‘Hegel: The Restlessness Of The Negative’ by Jean-Luc Nancy

Published by University of Minnesota Press in 2002.

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At once an introduction to Hegel and a radically new vision of his thought, this remarkable work penetrates the entirety of the Hegelian field with brevity and precision, while compromising neither rigor nor depth. One of the most original interpreters of Hegel, Jean-Luc Nancy offers a portrait as startlingly unconventional as it is persuasive, and at the same time demonstrates its relevance to a very contemporary understanding of the political. Here Hegel appears not as the quintessential dispassionate synthesizer and totalizer, but as the inaugural thinker of the contemporary world—one whose thought is inseparable from anxiety and desire, as well as the concrete, the inconclusive, the singular.

Under Nancy’s scrutiny, no facet of Hegel’s work remains untouched or unrevised: problems of aesthetics, affect, and history, as well as the implications of freedom, politics, and being-in-common. Engaging eleven judiciously chosen points essential to Hegel’s sprawling system of thought—restlessness, becoming, penetration, logic, present, manifestation, trembling, sense, desire, freedom, and “we”—Nancy develops precise arguments for their philosophical importance for us today.

Nancy’s Hegel is the thinker who foregrounds the original, irrepressible, and joyous embrace of the inevitable will to philosophize; he is the philosophical guide who negotiates between the two extremes of stupidity and madness along the path to meaning. In the face of the horror of history and despite the temptation of past-based solutions, this Hegel’s uncompromising foothold in the real makes him our contemporary, a thinker for our time.

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