is not simply extended, he is also corrected. Again, there is more than one form of correction. In Baur Gnosis, as applied to discourses in the Hellenistic world, suffers from a lack of referential determinacy. Because Gnosis includes most of the speculative narrative discourses of the Hellenistic period, defining it more narrowly is necessary. This is done by stipulating that it is defined by Valentinianism whose textual bases are Nag Hammadi with supporting material from the heresiologists, especially Irenaeus. Again, and relatedly, the tendency in Baur toward ambiguous genealogies and multiple genealogical construction must be corrected. To imply that one can speak indifferently of the third line of modern Protestant discourses as Valentinian or Neoplatonic undermines genealogy itself, which demands determinacy. With this in mind, I sketched in a very preliminary way the kinds of genealogical rivals that a Gnostic or Valentinian ascription of the third line of Protestant thought must face and defeat by showing greater explanatory power. I leave until the next chapter some plausible account as to how a Baurian view of Gnostic return shows such greater explanatory power. The third and most basic line of correction takes the form of forsaking Baur's tendency to think of Gnostic return as the repetition of an invariable narrative structure. The most important concept introduced for this revisionary purpose is that of Gnostic narrative grammar or Valentinian narrative grammar. A Gnostic or Valentinian narrative grammar is sufficient to guarantee the kind of continuity between modern Christian narratives to the side of both orthodoxy and the Enlightenment and classical Valentinian narratives. Rule‑governed deformation of classical Valentinian narrative genres is an important supplemental concept introduced to underscore the systemic differences between the modern forms of Valentinian narrative grammar and the classical paradigms of this narrative grammar. While pragmatically coordinate with Valentinian narrative grammar, rule‑governed deformation of classical Valentinian narrative genres is theoretically subordinate to it.

Next ORegan submitted the burgeoning Baurian model to two serious challenges: first, to the historicist challenge represented by the genealogist, malgre lui, Hans Blumenberg, and, second, to the challenge represented by rival genealogical accounts of the third line of Christian discourses in modernity. I determined that the Baurian model of Gnostic return survived both challenges. Moreover, I showed how these challenges play a positive role in constructing a viable Gnostic or Valentinian genealogy. Engaging Blumenberg deepened our objection to any view that would suggest uninterrupted continuity of discourse, narrative or otherwise, across history. It entailed specifically a modification of Baur's Urnarratiue interpretation of Gnosis. At the same time, engaging Blumenberg encouraged sharpening the distinction between Valentinianism and Neoplatonism, and drawing a line of demarcation between Marcionism and Valentinianism both with respect to narrative structure and metaleptic ratio. Both distinctions are crucial from a genealogical point of view. The former is crucial if we are to avoid the kind of ambiguity that characterizes Baur's genealogical account of a line of speculative Christian (that is, Protestant) thought in modernity that he wishes to recommend. The latter is crucial if we are to distinguish between the broader patterns of transformation of biblical narrative and/or its first‑order interpretation in the modern age that seem more appropriately labeled as Marcionite and the narrower patterns of transformation, which we associate with the comprehensive disfigurationrefiguration of the biblical narrative, typical of complex narratives of the third line of Protestant discourse. Only narrative discourses in this third line are, properly speaking, Valentinian, even if they turn out to be deviant with respect to classical Valentinian genres. The countergenealogical challenge posed by the supporters of apocalyptic, Neoplatonic, and Kabbalistic characterization of discourses in the third line of Protestant discourses also turned out to be productive with respect to developing an adequate Gnostic or Valentinian genealogical model. For I suggest more than that it is antecedently unlikely that any of these genealogical rivals provides a more adequate label for narrative discourses that reac=h from Boehme to Altizer, and perhaps even beyond to Mark C. Taylor and certain varieties of deconstruction. I suggested nothing less than that apocalyptic, Neoplatonic, and Kabbalistic discourses are capable in the context of complex modern narrative of being enlisted to subserve a Valentinian narrative agenda. Obviously, given such enlisting, the mode of Valentinianism will necessarily look different than that found in classical Valentinian genres or paradigms. At the same time, given the presence of these narrative forms in the complex narrative discourses of the Baurian field, we did not rule out that, either singly or together, these ascriptions could function in a secondary way for individual discourses or indeed the entire band of narrative discourses that constitute what wt., are calling the Baurian line.

Next ORegan has added conceptual depth to the constructs of Valentinian narrative grammar, rule‑governed deformation of classical Valentinian genres, and metalepsis. To this end it has also generated further elements of technical vocabulary such as apocalyptic inscription and apocalyptic distention and narrative stratigraphy that can be put into play in the actual execution of genealogy. Apocalyptic inscription and apocalyptic distention, of course, refer to the specific mode by which apocalyptic is enlisted by the governing Valentinian visionary narrative discourse and which it reflexively affects. In principle, the enlisting of apocalyptic enjoys no privilege over the enlisting of Neoplatonism and Kabbalah by a discourse whose narrative grammar is Valentinian. Denial of principled privilege to apocalyptic over Neoplatonism'and Kabbalah does not rule out, however, something like a de facto privilege. While one of the key theses of part II is that for every discourse in the Baurian line the primary Gnostic or Valentinian ascription is supplemented by all three ascriptions, this does not preclude dominant‑recessive relations among the supplements. Specifically, it does not rule out that apocalyptic may be dominant in a number of discourses in the Baurian line such as, for instance, the mythopoetic discourse of Blake and the apparently evangelical discourse of Moltmann.


Two essentially complementary parts to this text serve as an introduction to a multivolume genealogy. Taking its lead from Baur, part 1 defends the general possibility of talking about Gnostic return in modernity. This involves cleaning the Augean stables of much contemporary genealogical use. It involves promoting a narrative criterion of identification. It also involves vindicating this genealogical project against historicist objection and suggesting the superiority of a Gnostic or Valentinian ascription over rival narratively focused ascriptions such as apocalyptic, Neoplatonism, and Kabbalah. Admittedly, my discussion in part 1 operates to some extent in terms of conceptual need. In the order of presentation, concepts such as Valentinian narrative grammar, as well as subordinate and satellite concepts, are generated to take care of specific difficulties. This means that such concepts tend to be elucidated only to the extent required to meet these difficulties. Additional aspects of the concepts generated in part I are brought out in part II.

Part II adduces grounds for believing that a Gnostic or Valentinian narrative grammar is a reality, and comparing and contrasting this grammar with Christian narrative grammar, which in the modern period it interrupts and revises. Showing the reality of Valentinian narrative grammar enables one to think of narrative discourses of the third line of Protestant discourses in modernity as instances of such a grammar without needing to be identical in every respect to the classical genres or paradigms of Valentinianism. The basic rule is that grammar exceeds its classical paradigms. Of course, elucidating the classical paradigms is necessary, and I focus on three paradigms, two from Nag Hammadi and one from the heresiological reports provided by Irenaeus in Against Heresies. The systematic features of the modern examples of Valentinian narrative grammar that make them different from classical Valentinian paradigms are outlined. At the same time, I argue that differences with respect to whether the encompassing narrative is developmental, whether the divine is pathetic or apathetic, and the value of cosmos, time, and history are consistent with both the classical genres of Valentinian narrative and narratives in the Baurian line belonging to the same narrative grammar. I also note the differences in epistemological incidence between modern narrative discourses in the third line of Protestant thought and the classical Gnostic or Valentinian paradigms. In addition, I reflect on the ways in which the presence of narrative discourses such as apocalyptic, Neoplatonism, and Kabbalah in the third line of Protestant discourses contribute directly to specifying their difference from the classical Valentinian paradigms while indirectly contributing to their basic Valentinianism.

