Hegel's Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit

ISBN-10: 0691120528
ISBN-13: 9780691120522
Edition: 2005
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Description: This is a new translation, with running commentary, of what is perhaps the most important short piece of Hegel's writing. The Preface to Hegel's first major work, the Phenomenology of Spirit, lays the groundwork for all his other writing by  More...

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Book details

List price: $37.50
Copyright year: 2005
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 1/17/2005
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 240
Size: 6.50" wide x 9.50" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 1.298
Language: English

This is a new translation, with running commentary, of what is perhaps the most important short piece of Hegel's writing. The Preface to Hegel's first major work, the Phenomenology of Spirit, lays the groundwork for all his other writing by explaining what is most innovative about Hegel's philosophy.This new translation combines readability with maximum precision, breaking Hegel's long sentences and simplifying their often complex structure. At the same time, it is more faithful to the original than any previous translation.The heart of the book is the detailed commentary, supported by an introductory essay. Together they offer a lucid and elegant explanation of the text and elucidate difficult issues in Hegel, making his claims and intentions intelligible to the beginner while offering interesting and original insights to the scholar and advanced student. The commentary often goes beyond the particular phrase in the text to provide systematic context and explain related topics in Hegel and his predecessors (including Kant, Spinoza, and Aristotle, as well as Fichte, Schelling, Hlderlin, and others).The commentator refrains from playing down (as many interpreters do today) those aspects of Hegel's thought that are less acceptable in our time, and abstains from mixing his own philosophical preferences with his reading of Hegel's text. His approach is faithful to the historical Hegel while reconstructing Hegel's ideas within their own context.

Born the son of a government clerk in Stuttgart, Germany, George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel received his education at Tubingen in theology. Arguably the most influential philosopher of the nineteenth century, Hegel's lectures---most notably at the University of Berlin from 1818 to his death---deeply influenced not only philosophers and historians but generations of political activists of both the Right and Left, champions of the all-powerful nation-state on the one hand and Karl Marx on the other. His lectures at Berlin were the platform from which he set forth the system elaborated in his writings. At the heart of Hegel's philosophy is his philosophy of history. In his view, history works in a series of dialectical steps---thesis, antithesis, synthesis. His whole system is founded on the great triad---the Idea as thesis, Nature as antithesis, and the Spirit as synthesis. The Idea is God's will; Nature is the material world, including man; Spirit is man's self-consciousness of the Idea, his coming to an understanding of God's will. The formation over time of this consciousness is History. Spirit does not exist in the abstract for Hegel, but is comprehended in "peoples," cultures, or civilizations, in practice states. Hegelian Freedom is only possible in organized states, where a National Spirit can be realized. This National Spirit, a part of the World Spirit, is realized in History largely through the actions of World Historical Individuals, heroes such as Napoleon, who embody that Spirit. A profound misunderstanding of this doctrine led many German intellectuals to subvert it into a narrow, authoritarian nationalism that glorified the "state" as an end in itself. Although Hegel saw his philosophy as universal, applicable throughout the world, the focus and inspiration of his thought was European. And in his own even smaller world, he was content to support and work for the Prussian state, which he believed to be the highest development of history up to that time.

Yirmiyahu Yovel is the Hans Jonas Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research and chairman of the Jerusalem Spinoza Institute. He has written widely on philosophy and history, and his books include "Spinoza and Other Heretics" (Princeton); "Kant and the Philosophy of History" (Princeton); and "Dark Riddle: Hegel, Nietzsche, and the Jews".

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