Hegel, the philosopher most responsible for linking philosophy to history, appropriately argued that in his own day there simply could not be Platonists, Aristotelians, Stoics, or Epicureans, that one could not bring back an earlier stage of thought. In this massive two volume study Vittorio Hösle argues that, in the spirit of Hegel himself, there also cannot be contemporary Hegelians. But there can be “philosophers who attempt to mediate the tradition of objective idealism from Plato to Hegel with post-Hegelian philosophy and with contemporary science”, (p 57n) In the past many of the philosophers who have attempted such a “mediation” have concentrated on one or another aspect of Hegel's project, usually his philosophical anthropology, his social theory or political theory, his critique of modernity, theory of alienation, etc. Hösle ambitiously takes up what looks to be the most unlikely candidate for any “contemporary mediation,” Hegel's entire systematic attempt to link together “Logic”, “Philosophy of Nature” and “Philosophy of Spirit”.
Often Hösle's study is simply a survey of Hegel's systematic enterprise, providing paraphrase and plausibility where possible, summarising claims, excusing or pointing out excesses, pausing to debate other commentators, or complain about prominent mis-readings. He introduces his account with a long historical and theoretical discussion of Hegel's Encyclopedia system, and then offers a running commentary on its three major parts, devoting the largest blocks of attention to the Logic and the philosophy of objective spirit in the Rechtsphilosophie. But there is throughout one great thematic problem at issue that sets the tone of the book at the beginning and is returned to again and again.