Phänomenologie des Geistes

by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Other authorsHans-Friedrich Wessels (Editor)
Paperback, 1988



Call number

CG 4064 P532



Hamburg: Meiner


Hegel's The Phenomenology of Spirit (1807) is one of the most influential texts in the history of modern philosophy. In it, Hegel proposed an arresting and novel picture of the relation of mind to world and of people to each other. Like Kant before him, Hegel offered up a systematic account of the nature of knowledge, the influence of society and history on claims to knowledge, and the social character of human agency itself. A bold new understanding of what, after Hegel, came to be called 'subjectivity' arose from this work, and it was instrumental in the formation of later philosophies, such as existentialism, Marxism, and American pragmatism, each of which reacted to Hegel's radical claims in different ways. This edition offers a new translation, an introduction, and glossaries to assist readers' understanding of this central text, and will be essential for scholars and students of Hegel.… (more)

Media reviews

Omtale :

Boken er den første komplette norske utgave av Hegels hovedverk. Den fremstiller menneskeåndens utvikling og historie som en lang rekke erfaringer, eventyr eller episoder, i et forsøk på å finne seg selv, og erkjenne verden og sin plass i den ved å utprøve muligheter og høste
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nederlag, etterfulgt av nye erfaringer og nye erkjennelser.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member MeditationesMartini
So the story goes: I was talking about this critical theory reading group we started with this professor in my department, Alex Dick, and he said something like "well, of course you can't understand Deleuze without reading Hegel" and I happen to have read a little Hegel and said so in an
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I-resent-the-imputation voice, and he was all "You've read The Phenomenology of Spirit?" And I guess I thought of The Philosophy of History, which I have read--maybe because they both begin with "ph"--and I was all "oh, yeah" and realized my error a second later but did not correct myself. And as part of a general life programme of scrupulous honesty, to punish myself for saying the thing that was not I actually went out and bought The Phenomenology of (in my copy) Mind and settled in to read it as a self-flagellation thing.

And flagellation it was. The Philosophy of History had its moments, and if many of them were unintentional comic high art, like his description of Chinese and Indian civilizations, the grim hierarchy and the teeming masses, others had undeniable value. The dialectic, the zeitgeist, world-historical peoples. Even if you think it's a pile of shit the way Hegel expresses these ideas, you can't deny their importance--and I have mellowed a bit as regard the expression, because he was dealing with Plato's problem--trying to come up with analytical language of a sort which did not yet exist.

But as for the present volume, I can't see that there's much to love for utility, or that anyone else has tried to love with the exception of some other philosophers of latter but equal obscurity. And what there might be is totally obscured by this problem of language. We are looking at a hypothetical interplay between two ways of realizing concepts or conceptualizing entities--one potential, unsaturated, a priori, progressive, simple, naive, grounded in (without getting into the subject/object problem) itself; the other actual, overdetermined, realized, complete, complex, ideological, representing itself to itself and the world. That much I get. Discard any terms you find unhelpful. But to tack onto this already overabstracted structure the labels "an sich" and "fuer sich", opaque as anything, and translate each of them with a million different terms and individual terms with both of them in different contexts is just risible, caricature-ready.

The other day I failed to finish my first book, a volume of Hegel criticism. This is not as bad as that; Hegel can put together a sentence, even if you have no idea what it means. But its great project is either almost entirely worthless in itself or is made worthless by presentation (and take a look through my LibraryThing; I have some, though not infinite, tolerance for philosophese and theorese). And there are light moments, like the 25-page digression contra phrenology (Hegel using Hegelian philosophy to combat phrenology is almost too delightful as unintentional self-parody) or the liturgical quality, the hermetic meaninglessness to the incantatory end section on religion and art (although the "Oriental Light" thing will always more make me think of Pynchon's "Kirghiz Light" as, in my paraphrase of Hegel, a transcendent enjoyment of the mysteries of being. But they are too few. I didn't "not finish" this--that is, I looked at every page, and usually even started again after the first time my eyes glazed over (though not usually the second).

