Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Reason, Crisis, and Hegel

What Hegel seems to be addressing in this book first and foremost is the relationship that a people or culture should have with it's history. This is best exemplified, I believe, at the end of Chapter One where, after giving a brief description of methods of doing history, posits the question of whether or not philosophy, being speculative and subject to predispositions, has any right or reason to get involved with these methods, and history in general, as history is concrete and affirmed. He writes "This contradiction, together with the reproach springing from it in regard to speculation, must here be clarified and resolved." So we know that the book will focus, at least in part, on this clarification of philosophy's interest in history. At the same time, however, Hegel is also getting at something deeper - the role in which Reason plays in the unfolding of historical events, and how these events and their originators (e.g. Napoleon) are manifestations of the "World-Spirit". I do not fully understand how or what Hegel means by this - I am reminded at this point of Tolstoy's War and Peace. So, if Continental Philosophy is concerned with uncovering or creating crisis, what is Hegel's crisis? At present, I don't feel like I can assert an opinion, and look forward to what others feel in this regard.


  1. You clarified a few bits of confusion for me. Sadly I too am a little confused with understanding what the crisis Hegel is hoping to get at. I am also a little confused with the idea that philosophy in looking at history must work to understand the Godhead. However, what I did understand and liked a lot was the descriptions of the ways in which history has been written. It had gotten me on the track of thinking that perhaps philosophy was here to remedy a problem with these methods. Philosophy can look at history to see more than the historians have put down, we can look at the individuals in history and the arts, and literature and how these things are connected and how history has progressed as a story, in a way that it had to unfold. This was kind of my thinking of what philosophy was doing with history but I could be completely off base.

  2. I too find myself puzzled by the concept of a "world spirt". Perhaps Hegel will clarify more later on or perhaps I missed a step. Regardless I think that some class time devoted to understanding this concept would not be a total loss.