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Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (German pronunciation: [ˈɡeɔɐ̯k ˈvɪlhɛlm ˈfʁiːdʁɪç ˈheːɡəl]) (August 27, 1770 – November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher, one of the creators of German Idealism. His historicist and idealist account of reality as a whole revolutionized European philosophy and was an important precursor to Continental philosophy and Marxism.  HP Pavilion dv2-1137ax battery Hegel developed a comprehensive philosophical framework, or "system", of Absolute idealism to account in an integrated and developmental way for the relation of mind andnature, the subject and object of knowledge,  HP 500028-142 battery psychology, the state, history, art, religion and philosophy. In particular, he developed the concept that mind or spirit manifested itself in a set of contradictions and oppositions that it ultimately integrated and united, without eliminating either pole or reducing one to the other. Examples of such contradictions include those between nature and freedom, and between immanence and transcendence. Sony vaio VPCYB35JC battery Hegel influenced writers of widely varying positions, including both his admirers (Strauss,Bauer, Feuerbach, T. H. Green, Marx, Vygotsky, F. H. Bradley, Dewey, Sartre, Croce,Küng, Kojève, Fukuyama, Žižek, Brandom, Iqbal) and his detractors (Schopenhauer,Schelling, Kierkegaard, Stirner, Nietzsche, Peirce, Popper, Russell, Heidegger).[2 HP Pavilion dv2-1137ax battery His influential conceptions are of speculative logic or "dialectic", "absolute idealism", "Spirit", negativity, sublation (Aufhebung in German), the "Master/Slave" dialectic, "ethical life" and the importance of history. HP Pavilion g6 battery


Hegel was born on August 27, 1770 in Stuttgart, in the Duchy Württemberg in southwestern Germany. Christened Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, he was known as Wilhelm to his close family. His father, Georg Ludwig, was Rentkammersekretär (secretary to the revenue office) at the court of Karl Eugen, Asus A32-F82 battery Duke of Württemberg.[3] Hegel's mother, Maria Magdalena Louisa (née Fromm), was the daughter of a lawyer at the High Court of Justice at the Württemberg court. She died of a "bilious fever" (Gallenfieber) when Hegel was eleven. Sony VGN-CS11S/P battery

 Hegel and his father also caught the disease but narrowly survived.[4] Hegel had a sister, Christiane Luise (1773–1832), and a brother, Georg Ludwig (1776–1812), who was to perish as an officer in Napoleon's Russian campaign of 1812.[5]HP G62-a15SA Battery


At the age of three Hegel went to the "German School". When he entered the "Latin School" aged five, he already knew the first declension, having been taught it by his mother. HP G62-a16SA Battery


In 1776 Hegel entered Stuttgart's Gymnasium Illustre. During his adolescence Hegel read voraciously, copying lengthy extracts in his diary. Authors he read include the poetKlopstock and writers associated with the Enlightenment such as Christian Garve andGotthold Ephraim Lessing HP G62-a17EA Battery

Hegel's studies at the Gymnasium were concluded with hisAbiturrede ("graduation speech") entitled "The abortive state of art and scholarship in Turkey." HP G62-a17SA Battery

Tübingen (1788-93)

At the age of eighteen Hegel entered the Tübinger Stift (a Protestant seminary attached to the University of Tübingen), where two fellow students were to become vital to his development—his exact contemporary, the poet Friedrich Hölderlin, and the younger philosopher-to-be Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling. HP G62-a18SA Battery

Sharing a dislike for what they regarded as the restrictive environment of the Seminary, the three became close friends and mutually influenced each other's ideas. They watched the unfolding of the French Revolution with shared enthusiasm. Schelling and Hölderlin immersed themselves in theoretical debates on Kantian philosophy, from which Hegel remained aloof. HP G62-a19EA Battery

 Hegel at this time envisaged his future as that of a Popularphilosoph, i.e., a "man of letters" who serves to make the abstruse ideas of philosophers accessible to a wider public; his own felt need to engage critically with the central ideas of Kantianism did not come until 1800. HP G62-a19SA Battery


Bern (1793–96) and Frankfurt (1797–1801)

Having received his theological certificate (Konsistorialexamen) from the Tübingen Seminary, Hegel became Hofmeister (house tutor) to an aristocratic family in Bern (1793–96). During this period he composed the text which has become known as the "Life of Jesus" and a book-length manuscript entitled "The Positivity of the Christian Religion".HP G62-a20SA Battery

His relations with his employers having become strained, Hegel gladly accepted an offer mediated by Hölderlin to take up a similar position with a wine merchant's family inFrankfurt, where he moved in 1797. Here Hölderlin exerted an important influence on Hegel's thought.[6] HP G62-a21SA Battery

While in Frankfurt Hegel composed the essay "Fragments on Religion and Love". In 1799 he wrote another essay entitled "The Spirit of Christianity and Its Fate" whichHP G62-a21EA Battery


Jena, Bamberg and Nuremberg: 1801-1816

In 1801 Hegel came to Jena with the encouragement of his old friend Schelling, who held the position of Extraordinary Professor at the University there. Hegel secured a position at the University as a Privatdozent (unsalaried lecturer) after submitting a Habilitationsschrift(dissertation) on the orbits of the planets. HP G62-a22SA Battery

Later in the year Hegel's first book, The Difference Between Fichte's and Schelling's Systems of Philosophy, appeared. He lectured on "Logic and Metaphysics" and, with Schelling, gave joint lectures on an "Introduction to the Idea and Limits of True Philosophy" and held a "Philosophical Disputorium".HP G62-a22SE Battery

In 1802 Schelling and Hegel founded a journal, the Kritische Journal der Philosophie ("Critical Journal of Philosophy") to which they each contributed pieces until the collaboration was ended by Schelling's departure for Würzburg in 1803. HP G62-a23SA Battery


In 1805 the University promoted Hegel to the position of Extraordinary Professor (unsalaried), after Hegel wrote a letter to the poet and minister of culture Johann Wolfgang von Goethe protesting at the promotion of his philosophical adversary Jakob Friedrich Fries ahead of him.[7] HP G62-a24SA Battery

Hegel attempted to enlist the help of the poet and translator Johann Heinrich Voß to obtain a post at the newly renascent University of Heidelberg, but failed; to his chagrin, Fries was later in the same year made Ordinary Professor (salaried) there.[8]HP G62-a25EA Battery

His finances drying up quickly, Hegel was now under great pressure to deliver his book, the long-promised introduction to his System. Hegel was putting the finishing touches to this book, now called the Phenomenology of Spirit, as Napoleon engaged Prussian troops on October 14, HP G62-a26SA Battery

1806, in the Battle of Jena on a plateau outside the city. On the day before the battle, Napoleon entered the city of Jena. Hegel recounted his impressions in a letter to his friend Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer: HP G62-a25SA Battery

I saw the Emperor – this world-soul – riding out of the city on reconnaissance. It is indeed a wonderful sensation to see such an individual, who, concentrated here at a single point, astride a horse, reaches out over the world and masters it . . . this extraordinary man, whom it is impossible not to admire.[9]HP G62-a27SA Battery

