Idealism and Existentialism

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Idealism and Existentialism
Hegel and Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century European Philosophy

Jon Stewart

Continuum International Publishing Group The Tower Building 80 Maiden Lane 11 York Road Suite 704 London SE1 7NX New York, NY 10038 © Jon Stewart, 2010 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. ISBN: HB: 978-1-4411-3399-1

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Stewart, Jon (Jon Bartley) Idealism and existentialism : Hegel and nineteenth- and twentieth-century european philosophy / Jon Stewart. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and indexes. ISBN 978-1-4411-3399-1 1. Continental philosophy--History. 2. Idealism, German--History. 3. Existentialism--History. 4. Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, 1770-1831. I. Title. B803.S83 2010 190.9’034--dc22 2009044700

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Contents Acknowledgments Abbreviations of Primary Texts Preface Introduction Part I Hegel and German Idealism Chapter 1 Hegel and the Myth of Reason Chapter 2 Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit as a Systematic Fragment Chapter 3 The Architectonic of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit Part II Between Idealism and Existentialism Chapter 4 Points of Contact in the Philosophy of Religion of Hegel and Schopenhauer Chapter 5 Kierkegaard’s Criticism of the Absence of Ethics in Hegel’s System Chapter 6 Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Abstraction and His Proposed Solution: Appropriation Chapter 7 Kierkegaard’s Recurring Criticism of Hegel’s “The Good and Conscience” Chapter 8 Hegel and Nietzsche on the Death of Tragedy and Greek Ethical Life Part III Existentialism Chapter 9 Existentialist Ethics Chapter 10 Merleau-Ponty’s Criticisms of Sartre’s Theory of Freedom Chapter 11 Sartre and Merleau-Ponty on Consciousness and Bad Faith Notes Bibliography Index vi vii xiii 1 9 11 24 41 71 73 79 94 120 142 163 165 199 215 229 265 279 .

Under this rubric. Robert Stern. Hans Ruin. This book has benefited enormously from their feedback. Nietzscheforschung. Paul Cruysberghs. Kronos. In this regard I would like to thank the following for generously allowing me to reprint these essays here: ARCHE Journal of Philosophy. I am most grateful to my brother Loy Stewart for his tireless proofreading and suggestions for stylistic improvements. Ein Jahrbuch. . Roe Fremstedal. Jahrbuch für Hegelforschung. Bulletin of the Hegel Society of Great Britain. Joseph Ballan. Zoltán Gyenge. Philosophy Today. and Prima Philosophia. Lee Barrett. Elsevier. Finally. I would like to express my gratitude to Stacey E. I would also like to thank a number of people for being such gracious hosts to a number of colloquia that I have given over the years and who thus provided me with the opportunity to present my ideas in a formal context. Antoni Szwed. Ake. István Czakó. Cambridge University Press. Vilhjálmur Árnason. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. The Owl of Minerva. and Curtis Thompson. I would like to thank my wife Katalin Nun for her work formatting and editing the final versions of this text.Acknowledgments This volume would not have been possible if it were not for the cooperation of a number of journals and publishing houses. I owe Daniel Conway an enormous debt of gratitude for his useful ideas about how to shape the general concept of this volume. Béla Bacsó.

Abbreviations of Primary Texts Hegel’s Writings Aesthetics Briefe Hegel’s Aesthetics. Gerats. First Philosophy of Spirit in G. Cited by volume and page number. Cited by paragraph number (§). 1998. ed. Jena System Jub. F. 1804–5: Logic and Metaphysics. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press 1955. M. trans. Stuttgart: Friedrich Frommann Verlag 1928–41. Indianapolis: Hackett 1991. and trans. Hegel. vols 1–4. S. Paul. F. John W. Knox. ed. The Jena System. trans. E. Knox. Harris and T. The Encyclopaedia Logic. Trench. Suchting and H. Lectures on the History of Philosophy. Albany: SUNY Press 1979. T. trans. W. Lectures on Fine Art. Trübner 1892–6. London: K. ed. Burbidge and George di Giovanni. Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press 1986. vols 1–3. Harris. S. Cited by page number. Briefe von und an Hegel. H. Bloomington: Indiana University Press 1984. EL First Phil. Oxford: Clarendon Press 1975. Clark Butler and Christiane Seiler. Hermann Glockner. Johannes Hoffmeister. Hegel: The Letters. Sämtliche Werke. trans. Haldane. M. T. of Phil. W. of Spirit Hist. Cited by volume and page number. Letters . System of Ethical Life and First Philosophy of Spirit. Hamburg: Meiner 1961. A. S. and ed. Jubiläumsausgabe in 20 Bänden. trans. Part One of the Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences. vols 1–2.

J. B. 24. The Concept of Anxiety. trans. Hong. 1944. ed. B&A CA . trans. W. of Religion Phil. Copenhagen: Munksgaard 1953–4. New York: Willey Book Co. A. Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind. Speirs and J. Burdon Sanderson. Illinois: Northwestern University Press 2002. 1972.viii Abbreviations Miscellaneous Writings by G. V. Prop. Niels Thulstrup. V. KW. The Philosophical Propaedeutic. of Mind Phil. Jon Stewart. ed. Nisbet. Hong and Edna H. Breve og Aktstykker vedrørende Søren Kierkegaard. Miller. PhS PR SL Kierkegaard’s Writings A The Book on Adler. Miller. 1968. Oxford: Clarendon Press 1971. trans. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press 1991. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1998. New York: The Humanities Press 1962. Miller. MW Phil. ed. V. Hegel. trans. William Wallace and A. Sibree. trans. A. Allen Wood. Oxford: Basil Blackwell 1986. H. 8. Evanston. Phil. E. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1980. B. Michael George and Andrew Vincent. London: George Allen and Unwin 1989. KW. vol. Elements of the Philosophy of Right. The Philosophy of History. Reidar Thomte in collaboration with Albert B. F. Miller. Cited by paragraph number (§). A. Cited by paragraph number (§). vols 1–3. of Hist. trans. Cited by page number. Hegel’s Science of Logic. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. V. ed. Cited by volume and page number. Oxford: Clarendon Press 1977. Cited by page number. Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Anderson. vol. trans. Howard V. Cited by page number. vols 1–2. trans. Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion. trans.

1. ed. Kirmmse. Kierkegaard’s Writings. Hong and Edna H. ed. Hong. trans. Howard V. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1989. vols 1–11. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1987. Early Polemical Writings: From the Papers of One Still Living. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1978–2000. vols 1–2. Hong and Edna H. Repetition. Howard V. vol. Hong and Edna H. vol. Hong and Edna H. vols 1–2. Hong and Edna H. Howard V. 2. Fear and Trembling. trans. George Pattison. KW. Hong and Edna H. Hong. Howard V. 3. trans. Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press 1978. Kierkegaard’s Journals and Notebooks. The Battle between the Old and the New Soap-Cellars. CUP1 CUP2 EO1 EO2 EPW FT JC JP KJN KW . Hong and Edna H. David Kangas. Howard V. Articles from Student Days. Howard V. vol. Hong and Edna H. vol. Hong and Edna H. Either/Or 1. Niels Jørgen Cappelørn. 1. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1992. Alastair Hannay. Søren Kierkegaard’s Journals and Papers. Schelling Lecture Notes.1. Either/Or 2. KW. Bruce H. Index and Composite Collation. vols 1–6. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1987. Hong and Edna H. vol. Hong. 7. Howard V. trans. vol. Johannes Climacus. 4. trans. 12.2. Hong. KW. trans. vol. Hong. Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press 1967–78. Concluding Unscientific Postscript. Cited by volume number and entry number. KW. Hong. 7. KW. Brian Söderquist. Hong. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press 2007–. Howard V. vol. Howard V. 2. vols 1–26. Julia Watkin. 6. trans. and trans. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1985. Hong. Hong. Concluding Unscientific Postscript. KW.Abbreviations CI ix The Concept of Irony. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1990. by Howard V. trans. vol. trans. or De omnibus dubitandum est. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1983. vol. 12. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1992. Vanessa Rumble and K. Hong. KW. vol. KW.

vols 1–28. 22. L. Copenhagen: Gad Publishers 1997– . vol. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1985. 6. Cited by volume number and entry number. Søren Kierkegaards Papirer. vol. Philosophical Fragments. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1983. Hong. Howard V. K1–K28. V. vol. KW. 7. Hong and Edna H. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1998. Hong. LD M P Pap. Henrik Rosenmeier. trans. PC PF PV R SKS SLW SUD SV1 . KW. Torsting. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Copenhagen: Gyldendal. Nichol. 23. ed. Prefaces. vol. A. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1991. KW. supplemented by Niels Thulstrup.x Abbreviations Kierkegaard: Letters and Documents. Hong and Edna H. Hong. Stages on Life’s Way. Johannes Climacus. KW. J. Hong. Howard V. vol. 11. 1909–48. vols 1–14. 20. trans. vol. ed. KW. Niels Jørgen Cappelørn. vol. first edition. Drachmann. Hong and Edna H. Howard V. trans. Hong and Edna H. vol. Copenhagen: Gyldendal 1968–78. O. KW. KW. Hong. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1978. Johnny Kondrup and Alastair McKinnon. 19. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1998. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. The Point of View. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1998. 9. trans. P. Hong. vols 1–16. Howard V. Hong. KW. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1988. vol. trans. Jette Knudsen. Practice in Christianity. ed. Joakim Garff. Kuhr and E. Lange. Hong and Edna H. Heiberg and H. KW. The Moment and Late Writings. The Sickness unto Death. trans. Repetition. Samlede Værker. A. trans. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1980. B. 25. trans. or De omnibus dubitandum est. Heiberg. trans. Copenhagen: Gyldendal 1901–06. Howard V. Søren Kierkegaards Skrifter. Todd W.

in Twilight of the Idols and The AntiChrist. Paris: Gallimard 1945. trans. The Will to Power. trans. Walter Kaufmann. 1988. 2nd ed. . vols 1–15. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 1967–77. J. trans. trans. 14. Phenomenology of Perception. New York: Vintage 1974. Walter Kaufmann. Hong. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Hollingdale. ed. Hollingdale. Kritische Studienausgabe. vol. in Twilight of the Idols and The AntiChrist. trans. The Birth of Tragedy and The Case of Wagner. Colin Smith. BT EH GS KSA TI WP Merleau-Ponty’s Writings Phén PP Phénoménologie de la perception. ed. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1978. Arthur Hübscher. and New York: The Humanities Press 1962. New York: Vintage 1967. J. J. Walter Kaufmann and R. R. Walter Kaufmann. Harmondsworth: Penguin 1968. R. Howard V. trans. trans. Werke in zehn Bänden. Ecce Homo. a Literary Review. Schopenhauer’s Writings ZA Zürcher Ausgabe. trans.Abbreviations TA xi Two Ages: The Age of Revolution and the Present Age. New York: Vintage 1967. Harmondsworth: Penguin 1968. The Gay Science. Nietzsche’s Writings AC The Anti-Christ. New York: Vintage 1967. KW. Zürich: Diogenes Verlag 1977. Hollingdale. Hong and Edna H. Twilight of the Idols.

Evanston: Northwestern University Press 1964. Richard C.xii Abbreviations Sens et Non-Sens. trans. Sense and Non-Sense. Evanston: Northwestern University Press 1964. trans. Hubert L. London: Methuen 1948. Signs. Barnes. Philip Mairet. . Paris: Nagel 1961. Hazel E. McCleary. Dreyfus and Patricia Allen Dreyfus. New York: Philosophical Library 1956. Paris: Gallimard 1943. trans. Paris: Nagel 1948. Essai d’ontologie phénoménologique. Signes. L’Existentialisme est un humanisme. Paris: Gallimard 1960. Sens Signes Signs SNS Sartre’s Writings BN EH EN LEH Being and Nothingness. L’Être et le néant. Existentialism and Humanism. trans.

where I worked from 1992–3 with a grant from the Heinrich Hertz Foundation. The essay “The Architectonic of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit” was originally published in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (vol. 444–77). no. This work is a brief overview of the main thesis of my book The Unity of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit: A Systematic Interpretation (Evanston. written for The Cambridge Companion to Hegel and Nineteenth-Century Philosophy (edited by Frederick C. This is the most recent article in the present volume. to put together these works in order to make them more generally accessible for students and scholars of European philosophy. 187–200).” was originally published in The Owl of Minerva (vol. pp. 1995. “Hegel and the Myth of Reason. 2. It was subsequently reprinted in The Phenomenology of Spirit Reader: A Collection of Critical Essays (edited by Jon Stewart. Illinois: Northwestern University Press 1996). Yet others were originally oral lectures and thus have never appeared in print. The idea with the present volume was. It was in part the inspiration for the anthology The Hegel Myths and Legends (Evanston.Preface Friends and colleagues have long urged me to publish and in some cases republish the articles and lectures featured in this volume. 4. 306–18. 1995. This article was written during my stay as a post-doctoral scholar at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster. This article was written during my stay at the Humboldt University . 74–93). where it was reprinted (pp. New York: Cambridge University Press 2008. among other things. 747–76). The first essay. 55.) The essay “Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit as a Systematic Fragment” is a slightly enlarged version of an essay with the same title. Others had been published in German but never in English. Still others were essays which for one reason or another remained unpublished. Albany. Some of these pieces had been published previously but were languishing in academic journals. New York: SUNY Press 1998. written in Copenhagen in 2004. in Germany. and can be seen as a clear continuation of my previous works on Hegel’s Phenomenology. 26. pp. Illinois: Northwestern University Press 2000). Beiser. pp. pp. no.

2003. on October 14. Thiel College. Further incarnations were given as lectures at the Department of Philosophy and Science Studies at Roskilde University in Denmark on April 11. The essay “Kierkegaard’s Criticism of the Absence of Ethics in Hegel’s System” was also a spin-off from my work on Hegel and Kierkegaard at the Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre in Copenhagen. no. The essay “Points of Contact in the Philosophy of Religion of Hegel and Schopenhauer” was originally published in German as “Berührungspunkte in der Religionsphilosophie Hegels und Schopenhauers. 1993. Philadelphia. December 5. Belgium. Pennsylvania. Lancaster. on 7 November 1998. This piece has never appeared before in English. on October 25. in Warsaw. Szeged. 1998. 2000. 2005. November 10. . Department of Religion. “Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Abstraction and his Proposed Solution: Appropriation” was given with slight and major modifications as a paper at the following institutions: Lancaster Theological Seminary. 2006. Department of Religious Studies.xiv Preface in Berlin from 1994–5. Department of Philosophy. St Thomas University. St Paul. at the Department of Philosophy at the Katholieke Universiteit in Leuven. 2003.” in Prima Philosophia (Band 6. Norwegian University of Science and Technology. under the auspices of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Warsaw. 2005. on December 6. 2006. Rumania on November 10. A somewhat revised version was given at the Department of Philosophy at Södertörns Högskola in Stockholm. pp. University of Syracuse. Trondheim. September 10. Iceland. and at the Department of Philosophy at the University of Bucharest. 2006. This short article was also written during my aforementioned stay at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster. on May 12. the Department of Aesthetics at the Eötvös Loránd University. 2005. Hungary. 2006. on October 13. the Department of Philosophy at the Pázmány Péter Catholic University. Syracuse. 2006. November 16. 2003. Greenville. Heft 1. This lecture was published in ARCHE Journal of Philosophy (Novi Sad). 3. Hungary. Piliscsaba. pp. New York. and in Chinese translation in World Philosophy [Shi Jie Zhe Xue] (Beijing: Chinese Academy of Social Sciences). Drexel University. 2003. 3. on February 11. 3–8). 2006. 2008. It was originally given as a lecture at the Department of Philosophy at the József Attila University. No English translation of it has appeared previously. no. Philosophy Department. Norway. pp. Pennsylvania. 47–60. and at the Faculty of Law and Social Science at the University of Akureyri. Budapest. Pennsylvania. November 14. 22–32. November 9. Minnesota. Department of English and Philosophy. where I was a post-doctoral scholar financed by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

The article “Merleau-Ponty’s Criticisms of Sartre’s Theory of Freedom” was first published in Philosophy Today (vol. It has never been published previously. entitled “Existentialist Ethics. References to primary texts have also been updated to make them consistent with the most recent editions and translations. pp. pp. which was funded by the Belgian American Educational Foundation. The articles have been updated somewhat by the addition of some new footnotes with references to more recent works in the secondary literature. 1997. Ein Jahrbuch (Band 3. 2007. San Diego: Academic Press Inc.” stems from the same period in Brussels. Apart from these slight modifications. Some of the articles featured here have been slightly revised stylistically. “Sartre and Merleau-Ponty on Consciousness and Bad Faith. 311–24). Evanston. . The article “Hegel and Nietzsche on the Death of Tragedy and Greek Ethical Life” originally appeared in Nietzscheforschung. 1995. This conference was held at the University of Sheffield on March 3.” in the Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics (edited by Ruth Chadwick. The final piece included in the volume. 203–18). 293–316). pp. Belgium.Preface xv “Kierkegaard’s Recurring Criticism of Hegel’s ‘The Good and Conscience’” was originally given as a paper at the conference “Hegel And/ Or Kierkegaard. This piece was written in Copenhagen during my initial period at the Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre in 1996. 2007. an attempt has been made to harmonize the textual references in the footnote apparatus. pp. pp. It is reprinted with the kind permission of Elsevier. 1996. This piece was also written during the above-mentioned research stay at the Humboldt University in Berlin from 1994–5.” was a commissioned article. Occasionally a sentence or paragraph has been added or omitted. This paper was subsequently published in the Bulletin of the Hegel Society of Great Britain. It was subsequently reprinted in The Debate Between Sartre and Merleau-Ponty (edited by Jon Stewart. The next piece. from 1993–4. references are made to the foregoing list of abbreviations for standard editions and English translations. Illinois: Northwestern University Press 1998. 45–66. nos 55–6. originally published as “Existentialism. For the works of the authors quoted most frequently. This article was written during a research stay at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. 39. the pieces appear in more or less their original form.” organized by the Hegel Society of Great Britain and the Søren Kierkegaard Society of the United Kingdom. 197–214). Further. 3. no.

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These are frequently juxtaposed in such a way as to highlight their purported radical differences. Hegel. they invariably.Introduction The history of Continental philosophy is often conceived as being represented by two major schools: German idealism and phenomenology/existentialism. and shares a wealth of . While Kierkegaard insists on the absolute irreducibility of the individual. The result was the introduction of a new kind of philosophy that was closer to the lived experience of the individual human being. While Kierkegaard champions the individual and human freedom. Hegel presents his view in the form of a grotesque. instead of providing a useful framework for further studies. According to this interpretation. perhaps unwittingly. and eruptions of a simple either/or nature. but in any case even the most radical critic inherits something of the philosophical spirit of the times. purportedly the first existentialist. the history of philosophy in the first half of the nineteenth century has been read as a grand confrontation between the ambitious but sadly naïve rationalistic system of Hegel and the devastating criticisms of it by Kierkegaard’s philosophy. emphasizes the universal and rational necessity. This is a nice dramatic story to tell undergraduate students and to rehearse in introductory textbooks but in the end. including the individual. and thus about the development of philosophy in general.” which mercilessly destroys everything in its path. purportedly the last idealist. adopt something positive from them. Even as thinkers criticize their predecessors. it gives rise to a series of misunderstandings and outright myths about the Hegel-Kierkegaard relation. The history of European philosophy is only rarely characterized by seismic shocks.1 At times the key break is located in the transition from Hegel. tectonic shifts. by contrast. abstract monstrosity called “the system. with its emphasis on actuality and existence. or a common methodology on how to confront it. to Kierkegaard. The idea is that there was an abrupt break in the nineteenth century that resulted in a disdainful rejection of idealism in all its forms. impersonal. This might involve a common understanding of a specific philosophical problem.

For the sake of convenience this volume has been divided into three roughly chronological sections. they are united in their attempt to reveal in one way or another the long shadow cast by Kant and Hegel over the subsequent history of European thought. Kierkegaard.” addresses itself to the longstanding view that Hegel was a naïve Enlightenment thinker.” is dedicated to thinkers such as Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. There Hegel is surprisingly critical of what he takes to be the Enlightenment’s deep misunderstanding of religion. entitled “Between Idealism and Existentialism. Sartre and Derrida. The second section. Part I: Hegel and German Idealism Chapter 1. these so-called “irrationalists” are thought to have disabused themselves of the belief in Enlightenment reason and to have glimpsed the deeply irrational nature of the human mind. These thinkers use precisely the same image to capture the notion of self-conscious critical reflection. he uses the metaphor of Enlightenment reason as an illness that takes over the human spirit at a specific point in history. such as Kierkegaard. Nietzsche. The third and final section is dedicated to twentieth-century existentialism proper. This chapter tries to argue against this view by analyzing Hegel’s account of the struggle of the Enlightenment with religion in the Phenomenology of Spirit. forerunners of existentialism. who are often thought to be critics of German idealism and. at the same time. Its focus is above all on the early Hegel and the Phenomenology of Spirit. Dostoevsky. i. This section explores the relation of these thinkers to both of these intellectual traditions. Further.e. This view has often been used to set Hegel apart from the thinkers of the later nineteenth and early twentieth century. This same metaphor is then traced in several subsequent thinkers who are generally associated with the irrationalist tradition. While the individual chapters each pursue their own goals with respect to specific texts or concepts. In contrast to Hegel. Schopenhauer. . The first is primarily concerned with Hegel and German idealism. and the true workings of history and culture. Camus and Sartre. Nietzsche. The goal of the present work is to challenge this caricatured view of the radical break between idealism and existentialism by means of a series of specialized studies of specific episodes of European thought. “Hegel and the Myth of Reason.2 Idealism and Existentialism background information and presuppositions with others thinkers from the same period. who stubbornly insisted on the power of reason.

In response to a series of apparent breaks in the argumentation of the work at key transitions.” begins with an account of Hegel’s repeated claims about the need for philosophy to be systematic. far from being the naïve proponent of Enlightenment reason. the question is taken up about the Phenomenology as a fragmentary text. “The Architectonic of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. The second chapter. an attempt is made to demonstrate the unity of the argument by sketching a series of parallel analyses. Finally. Given Hegel’s insistence on systematic or speculative philosophy. that call into question the unity of the Phenomenology. which consists in the parallel analyses. “Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit as a Systematic Fragment.Introduction 3 which they take to be paradigmatic of the modern mind. it becomes problematic to interpret the Phenomenology of Spirit in a piecemeal manner. different strands pointing in different directions remain in the final product. it is argued at the end of the chapter that this does not in any way undermine its systematic structure. When seen in relation to Hegel’s later works and lectures. Fichte and Schelling. This chapter traces and attempts to refute other arguments. which run throughout the text. Chapter 3. While it is clear that some of the analyses in the Phenomenology could certainly be worked out in more detail. This is understood in the general context of German idealism. It argues against the various conceptions of this book as a patchwork with no underlying systematic . in fact foreshadows the existentialist tradition’s suspicion of rationality. As a result. as has often been done in the secondary literature. during its composition. With this point of contact or overlap. The main argument given for this view is that. A clear example of this is the cursory treatment that Hegel gives to different forms of religious consciousness in the Phenomenology in contrast to the elaborate and much more detailed analyses he gives of the same religions in his Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion. both biographical and text-internal. one can see that Hegel. it can indeed be regarded as fragmentary in the sense that individual analyses that appear there for the first time are worked out in much more detail later.” follows in the footsteps of the preceding chapter. Hegel changed his mind about the nature of the book and the philosophical work it was intended to do. and parallels are drawn between Hegel’s account of systematic philosophy and those of Kant. there can be no doubt that it was his conscious goal to do so. An overview is given of the different ways in which the Phenomenology in particular has often been regarded as an unsystematic text. While he may well have been mistaken in this view of philosophy or may well have been unsuccessful in creating a philosophical system in accordance with this systematic conception.

” It is well known that Schopenhauer engaged in a ruthless polemic against Hegel and other followers of Kant. both Hegel and Schopenhauer attempt to demonstrate the truth of religion in terms of its significance for the lives and values of the concrete religious believer. Using this as a guide.e. With this sketch it is argued that the Phenomenology does in fact contain an underlying systematic structure that scholars have overlooked. Both thinkers are critical of the view of religion as something transcendent or pointing to another world or an unknown beyond. the chapter traces the argument of the Phenomenology through different analyses. Once again. This chapter proposes to take the second. which are intended to run parallel to one another in the corresponding chapters and sections. i. Here it is claimed that many of the misunderstandings about the organization and structure of the work have arisen due to the fact that Hegel revised the table of contents. The result of this combination was a highly complicated organizational scheme that was impossible to understand. Hegel’s unhappy consciousness is compared to Schopenhauer’s account of the lives of saints. Hegel’s organizational statements in the “Reason” chapter are explored in some detail since there he sets forth what he takes to be the parallel structures between the three sections of that chapter and the two foregoing chapters. First. claiming that he alone was the true heir of Kant’s transcendental idealism.4 Idealism and Existentialism structure.” This then provides the key for the general pattern that is repeated in the “Spirit” and “Religion” chapters that follow. “Consciousness” and “SelfConsciousness. revised table of contents as Hegel’s considered view. Part II: Between Idealism and Existentialism The first chapter in this next section is a short piece entitled “Points of Contact in the Philosophy of Religion of Hegel and Schopenhauer. Hegel’s conceptual understanding of religion in terms of the abstract philosophical Idea is compared with Schopenhauer’s conception of a deeper philosophical truth underlying religious myths and symbols. Instead. Second. despite their use of different philosophical language and their different interpretations . ascetics and other holy persons. This explicit outward polemic has led scholars to overlook many of the points of commonality between Schopenhauer and Hegel. in their respective analyses. This chapter sketches a couple of very basic points of agreement between the two thinkers with regard to their respective views on the philosophy of religion. and this revised version was confusingly combined with the original version by later editors.

that idealism is overly abstract and fails to take into account the realm of actuality and existence. which he presents along with his political philosophy in his famous work. In the end Kierkegaard’s account of appropriation looks rather similar to standard concepts in the ethics of Kant and Hegel. Kierkegaard frequently refers to Hegel’s section “The Good and Conscience” from the “Morality” chapter of Philosophy of Right.” treats a well-known criticism in Kierkegaard’s authorship. This topic is addressed in the next chapter. “Kierkegaard’s Criticism of the Absence of Ethics in Hegel’s System. This is of great interest to Kierkegaard. The chapter “Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Abstraction and His Proposed Solution: Appropriation” addresses one of Kierkegaard’s familiar attacks on Hegel and idealist philosophy: namely. Kierkegaard has his pseudonymous authors criticize Hegel’s philosophical system for lacking an ethics. Here Hegel analyzes the rights and limitations of the individual conscience vis-à-vis other individuals and the community as a whole. including appropriation. then it becomes clear what it is that he finds missing. In a number of his works. It is argued that he ultimately fails to offer a philosophically satisfying solution with the doctrine of appropriation. This has often struck commentators as an odd criticism since Hegel does in fact have an ethical theory. The Philosophy of Right. who is Kierkegaard’s intended reader. The next chapter.” Once this is determined. although it may well be adequate at a personal level for the individual Christian. Kierkegaard presents a handful of concepts. This analysis helps to make clear Kierkegaard’s own intuitions about ethical theory and their relation to the theory of Hegel. As a positive doctrine intended to overcome the problem of abstraction. and despite their different preferences for specific religions (Hegel preferring Protestant Christianity and Schopenhauer preferring Buddhism and Eastern religion).’ ” This section in Hegel’s political philosophy is well known for its criticism of what he regards as the pernicious forms of relativism and individualism found in German Romanticism. This piece explores both Kierkegaard’s negative criticism and his positive proposal.Introduction 5 of the individual myths. which is not generally accessible to the common religious believer. The thesis of this chapter is that Kierkegaard’s criticism can best be grasped when one understands what he actually means by “ethics. the two thinkers nonetheless share a fundamental view according to which the truth of religion lies in its philosophical meaning. who wishes to insist on the absolute irreducibility . “Kierkegaard’s Recurring Criticism of Hegel’s ‘The Good and Conscience.

6 Idealism and Existentialism of individual faith. in the first “Problema” from Fear and Trembling. offense. and exposing them as false. and of different kinds of abstract moral theory. this chapter demonstrates a development in his relation to Hegel with respect to the issue at stake in “The Good and Conscience. for example. It is argued that Hegel’s analysis anticipates. Since the existentialists tend to be critical of traditional morality in the form of established religion or custom. in Journal NB2. By tracing the references in these works that span Kierkegaard’s authorship. and faith. Having disposed of traditional values and modern philosophies in this way. He thus returns to this section in Hegel’s text in The Concept of Irony. Part III: Existentialism The chapter “Existentialist Ethics” addresses itself to the commonly held view that the existentialist tradition is fundamentally at odds with ethical thinking and for this reason has no ethical theory of its own. While these two thinkers are thought to have such radically differing conceptions of philosophy that they are rarely regarded as having anything in common. to the contrary. this chapter argues that in fact Hegel’s analysis of the development of Greek religion in the “Religion” chapter of Phenomenology of Spirit in fact foreshadows Nietzsche’s account of the death of Greek tragedy at the hands of Socratic rationality. Thus. among other things. the paradox. This chapter argues. it would seem that they reject ethics tout court. The final chapter of this section. Nietzsche’s famous distinction between the Apollonian and Dionysian principles. the existentialists are in agreement that there is some positive ethical value to be found in seeing through purported religious truths or philosophical systems. Seen negatively. that the existentialist thinkers and those often considered to be their precursors all have at least the outlines of a theory of ethics in the form of a theory of authenticity and responsibility.” It is argued that while Kierkegaard’s picture of Hegel’s position is somewhat caricatured and must thus be taken with a grain of salt. resolute and authentic choice . nonetheless his use of this text can be seen as positive in the sense that it provides him with a negative position by means of which he can construct his own doctrines of. “Hegel and Nietzsche on the Death of Tragedy and Greek Ethical Life. the existentialists then seek some positive ethical value in the authentic and free choice that one is faced with in a meaningless world.” examines the little-explored relation between Hegel and Nietzsche. and finally in Practice in Christianity.

they have a conception of vice with the different theories of how human beings attempt to escape their freedom and sink into inauthenticity. Heidegger. It is thematized in his literary and dramatic works and has its philosophical basis in Being and Nothingness. These criticisms are. Sartre tries to show that such a view is conceptually incoherent since it amounts to consciousness hiding something from itself. The next chapter featured here is entitled “Merleau-Ponty’s Criticisms of Sartre’s Theory of Freedom. the existentialists do in fact have a theory of ethics. it is claimed that this existentialist tradition of ethics can be compared with the ancient tradition of virtue ethics in the sense that the existentialists have a conception of virtue with the model of free choice and authenticity. Thus. which regards the individual as radically separate from the surrounding world. which is simply impossible. Merleau-Ponty has a much more integrated. of Freud’s theory of the human mind. however. “Sartre and Merleau-Ponty on Consciousness and Bad Faith. but instead one of a reciprocity between subject and object. By contrast. in Being and Nothingness. according to which the individual is always already bound up in necessary relations with the world. human being and world. his theory of freedom is not one of a unilateral. Camus. Phenomenology of Perception. In response he sets forth his own theory of the lucidity and complete transparency of consciousness. ultimately Sartre has the theoretical tools to deal with them. This chapter explores Sartre’s criticism. The present chapter isolates three main criticisms that MerleauPonty puts forth there. It is argued that Sartre’s somewhat voluntaristic theory of freedom is based on his dualism. Sartre. and indeed it is one that has significant points in common with both Kant and ancient virtue ethics. and de Beauvoir. useful for understanding Merleau-Ponty’s own theory of freedom. as in Sartre. monistic ontology. Similarly. spontaneous voluntarism from the side of the isolated human subject. Different versions of this are sketched in the thought of Kierkegaard.” continues the comparison between these two most famous French existentialists. The thesis of this chapter is that while these criticisms are in many ways insightful. As a result. Dostoevsky.” It is well known that the concept of existential freedom is absolutely central to Sartre’s philosophical project. The final chapter. Finally.Introduction 7 becomes the model for existentialist ethics. Merleau-Ponty gives a detailed criticism of this theory in the final section of his magnum opus. Nietzsche. It is argued that the tradition of existentialist ethics derives key features from Kant’s theory of the will and ethical action. This forms the basis of Sartre’s famous analysis of “bad . according to which certain parts of our mental life remain hidden from us.

Sartre’s theory of a transparent consciousness has the undesirable result of implicitly positing a fi xed ontological subject. that is. collectively they address in one way or another the complex relation between the traditions of German idealism and existentialism. and his theory of human consciousness ultimately represents a more satisfactory explanation of the phenomena in question.” his term of art for self-deception. While each of the chapters in this volume has its own specific thesis. . but also of our own consciousness. Sartre’s theory of a completely self-transparent consciousness is a conceptual impossibility. While this is the story that many members of this latter tradition like to tell themselves and that many later histories of modern philosophy have uncritically adopted. this holds true not just of objects in the world. and the many figures of the existentialist or pre-existentialist tradition. it is argued that Merleau-Ponty’s critique is in large part justified. According to Merleau-Ponty. What these discussions show is that existentialism was not the radical break with the past that it is often thought to be. There are always hidden sides of things that we do not immediately see. which runs counter to his explicitly stated anti-essentialism. Moreover. Finally. Kant and Hegel. the truth is that there are many significant points of overlap between the key representatives of the idealist tradition.8 Idealism and Existentialism faith. This chapter sketches this theory and explores Merleau-Ponty’s criticism of it in the section entitled “The Cogito” from Phenomenology of Perception. since it is the very nature of perception to be incomplete and thus ambiguous.

Part I Hegel and German Idealism .

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it is sovereign. moreover. Derrida and others.1 have given rise to a number of prejudices against Hegel’s philosophy.6 that he was a reactionary apologist for the Prussian state. 3 that his dialectical method of argumentation took the form of the thesis-antithesissynthesis triad. Sartre. has been subject to a number of misreadings and misrepresentations by both specialists and non-specialists alike. “The whole thrust of his thinking was an affirmation of absolute reason. Nietzsche. With him. These often willful misrepresentations. if reason is rightly understood. “For Hegel. in the English-speaking world. 5 that he tried to prove a priori the number of planets. everything is reducible to reason or to what Hegel calls the Concept (Begriff ). a proto-fascist. Heidegger. these have until fairly recently rendered Hegel’s reception in the AngloAmerican philosophical world extremely problematic. like that of many thinkers of the post-Kantian tradition in European philosophy.4 that he saw the end of history in his own philosophical system. “The ‘Concept’ meets with no opposition in Hegel’s system that it . belief in reason was at the highest summit.8 and finally. in a metaphysical world soul. primarily.2 Among the caricatures that have enjoyed the widest currency are the following: that Hegel denied the law of contradiction. Freud. believed in the all-conquering force of reason and in his philosophy gave a description of the march of reason in history. like Schelling and some of the romantics. One writer characterizes this purportedly Hegelian view by saying. as the last Aufklärer. Foucault. One of the most pervasive of these famous myths is that Hegel was an arch-rationalist and the last great spokesman for reason before the fullscale attack on rationality by Schopenhauer.”11 We are told by another expositor.Chapter 1 Hegel and the Myth of Reason The oeuvre of Hegel. that he was a kind of pre-Kantian metaphysician9 or “cosmic rationalist”10 who believed. According to this myth.”12 On this view of Hegel. although by no means exclusively. Hegel. As one commentator writes.7 or worse. variously referred to by scholars as the Hegel myths or legends. Kierkegaard.

the question I wish to concentrate on for the moment is what in Hegel’s philosophy itself has been the cause of his having been tagged with the label of “arch-rationalist. I would like to show that this simplistic view of Hegelian philosophy vastly underestimates and.”19 The common understanding of this famous Hegelian maxim. Hegel was wholeheartedly and naïvely under the spell of all-powerful reason.” The tendency to see in Hegel a naïve proponent of the Enlightenment has doubtless been largely due to a widespread misinterpretation of his famous claim. are seen as two corrective accounts of Hegel’s unreflective and over-enthusiastic view of reason. it holds a position of power that no other thinker before ever dared ascribe to it. but rather as something continuous with what preceded it. but it also affirms it normatively. is actual.”13 Allegedly.17 I. Panglossian theodicy since in this maxim one could find a .14 By gaining an insight into the rationality in history. indeed. is rational. we are then reconciled with the world as it exists. with its unqualified acceptance and approval of reason. Nietzsche’s analysis of how unrelenting Socratic rationality destroyed Greek tragedy by demanding that it live up to reason’s own ideals of intelligibility and self-reflectivity. The Concept is omnipotent. existing practices and institutions would seem to be above reproach.15 The normative side of Hegel’s account. Hegel as a Naïve Rationalist I wish simply to put to the side whatever historical accidents might have played a role in the distancing of Hegel from the existentialist tradition. Thus. that no one had ever claimed that it possessed. not only does Hegel’s philosophy purport to demonstrate reason in history. “What is rational. appears on this view particularly naïve and vulnerable to criticism.”16 Thus.21 This would apparently imply an extreme conservatism and a callous. ignores Hegel’s own criticism of reason and its purportedly positive effects.20 is that everything that exists or that is “actual” has its own logos and internal justification. and Foucault’s analysis of the subtle and ubiquitous forms of contemporary power relations that have resulted largely from the pernicious employment of instrumental reason. and what is actual.12 Idealism and Existentialism cannot overcome. made famous by Rudolf Haym’s interpretation. What I ultimately wish to suggest is that Hegel is very aware of the pernicious aspects of reason and thus is best seen not as the last Aufklärer but rather as a forerunner of the so-called “irrationalist tradition.18 Instead. According to this myth. the tradition that is inaugurated after Hegel is most accurately understood not as a new beginning or a radical break with the past.

in particular those of the contemporary Prussian state. history or society.23 Blinded by his overpowering belief in reason. totalitarian states with all their abuses would be rational simply because they exist. atrocities and crimes that exist and for which there can be no justification. Moreover. although. the result is precisely the opposite.27 . In distinguishing between the philosophical and the historical approach to law. “In their post-Enlightenment optimism all but a few modern philosophers have ignored or denied the demonic. On this view. One commentator writes. This view of Hegel as a naïve optimist or as a nineteenth-century Candide is still quite common. in a passage from Philosophy of Right. was thus purportedly blind to the evil or “demonic” aspects of culture. Hegel refutes precisely this position that he is accused of holding. it unconsciously achieves the opposite of what it intends. the institution has thereby lost its meaning and its right. Hegel makes it clear that he is not so naïve as to believe that everything that exists is rational and thus beyond reproach simply by virtue of its existence: “Who is not smart enough to be able to see around him quite a lot that is not.”24 Hegel.Hegel and the Myth of Reason 13 justification for oppressive institutions and needless human suffering. If it can be shown that the origin of an institution was entirely expedient and necessary under the specific circumstances of the time. as recent interpreters have made clear. Hegel allegedly was entirely uncritical or unfeeling not to have seen the obvious evils of the world around him. But if this is supposed to amount to a general justification of the thing itself. the requirements of the historical viewpoint are fulfilled. in fact.22 To make such a claim seriously would be to support some kind of naïve whiggish stance—the view that historical development is always synonymous with cultural or moral progress—and to be guilty of a misinformed optimism purportedly characteristic of the Enlightenment. this certainly cannot be what Hegel meant in the famous or. Hegel’s philosophy—which unites Christian religious with modern secular optimism—is the most radical and hence most serious of this modern tendency. he argues that laws and institutions cannot be justified by an appeal to their mere existence. how it ought to be?”26 Clearly. for since the original circumstances are no longer present. passage cited above. Hegel recognizes that there are injustices. perhaps infamous. rational or otherwise. due to his belief in the omnipotence of reason. or by uncovering their historical origins in the world: When a historical justification confuses an origin in external factors with an origin in the concept.25 In his discussion of this disputed dictum in the Encyclopaedia.

Hegel writes concerning the study of nature: “people grant . is embodied in reality. the philosopher. Hegel’s use of the term “reason” (Vernunft) is not always as clear as it might be. yet it may be contrary to right and irrational in and for itself. by mere virtue of its existence. a determination of right may be shown to be entirely grounded in and consistent with the prevailing circumstances and existing legal institutions. however. that nature is inherently rational. which applies the dialectical criticism to all institutions and beliefs to see if they rest on a rational basis. and to find the reason that is in it. i. In this sense.14 Idealism and Existentialism Thus. and that what knowledge has to investigate and grasp in concepts is this actual reason present in it. for Hegel.31 In order to discover reason in the manifold of concrete contexts.29 In his philosophy. it is synonymous with the Idea. it is also the concrete content in which reason. rationality also takes on the meaning of critical observation or reflection for Hegel. the philosopher must understand this variety conceptually. is not to posit utopias or some world beyond our own. likewise. This rather abstract notion of reason in Hegel then comes in the following way to be associated with the conception of reason that we are more familiar with. it is the form or abstract concept of thought. historical justifications fail on their own terms. just and right. that of the concept of right itself. the “Idea” (Idee).e. implicit in thought. he clearly could not have held that whatever law or state exists is. his claim that the state as a concept is rational does not mean that every single existing state is rational. the “Idea” is a two-sided concept: on the one hand. he does tell us that it is synonymous with his term of art. for Hegel. but rather to examine reality or what is the case. His general claim that there is reason in history ought not to be construed as meaning that every single historical event is rational.”32 The task of the speculative philosopher is then for Hegel by means of reflection and criticism to examine reality and deduce its implicit rationality. i. . Precisely this misunderstanding has promoted the picture of Hegel as the naïve and anachronistic Aufklärer. simply laying bare the historical origins of an institution is not enough to justify it since in this way one could justify all existing institutions: “. Admittedly. for Hegel. Hegel’s conception of rationality resembles Socratic rationality.”28 The historian is only able to see a given law in its particular social-historical context and thus can never critically judge it. . is able to examine the specific laws against an independent criterion. . but on the other hand.30 Insofar as reason is both in the abstract concept and in the concrete actuality. however. . .e. reason understood as reflection or critical self-consciousness: the task of philosophy. It is Hegel’s purportedly unqualified positive assessment of reason in this sense that I wish to analyze. Thus. Thus. Through this critical reflection the philosopher is also then participating in that rationality.

for instance. the lordship-bondage dialectic34 or the unhappy consciousness35 has had a profound influence on existentialist philosophy and psychology. Hegel’s Critical View of Reason in the Phenomenology In the section entitled “Self-Alienated Spirit” in the “Spirit” chapter of the Phenomenology. II. I do not wish to imply that Hegel has not occasionally been seen to some extent as an important forerunner of the irrationalist or existentialist movement. is a part of the Hegelian myth of reason which can be debunked by an analysis of his portrayal of reason in a few carefully selected loci in his philosophical corpus. Short of giving an overview of Hegel’s use and understanding of these very broad concepts. Hegel’s account of. one finds an extended account of the Enlightenment and the . although it may leave the question open concerning the degree to which Hegel ascribes to reason and what precisely the conception of reason is that he subscribes to. Hegel has been. Thus. the important difference is usually thought to lie in Hegel’s allegedly unreflective view of reason which is contrasted with the existentialists’ disabused. This. in my view. Clearly. My argumentative strategy will be instead to analyze a few passages from Hegel’s account of the conflict between the Enlightenment and religion in the Phenomenology of Spirit.33 The modest objective of this chapter is simply to provide sufficient grounds for rejecting this myth and thus to call for a reevaluation of Hegel’s advocation of reason along the lines indicated above. It would be impossible here to give an overview of Hegel’s philosophy to the end of discussing the role of reason and rationality in it. this analysis will provide sufficient counterevidence to expose this Hegelian myth and to demonstrate the connections between his thought and that of the so-called “anti-rationalistic” thinkers listed above. for whatever reason.Hegel and the Myth of Reason 15 I wish merely to suggest that Hegel is in fact aware of the pernicious aspects of history and culture as well as the negative aspects of reason itself. hardheaded critical assessment of it. some serious qualification if it is not to be dismissed altogether. at the very least. presented as a typical Feindbild by commentators of this tradition. since this connection has been suggested by some intellectual historians. with respect to the question of reason. His dialectical methodology and his view of the situatedness of human knowledge have also found positive resonance among the existentialists. despite the many continuities that can be found in Hegel’s thought and that of the existentialists. This should suffice to demonstrate that the myth of Hegel as an arch-rationalist is in need of. understood in the aforementioned sense of philosophical reflection. However.

They thought about God. in my view.38 Here Hegel portrays philosophical reflection as a destructive influence on various aspects of society and culture at large. From the perspective of reason. Nature.37 I wish instead to focus on a specific passage in the Phenomenology which. not through the senses or through some chance notion or opinion. Before we examine this passage. the institutions in question seem arbitrary and are no longer viewed as legitimate. and the State. the Greek philosophers set themselves against the old religion and destroyed its representations. When reason examines specific institutions in the social order and demands that they give an account of themselves. At this point the institutions lose their cultural meaning and gradually fall into desuetude. it invariably finds many of them to be wanting in rational justification. I do not wish to go into detail about Hegel’s account of how the Enlightenment misses the point of religion and continually erects a straw man that it uses as a ready foil for its criticisms. it will be useful to see how Hegel expresses the same thought elsewhere in his corpus. and were convinced that only by thinking would they become cognizant of what the truth is. He writes: In earlier times people saw no harm in thinking and happily used their own heads. and in many minds the old faith was overthrown. best illustrates Hegel’s awareness of the pernicious nature of reason. Reason and reflective thought are thus destructive forces in traditional societies. firm religious notions that counted as totally genuine revelations were undermined. since that has been fairly well documented. it turned out that the highest relationships in life were compromised by it. Moreover.16 Idealism and Existentialism French Revolution. because they pushed on with thinking in this way. so to speak. religion was attacked by thought. The majority of this material is dedicated to an account of the Enlightenment’s conflict with what it perceives as the simple superstition of religion. This same thought . Thinking deprived what was positive of its power. For example.36 These passages show merely that Enlightenment rationality is limited in its approach to Christianity and fails to see religion’s truth in falsity. as is evidenced by a provocative passage in the Encyclopaedia Logic. Hegel sees this dynamic of awakened rationality as destroying traditional beliefs and customs in the Greek world. Political constitutions fell victim to thought. however. But. Hegel clearly recognizes the destructive power of rational thought and reflectivity on cultural institutions. I do not wish to go into Hegel’s criticism of the unrestrained madness of Enlightenment reason during the Reign of Terror.

for it has laid hold of the marrow of spiritual life. Spirit is conceived as an organic system which is attacked from the inside by a deleterious force. a cancerous disease. diffuses itself silently and insidiously into all aspects of culture. for some perhaps. which unheedingly yielded to its influence. But this disease is latent and goes undetected for a long time by spiritual doctors with even the greatest prognostic acumen. But gradually reason. Religion is simply a part of the passive and “unresisting atmosphere” which reason interpenetrates since the former does not perceive the imminent danger that rationality presents to its most dearly held beliefs and institutions. the disaster and the consequent lasting damage have already occurred: Consequently. when consciousness does become aware of pure insight. Only when the infection has become widespread is that consciousness. Therefore. but there reason and reflection are characterized in a different way. the Notion of consciousness.40 . The struggle is too late. “pure insight. and every remedy adopted only aggravates the disease. or the pure essence itself of consciousness. He writes: It is on this account that the communication of pure insight is comparable to a silent expansion or to the diffusion. Like a perfume. works its way initially unimpaired into the ways of thinking and acting that form the matrix of our ethical life. Hegel uses a provocative and. of a perfume in the unresisting atmosphere. In the section on “Self-Alienated Spirit” in the “Spirit” chapter of the Phenomenology. and therefore cannot be warded off. say.e. scientistic reason into traditional areas of religion and ethical life. aware of it. viz. the struggle against it betrays the fact that infection has occurred. surprising set of metaphors to describe the subtle encroachment of skeptical.Hegel and the Myth of Reason 17 about the destructive nature of reason is expressed in the Phenomenology. According to this metaphor.39 Here he uses two metaphors for reason: a perfume and an infection. It is a penetrating infection which does not make itself noticeable beforehand as something opposed to the indifferent element into which it insinuates itself. like a perfume. When the illness is finally detected. there is no power in consciousness which could overcome the disease.” Hegel’s synonym for Enlightenment reason. Hegel then changes the metaphor from that of a benign diffusion of perfume in space to the clearly negative image of an infection. i. the latter is already widespread.

e. not to capitulate to the impression. the spiritual life of religion cannot be rescued since it has become unable to defend itself. yet this betrays that the attempt at defense or treatment has come about entirely too late since even the defenders of religion have already unknowingly come to accept the basics of Enlightenment rationality and its methodology and criteria for truth as their standard.”44 For Dostoevsky. For the disabused. reason “has laid hold of the marrow of spiritual life. religion destroys itself since at its heart are mystery and revelation which are by their very nature irreducible to logical categories and rational explanation. Dostoevsky describes the zealous belief in technology and scientific rationality that he sees embodied in the hustle and bustle of the city of London as a new sort of religious affirmation: “You feel that a great amount of spiritual fortitude and denial would be necessary in order not to submit. Reason here is clearly portrayed as something subtle.43 Similarly. and this account stands squarely in opposition to the myth of Hegel’s unqualified advocation of reason outlined above. not to bow down to the fact and not to worship Baal. vanished one knows not how. i.”42 Here reason frees itself of religion and superstition just as the serpent sheds its skin. Religion is merely a dead form of spirit that falls away when it is no longer of use. thus giving away the game from the start. science and reason are .” Thus. having been so infected by the foreign principle of thought. the defenders of religion unknowingly ally themselves with the enemy. religion remains but a hollow husk lacking any substantial meaning.18 Idealism and Existentialism Just as self-awareness comes about only after the original sin. the disease is only aggravated: far from erecting an effective defense. so also awareness of the destructive nature of reason comes only after the damage has already been done.41 Thus. This image suggests that in fact religion and reason are in a sense the same thing. the same serpent with a new form. Here the remedies to save religion from the onslaught of reason are ineffectual since religion attempts to defend itself by using the tools of reason. Religion attempts to justify itself with rational argumentation and scientistic reason in order to show that it can hold up under the test of this scientistic rationality. Reason has by this time so permeated our way of thinking that we cannot imagine anything else as a viable option. insidious and destructive. And the new serpent of wisdom raised on high for adoration has in this way painlessly cast merely a withered skin. alive only in memory and history books: “Memory alone then still preserves the dead form of Spirit’s previous shape as a vanished history. This new form of religion then simply replaces the old form. As Hegel puts it. Hegel also uses the biblical image of the serpent to describe the status of reason after the capitulation of religion. By using reason as its standard.

