On the reading of Hegel

As regular readers of this blog may recall, I have been doing a tutorial on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit with a Shimer student all this school year. Last semester, we got up to the end of Reason, and now we’re working our way through Spirit. The later portions are not as familiar to me, so I’ve tried to keep a couple readings ahead — but in the last week, I completely plowed through the whole remaining text, along with the Hyppolite commentary.

This Hegel binge may be justified on pedagogical grounds, but it was hardly necessary. As I reflected on what motivated me to take the plunge, I recalled previous times that I’d read through the Phenomenology and realized that I always turned to Hegel during times of transition in my life. The first time I tackled the whole thing was at a time when my first post-college roommate had moved out of our apartment and I was waiting on new roommates. The second time was the summer before I started at Shimer. And now, in the wake of finishing a major project and as I’m casting about for a new one, yet again I feel the pull of Spirit….

The really decisive moment came during Hegel’s exposition of the Trinity in the Revealed Religion section — suddenly poking at this little article about Augustine and Coates no longer felt satisfying at all. I needed to start thinking more seriously about the next big project, on the Trinity. And retrospectively, my work on Hegel heretofore appeared as work on my Trinity project, which it had always been in itself but had now become for itself. The transition became the destination itself, where I had always been and could now securely remain.

So anyway, I’m going to take advantage of my fresh reading of the Phenomenology to read some Hegel secondaries I’ve been meaning to read for a while. If anyone has a recommendation on Hegel and theology (or specifically Hegel and the Trinity), I’m all ears — while at the same time being not all ears and being the very mediation between the two states.

11 thoughts on “On the reading of Hegel

  1. I really liked what I read of Wallace’s “Hegel’s Philosophy of Reality, Freedom, and God”. It’s a bit jargony at places (his exposition of parts of WdL are not much easier than WdL itself), but I think there’re some really interesting ideas in his work.

    Hodgson’s little book “Liberal Theology: A Radical Vision” is worth looking at; Hodgson is the guy who edited Hegel’s lectures for those big fat “Philosophy of Religion” volumes.

    Calton’s “Hegel’s Metaphysics of God” is one of the worst books I’ve ever read. It’s so bad it made me skeptical of anything published by Ashgate.

    Those are just the three that come to mind before class.

  2. Also, though I haven’t read it (unlike O’Regan’s book, which “changed my life”!), there’s Dale Schmitt’s “Hegel’s Trinitarian Claim: A Critical Reflection”.

  3. Sounds delightful; makes me wish you all were in Waukegan and I could stop by on the walk home from the train…. I like Charles Taylor’s book on Hegel. O’Regan is a rather distant memory now, but I recall thinking he did a wonderful job with the connections to Luther through heterodox figures like Jakob Boehme. It occurs to me now that O’Regan first got me interested in mysticism.

  4. Another one that may be good to have within reach is Malabou’s The Future of Hegel. I don’t think there’s any explicit mention of the Trinity but her reading of plasticity as a threefold handling/un-handling of things (the giving, taking and destruction of form) may be relevant or oddly analogous to the structure of the Trinity (at least as I am understanding it in Agamben).

  5. I haven’t actually read it so I can’t recommend it, but Dale Schlitt has book published by SUNY press about Hegel and the Trinity called Hegel’s Trinitarian Claim

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