‘Hegel’s Anthropology: Life, Psyche, and Second Nature’ by Allegra de Laurentiis

Published by Northwestern University Press in 2021

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This book provides a critical analysis of Hegel’s Anthropology, a long-neglected treatise dedicated to the psyche, or “soul,” that bridges Hegel’s philosophy of organic nature with his philosophy of subjective spirit. Allegra de Laurentiis recuperates this overlooked text, guiding readers through its   essential arguments and ideas. She shows how Hegel conceives of the “sublation” of natural motion, first into animal sentience and then into the felt presentiment of selfhood, all the way to the threshold of self-reflexive thinking.

She discusses the Anthropology in the context of Hegel’s mature system of philosophy (the Encyclopaedia) while also exposing some of the scientific and philosophical sources of his conceptions of unconscious states, psychosomatism, mental pathologies, skill formation, memorization, bodily habituation, and the self-conditioning capacities of our species. This treatise on the becoming of anthropos, she argues, displays the power and limitations of Hegel’s idealistic “philosophy of the real” in connecting such phenomena as erect posture, a discriminating hand, and the forward gaze to the emergence of the human ego, or the structural disintegration of the social world to the derangement of the individual mind.

A groundbreaking contribution to scholarship on Hegel and nineteenth-century philosophy, this book shows that the Anthropology is essential to understanding Hegel’s concept of spirit, not only in its connection with nature but also in its more sophisticated realizations as objective and absolute spirit. Future scholarship on this subject will recount—and build upon—de Laurentiis’s innovative study.


Allegra de Laurentiis is a professor of philosophy at Stony Brook University. She is the author of Subjects in the Ancient and Modern World: On Hegel’s Theory of Subjectivity, the editor of Hegel and Metaphysics: On Logic and Ontology in the System, and the coeditor of The Bloomsbury Companion to Hegel.

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