Paul Ashton

Why Hegel Now:

An Introduction to Hegel’s Philosophy

The philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once reflected that:

Those who have gone beyond Hegel are like country people who must always give their address as via a larger city; thus the address in this case read-John Doe via Hegel.

The volume of philosophical work produced today often tempts one to conclude that we are presently witnessing a resurgence of the field. However, a more thorough inquiry reveals that although there is a proliferation of ideas there is in fact a distinct lack of depth and spirit in contemporary philosophical discourse.1 Theories stack up like products in a supermarket of ideas where everything is half price and guaranteed to please. In response to Kierkegaard one gets the feeling that there are thousands of ill directed letters filling the dead letter office of theory. In this sense we are perhaps presently contending with what Heidegger described as philosophy’s vain attempt to survive its own suicide.

Whilst we hope what we are doing is not as desperate as Heidegger suggests, one does get the feeling that we are hanging on to a sinking ship. In light of this, I believe that it is necessary for the philosophic community to reassess this situation and again begin again to address our letters via Hegel. However, this in turn raises a further potential paradox of whether a return to Hegel or ‘truth’ is a move away from the postmodern proliferation of ideas or not.

Despite any possible concerns, one can only try to clarify things as much as possible in an attempt to create or articulate new openings. This requires reintroducing Hegel and elaborating some of the most fundamental aspects of the system. Also influencing the direction of this introduction is the spirit of today’s proceedings and its relation to the current ‘zeitgeist’ which will be developed in its logical structure. For those of you who had a look at my broad outline on Andy’s website you will be aware that the concept of the radical plays an important role here; hence I shall begin by outlining Hegel’s radical concept of Modernity.

Hegel’s Concept of Modernity

Far from being the period that predates the postmodern, modernity must be understood as the overarching framework which can and does inform us about our current mode of existence, which, I will argue, is given expression through our experiencing of the has not moment of humanity’s freedom in solidarity which paradoxically can be understood as the immanent self-development of autonomous freedom. In other words Hegel’s concept of modernity will establish our current mode of existence as something to be transcended.

Habermas understands and attributes the articulation of this new modern ‘epoch’ to Hegel and it is from Habermas’ oft quoted account of Hegelian modernism that we shall start:

Modernity can and will no longer borrow the criteria by which it takes its orientation from models supplied by another epoch; it has to create its normativity out of itself. Modernity sees itself cast back upon itself without any escape.2

We can understand modernity in this sense as something radically different from all other modes of existence. For the first time the world is faced with the challenge of unconditionally generating its own integrating norms in order to create a truly free society. It is the unconditional immanent development or radical self-referentiality of modernity that deems it to be its truth-absolute. Only through not relying on givens from another epoch can we claim our existence to be unconditionally true and thus absolute. Ultimately modernity realizes its truth to be what Hegel describes as the differentiated unity of the universal, the particular and the individual, which discloses itself as freedom in solidarity. This, as will be explained, is also the goal of Hegel’s system.

This is easily stated, but it is important that we answer some clarifying questions; What is it that renders modernity as unconditionally self-referential and hence as the articulation of the absolute? And why inturn do non-modern epochs not understand themselves self-referentially?

In modernity, ‘[b]y relating to itself as a particular the modern individual gives expression to its mode of being as that of particularity.'3 [e.g. Put more clearly, because modern ‘individuals’ define themselves as particular ‘individuals’ with particular traits rather than in universal terms they render their actual mode of being as that of collections of particular individuals.] What makes possible this kind of reflective awareness is the individual’s ability to abstract from the concrete content associated with its particular being and project itself as the formal universal, the Hegelian abstract ego which embodies itself in property ownership.4 Ultimately the formal universal is given specific reality in modern legal institutions. [For example, in modern legal systems individuals are not prejudged because of their particular traits, rather they are viewed as formal or universal subjects or citizens who are equal under the law even if this is undermined in practice.] Hence, within this mode of being of particularity, individuals have acquired the ability to promote formal universalist claims that supersede their purely subjective particular claims. For example the promoting of claims to justice ‘invoke the universalist language of formal rights: “everyone should be treated as free and equal” and “everyone’s freedom should be respected”.'5 The modern particular through its awareness of particularity gains access to its mode of being in a way which means that its relation to its content is inevitably shaped by the explicit differentiation between what it is (content) and particularity as its mode of being (form).6

