Interpreting Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit
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Interpreting Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit

Expositions and Critique of Contemporary Readings

Ivan Boldyrev, Sebastian Stein, Ivan Boldyrev, Sebastian Stein

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eBook - ePub

Interpreting Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit

Expositions and Critique of Contemporary Readings

Ivan Boldyrev, Sebastian Stein, Ivan Boldyrev, Sebastian Stein

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Información del libro

This book focuses on the interpretations of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit that have proved influential over the past decades. Current readers of Hegel's Phenomenology face an abundance of interpretive literature devoted to this difficult text and confront a plethora of different philosophical presuppositions, research strategies and hermeneutic efforts.To enable a better orientation within the interpretative landscape, the essays in this volume summarize, contextualize and critically comment on the issues and currents in contemporary Phenomenology scholarship. There is a common set of three questions that each of the contributions seeks to answer: (1) What kind of text is The Phenomenology of Spirit? (2) What do the different strategies of interpretation conceptually bring to the text? (3) How do different interpreters justify their verdict on whether the Phenomenology is still a viable project?

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Información

Editorial
Routledge
Año
2021
ISBN
9780429638640
Edición
1
Categoría
Philosophie

1 Heidegger on the Beginning of Hegel’s Phenomenology

Ioannis Trisokkas
DOI: 10.4324/9780429030192-2

1.1 Introduction

In his Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit (hereafter HPS),1 which includes his 1930–31 lectures on The Phenomenology of Spirit, Heidegger states not only that Hegelian phenomenology “begins absolutely with the absolute” but also that this phenomenological beginning is a necessary beginning of Hegel’s “system of science.” Although Heidegger acknowledges that the “proper” or “appropriate” beginning or “ground” of this system is the logical beginning (the beginning posited by Hegelian logic), he insists not only that there is also a second beginning of the system, namely, the one provided by the Phenomenology of Spirit, but also that this beginning is necessary. Thus, Heidegger subscribes to the paradoxically sounding thesis that Hegel’s system of science must have two beginnings. The present chapter attempts, first, to flesh out this thesis (§§2–4) and, second, to uncover Heidegger’s argument for (or justification of) the claim that the phenomenological beginning is necessary to the Hegelian system of science (§§5–6).
Heidegger’s argument for the necessity of the phenomenological beginning brings out what Heidegger calls “the inner law of the work [i.e., the Phenomenology],”2 a “law” that “enabl[es] us to attain the depth and fullness of the whole [of the Phenomenology].”3 This “law” is contrasted with the “peculiarity” and “actuality” characterizing differently each form of consciousness, “each stage of [the] history” of consciousness, which are the individual “components” of the Phenomenology.4 Although it is important not to neglect these different peculiarities and actualities, it is equally important not to lose ourselves in them:5 we must make an effort to uncover “the lawfulness proper (eigene) to the work and its problem.”6 This lawfulness is brought out, I maintain, by the argument for the necessity of the phenomenological beginning, which the forthcoming discussion will seek to uncover.