Although Napoleon chose not to close down Jena as he had other universities, the city was devastated and students deserted the university in droves, making Hegel's financial prospects even worse. The following February Hegel's landlady Christiana Burkhardt (who had been abandoned by her husband) gave birth to their son Georg Ludwig Friedrich Fischer (1807–31).[10]HP G62-a28SA Battery

In March 1807, aged 37, Hegel moved to Bamberg, where Niethammer had declined and passed on to Hegel an offer to become editor of a newspaper, the Bamberger Zeitung. Hegel, unable to find more suitable employment, reluctantly accepted. Ludwig Fischer and his mother (whom Hegel may have offered to marry following the death of her husband) stayed behind in Jena.[11]HP G62-a29EA Battery

He was then, in November 1808, again through Niethammer, appointed headmaster of aGymnasium in Nuremberg, a post he held until 1816. While in Nuremberg Hegel adapted his recently published Phenomenology of Mind for use in the classroom. HP G62-a29SA Battery

Part of his remit being to teach a class called "Introduction to Knowledge of the Universal Coherence of the Sciences", Hegel developed the idea of an encyclopedia of the philosophical sciences, falling into three parts (logic, philosophy of nature, and philosophy of spirit).[12]HP G62-a30SA Battery

Hegel married Marie Helena Susanna von Tucher (1791–1855), the eldest daughter of a Senator, in 1811. This period saw the publication of his second major work, the Science of Logic (Wissenschaft der Logik; 3 vols., 1812, 1813, 1816), and the birth of his two legitimate sons, Karl Friedrich Wilhelm (1813–1901) and Immanuel Thomas Christian (1814–1891). HP G62-a38EE Battery


Having received offers of a post from the Universities of Erlangen, Berlin, and Heidelberg, Hegel chose Heidelberg, where he moved in 1816. Soon after, in April 1817, his illegitimate son Ludwig Fischer (now ten years old) joined the Hegel household, having thus far spent his childhood in an orphanage.[13] (Ludwig's mother had died in the meantime.)[14]HP G62-a40SA Battery


Hegel published The Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Outline (1817) as a summary of his philosophy for students attending his lectures at Heidelberg. HP G62-a43SA Battery


In 1818 Hegel accepted the renewed offer of the chair of philosophy at the University of Berlin, which had remained vacant since Fichte's death in 1814. Here he published hisPhilosophy of Right (1821). Hegel devoted himself primarily to delivering his lectures; his lecture courses on aesthetics, HP G62-a44EE Battery

the philosophy of religion, the philosophy of history, and the history of philosophy were published posthumously from lecture notes taken by his students. His fame spread and his lectures attracted students from all over Germany and beyond. HP G62-a44SA Battery


Hegel was appointed Rector of the University in 1830, when he was 60. He was deeply disturbed by the riots for reform in Berlin in that year. In 1831 Frederick William IIIdecorated him for his service to the Prussian state. In August 1831 a cholera epidemic reached Berlin and Hegel left the city, taking up lodgings in Kreuzberg. Now in a weak state of health, HP G62-a45SA Battery

Hegel seldom went out. As the new semester began in October, Hegel returned to Berlin, with the (mistaken) impression that the epidemic had largely subsided. By November 14 Hegel was dead. The physicians pronounced the cause of death as cholera, HP G62-a50SG Battery

but it is likely he died from a different gastrointestinal disease.[15] He is said to have uttered the last words "And he didn't understand me" before expiring.[16] In accordance with his wishes, Hegel was buried on November 16 in the Dorotheenstadt cemetery next to Fichte and Solger. HP G62-a53SG Battery

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Hegel's son Ludwig Fischer had died shortly before while serving with the Dutch army inBatavia; the news of his death never reached his father.[17] Early the following year Hegel's sister Christiane committed suicide by drowning. Hegel's remaining two sons - Karl, who became a historian, and Immanuel, who followed a theological path - lived long livesHP G62-b00SA Battery



Hegel published only four books during his lifetime: the Phenomenology of Spirit (orPhenomenology of Mind), his account of the evolution of consciousness from sense-perception to absolute knowledge, published in 1807; the Science of Logic, the logical andmetaphysical core of his philosophy, in three volumes, published in 1811, 1812, and 1816 (revised 1831); HP G62-b09SA Battery

 Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences, a summary of his entire philosophical system, which was originally published in 1816 and revised in 1827 and 1830; and the Elements of the Philosophy of Right, his political philosophy, published in 1822. In the latter, HP G62-b10SA Battery

he criticized von Haller's reactionary work, which claimed that laws were not necessary. He also published some articles early in his career and during his Berlin period. A number of other works on the philosophy of history, religion, aesthetics, and the history of philosophy were compiled from the lecture notes of his students and published posthumously. HP G62-b11SA Battery

The French Revolution for Hegel constitutes the introduction of real individual political freedom into European societies for the first time in recorded history. But precisely because of its absolute novelty, it is also unlimited with regard to everything that preceded it: HP G62-b12SA Battery

on the one hand the upsurge of violence required to carry out the revolution cannot cease to be itself, while on the other, it has already consumed its opponent. The revolution therefore has nowhere to turn but onto its own result: the hard-won freedom is consumed by a brutal Reign of Terror. History, however, progresses by learning from its mistakes: HP G62-b13EA Battery

only after and precisely because of this experience can one posit the existence of aconstitutional state of free citizens, embodying both the benevolent organizing power of rational government and the revolutionary ideals of freedom and equality. Hegel's remarks on the French revolution led German poet Heinrich Heine to label him "The Orléans of German Philosophy".HP G62-b13SA Battery


Hegel's thinking can be understood as a constructive development within the broad tradition that includes Plato and Kant. To this list one could add Proclus, Meister Eckhart,Leibniz, Plotinus, Jakob Boehme, and Rousseau. HP G62-b14SA Battery

What all these thinkers share, which distinguishes them from materialists like Epicurus, the Stoics, and Thomas Hobbes, and from empiricists like David Hume, is that they regard freedom or self-determination both as real and as having important ontological implications, for soul or mind or divinity. HP G62-b15SA Battery

This focus on freedom is what generates Plato's notion (in the Phaedo, Republic, andTimaeus) of the soul as having a higher or fuller kind of reality than inanimate objects possess. While Aristotle criticizes Plato's "Forms", he preserves Plato's cornerstones of the ontological implications for self-determination: ethical reasoning, the soul's pinnacle in the hierarchy of nature, HP G62-b16EA Battery

the order of the cosmos, and an assumption with reasoned arguments for a prime mover. Kant imports Plato's high esteem of individual sovereignty to his considerations of moral and noumenal freedom, as well as to God. All three find common ground on the unique position of humans in the scheme of things, known by the discussed categorical differences from animals and inanimate objects. HP G62-b16SA Battery


In his discussion of "Spirit" in his Encyclopedia, Hegel praises Aristotle's On the Soul as "by far the most admirable, perhaps even the sole, work of philosophical value on this topic".[18] In his Phenomenology of Spirit and his Science of Logic, Hegel's concern with Kantian topics such as freedom and morality, and with their ontological implications, HP G62-b17EO Battery

is pervasive. Rather than simply rejecting Kant's dualism of freedom versus nature, Hegel aims to subsume it within "true infinity", the "Concept" (or "Notion": Begriff), "Spirit", and "ethical life" in such a way that the Kantian duality is rendered intelligible, rather than remaining a brute "given." HP G62-b17SA Battery

