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Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit is probably his most famous work. First published in 1801, it has exercised considerable influence on subsequent thinkers, from Marx and Kierkegaard to Heidegger, Koj?ve, Adorno and Derrida. The book contains many memorable passages on, for example, the master/slave dialectic, the unhappy consciousness, Sophocles' Antigone and the French Revolution and offers a great deal both to the student and the specialist. It is, however, a very difficult book and needs to be studied together ...
Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit is probably his most famous work. First published in 1801, it has exercised considerable influence on subsequent thinkers, from Marx and Kierkegaard to Heidegger, Kojève, Adorno and Derrida. The book contains many memorable passages on, for example, the master/slave dialectic, the unhappy consciousness, Sophocles' Antigone and the French Revolution and offers a great deal both to the student and the specialist. It is, however, a very difficult book and needs to be studied together with a clear and accessible secondary text.
Stephen Houlgate is Professor of Philosophy and Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Warwick, where he teaches on The Phenomenology of Spirit at both undergraduate and graduate level.
He is the the author of Freedom, Truth and History: An Introduction to Hegel's Philosophy (orig. Routledge, 2nd Ed forthcoming from Blackwell 2004) and the editor of Blackwell's 'Hegel Reader' and 'Hegel and the Philosophy of Nature' (SUNY)
1. Context The book will open with a brief biography of Hegel and a brief account of the background to his philosophy. It will discuss Hegel's influences, including the French Revolution, Kant, Fichte and Goethe. In doing so, Houlgate will make the point that Hegel saw his world as one in which the desire for freedom had become the principal driving force and argue that the Phenomenology is to be understood as his attempt to promote freedom in the modern world by liberating consciousness from its familiar preconceptions.
2. Overview of Themes Here, Houlgate will draw out the principal themes which Hegel seeks to address in the Phenomenology. These are, in brief:
1) that phenomenology serves as an introduction to philosophy proper, but has a distinctive method of its own (discussed primarily in the Preface and Introduction);
2) that phenomenology proceeds by showing how consciousness undermines its own point of view immanently and dialectically;
3) that consciousness undermines its own point of view precisely by insisting on its validity and clinging on to itself persistently;
4) that in the process decribed by phenomenology consciousness makes necessary not only personal, individual consciousness, but also various forms of intersubjective -that is, social and historical - consciousness (or "spirit"), as well as religious consciousness and philosophical thought.
3. Reading the text This section will provide a close reading of the text and will form the bulk of the book. Sections covered will include: Hegel's Introduction, Sense-Certainty, Desire and the Master/Slave, the Unhappy Consciousness, "True Spirit; The Ethical Order" (i.e. the world of Sophocles' Antigone), Self-alienated spirit, Morality, Religion, and Absolute Knowledge.
4. Reception and Influence Will discuss Hegel's influence on, and interpretation by, figures such as Marx, Heidegger, Feuerbach and Kierkegaard. Houlgate will consider how Hegel's ideas have been taken forward and to what extent post-Hegelian's have been able to solve the various problems that formed part of Hegel's legacy.
5. Bibliography & Notes for further reading This will point the reader towards some more detailed secondary literature on the specific topics covered.