1.2 Absolute and Relative Knowledge, Absolute and Explicit Beginning

Heidegger’s distinctive and most important thesis in HPS, which drives his whole interpretation of the Phenomenology, is that phenomenology “begins absolutely with the absolute.”7 To understand this thesis we need to have an idea of what Heidegger means with “begins absolutely” and “the absolute.” There are many indications in HPS that “absolute knowledge” is used synonymously with “the absolute.”8 So Heidegger’s thesis is that phenomenology begins absolutely with absolute knowledge.
Absolute knowledge is defined in contrast to relative knowledge. Yet, there are two ways to understand the “relativity” and, correspondingly, the “absoluteness” of knowledge: quantitatively and qualitatively. Quantitatively relative knowledge is knowledge of a part, instead of the whole, of a domain. It exists “when there is still something else about which that knowledge knows nothing.”9 Or, again, it is that knowledge “which does not know everything there is to know.”10 In contradistinction to this notion of relative knowledge, absolute knowledge would be quantitatively absolute, meaning that “it … know[s] everything there is to know.”11Quantitatively relative and absolute knowledge are determined, then, by the range of knowing (a part or the whole of a domain).
Heidegger claims that “for Hegel the concepts of relative and absolute, as characters of knowledge, are to be understood not quantitatively but qualitatively.”12 (So, for Heidegger, Hegel’s “absolute” is not, as commonly assumed, a term describing a mind that knows everything there is to know.) Qualitatively relative knowledge is knowledge that exhibits “a relation to that which is known,” “a knowledge of something,”13 or, if you will, a relation to and a knowledge of objects. Heidegger informs us also, very importantly, that in qualitatively relative knowledge, knowledge is “being carried over to that which it knows,”14 that it “is consumed by it, surrenders to it, and is knowingly lost in it.”15 It is a knowledge that is “caught up and imprisoned by what it knows.”16 Later, Heidegger repeats this characterization of qualitatively relative knowledge: “to know relatively [is] to know merely by constantly fastening precisely on what is known” and “to be absorbed in what is known.”17
The notion of absolute knowledge’s “being carried over” to “what is known” (object) is especially significant here because it designates a “gap” between the mind that knows and the object of knowledge. I will understand qualitatively relative knowledge as a “knowledge,” or, better, a mind, that assumes that knowledge is only about objects that are distinct from it and, what is more important, that for this knowledge to be established there has to be an active or passive relation to those objects: this means, it assumes that knowledge has to either be confirmed by distinct objects or be imposed on distinct objects. This structure holds even for a mind that purports to know itself or its knowledge as an object: it either demands confirmation of itself or its knowledge by a distinct material self or knowledge or conceives of itself or its knowledge as having a structure that has been imposed on it by a distinct presence of its self or its knowledge. As Heidegger points out, “such a relative knowledge … Hegel calls … ‘consciousness.’”18
Since absolute knowledge is “not relative” knowledge, qualitatively absolute knowledge does not exhibit the characteristics of relative knowledge. Therefore, it is not exhibited as a relation to an object. This means: it does not involve a carrying over to the object, a consumption by it, a surrender to it, and a getting lost in it. To my mind, what Heidegger claims here is that absolute knowledge, determined in qualitatively absolute terms, is an intelligence or a mind that acquires knowledge, either of an object or of itself or of its knowledge, by staying solely within itself, to wit, by not “relating” to objects, by not going over to them. In Heidegger’s words,
the manner of this knowing is not to know relatively, not to know merely by constantly fastening precisely on what is known, but rather [to know by] detaching oneself (sich ablösend) from what is known…. It means not to be absorbed in what is known …19
Thus, Heidegger’s thesis that phenomenology begins absolutely with absolute knowledge means that phenomenology begins absolutely with qualitatively absolute knowledge, namely, with a knowledge that does not involve a mind’s going over to objects in order to know them.
If Heidegger’s thesis was simply that phenomenology begins with absolute knowledge, it would be obviously wrong, for phenomenology apparently or explicitly begins with consciousness. Sense-certainty, with which phenomenology begins, is explicitly a form of consciousness, not absolute knowledge. Yet, what Heidegger claims, more accurately, is that phenomenology begins absolutely with absolute knowledge. Therefore, in Heidegger’s reading of the Phenomenology, phenomenology has two simultaneous beginnings: (a) an absolute beginning, made with absolute knowledge, and (b) an apparent or explicit beginning, made with consciousness.
What does it mean to say that phenomenology “begins absolutely” with absolute knowledge? What is an “absolute beginning”? To my mind, Heidegger’s signification of “absolute beginning” is that it is a beginning that involves the essence of the subject matter (die Sache) that begins. To say that phenomenology begins absolutely with absolute knowledge is to say that it begins essentially with absolute knowledge, to wit, that phenomenology is, “deep down,” about absolute knowledge from the beginning (and not only at the end).20 It is to say also that the essence of relative knowledge or consciousness is absolute knowledge.
An absolute beginning, which captures the essence of the subject matter, does not exclude the possibility that it could also be an explicit beginning (that is to say, a discipline or a subject matter could begin explicitly with its essence), but, crucially, it also does not entail that it is immediately apparent or explicit (to wit, a discipline or a subject matter may not begin explicitly with its essence, although the essence will, of course, be there implicitly). Specifically, in the case of phenomenology (consciousness), it so happens that its absolute beginning is not explicit; it is, rather, hidden or “concealed.” As Heidegger puts it, phenomenology’s absolute beginning with absolute knowledge “is simply concealed from us.”21 Or, again,
relative knowledge is also absolute knowledge, although in a concealed way.22
The relation between the two beginnings of phenomenology, as well as their relation to the beginning of logic, is what we need to clarify in order to get the substance of Heidegger’s interpretation of the Phenomenology.

