Thread: Reading Hegel

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    Default Reading Hegel

    As soon as I'm done with Grundrisse, I'd like to read Hegel's Logic as well as other things. I've heard he's a terribly difficult writer who assumes his readers are already well versed in philosophy. Do I have to read Kant, Spinoza, or anyone else to make sense of Hegel, or can a careful reader jump head on into Hegel and get just as good of an understanding?
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    It would be good to familiarize yourself with the impact of Hegel's writing not just the precursors. You should look over the left and right hegelians. And other german philosophy to consider is Fichte, Schelling, Schopenhauer, Nietzche. I like Marcuse's "Hegel's Ontology and Theory of Historicity" as well as Adorno's Negative Dialectics, the first of which is a nice overview of Hegel and the second of which is an expansion on Hegel's theory of dialectics. Also understand that Hegel was resurrected by Lenin and Lukacs and then by the Frankfurt school.

    It wouldn't hurt to read Kant, Hume and Descarte as well but to go after Kant it would require a huge reading in itself.
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    It would be good to familiarize yourself with the impact of Hegel's writing not just the precursors. You should look over the left and right hegelians. And other german philosophy to consider is Fichte, Schelling, Schopenhauer, Nietzche. I like Marcuse's "Hegel's Ontology and Theory of Historicity" as well as Adorno's Negative Dialectics, the first of which is a nice overview of Hegel and the second of which is an expansion on Hegel's theory of dialectics. Also understand that Hegel was resurrected by Lenin and Lukacs and then by the Frankfurt school.

    It wouldn't hurt to read Kant, Hume and Descarte as well but to go after Kant it would require a huge reading in itself.
    well reading is like one of the three things i do in life so not a problem
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    It's recommended to read Kant for pretty much any philosopher after Kant. He's not the easiest, but Hegel is pretty impenetrable in comparison soooooooo
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    The Routledge History of Philosophy has a great volume called The Age of German Idealism. I am finding it a great introduction to Hegels thought (a large portion of it is devoted to Kant as well, which I suggest checking out before moving to Hegel). Basically it is divided into sections, each one around 20-30 pages, written by a different philosopher, all at quite a high level. 3 sections are dedicated to Hegel, the first to his phenomenology of spirit, the second to his logic and theory of the mind, and the third to his concept of spirit and politics.

    You can find it online. If you need help you can PM me.
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    ". . . best means for getting a headache!"
    - Lenin, making the most lucid analysis of Hegel ever.

    Also, Lenin is way better when you quote him out of context nine times out of ten.
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    ". . . best means for getting a headache!"
    - Lenin, making the most lucid analysis of Hegel ever.

    Also, Lenin is way better when you quote him out of context nine times out of ten.
    Isn't he always quoted out of context?
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    Please don't try to read anything by Adorno to make Hegel easier. Adorno is far more confusing and convoluted than Hegel ever was. Not to say he isn't a great thinker.

    I would read, definitely, for sure, without question, "The Philosophy of Hegel" by W. T. Stace. If you find Kojeve to be too dense, which he is really pretty dense as well, try Stace. It's easy to read and he goes through EVERY SINGLE DEDUCTION in Hegel's system (except the philosophy of nature).
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    I was thinking of what might enrich your reading of Hegel, when I suggested Adorno. Adorno is pretty hard reading but I think he is even clearer than Hegel, but that is probably just me.
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    As soon as I'm done with Grundrisse, I'd like to read Hegel's Logic as well as other things. I've heard he's a terribly difficult writer who assumes his readers are already well versed in philosophy. Do I have to read Kant, Spinoza, or anyone else to make sense of Hegel, or can a careful reader jump head on into Hegel and get just as good of an understanding?
    Do yourself a favour. Forget about it. It's completely useless save for philological reasons and a case of morbid curiosity. And anyway, trying to comprehend Marxt through Hegel is a terrible, terrible idea.

    You might profit off of Lucio Colletti's Marxism and Hegel, though.
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    Do yourself a favour. Forget about it. It's completely useless save for philological reasons and a case of morbid curiosity. And anyway, trying to comprehend Marxt through Hegel is a terrible, terrible idea.