Without the differentiation between the concreteness of the particular and the formality of the universal, the individual would be immersed in the particular substantive content of the undifferentiated universal, thus not being aware of particularity or pluralism as this is understood in modern liberal societies. This is typical in locations where the state remains conflated with religion. The inability to differentiate between the substantive particular and the formal universal is the main characteristic of the non-modern era. Hence, in a non-modern context there is ‘a conflation of the questions of (a) what the particular is and (b) how it is.'7 This has the effect of universalizing the moment of undifferentiated unity of the particular and the universal; in that, what is universal is understood in terms of the particular, and that the ‘particular is taken to be a given universal substance.'8 The result of this is that non-modern’s particular entities are ‘ungrounded’ in the modern sense. From this ‘ungrounded’ position there appear to be only two ways to relate to the world. ‘One of these is to remain in absolute ignorance of the fact that the world is differentiated by particular world views’ (pre-modern cultures). Or, alternatively one can ‘impose the particular content of one’s own world view upon the rest of the world in an effort to advance a universal cause through the elimination of particular differences that must inevitably be presumed to be based on falsehood or some kind of evil’ (i.e. the various ancient empires). 9 Due to this conflation of the particular given with the universal, as described above, the non-modern particular conceals its own particularity from itself, which in effect denies what modernity shows to be a particular in the first instance.

What is important for us to know here is that the above mentioned differentiation between the particular and the universal achieved in modernity is essentially a negative relation. What is immanent to the individual qua particular is its ‘non-identity with the universal.'10 Through the formal universal, for example through interacting with others as a legal entity, the particular qua particularity asserts the fact that its content, for example religious ideas, is only one particular particular amongst a plurality of particulars (i.e. formal pluralism and multiculturalism). In other words, the particular makes sense of itself by directly appealing to particularity as its mode of being. Here we see a paradox has occurred, as ‘on the one hand, the modern individual is negatively defined as not being identified with the universal as such and on the other, it is distinct from that which gives the specific particular its specificity.'11 Particularity, in this sense, is the unavoidable mode of every modern particular individual, regardless of the specific content of their concrete existence. Therefore, particularity is universal as it supplies the mode of being for every modern particular. Importantly this means that the individual finds itself in a dynamic situation where on the one hand it must supply its abstract (universal) mode of being with content, giving substantive meaning to particularity. Whilst on the other it faces the challenge of how to restrict the particular’s universalizing tendencies.12 In short people must try to give meaning to themselves as individuals without creating the common scenario where individuality collapses into meaningless difference. The contemporary consumer is the paradigm example here.

Our Current Condition as an Incomplete Stage of Development

There appears to be a dilemma here as on the one hand Hegel’s notion of modernity presents itself as the epoch that ushers forth the holistic development of absolute truth that allows the individual subject to break free from the undifferentiated world and become an active agent. Whilst on the other hand losing itself in the universalizing tendency of particularity which renders the subject merely formal. One might more crudely suggest that whilst this sounds all well and good for absolute thought the present reality is somewhat different.