1.3 The Phenomenology-System versus the Encyclopedia-System

Heidegger’s puzzlement over the Phenomenology stems from his belief that, for Hegel, the “system of science” contains two beginnings, one provided by phenomenology, another by logic. Insofar as the system begins with phenomenology, it takes the form of “the phenomenology-system,” in which phenomenology “grounds” logic, philosophy of nature, and philosophy of spirit. Yet, insofar as the system begins with logic, it takes the form of “the encyclopedia-system,” in which logic grounds philosophy of nature and philosophy of spirit.23 The question is why the system must have two beginnings and especially a beginning with phenomenology.
Logic, philosophy of nature, and philosophy of spirit correspond, Heidegger maintains, to the constituent disciplines of traditional metaphysics. The latter has two parts: metaphysica generalis and metaphysica specialis. While metaphysica generalis consists of ontology, metaphysica specialis consists of speculative psychology, speculative cosmology, and speculative theology. Hegel’s philosophy of nature corresponds to speculative cosmology, his philosophy of spirit to speculative psychology, and his logic to “an original unity” of ontology and speculative theology, an “onto-theology.”24
What is significant to note here is that, for Heidegger, traditional metaphysics and, consequently, the encyclopedia-system have absolute knowledge or “the absolute” as their explicit subject matter. Logic begins by positing the minimal structure of absolute knowledge, which is pure, indeterminate being or, what means the same, th...

Índice

  1. Cover
  2. Half Title
  3. Series Page
  4. Title Page
  5. Copyright Page
  6. Contents
  7. Contributors
  8. Introduction: On Meta-Readings
  9. 1 Heidegger on the Beginning of Hegel’s Phenomenology
  10. 2 “Now is the Night”: Deixis in Hegel and Maldiney
  11. 3 Truth and (its) Appearance in Hegel’s Phenomenology: Brandom, Pippin and Houlgate on Geist and Consciousness
  12. 4 Masters, Slaves, and Us: The Ongoing Allure of the Struggle for Recognition
  13. 5 McDowell’s Rejection of Recognition-Based Readings of Hegel in Chapter 4 of The Phenomenology of Spirit
  14. 6 Self-Consciousness and Alienation: The Young Marx’s Reception on Hegel’s Master–Slave Dialectic
  15. 7 Hegel on Death
  16. 8 “Heroism Without Fate, Self-Consciousness Without Alienation”: Antigone, Trust and the Narrative Structure of Spirit
  17. 9 Hegel Versus Subjective Duties and External Reasons: Recent Readings of “Morality” and “Conscience” in The Phenomenology of Spirit
  18. 10 On Comay on Hegel
  19. 11 Religion in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit
  20. 12 Hegel’s Art-Religion in The Phenomenology of Spirit and Beyond
  21. 13 Absolute Mapping: Jameson’s Variations on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit
  22. 14 The Last Sigh of Absolute Knowledge: Schiller’s Friendship and Hegel’s Readers
  23. Index