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Ebook Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Outline & Critical Writings by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel read! Book Title: Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Outline & Critical Writings
The author of the book: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
ISBN: 0826403409
ISBN 13: 9780826403407
Language: English
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 334 KB
Edition: Bloomsbury Academic
Date of issue: March 1st 1991

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August 2007

Phenomenology, Hegelian Science, and History, again

This book contains the 1807 Preface to the "Phenomenology of Spirit", the entire 1817 "Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences In Outline" and two essays Hegel wrote (1828) regarding the literary critic Solger. So we here read a bit of Hegel from the beginning, middle, and end of his career. The Preface to the 'Phenomenology' is translated by A. V. Miller, and is the same one found in Miller's full translation of the Phenomenology. The 'Encyclopedia' is translated by Steven A. Taubeneck, and the essays on Solger are translated by Diana I. Behler; both of these were translated specifically for this volume and, according to the 'Note on the Texts', were never translated into English before.

The juxtaposition of the 1807 Preface and the 1817 Encyclopedia is quite suggestive. What were the reasons Hegel later in his career, or so it seems to many of us today, 'downplayed' the 1807 Phenomenology?

"Earlier, in the Phenomenology of Spirit, I have treated the scientific history of consciousness as the first part of philosophy, since it was meant to precede pure science and to generate its concept. At the same time, however, consciousness and its history, like every other philosophical science, are not an absolute beginning, but an element in the circle of philosophy." ("Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences In Outline" [1817], The Science of Logic, Preliminary Concepts, Section 36.)

It would seem that the 'beginning of philosophy' can occur anywhere (the 'circle' of) philosophy is, just as the 'beginning' of a circle can be said to be anywhere along the circumference of that circle. Those that actually Know (i.e., have achieved Hegelian Science) no longer need the Phenomenology. It is a ladder one climbs in order to reach Science. And once one is genuinely there? Well, it is quite inconceivable (for Hegel) that anyone would ever want to go back down. As Wittgenstein would say, throw away the ladder.

But the positions of Hegel and Wittgenstein are not really all that similar. Wittgenstein says,

"6.54 My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up it.)

7 What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence." (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, concluding propositions.)

Hegel would never say that the propositions of his Logic (or the entire System) were senseless, nor would he even insinuate that philosophy must end in Silence. Clearly, silence is not really Wittgenstein's final position either. He continued his Investigations throughout his life, as did Hegel. Now, there are three Encyclopedia's, each larger than the last. Hegel says of this (1817) Encyclopedia, "The Encyclopedia can contain nothing but the general content of philosophy, that is, the basic concepts and principles of its particular branches..." Of course, this minimalism (an askesis) would not satisfy the generation of Hegelians that rose after Hegel's death. Marx says, in the so-called 'Theses on Feuerbach', "Up until now philosophers have only interpreted the world, the point, however, is to change it."

Thus it can be said (for our present purposes) that Hegel is fighting a two front war; against those that want philosophical silence and those that want (a usually revolutionary) 'activism'. But the Science for the sake of which Hegel philosophized is neither the 'via negativa' of the mystics nor is it a cookbook for concocting utopias. Hegel, fundamentally, and with an awe-inspiring single mindedness, lusted after the Absolute Knowledge that only (or so he believed) his Science (of Wisdom) could deliver.

But, and this is continually lost to many superficial (and not so superficial, but purposeful) readers of Hegel; Absolute Knowledge, according to Hegel, is severely circumscribed. It is not Knowledge of Everything. It is only Knowledge of what can be scientifically (i.e., Science that equals Philosophical Wisdom) Known.

"The encyclopedia of philosophy thus excludes (1) mere assemblages of information, such as philology; and (2) pseudosciences that have mere arbitrariness as their basis, such as for example heraldry. Sciences of this type are thoroughly positive. (3) Other sciences are also called positive, however, that have a rational basis and beginning. This part belongs to philosophy; whereas the positive side remains peculiar to the sciences themselves." (Encyclopedia, Introduction, Section 10, p. 53 of this edition.)

So what does, and what does not, Philosophy Know? Does History have and End as Kojeve taught? But even if History does not End (i.e., reach the level of the Kojevean Universal Homogenous State) how is it that Philosophy Itself has an 'End' (i.e., Absolute Knowledge) when a circle does not?

First, what does Hegel think of contingency and the 'sciences' that must remain mired in it?

"The study of law, for example, or the system of direct or indirect taxation, ultimately require exact decisions that lie outside the determinacy in and for itself of the concept. Thus a certain latitude of determination is left open, so that for one reason something can be said in one way but for another reason it can be said in another, and neither is capable of definite certainty. Similarly, when it is separated into details the idea of nature dissolves into contingencies, and natural history, geography, and medicine stumble over descriptions of reality in terms of kinds and differences, which are not determined by reason but by chance and games. Even history belongs under this category, insofar as the idea is its essence, whose manifestation, however, lies in contingency and arbitrary decisions." (Encyclopedia, Introduction, Section 10, pp. 53-54 of this edition.)

So, you see, the manifestations of history cannot ever be known in their exact specificity, even though Philosophical Science is able to grasp History as Idea (or Concept). Since these manifestations cannot ever be entirely rational there can be no 'End of History' for Hegel. The 'Haecceity' (thisness) of specific circumstances cannot be known, not even by Hegelian Science. After reading the Encyclopedia one comes away thinking that Hegelian Science is not a science of details (philosophically, there can be no such thing) but of basic Concepts and Principles. It was the Hegel's Epigonic followers who donned the mask of prophesy and claimed to Know Everything. But Hegel says of this Encyclopedia that,

"The title should suggest partly the scope of the whole, and partly the attempt to leave the details for oral delivery." (Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences In Outline", Preface.)

One wonders if Hegel means to indicate that, like a circle, Science is now (thanks to Hegel) entirely Known, but the details are endless? A circle has infinite points; and so too, the details of the world Philosophical Science truly knows are also innumerable. But each detail, when (and if) it comes to light, can be Known by Hegelian Science - which is Itself entirely Known. Thus the necessity of "oral delivery" by Hegel (or a Master of Hegelian Science) is as unending as the details are innumerable... The rise of postmodernism perhaps indicates that what in principle can never be known, the specificity of each and all circumstance, has become more interesting to us (late moderns) than what can (one fights against an urge to say 'merely') be Known.

This book gets five stars, not only because it translates the otherwise untranslated 1817 Encyclopedia, but also because it has the Preface of the 1807 Phenomenology. Reading the 1807 Preface and then the 1817 Encyclopedia is an education in itself. I was considerably less interested in the essays on Solger; but Aesthetics has never been a focus of mine. I would have preferred a selection from either the final (1830) Encyclopedia or, perhaps, a little something from the 1831 'Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion'. But that is a quibble, if you are interested in the relation between Phenomenology and System, this is the book for you!

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Ebook Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Outline & Critical Writings read Online! German philosopher and one of the founding figures of German Idealism. Influenced by Kant's transcendental idealism and Rousseau's politics, Hegel formulated an elaborate system of historical development of ethics, government, and religion through the dialectical unfolding of the Absolute. Hegel was one of the most well-known historicist philosopher, and his thought presaged continental philosophy, including postmodernism. His system was inverted into a materialist ideology by Karl Marx, originally a member of the Young Hegelian faction.

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