The reason why this subsumption takes place in a series of concepts is that Hegel's method, in his Science of Logic and his Encyclopedia, is to begin with ultra-basic concepts like Being and Nothing, and to develop these through a long sequence of elaborations, including those mentioned in the previous paragraph. HP G62-b18SA Battery

In this manner, a solution that is reached, in principle, in the account of "true infinity" in the Science of Logic's chapter on "Quality", is repeated in new guises at later stages, all the way to "Spirit" and "ethical life", in the third volume of the Encyclopedia. HP G62-b19SA Battery


In this way, Hegel intends to defend the germ of truth in Kantian dualism against reductive or eliminative programs like those of materialism and empiricism. Like Plato, with his dualism of soul versus bodily appetites, Kant pursues the mind's ability to question its felt inclinations or appetites and to come up with a standard of "duty" (or, in Plato's case, "good") which transcends bodily restrictiveness. HP G62-b20SA Battery

Hegel preserves this essential Platonic and Kantian concern in the form of infinity going beyond the finite (a process that Hegel in fact relates to "freedom" and the "ought"[19]), the universal going beyond the particular (in the Concept), and Spirit going beyond Nature. HP G62-B20so Battery

And Hegel renders these dualities intelligibleby (ultimately) his argument in the "Quality" chapter of the "Science of Logic." The finite has to become infinite in order to achieve reality. The idea of the absolute excludes multiplicity so the subjective and objective must achieve synthesis to become whole. HP G62-b21SA Battery

This is because, as Hegel suggests by his introduction of the concept of "reality",[20] what determines itself—rather than depending on its relations to other things for its essential character—is more fully "real" (following the Latin etymology of "real": more "thing-like") HP G62-b22SA Battery

than what does not. Finite things don't determine themselves, because, as "finite" things, their essential character is determined by their boundaries, over against other finite things. So, in order to become "real", they must go beyond their finitude ("finitude is only as a transcending of itself"[21]). HP G62-b23SA Battery


The result of this argument is that finite and infinite—and, by extension, particular and universal, nature and freedom—don't face one another as two independent realities, but instead the latter (in each case) is the self-transcending of the former.[22] HP G62-b24SA Battery

Rather than stress the distinct singularity of each factor that complements and conflicts with others—without explanation—the relationship between finite and infinite (and particular and universal, and nature and freedom) becomes intelligible as a progressively developing and self-perfecting whole. HP G62-b25SA Battery



The obscure writings of Jakob Böhme had a strong effect on Hegel. Böhme had written that the Fall of Man was a necessary stage in the evolution of the universe. This evolution was, itself, the result of God's desire for complete self-awareness. Hegel was fascinated by the works of Kant, Rousseau, and Goethe, and by the French Revolution. Modern philosophy, culture, HP G62-b26SA Battery

and society seemed to Hegel fraught with contradictions and tensions, such as those between the subject and object of knowledge, mind and nature, self andOther, freedom and authority, knowledge and faith, the Enlightenment and Romanticism. HP G62-b27EA Battery

Hegel's main philosophical project was to take these contradictions and tensions and interpret them as part of a comprehensive, evolving, rational unity that, in different contexts, he called "the absolute idea" or "absolute knowledge".HP G62-b27SA Battery


According to Hegel, the main characteristic of this unity was that it evolved through and manifested itself in contradiction and negation. Contradiction and negation have a dynamic quality that at every point in each domain of reality—consciousness, HP G62 Battery

 history, philosophy,art, nature, society—leads to further development until a rational unity is reached that preserves the contradictions as phases and sub-parts by lifting them up (Aufhebung) to a higher unity. This whole is mental because it is mind that can comprehend all of these phases and sub-parts as steps in its own process of comprehension. HP G62 Notebook PC Series Battery

It is rational because the same, underlying, logical, developmental order underlies every domain of reality and is ultimately the order of self-conscious rational thought, although only in the later stages of development does it come to full self-consciousness. The rational, self-conscious whole is not a thing or being that lies outside of other existing things or minds. HP G62t-100 CTO Battery

 Rather, it comes to completion only in the philosophical comprehension of individual existing human minds who, through their own understanding, bring this developmental process to an understanding of itself. HP G62t Battery


"Mind" and "Spirit" are the common English translations of Hegel's use of the German "Geist". Some have argued that either of these terms overly "psychologize" Hegel,[citation needed] implying a kind of disembodied, solipsistic consciousness like ghost or "soul." HP G72-100 Battery

Geist combines the meaning of spirit—as in god, ghost or mind—with an intentional force. In Hegel's early philosophy of nature (draft manuscripts written during his time at the University of Jena), Hegel's notion of "Geist" was tightly bound to the notion of "Aether" from which Hegel also derived the concepts of space and time; however in his later works (after Jena) Hegel did not explicitly use his old notion of "Aether" any more.[23]HP G72-101SA Battery


Central to Hegel's conception of knowledge and mind (and therefore also of reality) was the notion of identity in difference, that is that mind externalizes itself in various forms andobjects that stand outside of it or opposed to it, and that, through recognizing itself in them, HP G72-102SA Battery

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is "with itself" in these external manifestations, so that they are at one and the same time mind and other-than-mind. This notion of identity in difference, which is intimately bound up with his conception of contradiction and negativity, is a principal feature differentiating Hegel's thought from that of other philosophers. HP G72-110EL Battery



See also: Civil society

Hegel made the distinction between civil society and state in his Elements of the Philosophy of Right.[24] In this work, civil society (Hegel used the term "buergerliche Gesellschaft" though it is now referred to as Zivilgesellschaft in German to emphasize a more inclusive community) was a stage in the dialectical relationship that occurs between Hegel's perceived opposites, HP G72-110EV Battery

the macro-community of the state and the micro-community of the family.[25] Broadly speaking, the term was split, like Hegel's followers, HP G72-110SD Battery

the political left and right. On the left, it became the foundation for Karl Marx's civil society as aneconomic base;[26] to the right, it became a description for all non-state aspects of society, including culture, society and politics.[27] This liberal distinction between political society and civil society was followed by Alexis de Tocqueville.[26]HP G72-110SA Battery



According to Hegel, "Heraclitus is the one who first declared the nature of the infinite and first grasped nature as in itself infinite, that is, its essence as process. The origin of philosophy is to be dated from Heraclitus. His is the persistent Idea that is the same in all philosophers up to the present day, as it was the Idea of Plato and Aristotle."[28] HP G72-110SO Battery

For Hegel, Heraclitus's great achievements were to have understood the nature of the infinite, which for Hegel includes understanding the inherent contradictoriness and negativity of reality, and to have grasped that reality is becoming or process, and that "being" and "nothingness" are mere empty abstractions. HP G72-110SW Battery

According to Hegel, Heraclitus's "obscurity" comes from his being a true (in Hegel's terms "speculative") philosopher who grasped the ultimate philosophical truth and therefore expressed himself in a way that goes beyond the abstract and limited nature of common sense and is difficult to grasp by those who operate within common sense. Hegel asserted that in Heraclitus he had an antecedent for his logic: "... there is no proposition of Heraclitus which I have not adopted in my logic."[29]HP G72-120EG Battery