In line with these valid criticisms, as suggested above, we must understand that the current condition of modernity is a kind of reality that expresses the has not, or the not yet of modernity’s final goal. This is consistent with the Hegelian understanding of modernity as an unconditional developing totality. Since modernity is indeed unconditional it must not only give reality to the idea or notion of the differentiated unity of the universal and particular but it must also give reality to the fact that since its unconditionality is not a given but a goal to be realized, it has not yet reality. It is out of the reality of the has not that the differentiated unity of the universal and the particular will be realized. From this it follows that in so far as modernity is unconditional and develops from the state of the has not, which is a stage of potentiality, to the stage of actualization, initially modernity creates for itself two immediate tasks. On the one hand it has to make explicit the idea of differentiated unity and on the other it has to give reality to the has not of this idea. In this way modernity makes the goal of achieving differentiated unity its own immanent goal, instead of accepting it as a given, by creating the reality which gives expression to that differentiated unity as a goal to be achieved. So at one and the same time modernity gives rise to the idea of differentiated unity between particular and universal and negates it by developing the opposite (liberal) institutionalized practices. More specifically modernity gives rise to the idea of freedom in solidarity as the differentiated unity of universal and particular, and through the development of its liberal institutions the reality of modernity’s dichotomous mode of being makes explicit the fact that the differentiated unity lacks reality. This lack of reality becomes an aspect of subjective awareness through the failure of modern struggles to realize the idea of freedom in solidarity. To be sure, if there is one thing that is consistent through all revolutions and acts of praxis that attempt to realize this currently unrealized mode of freedom it is that they have failed. ‘The failure to realise the modern ideal of freedom in solidarity affirms modernity’s self-denial in the sense that unsuccessful attempts at radical social transformation render the objectivity of modernity’s self-denial visible to subjective awareness. What is already a matter of denied self-determination becomes capable of being known as such to modern subjects. By making explicit that which it denies, modernity gives rise to the possibility of being known as that which is in the process of becoming an essentially self-determining whole.'13 In this way these failures to realize our potential mode of being can be understood at least in a partially positive way. If nothing else they show that our current mode of existence has reached a level of ‘maturity’ in this moment of its self-denial. This emergence, spurred by failed attempts at social revolution, objectively presents modernity’s self-denial ‘visible to subjective awareness’.14 Contemporary liberal society whilst being similar in terms of its dichotomous and barbaric nature to previous societies does represent a significant advancement even if it is not felt in practical reality.

Hegel’s Idea of Philosophy

This theory of modernity is no mere historical period for Hegel, to be sure, his theory of modernity is nothing less than his theory of philosophy per se. The central premise of modernity, its unconditional immanent self-development is also the central premise of the system of absolute truth as laid out in the Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences,15 and it inturn helps us to understand the notion and purpose of this type of awareness. Hegel saw that any thorough philosophical system, like modernity, can no longer rely on givens from any outside source, it must be a self relating system. Therefore, for Hegel

[t]he ultimate aim and business of philosophy is to reconcile thought or the Notion with reality.... The result is the thought which is at home with itself, and at the same time embraces the universe therein, and transforms it into an intelligent world.... [This] Absolute, pure, infinite form is expressed as self-consciousness, the Ego. This is the light that breaks forth on spiritual substance, and shows absolute content and absolute form to be identical;-substance is in itself identical with knowledge ... i.e. it recognizes pure Thought or Being as self-identity.16

What is immediately clear in this passage is that Hegel is trying to establish a union between the dichotomously structured realms of thought and being and more precisely a unity of the form (thought) of philosophical inquiry and the content (being) of that inquiry. Nothing less than this union can be demanded of a philosophy of modernity. Hegel called this immanently developing philosophy speculative, as it is the type of thinking that cannot merely reflect on givens, and must generate its truth immanently and unconditionally. For Hegel philosophical or speculative thinking is not any kind of thinking, it ‘is a peculiar mode of thinking-a mode by which thinking becomes cognition [knowledge], and conceptually comprehensive cognition [knowledge] at that.’ (EL § 2)17

In order to demonstrate the truth of this notion Hegel works through the self-articulating system of the absolute Idea. This idea can be seen as developing in three cycles that refer to the three parts of the system; The Science of Logic,18 which represents ‘the science of the Idea in and for itself’ (EL §18), which develops the categories of absolute knowledge in the form of pure thinking, which, in turn, generates its own negation in the Philosophy of Nature.19 The Philosophy of Nature becomes a necessary stage as the idea expressed in the Logic lacks any existential reality and is therefore incomplete, in this sense the Philosophy of Nature can be understood as ‘the science of the Idea in its otherness’ (EL §18). The third cycle of the system can then be understood as ‘the Idea that returns into itself out of its otherness’ (EL §18) in the form of the Philosophy of Spirit,20 which contains the Philosophy of Right.21 In a broad sense speculative awareness must first determine itself as the meaning of the worlds mode of being, which is preformed in the Logic, and then after fulfilling the limits of the Logic it must come to know the world through the Realphilosophie (which consists of the Philosophy of Nature and Philosophy of Spirit) as embodying its real mode of being. The Phenomenology of Spirit,22 of which more will be said later, is not in fact part of Hegel’s system, rather it is the ladder which philosophically justifies speculative awareness or absolute knowledge, the necessary starting point of the logic.