. . and so on. and that Hegel was not the naïve advocate of reason that he is often caricatured as being.” I do not mean to imply that the latter necessarily self-consciously made use of Hegel’s metaphor or even that they read the passages cited above. utilitarianism. I am firmly convinced not only that a great deal of consciousness.”46 Here one finds critical rationality in the form of self-consciousness. that to be hyperconscious is a disease. The underground man writes: “I swear to you. which the underground man says leads to a negative. I wish simply to trace this image in a handful of thinkers in order to show that they make use of this metaphor in the same way as Hegel does. III. This illness metaphor has been a dominant one in the philosophical and literary schools of existentialism and phenomenology. or what he calls “hyperconsciousness.e.Hegel and the Myth of Reason 19 the new Baal in which London has corrupted itself. i. but then . My claim is merely that the similarity in language and in meaning with respect to this issue of reason and its effects that can be located precisely in this metaphor reveals that Hegel has more in common with the “irrationalist” tradition than is commonly acknowledged. I insist on it. but that any consciousness. is a disease. His portrayal of this criticism through the underground man in Notes from Underground takes on an interesting form which invites comparison with the passages from Hegel cited above.” by virtue of which he differs from the normal man. just as for Hegel they are the new serpent of wisdom. pernicious hyperconsciousness that precludes action and inhibits social intercourse. socialist utopianism. a real positive disease . and both clearly indicate the pernicious side of reason. By pointing out the similar use of the illness metaphor in Hegel and in the “irrationalists. Both images imply a deception or a seduction. to represent the destructive or pernicious force of reason. Reason as an Illness in Later Thinkers The metaphor for reason or reflectivity as an illness and a disease links Hegel with the more recent thinkers in the European philosophical tradition who unambiguously place emphasis on the pervasive and deleterious force of rationality. This analysis of the illness metaphor helps to establish a hitherto unseen connection between Hegel and this tradition with respect to the issue of reason. Like a disease. consciousness begins innocently and unsuspectingly as simple reflection. that labor under their banner is well known.45 Dostoevsky’s criticism of modern science and rationality and the schools of Marxism. Dostoevsky’s underground man characterizes himself as suffering from the disease of reflectivity. gentlemen.

are able to engage in the social world spontaneously and attain a kind of immediate fraternity. which. regardless of that world’s superficiality or want of a rational basis. In The Birth of Tragedy. for Nietzsche. of infection. he develops at great length the metaphor of rational reflection as an illness in a way that is strikingly similar to Dostoevsky’s account. once and for all may I point out that in the whole book. Kierkegaard writes: “. alienated from all ordinary human contact. uninfected by the disease of hyperconsciousness. 51 In analyzing the vertical path of despair. The concepts of scienticity.”52 Increased reflection and rationality are here again portrayed as the spreading of a disease.”50 The spread of the “dialectical disease” of despair is traced in what might be seen as Kierkegaard’s phenomenology of despair. and in his portrayal of this cultural movement he uses the same illness metaphor.20 Idealism and Existentialism it expands into a global re-evaluation of one’s life and social interactions. After the onset of this illness. might not this very Socratism be a sign of decline. Thus. of the anarchical dissolution of instincts?”56 The . one cannot return to the naïve pre-reflective life of custom and habit. It renders him a pathetic and jaded intellectual. objective thought and rationality are also well-known targets for Kierkegaard. which originated from the inebriated and orgiastic Dionysian rites in which the follower found “a mystic feeling of oneness”54 or a “primal unity”55 in the community of fellow revelers. the degrees of despair and thus of the sickness are correlated with the degrees of consciousness: “The ever increasing intensity of despair depends upon the degree of consciousness or is proportionate to its increase: the greater the degree of consciousness. . despair is interpreted as a sickness. so also despair is for Kierkegaard strongly associated with rational reflection.49 He writes simply. Nietzsche argues that self-reflection and reason led Socrates to demand of every custom and tradition in Greek life that it give a self-justifying rational account of its existence. 53 With this demand. which is a symptom of the disease of hyperconsciousness. as the title indeed declares. It incapacitates the underground man in his feeble attempts at human interaction. was one of the original “irrational” Greek institutions. .”48 Just as Dostoevsky’s underground man suffers from despair.47 In his Preface. even the unreflective lives of the underground man’s former schoolmates begin to look attractive insofar as they. Socratic rationality thus destroyed the immediate primordial nature of Greek tragedy in the satyr chorus. the more intense the despair. of weariness. “Consciousness is decisive. who can no longer immediately engage in and enjoy communal life. Reflection then comes to have a paralyzing effect on the individual. He asks: “. In The Sickness unto Death. . .

”57 which was embodied by Socrates. As soon as there was reflectivity. Scientistic. became the real task for every educated person of higher gifts. like a growing plague. .” that we are jarred out of our daily routine and habit and come to recognize the contingency of our goals and projects. one philosophical school succeeds another. egoistic aims of individuals and peoples. the immediate unity with the whole was broken and the Apollonian principle of individuation set in again.. then we realize that in that case universal wars of annihilation and continual migrations of peoples would probably have weakened the instinctive lust for life to such an extent that suicide would have become a general custom . Socratic rationality. as a remedy and a preventive for this breath of pestilence. of an intellectual malady. For if we imagine that the whole incalculable sum of energy used up for this world tendency had been used not in the service of knowledge but for the practical.e. . scientistic rationality in the West has not been used to improve humanity’s lot but rather. and causes one to see the absurd .58 For Nietzsche. functioned like an irreversible infection on Greek tragedy and on the immediate irrational impulse for which tragedy provided a forum. He writes in the Introduction to The Myth of Sisyphus about the object of his inquiry: “There will be found here merely the description. in the pure state. The dominant metaphor used to describe consciousness and the use of reason as a universally critical tool that undermines transcendent values. which aimed to overcome this individuality and wallow in a primeval universality and harmony. then spread into a plague for the Western world as a whole: Once we see clearly how after Socrates. called by Nietzsche the “logic and logicizing of the world. . Rationality and science thus destroyed Greek tragedy and became a threat to all immediate forms of art. which was a disease among the Greeks. .”61 It is through reason or reflectivity. in his criticism of reason. the mystagogue of science. makes use of the same metaphor. i. wave upon wave.Hegel and the Myth of Reason 21 new scientistic rationality.”60 This intellectual malady has its origin in consciousness. which Camus here describes as “consciousness. how the hunger for knowledge reached a never-suspected universality in the widest domain of the educated world. and led science onto the high seas from which it has never again been driven altogether . or reflectivity: “For everything begins with consciousness and nothing is worth anything except through it. The infection had become fatal. has been an increasingly destructive force.59 Camus.

views this new lucidity about the disjointedness between humanity’s nostalgia for unity and comprehension of the universe. It came as an illness does. spluttering ink.65 Sartre’s first-person narrator Roquentin in the novel Nausea explains the origin of his condition: “Something has happened to me.”63 The plague he refers to is not that which affects Oran. When one. The goal then is not to backslide into some form of what Nietzsche called “metaphysical comfort. is not to be cured. Camus here uses the plague as a fitting symbol for the cause or occasion of the self-reflection which reshapes the life of the existential hero Tarrou. the disease sets in. is that of an illness. In The Plague.” but rather to keep the paradoxical or absurd nature of the human condition continually in focus. not like anything evident. but to live with one’s ailments. Camus writes. and jars the townspeople of Oran out of their complacency and lack of reflection. One feels the nausea when contemplating the banality of the facticity of our existence. Sartre uses the metaphor of a particular kind of illness—the nausea—to describe the awareness of consciousness via the employment of reason. not like an ordinary certainty. in spite of their original recognition of its absurdity. The disease of reflectivity leads to the realization of the contingency of human existence and to the existential requirement of positing human values in place of any divine meaning. Camus’ character Tarrou also equates self-reflection with a disease. Camus.”62 Thus he explains to the valiant Doctor Rieux: “I had the plague already. Roquentin’s rational reflection on the nothingness of existence hinders his ability to act in the world. realizes the lack of transcendent meaning or the nothingness in the world around oneself. of the indifference of the world to our hopes and values. via reason and reflection. What happened? Did I have the Nausea?”67 The . He explains how he had long lived in innocence until reason and reflectivity caught up with him: “Then one day I started thinking. I can’t doubt it any more. arising insidiously and perniciously for Roquentin. “The important thing . .”66 Nausea. and the utter indifference of the universe to our demands. is a disease of consciousness that comes on secretly and unexpectedly. He describes his failed attempt to write as follows: “An immense sickness flooded over me suddenly and the pen fell from my hand. like the plague. but rather that of reflectivity. long before I came to this town and encountered it here.22 Idealism and Existentialism in human existence. . brought about by critical reason. the disease is the awareness. many existentialist philosophers are guilty of what he calls “philosophical suicide” since they offer a cure to this disease by positing some form of hope.”64 For Camus. and the existential task is to live unflinchingly with this awareness. like Dostoevsky. Here. as a positive insight that leads to liberation.

. This can only be done to the degree to which one is able and willing to put aside the Hegel caricatures. Roquentin cannot stop reflectivity or the existential disease of nausea with a simple act of will. and to the extent that one is willing to stop viewing him as an angel or a devil.69 . as a Candide or a Hitler. distances him from the caricature of the naïve Aufklärer. I think I don’t want to think. as is evidenced in his narrative: How serpentine is this feeling of existing—I unwind it. in our effort to achieve a sober assessment of his thought. The use of this dominant metaphor throughout the existentialist tradition provides a point of contact or overlap between this tradition and Hegel’s thought with respect to the conception of reason. and succeed: my head seems to fill with smoke . Because that’s still a thought. . on the one hand. not as the great enemy of the irrationalist tradition and the bitterest opponent of Kierkegaard and Schopenhauer. is hyperconscious. The difficult and controversial road that Hegel studies has trodden in the Anglo-American philosophical world has only added to the intrinsic difficulty of Hegel’s own texts. Hegel can thus be seen. don’t want to think . Like many a physical disease. . . . on the other. . legends and myths. slowly . but rather as an important forerunner of the existentialist tradition. This insight will then help to lay to rest one of the better-known Hegel myths and will afford a fresh opportunity for evaluating Hegel’s significance with respect to the question of reason. the nausea runs its own course and is not within one’s control.Hegel and the Myth of Reason 23 vertigo of the nausea is brought on by the over-reflectivity of consciousness. like Dostoevsky’s underground man. on this issue as on many others. If I could keep myself from thinking! I try. and then it starts again: “Smoke . and this awareness. The continuity of Hegel and these later thinkers in the European tradition is most obviously seen in the common use of the illness image to portray the spread of reason. . associates him with the existentialists and the self-avowed irrationalists and. Roquentin.” Will there never be an end to it?68 Despite his mental exertions. . not to think . Hegel’s portrayal of reason as a malady and a destructive force clearly reveals his awareness of its darker aspects. . . I mustn’t think that I don’t want to think.

3 Another commentator echoes this view: “The Phenomenology of Spirit is a profoundly incongruous book.Chapter 2 Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit as a Systematic Fragment The inherent problem with any philosophy that claims to be systematic is as easy to pose as it is troublesome to solve: namely. One author baldly claims that it makes sense to dismiss Hegel entirely “if one emphasizes the Logic and Hegel’s rhetoric about ‘system’ and ‘Wissenschaft. how do the parts of the system hang together? Of all the great systems in the history of philosophy. a wandering.”2 The tendency to shy away from Hegel’s own statements about the systematic nature of his philosophy is doubtless due to the complexity and opacity of the Hegelian system. the schematism. In the words of one scholar: The Phenomenology is indeed a movement. of his [sc. This view has been dubbed the “poetic” . even as great an admirer of Hegel as John Dewey writes: “The form. perhaps none has been subject to as much criticism as Hegel’s.’ ”1 Likewise.”4 Finally. as Hegel later said it was. an odyssey. which have baffled scholars since Hegel’s own time. Due to these problems and despite Hegel’s own statements to the contrary.”5 which has no bona fide sense of unity or coherence. Those who take Hegel at his word and look for a “ladder” or a path or yellow brick road to the Absolute are bound to be disappointed. The Phenomenology is a conceptual landscape. like Faust. Hegel’s] system now seems to me artificial to the last degree. with skips and jumps and slow meanderings. the suggestion has been made that the Phenomenology be read not as a “single-minded argument” but rather as a disconnected “panoramic painting. A common reaction to these problems has been simply to abandon any attempt to understand Hegel’s philosophy as a systematic whole. through which Hegel leads us somewhat at his whim. The work is thus seen simply as an odd collection of atomic analyses on sundry topics. or rather a set of movements. the Phenomenology of Spirit has often been criticized as an unsystematic text.

” “Reason” and “Religion” chapters are more or less irrelevant to what he perceives as the desired goal of the text. which almost entirely ignores the “Consciousness” chapter7 and interprets the goal not only of the “Self-Consciousness” chapter but. and its basic presupposition is as follows: “The Phenomenology is a loose series of imaginative and suggestive reflections on the life of the Spirit. Clearly. of the entire Phenomenology as overcoming the various lordship and bondage relations that he sees mirrored in class structures. which amounts in most cases to forsaking the system altogether. for Kojève. the importance of the entire Phenomenology is limited to the “Self-Consciousness” or “Spirit” chapters. Greek tragedy and the Enlightenment. according to this strategy. A good example of this distortion of Hegel’s systematic intent in the Phenomenology is provided by Alexandre Kojève’s Marxist reading. disregards Hegel’s own stated intent and reflects a failure to grasp the general conception of the work. which can only be fully understood within the framework of his system. then one must have very compelling reasons for doing so. Hegel is firmly committed to a systematic conception of philosophy. however. one cannot do away with the systematic structure of Hegel’s Phenomenology in such an offhanded manner and still hope to understand the text as Hegel intended it to be understood. one must first apologize for his excessive systematic pretensions. religion. I.”6 This understanding. but its use necessarily misrepresents his positions. and thus if one is to attempt to interpret him by wholly abandoning his expressly stated intentions on this regard. This method seems to offer a convenient way to present Hegel’s thought on specific issues.Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit as a Systematic Fragment 25 conception of the work by some commentators. In order to save Hegel. Kojève simply ignores sections which fail to accord with his Marxist agenda. This results in analyses and interpretations of individual sections of Hegel’s text taken out of their larger systematic context. while the “Consciousness. it is clear that often no distinction is made between the notion of “systematic” in the everyday sense of “orderly” or “well-organized” and in the technical sense in which it is used in German . indeed. One can say without exaggeration that. Hegel’s View of Systematic Philosophy From the passages cited above. while ignoring the schematic connections between them that his philosophical system seeks to demonstrate. Scholars holding this view have been able to satisfy themselves with trying to understand individual sections of the Phenomenology in which Hegel analyzes issues such as alienation.

One might be able to make specific observations about the operation of the intellect. “architectonic is the doctrine of the scientific in our knowledge and therefore necessarily forms part of the doctrine of method. claims: “As surely as they are to be grounded in the unitary being of the intellect. for instance.” he writes.” he explains. “As a systematic unity is what first raises ordinary knowledge to the rank of science. the whole being for the sake of all others .11 Kant’s successors accepted. is ordered in a necessary. Hegel is a typical representative of the entire German idealist tradition. Fichte.”8 Kant’s transcendental philosophy can thus be seen as a catalogue of the various functions of the intellect by means of which we come to know and understand. This inventory. Kant writes. Kant. but to adequately account for it one must consider all of the cognitive faculties and their interconnections. makes a system out of a mere aggregate of knowledge. It is thus reason itself. not merely in the system. . and thus are not sensitive to Hegel’s appropriation of it. his insistence on system as an organic unity. “to enlarge transcendental idealism into what it really should be. says of his own philosophy.”12 Likewise.26 Idealism and Existentialism idealism. namely a system of .”9 For Kant. in his System of Transcendental Idealism. systematic fashion. without serious qualification. in the “First Introduction” of the Science of Knowledge. for instance. for Kant. With respect to the question of systematic philosophy. “Now the purpose of the present work is simply this. it is the ensemble or organic unity of knowledge that makes it a true science. but in human reason in general. that is. for otherwise the observations would remain incomplete. This confusion evinces the fact that many scholars are not even aware of the technical use of this concept in this philosophical tradition. systematically arranged. states that his goal in philosophy is not to add anything to what has already been said but to rearrange the information (already provided by Kant and Fichte) into a genuine system. “it is nothing but the inventory of all our possessions through pure reason. “For pure speculative reason has a structure wherein everything is an organ. Any attempt to change even the smallest part at once gives rise to contradictions. In the Preface to the second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason. Schelling. and what does not belong to this systematic unity is a “mere aggregate” or collection of facts. he claims. which demands this systematic unity. which aimed at offering a systematic and exhaustive account of the cognitive faculties.”10 To change or remove the account of one individual cognitive faculty would destroy the system since there would then be something open-ended about our cognitive functions which the system could not explain with the remaining faculties. . the intellect’s assumed laws of operation themselves constitute a system.

Hegel can hardly be regarded as a maverick on this point. He simply inherits this conception of philosophy from his predecessors and expands it in his own way. If one assumes a dismissive stance toward him on this issue. He portrays the notion of a systematic philosophy by means of an organic analogy. Lessing. the model of a rigorous philosophical system among the philosophers of Hegel’s day was that of Spinoza’s Ethics. his conception. Hegel believed that the very notion of truth was necessarily bound up with its systematic form. he thought that Spinoza’s belief in the importance of a rigorous systematic philosophy that demanded proofs with the power of necessity was fundamentally correct. Spinoza’s philosophy had become something of a fad in German literary circles and was influential for.Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit as a Systematic Fragment 27 all knowledge. but there can be no doubt that this was a key element in his general approach. The development of a plant at its different stages .” or “holism.” “a scientific paradigm. Spinoza’s monism was also extremely attractive to the generation of post-Kantian philosophers who were trying to resolve the paradoxes of the dualism of representation and thing-in-itself that seemed to arise naturally from Kant’s theoretical philosophy. among others. Herder. While the names used today to designate this way of thinking differ from Hegel’s designation of “speculative philosophy. Hegel’s methodological investment in this view is demonstrated in the Phenomenology. albeit under names such as “a network theory of truth. Moreover. Fichte and Schelling. Goethe. According to Hegel’s view.”13 Given this unanimous insistence among the German idealists on the systematicity of philosophy.14 In fact. In addition to the examples set by Hegel’s immediate forerunners in the German idealist tradition.16 In some ways it is odd that Anglophone philosophers have been so quick to dismiss Hegel’s conception of systematic philosophy given the fact that in contemporary thought. some German intellectual figures were brought into difficulties with the religious orthodoxy for their purported affiliations with Spinozism and its pantheism. then one might just as well dismiss the entire tradition of German idealism. In Hegel’s time.” remain quite popular. and thus as parts of a larger whole. Like his forerunners. the geometrical method was not appropriate for philosophical questions. however.15 Written in the form of a geometrical proof. One can of course still raise the question of how successful Hegel was at carrying out his systematic program. the Ethics was an attempt to apply the rigorous methodology of analytic geometry to metaphysical questions.” the idea underlying them is fundamentally the same: individual parts of the system have their meaning only in their necessary relation to the other parts.

knowledge is only actual.20 The systematic whole is essentially bound up with the notion of truth itself. Just as the different stages of its development change the plant’s appearance so radically that it appears to become another “contradictory” species. . He writes: The bud disappears in the bursting-forth of the blossom. so also individual concepts in a philosophical system have their meaning in the context of other concepts from which they were developed. and this mutual necessity alone constitutes the life of the whole. as Science or as system. but rather the organic whole of its developmental stages. instead of concentrating only on certain individual isolated ones. In the Preface of the Phenomenology. and cannot be sundered from it. so also contradictory concepts can contribute to the development of a single philosophical system. To understand Hegel’s systematic pretensions merely as a simple matter of the orderly presentation of ideas is to miss his philosophical point. but in which each is as necessary as the other. Yet at the same time their fluid nature makes them moments of an organic unity in which they not only do not conflict.”18 A little later. What this simile makes clear is that the system. Thus. each of its individual stages is necessary for the succeeding stages. similarly. namely. These forms are not just distinguished from one another.28 Idealism and Existentialism is necessary for the plant as a whole. and one might say that the former is refuted by the latter. and the fruit now emerges as the truth of it instead. the blossom is shown up in its turn as a false manifestation of the plant. for Hegel. he says: “ .”19 Surely. This conception of a network of interrelated beliefs implies a certain kind of philosophy.17 Just as when a plant grows and develops. they also supplant one another as mutually incompatible. however opaque Hegel may be about the details of the system. hence. The kind of philosophy that examines the whole . Hegel flatly claims: “The true shape in which truth exists can only be the scientific system of such truth. . institutions. and can only be expounded. just as the plant is not merely the sum total of its parts at a given moment in its development. concepts. one could ask for no clearer statement of the relation of truth to a system. he is crystal clear that a systematic approach is necessary to reach the truth. and no single stage represents the plant’s entire history. and so on. one that examines the totality of beliefs. involves the sum total of the individual parts as they develop organically. when the fruit appears. so also a philosophical system is the complete development or unfolding of individual concepts.

what is genuine and speculative is precisely what does not have any such one-sided determination in it and is therefore not exhausted by it.”23 In a similar passage from the introduction to the Science of Logic.” He contrasts it to what he calls “dogmatism. On the contrary. which invariably involves contradictions. in the grasping of opposites in their unity or of the positive in the negative. The key point for the present purposes is that speculative philosophy removes concepts from the isolation of abstraction and puts them in their appropriate systematic context where they can be properly analyzed. “apprehends the unity of determinations in their opposition.”24 Speculative philosophy involves examining the whole universe of thought. and looks beyond the immediate contradictory terms towards a higher truth that arises from the dialectical development of the contradiction.22 By choosing this example. “The speculative or positively rational. Hegel thereby implicitly praises Kant’s speculative treatment of the issue. calls “speculative philosophy.” which presents the universe as both finite and infinite. or stopping once a contradiction has been reached. This is just the strict “either-or. Hegel conceived of his philosophy as a system.Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit as a Systematic Fragment 29 is what Hegel. being a totality. Even if one no longer finds systematic philosophy plausible. it contains the determinations that dogmatism holds to be fixed and true in a state of separation from one another united within itself.” according to which (for instance) the world is either finite or infinite. and it is in this context that his thought must be understood. Instead of insisting on one side of a contradiction or the other. that speculative thought consists.21 Here Hegel refers to Kant’s “First Antinomy. but in so doing one must recognize that such a procedure is entirely contrary to his own methodology and thoroughly goes against the grain of his conception of philosophy. on the contrary. it observes the dynamical movement in pairs of opposites. the affirmative that is contained in their dissolution and in their transition. One can of course continue for the sake of pedagogical expedience to cut and splice Hegel in order to make him fit into the customary undergraduate course. one is nonetheless obliged to attempt to understand Hegel in this way in order . following tradition.” says Hegel.” which treats concepts individually and thus abstracted from their organic unity: But in the narrower sense dogmatism consists in adhering to one-sided determinations of the understanding whilst excluding their opposites. that is. but not both. he writes: “It is in this dialectic as it is here understood.

then in effect one loses Hegel in the process. According to Haering’s account. Thus.30 Idealism and Existentialism to be able to grasp his philosophical motivations and intuitions. Haym argues that these two different forms of argumentation make the work disunified. At this point the work could no longer be considered a mere introduction but rather had grown into a substantive part of the system in its own right. so the argument goes. there is also a “historical” form of argumentation. If one chooses instead to simply purge Hegel’s works of their systematic elements. II. The change concerns specifically what philosophical work the Phenomenology is intended to do. By contrast. The first is what he designates as “transcendental-psychological. the development of consciousness becomes the development of historical peoples. which was subsequently written over the first. the account of the development of the forms of individual consciousness grew into an account of the forms of “Spirit” or group consciousness. The Ambiguous Role of the Phenomenology One of the earliest commentators to point out the ambiguous nature of the argumentation in the Phenomenology was Rudolf Haym in his Hegel und seine Zeit from 1857.” 25 This is characteristic of the analyses in the first part of the work. In a celebrated paper delivered at the 1933 Hegel Congress in Rome. much less unified. 28 Theodor Haering took up this view. arguing that the Phenomenology was a disunified work due to the fact that Hegel changed his mind about the conception of its philosophical task during the composition of the text itself. the Phenomenology was originally conceived as an introduction to a philosophical system and as the “experience of consciousness. This view is purportedly . on which one text was originally written. he claims that the work is a palimpsest.” Through the beginning of the “Reason” chapter. and departed from the original argumentative structure of the work established in the “Consciousness” and “Self-Consciousness” chapters.27 These two different texts then reflect different conceptions of the work itself.26 in which the individual forms of consciousness are suddenly transformed into historical epochs. Using a metaphor from classical philology. Haym pointed out that the work contains two kinds of argument. only to be eclipsed by another text with a different conception. In the middle of the “Reason” chapter. the work proceeded as planned. apparently without explanation. which trace the forms of the individual consciousness on its road of discovery and selfknowledge. But then the chapters became much longer.

In addition to the arguments offered by Haym and Haering concerning the ambiguous role of the Phenomenology. In his Preface. on the individual text and the nature of the changes. but in another the author may succeed in incorporating the new conception into the material that had been written up until that point. The new element may then be seen as an improvement. indeed after some copies had already been printed. an exposition of this kind constitutes the first part of Science. which was apparently replaced at the last minute. which is really the introduction—for I have not yet got beyond the introducing right into the heart of the matter. because the existence of Spirit qua primary is nothing but the immediate or the beginning—but not yet its return into itself. It depends. the Encyclopaedia Logic. among other things.”30 Thus. Although these arguments offer evidence that the Phenomenology serves at least two distinct philosophical agendas. In one case. in a letter to Schelling shortly after the publication of the work.Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit as a Systematic Fragment 31 confirmed by. This amendment has been interpreted as evidence that Hegel originally intended to give an account of the experience of consciousness but. However. of course. he writes. the author may be so overpowered by the discontinuous strands of the work that the final product is indeed chaotic. he then altered the title accordingly to reflect the change in content. Hegel indicates that the Phenomenology is to be understood as the first part of the system: “Further. during the course of the work. Hegel appears at this later date still to consider the Phenomenology to be the first part of a system. they are not sufficient to justify the conclusion that it is a disunified text. by the title Science of the Phenomenology of Spirit. written ten years later. This ambiguity has been interpreted as evidence of Hegel’s own confusion about the status and philosophical task of the text. there has also been confusion concerning an intermediate title page that appeared after the preface in the work’s first edition. “I am curious as to what you will say to the idea of this first part. Hegel’s own ambiguous statements about the role of the Phenomenology and various items of biographical information surrounding its composition. without necessarily being disunified. changed his mind and added social and historical forms which went beyond individual consciousness. The new title then refers not merely to consciousness but rather to Spirit.”31 This seems to indicate that the Phenomenology is a mere introduction and the actual subject matter of the system has not yet been broached. Many works of philosophy and literature have changed direction during the course of their composition.32 The original title was The Science of the Experience of Consciousness. still refers to the Phenomenology as “the first part of the system of science. an .”29 Moreover.


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expansion or a supplement, and need not necessarily imply that the final product is disunified. It cannot be assumed that a change in the conception of a work during its composition always necessarily results in a disunified text. Hegel appears to have realized that his transcendental argument, which gives an exhaustive account of the necessary conditions of the possibility of objective thought, would be incomplete without an account of the social interactions and historical influences which constitute the medium in which truth claims are determined. He was able to incorporate these analyses into his overall plan for a transcendental argument without damaging the unity of the work as a whole. To be sure, these analyses differed from those given in the “Consciousness” and “Self-Consciousness” chapters with respect to content, but the aim of the analyses and their dialectical form remained the same. Thus, the conception of the Phenomenology as a transcendental argument never changed, although during the composition of the text, Hegel discovered new aspects and elements of this argument that he had not considered when he started on the work.

III. The Coherence Problem in General
Haym’s thesis about the disunity of the Phenomenology has been reworked with more philological detail by subsequent authors. Most notably, Otto Pöggeler in his influential essay on the composition of the work confirms the main points of Haym’s and Haering’s discontinuity thesis, although differing from it in some details.33 Other commentators use this thesis as a point of departure or presupposition for their own interpretation of individual parts of the text as atomic units. The question of the Phenomenology as an introduction, or alternatively as a first part of a system, has fallen somewhat into the background, while the thesis that it is disunified remains as strong as ever. The main arguments used by Pöggeler and later commentators can be separated into two interrelated groups. The first line of argumentation is external to the text itself and uses as evidence biographical information about Hegel during the period of the composition of the Phenomenology. This sort of argument begins with some fact about Hegel’s life or the circumstances of the composition of the work, and then proceeds to a claim about the patchwork nature of the text itself. The second line of argumentation is internal to the text. On this view, the text of the Phenomenology on its own terms cannot be made sense of as a systematic work. The transitions

Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit as a Systematic Fragment


between the individual chapters are seen as unclear, and the radical diversity of the themes treated is seen to undermine any continuity.

A. The Arguments Based on Hegel’s Biography There are above all biographical reasons to believe that the Phenomenology could not be a carefully organized and unified argument. Hegel purportedly wrote the work, or at least a large part of it, during an extremely short period of time. Although he had already sent off the first half of the text shortly after Easter of 1806, he was under tremendous pressure to complete the manuscript by 18 October of that year. This was the deadline set by his publisher, Goebhardt, who was appeased only after Hegel’s friend Niethammer offered to personally pay the printing costs if Hegel failed to deliver the rest of the manuscript on time. 34 On 8 October Hegel sent part of the second half of the manuscript, and had to finish the rest of the work in great haste to meet the deadline. Yet even if the composition of the final part of the text was quite hurried, it does not necessarily follow that the text is disunified. There is evidence that Hegel used much of the subject matter found in the Phenomenology in his lecture courses throughout the Jena period,35 which suggests that he had been working with the same material for some years. A work which he had already thought out and worked through in his lectures would presumably have required much less time to compose than a work that had to be constructed from the ground up. A related biographical argument is that the threatening approach of the French army and the confusion and disorder surrounding the Battle of Jena distracted and distressed Hegel during the composition of the Phenomenology.36 First, the Battle of Jena compelled him to finish the work quickly, thus providing yet another external pressure that magnified the difficulties he was already having with his publisher. Second, he feared for his personal safety. French soldiers who came to his house had to be appeased with food and wine, and Hegel, then completely destitute, ultimately had to seek refuge in the home of a friend. Again, however, the fact that a work is composed in chaotic circumstances does not necessarily mean that the finished product must be disunified. A number of philosophical masterpieces were written under likewise trying circumstances. Boethius wrote the Consolation of Philosophy while awaiting the death sentence to be carried out; Condorcet wrote his systematic masterpiece, Sketch of a Historical Description of the Progress of the Human Spirit, under similar circumstances. The Golden Age of Roman literature


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corresponds to the period of the bloody Civil Wars. Examples of writers and philosophers who were active during the World Wars in the twentieth century are too numerous to list. Therefore, this sort of argument against the unity of the Phenomenology seems to be simply a non sequitur. A final version of the argument relies on Hegel’s own remarks suggesting that he had his own doubts about the unity of the text. In a letter to Schelling, he laments: “Working into the detail has, I feel, damaged the overview of the whole. This whole, however, is itself by nature such an interlacing of cross-references back and forth that even were it set in better relief, it would still cost me much time before it would stand out more clearly and in more finished form.”37 This passage is often cited as evidence that Hegel’s text itself is disunified.38 However, a closer reading of it shows that Hegel’s frustration arises not because his work is disunified but because time constraints precluded him from making its unity more explicit. Here, Hegel clearly indicates that, in fact, his text does have a unified structure and a developed plan, but, since he had so busied himself with the details of the individual arguments, he simply neglected to give his readers sufficient instruction about the overall structure. Further evidence that he believed the book to be unified may be found in his advertisement for the work which appeared in October of 1807. There he writes: “The wealth of the appearances of Spirit, which at first glance seems chaotic, is brought into a scientific order which presents them according to their necessity.”39 Another passage that has been cited in support of arguments that the Phenomenology is a disunified text comes from a letter written long after the original publication of the work. Hegel’s old publisher Goebhardt had been bought out, and his successor Wesche had obtained the remaining copies of the first edition of the Phenomenology and was putting into motion plans to print a second edition, without securing Hegel’s approval or soliciting his suggestions for corrections or other changes. Hegel, upset by this effrontery, writes to von Meyer: “His [sc. Wesche’s] attitude here seemed to be that he considers my consent and agreement to conditions for a new edition to be strictly unnecessary. He does not even take into account that I regard revision of the work to be necessary.”40 This comment appears at first glance to imply that Hegel regarded the Phenomenology as a confused work since it required revision, and this seems to support the disunity thesis. The passage, however, fails to support the lack of unity argument because it offers no insight whatsoever into the nature of the revisions Hegel deems necessary. He might have wished to make the book’s systematic connections more explicit or, for that matter, to simply correct some grammatical

Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit as a Systematic Fragment


or typographical errors. The biographical and text-external arguments as a whole thus remain unpersuasive. B. The Text-Internal Arguments Many arguments against the unity of the work are based on the apparent heterogeneity of the themes and analyses it contains. Hegel treats traditional epistemological issues and historical figures, and he also gives accounts of scientific communities, various forms of social life, and historical time periods. The challenge is to try to bring all the arguments of the Phenomenology, many of which appear to have little in common with one another, under the same roof. Most such arguments concern themselves with the transitions between individual chapters which seem to contain disparate analyses. One celebrated tension concerns the continuity problem of the first two chapters: “Consciousness” and “Self-Consciousness.” One commentator succinctly writes: “. . . there appears to be little connection between the topics of chapter four [sc. Self-Consciousness] and the theoretical issues addressed in the fi rst three chapters [sc. Consciousness].”41 Another writes: “One of the more mysterious transitions in the Phenomenology is the transition from the purely epistemic chapter on ‘understanding’ in which the topic under discussion is Newtonian forces and various problems in the philosophies of Leibniz and Kant, to a discussion of ‘life’ and ‘desire.’ ”42 In the “Consciousness” chapter Hegel seems to concern himself with what are usually considered standard epistemological issues. He considers objects viewed as pure undifferentiated being, as substances with properties, and finally as appearances caused by unseen forces. But then, by contrast, in the “Self-Consciousness” chapter we find the lordship and bondage dialectic and Hegel’s account of alienation, followed by discussions of Stoicism, Skepticism and the unhappy consciousness.43 The traditional epistemological inquiry of the previous chapter appears to have been abandoned altogether.44 Findlay writes that with the transition to the “Self-Consciousness” chapter “the dialectic suddenly swings over into the social sphere.”45 He further claims that the movement is “from the epistemological to the practical, social level.”46 As a result of this view, most commentators take this change of topic for granted and argue about the specifics of the content of the two sections, without much concern for their coherence as a common philosophical project. Most of the disagreement is about the internal continuity of the two sections taken individually, and not about what their relation to one another might be. Hegel’s


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unambiguous claims about the systematic connections in his philosophy are simply cast aside. Another transition that has been considered problematic is the one from “Self-Consciousness” to “Reason.” With respect to this transition, one commentator writes: The reader forgets the image of the ladder and wonders which of the many features of this tableau are in any sense necessary and essential to this stage; and the author too, has plainly lost sight of the idea and plan of his book, and far from compressing his exposition severely, dwells at unnecessary length on irrelevancies . . . Hegel obviously was unable to continue the development that he had traced so brilliantly through several stages, beyond this point, to another stage.47 In the literature it has been extremely difficult to make out any sort of meaningful connection between the analysis of religious consciousness in the “Unhappy Consciousness” and the natural scientific understanding of the world in “Observing Reason” that would serve as a bridge or connecting link between these two chapters. The original controversies about the unity of the work focused on the “Reason” chapter, the length of which appears entirely disproportionate to the length of the “Consciousness” and “Self-Consciousness” chapters.48 This has been interpreted as evidence that Hegel changed his agenda in the course of composing this part of the text. One commentator writes: “The table of contents bears out that the work was not planned painstakingly before it was written, that parts V and VI (Reason and Spirit) grew far beyond the bounds originally contemplated and that Hegel himself was a little confused about what he had actually got when he was finished.”49 In the “Reason” chapter the epistemological analyses of “Consciousness” are apparently absent, and the confrontation of the two self-conscious subjects from the “Self-Consciousness” chapter is nowhere to be found. Instead, one finds a presentation of Hegel’s philosophy of nature and various conceptions of virtuous and moral living. Thus, with respect to content, the earlier chapters seem to have little in common with “Reason,” and moreover, there seems to be little continuity among the individual analyses found within the chapter itself. Yet another problematic transition is that between the “Reason” and the “Spirit” chapters. “Reason” ends with a criticism of morality conceived as an empty set of formal laws, while “Spirit” begins with a discussion of Sophocles’ tragedy Antigone, used to illustrate the shortcomings of the form of social life resulting from individuals who immediately and unreflectively

the key to understanding them is to grasp the complicated series of corresponding analyses in the individual sections of the work.” the initial analysis of the “Consciousness” chapter. Its other is now morality.” in the “Reason” chapter. In “Sense Certainty. They are taken to be objectively true in themselves apart from the interference or observation of the scientific observer. Is the “Religion” chapter also a historical account? If so. “eccentric” to treat forms of art in the “Religion” chapter?52 Why does Hegel here treat non-European religions. for example with Homer?50 What is the relation between this seemingly historical account and the analysis of the moral laws in the previous chapter? Is the “Spirit” chapter itself meant to be historical? If so. 53 but the point can be illustrated in a very general way by means of a brief overview. for example in the “Unhappy Consciousness” section? Is it. There the various objects of perception have been consolidated into the more abstract concept of nature that nonetheless is still conceived as existing independently from. The Solution: the Parallelisms in the Text While these transitions may seem abrupt. as is traditionally done. consciousness seeks a criterion for truth in an “other” which it believes to exist independently of itself. Is this analysis of the Greek polis supposed to be historical? If so. if it is a complete account of religious consciousness from beginning to end. and offering a truth criterion for. This is taken to an even higher level in “The Ethical World” analysis from the “Spirit” chapter. it seeks a criterion for truth in the given object that it perceives. why does it pass over certain periods and key events? The transition from “Spirit” to “Religion”51 and the content of “Religion” itself are no less problematic. then why does it start here with Antigone and not earlier. . with the Greeks? IV. the scientific observer. This analysis parallels that given in the section “The Observation of Nature. It would of course require a full-length commentary to explore all of these in detail. this transition raises many questions.Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit as a Systematic Fragment 37 identify themselves with larger institutions. as one author says. natural consciousness has yet to progress beyond the level of common sense realism. whereas in “Spirit” he gave no account of non-European history but rather started. As subject. In each of the subordinate levels of the Phenomenology. Needless to say. then why are forms of religious consciousness treated in earlier chapters. then why is it not simply incorporated into the historical account of the “Spirit” chapter? However. Reason has now progressed to viewing itself in the context of a historical and moral world.

Again the truth is sought on the side of the subject. independent of any human influence. in Greek polytheism.”54 The final parallel analysis in this series is the first discussion of “Religion. and morality. self-consciousness takes itself to be the criterion for truth. to objects of its own pleasure. / Though where they came from. where moral laws were eternally given facts about the external world. none of us can tell. Moral laws are assumed to be pre-existent facts about the world. running through all its forms from the most abstract form of a single self-conscious agent confronted with the world of nature to the subject conceived as a self-conscious. The historical manifestation of this is treated in “The World of Self-Alienated Spirit” from the “Spirit” chapter. Parallels of this kind run through the entire text and constitute its intended systematic unity. but everlasting. which combines elements of the object. Finally. this account appears again in the “Religion” chapter in “The Abstract Work of Art. It too is conceived as a straightforwardly existing other of nature. such as sculpture. Here the self-conscious subject reduces the external world. Increasingly complex object models are . This is further developed in “Pleasure and Necessity” from the “Reason” chapter. the general conception of it remains the same. anthropomorphic god. one reads of the ethical laws: “They are not of yesterday or today. A parallel movement to this one takes place on the side of the subject. At the simplest level of self-consciousness. “God as Light. which by means of reason alone can determine new laws that can pass the strict test of rational scrutiny. now the divine.” namely. According to this conception. What all of these views have in common is the positing of the criterion for truth on the side of the subject. The gods have a human form as is seen in various portrayals in Greek art. regarding them as irrational. In Antigone. with no conscious element. including other human beings. nature.38 Idealism and Existentialism which is to society what nature and its laws are to unconscious objects. Hegel exhausts this concept. this means destroying and appropriating objects of nature for its own satisfaction. and thus denies the truth and validity of the object sphere.” Instead of the divinity being conceived as an object of nature such as fire. arbitrary and oppressive. They have truth and value only insofar as they can serve the hedonistic ends of the pleasure-seeking subject. This is conceived as immediately given and true. beginning with “The Truth of Self-Certainty” in the “Self-Consciousness” chapter. is conceived as a self-conscious subject. In contrast to the world of Antigone.” Although the object in question has changed. Here the other has progressed to a conception of the divine understood as fire or light. the self-alienated spirit denies the validity of all such positive laws. where the subject is no longer an atomic agent but rather enters the moral sphere.

In particular it has been argued that “Religion. However. This dialectical movement is traced with unflagging consistency through ever more sophisticated contexts. he was able to work out the individual analyses in much more detail than he had been able to do in his early book. this position has often led to the claim that the Phenomenology is fragmentary rather than systematic. in its many different forms. Once the reader grasps these parallels and this dialectical movement. which he explicitly claims represent a systematic account of religion. In the letter to Schelling mentioned above. it by no means follows that there is no systematic concept behind the work as a whole or behind these specific analyses. and then on the side of the subject.) In conjunction with the biographical information about the stressful circumstances of the composition of the latter part of the text. and then finally in the unity of the two. in its many different forms. The systematic structure is there. The Phenomenology as Fragmentary It has often been noted that some of Hegel’s analyses in the latter part of the Phenomenology seem perfunctory. This argument. This is the systematic structure that Hegel intended to make apparent in the different analyses. It is thus no surprise to find that some of his chapters or sections are rather cursory. like those cited above. correspond fairly straightforwardly to those of the Phenomenology. (The same has been said of the short “Absolute Knowing” chapter itself. Hegel’s analyses of natural religion are only a few pages long and do not seem fully developed. even if Hegel did not fill out all of the individual analyses in satisfactory detail. which posits the truth first on the side of the object. But the key point is that the analyses given in his lectures. The systematic structure consists in the dialectical movement. is simply a non sequitur.” the final chapter before “Absolute Knowing.” shows clear signs of a hurried composition. Since he gave these lectures over several semesters. The fact that Hegel had a clear view of the systematic whole of the “Religion” chapter can be seen from the fact that his extensive Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion retain the same basic structure from the Phenomenology. Hegel states he was not able to work out all of the analyses and their parallel discussions to his satisfaction.Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit as a Systematic Fragment 39 systematically applied to increasingly complex kinds of subject matter. the seemingly heterogeneous discussions within the text are seen to be organized in a regular and systematic manner. V. .

but that does not undermine Hegel’s systematic intent. for example reversing the order of his treatment of Zoroastrianism and Hinduism.” This corresponds straightforwardly to what is called “The Absolute Religion” in the lectures. Hegel begins with a purely conceptual account of what religion is. this structure is at times skeletal. Due presumably to the hasty composition of the second half of the work. some of the analyses that appear there are not fully worked out and thus remain in fragmentary form. It merely makes it more difficult to perceive and understand. not to the structure itself. there is no intrinsic contradiction in the notion of a systematic fragment. and. This corresponds to the second division in Hegel’s lectures. The work is a fragment with regard. To be sure. claims which are usually cast aside as a result of that intuition. To be sure. Hinduism (“Plant and Animal”) and Egyptian polytheism (“The Artificer”).” In the Phenomenology this constitutes the series of Zoroastrianism (“God as Light”). to the intuition that the text does not always work out all the details. Thus. but the basic triad of “Natural Religion. continues to serve as the guiding paradigm. . The second section of “Religion” in the Phenomenology is “Religion in the Form of Art. at least in outline form in the “Religion” chapter. This conclusion that the Phenomenology is a fragment but yet also a system will doubtless strike some as paradoxical and untenable. but to the development of the individual analyses and dialectical arguments. but these changes are less important than the overall structural continuities. They only receive their full analysis years later in Hegel’s lectures. The Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion explore these same topics in far greater detail. new analyses and examples are added in the lectures. Hegel tinkers with some aspects of the analysis. In the second part he moves on to a historical account of the development of different forms of religion. which he calls “The Religion of Spiritual Individuality. to Hegel’s explicit claims for a system. on the one hand. which corresponds to the analyses in the Phenomenology.” which is an analysis of Greek polytheism. However. The first main section in both works is “Natural Religion.40 Idealism and Existentialism In his lectures.” “The Religion of Beauty” and “The Revealed Religion. This means that Hegel knew the systematic structure that he was to follow but simply had insufficient time to execute every analysis in its details. the systematic structure of the Phenomenology does exist. This understanding of the Phenomenology as a systematic fragment helps to do justice. The idea is simply that there is a systematic structure present behind the scenes.” established in the Phenomenology.” Finally. on the other hand. the third and final section of “Religion” in the Phenomenology is Christianity or “The Revealed Religion.

in my view. Despite a small handful of scholars who try with might and main to salvage this edifice.3 Typical of this general belief is Kaufmann’s characterization: “[T]he Phenomenology is certainty unwissenschaftlich.1 The main target of these criticisms was often the daunting edifice of the Hegelian system. This leads many scholars to try to exploit the isolated . full of digressions. which dominated so much of nineteenth-century philosophy. arbitrary.”4 The Phenomenology is thus seen simply as an eclectic and at times bizarre collection of atomic analyses on sundry topics.Chapter 3 The Architectonic of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit After the virulent criticisms of Nietzsche. Of all the texts in the Hegelian corpus. systematic philosophy has for the most part gone into eclipse in contemporary European thought.2 the general belief among scholars today is that at bottom Hegel’s philosophical project as a system is simply bankrupt and entirely indefensible. With this interpretive method. This preconception of the Phenomenology as a disunified text then leads to a predetermined and. who have found Hegel’s system so impenetrable in its overall architectonic and so problematic at its particular transitions. unprecedented book. erroneous interpretive approach. This seems intuitive enough since the contexts of Hegel’s analyses are so varied that it is often difficult to imagine what could be the schematic connection between them in any given case. Kierkegaard and much of the analytic tradition. bold. The strategy of a number of specialists. one tries to understand individual sections of the Phenomenology in abstraction from the systematic contexts in which they appear. not a monument to the austerity of the intellectual conscience and to carefulness and precision but a wild. undisciplined. the Phenomenology of Spirit with its plethora of themes and troubled composition has been singled out in particular for criticism as a disunified and unsystematic text. has been simply to give up entirely on his project as a system and to approach his philosophy in an episodic manner.