Hegel cites a number of fragments of Heraclitus in his Lectures on the History of Philosophy.[30] One to which he attributes great significance is the fragment he translates as "Being is not more than Non-being", which he interprets to mean HP G72-120EP Battery


Heraclitus does not form any abstract nouns from his ordinary use of "to be" and "to become" and in that fragment seems to be opposing any identity A to any other identity B, C, etc., which is not-A. Hegel, however, interprets not-A as not existing at all, not nothing at all, which cannot be conceived, HP G72-120EV Battery

but indeterminate or "pure" being without particularity or specificity.[31] Pure being and pure non-being or nothingness are for Hegel pure abstractions from the reality of becoming, and this is also how he interprets Heraclitus. This interpretation of Heraclitus cannot be ruled out, but even if present is not the main gist of his thought. HP G72-120EW Battery


For Hegel, the inner movement of reality is the process of God thinking, as manifested in the evolution of the universe of nature and thought; that is, Hegel argued that, when fully and properly understood, reality is being thought by God as manifested in a person's comprehension of this process in and through philosophy. Since human thought is the image and fulfillment of God's thought, HP G72-120SD Battery

God is not ineffable (so incomprehensible as to be unutterable) but can be understood by an analysis of thought and reality. Just as humans continually correct their concepts of reality through a dialectical process, so God himself becomes more fully manifested through the dialectical process of becoming. HP G72-120SG Battery


For his god Hegel does not take the logos of Heraclitus but refers rather to the nous ofAnaxagoras, although he may well have regarded them the same, as he continues to refer to god's plan, which is identical to God. Whatever the nous thinks at any time is actualsubstance and is identical to limited being, but more remains to be thought in the substrate of non-being, which is identical to pure or unlimited thought. HP G72-120SO Battery


The universe as becoming is therefore a combination of being and non-being. The particular is never complete in itself but to find completion is continually transformed into more comprehensive, complex, self-relating particulars. HP G72-130EG Battery

The essential nature of being-for-itself is that it is free "in itself"; that is, it does not depend on anything else, such as matter, for its being. The limitations represent fetters, which it must constantly be casting off as it becomes freer and more self-determining.[32]HP G72-130 Battery


Although Hegel began his philosophizing with commentary on the Christian religion and often expresses the view that he is a Christian, his ideas of God are not at home among some Christians, although he has had a major influence on 19th- and 20th-century theology. HP G72-130SF Battery

At the same time, an atheistic version of his thought was adopted instead by some Marxists, who, stripping away the concepts of divinity, styled what was leftdialectical materialism, which some saw as originating in Heraclitus. HP G72-130EV Battery


Hegel's thoughts on the person of Jesus Christ stood out from the theologies of the Enlightenment. In his posthumous book, The Christian Religion: Lectures on Philosophy of Religion Part 3, he espouses that, "God is not an abstraction but a concrete God...God, considered in terms of his eternal Idea, has to generate the Son, HP G72-140ED Battery

has to distinguish himself from himself; he is the process of differentiating, namely, love and Spirit". This means that Jesus as the Son of God is posited by God over against himself as other. Hegel sees both a relational unity and a metaphysical unity between Jesus and God the Father. HP G72-260US Battery

To Hegel, Jesus is both divine and Human. Hegel further attests that God (as Jesus) not only died, but "...rather, a reversal takes place: God, that is to say, maintains himself in the process, and the latter is only the death of death. God rises again to life, and thus things are reversed." Hegel therefore maintains not only the deity of Jesus, but the resurrection as a reality. HP G72-a30SA Battery


There are views of Hegel's thought as a representation of the summit of early 19th century Germany's movement of philosophical idealism. It would come to have a profound impact on many future philosophical schools, including schools that opposed Hegel's specificdialectical idealism, such as Existentialism, the historical materialism of Karl Marx,historicism, and British Idealism. HP G72-b01SA Battery


Hegel's influence was immense both within philosophy and in the other sciences. Throughout the 19th century many chairs of philosophy around Europe were held by Hegelians, and Kierkegaard, Feuerbach, Marx, and Engels--among many others—were all deeply influenced by, but also strongly opposed to, many of the central themes of Hegel's philosophy. HP G72-b02SA Battery

After less than a generation, Hegel's philosophy was suppressed and even banned by the Prussian right-wing, and was firmly rejected by the left-wing in multiple official writings. HP G72-b10SA Battery


After the period of Bruno Bauer, Hegel's influence did not make itself felt again until the philosophy of British Idealism and the 20th century Hegelian Western Marxism that began with Georg Lukács. The more recent movement of communitarianism has a strong Hegelian influence. HP G72-b15SA Battery

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Some of Hegel's writing was intended for those with advanced knowledge of philosophy, although his "Encyclopedia" was intended as a textbook in a university course. Nevertheless, like many philosophers, Hegel assumed that his readers would be well-versed in Western philosophy, up to and including Descartes, Hume, Kant, Fichte, andSchelling. HP G72 Battery

For those wishing to read his work without this background, introductions to and commentaries about Hegel can contribute to comprehension, although the reader is faced with multiple interpretations of Hegel's writings from incompatible schools of philosophy. HP G72 Notebook PC Series Battery

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The German philosopher Theodor W. Adorno devoted an essay to the difficulty of reading Hegel and asserted that there are certain passages where it is impossible to decipher what Hegel meant. Difficulties within Hegel's language and thought are magnified for those reading Hegel in translation, since his philosophical language and terminology in German often do not have direct analogues in other languages. HP Pavilion dv3-4000 Battery

For example, the German word "Geist" has connotations of both "mind" and "spirit" in English. English translators have to use the "phenomenology of mind" or "the phenomenology of spirit" to render Hegel's "Phaenomenologie des Geistes", thus altering the original meaning. Hegel himself argued, in his "Science of Logic", that the German language was particularly conducive to philosophical thought and writing. HP Pavilion dv3-4010sg Battery


One especially difficult aspect of Hegel's work is his innovation in logic. In response to Immanuel Kant's challenge to the limits of pure reason, Hegel developed a radically new form of logic, which he called speculation, and which is today popularly called dialectics. The difficulty in reading Hegel was perceived in Hegel's own day, and persists into the 21st century. HP Pavilion dv3-4020sp Battery

To understand Hegel fully requires paying attention to his critique of standard logic, such as the law of contradiction and the law of the excluded middle. Many philosophers who came after Hegel and were influenced by him, whether adopting or rejecting his ideas, did so without fully absorbing his new speculative or dialectical logic.[citation needed]HP Pavilion dv3-4029TX Battery


If one wanted to provide a big piece of the Hegel puzzle to the beginner, one might present the following statement from Part One of the Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences: The Logic: HP Pavilion dv3-4031TX Battery


... a much misunderstood phenomenon in the history of philosophy — the refutation of one system by another, of an earlier by a later. Most commonly the refutation is taken in a purely negative sense to mean that the system refuted has ceased to count for anything, has been set aside and done for. Were it so, the history of philosophy would be, HP Pavilion dv3-4035tx Battery

of all studies, most saddening, displaying, as it does, the refutation of every system which time has brought forth. Now although it may be admitted that every philosophy has been refuted, it must be in an equal degree maintained that no philosophy has been refuted. HP Pavilion dv3-4050ea Battery

