Hegel's Ladder - Vol. 1

Hegel's Ladder - Vol. 1

Hegel's Ladder - Vol. 1

Hegel's Ladder - Vol. 1

Synopsis

"Hegel's Ladder aspires to be... a 'literal commentary' on Die Ph¿nomenologie des Geistes ... It was the conscious goal of my thirty-year struggle with Hegel to write an explanatory commentary on the book; and with its completion I regard my own 'working' career as concluded... The prevailing habit of commentators... is founded on the general consensus of opinion that whatever else it may be, Hegel's Phenomenology is not the logical 'science' that he believed it was. This is the received view that I want to overthrow. But if I am right, then an acceptably continuous chain of argument, paragraph by paragraph, ought to be discoverable in the text." -- from the Preface.

Excerpt

When I applied to the Canada Council (late in 1963) for a Leave Fellowship in support of my first Sabbatical, I said that I intended to write "a commentary on Hegel Phenomenology." I received the Fellowship, but I did not keep the promise. What eventually emerged (some seven years later) was Hegel's Development I: Toward the Sunlight. After that, it took more than ten years to produce Hegel's Development II: Night Thoughts. As Doctor Johnson remarked long ago, "every long work is lengthened by a thousand causes that can, and ten thousand that cannot, be recounted. Perhaps no extensive and multifarious performance was ever effected within the term originally fixed in the undertaker's mind. He that runs against Time, has an antagonist not subject to casualties." But here, at last, is the best commentary on the Phenomenology that I can devise.

Hegel's Ladder aspires to be a "literal commentary" on Die Phdnomenologie des Geistes. From the first, it was the conscious goal of my thirty-year struggle with Hegel to write an explanatory commentary on this book, and with its completion I regard my own "working" career as concluded. I shall go on writing, no doubt, for as long as I can--but only for my own pleasure and enjoyment, and not predominantly about Hegel.

During the long years of my apprentice work on Hegel's Development--and even in the years in which the commentary has been written--my conception of what I was aiming to write has evolved gradually. When I began (in 1964), there was not much literature in English about Hegel's first big book. Now, there are probably more book-length studies of it in English than in any other language--even German. (We must include here the translations, for the best book on our long shelf is certainly the translation of Jean Hyppolite Genesis and Structure of Hegel's Phenomenology.)

I have learned much from this steady stream of books, and I have naturally referred to the Anglophone literature more often and more copiously in my footnotes than to the literature in the other languages that I could read. But the Anglo- phone books have formed my own project mostly by opposition, so my references are rather more chancy and sporadic than they might have been. In most cases-- Quentin Lauer Reading (1976) is a noteworthy exception--I have found that it is difficult to argue constructively with Anglophone interpreters, because the relation between Hegel's text and their interpretations is so indefinite.

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