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sections and analyses of the Phenomenology for their own purposes. Pöggeler expresses this tendency with the following rhetorical questions: Should we not simply keep to the things that the Phenomenology offers as positive results—for example, concerning physiognomy or the Roman world? Should we not, when possible, exploit Hegel’s work as was done in the Middle Ages when people went to ancient buildings in search of construction materials for their own structures without any regard or consideration given to their disparate forms?5 In this way the commentator can make Hegel topical by showing how the individual issues that the philosopher treats are similar to contemporary problem constellations, thus emphasizing, for example, Hegel’s philosophy of action, his philosophy of language or his account of demonstratives. Scholars of this persuasion try to explicate these sections out of context as containing interesting and relevant issues in themselves. In this way, it appears these commentators can save Hegel from himself, given that his system appears so hopeless. However, this strategy of selection and omission, although attractive to modern scholars bent ever more toward specialization, is seriously misguided since Hegel himself, like the rest of the German idealists before him, expressly insisted on the systematic nature of philosophy as an intellectual enterprise. Hegel believed that truth could only be expressed in terms of a system, and he explains this in numerous places, insisting that the particular parts of the system are meaningful only inside the systematic context in which they appear. “A content has its justification,” he writes, “only as a moment of the whole, outside of which it is only an unfounded presupposition or a subjective certainty.”6 A truth in a philosophical system has its truth value only in relation to the other members of the system, and an atomic thesis asserted without relation to a wider system cannot rely on such a system to provide a context and thus to support it, since apart from such a system it stands without relation to other concepts and theories which give it meaning in the first place.7 For example, a tile in a mosaic, seen on its own in abstraction from the other tiles of which the mosaic is composed, is in a sense meaningless, i.e. one could not discern the picture of the whole mosaic with knowledge of the single tile alone. The tile has its true meaning only in its relation to the rest of the tiles and to the mosaic as a whole. Likewise in philosophy, according to Hegel, the truth and meaning of the individual propositions depend upon the context in which they are found in the system as a whole.

The Architectonic of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit


I take this to be the point of the well-known passage in the Preface of the Phenomenology, where Hegel claims “The True is the whole.”8 In other words, whatever truth there is in the individual claims of a system lies in the organic or systematic relation of those claims to one another inside the whole of the system. In the Encyclopaedia Logic, Hegel says of the absolute Idea, “The science of it [the Idea] is essentially a system, since what is concretely true is so only in its inward self-unfolding and in taking and holding itself together in unity, i.e. as totality . . . A philosophizing without system cannot be scientific at all.” 9 As can be seen from these passages, Hegel is quite forthcoming with respect to the relation of truth to a systematic philosophy. The notion of a philosophical system is not something that one aspires to attain merely for the sake of some mild aesthetic pleasure gained from a certain order or symmetry or from the satisfaction won by being able to pigeonhole sundry concepts under orderly headings, but rather it is, according to Hegel’s holism, essentially bound up with the very notion of truth itself. If truth can only be expressed in the form of a philosophical system, then we do Hegel a disservice by randomly excerpting parts of his system that we find interesting and relevant to our contemporary philosophical agenda while ignoring the role they play in the system as a whole. This approach misunderstands the spirit of Hegel’s systematic enterprise and dismisses his own clear statements of explanation and intention in this regard. By excerpting individual analyses out of their systematic context, one loses the very meaning of those analyses. If we are going to talk about Hegel at all, we must also talk about the Hegelian system. Although perhaps we will not be able to understand the most opaque parts of the Hegelian architectonic, it is more advisable, given Hegel’s conception of philosophy, simply to admit this in the first place rather than to give up on it, and Hegel with it, altogether.10 One of the central interpretive challenges of the book as a whole is in a sense posed by what Hegel says about the Phenomenology in a letter to Schelling. There he claims that the work contains an intricate “interlacing of cross-references back and forth”11 that he was unfortunately unable to make as clear as he would have liked. It seems to me then that one of the appropriate tasks of the secondary literature on the Phenomenology is to try to uncover these cross-references and, by so doing, to uncover the hidden structure of the work as a whole. In this chapter, I would like to attempt to reconstruct the systematic structure of Hegel’s the Phenomenology of Spirit with respect to its formal unity. Of course, in an investigation of this kind, this can amount to little more than a sketch since a full-length commentary


Idealism and Existentialism

would be required to demonstrate the systematic connections one by one.12 However, although this analysis will serve only as a general outline, this is in itself not a negligible service since, as has been indicated, Hegel’s systematic pretensions, especially in the Phenomenology, have long been subject to attack, and thus a study which could indicate how this part of his system might be at least plausible would be valuable in its own right. Since my principal aim is to demonstrate the unity of form in the Phenomenology, I will not be able in my discussion to offer more than the most cursory account of the unitary movement of the contents of the individual sections and chapters. Moreover, I will not treat the biographical questions concerning the turbulent composition of the Phenomenology since this too would require a study in itself. In order to establish the unity of form, some scholars have attempted to read the Phenomenology by transposing the structure of Hegel’s Logic onto it.13 These attempts, however, blur the systematic relation between the two works by collapsing them into a single project. Instead, my strategy for establishing the unity of the text will be to take as a model the revised version of the table of contents that Hegel wrote after the completion of the work, and then to test this organizational scheme against a number of passages throughout the Phenomenology that serve as indicators for the systematic structure as a whole. These passages, I wish to argue, when pursued consistently, will lead to a picture of the general economy of the text which contains parallel chapters and sections as Hegel indicated in his letter to Schelling. In my account, I will linger somewhat on the “Reason” chapter since it, in my view, holds the key to the structure of the work as a whole. An understanding of this hitherto neglected structure, it is hoped, will in turn help us better to understand this difficult text as it was originally intended to be understood by allowing us to place the individual analyses in their proper context. By uncovering this structure, we will also be in a position to criticize the “patchwork” interpretations that are so inimical to Hegel’s own expressed methodology and conception of philosophy.

I. The Table of Contents
The first major difficulty with respect to the systematic unity of the work concerns the table of contents. When one critically examines the outline indicated there, one will notice straightaway the rather confusing combination of Latin letters and Roman numerals, sufficient to discourage the most intrepid interpreter who wishes to insist on the systematicity of the work. The story of how this confused table of contents came about is not a

The Architectonic of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit


simple one. When Hegel first wrote the Phenomenology, he used the Roman numerals for the sections “Sense-Certainty,” “Perception,” “Force and the Understanding,” “The Truth of Self-Certainty,” “The Certainty and Truth of Reason,” “Spirit,” “Religion” and finally “Absolute Knowing.” This first scheme can thus be represented as follows:

Table 1. The First Table of Contents of the Phenomenology I. Sense-Certainty II. Perception III. Force and the Understanding IV. The Truth of Self-Certainty A. Lordship and Bondage B. Freedom of Self-Consciousness V. The Certainty and Truth of Reason A. Observing Reason B. The Actualization of Rational Self-Consciousness Through its own Activity C. Individuality Which Takes Itself to be Real in and for Itself VI. Spirit A. The True Spirit. The Ethical Order B. Self-Alienated Spirit. Culture C. Spirit that is Certain of Itself. Morality VII. Religion A. Natural Religion B. Religion in the Form of Art C. The Revealed Religion VIII. Absolute Knowing This organizational scheme has caused a great deal of confusion concerning the disproportionate lengths of these sections, some of which include as few as nine pages (i.e. “Sense-Certainty”) while others contain as many as 146 (i.e. “Spirit”). Hegel, however, revised this table of contents in a very illuminating way when he was reading the proofs for the book.14 In the second scheme he used the Latin letters A., B. and C. for the “Consciousness,” “Self-Consciousness” and “Reason” chapters respectively (and thus, it is due to this change that the argument arises that the original plan for


Idealism and Existentialism

the work consisted of only three chapters). At that time he also affi xed the double letters AA., BB., CC. and DD. to “Reason,” “Spirit,” “Religion” and “Absolute Knowing” respectively. Thus, the second plan for the work appears as follows:

Table 2. The Second Table of Contents of the Phenomenology A. Consciousness B. Self-Consciousness C. (AA.) Reason A. Observing Reason B. The Actualization of Rational Self-Consciousness Through its own Activity C. Individuality Which Takes Itself to be Real in and for itself (BB.) Spirit A. The True Spirit. The Ethical Order B. Self-Alienated Spirit. Culture C. Spirit that is Certain of Itself. Morality (CC.) Religion A. Natural Religion B. Religion in the Form of Art C. The Revealed Religion (DD.) Absolute Knowing The confusion about the table of contents stems from the fact that the various editions of the Phenomenology in German, as well as the English translations, have combined these two organizational schemes instead of opting for the one or the other.15 The result is an extremely confusing mixture of Latin letters, both single and double, and Roman numerals. This, however, is simply a problem with the editing of Hegel’s text and not with its intrinsic structure. The key argument that this change gives rise to is that Hegel changed his mind about the structure of the work during its composition and was compelled to revise the table of contents as a result of the change.16 Thus, according to this view, the text must be disunified since it compresses two different organizational schemes into one. This argument is perhaps valid enough when applied to the editors of the Phenomenology who combined the two versions of the table of contents into one, but it amounts to a simple

thus. what he indicates with the double letters is that the dialectic is to return to the beginning. In my view. II. The most this argument can establish is that due to the perceived need for revision in the table of contents on Hegel’s part. it represents his considered opinion. I wish to test this thesis in a very general way against the actual analyses of the Phenomenology and in a more detailed fashion against Hegel’s own explicit statements about the systematic structure of the work. “Consciousness” and “SelfConsciousness” are meant to run their course in a fashion parallel to one another. the changes that Hegel made in his revised version of the table of contents are in fact quite helpful. Nothing here necessarily excludes the possibility that he was able to incorporate the first scheme adequately into the second. I will thus briefly work through the text of the Phenomenology section by section with an eye toward the nature of the relationships of the various chapters and sections to one another. Consciousness Hegel begins the Phenomenology with his account of “Consciousness” which consists of three discrete conceptions of objectivity all sharing the fundamental realist belief in an independently existing external world of objects that are ontologically prior to human subjects and their capacity . On the other hand. Simply from the fact the Hegel changed his mind about the structure of the text and subsequently revised the table of contents in accordance with that change. then we have a fairly clear outline of the structure of the work itself which corresponds to its internal argumentation. thus. it does not follow that the text itself is disunified. since. The important point for the present purposes is that Hegel’s revision of the table of contents is a welcome aid to those searching for a key to the systematic unity of the work. What then makes this simple change so illuminating? As I will argue below in more detail.” “Spirit” and “Religion” return to the same starting point as “Consciousness” and work through the same material again under different aspects in accordance with the sphere that each governs. “Reason. there may be reason to suspect that there is a discontinuity in the text. after all. one must examine the arguments of the text itself. but in order ultimately to prove this. In the following. When we regard the ultimate organizational scheme as authoritative. what Hegel means to indicate with the single letters of the second version is a set of parallel structures. which he then represented in the revised table of contents.The Architectonic of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit 47 non sequitur when it is applied to Hegel’s text itself.

however.” Does it encompass the entire “Self-Consciousness” chapter since it is the only heading with Roman numerals or is it a simple introduction to the chapter. however.48 Idealism and Existentialism to know. The “Consciousness” chapter thus concerns above all the object sphere or what Hegel refers to as the “in-itself. and thus the human subject is drawn into what was originally an attempt to conceive of the object as an independent ontological entity. “A. As a necessary presupposition for the determination of objectivity. strictly speaking.” both of which apparently fall under the heading of “IV. there are certain universal concepts involved which are not. “Consciousness” and “Self-Consciousness.” Because of this asymmetry. Its appearance in the table of contents displays straightaway a certain asymmetry. The analyses of “Sense-Certainty. III. The analyses in the “Consciousness” chapter that are given with respect to individual objects are then in “SelfConsciousness” reapplied to the self-conscious subject. Freedom of Self-Consciousness.” “Perception” and “Force and the Understanding” represent attempts to demonstrate that objects are simply given as predetermined entities. Self-Consciousness The structure of the “Self-Consciousness” chapter is somewhat problematic. once . The Truth of Self-Certainty. with the world of objects thought to be dependent on it. Whereas Hegel in the rest of the book orders his chapters into three sections. a thing with properties or an unseen force behind the appearances. What consciousness learns is that even in its most basic attempts to conceive of an object as. These two units.” The challenge in the “Consciousness” chapter is to give a complete account of the determination of objectivity with reference to the object sphere alone. in the course of the dialectic this conception proves to be inadequate and collapses under the weight of its own internal contradictions.” run parallel to one another in their respective spheres of in-itself and for-itself. here there are only two. there is some confusion about the status of the section “The Truth of Self-Certainty. for example. to be found in the empirical manifold or in the object sphere. which in fact begins with “Lordship and Bondage”? This typical understanding of the problem. Lordship and Bondage” and “B. the subject sphere must be taken into account as well. This then leads to the “for-itself” sphere of “Self-Consciousness” where the categories are reversed and the self-conscious subject is given ontological priority. These concepts can only be accounted for by an appeal to the human capacity for thought.

without any further commentary about the organization or division of the contents of the chapter. he removed the apparent asymmetry in the “Self-Consciousness” chapter and used the material that I am calling “The Truth of Self-Certainty” as the first part of a three-step argument in precisely the way I have indicated above. the problem becomes less acute. seems unproblematically to follow the “Consciousness” chapter. Now what are we to make of the question of the structure of “Self-Consciousness”? My thesis is that the material that precedes the “Lordship and Bondage” section.” although originally this title was apparently intended to cover the dialectical movements of “Lordship and Bondage” and “Freedom of Self-Consciousness” as well. The Truth of Self-Certainty.”22 There are three important arguments that speak in favor of this view and against the thesis that “The Truth of Self-Certainty” constitutes only introductory material or forms something distinct from the course of the argumentation of the rest of the “Self-Consciousness” chapter. which bears the letter A.” 20 “2.” It is likewise obvious that “β) Self-Consciousness Recognitive” corresponds to “Lordship .”21 and “3.”19 I will refer to this material for the sake of simplicity as “The Truth of Self-Certainty. forms the first argumentative step in the “Self-Consciousness” chapter and that it represents the first of a threestep argument that is complemented by “Lordship and Bondage” and “Freedom of Self-Consciousness. referred to with the letter B. First the “Self-Consciousness” chapter. In the Philosophy of Mind. I propose to read the “Self-Consciousness” chapter as containing the following structure: “1. But when we concentrate only on the second version.The Architectonic of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit 49 again rests upon an interpretation that combines the two versions of the table of contents.. the “Self-Consciousness” chapter is organized as follows: B) Self-Consciousness α) Appetite β) Self-Consciousness Recognitive γ) Universal Self-Consciousness From the contents of this chapter it is clear that “α) Appetite” corresponds to “The Truth of Self-Certainty” where the key term is “desire. I wish to argue that this section.18 is in fact expected to do philosophical work and thus is not merely intended as an introduction.23 which constitutes part three of the Encyclopaedia. Thus. when Hegel reworked the same material in the Encyclopaedia. Freedom of Self-Consciousness. Specifically. Lordship and Bondage. in fact. First.17 which according to some interpretations is only introductory..

which at the beginning of “Self-Consciousness” becomes reinterpreted as the pure being of the subject.” in the Propaedeutic. Moreover.24 The course of his discussion there likewise leaves no ambiguity about the fact that the material preceding the “Lordship and Bondage” dialectic in the Phenomenology corresponds to the first stage.” in the “Unhappy Consciousness” section it is a self-conscious other.50 Idealism and Existentialism and Bondage. i. (3) Of the Universal Self-Consciousness which recognizes itself in other self-consciousnesses and is identical with them as they are identical with it.” the first section of the “Consciousness” chapter. The third argument that speaks against the thesis that the material preceding “Lordship and Bondage” forms only an introductory section concerns the subject matter of the section itself. In “Sense-Certainty” we are concerned with the pure being of the object. as in “Force and the Understanding. and finally that “γ) Universal Self-Consciousness” corresponds to “Freedom of Self-Consciousness. “Freedom of Self-Consciousness” parallels the “Force and Understanding” section. that of “desire. shortly after the Phenomenology. “Lordship and Bondage” parallels the “Perception” section in a similar fashion. one sees that the argument here parallels that which was given in “Sense-Certainty. likewise contains three different moments: Self-Consciousness has.25 Instead of forces operating behind the scenes causing the world of experience to appear. “Self-Consciousness. and it is this standard which then serves to determine the self-conscious subject. in its formative development or movement. (2) Of the relation of Master and Slave in so far as it is directed to another self-consciousness unlike itself. God or what .” where the key category is recognition (Anerkennung).e.” Second. So also in “Lordship and Bondage” a second self-consciousness is introduced for the first time which forms a standard for comparison and contrast for the other. Finally. in addition to the account of “Self-Consciousness” in the Encyclopaedia. and the categories of identity and difference become relevant for the determination of objectivity. written during Hegel’s Nuremberg period from 1808 to 1811. In “Perception” a second object is introduced. When one examines the text closely. three stages: (1) Of Desire in so far as it is directed to other things.” according to the discussion there. there is also the analysis in The Philosophical Propaedeutic.

” 26 which constitutes the otherworldly reality which is responsible for the mutable mundane sphere. Evidence for this interpretation of the structure of the work can be seen in the double letters AA. an account of the interaction of one self-consciousness with other self-conscious subjects must be given in a way that demonstrates how the social whole serves to shape the determination of objectivity in the course of this dialectical interaction among self-conscious subjects. In my view. This structural parallelism between the two chapters indicates that this material at the beginning of “Self-Consciousness” is intended as an independent argument in its own right just as “Sense-Certainty” was an independent argument at the earlier stage. then the problem disappears since “Reason” would then correspond to “Consciousness” and “Self-Consciousness” taken together and not as individual units. The task of the “Self-Consciousness” chapter is to fulfill the original goal—to give a complete account of objectivity—but this time with reference to the subject sphere.” the selfconscious subject there operates with the conception that it is an isolated atomic entity.27 However. The dialectic. This is the task of the “Reason” chapter. Reason The structure of “Reason” is somewhat problematic due to its inordinate length. “Consciousness” and . IV. by contrast. this length is only troublesome if the “Reason” chapter as a whole is thought to correspond to “Consciousness” and “Self-Consciousness” respectively. This too proves to be inadequate since. “Reason” is conceived as going back to the beginning of the dialectic and working through the same material as “Consciousness” and “Self-Consciousness” at a higher conceptual level. however. which precede “Reason” in the second version of the table of contents.The Architectonic of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit 51 Hegel calls “the Unchangeable. as seems to be indicated by Hegel’s first table of contents. The key question here is what the single and the double letters in the revised version are supposed to indicate about the structure of the text. which seems to set it apart from the “Consciousness” and “SelfConsciousness” chapters. as was learned in the dialectic of the “Unhappy Consciousness. shows that self-consciousness is in fact ontologically bound up with other self-conscious subjects. the single and double letters are meant to indicate the parallelisms among the various parts of the text. Thus. If. which I think is supported by the text internally by virtue of the corresponding arguments in the relevant chapters.

This reading renders the following structure:28 [AA. one sees that “Reason” is meant to return to the beginning of the so-called highway of despair. Reason] A.” which are also represented with double letters (BB.” The three sections of the “Reason” chapter also have the single letters A. and struggled to make its being-for-self into a Thing.e.” Hegel says precisely this. return to the beginning of the cycle as well and work through each of the figures again under their own aspect. i. Observing Reason B.) and works through the same forms of consciousness again but at a different level.). that the “Reason” chapter is intended in a sense to go back to the beginning of the dialectic and repeat at a higher level the dialectic of “Consciousness.” Hegel relates two results of the dialectic examined in that section. and CC. Then comes “Reason” which also forms a substantive independent unit (hence the C.52 Idealism and Existentialism “Self-Consciousness” are meant to form independent units that build upon one another (hence the A. in-itself and for-itself.). what is a Thing is self-consciousness. explaining that “Reason” is a completion of the outcome of the preceding movement of self-consciousness.e. would then bring the dialectic to a close by uniting subject and object. Thus. The Actualization of Rational Self-Consciousness through its own Activity in-and-for-itself C.” which has no previous parallel. Self-Consciousness The final section of “Reason.” i.e.29 . Hegel means to indicate that the dialectic at this point goes back to the original position in the “Consciousness” chapter (represented by A.. B. in front of the “Reason” chapter. and B. but yet here something is different. a Thing. and thus seem to correspond to the single letters A. to “Consciousness. By inserting the AA. and B. At the end of his account of “Observing Reason. Individuality Which Takes Itself to be Real in and for itself in-itself for-itself A. i.). of “Consciousness” and “Self-Consciousness” respectively. Likewise “Spirit” and “Religion.. The unhappy self-consciousness renounced its independence. to the consciousness for which the object is something which merely is. His comments there seem to give evidence for this thesis about the structure of “Reason. but here. It thereby reverted from self-consciousness to consciousness. Consciousness B. and C.

or the in-itself.” which come together in the third.” In the first section of the “Consciousness” chapter. But the two reduced themselves to a single truth. that what is. . the first section of the “Reason” chapter.The Architectonic of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit 53 Here Hegel says expressly that the unhappy consciousness at the conclusion of the “Self-Consciousness” chapter reverts “from self-consciousness to consciousness.30 Here the issue is the certainty of Reason. a new sort of certainty arises. i. the truth of self-certainty. only is in so far as it is for consciousness. then the disparity in length becomes nominal. When seen in this light. one after the other: one in which the essence or the True had for consciousness the determinateness of being. viz. In the first section of the “Self-Consciousness” chapter. whereas whatever was other than the self it considered non-being and something inessential.e. Here in the “Reason” chapter. i. and what is for consciousness is also in itself or has intrinsic being. Thus. after realizing that it played the crucial role in the account of the determination of the subject-object Notion. and this is the key to the comparison with “Consciousness” and “Self-Consciousness. it even adds a third section which is supposed to complete the sequence. The analysis thus moves from the objective to the subjective realm between these two chapters. natural consciousness thought that it had sense-certainty.” and the second “Self-Consciousness. and. the apparently disproportionate length of the “Reason” chapter begins to make sense. in addition. the other in which it had the determinateness of being only for consciousness.31 The first aspect mentioned in this passage is. A further parallelism with the preceding chapters can be seen predictably enough with respect to Reason’s relation to its object. it thought that what was immediately given as a propertyless “This” was true and thus was the object of certainty.e.” and it is at this point that the “Reason” chapter begins. of course “Consciousness. When one realizes that “Consciousness” is supposed to correspond to “Observing Reason” and not to the entire “Reason” chapter. i. Hegel explains this relation between “Consciousness” and “Self-Consciousness” as follows: There appeared two aspects. Here natural consciousness. deemed itself the true and the certain. “Observing Reason.e. This chapter must be longer than the “Consciousness” and the “Self-Consciousness” chapters since it is intended to work through the same material found there.” returns to a treatment of the object sphere and precisely in this respect overlaps with the “Consciousness” chapter.

“Sense-Certainty. Reason then constitutes the in-and-for-itself moment which will ultimately bring both subject and object together.’ ”32 Here Hegel indicates with his reference to “meaning.e. Perception A. what is here made explicit is that kind of knowing of an ‘other’ by Reason.” this time the self-conscious subject is not considered atomic.54 Idealism and Existentialism “Reason. Observing Reason The general structure that has been sketched so far is made even more precise by Hegel’s introductory comments at the beginning of the individual sections of “Reason.” “Perception. Observation of Self-Consciousness in its Relation to its Immediate Actuality 3. Observation of Nature 2. we end up with the following parallelisms: A. at the level of “Reason.” and “Force and the Understanding”) will be repeated here at a higher level.” Now here at the level of “Reason” what is at issue is the certainty of Reason.” “perceiving” and the “understanding” that the dialectical movements that have been examined from the “Consciousness” chapter (i. Observation of Self-Consciousness in its Purity and in its Relation to External Actuality 3. there is also an important difference. i. he gives a clear explanation of the way in which the section “Observing Reason” is intended to fit with what has come before.” Thus. Consciousness 1.’ ‘perceiving’ and the ‘understanding. despite this important similarity and parallelism. Rather it is the group that is important in the determination of objectivity. Sense-Certainty 2.e. Observing Reason 1. A.’ which apprehends what is ‘meant’ and what is ‘perceived.” In the first of these. Force and Understanding However.33 Using this as a guide. which we met with in the form of ‘meaning. “Observing Reason” will correspond as a whole to the “Consciousness” chapter while its three sections will correspond to the individual sections of the “Consciousness” chapter. “Observing Reason” is no mere repetition of the “Consciousness” chapter. Although emphasis is still placed on the object sphere as in “Consciousness. Hegel expresses this as follows: “Reason appeals to . He writes: “Since Reason is all reality in the sense of the abstract ‘mine’ and the ‘other’ is for it something indifferent and extraneous.

at the level of “Reason. The Actualization of Rational Self-Consciousness Through Its Own Activity In the introductory paragraphs to this section35 Hegel gives a fairly thorough discussion of the structure of the “Reason” chapter. A scientific experiment must in principle be able to be carried out by a universal subject. it is precisely the isolated individual who determines truth. He writes: The pure category. Hegel then immediately shifts over to a description of the movement of . The given object is consequently determined as a negative object. in other words.” the subject-object Notion is socially determined by a group whose members are parts of a larger social whole. the category which. and consciousness is equally unmediated in its relation to it. In the passage cited above.” the category of being was considered in its immediacy as something “merely given. is determined as self-consciousness over against it.” Natural consciousness ascribed ontological priority to the object. B. It is itself the end at which its action aims.36 In “Consciousness. whereas in its role of observer it was concerned only with things. however. Here he summarizes the movement from “Consciousness” to “Self-Consciousness” as well as the movement from “Observing Reason” to the next stage. which is present for consciousness in the form of being or immediacy. in the course of observation. Hence. or negativity.”34 With respect to natural scientific inquiry. is the object as still unmediated.The Architectonic of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit 55 the self-consciousness of each and every consciousness. But then in the course of the dialectic this proved to be inadequate and eventually led to the dialectic of “Self-Consciousness” where the object was considered to be something negative and inessential over and against the self-conscious subject. The moment of that infinite judgment is the transition of immediacy into mediation. consciousness. whereas in “Self-Consciousness. and in this sense science is impersonal. as merely given. “The Actualization of Rational Self-Consciousness Through Its Own Activity. the individual with his own characteristics and idiosyncrasies is not what is important.” His comments are instructive in helping with the reconstruction of the structure of the text.” for example. has run through the form of being is now posited in the form of being-for-self: consciousness no longer aims to find itself immediately but to produce itself by its own activity.

will “pass over from independence into its freedom.” indicating that the movement from “Consciousness” to “SelfConsciousness” corresponds to the movement in “Reason” from “Observing Reason” to “The Actualization of Rational Self-Consciousness Through Its Own Activity. one can infer that the analyses of the present section. the individual sections of “Observing Reason” run parallel to the sections in the “Consciousness” chapter.” Now we will. and the understanding. “Observing Reason” has just run through the dialectical movement that corresponds to the simple “form of being. he says that Reason. and pass over from independence into its freedom.” corresponds to the “Self-Consciousness” chapter. In this passage he explicitly indicates once again that the three sections of “Observing Reason” correspond to the three sections of the “Consciousness” chapter.” Here Hegel indicates that the present section. repeated. Since. by “Reason. Then.” it is clear that Hegel means to refer to the section “Observing Reason” as a whole. so too in “Observing Reason” the conscious subject “was concerned only with things. just like self-consciousness. following “Observing Reason” as they do.” be concerned with the sphere of the self-conscious subject. so will Reason again run through the double movement of self-consciousness.” As he puts it. which included first the “Independence and Dependence of Self-Consciousness” (here referred to simply as “independence”) and the “Freedom of Self-Consciousness” (here referred to as “its freedom”). “The Actualization of Rational Self-Consciousness Through Its Own Activity. we will see different forms of the individual self-conscious subject in its attempt to determine itself by distinguishing itself from others.”38 Here. perception. nevertheless with respect to the form of . Just as in the “Consciousness” chapter. as in “Self-Consciousness. This supposition is confirmed when one analyzes the place and role of this section in the Phenomenology as a whole. referring implicitly to the present section. the movement of consciousness.56 Idealism and Existentialism “Reason. in the role of observer. however. viz. must then correspond to the individual sections of “Self-Consciousness. in the element of the category. in the role of observer.” By this he seems to mean that although the content of the various dialectical movements changes and gradually becomes richer. He states specifically that the sections run parallel to each other “in the element of the category. “Just as Reason. the moment of negation or otherness is introduced as in “Self-Consciousness. Hegel’s formulation of the parallel structures here is particularly important. sense-certainty. as has been seen.” Now.”37 Hegel confirms this structure rather straightforwardly at the beginning of the present section when he writes.” At this point.

” so also now we will expect to see the categories and forms of consciousness examined in “Self-Consciousness” turn up once again in the present section. Lordship and Bondage 3. the various dualisms such as universal . Freedom of Self-Consciousness The two units of “Consciousness” and “Self-Consciousness” thus form the basic structures first of the object sphere and then of the subject sphere. “being now absolutely certain of its reality. namely. What self-consciousness learns from “Virtue and the Way of the World” is that the world is not an evil.The Architectonic of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit 57 the dialectic. the unity of subject and object. Virtue and the Way of the World 1. The Law of the Heart and the Frenzy of Self-Conceit 3. We can briefly sketch the outline of this part of the “Reason” chapter implied by Hegel’s remarks here as follows:39 B. Self-Consciousness B. In this selfrecognition in the world of objects. no longer seeks only to realize itself as end in an antithesis to the reality which immediately confronts it. the new forms of subject and object that appear here in the first two sections of “Reason” are subsequently unified in the third section. these units are then repeated here at the level of “Reason. which it allows to fulfill its needs cooperatively with others.” Now the task of the “Reason” chapter is to unify the subject and the object and to overcome the various forms of dualism that have plagued the dialectic up until this point. Just as the categories from the various stages of “Consciousness” were repeated in “Observing Reason. Thus. the world is in harmony with the individual. The Actualization of Rational Self-Consciousness Through its own Activity 1. The Truth of Self-Certainty 2.”40 On the contrary. self-consciousness finally comes to realize what we. have known all along. Individuality Which Takes Itself to be Real in and for Itself In this third and final section of the “Reason” chapter. certain categorial elements remain the same and in fact are repeated at the various levels. the philosophical audience.41 The individual is now able to identify with the external sphere and to see itself in it by means of its work and activity. Pleasure and Necessity 2. C. external other that stands in contradiction to the individual subject or the moral sphere: self-consciousness.

It is clear that this final section. and which characterized the relation of self-consciousness to the category in its observational [i.” priority was given to the object sphere. . the lines with arrows are intended to represent the parallelisms that we have been following. the for-itself and the in-and-for-itself. this section forms the apex of the pyramid consisting of “Consciousness. self-consciousness has returned into itself out of those opposed determinations which the category had for it.”43 In making this point about the closure of the dualisms explored heretofore.” the individual selfconscious agent was given priority.e. Here in this third section.44 Both of the two previous forms of consciousness represented “opposed determinations. subject-object Notions which posited an opposition or split. and is occupied not with an other. Then in “The Actualization of Rational Self-Consciousness Through its Own Activity” as in “Self-Consciousness. Finally. The road to Science is an ascending one that I have tried to indicate by vertically representing the sequence of moments of the in-itself. At first. Finally. Hegel indicates the overall structure of the “Reason” chapter and simultaneously locates the present section with a reference to the first two sections that we have just discussed. implicitly views itself since it sees its own individuality expressed in the external sphere: “. This outline should be read starting from the lower left-hand corner where the dialectic begins at the level of common sense and the dualisms contained therein. in “Observing Reason” as in “Consciousness. here this dialectic seems to come to an end since the subject-object split is apparently overcome. Here there is “the interfusion of being-initself and being-for-itself. therefore. . in viewing the world. “Observing Reason”] and also active [i. “The Actualization of Rational Self-Consciousness Through its Own Activity”] roles.e. Thus.” that is. This interpretation can be represented graphically as shown in Figure 1. but with itself. these two moments of in-itself and for-itself come together as the “real in and for itself.” “Self-Consciousness” and the sections in “Reason” which run parallel to them.” where there is no longer any opposition. of universal and individuality. it starts afresh from itself. He writes: With this Notion of itself. and the world stood opposed to it as something negative. “Individuality Which Takes Itself to be Real in and for itself. and the subject was considered something secondary.58 Idealism and Existentialism and particular come together.” is meant to form a third discrete unit which brings together the two preceding sections. .”42 Self-consciousness.

is still in fact . 1 V. which busies itself with all kinds of content of the essence. This consciousness.” the third and final section of “Reason”: This still abstract determination which constitutes the “matter in hand” itself is at first only spiritual essence.” “Self-Consciousness” and “Reason”? After the brief summary of the first three chapters discussed above. as a particular individual. referring to “Reason as Testing Laws.The Architectonic of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit Consciousness Self-Consciousness Reason Reason as Testing Laws in-andfor-itself Reason as Lawgiver 59 The Spiritual Animal Kingdom Freedom of SelfConsciousness for-itself Lordship and Bondage The Truth of SelfCertainty Force and the Understanding Virtue and the Way of the World The Law of the Heart and the Frenzy of Self-Conceit Pleasure and Necessity Observation of SelfConsciousness in its Relation to its Immediate Actuality Observation of SelfConsciousness in its Purity and in its Relation to External Actuality Observation of Nature in-itself Perception Sense-Certainty Figure 1 The Structure of the Phenomenology. with respect to content. Spirit Given the material covered so far. and its consciousness [only] a formal knowing of it. In an important passage he writes. Hegel at the beginning of the “Spirit” chapter proceeds to answer just this question about the role of “Spirit” and to justify the rest of the work. the question now becomes what. does the “Spirit” chapter add to the truth problematic? What is the status of the discussions found there vis-à-vis “Consciousness.

It was abstracted or alienated from its immediate ethical relations. one can begin to make sense of this difficult transition by understanding the epistemological import of the historical figures which Hegel analyzes.”48 In “Spirit” the dialectic departs from the abstract account of the individual and the community found in “Reason” and moves through history. one of the traditional problems of the continuity of the text has been how to reconcile the epistemological analyses of the first three chapters with the account of history that is found here in “Spirit. and which is at the same time actual as consciousness and aware of itself. but this account was always abstract. “The movement of carrying forward the form of its [sc. but rather with any rational moral agent at all. real being.” one needs to examine concrete social situations. For instance. and either makes arbitrary laws or fancies that in simply knowing laws it possesses them in their own absolute nature. Or. Now in order to give an account of the Notion. “Spirit is thus self-supporting. As Hegel says of Spirit in the “Absolute Knowing” chapter. From this analysis it is clear that the key point of “Spirit” is that it introduces history into the account of the self-development of the subject-object Notion.”46 In “Reason” an account of the community and the social whole was given. As he says later. But essence that is in and for itself. and this is only possible by an examination of particular historical communities.45 Here Hegel makes the distinction between the level of “Reason” and that of “Spirit. looked at from the side of substance. “Reason as Lawgiver” and “Reason as Testing Laws.” With the reading proposed here. one must include an account of concrete historical communities. It was never any particular community.47 In the literature on the Phenomenology.60 Idealism and Existentialism distinct from substance. in the final two sections. Likewise. this is Spirit. this is spiritual essence that is in and for itself.” we were not concerned with a particular human subject in a particular community. the account of self-consciousness was always abstract.” In “Reason” self-consciousness had only a “formal knowing” of spiritual essence. All previous shapes of consciousness are abstract forms of it . absolute. This isolating of those moments presupposes Spirit itself and subsists therein. . Spirit’s ] self-knowledge is the labor which it accomplishes as actual History. . and this movement shapes the truth claims of peoples and historical periods in a way that the “Reason” chapter could . In order to get beyond the formal account of ethical life examined in “Reason. This then forms the next major step in the argument. These abstracted analyses “presuppose” a concrete social and historical community from which they were originally abstracted. but which is not yet consciousness of itself.

” of “Reason. this correspondence is indicated once again by the double Latin letters “BB. There are a number of important pieces of evidence that support this thesis about the parallel sections.” and “Observing Reason. and instead of being shapes merely of consciousness. The True Spirit.”49 We are now concerned with the actual historical development of communities.The Architectonic of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit 61 not account for. For the sake of simplicity the parallelisms that are implied by this reading can be graphically represented in the fashion as shown in Figure 2. Spirit That is Certain of Itself. “B. “Spirit” will return to the beginning of the dialectic and then go through all of the same stages as “Reason. Self-Alienated Spirit” would then correspond to “Self-Consciousness” and “The Actualization of Rational Self-Consciousness Through its own Activity. the third section. which is not .” In other words. The Ethical Order. For instance. Most obviously. The True Spirit” corresponds to “Consciousness. Spirit that is Certain of Itself.” In other words.” of the “Spirit” chapter which are intended to parallel the double letters “AA. “actualities in the strict meaning of the word. Culture. are distinguished from the previous ones by the fact that they are real Spirits. “C. Morality.” In order to give an account of how communities mediate truth claims. The most obvious hint is that Hegel divides his abbreviated version of world history here in the “Spirit” chapter into three major sections as follows: “A. this would mean that “A. one must first give a historical account of how that community developed and how it came to hold certain truths or values. are shapes of a world.” Similarly. in the “Religion” chapter he writes: “But the moments are consciousness. This implies that the “Spirit” chapter will have ipso facto the same parallelisms with “Consciousness” and “Self-Consciousness” as the “Reason” chapter before it. self-consciousness. Concerning the content of the “Spirit” chapter.” These two chapters run parallel to each other as wholes or complete units. actualities in the strict meaning of the word. Hegel indicates this parallelism explicitly in a couple of different places. as immediate Spirit.” would form the apex. Such a historical account is thus presupposed in any abstract account of the role of the community in the self-determination of truth claims. or as he says. corresponding to “Individuality Which Takes Itself to be Real in and for itself.” Finally.” and “C. The question that this explanation raises is how these real or historical forms of “Spirit” fit into the analysis of the architectonic of the work given so far. however. Self-Alienated Spirit.” This would seem to imply a correspondence of “Spirit” with the three sections of “Reason” and their respective correspondents in “Consciousness” and “Self-Consciousness. reason. Hegel writes: “These shapes.” “B. and Spirit—Spirit.” the third and final section of the “Reason” chapter. that is.

Spirit as such contains the previous structured shapes in universal determinations. Their totality. taken together. These same universal forms are all contained in “Spirit” in their historical manifestations as Hegel indicates here. these parallelisms are confirmed by the actual contents of the individual sections of the “Spirit” chapter.”50 Here is it clear that the dialectical movements that have been examined in the first three chapters repeat themselves again in “Spirit.” Here Hegel says unambiguously.” The forms of consciousness in the first three chapters represent what Hegel here calls “universal determinations. in the moments just named. . . contains the previous structured shapes. .62 Consciousness Idealism and Existentialism Self-Consciousness Reason Reason as Testing Laws Reason as Lawgiver The Spiritual Animal Kingdom Freedom of SelfConsciousness Lordship and Bondage Virtue and the Way of the World The Law of the Heart and the Frenzy of Self-Conceit Pleasure and Necessity Observation of SelfConsciousness in its Relation to its Immediate Actuality Observation of SelfConsciousness in its Purity and in its Relation to External Actuality Observation of Nature Spirit The Beautiful Soul Dissemblance or Duplicity The Moral View of the World Absolute Freedom and Terror The Enlightenment The Truth of SelfCertainty Force and the Understanding The World of SelfAlienated Spirit Legal Status Perception Ethical Action Sense-Certainty The Ethical World Figure 2 The Structure of the Phenomenology.” In other words. constitutes Spirit in its mundane existence generally. “Spirit . they constitute universal patterns of thought which can assume a number of different forms. Third. 2 yet consciousness of Spirit.

Here in the discussion of Antigone. instead. viz.”52 From this passage it is. “Here.” for instance. rejects the accepted traditions and ethical order that were so important in the previous section. in the third section. then. for instance.The Architectonic of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit 63 The first section. and the understanding.” the triad comes to a close with the in-and-for-itself moment.51 The moral laws are ontological facts about the world according to this view. the third section represents the reconciliation of the two previous spheres.”53 Here the historical subject.” Finally. nature is not an obstacle to morality. which he sees as contradictory or hypocritical. The second section of “Spirit. He accepts only his own ethical views as valid and negates those of the tradition. epitomized for Hegel by the nephew of Rameau in his alienation. “If on the contrary. This then corresponds to “Self-Consciousness” and the second section in “Reason. The ethical laws and principles are facts about the world that stand over and above all human opinions and authority. moreover. “Spirit that is Certain of Itself. Hegel indicates this when he writes. and any antithesis between the two sides has vanished.” represents the break and the move to the for-itself moment. In “The Moral View of the World.” Hegel writes. Hegel writes most explicitly: “Spirit. The dualisms of the two previous dialectics are at this point overcome. for its truth is this very knowledge. then it is selfconsciousness. then is consciousness in general which embraces sense-certainty. Likewise. in so far as in its self-analysis Spirit holds fast to the moment of being an objectively existent actuality to itself. This then clearly corresponds to the realms of “Consciousness” and “Observing Reason” where priority is given to the object sphere at the expense of the subject.”54 In this third section. and ignores the fact that this actuality is its own being-for-self.” represents the in-itself moment of the dialectic. “The True Spirit. it is thought to be conducive to moral life since obeying moral laws is thought to lead to happiness. Hegel explains this as follows: “But as immediate . clear that the individual sections inside these chapters and subsections also correspond to one another. that its object is its own being-for-self. it [sc. Here one can clearly recognize the for-itself aspect with its rejection of the objective sphere and its insistence on the truth and validity of the individual subject. Spirit] holds fast to the other moment of the analysis. Thus. the moment of alienation has been overcome and with it the dualism between the inner private law and the external world of nature or culture. “knowledge appears at last to have become completely identical with its truth. the ethical order is considered to be something objective. perception. the beautiful soul’s appeal to conscience as the criterion for moral living unites the universally valid moral law with the individual.” “Self-Alienated Spirit.

religion is the perfection of Spirit into which its individual moments—consciousness. It sees that God and the absolute are not something otherworldly or different from man. in “Reason” the role of the community was all important. more is required than just an account of the development of the historical community. as unity of consciousness and self-consciousness.” Hegel writes. In “Consciousness.” and specifically in “Revealed Religion. which is only as the differentiating .”56 “Spirit conceived as object. “Religion” likewise represents a more complex configuration than what was seen in the “Spirit” chapter. “has for itself the significance of being the universal Spirit that contains within itself all essence and all actuality. and Spirit—return and have returned as into their ground. This self-awareness is what Hegel calls “universal” or “absolute Spirit. Spirit becomes aware of itself.” the role of the self was unrecognized.64 Idealism and Existentialism consciousness of the being that is in and for itself. the historical forms of “Spirit” run through the same dialectical movements as the abstract forms of “Reason. in “Self-Consciousness” the role of the self as individual was all important. self-consciousness. therefore. Religion As has been seen. Necessarily implied in this development is the self-awareness of Spirit which. VI. but must be made explicit in the course of the dialectic. In order to give an account of the Notion. but rather God is man or Spirit in the world. He indicates that the forms of religion will correspond to the forms of the chapters we have examined so far: If. in Christ.”55 Thus. comes about for the first time in “Religion. “Religion” represents a further unpacking of the presuppositions implied in the subject-object Notion. Hegel indicates at the beginning of “Religion” that the parallelisms that have been sketched until now will continue in this chapter.”57 This self-consciousness is implicit in Spirit’s awareness of its object sphere.” It now remains to be seen how the dialectic of “Religion” fits into this picture. the movement of the dialectic in the Phenomenology tends to be one towards ever greater complexity.” Spirit becomes self-aware in the revelation of God on earth in the Christian religion. they together constitute the existent actuality of the totality of Spirit. and finally in “Spirit” the role of the historically changing community was essential. Specifically. reason. for Hegel. Here in “Religion” Spirit becomes aware of itself. Spirit is consciousness that has Reason. Thus.

display themselves in a temporal succession. self-consciousness. 58 In this extremely important passage. and the “Shapes. Throughout the “Religion” chapter itself. consciousness. Only the totality of Spirit.” which are “Shapes” of the totality of Spirit. and there is evidence in many places for the parallelisms indicated here. reason.” the first section of “Natural .” Hegel says. The genesis of religion in general is contained in the movement of the universal moments. Hegel lays out in some measure the architectonic of the second half of the Phenomenology. 59 All of the previous forms are implicitly contained here in religion. namely that Spirit encompasses the previous forms and runs through them once again. Here the divine is thought to dwell in the realm of objects. Spirit knows itself as its object in a natural or immediate shape. This is what Hegel means when he says that they are moments which “have no existence in separation from one another. is in time. and above all from a number of explicit references. and therefore Natural Religion. in relation to religion. have no existence in separation from one another. Hegel is quite forthcoming about the structure of the chapter.” “Self-Consciousness” and “Reason” which we have already seen.The Architectonic of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit 65 and self-returning movement of these aspects. “Religion” will do the same atemporally: The course traversed by these moments is. This information now helps to complete the diagram as shown in Figure 3. “The fi rst reality of Spirit. The conceptual movement of “Religion” thus corresponds to the fundamental structure constituted by the moments of “Consciousness. That “Natural Religion” corresponds to “Consciousness” can be seen from the emphasis on the object sphere. just because they are moments. and Spirit.” a form which expresses itself as time. which ran through the various figures of consciousness in their historical or temporal forms. moreover. In this. or religion as immediate.”60 Hegel confirms this parallelism when he declares that “God as Light. not to be represented as occurring in time. He first repeats what has already been learned. “is the Notion of religion itself.” The various forms of consciousness are thus organically related and have their meaning only in their relation to the other moments. He then goes on to explain the role of the “Religion” chapter. But the moments of the whole. He states that in contrast to the “Spirit” chapter. and they all form a unitary whole which is represented by religion. for only the whole has true actuality and therefore the form of pure freedom in face of an “other.

namely. “Force and Understanding.” corresponds in turn to the third section of the “Consciousness” chapter. because it is immediate. or has raised its immediacy to self in general.e. Hegel states that the second section. the third form of natural religion. determines its unitary nature as a manifoldness of being-for-self.” corresponds to the first section of the “Consciousness” chapter: “In the immediate. fi rst diremption of self-knowing absolute Spirit its ‘Shape’ has the determination which belongs to immediate consciousness or to sense-certainty. “The Artificer.”63 .” corresponds to the second section of the “Consciousness” chapter. and is the religion of spiritual perception. 3 Religion.”62 Finally. is the abstract form of the understanding. and the work is not yet in its own self fi lled with Spirit.” Hegel states this explicitly when he writes: “The fi rst form. “Plant and Animal. i.66 Consciousness Idealism and Existentialism Self-Consciousness Reason Reason as Testing Laws Reason as Lawgiver The Spiritual Animal Kingdom Virtue and the Way of the World Spirit Religion The Beautiful Soul Dissemblance or Duplicity The Moral View of the World Revealed Religion Freedom of SelfConsciousness Absolute Freedom and Terror The Spiritual Work of Art The Living Work of Art Lordship and Bondage The Enlightenment The Law of the Heart and the Frenzy of Self-Conceit Pleasure and Necessity The World of SelfAlienated Spirit The Truth of SelfCertainty The Abstract Work of Art Force and the Understanding Observation of SelfLegal Status Consciousness in its Relation to its Immediate Actuality The Artificer Perception Observation of SelfEthical Action Consciousness in its Purity and in its Relation to External Actuality Plant and Animal Sense-Certainty Observation of Nature The Ethical World God as Light Figure 3 The Structure of the Phenomenology.”61 Likewise. “Perception”: “Self-conscious Spirit that has withdrawn into itself from the shapeless essence.

