Saturday, May 22, 2010

Aimless Reading: The H's, Part 12 (G.W.F. Hegel)

Hegel, G.W.F.
Phenomenology of Spirit

Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books. I think I read this twice in graduate school -- either that or I read it in two different classes simultaneously. I can't recall.

I have a memory of the introduction to Hegel that one of my professors, Henry Sussman, gave. He said he thought that the Phenomenology of Spirit was the greatest novel of the 19th Century & that up until the release of this work, philosophical thought had been static–as in Kant's a priori categories–and that Hegel introduced movement into thought vis-a-vis the dialectic. Thought was then transformed from something that "was" into something that "did." Like a machine of sorts. Anyhow, I think that's how he put it.

I can't say I recall exactly how he made the comparison to a novel–I'd guess it had something to do with comparing the structure of a novel to the structure of the dialectic–the thesis-antithesis-synthesis structure works quite a bit like, say, the exposition-crisis-denouement structure of drama or the three-act structure of a traditional screenplay.

Knowing Henry, he may very well have thought of Hegel as a page-turner.

from Phenomenology of Spirit

The systematic development of truth in scientific form can alone be the true shape in which truth exists. To help to bring philosophy nearer to the form of science-that goal where it can lay aside the name of love of knowledge and be actual knowledge-that is what I have set before me. The inner necessity that knowledge should be science lies in its very nature; and the adequate and sufficient explanation for this lies simply and solely in the systematic exposition of philosophy itself. The external necessity, however, so far as this is apprehended in a universal way, and apart from the accident of the personal element and the particular occasioning influences affecting the individual, is the same as the internal: it lies in the form and shape in which the process of time presents the existence of its moments. To show that the time process does raise philosophy to the level of scientific system would, therefore, be the only true justification of the attempts which aim at proving that philosophy must assume this character; because the temporal process would thus bring out and lay bare the necessity of it, nay, more, would at the same time be carrying out that very aim itself.

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