The Logic

The bold nature of modernity places several demands on the Hegelian system, and the Logic, as a grand modernist text, begins to supply these demands by attempting to fully articulate the world’s mode of being in pure thought. In this way it aims to show itself to be genuinely unconditional and modern as it applies its immanent speculative method. Hence, as logic or thought is the only discipline that theorizes its own self, that is, thought thinking itself, it becomes the starting point for this type of immanent development. All other disciplines presuppose givens, such as, nature, god or society and therefore do not qualify in the modern context as a beginning.23 So thought must begin with thought itself.

In the Encyclopaedia Logic Hegel distinguishes between three modes of thought:

With regard to its form, the logical has three sides: (a) the side of abstraction or of the understanding, (ß) the dialectical or negatively rational side, [and] (?) the speculative or positively rational one. (EL § 79)

The first mode of thinking-the understanding-is thinking that is akin to the empirical sciences. Here we determine, define and fix meaning so it can be used instrumentally. This is the most limited type of thought as it fixes things in a formal and abstract way. This being the case Hegel warns that it is important to not let ‘the understanding go too far’, it ‘cannot have the last word’ (EL § 80). In turn, the dialectic responds to the fixed nature of the understanding by moving to its negative concept that is beyond its limit. Finally, speculative thinking incorporates the whole movement from the fixed object of the understanding through its opposite in the dialectical to an overarching perspective that shows the extremes to be aspects of the one thought or concept.

The unfolding of the logical development and the interplay of thought’s forms is easily displayed by the unfolding of the first triad of the Logic. The Logic begins with the immediate concept of being, which is pure thought. However, this concept is wholly indeterminate and abstract which has the effect of rendering it as nothing. That is, if we try to think of being without any determination we find that we are actually thinking nothing. When we think of pure nothing in its complete emptiness we render it a purely empty thought. Hence, this nothing which is nothing has being, albeit completely indeterminate and empty being. ‘Pure being and pure nothing are, therefore, the same... Their truth is, therefore, this movement of the immediate vanishing of the one in the other: becoming’ (SL 82). In this instance becoming is rendered as the truth of being and nothing. The logic continues like this working through concepts until it reaches the absolute idea.

In its totality the logical development makes explicit the meaning of the world’s mode of being in order to come to know the world as embodying this meaning. This is achieved in the real philosophy.

The Real Philosophy (Nature and Spirit)

One of the most important aspects of Hegel’s system is the transition from the abstract realm of ideas in the logic to the real philosophy. Simply put many of the problems of conceiving this transition from idea to reality occur because the full nature of the absolute is not considered. The absolute is the totality, however, it is not a mere totality, rather it is a process of self-development. It is a teleological unfolding of the world and its self generated meaning. In this sense the Logic is merely the abstract or logical notion of the whole and not something that exists separately from the whole. The movement to nature should be seen as the absolute, which in the logic has merely rendered itself as abstract, feeling its inadequacy and developing its existential side. This is not a process in time, it is a philosophical development.

I do not wish to say much concerning Hegel’s philosophy of nature as it is of little concern to us considering the scope and limitations of the day. However, for Hegel nature is externality which only bares the imprint or mark of spirit which is the true sphere of the absolute. In this sense nature is the realm of necessity and therefore not free like spirit. It is however the ground and arena of spirit. Hence, it starts with existence that is purely external to itself (space) and progresses to the point where it returns to the absolute’s idea (organism) from its otherness and retrospectively knows itself as a part of the development of absolute spirit.