Hegel introduces this section as follows: “The second reality. in that of self-consciousness. as the immediacy is the self. on Hegel’s view. i. or of the self. In revelation human beings recognize themselves in God. Philosophical or scientific thinking in its turn understands this same truth in a different way.66 Here in “Revealed Religion” the subject-object split is overcome in the concept of revelation.e. It thus corresponds to the final third of the “Reason” and “Spirit” chapters respectively. as immediate. the self is just as much an immediacy. in the first reality. Hegel tells us: Finally. and when it is thus conceived as it is in and for itself. This. but rather on the reshaping and reworking of it by self-consciousness. and in the second. a deep metaphysical truth expressed in terms of a story. As for itself. selfconsciousness becomes aware of itself. “Revealed Religion. it has to move away from this immediate and objective mode towards self-consciousness. is abstract and individual. This reconciliation comes about in the revealed religion.The Architectonic of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit 67 The shift to the for-itself moment and to “Self-Consciousness” comes with “Religion in the Form of Art. Thus. for the shape raises itself to the form of the self through the creative activity of consciousness whereby this beholds in its object its act or the self. therefore. If. Spirit in general is in the form of consciousness.” Here the divine is thought to be in the self-conscious subject as artist. the dialectic is thrown back to the subject sphere.”65 The final section. in the third it is in the form of the unity of both. It has the shape of being-in-and-for-itself. is necessarily that in which Spirit knows itself in the shape of a superseded natural existence. the third reality overcomes the one-sidedness of the first two. in Christianity. This account contains. this is the Revealed Religion.” forms the apex of the triad and represents the in-and-for-itself moment. instead. is the Religion of Art. in which the dualisms and oppositions are overcome. The truth of the subjectobject unity and the individual self-awareness is expressed by the Christian account of God as revealed. where God is revealed on earth as a human being. however. and through this recognition become reconciled with the world. Here God is no longer something transcendent and otherworldly but.”64 Here the emphasis is no longer on the natural entity as something given. is a particular man living in this world. In artistic production. Hegel confi rms that this section corresponds to the transition to “Self-Consciousness” that was seen earlier in the dialectic: “The first work of art. .

of the community with other historically related communities. symbols and metaphors. of the subject with the community.68 Idealism and Existentialism VII. in general a Thing— corresponding to immediate consciousness. for Hegel. or .70 The goal of this account was to show the ultimate unity of all the various factors. or in the form of a universal—corresponding to the Understanding . One thus sees the great unity and interconnectedness of the subject with the object. Hegel explains this as follows: Thus the object is in part immediate being or. by the time one reaches “Religion” the content of the account of the selfdetermination of truth is complete and exhaustive.. at first thought to be unrelated. there are two possibilities: the religious interpretation or the philosophical interpretation. in short of everything with everything else in the broadest sense. The question is now how to interpret this account of the monistic unity of the world. namely. For Hegel. and in part essence. metaphorically. determinateness—corresponding to perception.67 He says in the Encyclopaedia Logic: “It is true that [philosophy] does. in part.71 The dialectic has shown the totality of the interconnectedness of all forms of subject and object in the attempt to give a complete account of the subject-object Notion.”68 What this passage tells us is that. an othering of itself. . i. Absolute Knowing. i.e. and from the other side a number of such shapes which we bring together. but that it understands it in a different way. in the overall truth process. have its objects in common with religion. and being-for-itself. since at that point a complete account has been given. the content that the dialectic has reached in “Religion” is the same as in “Absolute Knowing. and the whole thus corresponds to the ultimate account of the Notion.e. its relationship or being-for-an-other. . it is from one side a shape of consciousness as such. Absolute Knowing Hegel claims that “Religion” has the same content as philosophical knowing. The religious interpretation understands this monistic truth with stories. This would mean that in a sense the story of the determination of subject and object ends with the “Religion” chapter.”69 Thus. The dialectic has thus demonstrated the truth of a certain sort of epistemic monism in which everything is necessarily related to the whole. This is therefore the actual content that the dialectic has produced. initially. in which the totality of the moments of the object and of the relation of consciousness to it can be indicated only as resolved into its moments.

In other words. he writes: “The realm of Spirits which is formed in this way in the outer world constitutes a succession in time in which one Spirit relieved another of its charge and each took over the empire of the world from its predecessor. institutions and historical events is it possible to understand the true nature of such claims and to give a complete account of objectivity.”72 The absolute Notion is thus the Notion that encompasses all other Notions within itself. or are these parallelisms simply of interest to the despairing Hegel philologist trying to patch together the Hegelian system for its own sake?74 The philosophically provocative point that these parallelisms implicitly indicate is that the conceptual logic that governs the development of the object-Notion and the subject-Notion is the same logic that governs world-historical forces. they are universal categories or “universal determinations” which govern all human thought and which as such can be found in any subject matter. the logic which governs one’s understanding of a Notion of a particular. For instance. The philosophical consciousness. individuals. and this is the absolute Notion. For the religious consciousness. these most abstract truths must thus be seen through the veil of simplified concrete examples drawn from normal human experience. and is able to extricate them from their metaphorical form. Their goal is the revelation of the depth of Spirit. Is there anything philosophically interesting that this interpretation of the architectonic of the Phenomenology as a whole brings with it. Hegel states in a fairly straightforward fashion in a number of different places that Absolute Knowing is merely the understanding of all of these previous modes of knowing in their conceptual form. In other words. the moments of in-itself. the difference exists in how that content is understood. It is the complete or exhaustive Notion. the religious interpretation personifies the great monistic unity of the universe. although the monistic content of both interpretations is the same. sees these truths for what they are. Every individual truth or value must be understood in a larger context. instead. apparently .The Architectonic of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit 69 what has been translated as “picture-thinking. by contrast. for-itself and in-and-for-itself and the dialectic of universal and particular are not categories which apply only to a particular and limited subject matter.73 Hegel thus makes clear that Absolute Knowing is not the knowing of any particular fact or ultimate piece of wisdom. but rather merely the grasping of the various forms of thought as a whole. Only with this overview of the complex network of interrelations of truth claims. Thus.” In the figure of God. Absolute Knowing is the panoptic overview of all previous Notions. Thus. Here one finds at the end of the Phenomenology a powerful statement of Hegel’s holism.

but it would be absurd at this point to claim that such a structure simply does not exist. This analysis can by no means be seen as the final word on the systematic structure of the Phenomenology. with respect to exactly which “categories” the various sections correspond to one another. Precisely this point. above all with respect to establishing the unity of the content of the work which could only be sketched here in the broadest of strokes. one need not find Hegel’s structure here philosophically compelling in order to use it to understand the individual analyses that he gives. But the risk that one runs by ignoring his systematic pretensions entirely is of not understanding him at all. Much work still remains to be done. does show that Hegel in fact had a systematic structure in mind when he wrote the book. This analysis. Moreover. . One can always dispute the question concerning to what degree he adhered to this structure in any given analysis. It remains to be seen. however.70 Idealism and Existentialism isolated object is the same as that which governs one’s understanding of the various epochs of world history with their manifold interrelations and complexities. which is essential for Hegel’s idealism and monism. moreover. is overlooked when individual arguments of his philosophy are analyzed in abstraction from their systematic context.

Part II Between Idealism and Existentialism .

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on the one hand. most thoughtless. The tendency is thus to understand Schopenhauer’s place in the history of philosophy generally in accordance with Schopenhauer’s own self-understanding. overt animosity towards a forerunner or a contemporary can indicate a hidden intellectual debt which the critic is unable to perceive or unwilling to acknowledge. Schopenhauer and Hegel nevertheless share the same fundamental conceptions of religion. which will become for posterity an inexhaustible object of ridicule about our age. In this chapter.”1 Many commentators have taken this intellectual ad hominem and others like it from Schopenhauer’s corpus to imply that Schopenhauer’s philosophy represents a separate and disparate strand of post-Kantian philosophy from the Fichte-Schelling-Hegel tradition. I wish to indicate a few such points which pertain to philosophy of religion. In the Preface to the fi rst edition of his “Essay on the Freedom of the Will” from 1841. For the attentive reader there are. Often. According to this self-understanding. the speculative systems of Hegel and his forerunners and. however. in fact.Chapter 4 Points of Contact in the Philosophy of Religion of Hegel and Schopenhauer Schopenhauer’s strong rejection and condemnation of Hegel’s interpretation of transcendental idealism and the latter’s transformation of the Kantian system leaves no ambiguity about his attitude towards Hegel’s philosophy. most stultifying jargon-mongering.philosophy which paralyzes all mental powers. important philosophical points of contact between Hegel and Schopenhauer that have seldom been explored. there exists an irreconcilable gulf between. Schopenhauer’s own philosophy. on the other. I want to argue that although they have entirely different presuppositions and draw entirely different conclusions. strangles all true thought and replaces it. . a pseudo. by means of the most wanton abuse of language. as its success confirms. Schopenhauer mercilessly describes Hegel’s philosophy as “a colossal mystification. and thus. with the hollowest. most vacuous. Specifically. which is more directly in harmony with the true spirit of Kantian philosophy.

the truth of religion is a human affair and a human truth. from a metaphysical point of view. The great metaphysical truth of the universality of will and the individual’s identification with it leads to the ethical conclusion which Schopenhauer. chastity. the unhappy consciousness comes to realize that the truth of religion does not lie in the beyond in a transcendent God. self-abnegation and other physical privations that characterize the denial of the will to live. Insofar as they influence the thoughts. In fact. the way in which he was interpreted by the left Hegelians. Religion in its Secular Significance In The Gay Science Nietzsche writes that “Schopenhauer was the first admitted and inexorable atheist among us Germans.”5 This thus agrees with Hegel’s conclusion in the “Unhappy Consciousness” section that the truth of religion lies more in the activity of its believers than in the dogma of its priests. The essential unitary truth of these various religions can be found in the common actions of the believers.3 In the end. bound up with practices and values of human society. they become an important element of what might be called “social truth. What Hegel wants to demonstrate with this analysis is that the truths of religion have no independent metaphysical or ontological value. These activities are the universal activities of the religious. calls the “denial of the will-to-live. which represent a precognitive truth. but only in the deed and in conduct.”2 but Hegel was the first to try to interpret the meaning of religion in terms of its secular significance.74 Idealism and Existentialism I. Brahmans. For Schopenhauer as well. in any case.” They become a part of the fabric of living truth in the daily lives of the members of the religious community. for Hegel. Hegel shows how the attempts of the unhappy consciousness to posit an autonomous transcendent God prove to be contradictory.”4 The realization that one is a part of the universal will lead to the renunciation of the world and the attempt to break down the will through fasts. one important aspect of the truth of religion is to be found in the lives and actions of the saints. but rather in the practices and beliefs of the Church. However. regardless of denomination. in the first volume of The World as Will and Representation from 1819. it finds its complete expression not in abstract concepts. the beliefs of religion per se are quite simply false. . those beliefs are true in a deeper sense. Schopenhauer writes: “Since the knowledge from which the denial of the will results is intuitive and not abstract. That was. In the “Unhappy Consciousness” section of the Phenomenology of Spirit. Thus. ascetics and holy individuals who embody religious belief. acts and practices of the religious believer.

Schopenhauer also sees philosophical truths veiled behind the pictorial and symbolic language of religion. what the philosophical observer sees as the dynamic threefold dialectic operating with the in-itself. seen as a dynamic process of division. however. the religious consciousness interprets as the Trinity of God the Father. one great truth of religion that is captured metaphorically is the universal suffering at the heart of the human condition.”7 The ultimate content of philosophical knowing for Hegel is the grand unity and interconnectedness of the subject with objects. moreover. these most abstract truths must be seen through the veil of simplified concrete examples and images drawn from normal human experience. Hegel claims that religion has the same content as philosophical knowing. and in this point lies another similarity with Schopenhauer. of everything with everything else in the broadest sense. which he explores in the fragmentary “Religion” chapter of the Phenomenology. and its chance for reconciliation through Christ. for-itself and in-and-for-itself. For Hegel religion also represents a profound philosophical truth with symbols or myths. namely. another side to religion for Hegel. absolute knowing. religion interprets the monistic truth of philosophy with stories.Philosophy of Religion: Hegel and Schopenhauer 75 II. For instance. In God. metaphorically. For Hegel. Likewise. and the self-differentiated moments within it. by contrast. The universal dialectic of unity. Hegel says that at the level of religion. This unity is. fall within the sphere of picture-thinking and in the form of objectivity.6 He claims religion contains another deeper truth in addition to the truth that it represents in the lives of the believers. of the citizen with the community. religion personifies the great unity or monism of the universe. and is able to extricate them from their metaphysical form. religion is the penultimate stage on the road to Absolute Knowing in the Phenomenology. in other words. The content of this picture thinking is absolute Spirit. division and reconciliation is understood in the religious interpretation as humanity’s original harmonious condition in the Garden of Eden. alienation and reconciliation with the whole. The Metaphorical Truth of Religion There is. In fact. “Spirit itself as a whole. but that it understands it in a different way. or the community with other historically related communities—in short. the Son and the Holy Ghost. i. sees these truths for what they are. symbols and metaphors. For the religious consciousness. For Hegel. or what Hegel calls “picture thinking” (Vorstellungen). The philosophical consciousness.e. its Fall from grace with Original Sin. Given the finitude and frailty of human existence as well . it is the next closest approach of consciousness to philosophical truth.

it is the sole metaphysical truth that appears in the book. Schopenhauer writes: Nothing is more certain than that. Humanity must endure hardship because it is sinful as a result of the transgression of Adam and Eve. For to nothing does our existence bear so close a resemblance as to the punishment of a misdeed and guilty lust. in my eyes. Christianity denies the ultimate reality of the mundane and points to an omnipresent God. the metaphysical truth of the universal suffering in the world is contained in metaphorical form in the story of the Fall.8 Thus. This understanding. it is the great sin of the world which produces the many and great sufferings of the world. in the doctrine of the veil of Maya. contains an important metaphysical truth. it is only the story of the Fall of Man that reconciles me to the Old Testament.9 Limited to knowledge of what is given in space and time and what is governed by causality. although it is clothed in allegory. Hence. These doctrines in their various mythical representations capture the philosophical truth of the Kantian division between phenomena and noumena or representation and thing-in-itself for Schopenhauer. This truth is expressed metaphorically by both Eastern and Western religions. a unity behind the scenes. and does not penetrate to the inner truth or substantial unity of the universe that lies behind them. . For Schopenhauer. it is for Schopenhauer a deep metaphysical truth that suffering is omnipresent in the world. according to Schopenhauer. According to this view. For Schopenhauer the true identity of the will with all its phenomena is the philosophical truth behind the identity with the universe that is found in Buddhism. In fact. although Hegel and Schopenhauer interpret this myth in different ways. Our knowledge is thus finite and limited to mere appearances. but religion represents this same core thought in popular guise. we can thus never penetrate to knowledge of the thing-in-itself. In Parerga and Paralipomena from 1851.76 Idealism and Existentialism as the insatiable strivings of the human will. they still nevertheless see it as representing important philosophical truths. and here I refer not to the physical-empirical connection but to the metaphysical one. Humanity sees through this veil only the fleeting phenomenal appearances of this world as separate individual entities. however pictorial it may be. the Biblical story of the Fall interprets suffering in the world as a result of a crime or error. For Schopenhauer. Likewise. Another great truth that religion expresses is to be found. speaking generally. the philosophical key to this truth is to be found in his account of the will.

primarily Hinduism. of course. Schopenhauer. conceiving the doctrine of reconciliation found in Christianity to be among the highest truths of religion. for Schopenhauer as well religion expresses truth in the form of symbols and stories. Hegel places Christianity at the apex of religious forms. . whereas philosophy understands it for what it is in itself: [R]eligion is truth allegorically and mythically expressed and thus rendered accessible and digestible for mankind at large . But in spite of these differences.10 Further. Hegel’s Idea. which should not be overlooked. on the other hand. Both also have a similar conception of the . There are. Philosophy. as has been seen. in his great reverence for Buddhism. or they interpret these same myths in different ways in order to support the distinct content of their respective philosophies. . for the few and the elect. and regarding the Christian Trinity as a template of the philosophical Concept. and never will one be. Hegel seems condescending at times in his statements about Eastern religions. more closely associated with a philosophical truth accessible to so few. in his Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion he refers to Hinduism as the “Religion of Fantasy. nevertheless both Hegel and Schopenhauer see religion as representing an essential philosophical truth about the world. says: “Never has a myth been.Philosophy of Religion: Hegel and Schopenhauer 77 Thus.”13 As a result of this. should be. there are. which he claims is in agreement with his own philosophy. For example. than this very ancient teaching of the noblest and oldest of peoples. Hegel and Schopenhauer choose different examples of religious myth as reflections of philosophical truths.”11 Thus. important differences between Hegel and Schopenhauer. the profound meaning and lofty aim of life can be revealed and presented only symbolically because men are incapable of grasping these in their proper significance. Although the truth which religion is supposed to represent for these two thinkers is as different as their respective philosophies. Schopenhauer and Hegel both see religion as depicting philosophical truth in a way that the ordinary believer can understand it. like the Eleusinian Mysteries. Moreover.12 By contrast. according to which religious concepts and forms develop dialectically to ever higher and more complex forms based on their previous contradictions. Indeed. is wholly foreign to Schopenhauer. important and significant points of overlap between them. Schopenhauer displays an unmistakable preference for Eastern religions.

This insight then may help us to begin to rethink our understanding of the development of German idealism. and the respective roles of Hegel and Schopenhauer in it. . These points of agreement indicate that perhaps there is more commonality in the philosophies of Hegel and Schopenhauer than the latter would like to admit.78 Idealism and Existentialism essential meaning of religion in the actions and practices of its believers.

Hegel believes that it is the Idea that constitutes what is most real. i. The Idea. As an idealist. on the other hand. the existent things that are invested with some kind of logos. it is clear that there is a distinction between. of course. however. where it develops. and one child takes out something that looks like a gun. namely.e. “That is not a real gun.” It can mean two quite different things depending on the context in which it is spoken. that there is a rational structure in the universe which the human mind can understand. When the issue is seen in this way. Let us take the sentence. does not exist merely in our minds but is incarnated in different forms in the world. Thus. “What is rational is actual and what is actual is rational. genuine actuality. and the two are not synonymous. not to have understood the technical use of the concept of actuality or “Wirklichkeit” in the German philosophical tradition.” or synonymously. he was not the only one to misunderstand this usage. not what Hegel meant with this admittedly paradoxical formulation. The first context would be when parents are watching their children playing together. The latter is thus a subgroup of the former. The child’s parent . Hegel’s famous statement from Philosophy of Right in 1821. at least in the early part of his intellectual career. he seemed. which may or may not display some rational element and. This is Hegel’s way of expressing the long-held philosophical view that serves as the foundation of the sciences. on the one hand.3 This is. the goal of philosophical knowing is to examine what exists in order to find the rational elements.Chapter 5 Kierkegaard’s Criticism of the Absence of Ethics in Hegel’s System Although Kierkegaard is often hailed as one of the greatest philosophers of the nineteenth century. To be sure. “That is not an actual gun. for example on a playground.2 The formula was taken by some to be a defense of the social and political status quo and was thus seen as justifying all forms of existing oppression.”1 was misinterpreted so often that Hegel felt himself obliged to explain it when he published the second expanded edition of the Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences in 1827. everything that exists.

the gun enthusiast is not denying that the gun will fire or can be used to shoot things. There are a couple of different anecdotes that illustrate Kierkegaard’s misunderstanding. Here there is no denial of a fact. the rational elements of existence. Rather he has implicitly posited an ideal of what a gun should be. recalls how he met Kierkegaard one day in the street. Fichte and Schelling. Hegel. This way of talking implies an idea that is made the standard for specific empirical entities. is using the term “actuality” in this latter sense. as an idealist. since the very goal of science is to identify such rational elements. he [Kierkegaard] met me at Gammeltorv [sc. that the object the child is playing with is in fact a gun. as in the first case. Frederik Christian Sibbern. which astonished me. and thus he had an intimate familiarity with German philosophy. in fact does not fire or contain bullets. although it might look like a gun. He had met some of the most important figures in the German intellectual world. Now let us imagine this same statement in a quite different context. namely. Imagine a lifelong gun collector. but their meaning is quite different.” to assure them that there is no danger since the object that the child is playing with. The statement denies a certain fact of the matter. and his use of the term “actuality” is consistent with that tradition. Sibbern was Denmark’s most distinguished philosopher at the time.e. such as Schleiermacher. It is this Hegelian understanding of the concept of actuality that Kierkegaard seems not to have grasped.” The words said are exactly the same as before. and claimed that the gun in question does not match up to this ideal. To voice his dissatisfaction and displeasure with one of the new kinds of gun on offer.80 Idealism and Existentialism says to the other parents present. i. This is what Hegel means with the claim that the actual is the rational. dealer and enthusiast who receives a catalogue with new guns advertised. it must display some element of the rational Idea. that once during his Hegelian period. the old market] and asked me what relationship obtained between philosophy and actuality [Virkelighed].”4 For Sibbern it was an obvious point that philosophy is precisely a study of actuality. His work generally falls within the paradigm of German idealist thought. But Kierkegaard’s question . he says: “That is not a real gun. Things which do not show some such rationality of course still exist but are not proper objects of scientific inquiry. presumably some time during Kierkegaard’s years as a student. “That is not a real gun. however. He recalls: “But I do remember. The object in question does not function like a gun. For something to be real. The professor of philosophy at the University of Copenhagen. because the gist of the whole of my philosophy was the study of life and actuality [Virkelighed].

If a person were to bring his clothes to be pressed. I wish to argue that Kierkegaard does not share the general view of ethics held by Kant.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Hegel 81 seems to posit some kind of dichotomy. Fichte. among other things. he would be duped. As is well known.e.” There one reads: “What philosophers say about actuality [Virkelighed] is often just as disappointing as it is when one reads on a sign in a second-hand shop: Pressing Done Here. Letters to friends and family in Copenhagen indicate that the young Kierkegaard was fascinated by Schelling’s initial lectures precisely because he intended to give an account of “actuality. 1842). Here. The question that I wish to raise in this chapter is what do these misunderstandings tell us about Kierkegaard’s understanding of ethics? I ultimately wish to argue that they indicate that he consistently has a different conception of this category and thus of the relation of philosophy to life. 1841 to March 6. he can hardly control his enthusiasm. perhaps. it is easy to interpret this statement as autobiographical. and subsequent letters describe how Kierkegaard loses patience with both the lectures and Schelling himself. . The embryonic child of thought leapt within me . when he mentioned the word “actuality” in connection with the relation of philosophy to actuality. This one word recalled all my philosophical pains and sufferings. simply as what exists. to attend Schelling’s famous lectures. i. I remember almost every word he said after that. 5 This enthusiasm did not last long. German idealism understands philosophy as the analysis of abstract concepts and thus gives . Hegel and others. which is why Sibbern does not understand the question. writing: I am so happy to have heard Schelling’s second lecture—indescribably. A second anecdote dates from when Kierkegaard was in Berlin (from October 25. for the sign is merely for sale.”6 Given Kierkegaard’s disappointment with Schelling. It is odd that Kierkegaard. who was otherwise so interested in philosophy. I have been pining and thinking mournful thoughts long enough.” In one letter. he made the trip. Either/Or. . clarity can be achieved. Here Kierkegaard seems to understand “actuality” not in its technical philosophical sense but rather in the manner of common sense. as if philosophy were concerned with abstractions that have nothing to do with life and the world. During his time in Berlin Kierkegaard was working on his first major pseudonymous work. Its first volume contains an interesting reference to the philosophical treatment of the term “actuality. failed to understand that the term “actuality” was a technical one in the idealist tradition.

in Fear and Trembling (1843). his conception of ethics is not purely historical. His analysis attempts to follow the development of the rational ideas of ethics as they evolved over the course of history in their connection with other elements of society. where it is claimed that “the system. such as religion and government. According to Hegel’s holistic view. which correspond to this idea. he explores the different conceptions of ethics manifested in specific historical communities. The goal of the philosopher is then to recognize the rational elements.” presumably Hegelian philosophy. According to Hegel. for example. Kierkegaard rejects this conception in favor of the tradition of ancient philosophy conceived as Lebensphilosophie. these relations develop gradually and come to constitute the ethical life of a people. which makes it all the more enigmatic and in need of interpretation. I. His thesis is that this development is dictated by the Idea of freedom which slowly emerges in human history. In the Phenomenology of Spirit from 1807 and the posthumously published Lectures on the Philosophy of History. ideas about ethics and morality display a certain rationality and are thus proper objects of scholarly investigation. namely.7 Kierkegaard has his pseudonyms make this criticism in a number of places.10 It appears in extended form in The Book on Adler (ca.9 and in the journals and notebooks. in existing reality. Hegel’s Conception of Ethics Before the criticisms issued by Kierkegaard’s pseudonyms can be properly evaluated.82 Idealism and Existentialism to epistemology a central position.8 Stages on Life’s Way (1845). 1846–7) where Kierkegaard criticizes Adler for mistakenly making use of Hegel’s philosophy to guide his life morally. However. In the Philosophy of Right he offers his own theory of ethics by means of a portrayal of the truly rational state.11 The charge finds its most extended treatment in the Postscript. it will be necessary to come to terms with Hegel’s general conception of ethics. For Hegel. such as the Greeks and the Romans. the Concluding Unscientific Postscript (1846). has no ethics. the ideas of ethics and morality that a people hold are necessarily bound up . I will try to argue that this difference between Kierkegaard and German idealism can be seen in many scattered passages from. which ascribes to ethics a role of centrality and conceives of it in a very specific manner. I will argue that what lies behind it is a specific conception of ethics that is at odds with that of Hegel and the rest of the nineteenth century. Kierkegaard nowhere develops this criticism in detail.

Hegel says this directly in the Preface to the Philosophy of Right: “This textbook is a more extensive. i. In both the Phenomenology and the Philosophy of Right.e. are already contained in a previous work designed to accompany my lectures. There Kierkegaard has Judge William say: The philosopher declares: “This is the way it was up until now. Moreover. he offers extended criticisms of Kant’s ethical theory as being overly abstract. political and legal relations. and.12 Ethics thus clearly constitutes a part of Hegel’s system. He distinguishes between Sittlichkeit. Hegel’s theory of Sittlichkeit takes into account the many other relevant societal factors in its consideration of ethics. 1817).” I ask: “What am I supposed to do if I do not want to be a philosopher. like other philosophers. II. he examines the idea of justice and “right” in a more abstract way.e. this is not to say that Hegel is constructing some sort of utopia in the realm of the ideas. For this reason his Philosophy of Right is a theory not just about ethics but also about the political order. However. this is no answer to my question “What am I supposed to do?” for even if I had the most brilliant . abstracted from the specific historical relations which constitute the proper subject matter of the philosophy of history. For one thing. and so on.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Hegel 83 with a number of other beliefs and institutions. i. While Kant is concerned with Moralität in the abstract sense. appears as early as Either/Or. law. in particular. translated as “ethical life.” for if I want to be a philosopher.” and Moralität in order to capture just this point. exposition of some of the basic concepts which. In this work. The Charge That the System Lacks an Ethics Kierkegaard’s charge that Hegel’s system lacks an ethics appears in several different works. the section entitled “Objective Mind” from the Encyclopaedia. if not the formulation itself. will have to mediate the past. i. namely my Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences (Heidelberg.e.”13 It is hard to make sense of the charge that Hegel has forgotten to include an ethics in his system. examining the rationality of existing ethical. I am well aware that I. It is thus an error to attempt to understand ethics as an isolated element of a much larger whole. given that he has treated ethics in both the third part of the Encyclopaedia and the Philosophy of Right. both treatments play a substantive role in his system as a whole. work relations. a more systematic. He insists that he is exploring the Idea in actuality. in relation to this part of philosophy. The criticism. familial relations.

ethics rarely involves itself with a question like this. These days. . one of the traditional fields of philosophical inquiry. and has omitted the one thing needful. the “system” in question is presumably that of Hegel or one of his Danish disciples. although Hegel’s name is not associated with it.84 Idealism and Existentialism philosophic mind there ever was. was brought to completion—without having an ethics. The formulation itself is found for the first time in Fear and Trembling. then one obtains a system in which one has everything. The irony lies in the idea of a completed system which lacks such an essential element. in which it is explicitly associated with Hegel.” Here he refers to “someone who has been lent the helping hand . either in Fear and Trembling or Stages on Life’s Way. certainly everyone will also perceive that what another author has observed regarding the Hegelian system is entirely in order: that through Hegel a system. The reason must be that the system has no room for it. of the system and thereby in turn the beggar’s staff. in the context of a discussion about what he calls “inclosing reserve” and “the demonic.”16 The most detailed presentation comes in the Concluding Unscientific Postscript. the absolute system.14 This seems to implicitly criticize Hegel’s philosophy for encouraging people to meditate on history rather than their own lives. everything else. it is pernicious since it permits people the illusion that they are concerned with genuine ethical considerations when in fact they are not. . While the formulation that Hegel’s system lacks an ethics does not yet appear here. In one passage. there must be something more I have to do besides sitting and contemplating the past. Only if one is so circumspect as to want to construct a system without including ethics does it work. There Kierkegaard has his pseudonym write: “Accordingly. The apparent criticism that the system lacks an ethics is not elaborated on in Fear and Trembling. Moreover. Judge William finds this historical approach to ethics unsatisfactory since it leaves the central ethical issues untouched. It appears again (also without elaboration) in Stages on Life’s Way. . this examination must constantly wander into the territory of ethics. .”17 Here Kierkegaard’s pseudonym Johannes Climacus ironically notes that Hegel had the presumption to set forth a complete philosophical system but yet forgot to include an ethics. He writes: “. Kierkegaard seems to allude to the comments of his previous pseudonym. Such an omission would seem to be an egregious oversight. the idea nonetheless seems to be present. .”15 Given the popularity of Hegelian philosophy at the time. while in order to be of consequence it must seize the problem with aesthetic fervor and desire.

as is evident from the very existence of the Philosophy of Right. is especially intent upon advancing the ethical. why does he nonetheless persist in claiming that Hegel has no ethics? III. Kierkegaard’s “existential” view of ethics precludes reducing it to a scientific explanation or grounding it in rationality. This response. This gap can only be spanned by a free decision of the individual. Hegel did indeed have an ethics. Kierkegaard’s position is presented as a series of repeated one-liners rather than a developed philosophical critique. presented by an existing individual for existing individuals. is finished—without having an ethics (the very home of existence). justification and discursive reason.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Hegel 85 From here it is only a short step to the charge that Hegel and his followers are absent-minded since they have forgotten ethics. the other simpler philosophy. which I wish to argue lies at the base of the criticism. “Whereas the Hegelian system in absent-mindedness goes ahead and becomes a system of existence.22 Given this familiarity. which lacks an ethics. Kierkegaard continues.20 and he alludes to its section “The Good and Conscience” in Fear and Trembling 21 and Practice in Christianity.19 but they add little to the ones presented here.”18 Here Hegel’s philosophy. every attempt to justify a given action must necessarily fail. is contrasted with an unspecified alternative philosophy which is genuinely concerned with the ethical. There are other passages in the Postscript where this criticism appears. For Climacus. which comprised a substantive part of his philosophical system. The Meta-Ethical Issue This discussion points to a much larger meta-ethical issue. He quotes from the Philosophy of Right directly in The Concept of Irony. Why does Kierkegaard insist that Hegel had no ethics? Hegel apologists are quick to respond that Kierkegaard is simply mistaken since. does not solve any of the interpretive problems. The question seems to turn on what an ethical theory in general is and can reasonably be expected to do. We know that Kierkegaard was familiar with the Philosophy of Right and the account of ethics that appears there.” characterized by a concern for evidence. and what is more. but rather makes them more acute. it seems that Kierkegaard and his pseudonyms have a radically different view from most of his early-nineteenth-century contemporaries. which he refers to as “objective thinking. Climacus distinguishes between the realm of science. however. since there is always a gap between the reasons and arguments given for an act and the demands of morality. and the realm of religious belief and . On this point.

This. This seems to be the most straightforward interpretation. he is not denying that Hegel had a theory of ethics in the Philosophy of Right. To include ethics in the system is to make ethics into something that it is not and to confuse the spheres of the subjective and the objective. . and at fault if he does not. Climacus’ main criticism seems to be of people who use the methods of objective thinking to justify their beliefs or actions. He regards such justifications as self-serving and inappropriate. which is fundamentally foreign to its nature. The realm of objectivity is the realm of necessity. but complaining that Hegel did not give an account of the individual. or “subjective thinking. Likewise. Hegel is guilty not because he fails to include ethics in his system but because he includes a pseudo-ethics which mistakenly applies an objective. The objects of subjective thinking do not lend themselves to quantifiability or precision. no degree of objective knowledge can determine the morally correct response to a given situation. but it is not and cannot be the object of scholarly inquiry or what Hegel calls “science. when Climacus says that Hegel has no ethics.” Science entails examination of the Idea that is universal. Kierkegaard’s conception of being aware of one’s existence may be valid in and of itself. Hegel is thus at fault if he includes ethics in the system.” which is the sphere of individual choice. For Hegel.e. qua individual. and does not apply to an individual’s existence or self-understanding. (2) Hegel is misguided insofar as his obsession for tracing the Idea in history. Thus. which by its very nature is particular. Climacus rejects the conception of ethics held by Hegel and the German idealist tradition. and making the former inapplicable to ethics.86 Idealism and Existentialism ethics. Thus. has led him to forget what a true account of ethics entails. clearly falls outside of what Hegel considers to be science. and thus for understanding ethics as a historical phenomenon. but remain a matter of individual choice. whereas that of subjectivity is the sphere of human freedom. however. he distorts the nature of the subject matter and turns it into something different. No degree of rigorous logic or scientific knowledge can ever prove or disprove the existence of God to the individual. in that person’s self-relation or existence. By distinguishing the realm of the objective from that of the subjective. it is a misunderstanding to apply it to the objects of religious belief or ethics. things that properly belong to the other sphere. According to this interpretation. There seem to be at least two identifiable strands of Kierkegaard’s criticism: (1) Hegel is simply absent-minded since he has forgotten to include ethics in his system. While objective thinking is appropriate for the subject matter of science. i. scientific account to an object from the sphere of subjectivity.

Kierkegaard’s Alternative Conception of Ethics It is clear that Kierkegaard and Hegel have completely different conceptions of ethics. I wish simply to identify two aspects of Kierkegaard’s positive ethical view. However. While Hegel conceives of ethics as a part of science and thus as specific abstract subject matter which displays the Idea. I in no way wish to imply that Kierkegaard had anything resembling what we would now consider a fully developed ethical theory. If the second is correct.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Hegel 87 but not to include ethics in the system amounts to absent-mindedness. The omission would thus merit praise rather than criticism. That it is in principle impossible for Hegel to escape these criticisms. Instead of making any strong claim about Kierkegaard’s ethical theory as such. but on their own they remain scattered remarks. I now want to try to sketch more precisely what Kierkegaard’s conception of ethics as Lebensphilosophie amounts to. one a Christian aspect and one a Greek aspect. A. Kierkegaard conceives of it in a much less academic sense as a kind of philosophy of life. regardless of how he could respond. Indeed. the two strands of the criticism are in a sense incompatible. With this account. Kierkegaard and Christian Ethics The Christian aspect of Kierkegaard’s ethical thinking is undeniable. In his . His book Works of Love (1847) straightforwardly sketches a Christian ethic. then there remains the second interpretation. can be taken to indicate that there is something fundamentally wrong with them. But what is Kierkegaard’s conception of ethics? IV. then it contradicts the first since if ethics is in fact something that belongs to the realm of subjectivity. If one then rejects the first interpretation of the criticism as untenable. which seems to be Kierkegaard’s stronger case. this understanding makes the criticism question-begging since it presupposes that Hegel understands ethics in the same sense that Kierkegaard does. The omission of an ethics could be interpreted as indicating that the system had appropriately recognized its proper limits and remained within them. then there would be no reason to expect Hegel or anyone else to include it in a philosophical system. The various scattered remarks that he makes about ethics throughout his authorship might provide some of the building blocks for a reconstruction of such a theory.

The philosophical question that this raises is whether Kierkegaard’s views amount to yet another theory of ethics that is too abstract to offer useful guidance in specific situations. and repeating it by means of a specific action. however. Kierkegaard returns again and again to the question of what it means to exist as an individual human being. In ethics the question takes the following form: how does the individual ethical situation match up to the abstract moral . Instead.”23 Understood in the context of ethics. This is precisely what Kierkegaard criticizes other ethical theories for. The ethical demand that this enjoins is that one keep one’s sinfulness and mortality in focus at all times. The goal is to appropriate the awareness of these facts and this Christian message in one’s daily actions. this can be taken to mean that Kierkegaard came to reject purely philosophical accounts of ethics. For him. This is one of the dangers that Kierkegaard perceives as facing his age. his account of repetition. The concept of repetition involves appropriating a general principle or idea.88 Idealism and Existentialism brief On My Work as an Author (1851). Kierkegaard is engaged in the oldest problem in philosophy—the problem of reconciling universality and particularity. the fundamental facts of life that carry with them a general demand for how one should live one’s life. the basic facts of existence are sin and death. for example.” from the speculative—to the indication of the most inward qualification of the essentially Christian. He criticizes modern Christians for having become so absorbed in the trivialities of their daily lives that they have lost sight of these fundamental facts. Kierkegaard. These are. and is important for his notion that secular accounts of ethics are fundamentally inadequate. Similarly. Let us consider. The Christian message forms the foundation of Kierkegaard’s general view of ethics.” from the aesthetic— from “the philosopher. and worked toward a Christian account. They forget their sinfulness and mortality. appropriation or reduplication in order to capture the challenge involved. gives no fixed formulas about how to appropriate the Christian message in the individual case. Kierkegaard describes his authorship as an alternative to speculative philosophy: “The movement the authorship describes is: from “the poet. for Kierkegaard.24 which represents one attempt to overcome this difficulty. he develops concepts such as repetition. and thus the requirements for their individual redemption. the Hegelian philosophers have become distracted in their passion for the past and have thus lost the larger perspective about what is truly important. This is the non-discursive or non-objective aspect of it. along with an awareness of the basic Christian message about the possibility of redemption via the forgiveness of sin.

as a Christian. There seems to be some pretension of resolving the philosophical problem better than the philosophers themselves. and concrete action. he criticizes Hegel’s concept of mediation and posits his own notion of repetition as an alternative. the question then arises why he rebukes philosophers for being overly abstract and thereby irrelevant in their statements about ethics. if the only moral requirement is to freely appropriate the moral law as one sees fit and take responsibility for the results. Indeed. That this is a genuine implication of Kierkegaard’s position is confirmed by the fact that in Fear and Trembling. One could argue that. indeed. and then embody it in one’s action. as Sartre argues. Radically different and even mutually exclusive moral perspectives can still pass Kant’s test of universalizability without falling into a self-contradiction. The problem that arises here is that this seems to lead to a kind of subjectivism. Thus. The concept of repetition appears to suffer from the same shortcomings. One must determine how the principle fits the individual situation. Thus. this is the heart of the notion of appropriation. but Kierkegaard is not worried about it. Thus.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Hegel 89 law? This is a notorious problem with Kant’s moral theory.26 . However. Kierkegaard tries to argue for allowing for cases in which the individual counts as an exception to universal morality. the categorical imperative remains indeterminate without further tests or principles to eliminate some of the competing possibilities for action. Kierkegaard’s position on the old ethical problem of reconciling the universal with the particular can lead to problematic results. he is not interested in philosophical problems. then the door appears wide open for willfully evil actions. His view seems to be that all general ethical principles must be interpreted by the individual. and cannot slavishly follow a fixed rule or indifferently determine one’s action on the basis of a utility calculus. which appeared the same day as Repetition. One must take responsibility for one’s own moral life. to appeal to such rules would be to seek an excuse and to flee from one’s own freedom and responsibility. There is thus an absolute or transcendent gap between the ideal realm of ethical principles. this opens up the possibility of evil masquerading in the guise of the moral conscience. As Hegel has pointed out in the Philosophy of Right. Kierkegaard is not concerned with the indeterminacy of the moral law since it merely puts the focus back on the individual moral agent and his or her freedom to interpret and act on it. Indeed. Hegel and others criticized his categorical imperative as ultimately empty since it is too abstract to offer clear and determinate guidance in particular situations.25 Thus.

30 . . As Himmelstrup’s still standard study has demonstrated. . Kierkegaard and Ancient Greek Lebensphilosophie Kierkegaard’s conception of philosophy resembles what is sometimes called Lebensphilosophie.28 The clearest proof for this can be found in The Moment where Kierkegaard. where it has been replaced by conceptual analysis. gave up the fathoming of physical things. For these schools. . Epicureanism and Skepticism. who rebukes the Christian sophists for their unreflective and misguided views of Christianity. my task is a Socratic task. In Prefaces. . at the end of his life. That Kierkegaard understands philosophy as Lebensphilosophie and thus has more in common with the ancients than with modern philosophers is evidenced in a number of ways. which is interested in knowledge or a veridical picture of reality for its own sake. because it did not abandon people for the purpose of sounding like a voice from the clouds but remained on the earth. Kierkegaard also seems to have consciously tried to follow Socrates’ practice of philosophizing on the streets with the common people. Kierkegaard has his pseudonym refer to this aspect of Socrates’ life as follows: The beautiful Greek scholarship . or philosophy of life. Kierkegaard’s long fascination with the figure of Socrates provides clear evidence of a different conception of ethics than that found in the work of modern philosophers. something that was understood particularly by that man who gave up art. This conception of philosophy has generally disappeared from mainstream modern philosophy. to audit the defi nition of what it is to be a Christian—I do not call myself a Christian (keeping the ideal free). a theoretical representation of external reality was always secondary or subordinate to what one might call the fundamental questions of the good life. He was known by everyone in Copenhagen for his daily walks around the city. is so very beneficial to engage in .27 His conception has much in common with the ancient Greek schools of Stoicism.90 Idealism and Existentialism B. writes the following: “The only analogy I have before me is Socrates. in the marketplace.” 29 Here he sees himself as the Socrates of Copenhagen. among the occupations of people. and then began to philosophize in the workshops and in the marketplace. Kierkegaard made use of Socrates in a number of different works and seemed to use him as a personal model for his own life. but I can make it manifest that the others are even less so. where he was often seen speaking at length with different people from every corner of the social spectrum.

modern philosophy has become abstracted from life and as a result has come to treat pseudo-problems that have nothing to do with what is most important. who also presented examples of vice for moral criticism. There are a couple of places where Kierkegaard makes explicit his preference for ancient Greek philosophy in contrast to modern philosophy. His model. thinkers would indeed make a totally different impression on people. despite the fact that some of the Greeks portrayed in Diogenes Laertius’ Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (which was one of Kierkegaard’s favorite books) were rather odd and idiosyncratic characters. Perhaps the most obvious example is his denunciation of the corruption of the priesthood as public officials in his attack on the Church. Just as Socrates philosophized “in the workshops and in the marketplace.” so also ancient Greek philosophy in general kept focused on the true problems of existence and thereby on philosophy. Socrates. he assumes a moral tone and denounces those who do not match up to his conception of New Testament Christianity. in the Concluding Unscientific Postscript he writes: “If in our own day thinking had not become something strange. they were passionate about the genuine issues of existence and were willing to live their lives . where a thinker was also an ardent existing person impassioned by his thinking. something second-hand. the goal of the moderns is to come up with a consistent principle from which a reasoned theory of ethics will issue. This provides the context for Kierkegaard’s frequent criticism of the professional philosopher or the Privatdocent. He constantly criticized those who held university positions and. and differs markedly from the manner of presenting modern ethical theories. to his mind.”33 Kierkegaard lauds the authenticity of the Greek ethical project. For example. the modern sophists. By contrast. Another indication that Kierkegaard conceives of philosophy as a philosophy of life lies in his moralism. In the Concluding Unscientific Postscript.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Hegel 91 The agenda of the Greek philosophers is thus more to Kierkegaard’s taste than that of the modern philosophers whom he criticizes. While the goal of the ancients was to improve the moral character of the individual.31 leading the youth astray and making them forget their true ethical obligations. and therefore never accepted a fee for teaching. University philosophers are. Like the ancient Stoics. Despite the oddness of their doctrines and lives. insisted that he never taught anyone anything.32 This kind of moralizing corresponds well to that of the ancients. for Kierkegaard. he also criticizes the teachers of Hegel’s philosophy for playing tricks on people. as was the case in Greece. Kierkegaard’s conception of ethics is thus one that places him squarely in the tradition of Lebensphilosophie. thereby betrayed the true nature of philosophy.

as a way of living. Seen in this light. who were supposed to judge the work.”35 Helweg also quotes The Concept of Irony itself: “If our generation has any task at all. “In Greece .e. It will be noted that this is less an academic enterprise than a question of living. Hans Friedrich Helweg. He notes that it was not a conventional dissertation. This was noted by one of Kierkegaard’s contemporaries. it is not without its problems. to appropriate it personally. it must be to translate the achievement of scientific scholarship into personal life. “The members of the Faculty of Philosophy. any given ethical action must also be informed by some ostensible ethical principle. in which several pages are dedicated to Kierkegaard’s The Concept of Irony. He understands ethics rather as the ancients understood it. and Socrates provided him with a model. Helweg writes. Kierkegaard seems to mean to keep in focus one’s finitude and mortality. Any theory of ethics must have both a theoretical and a practical aspect. however. Kierkegaard thus sought to emulate some aspects of ancient Greek thought with respect to ethics. as evidenced by his consistently critical comments about academic philosophy.92 Idealism and Existentialism in accordance with their beliefs. Again in contrast to modern philosophy. Although Kierkegaard was himself a prolific writer.”34 By this. Helweg gives an account of the history of Danish Hegelianism. that here it was not a question of giving a solution to an academic problem but of a task of life. forgets. in his view. . he was nevertheless sympathetic to this view. theory must be informed by practice and . There is thus a dialectic of theory and practice in all ethical thought. it would probably be a mistake to expect Kierkegaard to provide an extended ethical theory as such. which he regards as being corrupt and having missed the point of what true philosophy is about. On the one hand. i. i. it is clear that he understands ethics differently from Hegel and other modern ethical theorists such as Kant and Mill. On the other hand.e. To be sure. In an article published after Kierkegaard’s death in 1855. When Kierkegaard criticizes Hegel for having no ethics. . and differed markedly from a standard academic work of the time. attention was paid to what it means to exist. which modern philosophy. If this view is somewhat sympathetic. and any theory that fails to do so can be rightly criticized as too abstract. how to live one’s life. Kierkegaard appears as a reactionary or an anachronism in modern philosophy. hardly suspected that in this effort of a young author they had not so much a qualification for the degree of Magister but a program for life. it must lend itself to being applied in practice.”36 Given this. Many of the ancient Greek philosophers never wrote anything.

which seemed unrelated to the concrete facts of individual existence. and he expected Schelling to develop it not in accordance with his own philosophy but in the direction of the meaning that Kierkegaard had already established for it. It was already a loaded term for him. When this did not happen. as something concerned with one’s own individual existence. attentively listening to Schelling’s lectures. but practice must also be informed by theory. when he heard the word “actuality” mentioned. Likewise. One can imagine the young Kierkegaard in Berlin. when he found Sibbern’s philosophy too abstract and removed from daily life. he asked what the relation of that philosophy was to actuality.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Hegel 93 the real world. and at the same time much more problematic. even at an early stage. Kierkegaard’s misunderstanding as described in the anecdote resulted from his presupposing a certain conception of the word “actuality. This misunderstanding seems to indicate that Kierkegaard. who understand the term in the technical sense given it by the idealist tradition in which they are working. He was then disappointed with the philosophers’ use of the term since they used it in a technical sense. about Kierkegaard’s misunderstanding of the category of actuality. since they were both simply following the standard philosophical usage of the word at the time. But Kierkegaard’s disappointment with both Sibbern and Schelling was predetermined by his own conception of the term and ultimately had little to do with their thought as such. Let us now return to the two anecdotes that we began with. Kierkegaard’s considerations do not do much to resolve this dialectic if his rejection of Hegel’s ethical theory amounts to simply a rejection of all theory as such. He thus understands “actuality” in the common-sense manner. This understanding precludes any dialogue with philosophers such as Hegel or Schelling. . Thus. he was disappointed. His model for this conception comes primarily from Socrates and ancient Greek philosophy. these anecdotes can be explained in a way that makes Kierkegaard’s relation to the rest of the early nineteenth century more clear. had a conception of philosophy fundamentally different from the one then reigning in Denmark and the German states.” which was key to his own existential project.