Part II further broadens the narrative reflection of part I by considering how the narrative deployment of binary oppositions such as dark and light, blindness and seeing, inexpressibility and expressibility, death and life, heavy and light, and so forth contribute to making modern Valentinian narratives different from classical paradigms with respect to a developmental interpretation of the narrative of divine fall and return, with respect to the view that this narrative of fall and return involves a commitment to divine pathos, and finally with respect to the capability of supporting a truly affirmative view of the world and history. A further way in which part II develops part I is that we cease to rely on the authority of Baur to identify Gnostic return with Protestant discourses and try to justify a connection that is far from being intuitively obvious. The converse side of the argument is also presented, specifically that, as the conditions for Gnostic return are present in post‑Reformation and post-Enlightenment forms of Protestant thought, they are absent in Catholic thought.

Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition by Glenn Alexander Magee (Cornell University Press) Glenn Alexander Magee's controversial book argues that Hegel was decisively influenced by the Hermetic tradition, a body of thought with roots in Greco-Roman Egypt. In the Middle Ages and modern period, the Hermetic tradition became entwined with such mystical strands of thought as alchemy, Kabbalism, Millenarianism, Rosicrucianism, and theosophy. Recent scholarship has drawn connections between the Hermetic "counter-tradition" and many modern thinkers, including Leibniz and Newton.

Magee contends that Hegel accepted the central Hermetic teaching that God is complete only when he becomes known by the Hermetic adept. Magee traces the influence on Hegel of such Hermetic thinkers as Baader, Bohme, Bruno, and Paracelsus, and shows that Hegel shared their entire range of interests, including a fascination with occult and paranormal phenomena.

  Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition covers Hegel's complete philosophical corpus showing that his engagement with Hermeticism lasted throughout his career and intensified during his final years in Berlin. Viewing Hegel as a Hermetic thinker has implications for a more complete understanding of the modern philosophical tradition and German idealism in particular.


Given the evidence for Hegel's place in the Hermetic tradition, it seems surprising that so few Hegel scholars acknowledge it. The topic is often dismissed as unimportant or uninteresting (it is neither). Usually, it is treated as relevant only to Hegel's youth (which is false). Surely one reason for this attitude is disciplinary specialization. Few scholars of the history of philosophy ever study Hermetic thinkers. Another reason is the recent tendency among influential Hegel scholars to argue that it is wrongheaded to treat Hegel as having any serious interest in metaphysics or theology at all, let alone the sort of exotic metaphysics and theology that we find in Hermeticism. This is the so-called "non-metaphysical reading" of Hegel. As Cyril O'Regan has pointed out, it goes hand in hand with an "anti-theological" reading." For instance, David Kolb writes, "I want most of all to preclude the idea that Hegel provides a cosmology including the discovery of a wondrous new superentity, a cosmic self or a world soul or a supermind:" But this is exactly what Hegel does. The phrase "non-metaphysical reading" seems to have originated with Klaus Hartmann who, in his influential 1972 article "Hegel: A NonMetaphysical View," identified Hegel's system as a "hermeneutic of categories." Other well-known proponents of Hartmann's approach include Kenley Royce Dove, William Maker, Terry Pinkard, and Richard Dien Winfield.

The non-metaphysical/anti-theological reading relies on ignoring or explaining away the many frankly metaphysical, cosmological, theological, and theosophical passages in Hegel's writings and lectures." Thus the non-metaphysical reading is less an interpretation of Hegel than a revision. Its advocates sometimes admit this-Hartmann, for instance but more often than not they offer their "reading" in opposition to other interpretations of what Hegel meant. It is, furthermore, no accident that the same authors finish out their "interpretation" by tacking a left-wing politics onto Hegel, for they are, in fact, the intellectual heirs of the nineteenth-century "Young Hegelians" who also gave non-metaphysical, anti-theological "interpretations" of Hegel. The non-metaphysical reading is simply Hegel shorn of everything offensive to the modern, secular, liberal mind. This does not, however, imply that I am offering an alternative "right Hegelian' reading of Hegel. I am simply reading Hegel. In so doing, I hope to contribute to the "nonpartisan, historical and textual analysis" of Hegel's thought called for by Louis Dupre

Such a reading, I am convinced, places Hegel's philosophy squarely in the tradition of classical metaphysics. In this view, I am in accord with the broadly "ontotheological" interpretation of Hegel offered by Martin Heidegger, who coined the term, and by such scholars as Walter Jaeschke, Emil Fackenheim, Cyril O'Regan, Malcolm Clark, Albert Chapelle, Claude Bruaire, and Iwan Iljin. "Ontotheology" refers to the equation of Being, God, and logos. Hegel's account of the Absolute is structurally identical to Aristotle's account of Being as Substance (ousia): it is the most real, independent, and self-sufficient thing that is. Hegel identifies the Absolute with God, and does so both in his public statements (his books and lectures) and in his private notes and with a straight face, without winking at us. Hegel does not offer the categories of his Logic as mere "hermeneutic devices" but as eternal forms, moments or aspects of the Divine Mind (Absolute Idea). He treats nature as "expressing" the divine ideas in imperfect form. He speaks of a "World Soul" and uses it to explain how dowsing and animal magnetism work. He structures his entire philosophy around the Christian Trinity, and claims that with`Christianity the "principle" of speculative philosophy was revealed to mankind." He tells us-again with a straight face-that the state is God on earth.

I see no reason not to take Hegel at his word on any of this. I am interested only in what Hegel thought, not in what he ought to have thought. To be sure, Hegel's appropriation of classical metaphysics and Christianity is transformative; Hegel is no ordinary believer. But his metaphysical and religious commitments are not exoteric. He believes that his Absolute and World Soul, and so forth, are real beings; they are just not real in the sense in which traditional, pious "picture-thinking" conceives of them.' If Hegel departs from the metaphysical tradition in anything, it is in dispensing with its false modesty. Hegel does not claim to be merely searching for truth. He claims that he has found it

 In this book I will be concerned to do two things: 1) To demonstrate the influence of the Hermetic tradition on Hegel-by way of remarks made in his texts and lectures, works he is known to have had access to, and individuals he is known to have corresponded with or met.

2) To situate Hegel's thought within the Hermetic tradition; to show that Hegel self-consciously appropriated and aligned himself with Hermeticism; to show that Hegel's thought can best be understood as Hermetic. This is the most radical element of my thesis.

What will emerge from my discussion is, I hope, a radically new picture of Hegel's thought. It will no longer be possible to treat him as an "arch rationalist," as many still do, let alone to read him in a nonmetaphysical or anti-theological manner.

Chapter 1 is devoted to an overview of the Hermetic tradition up until the seventeenth century, dealing mainly with Germany. Chapter 2 starts with the early seventeenth century and covers up to and including Hegel's youth. I will be concerned in chapter 2 mainly with the intellectual milieu Hegel was born into. Chapter 3 is central to my account. It presents an overall interpretation of Hegel's thought in light of his Hermetic connections. Chapters 4 through 7 cover Hegel's major writings.

In these chapters, I will not be concerned to present an "intellectual biography" of Hegel. Such a work has already been written by H. S. Harris, and I do not intend to try to surpass it. The study is text-centered, although I have sketched-in important details about Hegel's life throughout. In terms of my treatment of Hegel's intellectual development, I have not made fine distinctions between "stages" in his thinking. Developmental readings which speak of "early" and "late periods in a thinker's life very often stem from an inability to see the underlying identity or common tie between texts which are superficially different (e.g., in their use of different philosophical vocabularies). In the case of great thinkers-like Plato, Aristotle, and Hegel-I think that there is very little development. Great minds do not, for the most part, change. The different works produced by great philosophers over a lifetime are usually variations on a theme, or themes. To borrow Hegel's language, one must learn to see the identity in difference.


Hegel, Literature and the Problem of Agency by Allen Speight (Modern European Philosophy: Cambridge University Press) Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit has attracted much attention recently from philosophers, but none of the existing English-language books on the text addresses one of the most difficult questions the book raises: Why does the Phenomenology make such rich and provocative use of literary works and genres?

Allen Speight's bold contribution to the current debate on the work of Hegel argues that behind Hegel's extraordinary appeal to literature in the Phenomenology lies a philosophical project concerned with understanding human agency in the modern world. It shows that Hegel looked to three literary genres- tragedy, comedy, and the romantic novel-as offering privileged access to three moments of human agency: retrospectivity, or the fact that human action receives its full meaning only after the event; theatricality, or the fact that human action receives its full meaning only in a social context; and forgiveness, or the practice of reassessing human action in the light of its essentially interpretive nature.