    You might profit off of Lucio Colletti's Marxism and Hegel, though.
    I'm pretty much a strict materialist and don't buy teleology or the ideal for a minute, but I read all sorts of things I know I won't agree with philosophically. I like having my positions challenged.
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    I'm pretty much a strict materialist and don't buy teleology or the ideal for a minute, but I read all sorts of things I know I won't agree with philosophically. I like having my positions challenged.
    Then read Popper, or Mannheim, or someone whom you won't have to break your neck while trying to understand

    That pinnacle of idealism can hardly challenge one's materialist viewpoint since it doesn't even demonstrate its underlying assumptions (all philosophy is idealism - that is self-evident to Hegel, and he merely sets out to work out in full, to the last minute detail, the steps flowing from that; do you think that solypsism is challenging?).
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    As soon as I'm done with Grundrisse, I'd like to read Hegel's Logic as well as other things. I've heard he's a terribly difficult writer who assumes his readers are already well versed in philosophy. Do I have to read Kant, Spinoza, or anyone else to make sense of Hegel, or can a careful reader jump head on into Hegel and get just as good of an understanding?
    I've not made it to Hegel yet, so I honestly have no answer. But I highly recommend Spinoza regardless because he's awesome and will change your life.
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    I have heard good things about this Hegel scholar Terry Pinkard, who has written a book called German Philosophy 1760-1860: The Legacy of Idealism. Thought it was a pretty good read, starts with Kant, goes through a buncha neo-Kantians (Fichte, Schelling, Schleiermacher, et. al.) then through Hegel, followed by Kierkegaard and Schopenhauer. It puts forward a good historical context in which the ideas took shape, looking at the social, political and economic torsions that were taking place in Germany while situating the philosophical systems and ideas within this context. I'd recommend it. He also has done a few works on Hegel, which I have not checked out yet.

    I think you should just go for the Hegel first without any help. Maybe reading a bit on Kant (in the book I referenced, which lays down Kant's philosophical project pretty clearly) and then reading Hegel, who was indeed responding to the Kantian problematic of leading a dutiful life as an autonomous self-legislating Subject, but with Hegel, vis-a-vis a contemporary religion as the objective guarantee for Reason. A lot of Hegel's ideas are kinda stolen from other German idealists, i.e. Fichte and Schelling, which he wrote a paper earlier in his life on the comparison of their philosophical systems.

    Anyway, have you read Phenomenology of Spirit? I would recommend reading that before getting into his Science of Logic. I personally haven't read the Logic yet, but would be down to do a reading group on it if others are interested.....
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    Hegel is nonsense.
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    Hegel is nonsense.
    Gee, thanks for that useless contribution.
    I'm pretty much a strict materialist and don't buy teleology or the ideal for a minute, but I read all sorts of things I know I won't agree with philosophically. I like having my positions challenged.
    I used to think that, actually. I would urge you to give teleology another chance. This essay may help explain its importance to materialism. I would also recommend to use control-F to find the term so that you won't have to go through the entire paper.
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    Personally, I'd say Hegel is largely a waste of time. Obscurantist nonsense, and to the extent that Marx borrowed from him (whatever that is, is debatable), it was to his detriment.

    That being said, if you absolutely must read Hegel, as some others have said, what he's trying to do makes a lot more sense in the context of the fallout from Kant. Understanding what basic concerns motivated Kant, and what the impact of his ideas were, makes Hegel less impenetrable, because you can kind of see what sorts of concerns he was wrestling with.

    Also, Hegel being so impenetrable, again if you must read him, I'd say it's almost mandatory to have secondary sources as companion volumes. Personally I'd recommend Frederick Beiser's introductory work (which I believe is just called Hegel, it's in the Routledge Philosophers series), as well as his book German Idealism: The Struggle Against Subjectivism 1781-1801, which is a historical overview of the whole movement and period. In fact, I'd read that first. Beiser is probably the best intellectual historian of German idealism.

    Oh, and finally, you might find The Hegel Dictionary by M.J. Inwood helpful. It is a topically-organized "encyclopedia" which has detailed, but not overly-so, entries on either what Hegel thought about a particular topic, particular terms/concepts of his, etc.