”2 He criticizes the students of the day for being absorbed in the former. .1 Alternatively. who had jumped on the latest intellectual bandwagon—at the time Hegel’s philosophy—in lieu of reflecting on their own ethical decisions and actions. theorizing about obscure and ultimately meaningless issues. The irony is obvious: the philosopher claims to have profound insight into the secrets of the universe. The picture that Kierkegaard seems to want to convey is that of a philosopher out of touch not only with the world around him but. Hegel constructs a pretentious philosophical system. suffering. philosophy [is] in the area of contemplation. frailty. . in the second volume of Either/Or.”4 Here the Judge has in . which claims to explain everything but overlooks what is most fundamental to human existence and what cannot be explained by means of discursive reason. oblivious to the most significant issues of human existence. makes a distinction between “the sphere of thought” and “the sphere of freedom.”3 His criticism is aimed at students at the University of Copenhagen. The Judge explains that while the sphere of freedom is “situated in the area of action. He deliberately evokes the well-known caricature of a scholar living in an ivory tower. Judge William. and fails to take into account the realm of actuality and existence. such as life. sin and devotion. but neglects his or her own existence. where the defender of the bourgeois social order. It is not by accident that he appeals to the concept of “the comic” to illustrate this. for example. death.Chapter 6 Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Abstraction and His Proposed Solution: Appropriation One of Kierkegaard’s best-known criticisms of Hegel’s philosophy is that it is overly abstract. Such a philosopher never loses touch with the real world and the genuine problems found there. This criticism is formulated in many different ways throughout Kierkegaard’s corpus. more importantly. lost in today’s favorite philosophy. This appears. This picture stands in sharp contrast to a philosopher such as Socrates—one of Kierkegaard’s inspirations—who pursues his vocation not in the lecture hall but in the marketplace. expressing his dismay at the sight of “a host of young people .

i. has its demands. While. Here the emphasis is not so much on action itself but on the conditions for it. according to the Judge. with philosophers who have great insight into history but are lost and disoriented in their own world. in the Postscript. subjective thinking. to be sure. of precisely defining the boundaries of each of these spheres. which should be one’s prime concern. and I honor its devotees.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Abstraction 95 mind a specific kind of contemplation that is concerned with the development of world history. science and logic. It is a criticism of what Kierkegaard perceives to be a more general tendency of scientific.7 Such knowledge comes too late to help in current decision-making aimed at reforming the world. His impassioned appeal is not to do away with science or rationalistic thinking. rational thinking that characterizes philosophy and the sciences.e.” which is characterized by inwardness and passion. which plays a central role in Hegel’s thought. Kierkegaard now acknowledges that subjectivity is a form of thinking but considers it to be a special kind. The Judge explains: “I respect scholarship. rather than the realm of thought.” 9 It is this realm of freedom. the criticism is far broader than an attack just on Hegel or his followers.) The Judge believes this approach is barren when one is faced with the real questions of life.”5 The distinction between scholarship and life is essential here since it implies that scholarship is concerned with something other than real experience.” which is characterized by discursive reason. the philosopher can gain insight into the workings of the world only after the fact. The distinction. the immediate occasion for these criticisms was probably the Danish or German proponents of Hegel’s philosophy in Kierkegaard’s day. it is. where Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous author is at pains to distinguish “objective thinking (or knowing). but to keep it within its proper sphere—thus the urgency. The Judge characterizes this future-oriented approach with the expression “either/or. which is fundamentally different from the discursive.8 The goal should be rather to focus on oneself in the sense of trying to understand the significance and meaning of one’s own existence. entirely empty when it comes to the life of the individual. between the spheres of thought and freedom is replaced by a new one in the Concluding Unscientific Postscript. too.6 (As Hegel says with his famous Owl of Minerva image. from “subjective thinking. but life. The idea seems to be that one can become fixated or mesmerized by the movements of spirit through the conflicts of world-historical peoples. scholarly or philosophical thinking and knowing to encroach on the sphere of religion. He paints a picture of futility. It is clear that he wants to establish a . found in Either/Or. However interesting and insightful this kind of historical knowledge might be for certain academic pursuits.

with the help of these so-called “existential” categories. which is disparate from. change. self-redoubling (Selvfordoblelse). and especially German idealism. Marx and Engels seconded this charge and went on to criticize Feuerbach for being too abstract. For example. However. one should be wary of this criticism as with the stereotype of the abstract or otherworldly philosopher mentioned above. characterized by some of the terms listed above. the realm of science. Indeed.96 Idealism and Existentialism realm of religious faith (and perhaps even ethics). In other words. appropriation is the wider concept. repetition (Gjentagelse). this notion is closely related to a complex constellation of concepts: reduplication (Reduplikation).10 This is thus a wellrehearsed reproach among thinkers hoping to improve on the theories of their forerunners. Feuerbach criticized Hegel for being too abstract. his own positive position is considerably more difficult to understand. While the negative criticism seems reasonably clear. synthesis. and so on. Kierkegaard had to work out a way to do so while avoiding the problems of abstract thinking that. His concern is that this religious sphere is dismissed or forgotten by those fi xated on the objective sphere and abstract thinking. Appropriation is a central concept in Kierkegaard’s thinking. Throughout his authorship. double reflection (Dobbelt-Reflexion). which consists of specific stages. . redoubling (Fordoblelse). to lead us away from philosophical abstraction and to point in the direction of what is required for us. characterize most of the modern philosophical tradition. Hegel himself criticized Kant’s ethics as being overly abstract. as individuals. he attempts to work out a number of concepts that he claims are closer to the realm of existence and actuality than the abstract categories of philosophy. movement. In Kierkegaard’s authorship. if for no other reason than that it too has been repeated so often that it has become an empty cliché. to his mind. to achieve authentic faith (and realworld ethical action). inward deepening (Inderliggjørelse). not only because it runs through his entire authorship but also because it seems to be the key to understanding most of the other “existential” concepts just mentioned. I will attempt to interpret at least some of these as individual aspects of the general notion of appropriation. It should be noted that the charge of abstraction was of course not an uncommon criticism of Hegel at the time. His goal is. and irreducible to. The question that I wish to address is how successful he was. In this chapter I wish to explore Kierkegaard’s proposed solution to the problem by means of the notion of “appropriation” (Tilegnelse). Given that his mission was to rescue this religious sphere from its perceived encroachment.

and then interprets it in the context of one’s specific situation. In any case.12 . law or command. This is probably the sense in which we are most accustomed to hearing the term used.” I submit. implies a relation between. which constitutes the point of departure. Despite one’s desire to get married. as it were.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Abstraction 97 Since Kierkegaard uses this concept in many different works. or other preferences. I must also openly confess that my reading is in large measure a construct on Kierkegaard’s behalf. To participate in the ceremony in an honest and authentic way. one may feel the need to modify the objectionable aspects of it. I will be obliged to skip around a bit in his authorship in order to analyze it. universal pot of funds and then allocated to a particular pot intended for a particular end. let us take a moment to examine our own intuitions about the fundamental meaning of the term in question. within acceptable limits. the money is taken from a common.e. But I do believe that something like the reconstruction I am attempting is what lies behind many rather cryptic passages in his authorship. one might well have reservations about certain aspects of the ceremony in its traditional form. religious beliefs. In none of Kierkegaard’s texts is the concept of appropriation laid out in the way that I will present it here. Moreover. by means of certain specific modifications.11 One starts with an abstract principle. Universal rules or codes of conduct are modified to fit particular individuals. The concept of “appropriation. the universal to the particular. In this way the universal. with a specific action as a result: the literal meaning of the Latin word “appropriatio” (or its verbal form “appropriare”) is “making something one’s own. i. most of the relevant passages come from works in the second half of the authorship. to suit his or her own individual moral disposition. becomes particular. for whatever reason. after 1846. or a movement from. Another example might be a wedding ceremony. much of my analysis will focus on scattered passages in the Concluding Unscientific Postscript. The Basic Concept of Appropriation Before exploring this concept in Kierkegaard’s works. This can be regarded as a universal. in order to make it better conform to one’s own moral scruples.” When a government appropriates funds for a given project. The person can then be said to have appropriated the ceremony in the sense of having revised it. taste. My goal with this reconstruction is to see if Kierkegaard manages to overcome the problems of abstraction for which he criticizes his predecessors and contemporaries. I. This said.

and then one must determine how it should be manifested. The benevolent impulse must somehow be transformed into action by helping. Thus. There are presumably an infinite number of forms of appropriation of the same rule. the forms of modification must take place within certain limits. on its own. is purely formal. In short. One can make a number of changes to the wedding ceremony.98 Idealism and Existentialism For appropriation to occur. and what are the criteria for mistaken or wrongful appropriation. character and desire of the individual. This is the guarantee that the person is appropriating something abstract or universal. for example. Kierkegaard’s Stages of Appropriation Let us now turn to Kierkegaard’s understanding of this concept. innumerable different kinds of action could all be taken as an appropriation of the original command. and not merely discarding it and making up something completely different. the Christian command to love one’s neighbor. or supporting others. but both could appeal to the same law or principle in the abstract as the justification and basis for their action. it must somehow reflect the universal. as it were. but enough of the original must remain for it to count as a legally binding and socially meaningful event. Thus there seem to be two key features of appropriation: first. we wish to see how he attempts to overcome the problem of indeterminacy of interpretation. The concept. the concept of appropriation would simply be replaced by one of. outlined above. We will be specifically interested in exploring what the criteria are for proper or authentic appropriation. One must decide what “love” means in this context. and second. It will be noted that this analysis offers no guidelines about how we should appropriate the universal. which was the original point of departure. since the content must be applied by the individual doing the appropriating. comforting. II. it must take the form of a particular event or action in accordance with the wishes. on its own. The hardened criminal will presumably appropriate a given law or moral principle in a radically different way from the saint. is so general that it requires one to make a series of interpretive moves before any concrete action can follow from it. where the event can no longer be recognized as a wedding. ex nihilo creation. if one continues to make modifications indefinitely. To merely have a certain mental sympathy towards others would presumably be insufficient. some of which may be mutually contradictory. there must at some point come a qualitative change. . Put differently. This command. Consider. Without this kind of limitation.

then there arises the difficulty that he himself must communicate to himself something from the sphere of his inner development in the same sense as from the spheres of art. moreover. A. Clear textual evidence for this comes in a footnote to his posthumously published “Open Letter to Professor Heiberg. in contrast with objective knowing. where there is no radical break or difference. Thus. every . which is continuous. he has his pseudonymous author write: “Not . science. it must transcend the inwardness of the individual and extend out into the world of action and activity.”13 Here appropriation is understood as a “continuous producing” as exemplified by Kierkegaard and Heiberg’s “continuous producing” by writing or “with pen and ink. In the Concluding Unscientific Postscript. as a movement or process.” This puts appropriation on the same level as objective knowing. an inward dimension of appropriation. This external action is different in kind from the internal and thus represents a significant break. it is an enduring process and not a spontaneous or instantaneous event.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Abstraction 99 The first thing to note is that Kierkegaard’s concept of appropriation is best conceived as dynamic rather than static. While there is. The Object of Appropriation: Christianity The first obvious question in any analysis of the concept of appropriation is what it is that is being appropriated. If in the strictest sense it is to be understood as a continuous producing (with pen and ink).” written in response to Johan Ludvig Heiberg’s critical remarks about Repetition. In what follows I will attempt to identify the stages of this development. this inward dimension constantly produces something external. There one reads: If by the development of the individual you have not understood in the strictest sense a continuous producing but rather a development in which the individual remains within himself. to be sure. although the appropriation is indeed precisely his inner development. acquires here by being “taken in a higher sense. nulla dies sine linea. This passage thus supports the interpretation of appropriation as a complex concept that is to be conceived developmentally. . . Kierkegaard is interested in the appropriation of Christianity or the Christian message. then there is no perception of the profound meaning which the motto. and social intercourse.” Kierkegaard is critical of the idea of appropriation as a case where “the individual remains within himself.

“We have believed that in such and such a year the god appeared in the humble form of a servant. and offers immortality to all who accept his grace. Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous author. What is at issue is whether Christianity should be the object of subjective or objective knowing. speculating. Christianity contains a universal message for all human beings. referring to the historical generation of people who lived contemporaneously with Christ: Even if the contemporary generation had not left anything behind except these words. and then died”—that is more than enough. Being universal.15 From this passage it is clear that the actual information that one must have for belief is quite minimal. it constitutes for him a special and unique case due to reasons that we will need to explore. What it especially depends upon is appropriation. He seems to believe that the details are unimportant in this context. Kierkegaard writes the following in Philosophical Fragments. The contemporary generation would have done what is needful. The key thing is the universal message that must be the starting point for appropriation. .”14 Thus. which are far from intuitive and therefore in need of detailed clarification by means of Christian dogmatics. that one will live and die in it. that one appropriates and holds fast this doctrine in a way entirely different from the way one holds anything else. There we read: The inquiring. lived and taught among us. But Kierkegaard is not interested in developing dogmatic concepts in this way. Johannes Climacus.100 Idealism and Existentialism acceptance of the Christian doctrine makes one a Christian. This minimalist statement tacitly implies several key dogmas. In this context Kierkegaard seems to maintain a minimalist conception of Christianity: God became human. and the most prolix report can never in all eternity become more for the person who comes later. it thus represents the starting point for the movement of appropriation. this world-historical nota bene. etc. died for our sins. knowing subject accordingly asks about the truth but not about the subjective truth. risk one’s life for it. while Christianity may show some of the same general structural characteristics as other forms of appropriation. for this little announcement. At the beginning of the Concluding Unscientific Postscript. is enough to become an occasion for someone who comes later. discusses appropriation in connection with Christianity at the same time as he introduces the aforementioned distinction between objective and subjective knowing. the truth of appropriation.

The objective or speculative thinker examines. it is automatically included as part of the bargain. along the same lines. While the objective thinker may well gain new knowledge in the sense of accumulating new facts. it must be understood personally by an individual. Precisely this is the basis of the scholar’s elevated calm and the parroter’s comical thoughtlessness.” The idea here is clearly connected to the Christian doctrines of salvation.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Abstraction 101 Accordingly. geology. Every human being has a clear self-interest in these matters. Christian or not. for example. “With regard to the subject’s relation to known truth. Another element involved in the appropriation of Christianity is what Kierkegaard refers to repeatedly as one’s “infinite interest” or “eternal happiness. He writes. this is not an example of appropriation since the question is never raised about the individual’s own relation to those facts. One cannot be indifferent to the question of one’s own immortality in the way one can be indifferent to knowledge about. he believes. portraying the perspective of the objective thinker. and am Ende the individual is a matter of indifference. Again in the Postscript Kierkegaard gives a hint about a mistaken understanding of appropriation. and letting the historical or philosophical questions drop into the background. Here the relation is of a particular to a universal. the inquiring subject is indeed interested but is not infinitely. the subjective thinker appropriates knowledge by bringing to the fore the question of his or her own personal relation to it. these are issues which every human being. To ignore this dimension is. it seems to be a part of self-knowledge. there can be no appropriation.”18 Here the idea under critique seems to be that appropriation is an obvious . impassionedly interested in his relation to this truth concerning his own eternal happiness. By contrast. But in order for this universal message to have meaning.16 Here appropriation is clearly identified with subjective knowing. in Kierkegaard’s eyes. indeed. for example. which makes it universal. Passion is the natural result of an occupation with the matter of one’s infinite personal interest. absurd. is passion. the historical basis of Christianity but. redemption and immortality. it is assumed that if only the objective truth has been obtained. Another element. has an infinite personal interest in. personally. appropriation is an easy matter. fails to ask what Christianity might mean for himself personally. This is. the key and unique aspect of the Christian message. lost in the various abstract and historical details.17 For Kierkegaard. It is the personal dimension with these fundamental existential issues that makes them a matter of passion for each individual. Without a subjective or particular element to contrast with the universal.

For example. Christianity always involves a degree of uncertainty. and reinterprets and develops it in his own way. . This account strongly recalls the difference between subjective and objective thinking. B. . it is itself not yet action.”19 Kierkegaard borrows this concept from the pietistic tradition.” but often translated as “inward deepening. The direction of unreflectiveness is always oriented outward.20 The correct relation to the Christian message is not a relation to an outward set of doctrines or dogmas. The latter treats its object merely as an indifferent. Before it can be appropriated. literally “making something inward. It is an inward relation. Kierkegaard’s concept of Christianity is much more subjective. comprised in part of a “transformation” in the individual. While it can be said to imply and enjoin action. that the truth is the subject’s transformation within himself. is that movement is inward. then truth is inward deepening and is not an immediate and utterly uninhibited relation of an immediate Geist to a sum total of propositions. he relates himself to its message and takes some kind of position on it. He must reflect on the Christian message in the inwardness of his own mind and with the whole of his person. and can thus never be impersonal or entirely straightforward. This involves a separation or isolation from other people. in striving to reach its goal. the next stage in the development is Inderliggjørelse. toward the objective. we read: If truth is spirit. since such a position concerns only the individual alone. . this concept is invoked in criticisms of both the historical and the speculative approaches to Christianity. Christianity must be first taken up in a subjective way by an individual. In so doing. The Socratic secret . Inward Deepening Given that the point of departure for appropriation is Christianity or the Christian message. With regard to the former. even though this relation is confusingly given the name of the most decisive expression of subjectivity: faith. one may learn a new principle of geology without necessarily taking a passionate or even a personal interest in the matter. thereunto. In the Postscript. It must be accepted or rejected on the basis of faith rather than logical argument or experimental verification.102 Idealism and Existentialism and straightforward matter under the right circumstances. toward.

The speculative thinker avoids it by keeping the Christian message at arm’s length and never allowing it to become a personal issue.23 Here inward deepening is deemed as essential for truly knowing something about Christianity. and he essentially appropriates the essential by doing it. due to this offense. But the personal nature of the message enjoins one to make a personal decision about it one way or the other. This point is illustrated well in a passage from Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions. that is.e. This decision might be that one is offended at the suggestion that God became man in Christ and thus. is inward deepening. objective thinking shows no sign of inward deepening. but essentially the adult learns only by appropriating. Thus. as in Either/Or. what if it could not be done. If one chooses to accept it. Speculation is criticized for not appreciating that inward deepening is a fundamental aspect of Christianity. this is the defining feature of subjective thinking. infinitely interested in their eternal happiness and in faith build this happiness on their faith-bound relation to it. what if Christianity is indeed subjectivity. In the Postscript Kierkegaard. The objective thinker puts off this decision by focusing on an accumulation of facts and details without ever bringing himself into the picture. Or the decision might be to accept this and to believe. . i.or herself personally to the object of thought. The speculative thinker .22 One must consciously decide how Christianity should be appropriated in the context of one’s own life. and those who with the opposite passion (yet with passion) reject it—the happy and the unhappy lovers. his genuine speculative thought. underscores the importance of decision in the process of appropriation.”21 There is a clear difference between memorizing a Bible passage and grasping its deeper meaning with respect to one’s own life. what if only two kinds of people can know something about it: those who are impassionedly. then one proceeds to the further stages of appropriation. . . where Kierkegaard writes: “For someone to memorize the Bible could be considered beautiful inasmuch as there was something childlike in his behavior. Christianity. yes. By contrast.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Abstraction 103 external fact and does not relate itself to it personally. looks at Christianity in order to permeate it with his speculative thought. What if this entire undertaking were a chimera. The individual relates him. One cannot simply ignore it or be indifferent to it. one rejects the Christian message.

Later in the same journal entry he writes: “The idea and the role of the single individual is the critical point in the conception of Christianity. but the appropriation of Christianity is unique.104 Idealism and Existentialism This seems to be confirmed by a key late journal entry in which Kierkegaard criticizes the idea that appropriation can be done as a group or party: It is one thing to introduce a new doctrine into the world. Here it is essential that disciples not be accepted or a party organized. and the entry itself bears the heading “the individual. which he considers a corruption and a distortion. . In a late journal entry. individual relation. Kierkegaard criticizes the proclaiming of Christianity and missionary work. to be sacrificed as a single individual. would never be disseminated.’ ” 25 He continues.24 To Kierkegaard’s mind. at best. Christianity demands a personal. to stand as a single individual. because otherwise it could easily happen that the doctrine. explaining: “My relation is to inward deepening and not to dissemination. Kierkegaard’s use of the phrase “personal appropriation” underscores this aspect. the notion of appropriation takes on an increased sense of urgency. a distraction from one’s inward reflection on one’s relation to Christianity. the doctrine is sufficiently proclaimed. In the first case disciples may be accepted. by way of ‘the single individual. “my particular task is personal appropriation and the fact that most men have their Christianity seventeenth hand. ‘Christendom’ is the situation. makes it my task to work toward personal appropriation. Therefore.”26 Kierkegaard clearly believes this personal understanding of Christianity to be contrary to the reigning conception. Kierkegaard notes that “all true reforming consists in inward deepening. with the teacher gone. One can speak of group appropriation or national appropriation in the sense that one can say that the Romans appropriated Greek culture. because doing so inevitably weakens personal appropriation. it is something else to appropriate a given doctrine personally in inward deepening. It is what gives appropriation this individual character. Inward deepening does not depend on the external world. personal appropriation is the task.” One essential feature of inward deepening is that it can only be done individually.27 The latter is.”28 In another entry he writes: “Inward deepening is my task . here what counts is to work as an individual. . . Along these lines. a party organized. It is entirely different with personal appropriation of a given doctrine in inward deepening.”29 This stands in contrast to a form of reformation that aims at conversion. in an entry critical of Luther.

he writes: From a Christian point of view. to Kierkegaard’s . there are two kinds of true restlessness. [One is] restlessness in the heroes of faith and witnesses to the truth. The one is tumult. It must express itself outwardly in the world in action. but it never enters the lover’s head to want to change things as they are. this is Kierkegaard’s polemic against missionary work. Why the roaring and shouting?”30 One should not proselytize beyond encouraging others to take up the issue of their own relation to Christianity in their own inward deepening.”31 In a parallel passage. .”32 For Kierkegaard the Christian message must be confronted not with complacency or assured self-confidence. Here he underscores his efforts as being “without authority” in this sense. there are two kinds of disorder. But since this is an individual undertaking. disturbance in externals.” He sees his mission as helping others in this struggle.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Abstraction 105 This voice with its subdued inwardness has convinced me. a dying out. but with a struggle characterized by “fear and trembling. The other kind of restlessness has to do with inward deepening. A true love affair is indeed also a restless thing. It cannot be accomplished by means of proselytizing or the creation of sects. Thus inward deepening has many aspects: it concerns the individual as individual. The other disorder is the stillness of death. and worked to arouse restlessness oriented toward inward deepening. but by bringing them to do it themselves. I have worked for this restlessness oriented toward inward deepening. the time has come for the next step. that which is true for one when said in this subdued tone becomes untruth for me as soon as I raise my voice to say the same thing. He writes: “From the Christian point of view. In For Self-Examination. But “without authority. The element of praxis is. and this is perhaps the more dangerous. not by making it easier or by pretending to do so for them. It requires a decision about one’s relation to the Christian message. . It is something that occupies the individual’s entire being and results in a transformation. Once this transformation has taken place. Kierkegaard indicates that the concept of inward deepening opposes that of religious complacency. for which reason it must be done alone. It is against the latter that I have worked. it can never be conveyed by one person to another. The Translation into Action Inward deepening is only the first part of appropriation. which aims at reforming things as they are . C.

who live more in ideality than actuality. Christianity must be more than an abstract idea that never appears in actuality. compose a piece of music or paint a painting. Reduplication The idea behind the concept of reduplication is that the believer “reduplicates” or repeats some key aspect of Christianity in their actions. Every possible critique can be expedited as soon as it is raised since the critic is invariably assured that whatever the point of the objection is. . While these are not necessarily synonymous. or painted an exceedingly beautiful painting—in their head. who made it the object of detailed analysis in For Self-Examination.34 However. their work only exists in the pristine world of their mind where it can safely appear in an exalted and sublime form. The work of the person living in ideality is immune to all criticism since it is not available for public scrutiny. knows how difficult it can be to produce something that adequately conveys what appeared to be a brilliant idea or inspiration. there are passages in which he seems to conflate them. convinced that their own “work” is vastly superior. The basic notion that they all capture is the inner idea expressed in action.33 It is not a contemplative doctrine. since it is actual and dwells in the real world. Until one commits to the meaning of one’s appropriation by realizing it in action. They tend to be condescending and critical of the work of others.” This was a key passage for Kierkegaard. Yet anyone who has ever tried to write a book. which enjoins believers to “be doers of the word. it remains to be seen if the individual aspect corresponds to the universal one. a purely inward appropriation is meaningless since it remains indeterminate. This is like the person who has written a brilliant book. by contrast. Kierkegaard spends a great deal of time working out this aspect of appropriation. appears flawed and tainted. the difference. We all know people like this. redoubling and reduplication.22. it will not be a problem when the idea is realized. essential for the Christian message. 1. With regard to the religious or theological dimension.35 Kierkegaard avails himself of a handful of terms to express this aspect of appropriation: repetition. Kierkegaard was inspired here by James 1. The difficulty lies precisely in the realization of the idea. is in fact absolutely crucial. For this reason.106 Idealism and Existentialism mind. the work of others. and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. but concerns life itself. Moreover. composed a wonderful piece of music. namely. which they regard as an insignificant detail. and double reflection.

i.”36 This is in agreement with his view that what is essential in Christianity is how one. are . but it is of no use. In a journal entry from around 1847.”37 This could serve as a definition of appropriation. While it has been argued that Kierkegaard’s life equates to his writings. but reduplication of such thinking is action in life. in the first two sentences they are used interchangeably. can protect himself against illusions in communication. by acting. One starts with a proposition. to follow his metaphor. Second. in a new book. But reduplication entails putting this idea into practice where it can be scrutinized and evaluated by others. Every thinker who does not reduplicate the dialectic of his thinking continuously constructs an illusion. Kierkegaard explains the need for action via reduplication as follows: It is one thing to be keenly penetrating in books. First.39 Only in the real world with actions. Only the ethical thinker. The first form of the dialectical is like a game played for nothing other than the game. an abstract universal. But the main point of this passage is to distinguish those who express their inward deepening in outward action and those who merely write about it.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Abstraction 107 Kierkegaard states: “It is self-evident that without reduplication Christianity is not Christianity. Kierkegaard seems to take redoubling and reduplication to be synonymous. as an individual. Kierkegaard’s discussions of incorrect forms of appropriation are associated with his discussions of reduplication rather than inward deepening because at the latter stage the errors remain imperceptible to outside observers. the reduplicating of the proposition in the operation-form to the proposition. two spheres commonly taken to be separate by Kierkegaard scholars.e. their use is expanded from merely a question of Christian faith to that of ethics. He tries to correct misunderstandings etc. Inward deepening is a wholly personal process because it concerns only an abstract idea. he did not regard writing alone as sufficient and indeed seems to suggest that it is somewhat frivolous. relates to the Christian message. another to redouble the thought dialectically in existence. reduplication is like a game in which the enjoyment is intensified by being played for high stakes. The dialectic in books is merely the dialectic of thinking. for he continues in an illusion of communication.38 There are a number of things to note about this passage. and interprets it in action (the operation-form) in such a way that the original proposition is still reflected. In another entry he writes: “It is increasingly clear to me that the main issue is ‘how’ something is introduced into the world. His thinking never gains the decisive expression of action.

Woe to him!”40 Kierkegaard perceives the clergyman’s comfortable official position as undermining his talk of suffering for the truth. If the universal message of Christianity really entails suffering and martyrdom. his career choice prevents him from authentically appropriating it. . . insofar as it requires a much greater degree of commitment and responsibility. But whether a German philosopher is or is not doing this can easily be ascertained by anyone who enthusiastically lets himself be guided by . One key element of reduplication is the potential for contradiction between one’s inwardness and the outward action. the man-in-silk says . but his listeners think something like this: “Forget it! The man’s character and his whole life assure us otherwise. in order to answer the question about truth in an extremely satisfying way. In this same entry.”41 As in the passage above. you do not know at what moment you must suffer for the truth. the question is constantly raised not only of the Christian truth of what one says but also of the how of the one who says it. His presentation is moving—while his character gives assurance that it is not like this any more. this juxtaposition produces only an aesthetic relationship. “Remember. . the “how” is what makes the appropriation legitimate. of course—that it was so in the old days. we read: If a German philosopher . . .42 Another example of inauthentic reduplication is that of the overly enthusiastic students of Hegel’s philosophy. this is of no more concern to me than his satisfying answer . In a journal entry from 1848 Kierkegaard condemns this kind of hypocrisy by citing a priest pontificating about Christians who have suffered persecution: Thus when someone in silk with decorations and stars declares that the truth must suffer persecution etc. it is no longer true that the truth is persecuted. then this combination. or between the universal and the particular. For Kierkegaard the ultimate test of true appropriation is consistency between the message an individual purports to have internalized and his outward actions..” and then the man-in-silk weeps (for he imagines he is a martyr). first transforms himself into a superrational something . Kierkegaard states. . the contradiction will be readily perceived and justly criticized. He understands action as a kind of communication that is fundamentally different from mere writing. In the Postscript. speaking or thinking. “from the Christian point of view. If the particular action is not in accord with the universal message. It is true. . .108 Idealism and Existentialism the stakes raised.

he thinks the universal. truth becomes appropriation. 2. truth becomes something objective. but.”44 This problem has its origin in the fact that as an individual. Double-Reflection The question of appropriation is also relevant for that of communication. Kierkegaard writes: “The reflection of inwardness is the subjective thinker’s doublereflection. To subjective reflection.43 This is a key passage for our purposes since it connects the charge of abstraction with the concepts of appropriation and reduplication. When a person as a learner enthusiastically relates in this way to such a German professor. appropriation is connected with the concepts of indirect communication and double-reflection. To objective reflection. for existentially appropriating his wisdom. existing in the isolation of inwardness. wants to communicate himself. consequently that he simultaneously wants to keep his thinking in the inwardness of . to communicate. A speculator of that sort is anything but served by a learner’s honest and enthusiastic zeal for expressing and accomplishing. he becomes more and more subjectively isolated. and the point is to immerse oneself. and reflection shows two relations. . In the Concluding Unscientific Postscript. as existing in this thinking. existence itself in the questioner. and thus to relate to it in this way is absurd. When there is a question about truth for the existing spirit qua existing. . Kierkegaard clearly regards the “abstract reduplication of truth” as an erroneous form of reduplication.e. and uncritically shapes his existence in conformity with that guidance. an object. one from the other. since this wisdom is something that the Herr Professor himself has imagined and has written books about but has never attempted himself . but language necessarily uses universals. The student seems to relate to Hegel’s philosophy in the same existential manner with which one should relate to Christianity. and the point is to disregard the subject.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Abstraction 109 a sage of that kind. . who does indeed exist. How is it possible to express one’s particularity by means of a universal?45 Kierkegaard continues: “Double-reflection is already implicit in the idea of communication: that the subjective individual (who by inwardness wants to express the life of the eternal . as acquiring it in his inwardness. holds the two factors apart. But Hegel’s philosophy does not pose the same existential demands as Christianity.). words. existing. inwardness. In thinking. . subjectivity. one is a particular. then abstract reduplication of truth recurs. in subjectivity. i. but existence itself. he accomplishes the most superb epigram upon him.

One cannot convey to another person what the Christian message is for them. Redoubling Another term closely associated with appropriation is that of redoubling. This is the significance of the secrecy. That this knowledge cannot be stated directly. this relation is not a merely contemplative one since it necessarily implies action. But. Although some Kierkegaard scholars take the concept of double reflection to be purely a theory of communication. all its essential content is essentially a secret. has no secrets: only doubly reflected subjective thinking has secrets. but rather as an abstract idea. because the essential in this knowledge is the appropriation itself. like the Christian one.47 In this rich passage Kierkegaard connects the nature of the message with the means of communication. as has been seen here.49 This concept also represents a form of reflection of Christianity in the world of actuality. that is. then the only true means to communicate it is with double reflection. but specifically Christianity and one’s relation to it that requires the structure of double reflection. the formula is a tautology.110 Idealism and Existentialism his subjective existence and yet wants to communicate himself. This is something that they must do for themselves by means of appropriation. He argues that this unity is misconceived since “being” in Hegel is understood not as an empirical particular. the unity is not of thought and being but of thought and thought: But if being is understood in this way. but that this is the essential form of truth means that this cannot be said in any other way.”46 There is something ineffable about one’s inwardness and thus about one’s private relation to Christianity: Ordinary communication. thinking and being signify one and the same. means that it remains a secret for everyone who is not through himself doubly reflected in the same way. Thus. objective thinking. 3.48 If the message is something that concerns genuine subjectivity. because it cannot be communicated directly. This concept is negatively illustrated in the Postscript in Johannes Climacus’ criticism of the Hegelian claim to have united thought and being. and the agreement spoken . It is not just any given content. from this passage it is clear that this concept is equally relevant for action. Thus the point of double reflection or indirect communication is to get the listeners to appropriate that material for themselves. that is.

Kierkegaard uses genuine redoubling to replace the Hegelian concept of mediation.”51 There is no redoubling in a relation of two universals or two particulars. of particulars. is exactly the same as the truth is. Specifically. Consequently. but live in a temporal world and are subject to temporal changes. redoubling spans the gap between universal and particular. i. and thus has one foot in actuality. Kierkegaard writes: With the subject-object of mediation. we have merely reverted to abstraction. universal concepts. but truth’s other.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Abstraction 111 of is only an abstract identity with itself. This explains Kierkegaard’s well-known criticism of Hegelian mediation. inasmuch as the definition of truth. the exalted wisdom has again been absent-minded enough to forget that it was an existing spirit who asked about truth. mediation takes place only in the sphere of thought and never comes into contact with actuality. we are a synthesis of the eternal and the temporal. This contradictory nature makes possible the concepts of reduplication . its being. As Anti-Climacus says in The Sickness unto Death. humans are a unity of the finite and the infinite. none of the formulas says more than that truth is. Thus. Therefore. truth is redoubling. as subject-object. 50 This passage is critical of what Kierkegaard takes to be a mistaken form of redoubling. We have the eternal within us. Truth is the first. that it is. a thought to something in existence that “is always the particular. Hegel’s conception of the unity of thought and being is an erroneous redoubling since he uses both terms as universals. if this is understood in such a way that the copula is accentuated—truth is—that is. which is nevertheless canceled at the very same moment. Our life consists of acting as infinite beings in the finite world. While mediation can only take place among abstract. is the same as the first. is the abstract form of truth. Mediation represents a mistaken form of redoubling. This dynamic is made possible by the fact that human beings are a synthesis of contradictory elements. We have an infinite universal element in us but exist in the world of actuality. Similarly. this. Hegel mediates only abstract categories of metaphysics and does not concern himself with particular existing objects. In this way it is expressed that truth is not something simple but in an entirely abstract sense a redoubling.e. that is. 52 Once again the concept of redoubling is invoked to criticize Hegelian abstraction. Genuine redoubling concerns the relation of a universal to a particular. the truth is a redoubling.

) Likewise. The eternal simply exists. There is no redoubling in the realm of the eternal or universal alone. This contradiction or tension is what makes redoubling possible. Kierkegaard writes: But a temporal object never has redoubling in itself. In this context in Works of Love. When. that it is. the eternal is in a human being. this eternal redoubles in him in such a way that every moment it is in him. There is no redoubling in nature since natural objects have no eternal aspect. just as the temporal vanishes in time. the universal element remains. and when there is particularity to ensure there are two distinct moments that reflect one another. A temporal object is always changing and is thus the sum total of its properties at any given moment. and at the same moment it is in itself. what it is. since everything simply exists eternally. universal and particular. it is in itself (the inward direction). . At the same moment it goes out of itself (the outward direction). it is in him in a double mode: in an outward direction and in an inward direction back into itself. This represents a redoubling. everything is particular. that it does—at one and the same time. Even though they change and decay. when there is universality to ensure the continuity of the thing redoubled. This concept is probably explicated best in Works of Love. where Kierkegaard explains the double manner in which human beings exist. since otherwise it is not redoubling. this returning and this outward going are simultaneously one and the same. everything is universal.112 Idealism and Existentialism and redoubling. there is no redoubling in the realm of the temporal since everything changes and there is no continuity.53 Human beings differ from objects of nature since they contain the eternal within themselves. but in such a way that this is one and the same. (This was the criticism of Hegel’s philosophy. it goes out of itself in such a way that this outward going and this returning. which only mediated thought but had no contact to actuality. Kierkegaard’s example of redoubling is love: What love does. To perform an act of love is to manifest the universal as a particular. whereby the contradictory elements are united. Redoubling can only take place in the unity of these two spheres. inward and outward. however. so also it is only in its characteristics. Human actions can be interpreted as having two dimensions: eternal and temporal.54 There is thus a dialectical relation in the nature of love.

that I see. there would still be no repetition. It is also clearly related to the concept of appropriation insofar as it involves a movement from an abstract. here it is a matter of repetition. . While the concept appears in De Omnibus in the context of epistemology. Throughout all eternity. Repetition One of Kierkegaard’s better-known concepts is that of repetition. In an analysis of different forms of repetition.59 Here Kierkegaard seems to take repetition to be synonymous with redoubling as the paradoxical relation of the universal to the particular. In what.”60 Here he points out the correspondence between .58 There Kierkegaard writes: In reality as such. Kierkegaard writes: “When I am going to act. then? In consciousness—there is the contradiction. If the world. it pertains to the universal-particular relation. my action has existed in my consciousness in conception and thought—otherwise I act thoughtlessly— that is. 4. universal principle or idea to a concrete action. in every moment. That the external is. . In eternity? That is indeed an impossibility. I do not act. but in the same instant I bring it into relation with something that also is.”55 This term underscores the fact that only individuals can exist in both dimensions. I would see a boulder. . but there would be no question as to whether it was the same one I had seen before . 56 Despite its celebrity. This concept is introduced in the unfinished second part of De Omnibus dubitandum est. Kierkegaard’s journals also reveal an ethical dimension consistent with the concept of appropriation.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Abstraction 113 Given that redoubling is concerned with the individual human being. . .57 Like the concepts explored above. were nothing but equally large unvariegated boulders. this concept’s appearances in Kierkegaard’s authorship were limited to the years 1843 to 1844. Here is the contradiction that whatever exists also exists in another mode. of the idea and the concrete actuality. Ideality and reality therefore collide—in what medium? In time? That is indeed an impossibility. . Here is a redoubling. something that is the same and that also will explain that the other is the same. for the idea is and remains the same and as such it cannot be repeated . instead of being beauty. there is no repetition . it is no accident that Kierkegaard also makes use of a variant of this term with what he calls “self-redoubling. In ideality alone there is no repetition.

This is essentially an expression directed toward inwardness. Ultimately. In one journal entry.”65 His criticism here is of asceticism and monastic life. because he is the prototype and example. Kierkegaard’s Concept of Imitation Up until this point.114 Idealism and Existentialism the action and the idea. No. In the following journal entry Kierkegaard talks about appropriation in terms of the imitation of Christ. that it is food. the concept of appropriation has remained rather abstract and formal. Just as the expression he uses of his teaching. On this point. . he clearly rejects certain aspects of this tradition. to seek to be like him.”62 In one passage he writes: “Everything Christ expresses belongs essentially to a Christian’s life. and for another.64 At the same time. The understanding of Christ as a prototype (Forbillede) or pattern for all human beings is a recurrent one in Kierkegaard’s works. Kierkegaard has not offered any clear guidelines about the kind of actions that would count as the proper appropriation of the Christian message. Kierkegaard’s pseudonym Constantin Constantius says “all life dissolves into an empty. to put on Christ means. He explores it explicitly in the section “Christ as the Prototype” in Judge for Yourself! It is also treated in Practice in Christianity. meaningless noise” if there is no repetition. For this reason. which is necessary for the action to count as a form of appropriation and. in this case. . Here he uses the metaphor of putting on Christ as one would put on one’s clothes: With regard to the Atonement. to appropriate his merits . of repetition. is the strongest expression for appropriation. He says explicitly that the requirement for being a Christian is that one must “imitate Christ. Certainly not in the almost comic variation of the Middle Ages.61 The same holds true if there is no genuine appropriation. he writes: “It is ‘imitation’ which must be emphasized once more. If one acts spontaneously. the action has no relation to a universal and is devoid of ethical value. however. without reflection or inward deepening. for one thing. He whose life does not express this ecce homo is really not a true Christian.”63 This is thus the criterion for distinguishing genuine Christian action from hypocrisy. imitation in the sense of witnessing to the truth and suffering for it. D. Kierkegaard follows a long line of theologians who have urged the imitation (Efterfølgelse) of Christ. his answer is that the actual content of our actions should follow the actions and moral teachings of Christ. so the expression .

no. passion. a sword pierces his heart first of all . he becomes. it still remains somewhat vague and in need of further interpretation. . and so on. III. but offers us little further guidance about the actual content of that message. to be mocked and persecuted.66 Our actions should be appropriations of Christ’s message in the context of our own lives. put him on yourself—as when someone goes around in borrowed clothes (this is satisfactio vicaria)—put him on. He clearly wants to give some kind of criteria for the nature of appropriation: individuality. you are to put on Christ. It does not say of Christ that you shall try to imitate Christ (to say this implies indirectly that the two still remain essentially unlike). “. Critical Evaluation The question is whether Kierkegaard’s criteria are satisfactory for determinate appropriation. contradictory. the process of appropriation is complete. We present his works in our own. to be a Christian is to die (to die to the world)—and then to be sacrificed. . cursed by men. the more unhappy and miserable. humanly speaking. Kierkegaard says explicitly that direct communication about this is impossible. Christ gives you his clothing (satisfaction) and asks you to re-present him. Kierkegaard enjoins us to appropriate the Christian message and to imitate Christ in our own lives. he claims: “Strictly speaking.”68 Thus. A more fruitful attempt concerns his account of imitation. . the more a man becomes involved with God. But these are purely formal criteria that fail to determine anything. While it is not wholly formal and contains some concrete content in connection with the idea of imitating Christ’s life and message. As he writes in one journal entry. One can be passionate about an infinite number of mutually exclusive. . and then he is hated. He regards his own task as merely pointing out what is required so that each individual will be enjoined to . abandoned by God . the Christian duty to imitate Christ is a very difficult challenge. as when someone who looks strikingly like another not only tries to imitate him but re-presents him. The matter is thus left to the discretion and conscience of each individual. With the concept of imitation. immoral and illegal things. . Kierkegaard readily acknowledges the difficulty in imitating Christ.”67 Similarly.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Abstraction 115 of putting on Christ is the strongest expression that the imitation must be according to the highest possible criterion. . He frequently explains that this involves dying to the world and being prepared to suffer. inwardness.

as in the case of revelation. The process is always confined within the mind of an individual. in such a way that all possible authority is simultaneously demolished. In one passage. the only thing to do is to act in accordance with it and accept the consequences: first. Kierkegaard seems to believe that neither he nor anyone else can convey the truth of Christianity to another person. he thus concludes that if one is convinced that such a revelation is genuine. Here is where the problem arises. Since I am incompetent and extremely undependable in men’s eyes. like divine revelation. appropriation. insofar as I discover it. . The philosophical problem is then that Kierkegaard not only fails to provide specific criteria. I speak the truth and thereby place them in the contradiction from which they can be extricated only by appropriating the truth themselves. must occur in a personal and free way without the support of any arguments or discursive rationality (which would be the sign of objective thinking). Kierkegaard is of course quick to argue that one cannot use such a revelation to justify actions which are illegal or immoral according to the usual standards. A man’s personality is matured only when he appropriates the truth . as an individual. he seems to condone Abraham’s action and recognize it as valid if the revelation is genuine. .69 There can in principle be no set doctrine about how one. and therefore one must remain silent like Abraham. that one cannot attempt to justify one’s actions by appeal to it as a revelation. This would seem to suggest that. but also seems to deny the very possibility of such criteria. Nonetheless. that one will suffer the penalties of human law. it cannot be justified by an appeal to reason or any form of universal rationality. and second. The danger here has often been pointed out in connection with the issue of the possibility of a divine revelation explored in Fear and Trembling. This is problematic insofar as the absence of any external criteria for evaluating the revelation leaves one with nothing objective to base one’s decision on.116 Idealism and Existentialism carry out the Christian appropriation for themselves. . According to Kierkegaard. The danger in this can be illustrated by an example from Kierkegaard himself concerning the teleological suspension of the ethical in connection with Abraham’s divine revelation in Fear and Trembling. Kierkegaard seems aware that the epistemological point about whether or not a revelation is genuine can never be decided. he writes: It seems to be my destiny to discourse on truth. should appropriate Christianity in one’s own life situations.

According to Kant.) The problem with Kierkegaard’s position is similar in that it permits one to appropriate Christianity in mutually incompatible ways. Kierkegaard is in a sense presenting a theory which could implicitly be used to justify all kinds of vicious and destructive behavior in the name of complying with a divine command or. The maxim functions as an intermediary term between the particular concrete situation and the universal moral law. at the other end of the process. The requirement to imitate Christ is not enough on its own. By contrast. For Kant. Hegel objects that the categorical imperative is empty since it merely dictates that no contradiction may arise from willing the maxim universally. There are problems at both ends of the process of appropriation. how can it be recognized without being dogmatically defined? Similarly. when we are confronted with an ethical situation and wish to act correctly. how does one produce this message in action? What are the . for Kierkegaard. But if it is the Christian message that is to be appropriated.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Abstraction 117 How does one distinguish between people like Abraham. The problem with this position can be fruitfully compared to Hegel’s criticism of Kant’s ethical theory. however. sects and religious communities all claiming to be Christian is testimony to the open-ended nature of the interpretive possibilities of the Christian message. be noted that there is a significant difference between Kant’s position and that of Kierkegaard. the whole enterprise is concerned with rationally justifying ethical action. which can both pass the test of non-contradiction but which mutually exclude one another. The absence of any concrete content permits one to will all kinds of mutually contradictory things depending on one’s presuppositions. preferring a minimalist conception. no rational justification is possible in the appropriation of Christianity. and unstable people who hear voices in their heads and mistake them for divine revelations? If there is no way to distinguish between these alternatives. (It should. in our case.70 Kant’s principle permits one to simultaneously justify diametrically opposed actions. who have a genuine divine revelation. Hegel uses the example of the private ownership of property or communism. The existence of countless religions. With regard to the starting point of the process Kierkegaard refuses to give a detailed account of Christianity. The sad history of religious wars and persecutions is testimony to the extremes to which these different interpretations can lead in praxis. The absence of more specific guidance allows individual appropriations to become arbitrary. appropriating the Christian message. as a child of the Enlightenment. we should formulate a maxim for our action that is in harmony with the categorical imperative.

these are ultimately two different but related problems or objections: (1) Kierkegaard’s theory is also abstract. Let us return to our point of departure: Kierkegaard’s criticism of abstraction. and similar arguments. The problem is not new.118 Idealism and Existentialism rules? One need only recall Jesus’ parables from the Sermon on the Mount to realize that interpreting Christian ethics can be notoriously difficult. whom he criticizes for abstraction. Kierkegaard frames the issue in a religious context. and this thereby undermines his criticism of his predecessors. or vice versa. Seen in this context. his criticism of the abstract philosophers seems misguided by a mistaken idea of what a “concrete” philosophy might look like. the medieval debate about the reality of universals. among other things. How should we evaluate this now that we have seen his own positive theory of appropriation. for example. He mentions this paradox often in his early journals. Without further determination. the debates between the rationalists and the empiricists. has he really managed to make things more concrete or more intuitive than his predecessors? Is his method of appropriation ultimately different or more practicable than. his account of appropriation can be regarded as just another among countless theories in the history of philosophy that attempt to overcome the problem of the universal and the particular with an eye towards ethical action. repetition and double reflection. IV. One thinks here of Plato’s theory of Ideas vis-à-vis the mutable realm of empirical reality. intended to overcome abstraction? With concepts such as reduplication. A Final Thought: Philosophy versus Religion Kierkegaard was fascinated by the idea that something could be simultaneously true in philosophy and yet false in theology.71 His development of appropriation and the problem of the universal and the particular represents one of his attempts to work through it. Kierkegaard ends up with a theory very similar to that of his predecessors. It cannot help but be abstract insofar as it is an attempt to overcome the problem of universal and particular which has plagued the entire history of philosophy. Kant’s categorical imperative or Hegel’s account of how the universal concept of the good is embodied in a particular action by means of an individual will? It seems that despite all his posturing. Therefore. understanding it as the relation between the universal Christian message and the particular . Regarding the foregoing discussion. which is. he risks indirectly justifying wicked acts. (2) His approach is indeterminate and may thus lead to dubious results.

religious life. be rationally demonstrated and defended to the satisfaction of other people. in the sphere of philosophy. for Kierkegaard. however. denies that appropriation is subject to this kind of justification. It would. even to attempt it in the sphere of Christianity by justifying one’s personal appropriation of the Christian message would betray a fundamental misunderstanding about that message. He regards “inward deepening” as so personal as to be incommunicable. He has thus formulated his own example of something true in philosophy but false in theology or. by contrast. The unity of the universal and the particular must. and his denial of the need to justify it by rational discourse effectively removes it from the sphere of philosophy. . at least. In this sense there is no fundamental difference between the issue in philosophy and that in Christian theology. For example. one must still make a case for one’s concrete charitable action being a genuine appropriation of the Christian injunction to love one’s neighbor. be wrong to criticize Kierkegaard’s theory here from the perspective of philosophy as a kind of irrationalism. insofar as one must still justify one’s interpretation and implementation of the Christian message. Some Christian writers might still argue that this is consistent with the philosophical problem of the universal and the particular. however. The more attractive alternative is simply to say that his thought is intended explicitly as a rejection of philosophy. but involves the individual’s interpreting it through his actions. and a demarcation of it from Christianity and Christian life.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of Abstraction 119 individual’s interpretation or understanding of it. This understanding is not purely theoretical. Kierkegaard.

there is clear evidence that Kierkegaard consulted the relevant parts of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. in connection with his dissertation. Thus. He quotes from it with apparent approbation in The Concept of Irony (1841). He goes directly to specific passages or discussions in Hegel’s texts that are of special interest in connection with works that he himself is writing. in connection with the analysis of Antigone in Either/Or and the discussion of universals and particulars in the unfinished Johannes Climacus or De Omnibus dubitandum est. an avid reader of Hegel’s philosophy. since they span so . at least during his early years. For example. Kierkegaard refers specifically to this section several times throughout his authorship. The Concept of Irony. Similarly. he made a careful study of. One special case of Kierkegaard’s use of Hegel’s primary texts concerns his references to “The Good and Conscience” section from the “Morality” chapter of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right.1 It is referred to in a rather enigmatic manner at the beginning of the first “Problema” in Fear and Trembling (1843). when working on The Concept of Irony. the first part of which is concerned with Socratic irony. Based on these examples. Hegel’s account of Socrates in the Lectures on the History of Philosophy and his account of Romantic irony in both the Lectures on Aesthetics and the book review of Solger’s Posthumous Writings.Chapter 7 Kierkegaard’s Recurring Criticism of Hegel’s “The Good and Conscience” Kierkegaard was.3 Finally.2 In the Journal NB2 (1847) it is alluded to. Kierkegaard’s use of Hegel can almost always be characterized as ad hoc. it is mentioned in a polemical fashion in Practice in Christianity (1850).4 The question that I wish to address is what was it about this section that was so important for him? Why did he continue to refer to it throughout his authorship? What ad hoc interest do these references reflect in the different contexts? I wish to show that these references. albeit not by name. without feeling any obligation to read the book from cover to cover. among other things. Kierkegaard goes specifically to the section in Hegel’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy that treats Socrates. Part Two.

but a particular bound up with a specific human being. completely continuous with the natural world. traditional societies and cultures are characterized by the view that the truth dwells in the outward sphere. it is true in itself and wholly indifferent to one’s perception. Taken on their own. the possibility was never seriously entertained that these things . understanding or opinion of it. the truths of the external world are only illusory. and the real truth is to be found in the human heart or the mind of the individual. in their customs. according to one view. seemingly verifiable fact that could be found in their practices. For Hegel.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of “The Good and Conscience” 121 much of the Kierkegaardian authorship. these are simply two logical possibilities about the origin of truth. lived in harmony with their public customs and religion. we must first have a look at what Hegel is doing in the section in question. These practices had divine sanction and were.5 I. they highlight the differences in their respective positions. In any case. in the minds of the people. Hegel has a sweeping story to tell about the development of human history. according to Hegel. which he often tends to associate with then current forms of Romanticism. The truth is not some universal out in the world. According to the opposite view. subjectivism and relativism. which correspond better or worse to our intuitions about the truth in different areas. In order to treat this issue. The truth was an objective. Most of us probably incline towards the former view in matters of science and towards the latter view in matters of art. Then we can attempt to compare it with Kierkegaard’s analyses and agenda. ceremonies and traditions every day of their lives. i. are instructive in understanding his changing relation to Hegel. these two logical possibilities correspond to two main periods in the development of world history. It will be worthwhile to dwell a moment on this story before turning to Philosophy of Right in order to gain some appreciation for his understanding of the role of the rise of individualism or subjectivism in the grand scheme of things. The locus of truth can be regarded as something outward or something inward. and so on. laws. ethics or perhaps religion. According to his account. The Greeks. the truth is some fact of the matter out in the world. Hegel’s View of Individualism and Subjectivism in History “The Good and Conscience” is probably best known for Hegel’s critique of different forms of individualism.e. Moreover. In other words. Given that they were regarded as objective facts. religion. His model for this is the ancient Greek world. it is probably fair to say that for most of us our intuitions are in some way divided here.

