‘Hegel and the Symbolic Mediation of Spirit’ by Katheleen Dow Magnus

Published by SUNY Press in 2001.

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Employs Derrida’s critique of Hegel as the impetus for a new understanding of Hegel’s concept of “spirit.”

Contesting the widely-held assumption that Hegel shows a clear preference for the sign over the symbol, this book expounds the indispensable importance of the symbol for spirit’s ultimate determination. Employing Derrida’s critique of Hegel as the impetus for a new understanding of Hegel’s concept of spirit, the book forces readers to take a fresh look at issues in the philosophy of language, aesthetics, and theology. Magnus shows how the collective power Hegel calls “spirit” remains relevant to the contemporary human situation, even in light of the serious and pressing objections of postmodern philosophy.


“The strength and originality of Kathleen Dow Magnus’s work is that she sees Hegel’s texts as deepening our understanding of true self-determination and of the vital role played by symbols in such self-determination. Thanks are due to Dr. Magnus for showing us a Hegel who continues to be deeply relevant to both the modern and the postmodern worlds.”

— Stephen Houlgate, editor of Hegel and the Philosophy of Nature


Kathleen Dow Magnus is an instructor of philosophy at the Julius-Maximilians-Universitat, Wurzburg, Germany.

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