By Larry Krasnoff
This booklet introduces Hegel's best-known and such a lot influential paintings, Phenomenology of Spirit, through reading it as a unified argument for a unmarried philosophical declare: that humans in achieving their freedom via retrospective self-understanding. In transparent, non-technical prose, Larry Krasnoff units this declare within the context of the background of recent philosophy and indicates the way it is constructed within the significant sections of Hegel's textual content. the result's an available and interesting consultant to 1 of the main complicated and critical works of nineteenth-century philosophy, in order to be of curiosity to all scholars and academics operating during this sector.
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Extra resources for Hegel's 'Phenomenology of Spirit': An Introduction (Cambridge Introductions to Key Philosophical Texts)
What is so special about this kind of self-consciousness, and how can it count as a justification of modern social and cultural institutions? The issue here concerns not just the contingent historical features of modern life, but also the way those historical features reflect some sort of rationally privileged self-understanding. The deep questions being raised here are: just what is this self-understanding, and what gives it such a special privilege? As I suggested in the Preface, the reading offered here will claim that the relevant self-understanding is human beings’ sense of ourselves as essentially subjects who seek self-knowledge through a reflection on our pasts.
73–77. The notorious Hegelian view that we are trying to understand here is that in the modern period, Geist somehow comes to know itself. On the naturalist reading of interpreters like Pippin and Pinkard, Geist has tended to mean not a distinct kind of metaphysical substance but merely a community’s self-understanding of its most privileged norms. But if Geist is already self-understanding, then the notion of Geist’s self-understanding threatens to become a kind of tautology, reducing the thought that history is Geist’s coming to know itself to an essentially empty claim.
But before Hume, the empiricist tradition also clings to a hope that the concepts we invent to describe the world might be purified in a way that gives us a kind of direct access to nature. As I will argue in the next two chapters, Hume abandons any such hope, even as he remains deeply committed to a form of naturalism. Without the possibility of a purely natural language, nominalism becomes the view that our concepts are simply human conventions, and then the question is how to show that some particular set of human conventions could have rational justification, without resorting to the view that we have direct access to God or to nature, to reality as it is itself.