The final book of Hegel’s Encyclopaedia and the final developmental stage of the system is the Philosophy of Spirit or Mind. Naturally it is here that the absolute completes itself as the absolute is spirit. This work is divided in to three sections ‘Subjective Spirit’, ‘Objective Spirit’ and ‘Absolute Spirit’ and it is here that Hegel’s system becomes its most controversial. As Hegel says; the philosophy of spirit ‘is based on the logical spirit’ and that ‘it is chiefly from this point of view that I wish this treatise to be understood and judged’.24 It is the immanent and unconditional nature of the system and more specifically the Logic that allows Hegel to make this kind of demand about the real philosophy. What this means is that the sections or concepts unfurled in the Philosophy of Spirit can be understood to strictly relate to categories developed in the Science of Logic. There is however great dispute on how these categories line up. As an example one sub-correlation could be rendered thus: that the ‘Syllogism of Existence'25 is said to structure the content of ‘Abstract Right.'26 This section includes the concept of ‘Property’ which will be discussed by Neli.

The first part of the Philosophy of Spirit is ‘Subjective Spirit’.27 In a typically Hegelian fashion this also consists of a series of sub-triads; ‘Anthropology,’ ‘Phenomenology’ and ‘Psychology’ The dialectical progression here elaborates the development from nature beginning with the ‘feeling (physical) soul’ (in the anthropology) and ending with the ‘free spirit’ (in the psychology). This is essentially a narrative or the unfolding of the individual subject from its blind undifferentiated constitution, who gradually develops phenomenological consciousness and self-consciousness and ultimately sheds its merely formal constitution and becomes a self-mediating unity: a self that contains its opposite. Despite the fact for Hegel we are all free by nature this final stage of subjective spirit, ‘free spirit’ is not something we all have. It is a historically and-as history is philosophy-philosophically achieved position. In line with this some consider the ‘Psychology’ as paradigmatic of the whole system as it is here that the ego is fully developed and for Hegel the absolute is an ego.

From the psychology we progress to the second main triad ‘Objective Spirit,’ which has the sub-categories of ‘Right (or Law)’, ‘Morality’ and ‘Ethical Life’. Traditionally this has been the main focus of Hegel studies and the first triad of ‘Right’ will be the focus for Neli. Right is where the right to property and commodity exchange, and dispute resolution is discussed. This passes over to morality where essentially the right to desire becomes the focus. Hegel’s conception of morality is somewhat narrower than the traditional understanding. It is an inward morality where the will is the source of its own principle. This has the effect of rendering the moral will as infinitely self related object to itself and therefore unsubstantiated and abstract.

Ethical life discusses the moments of the individual in society; from the immediate ethical unity of the family through the realm of difference and caprice in civil society to the differentiated unity of the state. The undifferentiated unity of the family is broken by the emergence of particular individuals which go forth into the sphere of civil society which is little more than a plurality of particulars and sheer differentiation. This mode is continuos with the current mode of existence in capitalist society, where the individual is a solitary player in the market who exchanges their labour power for other goods and services. The shallowness of this existence is partially overcome by Hegel in that individuals should form unions-what he refers to as corporations-to protect themselves from the animal like character of the open market.

However, the family and civil society are for Hegel merely one-sided and inadequate concepts or moments of the state itself. The state is the genuine differentiated unity of the universal and the particular; it is the unity of unity and difference. The state is not some totalitarian universal that sits over and against the members of society, but rather it exists in and through them. It elevates and substantiates their particularity. One cannot speak more highly of the state than Hegel does, for him its is ‘actual God’, but we should also keep in mind that Hegel is here talking of the ideal state. When it comes to actual states Hegel is far less optimistic:

The state is not a work of art; it exists in the world, hence in the sphere of arbitrariness, contingency and error, and bad behaviour may disfigure it in many respects. But the ugliest man, the criminal, the invalid, or the cripple is still a living human being; the affirmative aspect-life-survives [besteht] in spite of such deficiencies, and it is with this affirmative aspect that we are here concerned. (PR § 258A)

In line with this one should note that the Hegel’s work here is a discussion of the dialectical development of concepts and not a detailed list of the duties of humans or rules for running society. Hegel does not believe that it is the responsibility of the philosopher to do such things, he does however believe that such duties and rules will to some extent become obvious with the articulation of the truth of social interaction.

