Introduction to Hegel's Philosophy of History

Introduction to Hegel's Philosophy of History

Introduction to Hegel's Philosophy of History

Introduction to Hegel's Philosophy of History


Hyppolite was the most famous scholar of Hegel in modern France and teacher of five of this century's major French philosophers--Derrida, Deleuze, Foucault, Bataille, and Guattari. This work is an explication of the meaning of Hegel's vision of history. In it, Hyppolite plots the developments--both correct and incorrect, within scholarship and historical events--of the apprehension of Hegel's "Absolute Spirit."


Pour nous Français, la vision du monde de Hegel . . . est indispensable à connaître. Hyppolite Die Weltgeschichte ist das Weltgericht.


This foreword is an invitation to read and to reread both Hyppolite and Hegel. My aim is to suggest what may be at stake in reading Jean Hyppolite's book (first published in 1948) or encountering or reencountering Hyppolite's monumental encounter with Hegel at the close of this--the most Hegelian and the most anti-Hegelian--century.

Both Hyppolite's project in the introduction and his encounter with Hegel as a whole are defined by bringing together four dimensions of modern philosophy and the political world--history, politics, materiality, and tragedy--with history providing the main axis to Hyppolite's vision. One would expect Marx to appear first in this context, and he was indeed a figure of paramount significance for Hyppolite. Nietzsche, however, is no less (perhaps more) significant here, especially once tragedy enters the scene, for Hyppolite and for most other major French figures whose thought was shaped by their encounters with Hegel's philosophy. The list of these figures is long, and they represent the extraordinary richness of the intellectual and cultural life of twentieth-century France and define our contemporary--modern or postmodern--intellectual landscape.

As a major thinker, a great scholar, a translator of Hegel, a professor at and a director of the Ecole Normale (1954-1963), and finally a professor at the Collège de France, Hyppolite was a major shaping force of this landscape. Foucault said, "A large part of [my] indebtedness . . . is to Jean Hyppolite." Both Deleuze and Derrida owe debts to Hyppolite as well, and Deleuze first book, Empiricisme et subjectivité, was dedicated to Hyppolite. . .

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