    So, to summarize, I'd say start by reading Beiser's German Idealism. Then read his Hegel in conjunction with Hegel's work, using the dictionary as a reference when the going gets tough.

    Again, if it were up to me, I wouldn't waste time on this wooly-headed mystic and I'd read Frege instead.
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    I find the level of Hegel hate here to be ridiculous, and anti-dialectics to be ridiculous too. The kind of politics you get out of analytic philosophy is nothing like Marxism at all. Where are the radical analytic philosophers? Hegel is definitely worth the time.
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    I find the level of Hegel hate here to be ridiculous, and anti-dialectics to be ridiculous too. The kind of politics you get out of analytic philosophy is nothing like Marxism at all. Where are the radical analytic philosophers? Hegel is definitely worth the time.
    There have been many leftist or left-leaning "analytic" philosophers. First of all, many of the members of the Vienna Circle and the associated Berlin Society, the first real "movement" of analytic philosophy, were socialists and saw their opposition to traditional philosophy, attempt to construct an ideal language, etc. as part of a broader social/cultural struggle. Moritz Schlick and Rudolf Carnap were both socialists. Otto Neurath was a Marxist economist and social theorist, and served as an official in the short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic. The de-politicization of this philosophy occurred when many of the (surviving) members of the Vienna Circle and related groups fled to the US and the UK to escape persecution in their native countries. A cost of this was that they had to basically "keep quiet" about politics, as they were under scrutiny. George Reisch has an excellent book on this called How the Cold War Transformed the Philosophy of Science.

    The broadly post-positivist trend that dominates so-called "analytic" philosophy today owes its heritage to the debates within logical empiricism immediately following this migration, though in the United States at any rate it has taken an unfortunately metaphysical turn from the 1970s-1980s on, due in large part to the work of Saul Kripke and David Lewis. Even still, some of the most important thinkers in this post-positivist tradition were or are socialists; Donald Davidson comes most prominently to mind. There's also the obvious Noam Chomsky.

    There are other strains that make up so-called "analytic" philosophy besides the dominant post-positivist one, as well. American-style pragmatism has produced a notable number of socialists and fostered engagement with socialist or left-leaning thinkers, with Sidney Hook coming most immediately to mind as an actual Marxist, though there is also Cornel West (who is left-leaning, though not a radical by my standards). And of course there was so-called "ordinary language philosophy" in the UK, among whom some of the leading figures were socialists; J.L. Austin and Gilbert Ryle, most prominently. And that's leaving aside Wittgenstein himself (whom I like to distinguish from his OLP "offspring"), who spoke favorably of Lenin's politics, supported the communist student organizations at Cambridge, was friends with prominent socialists (like friggin' Piero Sraffa), and was invited to teach at Kazan University in the USSR, Lenin's old university. That a Cambridge philosopher would be invited to the early USSR speaks volumes.

    Furthermore, we Wittgensteinians, who make up the largest faction of the anti-dialectics crowd, are hardly a majority tradition in Anglophone philosophy, we've always been a small minority because we question traditional philosophy itself. So it isn't quite right to identify the anti-dialectics crowd, including myself, with "analytic" philosophy as most Anglophone philosophers understand the term, because we fall decidedly outside the mainstream of what that term means.

    I could easily level the criticism at "Hegelian" philosophy that one gets shitty politics out of it, by pointing out that Hegel himself was an apologist for the state, by pointing at the endless parade of authoritarian "dialecticians" (Stalin and his cronies coming foremost in my mind), the politically useless at best Frankfurt School, etc. Now, you might object "but these don't represent all Hegelians!" Perhaps, but then it is just as wrong to lump anti-dialectics with a monolithic "analytic" philosophy.
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    To the commentor above, Stalin was actually notorious for being shitty at dialetics. But that isn't the point of this thread.

    Hegal once said that "To be a philosopher is to be a Spinozian". So personally I would recommend that you read Spizonova's Ethics since he largely invented the scientific method as it is applied to philosophy. Additionally his secular Pantheism can be seen as a precursor to determinism and materialism.

    Also if you are looking at a book on Dialectical Materialism then I'd recommend Mao's work On Contradiction, since it is much better written than most dialectical works.
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