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Chapter 7 - Hegel’s Anthropology

Transforming the Body

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 August 2021

Sebastian Stein
Affiliation:
Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen, Germany
Joshua Wretzel
Affiliation:
Pennsylvania State University
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Summary

Especially in the Zusätze and the 1827/8 Lectures on the Philosophy of Spirit, Hegel notes that cultivation is associated with minimizing the effects of natural determinations on one’s body. Insofar as nature is associated with particularity and reason with universality, idiosyncratic embodiments may seem incompatible with the kind of mastery of the body Hegel envisions. However, given that the “Anthropology” focuses on development of the soul rather than on the body, various compatible bodily possibilities may exist. This raises the question of how much the body’s comportment ought to correspond to an ideal, and of the implications for those whose embodiment marks them out (in Hegel’s system) as closer to nature. Since coming to own our natural determinations is an ongoing process throughout a lifetime, despite the location of the “Anthropology” in the Encyclopedia, it is important to consider the role of our free decision-making in the transformation of our body. Attending to the story of the body within the “Anthropology” helps us appreciate it more fully as a crucial link between the Philosophy of Nature and the rest of the Philosophy of Spirit.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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