According to Hegel. Rather. while we nowadays tend to think of laws or customs as mere arbitrary conventions.122 Idealism and Existentialism might be contingent or arbitrary. and the personal opinion of individuals played no role in this whatsoever. When Socrates appealed to his daimon to justify his actions. They were conceived as simple facts about the universe.” the voice in his head that warned him against doing certain things. the content of the divine message could not be publicly accessed or scrutinized. which are in contradiction to human law. Antigone. On the contrary. the true modern locus for truth is the individual human spirit. leading them to despair when they could not do so consistently. but the inner recesses of the mind of a single man. He went around Athens asking people to defend their beliefs and ground their views. one of the charges leveled against him was that he worshipped gods different from those accepted by the state. and he refused to grant his assent before this justification was given. laws.7 Thus. traditions. We moderns no longer believe the truth to lie in external customs. created for specific purposes at specific points in time. With Socrates this was entirely inverted: he claimed to be in contact with a god directly and privately. he was effectively saying that his personal views were higher than the time-honored customs and traditions of the state. so to speak. his personal deity had more authority than the gods of Athens. fi xed natural laws. Socrates was one of the first people to call into question this order of things. . for the Greeks these were. where the tragic heroine appeals to the absolute truth of the laws of the gods in order to justify her actions. Hegel’s favorite example in this context is Sophocles’ tragedy. we tend to regard them merely as the arbitrary constructs of limited minds. Socrates set into motion a long historical process whereby the locus of truth gradually shifted from the objective sphere to the subjective one. The locus of the divine was not a public sanctuary or temple. Thus. the defining characteristic of the modern world is the principle of subjective freedom. or similar institutions. He demanded that the customs and traditions of ancient Athens justify themselves by means of discursive reason.6 Thus. In the Greek world this was particularly offensive due to the fact that there was a very ancient practice of consulting public oracles when important decisions had to be made. Thus. Most troubling for the Athenians was that Socrates seemed to posit a new criterion for truth by appealing to his well-known “daimon. One went to war or got married because such things were sanctioned by the gods. According to Hegel. In this way the politicians and generals could assure themselves that their decisions were in harmony with the will of the gods and the natural order. which were perceived as contrary to accepted custom and practice.

It is neither desirable nor possible to return to the ancient world and to live immediately in harmony with custom and tradition. This leads to a sense of alienation from the other and from the social sphere as a whole. We need critical reflection about our customs and traditions. the positive thing about this modern view is that it emancipates the human mind by affording it the right to judge for itself what it takes to be right and wrong. He takes it to be a typical example of modern thinking. It is this which we should attempt to preserve. according to which our representations are no longer thought to conform to pre-existing objects in the outside world: instead those objects must necessarily conform to the representations produced by the categories of the human mind. The price of such a harmony is the repression of the individual and human freedom. They take Fichte’s theory as giving them license to reject all the customs. Hegel thus analyzes Descartes’ famous cogito argument in terms of this shift. Hegel places the Romantic movement and its different versions of subjectivism in this context. where everyone has their own private truth and there is no consensus about right and wrong. Similarly. The modern goal is thus often conceived as liberating oneself from the shackles of custom and tradition in order to discover the truth that lies within oneself. in the fact that there is a substantive truth in the public sphere that is recognized by everyone. However. traditions and laws that do not suit them.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of “The Good and Conscience” 123 This is what is considered infinite and divine. and that the world as they find it has no validity whatsoever. This principle was made even more extreme by Fichte with his theory of the self-positing ego which. like Descartes’ cogito. Thus. However. with its emphasis on the individual and its rejection of traditional customs and values. The problem with the modern world is the potential for a dangerous relativism. They believe that they can construct or create their own world out of their subjectivity. an abstract epistemological point becomes a principle of praxis and life in the hands of the Romantics.8 Hegel’s own view is that what is needed is a reconciliation of these two historical positions. Specifically. they take Fichte’s epistemological principle of the self-positing ego and turn it into a principle of ethics and action. Hegel writes: “The right of the subjective will is that whatever . there is something praiseworthy and desirable in this view. According to Hegel. this principle was developed in more detail by Kant with his famous “Copernican turn” in philosophy. It is wholly correct that one should be critical and reflective about the world we inherit from the past. the Romantics follow in this tradition. but with the subject. The story of modern philosophy begins not with the world. begins with the human subject and deduces the world from that point of departure.

Likewise. ”9 This was not a right in the ancient world. legal or illegal. II. and . even though he was wholly unaware that this was what he was doing when he committed these acts. as right or wrong.e.”11 This will prove to be a key point for the dialogue with Kierkegaard that we wish to reconstruct. A thing is true or valid in itself. Hegel continues. it must in general conform to what is recognized as valid in that world. the goal is to unify these two views: to create a public order that is generally recognized as true and rational. and one’s knowledge of it is irrelevant.124 Idealism and Existentialism it is to recognize as valid should be perceived by it as good . the right of the validity and truth of the external world. or an action is right or wrong in itself. “since action is an alteration which must exist in an actual world and thus seeks recognition in it. The Criticism of Romantic Individualism in “The Good and Conscience” The three main sections of the Philosophy of Right—“Abstract Right. . What one personally thought about the pronouncements of the gods through the oracles was a matter of complete indifference. . In the Greek world. the Greeks would put horses and donkeys on trial. but at the same time to allow individuals the opportunity to grant their assent by means of their own critical evaluation of the concrete customs and traditions. . Thus. beginning with an account of the isolated individual. who presumably were unaware of their criminal actions. good or evil. This is Hegel’s formula for overcoming the repression of the ancient world and the alienation of the modern. Oedipus was regarded as guilty and subsequently punished by the gods for murdering his father and marrying his mother.” i. . this was not recognized as a right in the ancient world.” “Morality” and “Ethical Life”—systematically treat increasingly complex social forms. the right of the subjective will is “that it should be held responsible for an action . One’s private opinions played no role when the truth was considered to dwell in the external sphere. the truth is both in the outside world and in the inwardness of the individual simultaneously. but these must be recognized as rational by each individual. In short. for Hegel. Hegel explains. no subjective moment is recognized as valid. Hegel formulates this concisely by saying that the “right of the subjective will” to recognize the good must coexist harmoniously with “the right of objectivity. the truth exists in the customs and traditions in the public sphere. according to its cognizance of the value which that action has in this objectivity.”10 Similarly.

on their own. i. legal practice and handed-down ethical notions that constitute the fabric of every society.12 The latter represents the broad sphere of custom. finite and erroneous when taken as something absolute. Thus. the state and the social order. in abstraction from the surrounding culture and society.” This is the context for Hegel’s analysis of different forms of subjectivism in “The Good and Conscience.” These forms have their justification in their role in the development of the concept of right. “The Good and Conscience. then in “abstract right” he treats the interactions of single individuals in abstraction from any wider social framework. In this section Hegel defines thus the notion of conscience: “Subjectivity. “Morality. which are all treated in the section “Ethical Life. morality unknowingly abstracts from the lived ethics that is already given in the real world. morality is characterized by Hegel as an abstract approach which focuses on the individual. The danger that Hegel is keen to point out is the tendency to absolutize the individual will and place it in opposition to the universal. the sphere of Sittlichkeit. which can be discerned by the philosophical eye. The section at issue. Morality goes to work to formulate abstract laws of conduct as if they had to be created ex nihilo. Only when this rationality is unpacked can one begin to see the logos in existence.e. By contrast. which concerns only a single abstract individual. and it is the determining and .Kierkegaard’s Criticism of “The Good and Conscience” 125 then progressing to an account of individuals in interaction with others in the social sphere and the state. of course. he begins in the introduction with a theory of action. this sphere which is ultimately of most interest to Hegel since it contains its own inherent rationality. However. tradition. which treats its subject matter in increasing levels of complexity and sophistication.14 Morality tends to regard the individual in isolation from his or her social environment and context. habit.” is the third and final subsection of the middle chapter. It thus ignores the fact that we live in families and societies and always already have a deeply ingrained sense of right and wrong from these sources. in its universality reflected into itself. It is natural for Hegel to analyze morality before ethical life given the structure of the work. Thus.” Hegel famously draws a distinction between “morality” (Moralität) and “ethical life” (Sittlichkeit). and finally culminating in an account of the interaction of nations with one another in history.13 It is. which includes a recognition of the rights of the individual. religious belief. these forms are. All of these accounts then presuppose the full human being in relation to the family. it is that which posits particularity. is the absolute inward certainty of itself.

“absolute inward certainty. civil law. making a claim on every individual. by its very nature particular. mores. On the contrary. nor is its form that of feeling or any other individual . He explains: “What constitutes right and duty. Hegel points out that the locus of moral action in the will is the rational element which recognizes this universal. It is private and accessible only to the individual.. the form of laws and principles. humor or whim could serve as a lasting basis for ethical action. a potential conflict arises with the moral conscience. it is. . able to be either true or false. while it also claims.126 Idealism and Existentialism decisive factor—the conscience. prejudiced assessment of the moral conscience as something sacred and thus infallible. which also make absolute claims.e. which for this very reason is at the same time the certainty of this subject. as Hegel puts it. but essentially that of universal determinations of thought. kind of knowledge. it can . he claims. . i. Hegel writes that conscience is “infinite formal certainty of itself. It is only the rational element which can guarantee that the individual acts in accordance with the universal. Another key feature of conscience is that it is regarded as belonging to a specific individual.”16 As has been noted. the truth of ethics is to be found in the social sphere of rational institutions. To act ethically thus means to act in accordance with the universal. the authority which belongs only to that identity itself by virtue of its rational content which is valid in and for itself.”15 The conscience is regarded as something absolute or. These are by their very nature universal. it risks coming into conflict with accepted custom. . laws. religion. Hegel explains this as follows: The conscience is therefore subject to judgment as to its truth and falsity. and is thus declared and acknowledged to be sacrosanct. duties. The ambiguity associated with conscience therefore consists in the fact that conscience is assumed in advance to signify the identity of subjective knowledge and volition with the true good. of a people. which is. as the purely subjective reflection of self-consciousness into itself.”17 Hegel is thus quick to deny that any feeling. and when it is false. as the rationality in and for itself of the will’s determinations. and so on.18 Hegel rebukes what he takes to be an uncritical. as noted. Given that ethical action is by its very nature universal. and its appeal solely to itself is directly opposed to what it seeks to be— that is. the rule for a rational and universal mode of action which is valid in and for itself . just like the contents of one’s own mind.” Given the absolute nature of conscience. is essentially neither the particular property of an individual. . and so on.

or the arbitrariness of its own particularity. the conscience is true when it conforms to the universal and false when it deviates from it. It cannot be allowed free reign. III. it is capable of being evil.” In much of his analysis of Socratic irony. The conscience is irrational and potentially dangerous when it wills something contrary to the universal. It involves acting in accordance with subjective impulses and drives instead of universally accepted principles and laws. Socrates and Subjective Freedom: The Concept of Irony Kierkegaard’s first reference to “The Good and Conscience” comes in the appendix to the first part of The Concept of Irony. “the state cannot recognize the conscience in its distinctive form. and the appeal to a subjective opinion.”19 Evil is then the absolutizing of the individual will in contradiction to the universal. however.e. He writes. as subjective knowledge. Hegel thus notes the state’s necessary rejection of such subjective acts of conscience that are not in harmony with the universal. entitled “Hegel’s View of Socrates. Later in the text he gives the example of exempting people from mandatory military service who have moral or religious objections to it. Hegel explains: “Where all previously valid determinations have vanished and the will is in a state of pure inwardness. since this would lead to complete anarchy and the destruction of the state. In his analysis of the conflict between Socrates and the Athenian state. be noted that Hegel is willing to allow for the subjective will’s contradiction of the universal within certain limits. which constitutes the main object of investigation in this first part. assertion. the self-consciousness is capable of making into its principle either the universal in and for itself. In short.21 It should.e. Kierkegaard relies heavily on Hegel’s accounts in the Lectures on the History of Philosophy and Lectures on . giving the latter precedence over the universal and realizing it through its action—i. any more than science can grant any validity to subjective opinion.22 His argument here seems to be that such deviations from the universal can be allowed to the extent to which the state is well developed and not threatened by it.” 20 It would be folly to accord the subjective will as such any truth value based solely on its own authority and independent of its actual content..Kierkegaard’s Criticism of “The Good and Conscience” 127 and should be criticized. or when it defies some specific aspect of the ethical life of a people. i.. Hegel notes that the state was perfectly right to condemn Socrates for just this reason. Hegel then arrives at his definition of evil. This involves setting up the individual will in defiance of the universal sphere of ethics.

Jesuitism. consists simply in the possibility of turning at any moment to evil.23 As was discussed above. one reads. and that this right and good is in its nature universal. it is the possibility of good and evil. Socrates invents “morality” in the sense of subjective freedom.128 Idealism and Existentialism the Philosophy of History. probabilism. moral freedom is arbitrariness. Therefore. Kierkegaard presents to his reader the aforementioned Hegelian distinction between “Moralität” and “Sittlichkeit. And under morality he discusses in the section.e. In the Lectures on the Philosophy of History.e. But ethics is in part unreflected ethics such as ancient Greek ethics. with the individual’s view of the matter being irrelevant. Jesuitism. 184): “Conscience. positively) free.” In this context he quotes from “The Good and Conscience”: [Hegel] distinguishes between morality [Moralitet] and ethical life [Sædelighed]. the recognition of the individual being the locus of moral truth. it was in Socrates. For this reason. the appeal to the conscience and irony.. as formal subjectivity. Socrates introduced the notion that the individual had the right to determine what was right and wrong in contrast to the traditional view that this was something already established in the public sphere. i.”24 Here with the reference to “the moral forms of evil.” and so on. and in part a higher determination of it such as manifests itself again after having recollected itself in morality. the principle of subjectivity—of the absolute inherent independence of thought—attained free expression. Socrates is celebrated as a teacher of morality. His explanation of . Hegel himself says this in Philosophie des Rechts (p. but we should rather call him the inventor of morality. Here the moral individual is the negatively free individual. in his Philosophie des Rechts he discusses morality before proceeding to ethics. hypocrisy. that at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War.” the moral forms of evil: hypocrisy. He taught that man has to discover and recognize in himself what is the right and good. but he is negatively free precisely because he is not limited in another. Now he also brings in Philosophy of Right in order to understand the significance of the figure of Socrates. affirmatively free. Kierkegaard refers to the typology of forms of subjectivism that Hegel sets up in § 140 of Philosophy of Right. probabilism. then for the first time he is in truth (i. When the individual by being in his other is in his own. In order to explain what Hegel means by this claim. “The Good and Conscience. He is free because he is not bound by another.

Thus. for both morality and evil have their common root in that self-certainty which has being for itself and knows and resolves for itself. comes to second many of Hegel’s criticisms of the Romantics. He goes on to give a profoundly Hegelian account of how Greek culture prior to Socrates was lacking this principle of subjective freedom. in his account of the forms of modern irony. consists simply in the possibility of turning at any moment to evil.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of “The Good and Conscience” 129 Hegel’s criticism of the forms of subjectivism is quite accurate and apparently uncritical.26 Kierkegaard seems both to understand and to agree with this conception of the will and the nature of evil here in The Concept of Irony. it is a necessary part of the very structure of the free will. IV. The complete passage reads as follows: “Conscience. This is confirmed in the second part of The Concept of Irony.”25 Given that there are two logical possibilities regarding the will—either it can will the universal or it can will the particular—there is always necessarily the possibility of the latter. Kierkegaard’s Abraham and the Moral Conscience: Fear and Trembling In Fear and Trembling Kierkegaard has his pseudonymous author. and their inseparability derives from the fact that the concept becomes its own object and. The evil will wills something opposed to the universality of the will. Thus. At the beginning of each of these . The dialectical nature of this concept is captured in an addition to this paragraph: Good and evil are inseparable. present a series of three “Problemata. .” which he makes use of both in his account of Socrates and later in the book in his account of the forms of Romantic irony. immediately embodies the determination of difference. where Kierkegaard. as formal subjectivity. Johannes de silentio. at this early stage in his literary career Kierkegaard seems quite positively disposed towards Hegel’s analysis and criticism in “The Good and Conscience. The passage that Kierkegaard quotes directly comes from § 139 of Philosophy of Right and immediately follows Hegel’s above-quoted definition of evil. whereas the good will acts in accordance with its true concept . as object. and the will in its concept is both good and evil. .” which treat different dimensions of the story of Abraham and Isaac. evil as well as good has its origin in the will. Evil is thus not an arbitrary force that by some unfortunate event was allowed to sneak into the world: on the contrary. Here the young Kierkegaard seems wholly to agree with Hegel.

and it is his ethical task continually to express himself in this. Any attempt to assert the individual will above the universal is an expression of evil.130 Idealism and Existentialism three sections. They help to clarify Johannes de silentio’s own position by way of contrast.”28 Johannes de silentio continues: “The single individual.e. Abraham must “suspend” the universal ethics of his society. He acts in accordance with the particular and not the universal laws which state that parents should take care of their children or that one should not kill others. which must be annulled [ophævet] in the teleology of the moral in such a way that the single individual who remains in that stage either sins or is immersed in spiritual trial. is the individual who has his τελος in the universal.”31 Here Johannes de silentio uses slightly different language than one finds in Hegel. i. The reason for the reference to “The Good and Conscience” in the first Problema should already be more or less clear. sensately and psychically qualified in immediacy.’ where he defines man only as a ‘moral form of evil’ (see especially The Philosophy of Right). “If this is the case. according to Hegel. The text continues. and they intend to demonstrate the shortcomings of specific aspects of Hegel’s thought. These three parallel passages thus seem to serve both a didactic and a polemical purpose. if there is nothing higher than the universal.”30 Up until this point it sounds as if Kierkegaard’s pseudonym is an advocate of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. By heeding the divine command to sacrifice his son. “then Hegel is right in ‘The Good and Conscience. Kierkegaard thus wants to juxtapose his Abraham with Hegel’s account of the role and rights of the individual visà-vis the Sittlichkeit of a people. the universal realm of ethics. This association is enforced by the direct comparison with Hegel at the outset of the analysis.27 The first Problema addresses the question “Is there a Teleological Suspension of the Ethical?” By “the ethical” here.”29 This clearly echoes Hegel’s account of the moral conscience which lives in harmony with the universal ethical standards and norms of the society. So also. but the point is clear enough. for . Johannes de silentio continues. law and custom. Subjectivism or individualism has. The section begins with the Hegelian-sounding claim “The ethical as such is the universal. Kierkegaard’s Abraham is a model for the absolute right of the moral conscience. “As soon as the single individual asserts himself in his singularity before the universal.” that is. Johannes de silentio seems straightforwardly to mean the same thing that Hegel means with Sittlichkeit. to annul the singularity in order to become the universal. and only by acknowledging this can he be reconciled again with the universal. he sets up the issue to be explored and contrasts it explicitly with some aspect of Hegel’s philosophy. he sins.

as the single individual. This explains why there is no direct argument for it and why in the third Problema it is claimed that Abraham cannot attempt to use it in order to justify his actions. since Hegel believes that religious faith is indeed to be found in the realm of Sittlichkeit. isolates himself as higher than the universal. . higher sphere beyond that of Hegelian Sittlichkeit. Here the paradox is clearly supposed to point to the transcendent sphere that is higher than the immanent sphere of civil life and ethics. Here as elsewhere Kierkegaard seems quite anxious to distinguish this position from a simple relativism which dismisses the validity of the universal. By referring to this relation as a paradox. its justified place in the grand scheme of things. The shortcoming ultimately comes down to the point that the realm of Sittlichkeit is absolute for Hegel. Hegel’s ethics can do nothing other than condemn Abraham. but rather must simply remain silent. and the movement should not be conceived as a reverting to the sphere of random . The objection is that Hegel’s ethics does not have the apparatus to deal with this kind of case. please note. in such a way that the movement repeats itself. Kierkegaard’s pseudonym seems to imply that it cannot be made sense of by means of normal human understanding or discursive rationality. Kierkegaard then has his pseudonym introduce the famous notion of the paradox. This indicates a shortcoming in his theory in general. One enters this paradoxical position from the universal sphere of ethics. Johannes de silentio then issues his criticism: “But Hegel is wrong in speaking about faith. Johannes de silentio writes: “. .”32 In order to be consistent. Here is where the real tension lies. faith is namely this paradox that the single individual is higher than the universal—yet. and thus it cannot take into account the sphere of religious faith. so that after having been in the universal he. which Johannes de silentio takes to be higher than the universality of Sittlichkeit. he is wrong in not protesting loudly and clearly against Abraham’s enjoying honor and glory as a father of faith when he ought to be sent back to a lower court and shown up as a murderer. It is the highest instance. The critical point that Kierkegaard’s author wishes to raise is that there is another.”33 This is a difficult claim which has been the object of many interpretations. but it is ultimately only one step along the way to the developed concept of right. anticipating the account in Philosophical Fragments. Similarly.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of “The Good and Conscience” 131 Hegel. this must be in agreement with the universal ethic if it is to be true. This sphere renders the universal of the sphere of Sittlichkeit secondary or irrelevant. while the individual has the right to the moral conscience. This is the sphere in which Abraham operates when he acts to fulfill the divine command to sacrifice his son.

if there is nothing incommensurable in a human life. Thus to claim that something cannot be known since it lies in a sphere beyond is simply a kind of conceptual game that philosophers like to play. or Jacobi’s God. Thus. But since this cannot be explained. It would be an absurdity.132 Idealism and Existentialism individualism.34 The point here seems in part to be that there must be some legitimate distance or separation of the individual from the universal ethical sphere. Hegel consistently rejects any notion of an unknown transcendent beyond in whatever form that may take. who is to be expressed in the universal). The idea of a legitimate “incommensurability” is taken up in the second Problema. for the divine to reveal Himself but yet still remain hidden and unknown. one can talk here of a higher form of individualism. no argument for it can be given. social morality—is the highest and if there is in a person no residual incommensurability in some way such that this incommensurability is not evil (i. what they forget is that they themselves have posited the transcendent realm based on their experience with the immanent.”36 This seems to refer to Hegel’s general view that the truth can be known by speculative human reason. where Johannes de silentio polemicizes against the purported Hegelian commensurability of the inner and the outer. Hegel is mentioned again in a critical manner when Johannes de silentio compares his thought to that of the Greeks. 35 There he writes: “.e. . by which Kierkegaard distinguishes his position from the different forms of subjectivism and relativism that he criticized in The Concept of Irony. Not every deviation from the universal need be understood as an arbitrary act of the moral will and a form of moral evil. which is. He writes: For if the ethical—that is. according to Hegel. represented symbolically by the Christian revelation. Johannes de silentio’s form of individualism is based on faith and a relation to God. for Hegel. The truth is revealed to the human mind. . then no categories are needed other than what Greek philosophy had or what can be deduced from them by consistent thought. for example unseen forces of physics. the Kantian thing-in-itself. . Hegel’s claim is of course that human reason can know the truth since anything transcendent is necessarily related to and conditioned by the immanent. Hegel should not have concealed this. then Hegel was right. But they fail to see the necessary conceptual unity of the two. for after all. the single individual. As is well known. and if the incommensurable that is present is there only by an accident from which nothing results insofar as existence is viewed from the idea.. he had studied Greek philosophy.

Like Socrates’ daimon. or here the incommensurability of the figure of Abraham. For the Greeks there was nothing about their universal. Kierkegaard thus sees in Socrates a pagan analogue to the incommensurability that he wishes to argue for in the Christian context with the notion of the God-man and the doctrine of the paradox in Philosophical Fragments. The natural question in this context is. how can one be certain that this relation and these commands are genuine? In the natural course of things. one’s relation to the divine is something private and inward that cannot be immediately perceived in the outward sphere. The potential for conflict arises here since the individual must place himor herself at odds with the realm of accepted ethics and laws in order to obey the divine command.”38 Thus God’s command to Abraham represents something infinitely higher than Abraham’s duty as a father or citizen. There was no incommensurability. On the contrary. The purported harmony of the Greeks meant that individuals immediately identified with this sphere and there was no separation or sense of alienation between what the individual wanted and what the public sphere demanded. This is precisely why Kierkegaard in other works lauds Socrates as someone who placed the individual above the universal. The individual cannot appeal to the divine command or revelation as a defense for his or her actions since this would be contrary to the notion of the paradox. It represents a form of incommensurability that cannot be found in Hegel’s system. which is precisely something that cannot be understood or explained. with his daimon. one is wrong and mistaken about any . personal and individual nature of the relation to the divine and the divine’s commands. Johannes de silentio explains that Abraham stands “in an absolute relation to the absolute. the individual must remain silent and accept that no justification in this sense is possible. given the subjective. claimed to have a private source of ethics. which is universal and accessible to all. The key feature of Johannes de silentio’s doctrine of the “teleological suspension of the ethical”37 seems to be that one has an absolute duty towards God which infinitely outweighs even the most important finite duties one has in the finite sphere of universal ethics or the Hegelian realm of Sittlichkeit. Since this divine command is not publicly accessible. it cannot be evaluated or understood by others as the justification for the individual’s action. But given that this relation to God is characterized as a paradox. it is hidden and inaccessible to the public sphere. which was incommensurable and inaccessible to the public sphere. This was why they persecuted Socrates who.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of “The Good and Conscience” 133 The connection with “Greek philosophy” in the passage quoted above seems to refer to the public ethical sphere of the Greeks. public ethics that was hidden.

Instead. If this is done. he discusses the notion of the moral conscience once again. The world regards the fear of God as self-love. The Godfearing person does not love what the world loves. The entry in question begins as follows: The world regards the God-relationship of the single individual as really being selfishness.134 Idealism and Existentialism number of points. Faith is not a matter of certainty. and therefore the God-fearing person loves himself.”39 Here Johannes de silentio openly acknowledges this problem and effectively leaves it unanswered. including the lives of those one loves? Johannes de silentio raises the question as follows: “How does the single individual reassure himself that he is legitimate? It is a simple matter to level all existence to the idea of the state or the idea of society. No logic or mediation can help one reach the conclusion. but of fear and trembling. one need only follow the reasoning through to the end to accept the conclusion. The very nature of this faith is that it cannot rest in the quiet complacency of having done the right thing. This anxiety is a central part of the analysis of Abraham in the work. In an odd sense. but instead an act of faith is required. both Hegel and Johannes de silentio can agree that this account does not solve the problem. The world takes God away. This simply underscores the profound challenge of faith. it is also simple to mediate. how then can one be certain in this all-important sphere where so much is at stake. Since the world does not really believe in God. This journal contains a number of entries on different themes. Hegel’s “Abolition of Conscience” in the Journal NB2 In the Journal NB2. self-love. not possible in the sphere of the paradox and the incommensurable.40 The criticism here seems clearly to be directed against a secular view which refuses to acknowledge any transcendent sphere which has a demand on the individual. it is easy. including some autobiographical reflections on Kierkegaard’s profile as an author as well as a number of discussions of various theological topics. which Kierkegaard kept in 1847. but then what is left— God and himself. in the long run the God-fearing person must really love himself. the nature of faith involves by its very nature the uncertainty and the possibility of being mistaken. however. With respect to discursive knowledge. This is. It thus interprets devotion and pious feeling in a secular . V. There is a natural anxiety involved in every genuine act of faith. for one never comes to the paradox that the single individual as the single individual is higher than the universal.

This text can be regarded as further developing the demanding view of faith set forth in Fear and Trembling by adding the concept of offense. like Abraham. every time a . He writes: Every time a witness to the truth transforms truth into inwardness (and this is the essential activity of the witness to the truth). for faith is carried in a fragile earthen vessel. “Fear and tremble. recognizes “that one’s ultimate judgment and ultimate responsibility are to God.” By contrast Kierkegaard. Hegel’s understanding of Sittlichkeit as the highest instance is conceived by Kierkegaard as a deification of “the world and contemporary opinion. There the contradiction is between Christ and the universal. Anti-Climacus discusses the way in which the Pharisees were offended by Christ. it is a very strong statement to identify this point as “the fundamental damage done by Hegelian philosophy. in the “Exordium” to the second part of the work. “It is also self-love to be unwilling to deify the world and contemporary opinion.”42 The reference to Hegel comes in “The Exposition” also in the second part of the work. He argues that this is no accident but rather a necessary feature of the God-man. to want to maintain (as every human being ought to) that one’s ultimate judgment and ultimate responsibility are to God. Kierkegaard here seems to think that Hegel has eliminated the moral conscience by not recognizing its validity as something independent of and indeed higher than the sphere of Sittlichkeit. VI. established order. Hegel’s “Deification of the Established Order” in Practice in Christianity Another critical assessment of “The Good and Conscience” appears in Practice in Christianity from 1850. Indeed.” Consistent with the account in Fear and Trembling. and that the possibility of offense is a necessary precondition for true faith. in the possibility of offense.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of “The Good and Conscience” 135 manner with no divine referent. This is in effect what Hegel was criticized for in Fear and Trembling since he did not recognize any higher sphere than that of Sittlichkeit. Kierkegaard then continues.” and not to anything in the finite sphere. Kierkegaard’s pseudonym Anti-Climacus enjoins the reader.”41 When one considers the many different criticisms of Hegel’s philosophy issued by Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous authors. This impiety (the abolition of the relationship of conscience) is the fundamental damage done by Hegelian philosophy.

Now. he claims that. however. the more natural is the conclusion: ergo. As in The Concept of Irony.”45 The objection is that this is a complacent view that gives people the mistaken impression that everything has been comprehended. an obvious distortion of the position. We need but little acquaintance with the human race to know that this is so and but very little with the most recent philosophy to know that this will happen in our day also. But. Kierkegaard clearly understood and acknowledged the point about the nature of the will representing a potential for evil. But the more one deifies the established order. Hegel does not recognize the realm of the religious.” Kierkegaard clearly makes reference to Hegel.46 This passage is also related to The Concept of Irony. the tone is even sharper than in Fear and Trembling. secular human mentality that wants to settle down and fancy that now there is total peace and security. he represents the principle of the individual moral conscience against the realm of Sittlichkeit. he must be rather close to imagining that he is God. Now however. this is not to say that he is self-deluded. for Hegel. now we have achieved the highest. no. conscience is a form of evil. which is higher and which makes an absolute demand on the individual. It thus undermines the uncertainty of faith in fear and trembling. the established order—ergo. Anti-Climacus continues his criticism: “The deification of the established order. although the point is the same. In short. who fancies himself as being higher than the established order. .44 Here Kierkegaard has his pseudonym repeat his criticism about the deification of “the established order” in Hegel’s view that the realm of Sittlichkeit is the highest. the one who disapproves of or rebels against this divinity.136 Idealism and Existentialism genius internalizes the true in an original way—then the established order will be offended at him.43 Here with the phrase “the most recent philosophy. Impudence. is the smug invention of the lazy. a Mr. it could very well be that he is the ‘gadfly’ the established order needed to keep it from falling asleep or from falling into what is even worse. who is mentioned explicitly in what follows: Why has Hegel made conscience and the state of conscience in the single individual “a form of evil” (see Rechts-Philosophie)? Why? Because he deified the established order. as is seen from an allusion to Socrates: “And then—then along comes a singular one.”47 Here Socrates is lauded for his role of preventing the established order from slipping into complacency. self-deification. In the first references to this section in The Concept of Irony.

given that Hegel cannot accept the absolute right of the moral conscience independent of its actual content. most importantly. faith. pernicious or Kafkaesque as it is portrayed.48 This is overstated since Hegel is of course interested in preserving key elements of the modern world that respect the rights of the individual. Indeed. or the unknowability of the Incarnation contained in the Kierkegaardian doctrine of the paradox. either the doctrine of the divine as the absolute other in a transcendent realm. he cannot accept that one has an absolute duty towards God. as noted. It is. and Hegel’s actual position is not nearly so wicked. he deifies existing actuality. his criticism of the unreflective Sittlichkeit of the Greek world would not make any sense if he were not interested in protecting the rights of individuals. This is a distortion of Hegel’s account of the relation of the moral conscience to the realm of Sittlichkeit. what do these criticisms tell us about Hegel’s and Kierkegaard’s respective intuitions on key issues such as faith and conscience? Generally speaking. He also uses this purportedly Hegelian position as a negative example in order to work out his own positive view by contrast. offense and. The arguments Kierkegaard and his pseudonyms raise against Hegel in this regard are. Hegel would certainly never accept. this is of course not to suggest that Kierkegaard and Hegel are in agreement here. Although Kierkegaard’s presentations of Hegel’s view are polemical distortions. or a somewhat caricatured picture of his political philosophy. the case against Hegel presented by Kierkegaard and others in this context has been overstated. for example. Similarly. The misrepresentation of Hegel’s position is found in the overstatement of the aforementioned claims.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of “The Good and Conscience” 137 How then are we to evaluate these criticisms? What role do they play in Kierkegaard’s works? Are these criticisms and the positive positions defended by his pseudonyms philosophically plausible? Finally. the paradox. From Kierkegaard’s perspective. alas. given that Hegel does not recognize an unknowable transcendent sphere. as a polemical foil in order to construct and clarify his own position with respect to the doctrines of the God-man. a part of his overall project to reconcile the harmony of the ancient world with the individualism of the modern. It has long been a caricature of Hegel’s political philosophy that he destroys the individual in order to deify the state. Kierkegaard thus seems to use Hegel. The two have fundamentally differing intuitions about these basic issues. The position set forth under Hegel’s name is intended to be the whipping boy for the general views that Kierkegaard’s pseudonyms wish to criticize. like so many arguments of the great philosophers in the . such as that Hegel’s political philosophy deifies the state and crushes the individual and the moral conscience.

what would Hegel’s view of Kierkegaard’s position be? In § 140 of Philosophy of Right. If one is truly convinced that one is carrying out God’s command. (D) willing the good. there is no longer any hypocrisy or evil at all. There is no factual truth of the matter outside the individual. Of these different positions. in his early work.)49 According to the law of the heart. in contrast to any previous stage. To view the matter anachronistically. there is no longer any recognition of anything objective in the ethical sphere. good intentions. which represent increasing forms of individualism: (A) acting with a guilty conscience. (This form of subjectivity takes its name from the famous section in the Phenomenology of Spirit. The Concept of Irony. A guilty conscience is impossible at this stage since it does not recognize the legitimacy of the universal in contrast to one’s action and conviction. then it is true and righteous. Hegel treats a view that somewhat resembles that put forth by Kierkegaard. for a person is able to transform whatever he does . It will be noted that the actual content of what one wills remains abstract and wholly indeterminate. for example that of hypocrisy. and subjective conviction are said to be the factors which give actions their value. Here Hegel runs through the following positions. (E) the so-called law of the heart. But one can be subjectively convinced of anything at all. where it is also analyzed.138 Idealism and Existentialism tradition. in his typology of forms of subjectivism and individualism. Hegel explains this view as follows: But if a good heart. In other words. Kierkegaard effectively reproaches Hegel for not having a doctrine of the paradox and for not respecting the sphere of the incommensurable or ineffable that it circumscribes—all wellknown doctrines from Kierkegaard’s pseudonyms. (C) probabilism. Here. In short. and (F) irony. if one is truly convinced of the truth and righteousness of one’s action. question. This positive evaluation only changed as he developed his own views in more detail. But these reproaches come without any attempt to address the underlying philosophical issues that inform Hegel’s position.begging. the ethical nature of the action is determined by the conviction which holds it. (B) hypocrisy or presenting evil actions as good. This seems in a sense to be confirmed by the fact that before he developed these famous doctrines. and thus one’s only justification is subjective conviction. was in complete agreement with Hegel’s analysis. it is the law of the heart that best corresponds to the view Kierkegaard puts forth. for example the polemic against the transcendent sphere of the Kantian thing-in-itself. then the act is justified. The sole criterion is that one is convinced that one is doing the right thing. Kierkegaard.

In short. anyone who sincerely believes that he or she has received a divine command to do something that is in conflict with ethics or law is thereby ipso facto justified and indeed duty-bound to teleologically suspend the ethical. hardened and undiluted sinners referred to above. Needless to say. this is a potentially very dangerous position since with it one can justify anything at all. but there must be something that moves him to action if his moral psychology is to make any sense. and instead of those free and open. or else he would not act. The question then becomes one of his moral motivation. this principle requires that the agent should be judged only in terms of his intention and conviction. Instead. and the element of his conviction renders it good. While this act cannot be justified to others. Hegel believes that one effectively gives carte blanche to any kind of evil or self-serving act. One can call this “faith” or “knowledge” or something else. Without a determinate content by which an action can be meaningfully examined. we have a consciousness of complete justification by intention and conviction. He must in some way be able to “ justify” the action to himself. Kierkegaard’s Abraham must remain silent. Unlike modern terrorists who use such arguments. or else in such a serious matter he would act differently. but in the sense . there still remains the question of its status for Abraham himself. The problem here is of course that the merit of an action cannot be judged solely by its good intention or the belief that one is acting on a divine command. He can make no attempt to appeal to the fact (imagined or real) of his revelation in order to justify his act. he believes that he is doing right since he is acting in accordance with a divine command. 50 In short. there is no longer such a thing as crime or vice in and for itself.e. on one whose conviction is bad in its content. i. based on the good motivation of fulfilling a divine command.. and act on the absolute divine command. Thus. At some level or in some way he must believe that he is doing the right thing. must also be negative. But this silence does not seem to get rid of the problem entirely.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of “The Good and Conscience” 139 into something good by reflection of good intentions and motives. Hegel’s response to this is as follows: In so far as we speak of judging and pronouncing a verdict on an action. in keeping with this evil content). But one should hasten to note that Kierkegaard would not accept this as a form of justification. the actual content of the action is essential. or of his faith—not in the sense in which Christ requires faith in objective truth (so that the judgment passed on a person of bad faith.

in the sense of formal. and my conviction is insignificant and contingent. and what he must do. one must admit that there is more to the matter than just personal conviction. then our personal conviction about these things is a matter of complete indifference. in his action. But then. In short. Thus. In the cases of mistaken perceptions of revelations. on the one hand. and all that remains for me to think about is that empty good as an abstraction of the understanding. this is the whole point of the difficult challenge of faith in fear and trembling. . when it is mistaken. Conviction alone does not provide any meaningful criteria for evaluation. Again. for it is a matter of indifference how I think. Kierkegaard’s doctrine of an absolute duty to the absolute is one that is free of all determinate content. and one is obliged to follow this command regardless of the content. God can command one to do anything at all. And my conviction is an extremely insignificant thing if I cannot recognize the truth. remains true to his conviction). If one does not know. not to know that he has received a divine command based on the doctrine of the paradox. conviction is supposed to be the highest absolute principle (with the presupposition that it is correct). 52 On the one hand. then it is dismissed as trivial or meaningless. he seems to know very well since he knows that he must suspend the ethical. 51 Hegel’s view is that this conviction on its own is meaningless if it is not accompanied by an evaluation of a particular content. there is no firm knowing but only faith. in fact a purely external circumstance which I may encounter in one way or another. however.. all that we are concerned with is error. on the other hand. and is thereby declared to be a supreme and sacred value. Hegel argues that this position is incoherent on its own terms. then one has no ethical motivation. i. subjective loyalty. One must admit that there is a possibility of error in one’s perception of a purported divine command. Hegel argues as follows: For in the first instance. conviction is supposed to be the basis of ethics and of man’s supreme worth. and in the second case.e. on the other hand. the view that everything hangs on the personal conviction of having received a divine command cannot be consistently maintained in both cases. and this always involves the possibility of error.140 Idealism and Existentialism of loyalty to one’s conviction (in so far as a person. which is alone in keeping with duty. Kierkegaard’s Abraham seems. If it is the case that we cannot know the truth about the divine or about the divine command.

which involves concepts like the paradox.Kierkegaard’s Criticism of “The Good and Conscience” 141 Hegel would doubtless find particularly problematic Kierkegaard’s claim that no discursive explanation or defense of Abraham’s actions is possible. Hegel refuses to accept that there can be such cases which defy philosophical understanding. at least concerning these issues. . especially when they involve actions in the world which implicitly claim the recognition of others by their very nature. would seem to Hegel to be a self-admission on the part of Kierkegaard that he is exempting himself from philosophical discourse altogether. If this is not possible. the incommensurable and the ineffable. then how can one make sense of Abraham’s action? Kierkegaard’s response is simple: one cannot. The doctrine of a transcendent sphere of the religious.

if at all. it is far from clear to what extent Nietzsche made a systematic study of Hegel’s philosophy.1 Despite the laudable work of Houlgate2 and others. defended most notably by Deleuze. beginning in the 1880s. and accordingly from the latter’s critical stance toward Hegel. I propose to seek out common themes or discussions and use them as a basis for comparison.3 many details of the Hegel-Nietzsche relation remain unexplored. some of Hegel’s doctrines. there is a minority view. This would explain that while his early works seem markedly anti-Hegelian. In this way. who argues that Nietzsche’s own philosophy is a self-conscious criticism of Hegel based on a solid understanding of the thought of his predecessor.4 It is still an open question whether Nietzsche issued carefully considered criticisms of Hegel’s actual thought or whether. seem to represent something of a rapprochement toward. if not a full acceptance of. Although Hegel’s name and many of the key terms characteristic of his philosophy occur throughout Nietzsche’s works. or relation to. we can assess the degree to which certain themes from Hegel influenced Nietzsche’s philosophical agenda without being obliged to speculate about Nietzsche’s knowledge of . The preponderance of the evidence seems to support the view that Nietzsche never read Hegel’s texts carefully. lacking genuine familiarity with Hegel’s philosophy.Chapter 8 Hegel and Nietzsche on the Death of Tragedy and Greek Ethical Life One of the great unexplained themes in the development of German philosophy is the question of Hegel’s influence on.6 Instead of analyzing the passages in which Nietzsche treats Hegel’s philosophy directly. and to what extent his understanding of Hegel and Hegelianism was acquired second-hand or through the filter of Schopenhauer’s animosity. Nietzsche. he simply got in a few digs against a sort of straw man which had been erected by Hegel’s opponents. the later ones. however. 5 It has been suggested that some of these differing interpretations might be accounted for by the fact that Nietzsche gradually emancipated himself from the influence of Schopenhauer.

One must be particularly cautious with respect to a thinker such as Hegel. One must be wary of unceremoniously extracting a given argument or analysis from the works of Hegel and Nietzsche since discussions which treat the views of these philosophers according to a specific topic. for example. with the result that they treat a number of the same issues. if we are not to lose sight of Hegel’s intentions entirely. he says: “A content has its justification only as a moment of the whole. and Nietzsche’s account of the death of tragedy by the introduction of Socratic logic and rationality into dramatic art via the works of Euripides. outside of which it is only an unfounded presupposition or a subjective certainty. He discusses it in a number of passages throughout his philosophical corpus. I would like to examine one of these important. Since it may not be readily apparent how these two analyses can be seen as treating the same subject. then it would seem reasonable to talk about an influence of some sort. but it should be kept in mind that this is an artificial construct of the commentators rather than part of Hegel’s own philosophical agenda. distort them to the extent that they are placed in a context foreign to the thought of the philosopher in question. In the Encyclopaedia. If Nietzsche is found to be concerned with many of the same fundamental issues as Hegel. in which . points of overlap—specifically. including Greek tragedy. Hegel never offers a theory of tragedy per se. i. In what follows. who consistently insisted on the systematic or speculative nature of philosophy. yet hitherto neglected. we must locate his various analyses of this topic in the context in which they appear. The best-known passage is the section “Ethical Action” from the “Spirit” chapter of the Phenomenology of Spirit. Hegel’s view of the collapse of Greek ethical life.8 These can be used to try to reconstruct a theory. Moreover.”7 Hegel’s insistence on the systematicity of philosophy is nowhere better illustrated than with the example at hand. even if it is limited to vague claims about certain ideas being in the air at a certain time. Despite their radically different conceptions of philosophy as a discipline and their different intellectual backgrounds and temperaments. if we are to appreciate Hegel’s treatment of Greek tragedy. we must consider the contexts in which he discusses tragedy.e. as some commentators have done. Thus. Hegel and Nietzsche shared many philosophical concerns. each in his own way and in accordance with his own methodology. I would like to say a word about it in addition to mentioning a few methodological caveats. He tells us explicitly that to extract individual concepts or analyses out of their systematic context is to render them unintelligible since their meaning is based on their systematic relation to other concepts.Hegel and Nietzsche on the Death of Tragedy 143 Hegel’s thought per se. his views on tragedy.

Many interpreters of The Birth of Tragedy have concentrated on the work simply as a theory of tragedy. His discussion in The Birth of Tragedy is much broader than it is often construed as being. I will concentrate on the analysis given there. He is less concerned with the isolated issue of the nature of tragedy than with the destruction of the polis and the Greek world generally. the Enlightenment. he does not use the Sophoclean drama as an example at all. and failed to fully recognize its sweeping analysis of Greek culture. upon examination. and his account of the destruction of Greek tragedy is. but also an account of what he calls “the death of tragedy. as in his Lectures on the Philosophy of History. But. In this chapter I would like to argue that there are a number of striking. There are. His account of Antigone thus appears in the context of history. the ethical conflict represented by the characters Creon and Antigone in the drama was provocative for Sophocles and the Greek audience of the day not merely as an aesthetic experience.”9 and the introduction of an entirely new and destructive principle in Greek life with the rise of Socratic logic and rationality. Indeed. He is here not presenting a theory of tragedy per se. Medieval Europe. Hegel begins with an account of the Greek world and then.144 Idealism and Existentialism Hegel gives his account of Sophocles’ drama Antigone. Rather than providing an aesthetic theory of Greek drama. moreover. and for this reason extracting his analyses from their contexts is probably less distorting than is the case with Hegel. goes on to treat the Roman Empire. He thus gives an account of the demise not only of Greek tragedy. yet heretofore unexamined. remarkably similar to Hegel’s account of the destruction of the Greek polis. For Hegel. but also of an entire form of Greek sensibility and art. similarities in the views of Hegel and Nietzsche . Nietzsche discusses Greek drama throughout his corpus. Nietzsche was not a systematic thinker in the same way Hegel was. when he treats the same issue in his Lectures on the Philosophy of History. Although his views may have changed in the course of his literary career. and finally the French Revolution. Hegel is using Antigone to exemplify a historical conflict in the form of art. other interpretive hazards to be considered. but he mentions this in connection with a general analysis of the Greek world. but also because it was a genuine historical conflict which led to the destruction of the polis as a form of social organization. The “Spirit” chapter of the Phenomenology is dedicated to examining the course of world history according to its Notion or Concept (Begriff ). as the Nazi misappropriations of his work demonstrate all too clearly. Nietzsche presents not only his famous theory of how Greek tragedy arose from the Bacchic choral revelries and was dominated by the Dionysian and Apollonian principles. but his most complete statement on the subject is clearly The Birth of Tragedy. grave interpretive dangers still lurk in the arbitrary excerpting of passages from their original context.