And that in two ways. For first, every philosophy that deserves the name always embodies the Idea: and secondly, every system represents one particular factor or particular stage in the evolution of the Idea. The refutation of a philosophy, therefore, only means that its barriers are crossed, and its special principle reduced to a factor in the completer principle that follows. HP Pavilion dv3-4057tx Battery



Some historians have spoken of Hegel's influence as represented by two opposing camps. The Right Hegelians, the allegedly direct disciples of Hegel at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, advocated a Protestant orthodoxy and the political conservatism of the post-Napoleon Restoration period. HP Pavilion dv3-4059tx Battery

The Left Hegelians, also known as the Young Hegelians, interpreted Hegel in a revolutionary sense, leading to an advocation of atheismin religion and liberal democracy in politics. HP Pavilion dv3-4100 Battery


In more recent studies, however, this paradigm has been questioned.[33] No Hegelians of the period ever referred to themselves as "Right Hegelians"; that was a term of insult originated by David Strauss, a self-styled Left Hegelian. HP Pavilion dv3-4100sa Battery

Critiques of Hegel offered from the Left Hegelians radically diverted Hegel's thinking into new directions and eventually came to form a disproportionately large part of the literature on and about Hegel.[citation needed]HP Pavilion dv3-4102tx Battery


The Left Hegelians also spawned Marxism, which inspired global movements, encompassing the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, and myriad revolutionary practices up until the present moment. HP Pavilion dv3-4105tx Battery


Twentieth-century interpretations of Hegel were mostly shaped by British Idealism, logical positivism, Marxism, and Fascism. The Italian Fascist Giovanni Gentile, according toBenedetto Croce, "...holds the honor of having been the most rigorous neo-Hegelian in the entire history of Western philosophy and the dishonor of having been the official philosopher of Fascism in Italy."[34]HP Pavilion dv3-4106tx Battery

 However, since the fall of the USSR, a new wave of Hegel scholarship arose in the West, without the preconceptions of the prior schools of thought. Walter Jaeschke and Otto Pöggeler in Germany, as well as Peter Hodgson andHoward Kainz in America are notable for their recent contributions to post-USSR thinking about Hegel. HP Pavilion dv3-4107tx Battery



In previous modern accounts of Hegelianism (to undergraduate classes, for example), especially those formed prior to the Hegel renaissance, Hegel's dialectic was most often characterized as a three-step process, "thesis, antithesis, synthesis"; namely, that a "thesis" (e.g. the French Revolution) would cause the creation of its "antithesis" (e.g. the Reign of Terror that followed), HP Pavilion dv3-4121tx Battery

and would eventually result in a "synthesis" (e.g. the constitutional state of free citizens). However, Hegel used this classification only once, and he attributed the terminology to Immanuel Kant. The terminology was largely developed earlier by Johann Fichte. It was spread by Heinrich Moritz Chalybäus in a popular account of Hegelian philosophy, and since then the misfit terms have stuck[citation needed]. HP Pavilion dv3-4123tx Battery

What is wrong with the "thesis-antithesis-synthesis" approach is that it gives the sense that things or ideas are contradicted or opposed by things that come from outside them. To the contrary, the fundamental notion of Hegel's dialectic is that things or ideas have internal contradictions. HP Pavilion dv3-4124tx Battery

From Hegel's point of view, analysis or comprehension of a thing or idea reveals that underneath its apparently simple identity or unity is an underlying inner contradiction. This contradiction leads to the dissolution of the thing or idea in the simple form in which it presented itself and to a higher-level, HP Pavilion dv3-4200 Battery

more complex thing or idea that more adequately incorporates the contradiction. The triadic form that appears in many places in Hegel (e.g. being-nothingness-becoming, immediate-mediate-concrete, abstract-negative-concrete) is about this movement from inner contradiction to higher-level integration or unification. HP Pavilion dv3-4207tx Battery

Believing that the traditional description of Hegel's philosophy in terms of thesis-antithesis-synthesis was mistaken, a few scholars, like Raya Dunayevskaya, a devout Marxist who was once Leon Trotsky's secretary, have attempted to discard the triadic approach altogether. HP Pavilion dv3-4208tx Battery

According to their argument, although Hegel refers to "the two elemental considerations: first, the idea of freedom as the absolute and final aim; secondly, the means for realising it, i.e. the subjective side of knowledge and will, with its life, movement, and activity" (thesis and antithesis) he doesn't use "synthesis" but instead speaks of the"Whole"HP Pavilion dv5-1200 Battery

"We then recognised the State as the moral Whole and the Reality of Freedom, and consequently as the objective unity of these two elements." Furthermore, in Hegel's language, the "dialectical" aspect or "moment" of thought and reality, by which things or thoughts turn into their opposites or have their inner contradictions brought to the surface, HP Pavilion dv5-1200 Special Edition Battery

what he called "aufhebung", is only preliminary to the "speculative" (and not "synthesizing") aspect or "moment", which grasps the unity of these opposites or contradiction. Thus for Hegel, reason is ultimately "speculative", not "dialectical".[citation needed]. HP Pavilion dv5-1208TX SE Battery


It is widely admitted today[35] that the old-fashioned description of Hegel's philosophy in terms of "thesis-antithesis-synthesis" is inaccurate. Nevertheless, such is the persistence of this misnomer that the model and terminology survive in a number of scholarly works. HP Pavilion dv5-1209TX SE Battery



In the latter half of the 20th century, Hegel's philosophy underwent a major renaissance. This was due to: (a) the rediscovery and reevaluation of Hegel as a possible philosophical progenitor of Marxism by philosophically oriented Marxists; (b) a resurgence of the historical perspective that Hegel brought to everything; and (c) an increasing recognition of the importance of his dialectical method. HP Pavilion dv5-1222TX Battery

The book that did the most to reintroduce Hegel into the Marxist canon was perhaps Georg Lukács' History and Class Consciousness. This sparked a renewed interest in Hegel reflected in the work of Herbert Marcuse,Theodor W. Adorno, Ernst Bloch, Raya Dunayevskaya, Alexandre Kojève and Gotthard Günther among others. HP Pavilion dv5-1232TX Battery

The Hegel renaissance also highlighted the significance of Hegel's early works, i.e. those published prior to the Phenomenology of Spirit. The direct and indirect influence of Kojève's lectures and writings (on the Phenomenology of Spirit, in particular) mean that it is not possible to understand most French philosophers from Jean-Paul Sartre to Jacques Derrida without understanding Hegel.[citation needed]HP Pavilion dv5-1233se Battery


Beginning in the 1960s, Anglo-American Hegel scholarship has attempted to challenge the traditional interpretation of Hegel as offering a metaphysical system: this has also been the approach of Z.A. Pelczynski and Shlomo Avineri. This view, sometimes referred to as the 'non-metaphysical option', HP Pavilion dv5-1241la Battery

has had a decided influence on many major English language studies of Hegel in the past 40 years. U.S. neoconservative political theorist Francis Fukuyama's controversial book The End of History and the Last Man was heavily influenced by Alexandre Kojève. Among modern scientists, HP Pavilion dv5-1250us Battery

the physicist David Bohm, the mathematician William Lawvere, the logician Kurt Gödel and the biologist Ernst Mayr have been interested in Hegel's philosophical work.[citation needed]HP Pavilion dv5-1247la Battery