Overall, my standing commission of $20 or all the beer you can drink to whoever can make me an ASCII graphic of me giving Hegel the finger still stands, waiting to be claimed.
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LibraryThing member iwpoe
Since I am not finished with the book it would not be proper for me to comment on it in its entirety, but I must say that, thus far, J.N. Findlay's "Analysis of The Text" is as often confusing (yes, more so than Hegel himself) as it is helpful.
LibraryThing member kencf0618
I recently had the opportunity to take a deep dive into this infamously abstruse text at the now defunct Victory Farm Center for the Humanities (an academic outreach project), but did I really want to devote at least 20 hours of reading a week in order to get some kind of grasp on Hegel? Some of my
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comrades in the Boise chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, et al. have done just that, and God bless them for it. From what I'm told, it's heavy lifting, but well worth the effort. You may view their Hegelian peregrinations on YouTube on The Cascadia Network. (Prof. Gregory B. Sadler does a good job of taking you through this text too!)
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LibraryThing member mitchanderson
From the few references I've come across of Hegel and knowing that Hegel himself was an influence on figures such as Marx, Stirner, Adorno and Bakunin, I can't help but feel that Hegel's philosophy is vastly misunderstood and it may very well be due to an extremely shallow and disheartening
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interpretation of his work as some kind of trivialization of our existence. This is probably one of the most enlightening pieces of philosophy I've read and I think there's perhaps one thing that's best to keep in mind while reading it: contradiction.

Hegel's approach to Phenomenology, to the Spirit, is contradictory in itself but only in its circular closure – what we are must be some reconciliation between the consciousness, the objective self and everything beyond us (the universal substance). However, before we are to have self-consciousness, we must have experience through sensuous-movement within the substance, that is, we must interact with the world. With more movement within this other, our differentiation is something apparently objective and explicit. We are us, they are them, and whatever we are to them seems to be beyond our control. This is self-consciousness and the formation of the Unhappy Self-consciousness. To stop here is, as Hegel posits, is the stoic self-consciousness that accepts itself as whatever it is which the other has molded it into; the experiences are accepted by the Unhappy Self-consciousness as something helpless and merely a false sense of Spirit; an empty Spirit.

Hegel goes through many motions, and I am uncertain whether these were intentional, for the sake of the most general readership, but the constant recognition of this desire to be something, the power of, as Hegel calls it, picture-thinking and its ability to staunch any personal reflection upon it; that the Unhappy-consciousness is something which takes these picture-thoughts, an admixture of thoughtless memories and unreconciled ideals, as the substance of reality, as the universal substance and this is precisely where the Spirit should loft itself up rather than close itself off into some self-imposed prison of stoic dormancy.

The problem with these picture-thoughts is precisely that they have not been abstracted, they have not been reconciled into their constituent parts insofar as they exist within the universal substance. The way Hegel sees it (or as I see him seeing it) is that the Spirit must determine the actual universal substance for itself and in this process of understanding, of obtaining the knowledge of the disjoint and atomic nature of the substance, it is here where the Spirit begins to divest itself of any invariant and indivisible mass and so it begins to extol the universal substance and loft itself ever higher as self-consciousness relieves itself of picture-thinking's excesses. The invariance of Self is revealed as farce the moment the self-consciousness recognizes itself as the contradictory being that it is – to retain the dead weight of picture-thought as History of Self drags upon the Spirit in an attempt to bring it to the ground.

The Self is something entirely individual and the Spirit is entirely universal. Neither can exist without the other and it is in this contradiction that any other supposed fixed-knowledge of self-consciousness cannot hold itself against. The power of picture-thinking is imposed by our immediate, sensuous-consciousness, and the only way to get beyond the immediacy and objectivity of this self-imposed constraint is to define it. The Self can only be seen through its content, what it knows to be true on its own conviction and not that of the picture-thought nor on the account of some other imposing upon us. The Self is Scientific it is personal knowledge of experience and the expropriation of self from History, a reintegration of self into substance and, through the sensuous-consciousness, the immediate consciousness, a differentiation back into self. The Notion of the substance is ability to reason and to see the substance for what it is: forever changing universality. Something that cannot be known in totality, something without absolute Truth but it is all we've got to work with.

So the Natural Religion, as Hegel phrases it, is this understanding of Self as a mirror of its experience and eventual supersession of this experience, this Historical self-consciousness, by the Spirit.
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Original publication date



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