The triad of the state ends with a discussion of history which I shall turn to shortly. Universal history completes objective spirit and we pass over to absolute spirit which consists of a discussion of art, religion and philosophy, our discussion of this will unfortunately have to be left to another time.

History and System

This partial outline of the system is fairly straight forward in itself, however, the problem begins when one tries to conceive of it outside of its ahistorical idealistic terms. To be sure, Hegel does not see the system as a temporal development, however, he does simultaneously develop it in history in the sense that the notion or spirit appears to become aware of itself somehow in time and in-and-through the world as such.

How exactly do the temporal, existential and logical developments of the idea interact, and how are they related to the practice of speculative awareness? Whilst Hegel’s concept of speculative awareness represents a special or advanced position to theorize from, it also represents a historical development. That is, it is a stage in the ongoing development of thought through the history of philosophy. The history of philosophy must be understood as the gradual concretion of the idea of absolute freedom and as speculative to the extent that it represents the highest development of thought thinking itself. To be sure, it is man, through his possession of thought, that draws closer to his own freedom of self-determination and hence spirit to its determination. Thought in this sense is somehow outside of the thought of individuals and the mere sum of all individuals’ thought, it is a unified totality of its own with its own history, in that it unfolds in time, not as a series of events, but as the total process. ‘From the point of view of form, [Hegel] tells us, this history can be seen as a succession of events-of thoughts, so to speak, being thought-but from the point of view of content it is one continuous process.’ 28 As Lauer succinctly states; ‘Its task is to trace the process of thought, not by looking at it, so to speak, from the outside, but by doing it.'29 Thought understood in this way gives expression to Hegel’s notion, following Aristotle, that in saying what thought is we are also saying why it is, which in turn sheds further light on the necessarily historical and processual nature of thought.

In short world history is the process of spirit coming to the self-conscious awareness of itself as free. It this sense modernity is the moment in world history where spirit first cognizes its freedom as its truth. In this way modernity is both a historical period and the concept that reveals itself to be the truth of history per se. This is one way to interpret the ‘end of history’ thesis. That is, in spirit realizing its goal history ends; as history is merely the unfurling of the idea of the freedom of spirit. In the system the true mode of being of the world is abstractly realized or is known and history in this sense stops. However, the true mode of being is only known, but it is not yet realized and this is the task that presents us today as ‘visionary moderns’ or ‘radicals’. The task ahead is perhaps not aptly described as history because the result of history is already known-freedom in solidarity.

The Possibility of Hegel’s Philosophy for our Times?

Hegel suggests that speculative awareness provides the possibility of knowing, in a cognitive or non-empirical way, the true mode of being and purpose of the world. That is, it allows us to work through the aforementioned philosophical process. For Hegel the speculative realm is a uniquely modern one, in that it is only through the ontological opening that is created in modernity that the modern thinker finds themselves in this position. What is interesting here is that for Hegel this type of awareness emerges out of the totally alienated existence that is characteristic of the current period. Hegel says as much in the foundational Difference essay:

When the might of union vanishes from the life of men and the antitheses lose their living connection and reciprocity and gain independence, the need for philosophy arises. From this point of view the need is contingent. But with respect to the given dichotomy the need is the necessary attempt to suspend [sublate] the rigidified opposition between subjectivity and objectivity; to comprehend the achieved existence [the “being-as-having-become” das Gewordenseyn] of the intellectual and real world as a becoming.30

There is no doubt that what Hegel describes here is not exactly the has not or liberal moment in the development of modernity, however its descriptive value remains pertinent. In this case for a would-be philosopher willing to go beyond their merely formal awareness of the liberal (free) self, the emergence of the cognitively understood speculative position offers an opening to overcome their dichotomously structured world and for their alienated being to reveal their true mode of being. Hence the empirical self must be reconceptualized and this is done through the process of the Phenomenology of Spirit. The Phenomenology shows the necessity of absolute knowledge, which is best understood as a kind of knowledge that recognizes the unity of the knowing subject and the known object, through a process of developing various modes of relative knowledge and showing them to be incomplete. In this sense the Phenomenology is said to provide a ladder for speculative awareness to justify the perspective that initially presented itself immediately.