Taking full account of the authors that Hegel himself refers to (Sophocles, Diderot, Schlegel, Jacobi), Allen Speight has written a book with a broad appeal to both philosophers and literary theorists that positions Hegel as a central figure in both the continental and Anglo-American philosophical traditions.



The reinvigoration of which I speak turns in large part on understand. ing Hegel's project as an engagement with the implications of an essentially post-Kantian philosophical situation, rather than (as many of those who see the "grand narrative" in Hegel's strategy would have it) as some regression into precritical modes of thinking. One way of considering this post-Kantian situation maybe glimpsed in John McDowell's notion that Kant's legacy lies in the attempt to supersede a "familiar predicament" of a "typical form of modern philosophy": the problem of the "Myth of the Given" - as McDowell describes it, the tendency to appeal to something "outside the space of concepts" that is "simply received in experience." The difficulty this notion presents is that we cannot expect that an extraconceptual Given - something outside the "space of reasons" - could provide us with the reasons or warrants that we need for empirical judgments, since relations like implication hold only within the "space of reasons." Kant's achievement for getting beyond this myth is, McDowell holds, to see that intuition is not a "bare getting of an extraconceptual Given," but a kind of occurrence or state that already has conceptual content. Receptivity, in other words, "does not make an even notionally separable contribution to the co-operation" between receptivity and spontaneity.

To Hegel and the immediate post-Kantian generation of which he was a part, Kant's philosophical approach both opened up the possibility of getting beyond the difficulty associated with the aspiration for the Given and created, as they saw it, some fresh obstacles to the pursuit of a reconstrued epistemology.' The epistemological project that Hegel pursues in response to Kant is one that I will characterize in the following chapters as a "corrigibilist" one. Philosophy no longer sees itself as being on a search for an "incorrigible" or indubitable Given, but instead responds to the traditional query of the skeptic in a new way: not by a direct "refutation," but by taking up what Hegel comes to call a "thoroughgoing" or "self-consummating" skepticism - the weighing of all knowledge claims, including the claim of Hegel's system itself, as claims that must count as appearances, and the examination of what contradictions may be involved just on the terms of those claims themselves.

The employment of such a strategy with respect to skepticism has been well characterized in terms of a general philosophical move from a Cartesian concern with "certainty" to a Kantian concern with "necessity" - a move, that is, from a concern with the hold that we can have on a particular claim to a concern with the hold that various claims may have on us. Thus the PhG construes its project with respect to skeptical doubt as a "highway of despair" - the examination of what certain claims involve just on their own terms and whether, in the light of experience, such claims would necessarily need to be revised in order to be justifiable.

Such a general epistemological project would seem to have consequences for the traditional problems raised in the philosophy of agency, as well. Who an agent is and what he takes himself to be doing in his actions are questions that might be construed differently, if in our account of action we can also not rely on a Given

How might the post-Kantian concern with getting beyond the separability of conceptual and receptive elements in our experience have a bearing on our understanding of action? I want to sketch here briefly three large considerations of agency that I claim follow from Hegel's attempt to wrestle with this question and that will be the focus of my subsequent discussion in this book.

To begin with, we might contrast the view that I will be sketching as Hegel's with a voluntarist picture of action, on which the construal of responsibility ordinarily considers separately two items: an agent's prior intention (or "will") and the deed that causally resulted or was put into play, as it were, by the agent. On a "corrigibilist" view of agency, by contrast, an agent's intention, or his understanding of the norm on which he acts, is something that is not artificially separable from the entirety of the action itself. The corrigibilist is thus concerned with a facet of our ordinary experience of agency that the voluntarist is unable to give a sufficient account of an agent's experience that what she understands herself to intend may, for example, change in the course of the action or may be adequately understood only when the action has been completed and seen in its full context.

A corrigibilist approach to agency might be characterized, first of all, then, as an inherently retrospective one. Retrospectivity has been of philosophical interest particularly in cases of moral luck, where justification cannot appeal to the isolation of single moral motives, but must take into account as well what observers (and even the agent herself at a later time) would say actually happened in an action. The Hegelian concern with retrospectivity in justification goes much more deeply than the problems raised by cases of moral luck, however. Hegel holds, as I will explore particularly in Chapter 2, a kind of pragmatist view of intentions and norms as defined by their actualization or use, and a full account of what those intentions or norms are must remain open to what they involve in practice.

It is not only the assessment of actions and their justifiability that requires a consideration of the public space in which they are regarded, however. If justification cannot refer to incorrigibly known intentions, it would seem also that desire cannot be regarded as a motivating force in the sense of causing action merely because an agent happens to have a given desire. An agent's ability to assure himself that his desire to act is really "his" would seem to require instead some account of desire formation that shows how desires are embedded in a pattern of norms or social moves.

But if, for the corrigibilist, accounting for the justification and motivation of action involves such inherently retrospective and social elements, a voluntarist or causalist might reasonably ask here just how it is that an agent can be said to assure himself that he is "in" his action so as to have any coherent sense of practical identity at all. Such an agent could have no prospective certainty about the justification of his actions or immediate certainty about his desires such as the causalist/voluntarist view claims to offer. Having put aside the causal account of agency in favor of a more holistic one that does not separate intention and deed, the corrigibilist would need, it would seem, to look to a larger way in which individuals may be "in" their actions - more particularly, to the way in which an action might be expressive or revealing of an agent. The expressivity that would be involved on such an account, given the retrospective and social concerns we have seen, could not, of course, be understood as the immediate utterance of an inward "given" or nature; it must itself rather be part of an oscillation of the sort that we have seen between impersonal and personal sides of agency: my view of the norm I am applying in action must be correlated with what that norm turned out to involve in practice; my sense of how I understand myself to be motivated must stand in some relation to what other agents would say is behind actions of such a type.

In such an ongoing dialectic of expressivity, what is "mine" in action would inherently involve certain publicizable or shareable modes of expression that open the action to the interpretation of others, and impersonal candidates for judgment of action would involve conflicts just insofar as an agent attempting to act on them would be unable to understand her actions, according to those standards, as her own. The notion of practical identity to emerge from this ongoing process of negotiation and interpretation would thus not represent a natural or given form of identity, but would, rather, be a sort of recognitive achievement.

These implications of a corrigibilist approach to agency are important elements of the account I will give of Hegel's project in the Phenomenology of Spirit: I will take them up in terms of the retrospectivity of accounting for justification and motivation; the socially mediated character or theatricality of the context of those accounts; and the construal of practical identity as a recognitive achievement, which is most fully acknowledged in the important Hegelian notion of forgiveness. Taken together, these three moments already suggest something about how that enterprise may have a narrative shape - a narrative that becomes more explicit to itself in a retrospective way, that involves a continuing effort to revise the accounts agents can give of justification or motivation, and that recognitively acknowledges how an agent's identity has been expressed through just such a process of revision.

Hegel's Hermeneutics by Paul Redding (Cornell University Press) An advance on recent revisionist thinking about Hegelian philosophy, this book interprets Hegel's achievement as part of a revolutionary modernization of ancient philosophical thought initiated by Kant. In particular, Paul Redding argues that Hegel's use of hermeneutics, an emerging way of thinking objectively about intentional human subjects, overcame the major obstacle encountered by Kant in his attempt to modernize philosophy. The result was the first genuinely modern, hermeneutic, and "nonmetaphysical" philosophy.

Redding describes Hegel's accomplishment in terms of a development of Kant's revolution in philosophy, a "Copernican" revolution analogous to that which initiated modern science. He shows how the heterodox pantheistic views and hermeneutic social thought that merged at the end of the eighteenth century provided a fruitful environment for the transformation that Kantian idealism underwent within the work of Schelling and the early Hegel. He argues that Hegel overcame Schelling's pantheistic metaphysics with the Phenomenology of Spirit and developed a postmetaphysical hermeneutic mode of philosophy.

