M. J. Petry, Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature (Three Volumes)

I have to say that when I came across these volumes, I could not quite make out what they were. None are in print (some older copies are on amazon and other sights). All three volumes are translated by Michael John Petry. All three volumes are from 1970, so my original suspicion it is some old English translation were unfounded.

First volume has a large introduction (over 120 pages) and ends with the following note on the text of all three volumes:

The text of the ‘Philosophy of Nature’ translated here is that prepared by K. L. Michelet and published in 1842 as volume VII pt. i of the eighteen volume Berlin edition of Hegel’s complete works, issued between 1832 and 1845. Hermann Glockner reproduced this text, without altering it, as volume 9 of the ‘Samtliche Werke’ (26 vols. Stuttgart, 1927-1940), and it is the fourth printing of this edition (1965) which has been used for the translation.

The foundations of Michelet’s work are the three editions of the ‘Encyclopaedia’ that appeared at Heidelberg in Hegel’s lifetime (1817, 1827, 1830). They differ widely in many important respects, and no less than 3600 significant alterations first appeared in 1830. The critical edition of the ‘Encyclopaedia’ prepared by Nicolin and Poggeler (1959) has therefore been used in order to check on Michelet’s handling of his printed sources.[1] Those remnants of the 1817 text reproduced in 1830 have been distinguished from the rest of the work,[2] and where the 1959 text has not been found acceptable, the reasons for deviating from it have been indicated in the commentary.

The ‘Additions’ were put together by Michelet from various manuscript sources, only one of which, the Jena lecture notes of 1805-1806, has since been published.[3] The passages in his text originating from this manuscript have been indicated, and any difficulties which the two versions give rise to have been discussed in the commentary. Most of the material from which these ‘additions’ were formed consisted of lecture notes from the Berlin period (1819-1830). Only one of the manuscripts has been traced,[4] and a perusal of it has not necessitated any revision of Michelet’s work.

Apart from the removal of errors, the most important result of this textual analysis is the light it throws· upon Hegel’s response or lack of response to the changing state of the natural sciences. It is to be hoped therefore, that English readers will now be able to assess this aspect of his work with greater certainty than has been possible hitherto. The forthcoming German edition will also indicate the various sources and dates of the component parts of Michelet’s text.[5]

The four major components are distinguished in the translation as follows:
i. passages dating from 1817, reproduced in 1830:
ii. passages first printed in either 1827 or 1830:
iii. lecture material from the Berlin period 1819-1830:
iv. lecture material from the Jena period of 1805-1806.


1. F. Nicolin and O. Poggeler ‘Hegels EnzykIopadie der philosophischen Wissenschaften im Grundrisse (1830)’. (Hamburg, 1959).
2. The 1827 ‘Encyclopaedia’ has never been reprinted. The 1817 edition has however been reproduced in volume 6 of the ‘Samtliche Werke’ (ed. Glockner, 26 vols. Stuttgart, 1927-1940).
3. J. Hoffmeister ‘Jenenser Realphilosophie II’ (Leipzig, 193 I). Michelet knew nothing of the earlier manuscripts of 1801-1802: see ‘Jenenser Logik, Metaphysik und Naturphilosophie’ (ed. G. Lasson, Leipzig, 1923) and 1803-1804: see ‘Jenenser Realphilosophie I’ (ed. Hoffmeister, Leipzig, 1932).
4. The notes taken down by K. G. von Griesheim (1798-1854) during the winter of 1823-1824. A microfilm of them has been supplied by the’Staatsbibliothek der Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz’, 1 Berlin 33, Archivstrasse 12-14: see ‘Handschriftenabteilung’ Ms. germ. quo 542.
5. Heinz Heimsoeth ‘Die Hegel-Ausgabe der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft’ (‘KantStudien’ 51 pp. 506-511, 1959-1960): F. Nicolin ‘Die neue Hegel-Gesarntausgabe. Voraussetzungen und Zieie’ (‘Hegei-Studien’ I pp. 295-313, 1961), ‘Philologische Aufgaben der Hegeiforschung’ (‘Heidelberger Hegel-Tage’ ed. Gadamer, Bonn, 1964 pp. 327-337).


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