‘Hegel’s Antiquity’ by Will D. Desmond

Published by Oxford University Press in 2020.

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Hegel’s Antiquity aims to summarize, contextualize, and criticize Hegel’s understanding and treatment of major aspects of the classical world, approaching each of the major areas of his historical thinking in turn: politics, art, religion, philosophy, and history itself. The discussion excerpts relevant details from a range of Hegel’s works, with an eye both to the ancient sources with which he worked, and the contemporary theories (German aesthetic theory, Romanticism, Kantianism, Idealism (including Hegel’s own), and emerging historicism) which coloured his readings. What emerges is that Hegel’s interest in both Greek and Roman antiquity was profound and is essential for his philosophy, arguably providing the most important components of his vision of world history: Hegel is generally understood as a thinker of modernity (in various senses), but his modernity can only be understood in essential relation to its predecessor and ‘others’, notably the Greek world and Roman world whose essential ‘spirit’ he assimilates to his own notion of Geist.

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