Redding goes on to show how the social theory of Hegel's Philosophy of Right and the conceptual structures of his allegedly most metaphysical work, the Science of Logic, are systematically linked to the hermeneutic insights of the Phenomenology. Against this background, Hegel's works are freed from traditional misunderstandings. Redding demonstrates that Hegel's analyses of modernity and the modern state surpass the one-sided views of Adam Smith and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, providing a coherent framework for modern social and political thought.

Historical Dictionary of Hegelian Philosophy by John W. Burbidge (Scarecrow Press) George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's philosophy is notorious for its dense prose and its obscure argumentation. While he chose his words with care, he made little effort to elucidate their meaning for those who are not adept at abstract thinking. John Burbidge, one of the leading authorities on Hegel, has created this dictionary to both elucidate upon technical terms as Hegel intended them to be understood and to provide historical background. There are entries on the various stages of Hegel's life, on the works he wrote and lectures he gave, and on the philosophers and authors whom he encountered, and with whom he disagreed. Entries also consider the work of his immediate students and disciples, as well as the interpreters who have molded the contemporary understanding of his thought and the philosophers who have been inspired by his dialectic or by his speculative comprehension. The volume is prefaced by a general introduction to Hegel's life and philosophy and a chronology of both his life and the development of Hegelian philosophy since his death. It concludes with a glossary of German terms frequently used by Hegel, correlated to the entries in the dictionary. Students and scholars will appreciate the extensive bibliography that lists his works, secondary material in English on his thought, and selected works from philosophers from various countries of the world who have appropriated Hegelian motifs. The Historical Dictionary of Hegelian Philosophy is a wonderful resource for the student or philosopher seeking to study Hegel or the effects of his philosophy throughout the world.

G. W. F. Hegel is one of the most influential philosophers ever, his ideas and concepts having so thoroughly permeated our view of reason, right, freedom, and many other things that we are all a bit Hegelian. But he is also one of the more difficult philosophers to fathom, partly because of his language (and the translation thereof) and partly because of his thought. This explains, among other things, why so many different interpretations have been given by so many successors, sometimes ranged in opposing groups such as the Right Hegelians and the Left Hegelians, sometimes just borrowing what interested them, such as Karl Marx. These are compelling motives for compiling a dictionary: the obscurity of the language and thought, the widespread and continuing influence, and, most important, the intrinsic value of the ideas of Hegel and his successors.

This Historical Dictionary of Hegelian Philosophy merits its name more than any other volume in the series. The dictionary aspect is essential as regards the translation and meaning of the original German terms. The historical aspect is also vital, placing Hegel in his historical context but also tracing the historical line through his successors. Moreover, given the large number of successors, it is more Hegelian philosophy than just Hegel's philosophy that must be described. This is done primarily through the dictionary section, with entries on terms and concepts, books and lectures, Hegel and his time, his successors, and their contributions. The terms themselves are noted in a glossary, the historical sequence is followed through a chronology, and the bibliography directs readers to further literature on Hegelian philosophy as a whole and its many components.

The author of this volume is John W. Burbidge, longtime professor of philosophy and also chair of the Department of Philosophy of Trent University in Ontario, Canada. Dr. Burbidge's education, covering both philosophy and theology and undertaken at Heidelberg University in Germany as well as Canada and the United States, was particularly relevant to his study of Hegel, which included, among other things, a year at the Centre de Recherche et de Documentation sur Hegel et Marx in Poitiers, France. One of the leading authorities on Hegel, he has written numerous articles.

Philosophical Aims:

Hegel’s aim was to set forth a philosophical system so comprehensive that it would encompass the ideas of his predecessors and create a conceptual framework in terms of which both the past and future could be philosophically understood. Such an aim would require nothing short of a full account of reality itself. Thus, Hegel conceived the subject matter of philosophy to be reality as a whole. This reality, or the total developmental process of everything that is, he referred to as the Absolute, or Absolute Spirit. According to Hegel, the task of philosophy is to chart the development of Absolute Spirit. This involves (1) making clear the internal rational structure of the Absolute; (2) demonstrating the manner in which the Absolute manifests itself in nature and human history; and (3) explicating the teleological nature of the Absolute, that is, showing the end or purpose toward which the Absolute is directed.


Concerning the rational structure of the Absolute, Hegel, following the ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides, argued that "what is rational is real and what is real is rational." This must be understood in terms of Hegel’s further claim that the Absolute must ultimately be regarded as pure Thought, or Spirit, or Mind, in the process of self-development. The logic that governs this developmental process is dialectic. The dialectical method involves the notion that movement, or process, or progress, is the result of the conflict of opposites. Traditionally, this dimension of Hegel’s thought has been analyzed in terms of the categories of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Although Hegel tended to avoid these terms, they are helpful in understanding his concept of the dialectic. The thesis, then, might be an idea or a historical movement. Such an idea or movement contains within itself incompleteness that gives rise to opposition, or an antithesis, a conflicting idea or movement. As a result of the conflict a third point of view arises, a synthesis, which overcomes the conflict by reconciling at a higher level the truth contained in both the thesis and antithesis. This synthesis becomes a new thesis that generates another antithesis, giving rise to a new synthesis, and in such a fashion the process of intellectual or historical development is continually generated.

Hegel thought that Absolute Spirit itself (which is to say, the sum total of reality) develops in this dialectical fashion toward an ultimate end or goal. For Hegel, therefore, reality is understood as the Absolute unfolding dialectically in a process of self-development. As the Absolute undergoes this development, it manifests itself both in nature and in human history. Nature is Absolute Thought or Being objectifying itself in material form. Finite minds and human history are the process of the Absolute manifesting itself in that which is most kin to itself, namely, spirit or consciousness. In The Phenomenology of Mind Hegel traced the stages of this manifestation from the simplest level of consciousness, through self-consciousness, to the advent of reason.

Self-Knowledge of the Absolute:

The goal of the dialectical cosmic process can be most clearly understood at the level of reason. As finite reason progresses in understanding, the Absolute progresses toward full self-knowledge. Indeed, the Absolute comes to know itself through the human mind’s increased understanding of reality, or the Absolute. Hegel analyzed this human progression in understanding in terms of three levels: art, religion, and philosophy. Art grasps the Absolute in material forms, interpreting the rational through the sensible forms of beauty. Art is conceptually superseded by religion, which grasps the Absolute by means of images and symbols. The highest religion for Hegel is Christianity, for in Christianity the truth that the Absolute manifests itself in the finite is

symbolically reflected in the incarnation. Philosophy, however, is conceptually supreme, because it grasps the Absolute rationally. Once this has been achieved, the Absolute has arrived at full self-consciousness, and the cosmic drama reaches its end and goal. Only at this point did Hegel identify the Absolute with God. "God is God," Hegel argued, "only in so far as he knows himself."

Philosophy of History:

In the process of analyzing the nature of Absolute Spirit, Hegel made significant contributions in a variety of philosophical fields, including the philosophy of history and social ethics. With respect to history, his two key explanatory categories are reason and freedom. "The only Thought," maintained Hegel, "which Philosophy brings … to the contemplation of History, is the simple conception of Reason; that Reason is the Sovereign of the world, that the history of the world, therefore, presents us with a rational process." As a rational process, history is a record of the development of human freedom, for human history is a progression from less freedom to greater freedom.

Ethics and Politics:

Hegel’s social and political views emerge most clearly in his discussion of morality (Moralitt) and social ethics (Sittlichkei ). At the level of morality, right and wrong is a matter of individual conscience. One must, however, move beyond this to the level of social ethics, for duty, according to Hegel, is not essentially the product of individual judgment. Individuals are complete only in the midst of social relationships; thus, the only context in which duty can truly exist is a social one. Hegel considered membership in the state one of the individual’s highest duties. Ideally, the state is the manifestation of the general will, which is the highest expression of the ethical spirit. Obedience to this general will is the act of a free and rational individual. Hegel emerges as a conservative, but he should not be interpreted as sanctioning totalitarianism, for he also argued that the abridgment of freedom by any actual state is morally unacceptable.