What I have tried to show here is how Hegel’s philosophy can be used to develop a logical explanation of our current condition or ‘zeitgeist’. Whilst he could not have imagined the exact nature of our nihilistic existence, from within the logical framework of his system this development can be comprehended.


Burbidge, John W., ‘Hegel’s Conception of Logic’, In Frederick C. Beiser (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Hegel, New York, Cambridge, 1993, pp. 86-101.

Habermas, Jürgen, Postmetaphysical Thinking: Philosophical Essays, trans. William Mark Hohengarten, Cambridge, MIT Press, 1994.

Habermas, Jürgen, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures, trans. Frederick G. Lawrence, Cambridge, MIT Press, 1996.

Hegel, G. W. F., Philosophy of Nature: Being Part Two of the Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences, 1830, trans. M. J. Petry, 3 vols., London, George Allen & Unwin, 1970.

Hegel, G. W. F., Philosophy of Mind: Being Part Three of the Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences (1830), Together with the Zusätze, trans. William Wallace and A. V. Miller, Oxford, Oxford, 1971.

Hegel, G. W. F., The Difference Between Fichte’s and Schelling’s System of Philosophy, trans. H. S. Harris and Walter Cerf, Albany, State University of New York Press, 1977.

Hegel, G. W. F., The Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A.V. Miller, New York, Oxford, 1977.

Hegel, G. W. F., Hegel’s Philosophy of Subjective Spirit: Being §§ 377-482 of Part Three of The Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences (1830) with Zusätze and Including Two Fragments; ‘A Fragment on the Philosophy of Spirit (1822/5)’ and ‘The Phenomenology of Spirit (Summer Term, 1825)’, trans. M. J. Petry, 3 vols., Holland, Dordrecht, 1979.

Hegel, G. W. F., The Encyclopaedia Logic (1830), with the Zusätze: Part I of the Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences with the Zusätze, trans. Theodore F. Geraets, W. A. Suchting, and H. S. Harris, Indianapolis, Hackett, 1991.

Hegel, G. W. F., Elements of the Philosophy of Right, Allen Wood (ed.), trans. H. B. Nisbet, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Hegel, G. W. F., Science of Logic, trans. A.V. Miller, New Jersey, Humanities Press, 1997.

Hegel, G.W.F., Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Outline, and Critical Writings, Ernst Behler (ed.), trans. Arnold V. Miller, Steven A. Taubeneck, and Diana Behler, New York, Continuum, 1990.

Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, Lectures on the History of Philosophy: The Lectures of 1825-1826, trans. Robert F. Brown, J. M. Stewart, and H. S. Harris, vol. 3, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1990.

Lauer, Quentin, Hegel’s Idea of Philosophy, New York, Fordham University Press, 1971.

Nicolacopoulos, Toula and George Vassilacopoulos, Hegel and the Logical Structure of Love: An Essay on Sexualities, Family and the Law, Aldershot, Ashgate, 1999.


1 This proliferation of ideas is elaborated in Jürgen Habermas, Postmetaphysical Thinking: Philosophical Essays, trans. William Mark Hohengarten, Cambridge, MIT Press, 1994, pp. 6-8. where he argues that modern 20th Century (or more accurately post-Hegelian philosophy) philosophy is dominated by 'themes' or content rather than form or 'method.' This point is also acknowledged and furthered by Toula Nicolacopoulos and George Vassilacopoulos, Hegel and the Logical Structure of Love: An Essay on Sexualities, Family and the Law, Aldershot, Ashgate, 1999, p. 1. 'Precisely because modern theme centred thinking privileges the content of philosophy over the relationships of form and content, it tends to favour the proliferation of ideas.' This naturally leads to a situation where ideas without some method or 'principled way(s)' become unproductive and amount to 'the seemingly endless elaboration of position after position in which fundamental differences are reduced to the contents of the advocate's operative assumptions'

2 Jürgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures, trans. Frederick G. Lawrence, Cambridge, MIT Press, 1996, p. 7.

