In the Spirit of Hegel: A Study of G.W.F. Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit

In the Spirit of Hegel: A Study of G.W.F. Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit

In the Spirit of Hegel: A Study of G.W.F. Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit

In the Spirit of Hegel: A Study of G.W.F. Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit


The Phenomenology of Spirit was Hegel's grandest experiment, changing our vision of the world and the very nature of philosophical enterprise. In this book, Solomon captures the bold and exhilarating spirit, presenting the Phenomenology as a thoroughly personal as well as philosophical work. He begins with a historical introduction, which lays the groundwork for a section-by-section analysis of the Phenomenology. Both the initiated and readers unacquainted with the intricacies of German idealism will find this to be an accessible and exciting introduction to this great philosopher's monumental work.


. . . it is not difficult to see that ours is a birth-time and a period of transition to a new era. Spirit has broken with the world it has hitherto inhabited and imagined, and is of a mind to submerge it in the past, and in the labour of its own transformation. Spirit is indeed never at rest but always engaged in moving forward. But just as the first breath drawn by a child after its long, quiet nourishment breaks the gradualness of merely quantitative growth -- there is a qualitative leap, and the child is born -- so likewise the Spirit in its formation matures slowly and quietly into its new shape, dissolving bit by bit the structure of its previous world, whose tottering state is only hinted at by isolated symptoms. The frivolity and boredom which unsettle the established order, the vague foreboding of something unknown, these are the heralds of approaching change. The gradual crumbling that left unaltered the face of the whole is cut short by a sunburst which, in one flash, illuminates the features of the new world. -- Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit (para. 11)

It is early autumn,1806.

It is that time of year when philosophy professors are writing up their summer research, shaking off the pressureless days of thought and solitude, preparing with mixed anticipation, gratitude, and annoyance their lectures for the coming term.

But this is 1806, and the city is Jena. The university is one of the oldest in Europe, but this is not a normal term. It will never begin, and it is on no one's mind. Within earshot of these hallowed academic halls are the troops of Napoleon. The cannonade has already started. The distant thunder foretells the crumbling of Europe's oldest empire, long disintegrated anyway into a hundred squabbling states and petty principalities. (Neither "holy," nor "Roman," nor an "empire," Voltaire had quipped, a half-century before.)

There were many Germans who welcomed the intrusion, despite the dangers. To them, Napoleon was not merely a foreign invader; he was the incarnation of the glorious revolution in France which . . .

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