Philosophy of Religion:

A few commentators have regarded Hegel’s philosophy as atheistic. But most have considered it to be either theistic or pantheistic. Certainly religious expressions abound in his writings, even in the Logic. It has been shown how closely he associated art with religion and how he applied religious epithets to the state. It was also pointed out that the Phenomenology might with some justification be interpreted in atheistic terms. It would be obviously overstraining the evidence, however, to interpret Hegel’s mature system in this way, for in the system religion is a form of Absolute Mind, along with art and philosophy, which is the supreme expression of the Absolute Mind. According to Hegel religion represents or pictures the Absolute, whereas philosophy conceives or thinks it. The same truth, that is, expressed in quasi-imaginative form in one and in conceptual form in the other. Christianity. Since the concept is supreme and ultimate, philosophy surpasses religion to this extent, but in doing this, it finally and fully justifies Christianity, which is the absolute religion. The doctrine that elevates Christianity above all other religions is the doctrine of the Incarnation, which, according to Hegel, is the religious expression of the philosophical truth that the Infinite Being is not distinct from what is finite but is necessarily manifested in it. Hegel also interpreted the doctrine of the Trinity in philosophical terms. In the "Science of Logic" God is revealed as he is before the creation of the world; in the "Philosophy of Nature," in his material embodiment; and in the "Philosophy of Mind," as reconciling the finite and the Infinite. In this way the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are explained in terms of the main themes of the Hegelian system. Again, Hegel interpreted the doctrine that God is love to mean that although the Infinite Being cannot exist without negation and opposition, the negation and opposition are finally reconciled. Finally, it should be mentioned that Hegel gave a series of lectures on the traditional proofs for the existence of God. He admitted the force of Kant’s criticisms of these proofs but claimed to have reformulated the arguments so as to meet the criticisms. In particular, he held that the Ontological Argument, which Kant had regarded as vital but unsound, was valid when properly understood. Undoubtedly, Hegel’s later writings are much closer to orthodox Christianity than his earlier ones. The early "Life of Jesus" had nothing to say about the Resurrection, whereas in the Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion this doctrine was stated and defended. Hegel here wrote of "the death of death," of "the triumph over the negative," of mind as "the negative of this negative which thus contains the negative in itself." and of "the division of the divine idea and its reunion" that is "the whole of history." Although Hegel said that God appeared in the flesh at a particular time and in a particular individual, his account of the matter seems to be extremely general. In the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation, God became man in Jesus Christ at a particular time and place, whereas Hegel’s God is incorporated in the finite world. It would seem that a highly specific historical view is replaced by a highly general metaphysical one. Hegel himself did not take this view of his own work, nor did a younger contemporary of his, Karl Friedrich Goschel, in his Aphorismen uber Nichtwissen und absolutes Wissen im Verhalnisse zur christlichen Glaubenserkenntnis (Berlin. 1829). In the Encyclopedia (Sec. 564) Hegel recommended this book, which is generally regarded as giving a theistic account of the Absolute. Just before referring to Goschel’s book, Hegel had written, God is only God in so far as he knows himself; his self-knowledge is moreover his consciousness of himself in man and man’s knowledge of God a knowledge that extends itself into the self-knowledge of man in God What cannot be doubted is that Hegel’s philosophy of religion contained elements that could easily be developed in ways that go counter to orthodox Christianity. Thus, when D. F. Strauss argued, in his Life of Jesus (1835), that the Gospel story was a set of myths, he was consciously working out what he thought was the consequence of Hegel’s view that in religion the truth about God is understood in representative or pictorial terms. Again, Ludwig Feuerbach, in his The Essence of Christianity (1841), endeavored to interpret the Christian doctrines in human and psychological terms as the imaginary fulfillment of wishes that cannot be satisfied here on earth. We have already referred to the passage in Hegel’s The Positivity of the Christian Religion, in which he said that in the days of imperial Rome men who had been robbed of their freedom in this world sought for it in a heaven beyond. Feuerbach, who, of course, had not seen this work, could have read something similar in the Phenomenology. It is a very short step from Hegel’s view that the infinite is manifested in the finite to the view that it is a projection of it. Perhaps the truth of the matter is that the Christian religion, according to Hegel, is adequate in its own sphere and that the philosophy of religion is required to counteract false religious views and false views about religion but is not a substitute for it. This is the interpretation given by Lasson in the Introduction to Hegel’s philosophy of religion printed at the end of his edition of Hegel’s Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion.


At the time of Hegel’s death, he was the most prominent philosopher in Germany. His views were widely taught, and his students were highly regarded. His followers soon divided into right-wing and left-wing Hegelians. Theologically and politically the right-wing Hegelians offered a conservative interpretation of his work. They emphasized the compatibility between Hegel’s philosophy and Christianity. Politically, they were orthodox. The left-wing Hegelians eventually moved to an atheistic position.

In politics, many of them became revolutionaries. This historically important left-wing group included Ludwig Feuerbach, Bruno Bauer, Friedrich Engels, and Karl Marx. Engels and Marx were particularly influenced by Hegel’s idea that history moves dialectically, but they replaced Hegel’s philosophical idealism with materialism. Hegel’s metaphysical idealism had a strong impact on 19th-century and early 20th-century British philosophy, notably that of Francis Herbert Bradley, and on such American philosophers as Josiah Royce, and on Italian philosophy through Benedetto Croce. Hegel also influenced existentialism through the Danish philosopher Sren Kierkegaard. Phenomenology has been influenced by Hegel’s ideas on consciousness. The extensive and diverse impact of Hegel’s ideas on subsequent philosophy is evidence of the remarkable range and the extraordinary depth of his thought.

IDEALISM AS MODERNISM: Hegelian Variations by Robert B. Pippin

($59.95, cloth, 466 pages, name index, subject index, Cambridge University Press 0-521-56025-X)


Modernity has come to refer both to a contested historical category and to an even more contested philosophical and civilizational ideal. In this important collection of essays Robert Pippin takes issue with some prominent assessments of what is or is not philosophically at stake in the idea of a modern revolution in Western civilization, and presents an alternative view.

Pippin disputes many traditional characterizations of the distinctiveness of modern philosophy. In their place he defends claims about agency, freedom, ethical life, and modernity itself that were central to the German idealist philosophical tradition and, in particular, to the writings of Hegel. Having considered the Hegelian version of these issues, the author explores other accounts as found in Habermas, Strauss, Blumenberg, Nietzsche, and Heidegger.

It is certainly controversial to maintain that some early nineteenth-century German philosophers have diagnosed the real intellectual sources of a modernist break with the prior religious and intellectual tradition, and that they, not Machiavelli, or the Cartesians, or the early rationalists, or Hobbes, or the Scottish Enlightenment, or the French Encyclopedists, had correctly thought through the only consistent philosophical modernism. There is no simple way to summarize the ideal at the heart of these German revolutionary aspirations, the ideal of a wholly critical, radically self-reflexive or rationally "self-authorizing" philosophy. At the time, of course, such proposals were certainly interpreted as radical and dangerous. Immediately, the countercharge, that such a project finally implied a groundlessness, a foolish human willfulness, a "nihilism," was first leveled against this version of modernism by a now relatively obscure polemicist named Friederich Heinrich Jacobi (who virtually invented the idea of slinging this particular sort of mud). And the radical claim — that the consistent extension of the program would mean the end of all hope for rational norms, and again a kind of willful self-creation — would also soon appear. However, if one treats the idea of modernity philosophically as well as historically, the question quickly becomes the basis for something like the moral authority of the allegiance demanded by modern institutions and practices: legal, scientific, aesthetic, as well as political and social practices. And the Idealists, Hegel especially, thought they had an answer for this question. Live this way, not that old, or these other ways, is the simple assumption that needs to be redeemed; the content of such a claim is just as easy to state. One need only quote Kant: Sapere aude! Dare to know! In broader terms: live freely! And so the justificatory question came down to the nature and possibility and, especially with Nietzsche, the meaning of such an aspiration to freedom. (Nietzsche would inaugurate much of the now familiar suspicion that we did not understand well enough what it was that we wanted when we wanted above all to live freely, and that we can see in modern, conformist, alienated, technology-dominated, anomie, and directionless societies the fruits of such an aspiration.

