We can give a first answer to this question by recalling a passage from the Encyclopaedia — more exactly, the Introduction to the First Part of the Encyclopaedia, entitled Logic. This well-known text lends itself to two misunderstandings. But in the explanatory Note, Hegel underlines that the three aspects are in reality inseparable. On the other hand, one might suppose that Dialectic is the preserve of logical thought; or in other words, that this passage is concerned with a philosophical method, a way of investigation or exposition.

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Shelves: prose-style , footnotes-to-plato , introductions-and-textbooks Generally speaking, there is a tendency to underestimate the difficulties of satisfaction and to overestimate those of omniscience. This is peculiar, considering that his reputation rests mainly on his interpretation of Hegel, an interpretation which he developed and propounded in a series of lectures in Many who attended these lecturesMaurice Merleau-Ponty and Jacques Lacan, to name just twowent on to Generally speaking, there is a tendency to underestimate the difficulties of satisfaction and to overestimate those of omniscience.

It is too bad, then, that I found his most famous book to be of little merit. Frankly, I failed to see anything of serious interest in these pages: either as textual interpretation or as philosophy. Admittedly, the former did not surprise me. But I did not expect this book to be so devoid of intellectual interest. Indeed, I am somewhat at a loss as to why or how it became so influential.

He is boorishly repetitious, persistently vague, and pompously obscure. Meanwhile, his meaning, stripped of its pretentious shell, is either a banal truism, nonsense, or obviously wrong. This, by the way, is so often the case with turgid writers that I have grown to be deeply suspicious of all obscurity. In academic circles, dense prose is easily self-serving. I cannot make these accusations without some demonstration. Or else, again: Being is not only Being, but also Truth—that is, the adequation of the Concept and Being.

This is simple. Very simple. I found all this to be academically slipshod. The attempt to make Hegel into a quasi-existentialist, deriving freedom from the cognizance of death, is especially unconvincing: Hegel was anything but an existentialist. Thus as an introduction to Hegel, the text is basically useless.

But I shall say that it is irrefutable. This habit of deferring to infallible texts, by the way, is a typical move in religious arguments, and has no place in philosophy. As a result, this book is one bloated series of unfounded assertions—seldom citing the text or providing anything resembling an argument—which makes it worse than useless. Now, in case you think I am being overly harsh, let me quote one section where he does seem to be making an argument: Let us consider a real table.

Now, this table does not float in empty space. It is on this floor, in this room, in this house, in this place on Earth, which Earth is at a determined distance from the Sun, which has a determined place within the galaxy, etc. To speak of this table without speaking of the rest, then, is to abstract from this rest, which in fact is just as real and concrete as this table itself. To speak of this table without speaking of the whole of the Universe which implies it, or likewise to speak of this Universe without speaking of this table which is implied in it, is therefore to speak of an abstraction and not of a concrete reality.

This is false. No doubt he has relations, near and remote, with everything in the universe, but he can be spoken of truly without taking them into account, except such as are the direct subject-matter of what is being said. He may be the father of Jemima as well as James, but it is not necessary for me to know this in order to know that he is the father of James.

Now, if this book were truly as devoid of value as I am making it out to be, it would lead to the question of how it became to popular and influential. Well, I can only guess. I remain blind.


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Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit



Introduction to the Reading of Hegel


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