Once More on Hegel’s Lectures on History of Philosophy

I am reading the introduction to this (as a commenter kindly pointed out, modern English translation, although prohibitively expensive, of Hegel’s lectures does exist). An interesting opening issue: apparently “the relation of these lectures to his philosophical system as such is today a matter of dispute. Some doubt that they form a part of the system at all, whereas others, in agreement with some of his students, view them as the system’s crowning achievement or culmination.” [1] It’s interesting how this could be a matter of dispute as framed by the sentences. Of course these are not “part of the system” – Hegel talks about what is part of the system fairly clearly, I think. Are they “culmination” of the system? This is also an odd way of putting it since it raises a question: what does the system do? Is it supposed to have any result as such? If it does, then we can see what that result is or is not. If it does not, then how can something be its “culmination.”

Fun fact: when Hegel lectured in Jena – he began during the winter term of 1801-02 (at the age of 31) – he already had a system and he announced that he would teach it. So the lectures on 1803-04 and 1804-05 present two versions of the system. Whatever that system was, and we have texts, of course, it was a system, or an attempt as a system. Do you have a system? I didn’t think so.


G.W.F. Hegel, System of Ethical Life (1802/3) and First Philosophy of Spirit (Part III of the System of Speculative Philosophy 1803/4)

Marcuse, Hegel’s First System (1802-1806)

Sections from Georg Lukács’ The Young Hegel

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s