  A late 20th century literature in Western Theology that is friendly to Hegel includes such writers as Dale M. Schlitt (1984), Theodore Geraets (1985), Philip M. Merklinger (1991),Stephen Rocker (1995) and Cyril O'Regan (1995). The contemporary theologian Hans Küng has also advanced contemporary scholarship in Hegel studies. HP Pavilion dv5-1300 Battery

Recently, two prominent American philosophers, John McDowell and Robert Brandom(sometimes, half-seriously, referred to as the Pittsburgh Hegelians), have produced philosophical works exhibiting a marked Hegelian influence. HP Pavilion dv5-2000 Battery

Each is avowedly influenced by the late Wilfred Sellars, also of Pittsburgh, who referred to his seminal work,Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind, as a series of "incipient Méditations Hegeliennes" (in homage to Edmund Husserl's treatise, Meditations Cartesiennes). HP Pavilion dv5-2034la Battery


Beginning in the 1990s, after the fall of the USSR, a fresh reading of Hegel took place in the West. HP Pavilion dv5-2045la Battery

Marx plays a minor role in these new readings, and some contemporary scholars have suggested that Marx's interpretation of Hegel is irrelevant to a proper reading of Hegel. Some American philosophers associated with this movement include Clark Butler, HP Pavilion dv5-3000 Battery

Vince Hathaway, Daniel Shannon, David Duquette, David MacGregor, Edward Beach, John Burbidge, Lawrence Stepelevich, Rudolph Siebert, Randall Jackwak, Theodore Geraets and William Desmond. HP Pavilion dv5-2046la Battery



Criticism of Hegel has been widespread in the 19th and the 20th centuries; a diverse range of individuals including Arthur Schopenhauer, Karl Marx, Søren Kierkegaard,Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, Eric Voegelin and A. J. HP Pavilion dv6-3000 Battery

Ayer have challenged Hegelian philosophy from a variety of perspectives. Among the first to take a critical view of Hegel's system was the 19th Century German group known as the Young Hegelians, which included Ludwig Feuerbach, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, HP Pavilion dv6-3005sa Battery

and their followers. In Britain, the Hegelian British Idealism school (members of which includedFrancis Herbert Bradley, Bernard Bosanquet, and, in the United States, Josiah Royce) was challenged and rejected by analytic philosophers G. E. Moore and Bertrand Russell; HP Pavilion dv6-3005TX Battery

Russell, in particular, considered "almost all" of Hegel's doctrines to be false.[36] Logical positivists such as Alfred Jules Ayer and the Vienna Circle also criticized Hegelian philosophy and its supporters, such as F. H. Bradley. HP Pavilion dv6-3006TX Battery


Hegel's contemporary Schopenhauer was particularly critical, and wrote of Hegel's philosophy as "a pseudo-philosophy paralyzing all mental powers, stifling all real thinking"[37] Kierkegaard criticized Hegel's 'absolute knowledge' unity[38] HP Pavilion dv6-3010sa Battery

Scientist Ludwig Boltzmann also criticized the obscure complexity of Hegel's works, referring to Hegel's writing as an "unclear thoughtless flow of words".[39] Bertrand Russell stated that Hegel was "the hardest to understand of all the great philosophers" in his Unpopular Essays andA History of Western Philosophy. HP Pavilion dv6-3011TX Battery


Karl Popper makes the claim in the second volume of The Open Society and Its Enemiesthat Hegel's system formed a thinly veiled justification for the absolute rule of Frederick William III, and that Hegel's idea of the ultimate goal of history was to reach a state approximating that of 1830s Prussia. HP Pavilion dv6-3015sa Battery

Popper further proposed that Hegel's philosophy served not only as an inspiration for communist and fascist totalitarian governments of the 20th century, whose dialectics allow for any belief to be construed as rational simply if it could be said to exist. HP Pavilion dv6-3020sa Battery

This view of Hegel as an apologist of state power and precursor of 20th century totalitarianism was criticized by Herbert Marcuse in his Reason and Revolution, on the grounds that Hegel was not an apologist for any state or form of authority simply because it existed: HP Pavilion dv6-3025sa Battery

for Hegel the state must always be rational. Other scholars, e.g. Walter Kaufmann and Shlo

mo Avineri, have also criticized Popper's theories about Hegel.[40] Isaiah Berlin listed Hegel as one of the six architects of modernauthoritarianism who undermined liberal democracy, along with Rousseau, Helvetius,Fichte, Saint-Simon, and Maistre.[41]HP Pavilion dv6-3026tx Battery


Alexandre Kojève

Kojève was born in Russia to a wealthy and influential family. His uncle was the abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky, about whose work he would write an influential essay in 1936. He was educated in Berlin and Heidelberg, Germany. He completed his Ph.D., HP Pavilion dv6-3030sa Battery

on the Russian religious philosopher Vladimir Soloviev's views on the union of God and man in Christ under the direction of Karl Jaspers. Early influences included the philosopher Martin Heidegger and the historian of science Alexandre Koyré. HP Pavilion dv6-3030TX Battery

Kojève spent most of his life in France, and from 1933 to 1939, he delivered in Paris a series of lectures on Georg Hegel's work Phenomenology of Spirit. After World War II, Kojève worked in the French Ministry of Economic Affairs as one of the chief planners of the European Common Market. HP Pavilion dv6-3031sa Battery


Kojève was an extraordinarily learned man. A polyglot, he studied and used Sanskrit, Chinese, Tibetan, Latin and Classical Greek. He was also fluent in French, German, Russian, and English.[1]HP Pavilion dv6-3032sa Battery


Kojève died in Brussels in 1968, shortly after giving a talk at the European Economic Community (now the European Union) on behalf of the French government. HP Pavilion dv6-3033sa Battery

In his later years, he had repeatedly expressed the position that what Marx called the Europeanproletariat, no longer existed, and the wealthy West sorely needed to help developing countries to overcome widespread poverty through large monetary gifts similar to theMarshall Plan. HP Pavilion dv6-3032TX Battery



Though not a Marxist,[2] Kojeve was known as an influential and idiosyncratic interpreter ofHegel, reading him through the lens of both Marx and Heidegger. The well-known "End of History" thesis advanced the idea that ideological history in a limited sense had ended with the French Revolution and the regime of Napoleon and that there was no longer a need for violent struggle to establish the "rational supremacy of the regime of rights and equal recognition. HP Pavilion dv6-3035sa Battery

" Kojeve's "End of History" is more nuanced than Francis Fukayama's later thesis of the same name and points as much to a socialist-capitalist synthesis as to a triumph of liberal capitalism.[3][4]HP Pavilion dv6-3040sa Battery


Some of Kojève's more important lectures on Hegel have been published in English inIntroduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on Phenomenology of Spirit. Kojève's interpretation of Hegel has been one of the most influential of the past century. HP Pavilion dv6-3042TX Battery

His lectures were attended by a small but influential group of intellectuals including Jean-Paul Sartre,Raymond Queneau, Georges Bataille, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, André Breton, Jacques Lacan and Raymond Aron. His interpretation of the master-slave dialectic was an important influence on Jacques Lacan's mirror stage theory. HP Pavilion dv6-3044sa Battery