3 Nicolacopoulos and Vassilacopoulos, Hegel and the Logical Structure of Love, p. 14.

4 This process is aided by the fact that one's identity 'begins not with the subject's mere general consciousness of himself as an ego concretely determined in some way or another, but rather with his consciousness of himself as a completely abstract ego in which every concrete restriction and value is negated and without validity.' (PR §35R)

5 Nicolacopoulos and Vassilacopoulos, Hegel and the Logical Structure of Love, p. 15.

6 Ibid., p. 16.

7 Ibid., p. 12.

8 Ibid.

9 See Ibid., pp. 12-13. for a discussion of this point.

10 Ibid., p. 14.

11 This notion gives expression to the concept left undeveloped in the introduction that particular political stances or ideas can only be as good or justifiable as any other particular idea. Ibid.

12 Ibid., p. 15.

13 Ibid., p. 35.

14 Ibid. This point renders the question of what is the role of humanity in the march of world spirit. We would suggest it is a very important role, but not necessarily a normative role, in the sense that society can go off in any direction. For example the Australian Aboriginals were uniquely in a non-modern situation, as they had no external influences or demands that they question their mode of being. They also had a type of social order that prevented world historical figures from emerging that could radically question the direction of their society. One could quite confidently suggest that if their society had remained isolated that it would have remained a stable or stagnant culture. On the other hand, in European History we see the imposition of rival cultures on others, which gives rise to the march of the world spirit. In this sense the world spirit is not some necessity outside of the human spirit but it does have a prevailing logic.

15 This came out in three editions 1817, 1827 and 1830. The standard translations are of the 1830 edition and are cited below. Also in English translation is the 1817 edition. G.W.F. Hegel, Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Outline, and Critical Writings, trans. Arnold V. Miller, Steven A. Taubeneck and Diana Behler, Ernst Behler (ed.) Vol., New York, Continuum, 1990.

16 Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy: The Lectures of 1825-1826, trans. Robert F. Brown, J. M. Stewart and H. S. Harris3, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1990, pp. 545-6 & 550.

17 G. W. F. Hegel, The Encyclopaedia Logic (1830), with the Zusätze: Part I of the Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences with the Zusätze, trans. Theodore F. Geraets, W. A. Suchting and H. S. Harris, Indianapolis, Hackett, 1991.

18 G. W. F. Hegel, Science of Logic, trans. A.V. Miller, New Jersey, Humanities Press, 1997.

19 G. W. F. Hegel, Philosophy of Nature: Being Part Two of the Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences, 1830, trans. M. J. Petry, 3 vols., London, George Allen & Unwin, 1970.

20 G. W. F. Hegel, Philosophy of Mind: Being Part Three of the Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences (1830), Together with the Zusätze, trans. William Wallace and A. V. Miller, Oxford, Oxford, 1971. Also partially translated in G. W. F. Hegel, Hegel's Philosophy of Subjective Spirit: Being §§ 377-482 of Part Three of The Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences (1830) with Zusätze and Including Two Fragments; 'A Fragment on the Philosophy of Spirit (1822/5)' and 'The Phenomenology of Spirit (Summer Term, 1825)', trans. M. J. Petry, 3 vols., Holland, Dordrecht, 1979.

21 G. W. F. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, trans. H. B. Nisbet, Allen Wood (ed.) Vol., Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996.

22 G. W. F. Hegel, The Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A.V. Miller, New York, Oxford, 1977.

23 John W. Burbidge, 'Hegel's Conception of Logic', In Frederick C. Beiser (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Hegel, New York, Cambridge, 1993, pp. 86-101, p. 87.

24 Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, p. 10.

25 Hegel, Science of Logic, pp. 644-685.

26 Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, pp. 65-131, §34-§104. This is how the sections are aligned by Nicolacopoulos and Vassilacopoulos, Hegel and the Logical Structure of Love.

27 Hegel, Hegel's Philosophy of Subjective Spirit.

28 Quentin Lauer, Hegel's Idea of Philosophy, New York, Fordham University Press, 1971, p. 17.

29 Ibid., p. 21.

30 G. W. F. Hegel, The Difference Between Fichte's and Schelling's System of Philosophy, trans. H. S. Harris and Walter Cerf, Albany, State University of New York Press, 1977, p. 91.