Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

What Is Novel in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit

  • Antón Barba-Kay (a1)

Abstract

While it has long been commonplace to advert to the Phenomenology of Spirit's peculiar prosaic form, there has been no sustained, thematic attempt to understand the relationship between that form—as a continuous, quasi-fictional narrative—and the work's philosophical content. I argue that some of what has been felt to be outlandish about the form may be better accounted for by reading it as connected to purposeful literary decisions, decisions in turn exhibiting philosophical claims about the new mode of modern self-understanding that the argument is concerned with advancing. Extending Allen Speight's suggestions that Hegel sees literature as closely connected to his theory of agency, I argue that the Phenomenology's narrative should be understood as itself specifically and deliberately novelesque. I focus on three points that help clarify the book's form as not simply in keeping with, but as expressing aspects of its content: (1) the narrative structure of consciousness (as a unified, unfolding activity through which Hegel explores the notion of actuality), (2) the theatricalizing counterpoint between the ‘in itself’ and ‘for itself’ (as a dramatic device that Hegel connects to the social underpinnings of consciousness), and (3) the role of confession and forgiveness in the argument (as a theme that Schlegel had singled out as essential to the novel, and that Hegel repurposes both to criticize and to overcome Romanticism). I do not say that the Phenomenology is itself a novel, but that construing some of its formal features and gestures as evoking the genre of the novel can help us to see more of what is philosophically at stake in them, and therefore in the work as a whole.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Abbott, H. P. (2002), The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Arendt, H. (1998), The Human Condition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Benjamin, W. (2007), Illuminations: Essays and Reflections. New York: Schocken.
Berger, J. (2001), Selected Essays. New York: Vintage.
Bernstein, J. M. (ed.) (2003), Classic and Romantic German Aesthetics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bloch, E. (1952), Subjekt-Objekt. Erläuterungen zu Hegel. Berlin: Aufbau.
Bloch, E. (1961), ‘Das Faustmotiv der Phänomenologie des Geistes’, Hegel-Studien 1: 155–57.
Booth, W. C. (1983), The Rhetoric of Fiction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Cook, D. J. (1973), Language in the Philosophy of Hegel. The Hague: Mouton.
Descartes, R. (1984), The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, trans. Cottingham, J., Stoothoff, R. and Murdoch, D., Vol. II. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dove, K. R. (1970), ‘Hegel's Phenomenological Method’, Review of Metaphysics 23: 615–41.
Engels, F. (1941), Ludwig Feuerbach and the Outcome of Classical German Philosophy, ed. Dutt, C.P.. New York: International Publishers.
Förster, E. (2012), The Twenty-Five Years of Philosophy: A Systematic Reconstruction, trans. Bowman, B.. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.
Gadamer, H-G. (1976), Hegel's Dialectic: Five Hermeneutical Studies, trans. Smith, P. C.. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Herman, D., Jahn, M. and Ryan, M-L. (eds.) (2005), Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. Routledge: New York.
Herman, D., Phelan, J., Rabinowitz, P. J., Richardson, B. and Warhol, R. (2012), Narrative Theory: Core Concepts and Critical Debates. Columbus: The Ohio State University Press.
Hölderlin, F. (2009), Essays and Letters, ed. and trans. Adler, J. and Louth, C.. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Houlgate, S. (1986), Hegel, Nietzsche and the Criticism of Metaphysics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Houlgate, S. (forthcoming), ‘Hegel and Goethe's Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre’, in Elridge, S. (ed.), Goethe's Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship and Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Kant, I. (2000), Critique of the Power of Judgment, trans. Guyer, P. and Matthews, E.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kant, I. (2007), Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View. In Anthropology, History, and Education, ed. Zöller, G. and Louden, R. B., trans. Louden, R.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kant, I. (2012), Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, ed. and trans. Gregor, M. and Timmermann, J.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lauer, Q. (1984), ‘Hegel as Poet’, in Perkins, R. L. (ed.), History and System: Hegel's Philosophy of History. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Lauer, Q. (1993), A Reading of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. New York: Fordham University Press.
Loewenberg, J. (1965), Hegel's Phenomenology: Dialogues on The Life of Mind. La Salle IL: Open Court.
Lukács, G. (1969), Goethe and His Age, trans. Anchor, R.. New York: The University Library.
Lukács, G. (1971), The Theory of the Novel: A Historico-Philosophical Essay on the Forms of Great Epic Literature, trans. Bostock, A.. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.
Manent, P. (2014), Montaigne: la vie sans loi. Paris: Flammarion.
McCumber, J. (1993), The Company of Words: Hegel, Language, and Systematic Philosophy. Evanston IL: Northwestern University Press.
McKeon, M. (2002), The Origins of the English Novel, 1600–1740. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Moyar, D. (2011), Hegel's Conscience. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Nicolin, G. (ed.) (1970), Hegel in Berichten seiner Zeitgenossen. Hamburg: Meiner.
Pavel, T. G. (2015), The Lives of the Novel: A History. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Phelan, J. (2007), Experiencing Fiction: Judgments, Progressions, and the Rhetorical Theory of Narrative. Columbus: The Ohio State University Press.
Pinkard, T. (2001), Hegel: A Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Pinkard, T. (2002), German Philosophy 1760–1860: The Legacy of Idealism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Pippin, R. B. (1989), Hegel's Idealism: The Satisfactions of Self-Consciousness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Pippin, R. B. (1997), ‘Hegel on Historical Meaning: For Example, the Enlightenment’, Bulletin of the Hegel Society of Great Britain 35: 117.
Pippin, R. B. (2011), ‘The Status of Literature in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit: On the Lives of Concepts’, in Gray, T. et al. (eds.), Inventions of the Imagination: Romanticism and Beyond. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
Pöggeler, O. (1973), Hegels Idee einer Phänomenologie des Geistes. Freiburg/Munich: Karl Albert.
Richardson, B. (2006), Unnatural Voices: Extreme Narration in Modern and Contemporary Fiction. Columbus: The Ohio State University Press.
Rutter, B. (2010), Hegel on the Modern Arts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sallis, J. (1977), ‘Hegel's Concept of Presentation’, Hegel-Studien 12: 129–56.
Schelling, F. W. J. von (1984), Bruno or, on the Natural and Divine Principle of Things, ed. and trans. Vater, M. G.. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Schelling, F. W. J. von (2002), Clara or, on Nature's Connection to the Spirit World, trans. Steinkamp, F.. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Schlegel, F. (1971), Lucinde and the Fragments, trans. Firchow, P.. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Smith, J. H. (1988), The Spirit and Its Letter: Traces of Rhetoric in Hegel's Philosophy of Bildung. Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press.
Smith, S. B. (1991), Hegel's Critique of Liberalism: Rights in Context. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Solomon, R. C. (1983), In the Spirit of Hegel: A Study of G.W.F. Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Speight, A. (2001), Hegel, Literature and the Problem of Agency. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Speight, A. (2006), ‘Hegel on Conscience and the History of Moral Philosophy’, in Deligiorgi, K. (ed.), Hegel: New Directions. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press.
Speight, A. (2010), ‘Hegel, Narrative and Agency’, in Laitinen, A. and Sandis, C. (eds.), Hegel on Action. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Verene, D. P. (1985), Hegel's Recollection: A Study of Images in the Phenomenology of Spirit. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

What Is Novel in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit

  • Antón Barba-Kay (a1)

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.