Other French thinkers who have acknowledged his influence on their thought include the post-structuralistphilosophers Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. His most influential work was the now classic Introduction to the Reading of Hegel (Introduction à la lecture de Hegel, 1947), which summarized many of his lectures and included others in full. HP Pavilion dv6-3045sa Battery

Kojeve's correspondence with Leo Strauss has been published along with Kojève's critique of Strauss's commentary on Xenophon's Hiero (see below on their friendship and debate).[5]HP Pavilion dv6-3047sa Battery

 In the 1950s, Kojève also met the rightist legal theorist (and former Nazi) Carl Schmitt, whose "Concept of the Political" he had implicitly criticized in his analysis of Hegel's text on "Lordship and Bondage." Another close friend was the Jesuit Hegelian philosopher Gaston Fessard. HP Pavilion dv6-3046sa Battery


In addition to his lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit, Kojève published other articles and books, including a little noticed book on Kant, and articles on the relationship between Hegelian and Marxist thought and Christianity. His 1943 book, Esquisse d'une phenomenologie du droit, HP Pavilion dv6-3048sa Battery

published posthumously in 1981, contrasts the aristocratic and bourgeois views of the right. Le Concept, le temps et le discours, extrapolates on the Hegelian notion that wisdom only becomes possible in the fullness of time. Kojève's response to Leo Strauss, who disputed this notion, can be found in Kojève's article "The Emperor Julian and his Art of Writing".[6]HP Pavilion dv6-3048tx Battery


Kojève also challenged Strauss' interpretation of the classics in the voluminous Esquisse d'une histoire raisonnée de la pensée païenne, which covers the pre-Socraticphilosophers, Plato and Aristotle, and Neoplatonism. Recently, three more books have been published: HP Pavilion dv6-3050eo Battery

a 1932 thesis on the physical and philosophical importance of quantum physics, an extended 1931 essay on atheism ("L'athéisme"), and a 1943 work on "The Notion of Authority;" like "Le Concept, le temps et le discours" these have not been published in English translation. HP Pavilion dv6-3050sa Battery



Kojève had a close and lifelong friendship with Leo Strauss which began when they were philosophy students in Berlin. The two shared a deep philosophical respect for each other. Kojève would later write that he "never would have known[...] what philosophy is" without Strauss.[7]HP Pavilion dv6-3055sa Battery

 In the 1930's the two began a debate on the relation of philosophy to politics that would come to fruition with Kojeve's response to Strauss' On Tyranny. Kojève, a senior statesman in the French government, argued that philosophers should have an active part in shaping political events. HP Pavilion dv6-3056sa Battery

Strauss, on the other hand, believed that philosophy and politics were fundamentally opposed, and that philosophers should not have a substantial role in politics, noting the disastrous results of Plato in Syracuse. Philosophers should influence politics only to the extent that they can ensure that philosophical contemplation remains free from the seduction and coercion of power.[8] HP Pavilion dv6-3057sa Battery

In spite of this debate, Strauss and Kojève remained friendly. In fact, Strauss would send his best students to Paris to finish their education under Kojève's personal guidance. Among these were Allan Bloom, who endeavored to make Kojève's works available in English (and published the first edition of Kojève's lectures in English), and Stanley Rosen. HP Pavilion dv6-3060sa Battery


Kojève and the USSR

In 1999 Le Monde published an article reporting that a French intelligence document showed that Kojève had spied for the Soviets for over 30 years. HP Pavilion dv6-3065ea Battery

The claims of this document (and even its existence) are disputed, and it has never been released. Kojève's supporters tend to believe that if it were true, it was probably unsubstantial as spying per se and a result of his megalomaniacal personality, a pretense to be a philosopher at the end of history influencing the course of world events. HP Pavilion dv6-3067ea Battery


In any case, Kojève's contribution to international French economic policy was more than substantial. Though Kojève often claimed to be a Stalinist,[9] he largely regarded the Soviet Union with contempt, calling its social policies disastrous and its claims to be a truly classless state ludicrous. HP Pavilion dv6-3068ea Battery

 (Kojève's cynicism towards traditional Marxism as an outmoded philosophy in industrially well-developed capitalist nations prompted him to go as far as idiosyncratically referring to capitalist Henry Ford as "the one great authentic Marxist of the twentieth century."[10]) He specifically and repeatedly called it the only existing country in which 19th-century capitalism still existed. HP Pavilion dv6-3070ea Battery

His "Stalinism" was ironic to the extent Stalin had no political chance to lead the Weltgeist; yet, he was serious about Stalinism to the extent that he regarded the utopia of the Soviet Union under Stalin, and the willingness to purge unsupportive elements in the population, as evidence of a desire to bring about the end of history, and as a repetition of the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution.[citation needed]HP Pavilion dv6-3077la Battery


Judith Butler

Judith Butler (born February 24, 1956) is an American post-structuralist philosopher, who has contributed to the fields of feminism, queer theory, political philosophy, andethics. She is a professor in the Rhetoric and Comparative Literature departments at theUniversity of California, Berkeley. Butler received her Ph.D. in philosophy from Yale University in 1984, HP Pavilion dv6-3085ea Battery

for a dissertation subsequently published as Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France. In the late-1980s she held several teaching/research appointments, and was involved in "post-structuralist" efforts within Western feminist theory to question the "presuppositional terms" of feminism. HP Pavilion dv6-3088la Battery


Her research ranges from literary theory, modern philosophical fiction, feminist and sexuality studies, to 19th- and 20th-century European literature and philosophy, Kafka[1]and loss, mourning and war.[2] Her most recent work focuses on Jewish philosophy, exploring pre- and post-Zionist criticisms of state violence.[3][4] Politically, she is a strong supporter of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.[5]HP Pavilion dv6-3089la Battery



Butler was born in Cleveland, Ohio [2] to a family of Hungarian and Russian ancestry.[6]Her mother was raised in Orthodox Judaism, later turning to Conservative Judaism, and finally to Reform Judaism; Butler's father belonged to a Reform Synagogue since his childhood.[5] HP Pavilion dv6-3100 Battery

As a child and teenager, she attended both Hebrew school and special classes on Jewish ethics where she received her "first training in philosophy." [5][7] Butler stated in a 2010 interview with Haaretz that she began the ethics classes at the age of 14 and that they were created as a form of punishment by her Hebrew school's Rabbibecause she was "too talkative in class," HP Pavilion dv6-3100sa Battery

"talk[ed] back," and was "not well behaved."[5]Butler also stated that she was "thrilled" by the classes and chose to focus on Martin Buber. She also encountered the writings of Kant, Hegel, and Spinoza during these special sessions.[5]HP Pavilion dv6-3110ea Battery


Butler attended Bennington College and then Yale University[8] where she studied philosophy, receiving her B.A. in 1978 and her Ph.D. in 1984.[9] Her dissertation was subsequently published as Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France (1987).[10]. HP Pavilion dv6-3110sa Battery

In Butler’s dissertation, she attempts to understand how gender comes into being and how gender comes to be seen as something naturally occurring rather than historical. Butler points out that it is possible for a person to choose the gender they desire to be, but society prevents us from choosing no gender[11] . HP Pavilion dv6-3111sa Battery


