A Hegel Symposium

A Hegel Symposium

A Hegel Symposium

A Hegel Symposium

Excerpt

A Philosopher Reconsidered

In sponsoring a series of lectures and in publishing a group of essays on Hegel a language and literature department of a contemporary university rashly braves the current compartmentalization of learning and boldly asserts the claims of the human mind to know and to understand an integrated wholeness in the manifestations of the human spirit. Such a venture is surely especially fitting when it honors a philosopher who proudly proclaimed the universality of the spirit. Ordinarily it is customary to make reappraisals of significant influences in our intellectual history by tacking them onto neat round- number anniversaries. The 190th anniversary of a man's birth and the 129th anniversary of his death are scarcely occasions of this convenient, if in the end historically meaningless, sort. The movements of the human mind bear, in fact, little relation to the neat numerical patterns of the calendar. Our need to understand the past does not really depend on centennials, and the history of ideas has its own rhythms. To find our way in the present we must know the paths that come out of the past. "To become acquainted with Hegel," Professor Friedrich has written elsewhere, "is to become acquainted with oneself and one's intellectual background."

A period is beginning which may well prove to be unusually critical in the history of mankind, particularly for that configuration of humanity in the West that looks back upon a more or less continuous tradition of two thousand years. At a comparatively recent juncture in this millennia! tradition Hegel attempted an extraordinarily comprehensive summation, an intellectual achievement that has had enormous influence in further shaping this tradition to make the world the present has inherited and in creating the disciplines by which we seek to understand and control that world.

In the succeeding century and a half, given the dialectical process of influence, Hegel's thought has had to submit to exceptional use and . . .

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