Spreading Hegel’s Wings

Introduction to the Reading of Hegel

by Alexandre Kojève, edited by Allan Bloom, translated by James H. Nichols Jr.
Basic Books, 287 pp., $8.95

Studies on Marx and Hegel

by Jean Hyppolite, translated by John O’Neill
Basic Books, 202 pp., $6.50

Hegel: A Collection of Critical Essays

edited by Alasdair MacIntyre
Doubleday, 348 pp., $2.50 (paper)

Hegel’s Theory of the Modern State

by Shlomo Avineri
Cambridge University Press, 252 pp., $4.95 (paper)

Hegel

by Raymond Plant
Indiana University Press, 214 pp., $7.95

Introduction to Hegel’s Metaphysics

by Ivan Soll
University of Chicago Press, 160 pp., $2.25 (paper)

Hegel’s Idea of Philosophy

by Quentin J. Lauer S.J.
Fordham, 159 pp., $4.50 (paper)

Hegel’s Concept of Experience

by Martin Heidegger, translated by Albert Hofstadter
Harper and Row, 155 pp., $5.00

Hegel’s Science of Logic

translated by A.V. Miller
Humanities Press, 844 pp., $21.00

Hegel’s reputation in the English-speaking world was at its lowest ebb in 1945. That was the year of Russell’s History of Western Philosophy, with its genially dismissive treatment of Hegel, and of the stormy invective of the Hegel chapter in Karl Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies. In Britain the last embers of resistance to analytic philosophy, itself inaugurated at the turn of the century by Russell and Moore in total rejection of British neo-Hegelianism, had been stamped out. Collingwood had been dead for three years and had left no visible disciples. Idealism had, indeed, one distinguished exponent, the immaculately courteous and stylish Brand Blanshard at Yale. But his loyalty was not so much to Hegel as to F.H. Bradley, the most original and Hegelianly unorthodox of late-nineteenth-century British idealists, who, in fact, respectfully disowned Hegel. Like Bradley, Blanshard was more a critic of empiricism than a constructive practitioner of speculative philosophy. In all branches of philosophy Hegel’s ideas were not thought worth consideration even as an exemplary form of error, except in political philosophy, a field which analytic philosophers avoided and whose controversies thus proceeded, to the extent that they proceeded at all, in the idiom of an earlier age.

Hegel had fallen from grace in Europe by 1840, a decade after his death and long before he was known at all in the English-speaking world. But the chief initiators of the post-Hegelian philosophies of the nineteenth century, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, and Marx, critical as they were of Hegel, all agreed with him that philosophy should be done in the grand manner. Schopenhauer preserved his all-inclusively systematic aims; Kierkegaard followed his antiscientific concentration on the higher spiritual activities; Marx, claiming to be a scientist, understood by science a Hegelian, dialectical form of thinking. So although his European supplanters voted against Hegel, they accepted his agenda. But the brief interruption of idealism in Britain had no lasting effect on the national tradition of conceiving the philosopher, in the words of Locke and the practice of a host of others, as an underlaborer to the scientist, or, with Moore and the linguistic philosophers, to the common man.

What has done most for the restoration of Hegel’s fortunes, both in continental Europe and the English-speaking world, has been an increasing sense of the need for a new Marx. The official Marx of the interwar years, discredited as the theological ornamentation of Stalin’s slave state, was the late, scientistic Marx of Das Kapital, as interpreted by the naïvely positivist Engels, whose task it was to generalize Marx’s theory of history and society into the comprehensive philosophy of dialectical materialism. The recovery, by 1930, of Marx’s more Hegelian and philosophical early writings of the 1840s, from the Paris MS to The German Ideology, drew attention to a Marx, altogether more libertarian and less deterministic than the sage of Highgate, and, in its emphasis on man as the creator of himself and the world, much more …

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Letters

Absolutely Yours, Hegel October 2, 1975

Wrong Suburb September 18, 1975