” “The Living Work of Art.” This account culminates in the destruction of Greek drama which. Hegel’s analysis of drama here takes place in the context of the development of the Greek religion. This section is divided into three subsections: “The Abstract Work of Art. but only in the way in which various art forms are used to represent the divine. By contrast. the section “The Spiritual Work of Art” brings both of these aspects together and culminates in drama. the account of drama in “Religion in the Form of Art” is a constitutive part of the content of the dialectical movement. but rather “Spirit brings itself forth as object.” contains the basic conceptual structure of The Birth of Tragedy. the hallmark of Nietzsche’s famous treatment of tragedy. The Abstract Work of Art and the Apollonian The religious consciousness of ancient Greeks enabled them to see themselves in the divine which was represented in the form of a self-conscious subject. signals the demise of Greek culture and the Greek world. In “Religion in the Form of Art” Hegel’s intention is to examine the way in which the divine is conceived and represented in the art of the Greeks. but this does not mean it is foreign to an account of tragedy. while the analysis in “The Living Work of Art” corresponds to Nietzsche’s account of the Dionysian aspect. He is not interested in art as such. On the contrary. Hegel understands along with tragedy a number of aspects of Greek culture as manifestations of Greek religious life. I wish to claim that the middle section of the “Religion” chapter of the Phenomenology. entitled “Religion in the Form of Art.” self-consciousness no longer has natural entities for its object. In the section “Religion in the Form of Art” Hegel discusses the various forms of Greek art and their portrayals of the divine. In “The Abstract Work of Art.” and “The Spiritual Work of Art. Although Hegel’s account of drama in “Religion in the Form of Art” is not a theory of drama per se. for Hegel and Nietzsche. Finally. I wish to argue that Hegel’s analysis in “The Abstract Work of Art” corresponds to Nietzsche’s conception of the Apollonian. as in fact it is in the parallel account of the Greek world in the Lectures on the Philosophy of History. Antigone is used merely as an example which could just as well be replaced by other examples.”10 In contrast to the previous forms of religion where the divine was conceived . There Hegel anticipates among other things the dialectical opposition between the Apollonian and the Dionysian. just as for Nietzsche the Dionysian and the Apollonian together constitute Greek tragedy. I. nevertheless it has a better claim to being one than does the account of Antigone in the “Spirit” chapter.Hegel and Nietzsche on the Death of Tragedy 145 on Greek drama and the collapse of the Greek world.

here it is conceived as similar to the self-conscious subject. The first form of art he explores is sculpture. He writes: [T]he Notion strips off the traces of root. There was a similar unity on the side of the object.”12 The gods selected specific artists. Hegel contrasts divinity as represented in the form of a sculpture with divinity represented in the form of an object of nature. whom they granted the gift of divine inspiration. the act of creating the sculpture formed the point of contact between the human and the divine. Thus. Hegel incorporates a number of discussions of Greek art. By stripping off the natural elements.” not because it is non-figurative in the sense that we think of abstract art today. its essential nature—incommensurability—is preserved for the understanding. Hegel describes this as follows: “This pure activity. The Greeks conceived of the divine as self-conscious subjects. Thus.13 The “straight lines” or symmetry of the object of art stand in contrast to the irregular forms of nature. Becoming its master. on the side of the subject. the divine was revealed in works of art. The sculptors participated in the divine insofar as their work was divinely inspired by the gods. it has made the pathos into its material and given itself its content. since the self-conscious spirit of the divine was represented in a finite form by means of natural materials.”11 Hegel calls sculpture “the abstract work of art. and this unity emerges as a work. it is nevertheless revealed in the form of an object. so that the ensoulment of the organic is taken up into the abstract form of the understanding and . wrestles with the shapeless essence. i. which he takes to be inextricably bound up with Greek religion due to the fact that. . branches. Although the god is conceived as a self-conscious anthropomorphic subject. in their perfection. idealized human form. conscious of its inalienable strength. which they represented in the form of sculptures. but rather in the sense that it portrays idealized figures who. and leaves still adhering to the forms and purifies the latter into shapes in which the crystal’s straight lines and flat surfaces are raised into incommensurable ratios. In his analysis of Greek religious beliefs. are abstracted from the realm of nature with all its small flaws and defects. universal Spirit individualized and set before us. the Greek .146 Idealism and Existentialism as an object of nature. The universal thus became particular or incarnated in the realm of finitude and empirical perception. one finds in Greek sculpture the divine represented in perfect. which is characterized as “abstract and individual.e. for the Greeks. . This represents the first form of Greek religious consciousness that Hegel explores. a sculpture.

its Nature-element within it as a transcended moment. i. It is thus an individual thing despite its idealized or “abstract” form: “. Nietzsche’s characterization of the Apollonian as the principle that separates and divides is in a sense prefigured by Hegel’s analysis of the individuality of the particular sculpture. . There is another area of overlap in the two accounts.”17 The Apollonian distinguishes and separates. resulting in an anthropomorphic representation: “Nature [is] transfigured by thought and united with self-conscious life.”15 Nature is overcome. For Nietzsche. This aspect constitutes one of the chief points of contrast with the Dionysian. plants and animals. This natural element was purged. and it is constructed with specific materials. The empirical object of the sculpture is individual.”14 The divinities of “Natural Religion” were either straightforward objects of nature. sunders wholes and analyzes the individual parts. while its form is a universal. which eliminates all distinctions and individuality and dissolves everything into an undifferentiated primal unity. the . In a sense the similarity is obvious since Nietzsche defines the Apollonian explicitly as the “art of sculpture. . as immediate. and spirit becomes the dominant element.”20 For Hegel. This aspect contrasts with its universality. or some mixture of these with the human. the aspect of individuation is the same characteristic that Hegel emphasizes in his account of the sculpture: “The first work of art. The form of the gods has.”18 A specific sculpture is a concrete empirical entity in the realm of perception. Thus. in a form that looks human: “The human form strips off the animal shape with which it was blended.e. In this mode. therefore. for example the Egyptian god Anubis.”19 The individual empirical aspect of the sculpture represents its essential characteristic for Hegel. such as natural forces. and of universality. is abstract and individual. the abstract.e. the animal is for the god merely an accidental guise. As has been seen. who is part human and part jackal. as a dim memory. the shape is broken up into the distinction of individuality . it steps alongside its true shape and no longer has any worth on its own account. the Apollonian is also the principle of dreams or illusion which hides the essential suffering of existence: “The joyous necessity of the dream experience has been embodied by the Greeks in their Apollo. . idealized figure of the sculpture. This account of sculpture as the abstract work of art corresponds in many aspects to Nietzsche’s characterization of the Apollonian. the shape is there or is immediately present simply as a thing.”16 But this superficial similarity becomes more profound when one considers that Nietzsche defines the Apollonian as representing the principle of individuation: “We might call Apollo himself the glorious divine image of the principium individuationis. i. .Hegel and Nietzsche on the Death of Tragedy 147 sculptor allowed the divinity to appear in a form closer to that of spirit.

These areas of overlap should suffice to establish the claim that Hegel’s analysis of the abstract work of art contains some of the essential elements of Nietzsche’s conception of the Apollonian. is also ruler over the beautiful illusion of the inner world of fantasy. lucidity. and this is the realm of “lucid. death. the god of all plastic energies. On Hegel’s view. He. For Nietzsche. cogency and discursive thought are important characteristics of the Apollonian.” the divine appears not in the form of a lifeless piece of marble carved in human form . Now the Titans as natural entities were eliminated. This constitutes another common point in the respective analyses of the two philosophers. For Hegel this kind of art is “pervaded with the light of consciousness. As will be seen. the further development of Hegel’s discussion of “Religion in the Form of Art” will bear out these similarities and develop them further.” 23 Although he is divinely inspired.”21 In sculpture the remaining elements left over from natural religion were purged. the unethical realm of the Titans.148 Idealism and Existentialism Greek sculpture overcomes and hides the natural elements that were so prevalent in the previous modes of religious consciousness. II.’ the deity of light. cruelty and suffering. which is immediate and unreflective. “is at the same time the soothsaying god. The Living Work of Art and the Dionysian In the next stage in Hegel’s analysis. This purging of the natural elements corresponds to Nietzsche’s understanding of the Apollonian as the principle which disguises and denies nature. the sphere of immediacy has been overcome.” he writes.” 24 We see here another point of contact between the two analyses. This stage is called the abstract work of art precisely because it abstracts from natural elements: “The chaotic being and confused strife of the freely existing elements. and a new divinity with an idealized human form comes about. “Apollo. A third similarity is the notion of lucidity or self-reflective consciousness. the Apollonian represents self-conscious reflection and action for Nietzsche. the sculptor must nonetheless selfconsciously set about his work. who (as the etymology of the name indicates) is the ‘shining one. is conquered and banished to the fringes of an actuality that has become transparent to itself. The abstract work of art represents an ideal and as such an illusion. ethical spirits of selfconscious Nations.” 22 In contrast to the Dionysian. “The Living Work of Art. Hegel characterizes the abstract work of art in the same terms.

In the context of the Bacchic rites. When humans ate a sacrificial animal or drank the sanctified wine. The drunken revelries were thus understood as a sign of contact with the gods. Yet the revelation was still limited. Hegel explains that the . . and then. in plants and animals. When they are harvested or slaughtered and prepared for human consumption. the untamed revelry of nature in self-conscious form. comes forth from the cult satisfied in its essence.” 26 The gods revealed themselves to the religious believers in a very direct and immediate way by taking possession of their bodies. surrendering itself to selfconsciousness. In its usefulness as food and drink it reaches its highest perfection. it is an outer existence for the “other.Hegel and Nietzsche on the Death of Tragedy 149 but in a living human being. Hegel writes: Coming down from its pure essential nature and becoming an objective force of nature and the expressions of that force. self-prepared and digested.”28 Here the divine revelation thus more closely resembles spirit. This is of great significance for the connection to Nietzsche. These are then regarded as sacred. the divine elements remain. Hegel writes that the divine “first enters into the objective existence of the fruit. The divine element that appeared in the Bacchic reveler was intoxicated and irrational. the intoxication of the believers by the sacred wine was taken to be a sign of the divine presence and possession of the individual. . it offers itself to life that has a self-like nature. and then secondly how the divine is present in the body of the athlete. for in this it is the possibility of a higher existence and comes into contact with spiritual reality.”27 This is a more adequate representation and revelation of the divine than the previous one. in it attains to genuine reality—and now roams about as a crowd of frenzied females. just as the statue is perfectly free repose. they ingested the divine element. it is now an intoxicated Bacchic reveler: “Man thus puts himself in the place of the statue as the shape that has been raised and fashioned for perfectly free movement. The body of the Bacchic reveler became the vessel of the god: “self-consciousness . i. Hegel explores first how the divine comes to possess the bodies of the Bacchic revelers. Instead of the divine appearing merely in the form of a static sculpture. and the god enters into it as into its habitation.25 By eating and drinking the objects of nature. the individual was infused with the divine.” for the self by which it is consumed. The point of departure for the Bacchic rites was the belief that the divine manifested itself in the objects of nature. The silent essence of self-less nature in its fruits attains to that stage where.e.

religion and art are mixed in the origin and development of Greek tragedy.”30 Both Hegel and Nietzsche emphasize the fact that the human body itself is used as the raw material for the work of art.”33 For Hegel. celebrates once more her reconciliation with her lost son. Spirit has not yet sacrificed itself as self-conscious Spirit to self-consciousness. the strictly higher. gods whose individuality includes as an essential moment self-consciousness as such. which is immediately united with the self. For Nietzsche the Bacchic revelries represent the original unity of man with man and man with nature: “Under the charm of the Dionysian not only is the union between man and man reaffirmed. Therefore. The Dionysian dwelt in the primal energy of untamed emotions of primal human existence without the veil of illusion.150 Idealism and Existentialism Bacchic reveler’s “self-conscious life is only the mystery of bread and wine.”32 The divine possesses the body of the cult member. which is characterized by singing. not of the other. or subjugated.”31 Only when the Apollonian element of individuation was introduced was this original unity destroyed. For Nietzsche it is the satyric chorus which represents the irrational Dionysian principle. The Dionysian principle was one in which the differences collapse and individuals coalesce into a primal unity. . and not on the divine as a self-conscious entity. He too understands the Dionysian reveler as not just a manifestation of a religious act. intoxication and revelries. Hegel’s first example of the living work of art. Thus. . but also a work of art. Nietzsche. Hegel believes aesthetics and religion to be inextricably linked components of Greek ethical life as a whole. and this constitutes the first similarity in the two accounts. Hegel describes the cult’s activity in the same way. Hegel distinguishes the universality of this communal feeling from the individuation and alienation of the sculpture. dances. . but nature which has become alienated. man. of Ceres and of Bacchus. For Nietzsche as well. It contains an “essence . like Hegel. . he is no longer an artist. The noblest clay. . But it is a single god which possessed all the cult members. . corresponds straightforwardly to Nietzsche’s Dionysian. Both thinkers analyze the Bacchic rites.”29 The focus is on the sacrificial animal or wine and their properties. so a higher community is established. this form of divine revelation also fell short of a complete revelation of the divine as spirit. man. characterizes the body of the Dionysian reveler as a work of art: “. The cult member in his ecstasy. and thus all individuality disappears. He characterizes the higher community as “the night of substance” which is “no longer the tense individuality of the artist. Hegel’s account of the living work of art is remarkably similar to Nietzsche’s conception of the Dionysian. is here kneaded and cut. hostile. he has become a work of art . the most costly marble. the divine dissolves the individuality .

On the other hand. Thus. the coherence of the sculpture had to be invested with a divine element or “inwardness. and the non-spiritual clarity of the latter into the inwardness of the former. “The Spiritual Work of Art.” The two sides are brought together in literature. for Nietzsche.”34 What is manifested in the body of the cult member are natural forces which represent the individual gods. the Dionysian dissolves the individuality of the members of the satyric chorus. The reveling satyric chorus developed into the sober art of tragedy when individuals separated from the chorus and entered into a dialogue with it. There are thus a number of striking similarities between Nietzsche’s account of the Dionysian and Hegel’s account of the living work of art. the two principles combined to produce something higher. each of which rules over his or her own natural sphere. in its universality. Tragedy thus transformed the incoherent and chaotic revelries of the satyric chorus into something lucid and coherent. for both Hegel and Nietzsche. It is only in literature that speech displays “a lucid and universal content. The stupor of consciousness and its wild stammering utterance in the former case must be taken up into the clear existence of the latter. consciousness of the Bacchic revelers had to be made coherent. . but in corporeal beauty it is spiritual essence. reveals divinity and spiritual depth.” What is required is something that unites these two previous moments—the Bacchic revelries and the sculpture—each of which alone is inadequate: In the Bacchic enthusiasm it is the self that is beside itself. Hegel characterizes the living work of art as representing “pure essential nature and becoming an objective force of nature and the expressions of that force.Hegel and Nietzsche on the Death of Tragedy 151 of the cult members just as. the Dionysian and the Apollonian. Hegel indicates that the two moments examined in “The Abstract Work of Art” and “The Living Work of Art” will come together in the Notion of the next section. yet incoherent. The satyric chorus represents the primal unity that existed prior to the introduction of differentiation and alienation that came with the various aspects of civilization.35 On the one hand the divine. Something similar happens according to Nietzsche’s account. original nature. which constitutes the subject of the next section. Nietzsche sees the Dionysian as representing the realm of immediate. Tragedy as a form of art was born out of the interaction of the two principles. In a similar fashion.”36 The lucidity of literature evinces a cogent selfconscious form and.

. lest perchance we should regard the last-attained period. as other critics have noted.”38 But. as the climax and aim of these artistic impulses. Nietzsche writes: “These two different tendencies run parallel to each other. as for Hegel. the older Hellenic history thus falls into four great periods of art. but combine to form a single dialectical unit which develops over time. the two principles stand in a dialectical relation to one another which develops into a variety of forms. they appear coupled with each other. And here the sublime and . the unity of the two artistic principles which produced Greek drama: “.”42 He writes further: If amid the strife of these two hostile principles. in new births ever following and mutually augmenting one another.41 The claim is not that Nietzsche had a worked-out dialectical methodology which corresponds precisely to Hegel’s. for Nietzsche. For instance. that out of the age of “bronze. the period of Doric art.”40 Later Nietzsche traces a cursory history of Greek culture in terms of this movement: Up to this point we have simply enlarged upon the observation made at the beginning of this essay: that the Dionysian and the Apollonian. and through this coupling ultimately generate an equally Dionysian and Apollonian form of art—Attic tragedy.152 Idealism and Existentialism For Nietzsche. It is. controlled the Hellenic genius.37 The claim that Nietzsche had a dialectical methodology contradicts Deleuze’s thesis that Nietzsche’s philosophy is “resolutely anti-dialectical. both held that the two principles do not simply negate each other.39 There are a number of passages in The Birth of Tragedy which contradict Deleuze’s claim. In addition. for the most part openly at variance. but rather that there are aspects of a dialectical method at work in Nietzsche’s account here. Deleuze seems wholly to ignore Nietzsche’s description of the relation of the Apollonian to the Dionysian. Thus. the Homeric world developed under the sway of the Apollonian impulse to beauty. Nietzsche uses an explicitly Hegelian mechanism—the dialectic—to explain the relation of the two terms to one another.” with its wars of the Titans and its rigorous folk philosophy. Whatever their differences might be. we are now impelled to inquire after the final goal of these developments and processes. . that this “naïve” splendor was again overwhelmed by the influx of the Dionysian. and that against this new power of the Apollonian rose to the austere majesty of Doric art and the Doric view of the world. and they continually incite each other to new and more powerful births. the culmination of the dialectical movement for Hegel is the same as for Nietzsche.

now drama replaced the body of the cult member. the gods in literature speak. Here for the fi rst time the natural element is absent.” Similarly. Thus. in order to manifest itself. According to his account. Greek drama conceptually united the preceding moments and raised them to a higher level. in short. a piece of marble or a human body. The gods as they are portrayed in Greek literature are living beings who have adventures and are involved in mundane affairs in many different ways. poems and dramas is superior to the previous incarnations examined above.” Here Hegel presents the different portrayals of the divine in literary form. and culminates in Greek drama. which is a principle entirely foreign to Nietzsche. By contrast. the gods of the Bacchic revelers in “The Living Work of Art” are irrational and incoherent.43 As has been seen. scheme and. and after many and long precursory struggles. Thus. found glorious consummation in this child—at once Antigone and Cassandra. . This conception of the portrayal of the gods in stories. This analysis particularly anticipates some of the central theses in The Birth of Tragedy. both spoken and written. the spiritual medium of language is sufficient for this purpose. Just as the living body replaced the static sculpture as a more satisfying representation of the divine. The divine no longer needs a natural entity.Hegel and Nietzsche on the Death of Tragedy 153 celebrated art of Attic tragedy and the dramatic dithyramb presents itself as the common goal of both these tendencies whose mysterious union. This differs markedly from the simple representation of a god in the form of a static statue. The concept that is at work in this section is that of the divine as revealed through the medium of language. Hegel’s analysis traces the form of religious Spirit from sculpture to the body of the cult member. in literature the Greeks reached their highest form of religious expression by presenting the gods in the form of rational. nonetheless Nietzsche sees the development of the two principles and their conclusion in essentially the same way. are self-conscious beings. self-conscious spirits. plot. The Spiritual Work of Art: Tragedy and Comedy and the Collapse of the Greek World The third section of Hegel’s account of Greek polytheism is entitled “The Spiritual Work of Art. III. although Hegel’s organizational principle is the conceptual self-development of Spirit. as in “The Abstract Work of Art.

. they exist only in the imagination of the auditor. the other remaining for him concealed.”47 The hero’s confl ict and tragic fall result from what he does not know. it learns that knowledge is deceptive. of the opposing powers of the content [of the knowledge] and of consciousness is the result that both are equally right. in effect. but other things are hidden from him. in accordance with its natural moment.e. which represent progressive degrees of spiritual development. and therefore in their antithesis.”50 Here one finds explicitly the analogue in Hegel to the ApollonianDionysian dualism in Nietzsche. acting in accordance with the knowledge revealed. and being committed as regards the content of that knowledge to one of the attributes of substance. Hegel describes this as follows: “He takes his purpose from his character and knows it as an ethical essentiality. for example the family and the state in Antigone. Hegel writes: “The one is the aspect of light. however. it violated the other and so gave it the right as against itself. but in tragedy they are objects of concrete perception and not imagination. The story of the tragic hero is one of partial knowledge. has sprung from the all-illuminating sun. . which is brought about by action. but in the actual speech of the actors themselves. but he only observed one of these at the expense of the other.” and his description of the Furies is virtually identical to what Nietzsche understands by the Dionysian. are equally wrong. knows all and reveals all—Phoebus and Zeus who is his father. but on account of the determinateness of his character he knows only the one power of substance. The hero knows some things in accordance with his qualities as a tragic hero.”48 The tragic hero thus realizes that there are two equally just principles at work.45 The epic poem is sung for an audience by a bard. in tragedy the actors become. by contrast.”46 In an epic poem. several storytellers.154 Idealism and Existentialism In his account Hegel runs through the different forms of Greek literature: epic. the god of the oracle who. .”49 The principles of the known and the unknown are represented as “the revelatory god” Apollo and “the Furies who keep themselves concealed.44 Tragedy is higher than epic because it is closer to a complete representation of the divine. Hegel designates Apollo with the appellation “Phoebus. The moment of recognition occurs when he discovers that his principle was one-sided: “Consciousness disclosed this antithesis through action.”51 This visible side is. i. the tragic confl ict is not between right and wrong but right and right. two principles with an equal claim to legitimacy: “The truth. Hegel writes: “. however. tragedy and comedy. not in the form of a narrative. these characters exist as actual human beings who impersonate the heroes and portray them. Thus.

The result of this dynamic is an alienation of the believer from the divine. on the one hand. Hegel explains: The action itself is this inversion of the known into its opposite. However. they are presented as both being aspects of Zeus. but rather a blind. Its opposite is represented by the Furies. Hegel explains: “Necessity has. self-conscious subject. perish. It is embodied on the stage by the actor playing the part of the divine who stands apart from the chorus and the audience. Thus. Hegel writes: “. into being. . It is the law of the nether world. is not yet present. the true union. “the power that conceals itself and lies in ambush. Zeus is. on the contrary. who are the negative element in the dualism. 52 While Apollo represents reflection and knowing. this association of Zeus with the abstract principle of fate or necessity alienates the religious believer from him. is the changing-round of the rightness based on character and knowing into the rightness of the very opposite with which the former is bound up in the essential nature of the substance—converts it into the Furies who embody the other power and character aroused into hostility. consisting of opposites.”54 These two principles form an organic whole. In epic poetry even the gods were subject to the impersonal power of fate. of the inner being dwelling in concealment. radically distinct from human spirit. “the father of the particular that is taking shape in the knowing” and. fate. and substance. who represents both Apollo and the Furies. Since the two principles are in fact two different sides of one and the same conflict. the characteristic of being the negative power of all the shapes that appear.”53 both of which are characteristics of the Dionysian for Nietzsche. in contrast to self-consciousness. the Furies represent immediacy and “not-knowing. that of the self. a power in which they do not recognize themselves but. it is only in his play-acting that the . destructive principle. Now fate becomes synonymous with Zeus. the simple certainty of self. of substantial being and of abstract necessity. Zeus is no longer a rational. Hegel writes: “But self-consciousness. the unity of Zeus. he becomes a terrifying force. oblivious to human suffering. .”55 These conflicting elements are the causes of the tragic fall and thus come to be associated with the concept of fate.”56 However. both of which are alienated from it. “the Zeus of the universal. In this respect Zeus ceases to be a spiritual being and shades over into an abstract principle. on the other.Hegel and Nietzsche on the Death of Tragedy 155 only one half of a unitary whole.”58 This alienation is the driving force in the movement from tragedy to comedy. understood as the iron hand of necessity.”57 Thus. is in fact the negative power.

the state “is constrained and befooled through the particularity of its actual existence. it was Euripides who fought this death struggle of tragedy.”64 Like Hegel. Thus the ironic.”63 Nietzsche also sees the move from tragedy to comedy as a symptom of the general demise of Greek culture. . but encouraged comedy. as it were. between its necessity and contingency. including themselves. as a fellow human being behind the mask. For example. He believes Euripides to be a key transitional figure in this movement: “.156 Idealism and Existentialism actor is alienated from these parties. or from the spectator. “In comedy there comes before our contemplation. the victory of their own subjective personality which nevertheless persists self-assured. Hegel calls this contradiction “a hypocrisy. discard his mask. he is in fact wholly in sympathy with the chorus and the audience. appearing here in its significance as something actual. and is no less appalled than they are at the atrocities committed by the god whom he is portraying.”61 Nothing is spared from satire: all human institutions and customs are put under the magnifying glass for critical examination. the comic actor becomes just another human being. the actor. which it shows to be not distinct from the genuine self. .”59 and indicates that it led to the destruction of tragedy and the transition to comedy. and exhibits the ludicrous contrast between its own opinion of itself and its immediate existence. or jokes which can destroy the contradiction between the role and the actor. He can.”60 With this gesture. Nietzsche understands comedy as the result of the new critical thinking and logical reasoning: “One could . Hegel explains: “The self. While tragedy requires the actor to stay in character. The contradiction between the actor and the dramatic persona being portrayed proved fatal to tragedy. but it as quickly breaks out again from this illusory character and stands forth in its own nakedness and ordinariness. in the laughter in which the characters dissolve everything. A contradiction thus arises between the actual person of the actor and the role he is playing. its universality and its commonness. plays with the mask which it once put on in order to act its part. Hegel continues. In it the degenerate form of tragedy lived on as a monument of its exceedingly painful and violent death.”62 Everything is negated since nothing can withstand the merciless and universal criticism of comedy. critical comic actor comes to have an enormous destructive power: “. the later artistic genre is known as New Attic Comedy. In this way the gods are portrayed as human beings with all their weakness and foibles. Comedy is a medium that subjects all human institutions to criticism. the comic subjective personality has become the overlord of whatever appears in the real world. comedy permits him to make ironic self-references. . .

”66 Dramatic form also changed as comedy moved away from music and singing. There then arose a new sphere of the divine—Platonic Ideas—in which the gods of picture-thinking lost their individuality and dissolved: “With the vanishing of the contingent character and superficial individuality which imagination lent to the divine Beings.Hegel and Nietzsche on the Death of Tragedy 157 even learn from Euripides how to speak oneself . Through this revolution in ordinary language. For Nietzsche. recurring incessantly. comedy represents the ultimate death of Greek drama since it no longer makes use of the Dionysian element of music: “In the new Attic Comedy. from him the people . learned how to observe. the individual self is not the emptiness of . and required human institutions to justify themselves in terms of this lofty standard. however. however. and draw conclusions according to the rules of art and with the cleverest sophistries. . “make the weaker argument defeat the stronger. the transition from tragedy to comedy had a similar leveling effect on content since comedic heroes tended to be slaves and ordinary citizens rather than the princes. the Spirit of “rational thinking”68 of Socrates and the Sophists which made possible the criticism of established institutions and practices. according to Hegel. an evanescent mist.”69 The gods thus lost their colorful personalities and collapsed into the world of abstract thought. viz. in the words of Plato. as also their moments. they are clouds. . Socratic rationalism posited abstract ideas of the Good and Justice.”67 It was.” Thus. everyday life and activities of the people. debate. vanish . there are only masks with one expression: frivolous old men. According to Nietzsche.”65 The result of the universal application of critical reasoning was to cast all prevailing beliefs into doubt. . that is. Where now is the mythopoetic spirit of music? What still remains of music is either excitatory or reminiscent music. the Aristophanean Euripides prides himself on having portrayed the common. kings or nobles depicted in tragedy: “. . familiar. are devoid of empirical content and collapse into the dialectical sophistry which. he made the new comedy possible. Such ideas. . the individual ultimately became the true standard in accordance with the Sophists’ maxim: “man is the measure of all things. all that is left to them as regards their natural aspect is the bareness of their immediate existence. and cunning slaves. . existent nature and the thoughts of their specific characters. . . duped panders.”70 In the midst of this sophistry and relativism. either a stimulant for dull and faded nerves or tone-painting. which is the primary characteristic of comedy. the divine and the dreaded forces of fate are replaced by the rational self-conscious human subject: The individual self is the negative power through which and in which the gods.

Euripides was only a literary spokesman for a philosophical principle represented by the figure of Socrates: “Even Euripides was. The Greeks had a customary morality. Socrates is celebrated as a teacher of morality. The later tragedy of Euripides introduced a new principle that destroyed the Dionysian tragedy as a form of art in Greek life. . only a mask: the deity that spoke through him was neither Dionysus nor Apollo.”72 The Sophists undermined traditional political debate by reducing all positions to a kind of relativism. and proved to be destructive to existing institutions and forms of life. duties. . abides with itself and is the sole actuality.158 Idealism and Existentialism this disappearance but. even in defiance of the existing constitution. but an altogether newborn demon. “With the Sophists.”74 For Nietzsche as well. but we should rather call him the inventor of morality. the Greek tragedy of Aeschylus and Sophocles was dominated by the poetic principle of the irrational. The very principle of critical rationality that was necessary for comedy proved to be its destruction. According to Nietzsche. the Dionysian.”75 Nietzsche argues that Socratic rationality ultimately destroys the poetry and spontaneity of all art. . “began the process of reflection on the existing state of things. internal conviction is relied upon. . preserves itself in this very nothingness.73 The expression of rational thought and reflectivity reached its apex in the figure of Socrates: “He taught that man has to discover and recognize in himself what is the Right and Good. and thus begins a subjective independent freedom. in which the individual finds himself in a position to bring everything to the test of his own conscience. since they were able to make a plausible case for any given position: It was the Sophists . Socrates called everything into question and . and the new doctrine that each man should act according to his own conviction .” he writes. were. In his Lectures on the Philosophy of History. Hegel attributes the introduction of critical thinking into Greek life to the Sophists and Socrates. on the contrary. etc. and of ratiocination. and that this Right and Good is in its nature universal. who first introduced subjective reflection. in a sense. called Socrates. For Nietzsche.71 Personal conviction and individuality took on a meaning previously unknown. but Socrates undertook to teach them what moral virtues. Instead of holding by the existing state of things. the ultimate collapse of Greek tragedy is due to the rise of Socratic rationality.

in which the individual finds himself in a position to bring everything to the test of his own conscience. even in defiance of the existing constitution. Each one has his “principles. Nietzsche writes: “Now we should be able to come closer to the character of aesthetic Socratism. and thus begins a subjective independent freedom. it must survive the Socratic elenchus. are for the most part products of this penetrating critical process. and as claiming practical realization. He writes: Instead of holding by the existing state of things.” and that view which accords with his private judgment he regards as practically the best. was the movement to the atomistic individualism of the Roman world.’ ” 77 The introduction of critical and discursive thought proved to be destructive to the nature of all art since drama had never previously required this justification of itself. For a given belief or practice to be sound. the poet had to be lucid and sober. and that this subjective judgment is preferred over custom or tradition. Hegel sees the fall of the polis and the rise of the world empire as a result of subjective freedom and the introduction of critical and reflective thought. and his art work must reflect it. Euripides took the Socratic methodology and applied it to tragedy. the unconscious spontaneity and intoxication which constitute the essential elements of artistic creation were lost in discursive thought. By the term “subjective freedom. According to Nietzsche. whose supreme law reads roughly as follows. which are so often imputed to Euripides in comparison with Sophocles. . this audacious reasonableness. ‘Knowledge is virtue. for Hegel.” Hegel means the idea that it is the prerogative of the individual to adjudicate what is correct and valid.”78 For Euripides.76 Socrates put stock in knowledge and self-conscious awareness of the truth. He writes: “[S]ubjectivity.79 Reflection and criticism shattered the immediate harmony of the state and the identification of the individual with it. and it unknowingly destroyed itself in the misguided attempt to meet this requirement: “The poetic deficiency and degeneration. The result of the collapse of the Greek world. to a context in which it was profoundly out of place. ‘To be beautiful everything must be intelligible’ as the counterpart to the Socratic dictum. The traditional wisdom was no longer adequate. resulting in the alienation which Hegel sees as characteristic of the modern age. But according to Nietzsche.Hegel and Nietzsche on the Death of Tragedy 159 demanded of his fellow Athenians that they provide rational justifications for their beliefs and institutions. Subjective freedom is thus the principle of the modern world. internal conviction is relied upon.

medieval Europe and the modern world have inherited. . Socratic rationality and logic replaced the traditional ancient virtues such as strength and bravery. actually holding out the prospect of the lawfulness of an entire solar system. he sees Socrates as having initiated a movement which destroyed immediate and unreflected action and gave rise to our modern scientific and technological age. threatens the existing state of things in every department . therefore. thought could not return to the pre-reflective or “immediate” harmony of Greek life. this same spirit of Socratic logic gave rise to the natural sciences. . man sins only from ignorance. characteristic of the ancient and the modern world. for it introduces an antithesis.” Like Hegel. once we see all this clearly along with the amazingly high pyramid of knowledge in our own time—we cannot fail to see in Socrates the one turning point and vortex of socalled world history. faith and morality.’ For now the virtuous hero must be a dialectician. Consistency and the ability to argue became the characteristics of the new hero: “Consider the consequences of the Socratic maxims: ‘Virtue is knowledge.”80 Once reflection came about. he who is virtuous is happy. . . He attempts to create a state which gives the individual his ethical life and identity. Thought. and has spread to dominate the Western world: Once we see clearly . runs through the entire history of Western thought. Nietzsche sees the development and ultimately the destruction of Greek tragedy as representative of a cultural movement in the Greek world as a whole.160 Idealism and Existentialism comprehending and manifesting itself. visible connection between virtue and knowledge. the dualism between immediacy and individualism. Although Socrates claimed to be searching for the good life and moral virtue with constant . Like Hegel. and asserts essentially rational principles. but which at the same time allows for a clear sphere of subjective freedom.82 Note that Nietzsche uses explicitly Hegelian language by referring to “socalled world history. appears here as the principle of decay—decay. now there must be a necessary. This cultural movement forms part of the Western heritage which the Romans. Socratic rationality destroyed immediacy and the immediate identification of the individual with the social whole and gave rise to a new form of life: the world state and the conception of the legal person with citizenship rights. of substantial morality.”81 For Nietzsche. viz. For Hegel. and it is the task of his political philosophy to bring the two together. how this universality first spread a common net of thought over the whole globe.

almost romantic tone when he discusses the “mystic feeling of oneness”85 or the “primal unity”86 that existed in the Dionysian revelries and was destroyed by the Apollonian principle of individuation. chaotic whirl that now calls itself ‘the present’?”83 Nietzsche views with skepticism the prospects of true art and music in a technical. for instance. Nietzsche often speaks with a nostalgic. a methodology which can be found in Nietzsche’s account as well. (2) Hegel employs his celebrated dialectical methodology in order to understand the relation of the two terms to one another. even if it is called religion or science. (4) The role of comedy in the development of Greek drama is understood in substantially the same terms. . Let us briefly review our conclusions: (1) Hegel anticipates Nietzsche’s distinction between the Apollonian and the Dionysian in his analyses of the abstract work of art and the living work of art respectively. (5) Both thinkers attribute the destruction of Greek tragedy to the same causes—critical self-reflection and Socratic rationality. has no precedent in Hegel’s analysis. albeit in terms which can hardly be considered flattering. Nietzsche’s account of the satyric chorus. he introduced a way of thinking that ultimately proved to be destructive. Nietzsche himself recognizes his debt to Hegel. barbarous. or is it destined to be torn to shreds in the restless. rationalistic age. Nietzsche sees this form of Socratic thinking as characteristic of much of our own impoverished modern age: “Here we knock. he says “it smells offensively Hegelian.Hegel and Nietzsche on the Death of Tragedy 161 reflection and critical cross-examination. (3) The culmination of the dialectical interaction of these terms is the same for both thinkers—Greek tragedy. at the gates of present and future: will this ‘turning’ lead to ever-new configurations of genius and especially of the Socrates who practices music? Will the net of art. deeply moved. in fact. (6) For both Hegel and Nietzsche the collapse of Greek tragedy and the Greek world has far-reaching implications for the development of Western culture. that is spread over existence be woven even more tightly and delicately. according to Nietzsche. there are an astonishing number of similarities between these two thinkers on the issue of Greek culture and art. Reflecting on The Birth of Tragedy in his autobiographical Ecce Homo. and is a formative factor in the creation of the modern world as we know it. Another essential difference between the two thinkers can be found in their respective normative appraisals of the origin and development of tragedy. As this analysis has demonstrated.”84 This thesis should not be taken to imply that there is nothing original in Nietzsche’s account of Greek tragedy or that there are not significant differences between the two analyses.

Paradise is a park. it is not correct to regard the immediate. Although it is by no means established to what degree Nietzsche knew the Phenomenology. in fact. less striking than the similarities sketched here. it essentially contains the moment of mediation within itself.”89 To be human is necessarily to be separated from the immediacy of nature. can remain. but. for instance. In this one finds perhaps the fundamental difference in disposition between the two thinkers. For Hegel. he consistently criticizes such sentiments among his contemporaries. not men. Nietzsche has more in common with Hegel than he would like to admit. . on the contrary. natural unity as the right state either. Most commentators have taken Nietzsche’s critical rhetoric vis-à-vis Hegel at face value.” which was appended in 1866. by contrast. or specifically the section “Religion in the Form of Art. where only brutes. the paradisiacal condition. The result has been a common belief that Nietzsche and Hegel represent the antipodes of German thought with nothing whatsoever in common.” nonetheless many of the essentials of Nietzsche’s own analysis of Greek tragedy and culture can be found there.”90 The paradisiacal state of nature is instead just a moment in the evolution of Spirit towards human freedom. . It would be an error to think that the original state is a happy one. With the analysis given. for all of his polemics. the conception of a “primal unity” is not one whose loss is to be lamented: “. and from that moment onward humanity was exiled forever from this happy state. . without looking behind it to see what the actual differences are in the philosophical positions at issue. the biblical story of the Garden of Eden as symbolic of a harmonious unity between man and nature: “. the state of innocence. there is no sense of Romanticism or nostalgia. Spirit is not something merely immediate. According to his view. In the “Attempt at a Self-Criticism. one can perhaps gain some small insight into the troublesome connection in the history of philosophy which will help to forge a hitherto unseen link between classical German idealism and later existentialism. Nietzsche refers to the Birth of Tragedy as “sentimental”87 and has an imaginary critic ask: “. This difference is. on the other hand. what in the world is romantic if your book isn’t?”88 He thus admits a certain regret for the passing of the pre-Socratic world. . . however. He criticizes. We are now in a position to appreciate the fact that. the movements he traces are necessary and contain their own immanent rationality. Thus. . . is that of the brute.162 Idealism and Existentialism Humans existed in a harmony with nature until reflectivity and alienation set in. the schism in which we find everything human involved can certainly not be the last word.

Part III Existentialism .

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and continued and transformed by Martin Heidegger. if not as existentialists in their own right. Jean-Paul Sartre. Therefore. it is perhaps easier to say which thinkers were important in the philosophical and literary movement referred to as “existentialism” than to try to locate a single doctrine or thesis on which every exponent of the movement would agree. “existentialism” designates the series of thinkers in the post-Hegelian tradition of European philosophy. Other nineteenth-century thinkers such as Dostoevsky and Nietzsche are frequently counted as forerunners of the existentialist movement. The radical split that separates the Christian existentialists from the atheistic existentialists attests to the broad nature of the term. existentialism referred to the German school of phenomenology which was founded by Edmund Husserl. In the twentieth century. The main proponents of religious existentialism in the twentieth century are Karl Jaspers and Gabriel Marcel who. Maurice Merleau-Ponty. . such that today it has come to be associated with so many different ideas that it means virtually nothing at all. Kierkegaard is often referred to as the founder of this movement. In its philosophical context. and Simone de Beauvoir.Chapter 9 Existentialist Ethics The English term “existentialism” has often been taken to refer to the thought of the Danish religious writer Søren Kierkegaard and the handful of German philosophers at the turn of the century who were influenced by him. and the term “existentialism” itself derives from his uses of the words “existence. distinct from the phenomenological wing of the movement. This fact was lamented by many of the later existentialists. at least for a time. which he contrasts to the abstract or purely theoretical. which covers many different kinds of thinking that are by no means necessarily consistent with one another. who for precisely this reason rejected the label. Existentialism enjoyed its most popular phase in the French school whose leading exponents were Albert Camus. With time the term came to enjoy a wider currency in popular culture and by degrees lost its meaning. can be seen as continuing in the tradition of Kierkegaard.” “the existential” and their cognates.

despite their prolific and. this would not seem to leave much material with which to work in the construction of a positive ethics. existentialism is generally averse to all forms of traditional morality and abstract ethical systems. plays and short stories. never wrote an ethics per se. for instance. since the existentialists reject traditional forms of ethical theorizing. Existentialist discussions of ethics can be considered metaethical in that. a systematic set of universal maxims. human experience is radically meaningless. Camus and Sartre are rich in situations of ethical import and characters caught in illustrative ethical dilemmas. If one understands by ethics. many of the existentialists’ insights on ethics are not found in abstract philosophical treatises but rather in novels.1 As a school. indeed. the last thing existentialists wish to do is to concoct yet another morality in the traditional sense. most do not. and it acquires meaning and value only through subjective acts of choice and decision. varied writings. Since systematic moralities and organized religions are viewed by existentialists as the most pernicious obstacles in the way of an authentic realization of human freedom. For this reason. their comments on ethics have more the look of cultural criticism or philosophical psychology in the case of. objective. The primary problem involved in explicating or reconstructing an ethics of existentialism lies in the critical or negative focus of the foremost existentialist thinkers. they provide general reflections on the very nature of ethics and the individual’s moral situation in the world. (This is not to say. Existentialists characteristically deny the validity of supposedly overarching. and their surreptitious moralizing is often cited as fatally faulting their existentialist positions. Moreover.) For this reason. At face value. Kierkegaard or Nietzsche. that they successfully resist the urge to moralize. In itself. then existentialism has no ethics since almost all of the existentialist thinkers expressly deny the possibility of adequately justifying action based on rational principles or discursive arguments. of course. existentialist thinkers often describe their positions in overwhelmingly negative or privative terms. instead of offering a positive ethical doctrine. so also they rejected its discursive form. laws or principles which are intended to govern action.166 Idealism and Existentialism For a number of reasons the issue of ethics in existentialism is somewhat problematic. thus. indeed. The literary works of Dostoevsky. it is hardly surprising that some of the leading theoreticians of the existentialist movement such as Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty. many philosophers would dismiss the very notion of an existentialist ethic as an intractable oxymoron. or pre-existing structures that might lend antecedent meaning to human experience. For . Just as the existentialists rejected the content of abstract ethical theorizing.

Aside from these purely philosophical concerns. there are a number of historical factors which explain the rise of the set of ethical concerns that existentialism attempts to address. By contrast. Those who cannot (or will not) choose for themselves the meaning of their existence must wallow in inauthenticity. and above all the twentieth. when one examines the issue of ethics in existentialism. and similar concerns. objective verities and preordained orders. anxiety. What one chooses is not important. For example. Nietzsche and Kierkegaard is attributable to their antinomian iconoclasm in their ability to expose and discard the saving fictions under which most human beings feebly labor. The existentialist movement is perhaps best seen as a logical outgrowth of a specific Zeitgeist characteristic of the nineteenth. which is the closest existentialist thinkers come to a moral ideal. existentialists believe that a positive moral value accrues to the resolute act of choice.Existentialist Ethics 167 these reasons. Most people. The authentic life is reserved only for the existential hero. live in inauthenticity. (2) Having penetrated to the basic meaninglessness of human existence. which is the state wherein one chooses to believe that one has an essence or destiny which is impervious to choice. most of the time. the rapid changes in human life since the nineteenth century. one must approach the subject matter somewhat differently than one would when dealing with a discursive or propositional ethical theory such as that of Aristotle. These questions tend not to be particularly pressing in times of stability or affluence. it is no accident that French existentialism was born and flourished in the context of the Second World War and the German occupation of France. then. that quasimythical creature who can somehow affirm the meaninglessness of human existence and revel in the freedom afforded by the “death of God” or the collapse of all stable foundations or points of reference. this enterprise would comprise two related moments. Existentialism is often associated with fundamental questions of the finitude of human existence such as death. that one chooses is all that counts. have made the need to return to these questions much more urgent. one negative and one positive: (1) existentialists often speak as if positive value accrues to the project of debunking religious dogmas. suffering. Kant or Spinoza. Insofar as one may speak meaningfully of an ethics of existentialism. whereby one displays one’s attainment of authenticity. accompanied by the violent upheavals above all in the twentieth century. Much of the enduring interest in figures like Dostoevsky. Among the radical changes of the last two centuries must surely be numbered the rapid recession of the Church and organized religion from its . alienation. centuries.

he argues. Kant’s Ethical Theory In order to appreciate the orientation of the existentialists toward the field of ethics. The transfer from traditional forms of communal life to modern mass society has in countless ways relegated the individual to a marginal position. it is necessary to say a few words about Kant’s theory of autonomy. On the contrary. This must suffice as a general characterization of existentialism and the set of ethical issues that it aims to address. According to his view. Existentialism is also characterized by a focus on the individual. which can be seen as a natural reaction to the rise of mass culture and the anonymity of modern society. Concurrent with this movement toward secularization there occurred the explosive advancement of the natural sciences. Out of this situation existentialism appears as an attempt to speak for the individual and for the power of free self-determination. while rejecting his account of the rational will subject to universalizable moral laws. Indeed. responsibility and ethical action. have been seen by many as a straightforward proof of the veracity of science. his theory of autonomy nevertheless clears the ground for the existentialist theories of choice. when everything in the world appears to negate even the very possibility of this. acts performed on the basis of external commands or authority are devoid of moral value. Autonomy involves legislating a moral law for oneself . which the critical. the moral agent must give him or herself the moral law and act out of respect for it. I. would not be free if they were subject to a moral law imposed by God or some other external source. This efficacy also apparently attests to the falsity of religious belief. self-correcting scientific method seems to reduce to mere superstition characteristic of past ages and unworthy of further consideration. We must now turn to the individual thinkers and to the role of existentialism in the tradition of ethical thought generally. The central notion for Kant is that of the moral will. this can in many ways be seen as the formula for existentialist ethics in general.168 Idealism and Existentialism once central role in social life. which can be seen as setting the context for much of the discussion of modern moral thinking. which have utterly transformed human life over a relatively short period in human history. Many of the existentialists can be seen as adopting Kant’s theory of autonomous choice. The seemingly miraculous advances in science and the development of technology.2 While it would be a mistake to portray Kant himself as an existentialist. Human beings.

Specifically. Kant breaks with classical moral theory by largely rejecting the conception of a human being with a fixed essence which has a determinate content. the moral agent is obliged to subject proposed maxims for action to the test of universalizability. The proposed action is morally permissible only if it can be willed by all rational agents without contradiction. The moral law must be an expression of one’s own will. One result of this movement of the locus of moral action from an external source to the rational will of the individual is that the moral concepts of good and evil are no longer conceived as independent. they arise concurrently with the moral decisions of the individual will. but he limits this conception to the notion of a rational will that demands self-consistency.Existentialist Ethics 169 and thus imposing on oneself specific moral obligations. he conceives of humans as essentially rational. traditional morality. who insist on a form of voluntarism of the individual and deny that a given situation can ever fully determine an individual’s action. self-subsisting properties of the world. qua consistent and universalizable. heteronomy means being subject to a law which has an external source beyond the acting agent. the necessary and sufficient condition for moral action. only the individual moral will itself can form the moral law. A proposed action that proves to be self-contradictory must then be discarded. and that these contradictions will then be self-evident to the moral agent. . and instead locates moral action in the autonomous agency of the individual. His theory of autonomy thus prepares the way for the existentialists. Kant believes that by means of this test internal contradictions will arise in morally fallacious maxims. On the contrary. and focuses on the will of the individual. For freedom to be meaningful. According to Kant. By contrast. Kant discards the notion of God or any external source for moral commands. Kant thus prepares the ground for thinkers like Sartre who categorically deny any a priori human essence that could serve as the basis of a moral theory. Kant breaks with medieval moral thought in his rejection of heteronomy. the rational will is able to determine what actions are morally right by means of a rational procedure. An appreciation of Kant’s theory of morality is essential for understanding the background for the existentialists’ deliberations on ethics. However. Kant thus rejects all forms of heteronomy. To be sure. The moral action. which is. is the expression of the rational moral will. With these points of commonality a certain continuity between Kant’s moral theory and that of the existentialists can be discerned. Second. according to Kant. The criterion of the rational will is therefore internal consistency. including both divine commands and altruistic motivations. regardless of the will of God. or the wishes of others.