The claim defended in these essays concerns why this ideal, human freedom, understood ultimately as being a law, a compelling norm, wholly unto oneself, in a wholly self-legislated, self-authorized way, should be touted as a supreme or even absolute ideal, or that the enjoyment of many manifestly satisfying human goods, like love, friendship, security, and peace, would not be worthwhile ends to pursue were they not "truly mine," truly legislated as ends by me. In this sense, the enemy of such a modernism (whether in the name of premodernism or postmodernism), its other, is "dogmatism," the reliance on anything not redeemed by a reflexive account of the possibility of such reliance against possible objections, by rational justifications.

The Idealists’ case is for what they called "the reality," finally the absolute reality of such a self-determination, or freedom: that such a reflexive self-grounding could be realized systematically and in practical life. Particularly in the case of Hegel and the various left Hegelian and critical theory writers inspired by him, such an ideal was not understood as a moral claim, purely stipulated by reason, an ever distant ideal to be approximated by hopelessly irrational human beings. The claim was that modern societies themselves already depended, for the allegiance they required, the education and sanctions they legitimated, and their successful reproduction, on the realizability of such an ideal. Reality itself, modern social reality, had, in Hegel’s famous phrase, become "rational," could only sustain and reproduce itself in a new way, by appeal to rational legitimacy and so to the capacities for free agency presupposed in such appeals. Coming to a final understanding of such a reality, and appreciating its living potential in the emerging modern social and political world, was, for the classical German tradition, the unimpeachable, irrevocable achievement of modernity.

In that tradition, the possibility of such freedom is linked both to the possibility of a wholly self-authorizing or self-grounding reason (and thereby the final destruction of dogmatism, and the realization of reason s complete or "absolute" self-reliance and so "maturity"), and the possibility of a practical rationality, and therewith practical autonomy or self-legislation. As understood by Kant, the early Fichte and Schelling, and Hegel and the left Hegelians, the modern enterprise is thus inextricably tied to an essentially practical goal, what one might call a kind of "metaphysical politics": working out, articulating, helping to defend and so to realize, self-determination, agency, spontaneity, activity, a self-directed "purposive life," eventually (in Hegel) a necessarily collective agency.

Such an aspiration immediately raised two extremely complicated theoretical issues. One concerned the central notion of "spontaneous" or "free" activity already mentioned, and with it (at least in the reading Pippin wants to defend in the following essays) the possibility of a generally non-metaphysical and non-empirical (non-psychological) account of the human thinkings and judgings and intendings supposed to be the prior conditions for the possibility of any cognitive claim or intentional deed, a "critical" or a nonmetaphysical account of mentality itself. The other concerns the right way to understand the normative dimensions of such activity, the kind of subjection to rules or normative constraints characteristic of such free activity (or what a "self-imposition of norms" amounts to and requires). Both issues, without benefit of metaphysical substances and necessary properties, and without reliance on generalized laws of association or empirical psychology, raised very quickly the vexing problem of determinacy or content in such accounts of activities and norms (why in particular we take up the world and regulate our conduct as we do, if that taking and regulating really are "due to us") ).But first, both obviously lead back to the historical and philosophical origin of such a way of posing the problem.

There is no mystery about such an origin. The intellectual event that made possible such a claim for the priority of norm-governed activity in any account of experience or acting was Kant’s 1781 Critique of Pure Reason and the inauguration there of a "transcendental" philosophy. Kant’s successors realized at once that the implication of Kant’s argument was a more comprehensive and wide-ranging revolution in conceiving mind-world and subject-subject relations than ever before effected within the Western tradition. Kant had argued that, prior to attempting to answer any question, philosophical or empirical, about the world, or the mind, or the good, the original question on which all others depended must be that concerning the "possibility" of the mind’s knowledge of anything. When that question is pursued rigorously, it turns out that the possibility of any objective representation must presuppose the active role of the subject in establishing its relation to the world. No mere interaction between the world and the mind, so went the case at its simplest level, could account for such a conscious intending. Pippin follows some of these themes in his Modernism as a Philosophical Problem: On the Dissatisfactions of European High Culture (Blackwell, 1991).

For those caught up in such ideas, these claims thus immediately closed off two already popular modern alternatives. As noted, one was a model of the world’s presence to the mind common to both the emerging empiricist and rationalist traditions, one wherein "priority" in accounting for the mind’s directedness toward the world, its attentiveness to the world in such and such a way, was ascribed to a direct result of the interaction between the mind and world, including special objects within the world, "ideas." The other is an attempt to account for the mind-world relation in a way we would now call "naturalistic," as if that relation, like every other, is a matter-of-fact relation whose nature and dimensions ought to be explicable according to the best available canons of matter-of-fact explanation. The Kantian point in response was the now familiar "critical" one: that such accounts beg rather than resolve the question of the possibility of an epistemic (and so normative) mind-world relation in the first place. (For example, Fichte’s remarks against dogmatism, highlighting this ineliminable normative problem, make this point very frequently and effectively.)

The enormously complicated case deducing the "necessary forms" of such an active taking up and conceptualizing inaugurated the Idealist revolution that many would now bet heavily on. On the one hand, versions of what Kant would have regarded as "pre-critical" dogmatism, that is, forms of naturalism, psychologism, empiricism, and materialism, have made quite a comeback. On the other hand, the general notions of autonomy and self-conscious subjectivity have been under steady and, in academic and cultural terms, successful attack for some time now. The notion looks naive to some, "gendered" to others (as if a striving for "autonomy" were inherently a patriarchal aspiration, not a human one), merely one sort of good among a variety of incommensurable goods (and very likely not even a good if considered in the light of my overall satisfaction and the satisfaction of my basic preferences). Things don’t look much better if one also disagrees (as Pippin does) with recent strategies for a defense of the modern tradition proposed by Habermas or Blumenberg.

And it has certainly never seemed useful as a contemporary option to consider something as polysemous and controversial as "Hegelianism" to be a possible option in modernity’s ongoing contention about itself. Doing so requires both an independent characterization of Hegel’s basic position and a general statement of his relation to the complex modernity problem, something Pippin has tried to do, or at least tried to begin in other writings. In a climate where many traditional assumptions about Hegel are no longer taken so easily for granted. Accordingly, a few words about Hegel’s reception. Traditionally, apart from simply being an object of antiquarian historical interest (and periodic vilification), he was taken seriously mostly for his role in the emerging nineteenth-century historicist sensibility’ and for his distinctive position in ethical and political theory. Until very recently philosophical reconsideration of Hegel or his version of the justification for modern moral life was rare. Most writer’s consider him a systematic thinker and finding the system flawed or untenable to current intellectual trends not worthy of deep study. This reviewer finds that Hegel is also a brilliant insightful guide to many perennial issues in philosophy and the human sciences. Often his glistening insights are overlooked by the rigor of his systematics. I would hazard that one should enjoy the system as one would enjoy a symphony but that his insights are still penetrating to as yet an undreamed core of meaning missed by many of his readers. This was so for a number of reasons.

Thanks originally to the world historical impact of Marxism, "Hegelianism" is most often associated with a "dialectical" theory of history, a theory that Marx supposedly "turned right side up." (Hegel supposedly had things upside down when trying to explain the course of historical events, the head or intellectual issues where the feet, or economic life, should have been.) Hegel, it is often held, inaugurated one of the most extreme versions of a historical theodicy, rationalizing past historical events as necessary developments in the inevitable coming to self-consciousness of what he called, in his lectures on world history, the World Spirit.

