If the Hegelian system is to be fully appreciated, it has to be grasped as a whole. Experience has shown that this is no easy matter, not only because the general principles involved in its structuralization have never been clearly presented and effectively criticized, but because, in the range of its subject matter, it is so bewilderingly comprehensive. Hegel’s own teaching experience had made him aware of the difficulties involved in communicating satisfactorily however, and it was mainly in order that his system might be conveniently considered in its entirety that he produced his Encyclopaedia.
This work, which is therefore central to any understanding of his manner of thinking, was designed as a general guide to the courses of lectures he delivered at Heidelberg and Berlin between 1816 and 1831. As it was primarily a teaching book, he was constantly revising it, and during his lifetime three editions of it were prepared for the press (1817, 1827, 1830). The lectures were designed mainly for undergraduates, and it is therefore a consideration of Hegel as an encyclopaedist and a teacher which provides one of the readiest introductions to his philosophical system.