Old New Philosophy.


Terry Pinkard has this translation of Hegel’s advertisement for his then upcoming Phenomenology:

This volume is the exposition of the coming to be of knowledge.  The phenomenology of  spirit is supposed to take the place of psychological explanations and also those of abstract discussions about the grounding of knowledge.  It examines the PREPARATION for science from a standpoint through which it constitutes a new, interesting philosophy and a “first science” for philosophy.  It comprehends within itself the various SHAPES OF SPIRIT as stations on the way through which spirit becomes pure knowledge, that is, absolute spirit.  Consequently, the principal sections of this science are examined in terms of the following divisions, which themselves are divided into even more sections: consciousness, self-consciousness, observing and acting reason, spirit itself as ethical, as culturally maturing, and as moral spirit, and finally as religious spirit in its distinct forms.  The wealth of the appearances of spirit, which at first glance seem to be only chaotic, is brought into a scientific order, exhibiting them in terms of their necessity and within which the imperfect modes fall into dissolution and pass over into the higher forms which are their proximate truth.  They find their final truth at first within religion and then, as the result of the whole, in science.  

In the PREFACE, the author explains what the current standpoint regarding the necessity of philosophy seems to amount to; further, he explains the presumptuousness and nonsense of philosophical formulas which belittle contemporary philosophy, and he explains what is at stake in contemporary philosophy and the study of it.

You would think that with all the attention to Phenomenology these days that it was bound to get him a nice academic position at some good university. The offers will only come in 1816, that is nine years later, after the publication of The Science of Logic. Hegel was already 46.

And how can I pass the opportunity for some philosophical trivia? Hegel finishes Phenomenology in October of 1806, his illegitimate son from the landlady (Christiane Charlotte Burkhardt, nee Fischer, apparently abandoned by her husband)  – Georg Ludwig Friedrich Fischer – is born in February of 1807. One wonders what exactly was Hegel’s routine while writing Phenomenology? Did you know that David Farrell Krell wrote a book about it? Ludwig joined the Dutch colonial army in 1825 (at 18) and died of a fever in India in 1831 (at 24).

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