She taught at Wesleyan University, George Washington University, and Johns Hopkins University before joining U.C. Berkeley in 1993.[2] She will join the department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University as a visiting professor in the spring semesters of 2012 and 2013 and has the option of remaining as full time faculty.[12][13][14]HP Pavilion dv6-3112sa Battery

In 2009 she received the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Distinguished Achievement Award for her contributions to humanistic inquiry. The prize money of $1.5 million is supposed to enable the recipients to teach and research under especially favorable conditions.[2][15] HP Pavilion dv6-3113sa Battery

Since 2006 Judith Butler has been the Hannah Arendt Professor of philosophy at the European Graduate School (EGS) in Switzerland.[7] She sits on the Advisory Board of the academic journal Identities: Journal for Politics, Gender and Culture.[16]. HP Pavilion dv6-3115sa Battery

Butler is also working on critiquing ethical violence and trying to formulate a theory of responsibility “for an opaque subject that works with Franz Kafka, Sigmund Freud, Michel Foucault and Fredrich Nietzsche”[17]. HP Pavilion dv6-3114sa Battery



Main article: Gender Trouble

Gender Trouble was first published in 1990, selling over 100,000 copies internationally and in different languages[citation needed]. Alluding to the similarly named 1974 John Watersfilm Female Trouble starring the drag queen Divine,[19] HP Pavilion dv6-3115tx Battery

Gender Trouble critically discusses the works of Simone de Beauvoir, Julia Kristeva, Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Luce Irigaray, Monique Wittig, Jacques Derrida, and, most significantly, Michel Foucault. The book has also enjoyed widespread popularity outside of traditional academic circles, even inspiring an intellectual fanzine, Judy![20]HP Pavilion dv6-3116sa Battery

The crux of Butler's argument in Gender Trouble is that the coherence of the categories of sex, gender, and sexuality—the natural-seeming coherence, for example, of masculine gender and heterosexual desire in male bodies—is culturally constructed through the repetition of stylized acts in time. HP Pavilion dv6-3116tx Battery

These stylized bodily acts, in their repetition, establish the appearance of an essential, ontological "core" gender.[citation needed] This is the sense in which Butler famously theorizes gender, along with sex and sexuality, asperformative. HP Pavilion dv6-3117sa Battery

The performance of gender, sex, and sexuality, however, is not a voluntary choice for Butler, who locates the construction of the gendered, sexed, desiring subject within what she calls, borrowing from Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, "regulativediscourses." HP Pavilion dv6-3118sa Battery

 These, also called "frameworks of intelligibility" or "disciplinary regimes," decide in advance what possibilities of sex, gender, and sexuality are socially permitted to appear as coherent or "natural."[citation needed] Regulative discourse includes within itdisciplinary techniques which, by coercing subjects to perform specific stylized actions, maintain the appearance in those subjects of the "core" gender, sex and sexuality the discourse itself produces.[21]HP Pavilion dv6-3119sa Battery

A significant yet sometimes overlooked part of Butler's argument concerns the role of sex in the construction of "natural" or coherent gender and sexuality. Butler explicitly challenges biological accounts of binary sex, reconceiving the sexed body as itself culturally constructed by regulative discourse.[22] HP Pavilion dv6-3120sa Battery

The supposed obviousness of sex as a natural biological fact attests to how deeply its production in discourse is concealed. The sexed body, once established as a “natural” and unquestioned “fact,” is the alibi for constructions of gender and sexuality, HP Pavilion dv6-3121sa Battery

unavoidably more cultural in their appearance, which can purport to be the just-as-natural expressions or consequences of a more fundamental sex. On Butler’s account, it is on the basis of the construction of natural binary sex that binary gender and heterosexuality are likewise constructed as natural.[23]HP Pavilion dv6-3122sa Battery

 In this way, Butler claims that without a critique of sex as produced by discourse, thesex/gender distinction as a feminist strategy for contesting constructions of binary asymmetric gender and compulsory heterosexuality will be ineffective.[24]HP Pavilion dv6-3123sa Battery


Thus, by showing both terms “gender “and “sex” as socially and culturally constructed, Butler offers a critique of both terms, even as they have been used by feminists.[25] Butler argued that feminism made a mistake in trying to make “women” a discrete, ahistorical group with common characteristics. HP Pavilion dv6-3125sa Battery

Butler said this approach reinforces the binary view of gender relations because it allows for two distinct categories: men and women.[26] . Butler believes that feminists should not try to define “women” and she also believes that feminists should “focus on providing an account of how power functions and shapes our understandings of womanhood not only in the society at large but also within the feminist movement”.[27] HP Pavilion dv6-3127sa Battery

Finally, Butler aims to break the supposed links between sex and gender so that gender and desire can be “flexible, free floating and not caused by other stable factors”[28]. The idea of identity as free and flexible and gender as a performance, not an essence, is one of the foundations of Queer Theory.[29] . HP Pavilion dv6-3130sa Battery

Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative (1997)

In Excitable Speech, Butler surveys the problems of hate speech and censorship. She argues that censorship is difficult to evaluate, and that in some cases it may be useful or even necessary, while in others it may be worse than tolerance.[citation needed] HP Pavilion dv6-3131sa Battery

She develops a new conception of censorship’s complex workings, supplanting the myth of the independent subject who wields the power to censor with a theory of censorship as an effect of state power and, more primordially, as the condition of language and discourseitself.[citation needed]HP Pavilion dv6-3140sa Battery

Butler argues that hate speech exists retrospectively, only after being declared such by state authorities. In this way, the state reserves for itself the power to define hate speech and, conversely, the limits of acceptable discourse. In this connection, Butler criticizes feminist legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon's argument against pornography for its unquestioning acceptance of the state’s power to censor.[citation needed]HP Pavilion dv6-3141ea Battery

Deploying Foucault’s argument from The History of Sexuality Vol. 1, Butler claims that any attempt at censorship, legal or otherwise, necessarily propagates the very language it seeks to forbid.[32] As Foucault argues, for example, the strict sexual mores of 19th century Western Europe did nothing but amplify the discourse of sexuality it sought to control.[33]HP Pavilion dv6-3163eo Battery

HP Pavilion dv6-3180ea Battery

 Extending this argument using Derrida and Lacan, Butler claims that censorship is primitive to language, and that the linguistic “I” is a mere effect of an originary censorship. In this way, Butler questions the possibility of any genuinely oppositional discourse; "If speech depends upon censorship, then the principle that one might seek to oppose is at once the formative principle of oppositional speech".[34]HP Pavilion dv6-3298ea Battery

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Butler also questions the efficacy of censorship on the grounds that hate speech is context-dependent. Citing J.L. Austin's concept of the performative utterance, Butler notes that words’ ability to “do things” makes hate speech possible but also at the same time dependent on its specific embodied context.[citation needed] Austin’s claim that what a word “does,” HP Pavilion dv6-3300 Battery

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its illocutionary force, varies with the context in which it is uttered implies that it is impossible to adequately define the performative meanings of words, including hate, abstractly.[citation needed] HP Pavilion dv6-3350sf Battery

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On this basis, Butler rejects arguments like Richard Delgado’s which justify the censorship of certain specific words by claiming the use of those words constitutes hate speech in any context. In this way, Butler underlines the difficulty inherent in efforts to systematically identify hate speech. HP Pavilion dv6-3350ef Battery

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