Also, thanks to the influence of, and the impact of, some famous attacks on early-twentieth-century British versions of Hegelianism (sometimes called "objective idealism"), a Hegelian theoretical philosophy is widely assumed to be committed to a monistic metaphysics, wherein the apparent distinctiveness or ontological uniqueness of individuals is denied, all in favor of an "internal relations" theory that asserts the metaphysical reality and even priority of relations and claims that anything "is what it is only in necessary relation to everything else."

Finally, thanks in some measure to suspicions of the entire German intellectual (especially romantic) tradition, suspicions largely inspired by reactions to World War II, Hegel’s position on modern "ethical life" (Sittlichkeit), especially his theory of civil society and the state, has been understood as an organic and anti-individualist theory, inherently hostile to modern notions of civil liberties or even natural rights, displacing the priority of the modern rights-bearing individual with the priority of some militaristic, divine, all consuming state.

Since it is very likely that there is a world composed of real individuals, twisting independently of any human or divine mind, very unlikely that recently, that is, there seemed little reason to take seriously any human history is a result of the necessary development of a World Spirit, and since very little seems divine or transcendentally significant about the modern nation state, such conventional views did not create a receptive context for the discussion of Hegel or his theory of modernity.

This situation has changed a great deal over the last forty years or so, roughly since the end of the Second World War. Partly this is due to the kinds of problems now on the intellectual agenda. One prominent one concerns altered views on the problem of conceptual change. As noted, Hegel is well known for accepting Kant’s anti-empiricism and anti-realism, but for rejecting his hope for a transcendental account of human subjectivity and its necessary forms of thought and intuition. Once the hold of a kind of neopositivist progressivism in intellectual history and history of science was broken, a different take on and interest in Hegel’s world view were also possible. The Hegelian turn toward the problem of accounting for historical change, without such empiricist or realist assumptions, but with an attention to the deep interrelation among intellectual and social practices ("shapes of Spirit"), looked worth attending to. Hegel’s account was neither realist nor relativist, but promised some view of the rationality of at least basic or fundamental conceptual change. Partly, such a more friendly climate has to do with the fate of liberal political thought and liberal society itself.

Someone who believed that all ethical and political deliberation presupposed some sort of pre-deliberative attachments and involvements, that a starting point of wholly self-defining individuals was naive and when thought through and relict on in political life led to an anomie and barely political whole, but who was worried about the implications of the traditionalism or "communitarianism" suggested by this direction, might, it came to appear more reasonable, look to Hegel, who shared many such critical views of a liberal individualism, but who insisted that basic elements of modern ethical life could be shown to be "rational" not merely "our community’s way of going on." (And in that sense, as well as many others, Hegel was no communitarian, as that term has come to be understood.)

Moreover, new critical editions of the works of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel have begun to appear, together with an explosion of commentaries and monographs, many directly challenging the received narratives. The "neo-Hegelian" work of the Frankfurt school, the careful and philosophically astute work of a score of important postwar German scholars, more sympathetic treatments of Hegel’s political philosophy, a general disaffection with the professionalized subfield approach in academic philosophy, and the whole modernity hubbub itself have all contributed to a greatly changed international Hegel discussion and a greatly renewed interest in Hegel. Hegel is now more often treated as a progressive, reformist, surely modernist political thinker, if not a standard liberal; as a useful, not reactionary or traditionally religious critic of the cultural and social effects of "scientism" or "positivism" or "instrumental reason" within modernization, and as a sophisticated contributor to modern philosophical debates about the nature of self-consciousness, the mind-world relation, and social and conceptual change. In Habermas’s apt phrase, Hegel was the first philosopher to make modernity itself a philosophical problem, and his doing so has now come to seem a landmark event in the Western tradition, not a regressive, or romantic, obscurantist turn.

His position, though, on any of these topics is a book-length subject in itself. The most fundamental elements of the Idealist version of modernism sketched previously — the priority of spontaneity, or an active "self-relation in relation to other" in our comportment toward the world and others, the claim that such spontaneity must be realized as norm, finally a rational norm (universally compelling), and, most critically, that some determinate content could be given to such norms - are all so controversial that it is difficult to state them in a way plausible enough to begin a reasoned discussion. (It is all very well for Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel to accuse Kant of having pulled his categories and moral law and common sense out of thin air to solve such problems, but it is another thing to have kept to his own Idealist premises and resolved this determinacy problem. For many, what seemed to happen was that snaky descendants of Kant simply decided to pull a great deal more out of thin air, once the premodern notion of a purposive nature and the modern notion of a necessarily compelling nature were abandoned.) Pippin attempts to raise what seems to him to be the Hegelian position (broadly conceived) on many modernism issues much more indirectly, by means of a consideration of several influential twentieth century assessments of the modernity problem. This approach makes his use of Hegel ultimately dependent on readings and disagreements with other readings defended elsewhere. But each of the following essays was originally written as an independent article and can stand alone, even while still suggesting a broadly based Hegelian (or perhaps a neo-Hegelian) variation on some major theme introduced by the figure under consideration. As Pippin stresses here, he does not to make historical points, or simply to point out what Hegel did or would have thought about this or that, but because Hegel’s project, or its major elements, offers some chance for us simply to understand ourselves, and to understand why what has come to seem so familiar to us as worthy of respect in human life and of credibility in modern practices in fact is so worthy.

Pippin includes discussions in seven areas. Since the interpretation he defends depends heavily on a certain construal of the implications of Kantianism, he begins with a consideration of the theoretical and practical issues most important to that interpretation, and so with some seminal areas in the original dispute between Kant and Hegel. The key is obviously Kant’s notion of spontaneity, so he begins with a defense of the reading of spontaneity that he relies on throughout. He is especially concerned there to defend the claim not only that the kind of inspiration that Fichte and Schelling and Hegel found in this doctrine is not foreign to Kant, but that appreciating its Kantian roots can help make clearer its role in later discussions. (It is not, he notes, as if Kant alone is the only safe anchor in the swirling waters surrounding his basic position; as if philosophical respectability requires a Kantian lineage, however long the lifeline to that anchor. Rather, the problem with demonstrating an internal connection to, and internal development of, Kantian themes is important because of the basic persuasiveness of Kant’s anti-dogmatism, and the force of his criticisms against empiricism and metaphysical realism; in a word, the force of his modernism. It is often assumed that those who wandered too far away from Kant in the Idealist tradition by doing so lost their purchase on such arguments, and relapsed into a form of essentially pre-critical metaphysics. The point of the "This is an internal development of Kant’s basic insight" theme is to show that this is not so; that one can appropriate the force of Kant’s critical turn and the radicality of his theories of activity, normativity, and freedom, but without many of the limitations and, let us say, religious implications Kant believed accompanied such moves.)

Since Pippin’s intention is also to make use of such notions to understand the general Idealist assessment of the modernity issue and modern institutions, he then turns immediately to some of the practical and moral implications. Pippin shows, mostly by means of an argument internal to Kant’s position, how his own notion of freedom, when worked through a comprehensive "metaphysics of morals," begins already to create the kind of strains in his formalism, contractarianism, and proceduralism that will be very much at issue in Hegel’s political and ethical thought, and in Hegel’s well-known criticisms of Kant. This approach again is inspired by a claim quite often made by Kant’s successors, that Kant’s own position, when thought through, demands some sort of extension or expansion beyond what Kant had circumscribed as critical limits. Pippin argues that this is the case with the mere existence of a political philosophy in Kant, or that to understand the normative force of such a position (or the reasons a moral position like Kant’s should even require or be led to a political philosophy), Kant’s own hints about the substantive and even historical basis of moral life must be pursued more aggressively.

Pippin continues this discussion by formulating more broadly the Hegelian position on ethical norms, especially considered as reasons for action, and contrasting that position in more detail with possible Kantian rejoinders. Then Pippin tries to provide more detail about how Idealists like Hegel were trying, once "inside" the Kantian project, to find their way "out" again by examining one of the most well known areas of contestation, and the one where Kant is leaning the most in the direction of his successors: Kant’s account of our capacity to appreciate the beautiful and "estimate" life, and Hegel’s rejoinders and extensions. Pippin’s hope is that all these more scholarly accounts of Hegel and Kant, however introductory, will suggest in some detail the substantive ethical position Hegel associated with modern moral thought in general, and its presuppositions in an account of freedom and normativity.

