Spirit: Chapter Six of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit

Spirit: Chapter Six of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit

Spirit: Chapter Six of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit

Spirit: Chapter Six of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit

Synopsis

This new annotated translation of Chapter Six of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, the joint product of a group of scholars that included H. S. Harris, George di Giovanni, John W. Burbidge, and Kenneth Schmitz, represents an advance in accuracy and fluency on previous translations into English of this core chapter of the Phenomenology. Its notes and commentary offer both novice and scholar more guidance to this text than is available in any other translation, and it is thus well suited for use in survey courses.

Excerpt

In the mid-1980s a group of Hegel scholars gathered at Trinity College at the University of Toronto in order to work on a new translation of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. They decided that, given limitations of time and the difficulty of translating by committee, they would take only the most important part of Hegel’s work and render it into accurate English. This translation would employ the precise conceptual terminology that corresponds to Hegel’s systematic categories. This decision was instigated by H. S. Harris, who argued that both Baille’s and A. V. Miller’s translations of the Phenomenology of Spirit were defective in a number of areas. Even though Baille’s translation renders into English every possible permutation of what Hegel’s German terms can mean, he does so at the cost of precision, which leaves the reader with a wordy and unwieldy text. Miller’s rendition is both more elegant and useful, but often he uses a variety of English expressions to render one German term without ever indicating to the reader that he is doing so. He also makes the mistake of misnumbering the paragraphs of Hegel’s text, and on occasion he drops a word or phrase from the German. To illustrate the problem with Miller’s translation, we can consider just one instance where he obscures Hegel’s meaning by using too great a variety of English terms. the German expression Sache selbst, which is an important category in Hegel’s definition of Reason, is rendered by Miller as “subject matter,” “heart of the matter,” and “the thing itself,” among others. While the German can mean any one of these when used conventionally, Hegel almost always intends it to des-

1. To be quite fair, the Hegel Group also had great difficulty in rendering this
category by one English expression. At one time or another we used “Thing,”
“heart of the matter,” “factum,” and “subject matter.” None of these capture
Hegel’s meaning accurately. See next note.

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