The next section focuses on a "critical theory" account of modernization, Habermas’s, and offers a general Hegelian rejoinder to Habermas’s approach (and his understanding of the place of Hegel in the discourse of modernity), and what Pippin considers a Hegelian response to Habermas’s famous analysis of the "technology as ideology" thesis.

Pippin takes up the issue of Leo Strauss and attempt to rethink his influential analysis in terms of a tradition oddly under emphasized in his narrative of modernity, the Kantian and Hegelian. Pippin especially tries to do so where at least his interlocutor is a well-known, if incredibly eccentric Hegelian, Alexandre Kojeve.

The work of Hans Blumenberg is still not terribly well known in the anglophone world, at least outside the subfields of history of science and intellectual history. This, together with the fact that his position is quite complicated, both subtle and formulated in terms of an exhaustingly wide range of figures and controversies, means that any responsible treatment of Blumenberg’s position must be largely expository as well as analytic. Hence in these two pieces, concentrated on two of his most ambitious books (The Legitimacy of Modernity and Work on Myth), Pippin deals almost exclusively with Blumenberg’s own claims about the provocations of a modern intellectual revolution, and the relation between "mythic" thought and modernization. Pippen’s own view is that his disagreements with both positions are consistent with the interpretation and defense of Hegel worked out elsewhere and indirectly in this collection of essays., but he does not defend that claim here.

Pippen then turns to a consideration of Nietzsche, and in these essays, as he tries to explain the make up the most self-contained part of this essay collection. Like Hegel, Nietzsche treats the problem of modernity in terms that are essentially practical. The modern world, indeed the whole post-Socratic world, is assessed by Nietzsche in a way oddly continuous with the German tradition he held in such contempt: not as a "discovery" or the mere "product" of social forces, but as a proposed way of life, a promise or moral hope. In an approach with some affinity to the Hegel of the Phenomenology, Nietzsche also suspects the sufficiency of philosophical argument or empirical evidence, the sufficiency of the authority of a "pure" reason itself, in assessments of such a promise. These are all treated as in some sense derivative phenomena. The basic attraction of the promises of modernity can only be understood with a deeper and more comprehensive formulation.

Nietzsche, however, formulates the problem much more simply and radically: What is it that the modern revolutionaries want? What is there "worth loving" in such a project? Something worth presumably so much more than what had been capable of attracting and sustaining human ergs. A Nietzschean "psychology," not a moral theory or a Phenomenology of Spirit, or an Ideengeschichte, or the human experience of the human, or a history of Being, is what is most of all needed. Since Nietzsche and Nietzscheanism have become immensely influential in much postmodernism, and since many commentators on Nietzsche tend to pose the Nietzschean challenge to the philosophical tradition in terms of a challenge to Hegel, Pippen wants to try to state Nietzsche’s own views on both the nature of that question and his own answer to it as clearly as possible. Clarity about Nietzsche’s position seems to Pippen particularly important since the erotic dimension of Nietzsche’s project has not been remotely well enough stressed. Once it is stressed, the proper formulation of the Nietzsche contra Hegel alternative is then forthcoming. Pippen both dispute Habermas’s characterization of Nietzsche as inaugurating some sort of "farewell" to modernity’s hopes and tries to show how Nietzsche’s own genealogy of the modern moral tradition fails, and fails "internally," on its own terms, but in ways that would have been predicted from a roughly Hegelian point of view.

Next Pippen considers the case of the Heideggerean alternative, since he does not believe that Heidegger’s own treatments of Kant and Hegel allow what he calls a genuine "confrontation" (Auseinandersetsung) (mostly because his interpretations do not allow real alternatives to his own views to surface), Pippen concentrates on basic Heideggerean claims and the kinds of Hegelian responses naturally provoked. (That is, Pippen avoids for the most part the specific treatments of Hegel or Kant by Heidegger.) The issue of the competing accounts of sociality found in Hegel and Heidegger, or their differences over Geist and Welt and the respective role in each of the possibility of intelligibility in general is then discussed. Then Pippen concentrates on Heidegger’s 1936 lectures on Schelling and tries to suggest something of the differences between the "political metaphysics" inaugurated by Kant and the version that Heidegger notoriously ended up with.

All of the elements of the Hegelian variations presented here — the role of the spontaneity thesis, the nature of agency, the autonomy ideal, the realization of spontaneity as norm, the sociality of such norms, their historicity — are fit subjects for scholarly monographs or independent philosophical treatment. Pippen’s project here is to suggest there might be something to Hegel’s famous notion of "determinate negation," or that the limitations and aporiai of competing versions of modern possibilities might, just by virtue of these insufficiencies, both suggest and help motivate Hegel’s many provocative suggestions. In order to provide some more determinate sense of what sort of ethical position such claims might help justify, Pippen closes with an attempt at a systematic restatement of Hegel’s "ethical rationalism," the position that, Pippen claims, is most at issue in Hegel’s defense of philosophical modernism. Since so much of the criticism and suspicion about Hegel’s position on modern society stems from views about what he meant when he proclaimed the "rationality" of modern "reality," Pippen has undertaken to provide a somewhat nonstandard account of that claim, one tied to recent and traditional work on the problem of moral motivation and the relationship between such themes and moral theory itself. Once Hegel’s views are understood within such a tradition, one that goes back to Plato’s claim that justice must be shown to "pay" but is most well known from Hume’s moral skepticism, his account of modern ethical life will not be subject to such traditional suspicions.

These essays, then, present a somewhat indirect defense of a simple but fairly sweeping thesis: that the modern European intellectual tradition has not "culminated in nihilism," a technological will to power, or a thoughtless, hegemonic subjectivism. On the contrary the modern tradition is sustained by a defensible moral aspiration: to live freely. This is not a mere negative concession to the absence of any common civilizational ideal, but a positive aspiration. (As is sometimes pointed out, sometimes with some irony, many of the most suspicious and revisionist accounts of the Western canon are inspired by the same ideal, whether formulated negatively, as a freedom from oppression, even the oppression of "forms of discourse," or positively as the politics of identity and community.)

We are still engaged in a great contestation about such an ideal; it can still be called on to justify great sacrifices, even as we can only confusedly state what it is. To a large extent such a contestation has simply become the "discourse of modernity." And, in the Hegelian or Idealist view Pippen defends, that discourse is also self-defining and practical, necessarily social and historical, not just academic or metaphysical. In the conversation about the status and implications of the ideal of autonomy we are deciding whom to become, as well as who we already "really" are. The current postmodernist suspicions about subjectivism and critical theory suspicions about the philosophy of consciousness have, Pippen claims, become so extravagant and exaggerated that they have begun to make it impossible to understand the social subjectivity necessarily presupposed in such debates (often on both sides), the substantive norms any negative position must presuppose and promise, and the real social cohesion and common aspirations we still share.

If this is true, that these twin questions concerning what it is to live freely, and just why and whether that should be our highest aspiration, do pretty much define the distinctly modern landscape, Pippen’s suggestion throughout is that our understanding of such questions can be deepened and broadened by attention to many of these founding disputes and their appropriation and misappropriation by later thinkers.

Pippen is well aware of the suspicion that must greet any attempt to suggest that the things most important, that most need considering in the vast modernity issue, can be found in the rather arcane details of the Kant-Hegel relation and in Hegel’s project. No amount of complaining that this suspicion largely stems from the inadequate versions of Kant and Hegel we’ve been accustomed to will allay such suspicions. It is the idea itself of recovery or revision that seems so utopian. For better or worse, many reason, we are just too well launched on this trip to worry all that much about how we got launched, and if the boat seems to be leaking we’ve just got to fix it one plank at a time, and not worry about the nature of the boat and its ultimate seaworthiness.

In many ways Pippen’s project is pioneering a new way of reading the history of philosophy which when properly accounted for will show up much of contemporary philosophical as so many ideological squabbles that have falsified the real terms of philosophical debate and discourse.

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