Fear and Trembling (1843). For Kierkegaard. Moreover. One dominant strain of Kierkegaard’s understanding of ethics is his rejection of all attempts to ground ethical action in rationality. and it becomes clear that logical consistency is not a sufficient condition for determining moral action.170 Idealism and Existentialism of equal importance are the ways in which the existentialists depart from Kant’s view. and his views on ethics are tightly bound up with his views on Christianity.3 He was a deeply religious thinker. it would be a mistake to talk about a single Kierkegaard or a single ethical theory in his works. his works Either/Or (1843). every attempt to justify a given action must necessarily fail since there is always a gap between the reasons and arguments given for an act. which he often used to illustrate opposing views. statements on ethics throughout his literary corpus. and the demands of morality. Kierkegaard Kierkegaard was profoundly concerned with a number of ethical issues in the life of the individual. they reject his insistence on the ultimate rationality of the will and the ability of the individual to determine the morally correct action by means of a rational procedure. reason. to appeal to it as a justification for a given action is inauthentic since it would be no different from appealing to an external fact of the matter which purportedly compelled one to act as one did. For the existentialists. It is far more advisable to attempt to locate individual strands of his ethical thought and to discuss them on their own terms. Kierkegaard’s thinking developed over time. A number of given maxims may be internally consistent but yet at odds with one another. While there is no single book which one can point to as the definitive statement of Kierkegaard’s ethical views. often contradictory. II. Thus. The result is that one can find varying. Discussions of Kierkegaard’s ethics are complicated by the fact that he wrote under various pseudonyms. and it is clear from some of his later journal entries that he came to reject at least some of the positions he argued for at any given earlier period. like a given moral situation. This gap can only be spanned by a free decision of the individual. is itself always indeterminate and thus cannot ultimately be used to guide action. Kierkegaard distinguishes between the realm of . Thus. and Works of Love (1847) all contain extended analyses of ethical questions. The existentialists therefore in essence retain Kant’s conception of autonomy while freeing the will from the shackles of a necessary moral law dictated by reason. Most importantly. Here reason alone cannot adjudicate.

like a problem in mathematics. scientific fields such as logic and geometry can justify certain conclusions from a given set of assumed premises without any gaps in the reasoning. when one avails oneself of such methods. then choice would be eliminated and humans would not be free. although not wholly deductively valid.” The anonymous esthete resembles in many ways the romantic: he lives whimsically. The real choice. and one has tacitly forfeited one’s freedom in order to escape into the illusory security of the realm of rational foundations. argues for the staid life of . Kierkegaard argues that if morality were simply a matter of working out a certain equation according to a utility calculus or of subjecting a maxim for action to the Kantian test of universalizability. music and women. which he calls “the esthetic” and “the ethical. the representative of the ethical view. can nevertheless reach impressive levels of approximation based on the rigorous employment of basic investigative principles. a decision has already taken place. for example. Either/Or. which is characterized by a concern for evidence.4 but it has nothing to do with ethics or religious faith. or an equation of a utility calculus. which fall within the province of subjectivity. All of this may be fine and good for these academic disciplines or for “the objective view. takes place much earlier when one chooses to allow one’s action to be governed by a certain objective procedure of. For Kierkegaard. He criticizes bourgeois institutions and glorifies the spontaneous desire of passion. By contrast. Regardless of how much objective knowledge one has or how rigorous a logician one is. and the realm of religious belief and ethics. the realm of objectivity is a realm of necessity and logic. objective procedures which. Such procedures in effect produce a result and a plan for action independent of the individual since they are universal. Other fields such as philology or history. justification and discursive reason. There Kierkegaard presents two different conceptions of life. which is the sphere of individual choice. For Kierkegaard. universalization.Existentialist Ethics 171 science. which is perniciously hidden by theories of rationality. Thus. cultivating his tastes in theater. the individual will always be confronted by moral choice where discursive knowledge and logic have no relevance and can offer no normative guidance. For Kierkegaard. The ultimate indeterminacy of ethical choice can be illustrated by Kierkegaard’s early work. Judge William. any theory which purports to ground morality in objective rational standards is simply a sham. whereas the realm of subjectivity is governed by its own laws. while seeking to satisfy his insatiable desire for pleasure. can in principle be worked out by any given moral subject.” as Kierkegaard calls it in the Concluding Unscientific Postscript (1846).

a command which. One simply decides and acts. true religious and ethical life is lived with this fear and trembling. since it is after all an eternal happiness in heaven that Christianity promises. The religious is the third and highest category in the sequence. The title of the book is intended as a criticism of Hegel’s doctrine of dialectical mediation. Kierkegaard also suggested that there was an absurdity involved in faith in God. given the incommensurability between the evidence and discursive arguments that try to demonstrate God’s existence and the individual’s eternal happiness which is at stake in the issue. This kind of mediation would seem to destroy both ethical decision and human freedom since in the end there would be no conflicting positions which would call for a choice. the religious “suspends” the ethical in the sense that normal human ethical understanding must cede to divine command. For Kierkegaard this gap can only be filled by faith. family and order. “the religious. thus. which purports to overcome contradictions and raise them to a higher unity. But once again when answering the call of the religious. even the best possible evidence and arguments will be inadequate for one to risk losing one’s eternal happiness. ethical life consists in absolute choice between opposing views without compromise or any possible mediation. God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. as when answering the call of the ethical. when the evidence is examined and the arguments have been weighed. arguments or principles. Kierkegaard also develops a third category.172 Idealism and Existentialism marriage. one does not have recourse to objective reasons. for Kierkegaard. and the work does not try to present a result or clear conclusion. and thus even the ethical is subordinate to it. and never ultimately comes to a stable place of certainty or rest. when seen from the ethical point of view. would clearly be unacceptable. Given what is at stake. like Abraham. The two views are presented as mutually exclusive alternatives on an equal footing.” which introduces a new aspect into his ethical thought. says Kierkegaard. This is illustrated by the famous analysis of the Abraham and Isaac story which Kierkegaard sets forth in Fear and Trembling. Without the security of rational foundations. . there will for Kierkegaard still always be a gap between that merely approximative historical knowledge of Christ or philological knowledge of the Bible. always experience a “fear and trembling”5 in our moral life as a result of our uncertainty about the correctness of our moral decisions. and the degree of certainty required before one could reasonably stake one’s eternal happiness. But. Thus. we. For Kierkegaard. The work thus enjoins the reader to make an absolute decision between the two positions.

like faith. the individual repeats or exemplifies the principle. whose work can largely be seen as a secularized version of his views. . Kierkegaard was generally unknown outside Denmark. since this too would destroy freedom. Thus. Despite the profoundly religious nature of Kierkegaard’s thinking. For Kierkegaard.Existentialist Ethics 173 In the religious writings. but this requires an interpretation based on our reading of the scriptures and of the particular ethical situation in which we find ourselves. Camus and Sartre. by some such external authority. so also he denies the possibility of general criteria for the interpretation of moral laws. such as “love thy neighbor. in the particular ethical action. they are ultimately indeterminate and require interpretation on the part of the believer if they are to be applicable in individual cases.”6 The individual must first make a conscious interpretation and inward appropriation of a general Christian principle. our moral goal as Christians should be to imitate Christ in our actions. Today Kierkegaard is generally regarded as the founder of existentialism as a philosophical movement. and there can be no intermediary such as the Church. he emerged from obscurity to become one of the most influential thinkers of his age. and as the leading exponent of the school’s theistic branch. Although never read by Dostoevsky or Nietzsche. Our access to God’s will is via Christ and the scriptures. Thus. Kierkegaard advocates a Christian ethics but places the weight on the individual interpretation of the ethical commands enjoined by Christianity. At the time of his death in 1855. for example. but at the beginning of the twentieth century when German translations of his works began to appear. a priest or the Pope between the individual and God. namely.” share. But just as Kierkegaard denies the possibility of any ultimate justification for particular actions. such as Works of Love. the interpretation of a particular act within a general framework of Christian ethics is. Then. Acting morally for a Christian involves in the first place doing God’s will. for Kierkegaard. the interpretation of scriptures and the response for moral action in the individual case lie wholly with the believer. Kierkegaard decisively influenced the work of the later existentialists such as Heidegger. Christian injunctions. a key ethical concept with respect to the individual interpretation of moral precepts is that of “repetition. something inward and subjective. If ethical action were simply the mechanical execution of moral principles issued. the same shortcomings as secular moral commands. According to Kierkegaard’s Protestantism. many of his main ideas were taken up and developed by the atheistic existentialists such as Camus and Sartre. which were published under his own name and not under a pseudonym. then freedom of individual choice would be destroyed.

which has no place in the mechanistic world of science where every effect has a cause. we will ipso facto have understood human beings. He does not offer metaphysical refutations of this view. but instead simply claims that its results are intolerable for moral reasons. At that time fields such as psychology.174 Idealism and Existentialism III. and even to offer the promise of a complete explanation in the future when. . Dostoevsky likewise criticized various forms of communism and utopian socialism that were in vogue in his day. For Dostoevsky. Humans need to posit the idea of freedom as a sort of regulative ideal. Although he was not a philosopher per se. and social criticism. The Possessed (1871). economics. biology and chemistry seemed to be able to explain human behavior better than ever before. the social sciences would become more developed or when more would be known about the functions of the human brain. Dostoevsky was consistently critical of materialism. even though it may be empirically unprovable. which he saw as the enemies of freedom. and The Brothers Karamazov (1880). His most relevant works for ethics are Notes from Underground (1864). politics. Given the high productivity made possible by modern machinery and mass production. In his works. Crime and Punishment (1866). The view that science presents is that humans are simply biological machines determined wholly by nature and that once we understand fully the workings of nature. Dostoevsky Dostoevsky has often been regarded as an important forerunner of the existentialist movement. Dostoevsky was far from being simply a littérateur. he treated a number of the themes for which existentialism eventually became popular. The rapid growth of technology during Dostoevsky’s time led some theorists to the view that it would be possible in the future to organize human society such that the physical needs of everyone were met. this view is one that human beings will rebel against for all eternity. for instance. Perhaps the central theme in Dostoevsky’s work is that of human freedom. determinism and other contemporary movements. The belief was that individuals must merely be educated to recognize their rationally calculated best interest. and his reflections also touch on fields such as theology.7 His novels are rife with philosophical themes. it was thought to be merely a matter of organizing labor and distributing society’s resources in an equitable fashion along socialistic lines. Such movements seemed in the eyes of many to be merely the logical outgrowth of the advances in the sciences in the nineteenth century. The idea of free will then comes to be regarded as an antiquated vestige of the dark ages of superstition. psychology. anthropology.

Existentialist Ethics 175 and they would act on it. for example. which sees the end of the state as the well-being and security of the individual. it is a negative formula. trying to rationalize an immoral action by giving discursive arguments and general laws which seek to portray it as morally correct. Thus. The seat of morality for Dostoevsky is thus not reason but a spontaneous inner feeling which he sometimes refers to as “conscience. all human beings are in possession of a natural moral impulse which immediately protests against immoral acts. as in a utopia. a prescription or invitation for nihilism. Dostoevsky argues against this view once again on moral grounds. but in and of itself it is unable to recognize or distinguish between good and evil. On his view. in these cases. Dostoevsky’s memorable character. reason is merely sophistry since it cannot of itself distinguish between good and evil. Dostoevsky rejects all rationalistic attempts to understand human nature and to ground morality. Humans are more than simply utility maximizers. Dostoevsky thus criticizes social contract theory. reason is simply a formal ability that is employed. the essential freedom at the center of human existence is not a liberating quality as it is for later writers such as Camus. If this could be done. to work out a mathematics problem. and therefore can never be a satisfactory explanation of human beings and human existence. For Dostoevsky. Human existence cannot be lived as something static or complete. it is absurd when the Kantian or the utilitarian seeks the universal rule that applies to the particular case in question in order to demonstrate that the act is wrong. They do not lucidly perceive their best interest and then act upon it. Moral conscience already knows that it is wrong. man needs striving and becoming to be what he is. and their actions cannot be explained merely as the result of enlightened self-interest. Humans are more complex than cows. He contests the claim that humans will be happy and content if their physical needs are met. is ultimately a moral void since it produces new technologies and new information but can offer no moral guidelines with regard to how to use them. instead. or offer moral insight. There is a longing in human beings which remains even when all physical needs have been met. and require more than the satisfaction of physical needs. modern science. and reason can only obfuscate this by. Instead. They fail to take into account the vast realm of the irrational in the human soul. Ivan Karamazov. In this sense. Dostoevsky was suspicious of all utilitarian or socialist theories which claimed to know the rational best interest of humanity. says that if God does not exist. which is founded on reason. then . then a new utopian age could be attained. He believed such theories could only lead to a limitation of human freedom.” For Dostoevsky. for example.

tradition or person. which could be called into question by reference to other moral laws from other cultures. the God-man. which is a burden too heavy for the masses. or he does not exist and everything is permitted. He commits suicide in order to become a god. He rejects all customs.176 Idealism and Existentialism “everything is allowed. but he is worried by the consequences of a world without God. There is therefore a fundamental ontological difference between divine commands and human ones. In this sense everything is permitted since no one set of human values or human moral code could be placed above or preferred to any other. Likewise. conventions and all human solidarity. The only values left would be relative. The choice that he presents is then essentially between Christ. bovine illusion than to realize their true freedom. as either the old Law handed down to Moses or the new Law embodied by Christ. Thus.9 The Grand Inquisitor criticizes Christ for demanding man to be free without the assistance of arguments or proofs. Perhaps the best-known form of the demonic in Dostoevsky’s work is the character of the Grand Inquisitor from The Brothers Karamazov. the nihilism and cynicism of the underground man in Notes from Underground is a form of the demonic. For the Grand Inquisitor. Every ethical command or prohibition would merely be the statement of an individual culture. then ethical principles and values have an absolute sanction in God.”8 The idea is that if we understand ethics to be the result of divine command. it is better for human beings to live out their lives in a sedated. To opt for making man into a god raises the specter of the demonic. the modern secular movements of science and technology are an . to deny God’s existence is to invite ethical nihilism since this denial is tantamount to a denial of absolute ethical values. One form of the demonic is the radical nihilistic individualism of Kirilov in The Possessed. and offers instead a life in which man’s will is subordinated while his physical desires are met. For Dostoevsky. contingent human ones. and any number of forms of the demonic which try to make man into a god. To say that God does not exist is also to sweep away the ontological grounding of ethics. Dostoevsky thus understands the question as a kind of either-or proposition: either God exists and there is a transcendent meaning and value. On his view. universal status. in order to demonstrate his absolute freedom over religion. which Dostoevsky explores in its various guises. these are merely human constructions which do not have absolute validity since only God’s divine commands enjoy this absolute. Thus. modern science also tries to make man into a god. although individuals and particular cultures might have differing ethical ideas. Dostoevsky is sensitive to the fact that the modern secular age has made the belief in God problematic.

this does not imply that we are determined by it. he believes that there is a correlation between individual conscience and divine law. In the essay Winter Notes on Summer Impressions (1863).Existentialist Ethics 177 affirmation of atheism since they present a wholly secular ideal of the good life devoid of God or any transcendent higher reality. and Ivan Karamazov— clearly prefigure later anti-heroes in existentialist literature such as Camus’ Mersault from The Stranger and Sartre’s Roquentin from Nausea. Kirilov. On the contrary. Dostoevsky criticizes modern industrial society as the new Baal which has corrupted mankind and led it astray. unlike some of the romantics and theorists of moral sentiment. Moreover. Dostoevsky’s importance lies in the fact that he articulated the problem of an ethics without God that became a central issue for the atheistic existentialists. given the striking similarities in some of their views. is not led to the conclusion that morality is purely subjective or arbitrary due to the fact that it depends on the conscience of the individual. for Dostoevsky. By contrast. Brotherhood is based on a spontaneous feeling of love which has been destroyed by Western rationalism. Moreover. in order to be an individual. Although Nietzsche refers to Dostoevsky by name in two of his late works. Dostoevsky’s social ethic is essentially one of human brotherhood and solidarity based on the model of Christ’s life.10 he knew only a French translation of Notes from Underground. one must live in brotherhood with others on the basis of love. On the contrary. Dostoevsky is counted along with Kierkegaard as a leading spokesman for theistic existentialism. humans always have the freedom to listen to their voice of conscience or ignore it. It is regrettable that he did not know more of Dostoevsky’s thought. The revelation of the moral law in the life of Christ provides us with a model for ethical action. not mutual advantage. The individual is in a dialectical relation to society and is thus not exterminated and asked to sacrifice himself wholly. socialism demands a sacrifice of the individual and a surrender to the social whole. This divine law then forms the basis of our moral conscience. he. but on the life of an individual. But this cannot come about in modern technological society where human intercourse is governed by selfinterest and rational calculation. Although we have a natural moral sentiment in conscience which corresponds to the divine law. Dostoevsky thus sees modern views of socialism as contradictory in their attempt to arrive at a society with human fraternity and solidarity based on rational calculation. . he provided the model for later existentialist literature: his characters—the underground man. It is a model based not on reason or on universal rules. although his influence has probably been most profound among the atheistic existentialists. While Dostoevsky believes that moral feeling is the source of morality.

11 His attack on Christian morality is in many respects original and unique within this tradition. the Romans. The experience of Roman occupation led the Jews to criticize the Roman virtues. Christianity created a new morality which modern Europe has inherited. the ones truly blessed by God. IV. In the context of ancient Greek society as portrayed. these new “virtues” could only be perceived as something positive by an oppressed people. On the Genealogy of Morals (1887). and in On the Genealogy of Morals he employs his philological training to investigate the origin and evolution of moral terms. and there came a radical re-evaluation of values. Virtually all of his books are replete with ethical considerations. meekness and self-denial. Thus. in the Homeric poems. 1883. Nietzsche was a classical philologist. well-born) were associated with the class of nobles and aristocrats. There he argues that with the coming of Christianity a number of key ethical concepts took on a new meaning. For Nietzsche. and the posthumous notes that bear the title The Will to Power. . For the ancient ’ Greeks. base) was associated with the common people. he did not seek the answers to the basic problems of existence in Christianity but tried a radically new course that was in many ways at odds with basic Christian views. Beyond Good and Evil (1886). according to the new virtues. “the good” meant exercising one’s strength and abilities on the battlefield or in the political arena. By an unfathomable historical process. Although the wretched are deprived of earthly strength. III. while the term κακóς (bad. “the good” thus meant correctly fulfilling the duties of one’s office as a noble. Christianity thus inverted the meanings of these moral terms to fit its own purposes. words such as αγαθóς (good. but the main works which are usually referred to in this context are Thus Spoke Zarathustra (I-II. whereas “the bad” meant simply the inability to do so due to a lack of strength. they are. such as strength and the exercise of power. came in time to adopt the inverted value system of the conquered. even the conquerors. Thus. and what was once bad was erected into a whole host of new Christian virtues. such as humility. In contrast to Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky. for instance. as vices.178 Idealism and Existentialism IV. status or ability. For the ancients. Nietzsche Nietzsche was important in shaping much of the thinking of the later tradition of atheistic existentialism in that he was the first to try to offer a positive solution to the problems posed for ethics and morality by the absence of God or any transcendent power. what was once the good—strength and power—now came in for criticism. With the coming of Christianity these terms shifted in meaning. 1892). 1884.

” they set as its opposite term not “the bad. and enforce a rule of mediocrity in which the weakness and ignorance of the individual become less visible. One of these suggestions is his doctrine of the eternal return.” In this way the exercise of strength and power became branded as something morally wicked. they consoled themselves with the promise of emancipation in another sphere. Nietzsche is critical of any number of contemporary movements such as socialism. This conception of morality.” Thus. it has deprived modern man of his natural strengths and abilities by making him feel embarrassed and leaving him with a guilty conscience when he does exercise his natural powers. for Nietzsche. These movements merely coordinate the weakness of the masses or “the herd” into a collective strength with which it can effectively oppress the great spirits. Like a cancer. One problem with Christianity. These movements are. inverts and distorts humanity’s nature. For the Greeks. which he sees as outgrowths of Christian morality. democracy and utilitarianism. pessimistic and life-denying in that they stifle the creative natural impulses of the individual. This is essentially a metaphysical doctrine which Nietzsche regards as implying a kind of regulative moral principle. This ressentiment is.Existentialist Ethics 179 Nietzsche’s criticism of Christian morality is that it is not a positive view which affirms the individual’s life and strengths. is that it understands life as a linear progression leading teleologically to an eternal existence in heaven.” “the oppressed” and “the miserable. which is a will to express and exercise its own power. the noble class distinguished itself from the lower classes. which is then regarded as a mere trial or warm-up for the real life which only comes later. Nietzsche often uses the metaphor of an illness to describe the effect of Christianity on modern Europe. the opposite of “the good” with its connotation of the exercise of power in the fulfillment of one’s duty was simply “the bad” or “the common. If we consider the universe to be like .” but rather “evil. This tends to take value and importance away from mundane life. for Nietzsche. But when the Jews and the Christians reinterpreted “the good” to mean “the downtrodden. Nietzsche never worked out a systematic ethic in response to his moral diagnosis of the age. for Nietzsche. Nietzsche suggests that we replace this linear conception of time with a cyclical view in line with that often found in Greek thought. as he sees it. but he did manage to formulate a number of suggestions which might be regarded as guidelines leading in the direction of an ethic. clear in the new meanings of the moral terms. which it is itself lacking. Since Christians had no power in this world. but rather is what he calls a “slave morality” based on a profound sense of ressentiment which criticizes and censures the strength of others.

Unlike in Kant’s conception. This doctrine has often been misread as a forerunner of the Nazi ideology of the superiority of the Germanic race. and offers no guidance about precisely what is good or bad or worthwhile. these ideals are not in need of any universal validity or internal consistency. they need not be conducive to the compatibility of individual wills in the social sphere. then we are obliged to think of our lives and actions in radically different terms. In a world after the death of God. morality is concerned with ideals or virtues which are posited by the individual. While he agrees with Kant in regarding the self-determining will of the individual as the focus of ethical action. It has also been disputed whether the notion of the overman is intended as a prediction about the future in a nihilistic age. The one normative characteristic that they would have in common would be their affirmation of life as it is. was anything but a German nationalist or racist. If the universe is a repeating cycle. extremely contested and misunderstood doctrine in Nietzsche’s positive ethical program is that of the “overman” or superman (Übermensch). One must conceive of each action as a good in itself.180 Idealism and Existentialism the seasons which come and go and then return again for all eternity. The ideals and virtues of the overmen are the expression . then all of our deeds will be repeated for all eternity. Here once again there is little by way of concrete normative prescription. Thus. the overman can be regarded as an ideal or positive model for an ethics without transcendent grounding. The ethical result that Nietzsche hopes to achieve with this view is that one will try to live one’s life such that one can affirm all of one’s actions without regret or misgiving. the overman is one who has the strength and sobriety to accept life on its own terms without illusions or promises. each action is equally important in itself and is not merely of relative importance in relation to some illusory future event. For Nietzsche. and who has the ability and creativity to posit his own values in place of the traditional Christian moral code. each based on their own creative individualities. The overmen and women could and would presumably all have radically differing conceptions of the good. moreover. he departs radically from the Kantian view in his conception of how the will decides and acts autonomously. or as a concrete normative proposal for ethics. and their expression of this in the exercise of their natural powers. but Nietzsche. It should be noted that this principle is normatively neutral. and not merely as a means or stepping stone to some future action. Nietzsche’s view of moral life can be seen as a response to Kant’s account of autonomy. On a sympathetic interpretation. One must be able to will each of one’s actions to be repeated for an eternity. who never hesitated to express disapprobation for his fellow countrymen. A second.

Likewise. and it was under Heidegger’s hand that Husserl’s phenomenological method took on a new form which proved to be profoundly influential for later thinkers such as Sartre and Merleau-Ponty.12 Clearly the best-known of Heidegger’s works is Being and Time (1927). Nietzsche thus sets the paradigm of inquiry for the later atheistic existentialists by showing that the problem lies in avoiding the Scylla of rationalistic or transcendent groundings for ethics. and require no further justification either from the inherent nature of the virtue or ideal itself. While Heidegger’s work must be mentioned in any account of existentialist thought. there is often an attempt to preserve the actual content of Christian ethics and values while rejecting their metaphysical grounding. He can be seen as the founder of the tradition of atheistic existentialism. it is ostensibly concerned primarily with ontology and not ethics. But even within this tradition. Nietzsche prophesied an age of nihilism which Dostoevsky feared would be the result of a godless world. his highly idiosyncratic writing style for a long time hindered his reception in the Anglophone world of philosophy. Nietzsche is in many ways unique in his attempt to carve out conceptions of the good and of moral life that depart radically from the traditional Christian model. or from the general approbation of others. and the Charybdis of nihilism. Jaspers. which offer the illusory security and certainty of metaphysical comfort. Even among the later atheistic existentialists such as Camus. Camus and Sartre. he attempted to offer positive secular solutions with doctrines such as the eternal return and the overman. In his posthumous notes. which seems in many ways to be the logical result of such a denial. Nietzsche has exerted a profound influence on twentieth-century thought in the work of thinkers such as Heidegger. the way in which ethical terms enter into his ontological analyses attests to a deep overriding ethical concern. Although Heidegger never developed an ethical theory. for example. Despite the fact that he has been badly misunderstood and misappropriated. The only criterion seems to be that the virtues be life-enhancing in the sense that they are conducive to the expression of the will to power. Unfortunately. and are not universalized or extended to others. in which he . V.Existentialist Ethics 181 of their own individual choice. Heidegger The German philosopher Martin Heidegger was a student of Edmund Husserl. but. instead of retreating back to a Christian position as Dostoevsky did. the ideals posited by the overmen have a claim on them alone.

For Heidegger. For Heidegger. Objects are “ready-to-hand” (zuhanden) in that they already exist in a larger schema of use before it is possible for us to abstract them from this schema and analyze them scientifically. for Heidegger. Dasein is the kind of being which always projects toward a future. Heidegger’s critique of much of the scientific and philosophical tradition is that it has forgotten this precognitive sphere by abstracting individual objects out of their original context. However. our fundamental relation to objects is that of use. and by so doing one forgets the original question of one’s being and one’s projection into a future. time is an essential dimension of the constitution of human subjects. or what Heidegger calls the “they” or “das Man. According to Heidegger. It is from this quasi-anthropological account that at least a sketch of an ethical theory can be discerned. Its orientation in the present is always with respect to this transcendence. Heidegger says that human beings are thrown into the world in that we find ourselves surrounded by objects. and thus giving an account of them as monadic and isolated. which he refers to as Dasein. whose Cartesian dualism of en-soi and pour-soi seems radically to separate the subject from the world. He calls this “facticity.” which is intended to refer to the overarching network of meaning and practice which Dasein always already finds itself in. the key to authenticity lies in the concept of Angst. practices and meanings which we did not create. It has been noted that Heidegger has a much more unified or integrated conception of human existence than Sartre. In Part Two Heidegger attempts to determine the form of Dasein’s possible authentic existence. In this way Dasein becomes inauthentic. the projection into the future is compromised by the countless petty distractions of daily life. One seeks refuge in the crowd. Much of the first part of Being and Time is dedicated to outlining these forms of inauthenticity.” in order to escape from the question of one’s own being. i.182 Idealism and Existentialism gives his highly original account of the existential experience of the human subject. by the fact that it is always already surrounded by objects and is bound up in their uses and meanings.e. Much of Being and Time is dedicated to uncovering or disclosing this.” Angst is the vague . primordial relation to objects by means of an extended phenomenological analysis. Heidegger conceives of Dasein as being always already in a relation to the sphere of objects. It is the future which contains countless possibilities and in which Dasein will realize its projects. One falls into routines and habits and busies oneself with the chores of daily existence. usually translated as “dread” or “anxiety. and thus to bestow on that subject an absolute and radical freedom. Heidegger avoids this with the very notion of Dasein which is fundamentally constituted by its being-in-the-world.

Existentialist Ethics 183 feeling or mood that we experience when contemplating the finitude of our human existence. as a struggle with the problem of nihilism. his ethics seems to be confined to the individual. in his later work Heidegger never developed an ethics or social theory explicitly. the Angst in relation to one’s own death specifically calls attention back to the individual and does not allow him or her to seek refuge in the crowd. what Heidegger calls “beingtowards-death” represents the possibility of an authentic existence. Moreover. Heidegger’s account of authenticity has a reflexive or self-referential character in that it concerns only the particular moral agent and does not make any claim to govern inter-subjective human relations. attempted to work out ethical views based on some of his intuitions. who claims that the overmen could have a number of different and even conflicting virtues or moral ideals. In his novels. Heidegger’s conception of authenticity is a call to the individual to keep resolutely before his eye the finitude of his own existence. From Being and Time one can discern the vague outlines of an ethics of authenticity.13 Although not a philosopher in the strict sense. Thus. from a relativistic or even nihilistic position in his early works to a form of secular humanism in his later thought. as well as in his philosophical essays The Myth of Sisyphus (1942) and The Rebel (1951). he examines the ethical implications of nihilism and tries to formulate an appropriate response to the challenge of a godless world. The feeling of Angst is crucial for authenticity since it tears the individual out of the routine of daily habit. His entire literary career has been characterized. Despite Heidegger’s interest in history and his concept of being-with (Mitsein). Unlike Nietzsche. . Unfortunately. But Heidegger violently rejected these attempts and distanced himself from French existentialism. Like the overman’s virtues for Nietzsche. The Stranger (1942) and The Plague (1947). he was nevertheless strongly influenced by the Western philosophical tradition. with the only overarching criterion being that the virtues be expressions of the will to power. some of the French existentialists. However. who were inspired by him. Heidegger seems to limit the possible virtues to one— authenticity. VI. We see in the future the termination of our life in death. according to which Dasein is always already in relation with other human subjects. Camus Camus was one of the leading figures in the French existentialist movement. not without justice. It has been noted that Camus’ thought cannot be seen as a single theory but rather must be regarded as a movement.

knowing that his or her existence has no grounding or justification? For Camus. Human beings have a deep-seated need for order or unity in the universe. For Camus. it is useless to try to employ human reason to supplant God as the source of absolute moral values and meanings.184 Idealism and Existentialism Absurdity is. Camus takes up this theme in The Myth of Sisyphus.”14 For Camus. suicide cannot be . leave us strangers in the world. This. we are confronted by a universe essentially devoid of meaning. which can be seen as a continuation of the discussion by Dostoevsky in The Possessed. given that Kierkegaard claims that fear and trembling are permanent features of our moral and religious existence regardless of whether we are Christian or not. since it posits a metaphysical comfort and thus ultimately moves beyond the existential condition of absurdity to a position of stability or security. Another possible response to absurdity and nihilism is. of course. suicide. such systems must fail in the end since their belief in the power of rationality is ultimately unfounded. meaningful universe via the belief in God. Camus criticizes Kierkegaard for beginning with paradox. however. Likewise. One might opt for the religious solution as Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky did. It is not clear. absurdity and despair and ending up with a non-absurd. Such systems are merely a fragile house of cards that is unable to withstand critical examination. for Camus. and the ultimate meaninglessness of our existence. Science tells us that the universe is indifferent to our human goals and that our very existence is merely the result of chance. Thus. that Kierkegaard’s solution leads to complacency as Camus alleges. the belief in God has become problematic. the fundamental fact of human existence which poses the moral problem. and thus differ from the traditional Christian belief system only in their content. as has every other form of transcendent value. This nostalgia for a world which is hospitable to human beings and their ends is what Nietzsche called “metaphysical comfort. These philosophical systems appeal to a metaphysical comfort in the absolute belief in human reason. The incongruity between our hopes and desires. Camus likewise rejects metaphysical systems such as Hegelianism or Marxism which in effect create a form of secular religion to answer the problem of meaninglessness and nihilism. The question is whether suicide is the logical result of the realization and full comprehension of the meaninglessness of the world. an order which would lend our existence a meaning and value. says Camus. we experience as absurdity. There are several possible responses to the problem of meaninglessness and absurdity. Thus. Camus rejects this solution. Can a human being continue to live. which Camus likewise rejects. the modern age has rendered this conception of the universe implausible.

Given that there can be no normative ethical system which commands specific action since all such systems and commands ultimately lack a metaphysical grounding. The goal is to reject not just any such transcendent meaning. His useless labor is a metaphor for meaningless human striving since. “is not to be cured. all of the other solutions fail since they attempt to offer a cure for the disease of nihilism. It is impossible to debate whether something is better or worse. Thus. from some transcendent external source. Thus. says Camus. without the attempt to evaluate them qualitatively and without the . A given moment or experience is beautiful.”16 By this he seems to understand the maximizing of unique individual experiences. it follows that any discussion about qualitative values is misguided. as an allegory for his view he chooses the ancient Greek myth of Sisyphus. or more or less moral. but rather from within the unique concrete situations in which we find ourselves. This admission stands in contradiction to the human spirit. and this involves learning to live in a world devoid of such meaning. than something else. despite all his efforts. a model for the integrity of the human spirit which has the courage to carry on in the face of the absurdity. and instead should feel enjoined to live each day as an end in itself. even though he knows it is doomed to failure. but it is also accompanied by a feeling of liberation. The only correct and authentic response. and he must begin his bitter task again. but to live with one’s ailments. unique and precious precisely in its finitude and transience. in the end the boulder always rolls down to the bottom. The value of life comes not from without. for Camus. Sisyphus is. For Camus. Sisyphus is condemned to roll a boulder up a hill for all eternity. The only truly human response for Camus is that of revolt against the universe and its meaninglessness.Existentialist Ethics 185 regarded as a viable solution since it represents an admission of the inability to live in a world devoid of meaning. As a punishment for his crimes against the gods. The ethical implications of this view are manifold. The goal is that the individual should cease to conceive of life with a false teleology as leading up to a future utopia or bliss in heaven. Camus proposes what he calls an “ethic of quantity. Not only is this possible.”15 To propose a cure is implicitly to presuppose the old religious belief system and to expect that there should be a transcendent meaning. which is ultimately impossible. All such qualitative differences in values presuppose some kind of necessity or transcendent anchor. but also the very hope and expectation of one. and is an insult to human pride. Camus tries to resolve the issue by an appeal to human dignity. Camus imagines that Sisyphus continues his task merely out of spite for all eternity. says Camus. Only in revolt is the dignity of humanity preserved.

but without any illusions or flights to metaphysical comfort. for instance. Camus’ interest in philosophy was primarily ethical in character. He accepts that his skill will only be viewed and appreciated by the audience on that given day. it is Jean Tarrou who expresses Camus’ moral ideal. He advocates a doctrine of human solidarity. such as Socrates. One might characterize this by saying that Camus puts weight not on living best. Here the stage actor differs from the film actor. his novels and essays did much to introduce the existentialist movement into popular culture and to make the themes of existentialism known outside the walls of universities. Tarrou realizes that the plague from which the town of Oran suffers is a metaphor for all human suffering. he provides examples of character types which embody this ethic. In the novel The Plague. Although Camus cannot be regarded as the leading theorist of existentialism. Sartre tells his readers that he will provide a companion volume . he was most influenced by those philosophers. Thus.186 Idealism and Existentialism hope or illusion of anything more. Despite Camus’ apparent relativism with respect to qualitative value judgments. He discusses. VII. the stage actor who by virtue of the constant repetitions is compelled to recognize the contingency and meaninglessness of his performance. Moreover. The question that the novel poses is “Can one be a saint without God?”17 The idea is to affirm ethics and moral values for their own sake. later in his literary career he does seem to affirm a secular humanist ethic of solidarity. This sort of teleology destroys the existential moment and thins out the existential experience of the original performance. In this sense Camus can be regarded as making an important contribution to applied ethics. and for the incongruity of the universe with our human life and projects. who believes in an immortality through the constant playing of the film. Like Kierkegaard. but rather on living most. He nevertheless endeavors to give his best effort each time with the awareness that each performance is unique and precious. who insisted on the unity of philosophical thought and life. the moral imperative for the later Camus seems to be that we should strive to become secular saints. and he accepts the ephemeral nature of his fame without hoping for any further redemption. Sartre In the final pages of his philosophical masterpiece Being and Nothingness (1943). In The Myth of Sisyphus. without the need for a transcendent grounding or anchor.

For the Sartre of Being and Nothingness. On the contrary. but the focus is not exclusively on ontology since it is clear that he ultimately wants to draw ethical consequences from the ontological basis that he establishes.”22 This. Until that time. a great deal of other material on ethics from Sartre’s hand is yet to be published. Human beings are essentially defined by their deeds. then this nothingness and the concomitant responsibility become something terrifying since each individual alone must bear the entire burden of responsibility . is that of human freedom. “existence comes before essence. something we face with uncertainty and anguish. they simply exist. the central ethical virtue is to accept this freedom and to lead one’s life accordingly by being aware of one’s free choices and taking responsibility for their consequences. it is the responsibility of the individual to create his own essence through his actions.”21 he denies traditional claims that there is some kind of human nature which could determine the individual ahead of time. “Man is condemned to be free. However.”23 by which he means that the fact of freedom is not something that we can greet with unqualified joy but instead is something which. we must avail ourselves of the published statements of his ethical views. or. as well as in his ethical views. nevertheless remain rather fragmentary and fall short of a complete account. like a prison sentence.18 This book never materialized.20 In the body of Being and Nothingness itself. although among the notebooks published after his death there are extensive writings on ethics which evidence a clear attempt to fulfill the promise made in Being and Nothingness. Sartre emphasizes the choice of the individual independent of rational arguments or discursive reason. With his famous slogan. Sartre says. and it is conceivable that a more systematic picture may eventually emerge. “Man is the sum of his actions. The ontological fact of radical freedom which Sartre announces is both liberating and terrifying. and that only through free acts do individuals create themselves. for Sartre. although providing a fuller picture. Like Kierkegaard.19 But one will be disappointed if one hopes to find in these Notebooks for an Ethics a systematic statement of his ethical views since the notes. But this is by no means an easy task. as Sartre puts it. however. Sartre sketches an elaborate ontological theory. When the individual realizes that the world is essentially a nothingness without human beings and their projects. human beings have no predetermined essence. The central theme in all of Sartre’s writings. As a result. implies a mutable essence which changes with one’s actions. we are condemned to.Existentialist Ethics 187 to the work which will treat the ethical consequences of the ontological theory sketched there. rather.

Human beings create many mechanisms by means of which they try to deny the fact of freedom to themselves. Sartre’s character Orestes in the play The Flies (1943) embodies this double-edged sword. and thus escape from the responsibility of their moral choice. This denial Sartre calls “bad faith. Sartre explains two forms that this denial takes.”24 In an insightful psychological analysis. This represents an absolute and inauthentic denial of certain past actions by means of a retreat into the transcendent realm of the future. for example. (2) “Escape to transcendence” is the other form of bad faith. one tries to portray oneself as something fi xed and determined by outward circumstances. If one had a pre-given essence. Likewise. When one says. “I could not come because I was too busy. then one would enjoy a metaphysical certainty. one is still free to define oneself . humans have no fi xed essence and are always creating themselves. But unlike chairs. According to this version of bad faith. for example. When one defines one’s being.” there is often an attempt to portray one’s position as a fi xed fact about the universe. by saying “I am a doctor. one tries to escape one’s freedom by becoming a fact or a thing. Here the individual always defers judgment based on past actions and refers to an indefinite future where one’s true essence is thought to lie. However. Despite. (1) “Escape to facticity” is the denial of one’s freedom by attempting to define oneself as an object with a fi xed essence. If these assertions and self-definitions were true. He is aware of his freedom. for example. as if one were born a doctor and could never have been anything else. but it also makes it possible for him to commit terrifying acts such as killing his mother. even challenging the gods. This is in bad faith since what was originally a choice is later portrayed as a fi xed fact beyond the individual’s control. One forgets that one has already made certain choices and set certain priorities such that doing one thing is more important than doing another. namely as a fi xed fact of the matter. and there would no longer be any contingency in one’s existence. this freedom is not merely terrifying. acts which he must take responsibility for and live with. for it is also liberating. when one tries to justify one’s actions by fi xed facts about the world. then one would be relieved of the burden of moral responsibility since things are simply what they are by nature and cannot change. One pretends to be a doctor in the same way a chair is a chair.” one tries to portray one’s being busy as a fact of the universe independent of one’s individual choice or will. as if there were no history of choice behind it. one’s history of cowardice and knavery. which liberates him to the point that he is capable of anything.188 Idealism and Existentialism for his own life.

as a result. this is an attempt to escape from the responsibility and the free choices of one’s past by appeal to an indeterminate future. since one is always creating oneself through new actions and thus one might in part erase an ignominious past through heroic actions. we are in a sense a certain set of facts of the matter.e. but this does not mean that one is condemned to be a coward forever. taking responsibility for oneself and the world.Existentialist Ethics 189 and to create one’s essence in the future. One is one’s actions. . One can choose to live the war as a member of the Resistance or as an informant for the enemy. but the proof is in the actions themselves. human beings are caught in the dialectic of facticity and transcendence. The individual portrays himself not as a knave but rather as a hero. and thus for the way in which he will live it. but either way one is free. For Sartre. he will perform heroic acts. that part with relation to our future. for instance. Our past is indeterminate since it lends itself to an infinite number of possible interpretations. we are the sum total of our past actions.”25 By this he means that on the one hand. on this version of bad faith. this is not something static or fi xed as a tree or a table is a set of facts. Sartre’s ethics is clearly focused on the individual. and to that extent one must admit to being a coward. Sartre’s theory of responsibility is often couched in somewhat radical terms. we have to deal with human reality as a being which is what it is not and which is not what it is. and in this sense we are what we are not since there is always a part of us which is indeterminate. in reference to his own experience in World War Two that there are no innocent victims in war. but rather that everyone is in a sense responsible for it. By this he clearly does not mean that each and every individual is responsible for the war in the same sense that leaders of nations are responsible for it. On the contrary. i. He says paradoxically: “. He says. not in good intentions and promises about the future. and how we will live and experience it. since in the future. There is no deed so ignominious that one cannot try to ignore it and make it unimportant by pointing into the future. Thus. one escapes freedom by fleeing into a transcendent future. he asserts. On the . Authenticity lies in being aware of both aspects of this dialectical relation and. and there is at least in his early work no attempt to sketch a theory of social ethics. For Sartre. which has led to a great deal of misunderstanding and criticism of his views. namely. . he seems to mean that each person is responsible for the interpretation that he gives to the war. It is with this freedom that we have chosen what the war will mean to us as individuals. rather. our past is always being reinterpreted by the future and the present as our goals and projects change. but on the other hand.

in Being and Nothingness Sartre argues that human relations invariably reduce to either sadism or masochism. never materialized. Perhaps the most direct and most important of these treatments can be found in Pyrrhus and Cineas and The Ethics of Ambiguity. Sartre attempted a grand synthesis of existentialism and Marxism in which he tried to sketch a social ethic along Marxist lines. make him perhaps the best-known and most read of all the existential thinkers. he was obliged to revise radically. But in order to do so. which to their surprise does not consist of the rack or fire and brimstone but. Although it is clear that he was profoundly interested in questions of ethics.”26 In his later work. the Critique of Dialectical Reason (1960). It was claimed that Sartre’s ontology precluded any meaningful ethical action since individuals were radically separated from one another. Along with Merleau-Ponty. and even reject. His personality was the focal point of the French existentialist movement during its most popular period. De Beauvoir attempts in these works to demonstrate that the freedom of the individual . Simone de Beauvoir was Sartre’s closest associate. Attentive to the charges raised against existentialism and Sartre in particular for the problems involved in an existentialist ethic.190 Idealism and Existentialism contrary. plays and essays. It was therefore natural that she took up some of the key issues that were of interest to him in her own literary and philosophical works. and that a social ethics based on solidarity or mutual recognition is in principle impossible. In both texts she is anxious to counter the charge of solipsism that was leveled against Sartre. His diverse literary works. Sartre’s work has been highly influential in a number of different fields. instead. which include novels. De Beauvoir As is well known. he was largely responsible for introducing the work of Husserl and Heidegger into the Francophone world. his contributions to the field are limited primarily to moral psychology. VIII. It can only be regretted that the companion piece to Being and Nothingness. and that so much of his work remained a preface to ethics rather than an ethical theory in its own right. Sartre’s character Garcin summarizes the situation with the memorable line “Hell is other people. He illustrates this in his famous play No Exit (1944). a number of his earlier views. de Beauvoir attempts in these works to respond to the critics by putting forth a positive view. in which three characters are condemned to hell. dedicated to ethical theory. of having to be together with each other indefinitely.

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is necessarily linked to the freedom of others. Her goal is thus in part to develop an ethic that can make sense of the social and political sphere in general, and not just the mental life of the individual. She initially takes up the issue of ethics in her treatise Pyrrhus and Cineas, published in 1944. The work attempts to follow up on Sartre’s theory of freedom, and to explore the ethical implications of it. But it would be a mistake to regard this work as simply a clarification or expansion of Sartre’s views. On the contrary, de Beauvoir attempts to articulate her own intuitions on these key issues, often in contrast to Sartre’s views. The work begins with a conversation reported by Plutarch between Pyrrhus, the ambitious king of Epirus, and one of his advisors, Cineas. Pyrrhus declares his plans to conquer one country after the other, and ultimately to return home and rest. Cineas then poses the question of why bother to go to so much trouble when he is already at home. De Beauvoir uses this as her point of departure to address the general question of why one should do anything. If there are no fixed values and no absolute truths with regard to human action, why should we embark on any project at all? The first part of the work treats the question of individual value and action. She notes that human beings cannot remain at rest for long; there is something about the nature of human activity that compels us forward and makes us want to set out on new undertakings. We quickly become bored in a completely static condition, even if it might appear at first glance to be a very attractive one. Thus humans cannot help but constantly have new projects, and the problem is how to justify or ground them. Authentic people realize that they are the authors of their own undertakings, and for this reason no ultimate or transcendent grounding is possible. The project itself is its own justification; but since our projects are always freely chosen, that justification is always contingent. The second part of the work then takes up the individual in relation to others, i.e. the community, social group or humanity as a whole. De Beauvoir begins by noting that humans need the recognition of others; for our projects to make sense, they must be understood and appreciated by other people. While she claims that individuals cannot limit the freedom of other individuals, nonetheless it is obvious that our actions do influence others. This enjoins us to act in a way that is conducive to other people in their pursuit of their freedom. She argues that one is invariably obliged to treat others as free individuals. Through language one implicitly respects others as free by speaking with them and listening to them. Even in a relation between a master and a slave the linguistic communication between the two implies a recognition of the latter’s freedom. The master always


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knows at some level that the slave is free. From this it follows that in our actions we should treat others as free. It is thus always possible to join together with others to work for a common cause. I am free to make a case to others about the best project to be pursued, and to work with them to realize it. However, since human beings are free, they pursue different and contradictory goals. As a result, they often come to impede or even actively work against one another in the pursuit of their goals. De Beauvoir claims that given this fact, we are condemned to violence. We should in principle treat others as free and attempt to persuade them to join us in our projects, but this is not always possible since some people are sadly beyond rational persuasion. In such cases, de Beauvoir seems to grant that violence is warranted. In The Ethics of Ambiguity from 1947, she in effect attempts to sketch the theory of ethics that Sartre promised but did not deliver. This work was originally published in installments in Les Temps modernes and then as an independent monograph. De Beauvoir begins with the philosophical anthropology sketched initially by Kierkegaard in The Sickness unto Death and recast by Sartre. According to this view, human existence is essentially contradictory or paradoxical. Human beings are a part of nature insofar as they have physical bodies and are finite and limited. However, by virtue of self-consciousness, human beings also transcend nature and are infinite and unlimited, free beings. The human experience is lived within this tension. De Beauvoir portrays this as an ambiguity that is a natural fact of the human condition. She attempts then to formulate an ethics based on this fundamental fact. She portrays the basic human situation as one of failure: human beings are forever attempting to create absolutes and eternal truths, but these attempts always fall short. We are then obliged to realize that there are no ultimate truths and must accept that we live in a world where truth and value are of our own making. This means, however, that this truth and value will be ambiguous in the sense that other people will have different truths and values, and I will often be obliged to negotiate mine in relation to them. The ethics of ambiguity refuses all predetermined values given by some external authority, such as God or a political party. This would deny the fundamental ambiguity of existence, and treat values as factually existing. She gives detailed descriptions of specific kinds of individuals such as the fascist, the communist, the racist, the slave-holder, the colonialist, and so on, who erroneously reify and absolutize their ends, although they know at some level that these are finite and contingent. By absolutizing their

Existentialist Ethics


own goals, such people come to regard others, and especially others who oppose their goals, as inessential or even as impediments. This invariably leads to different forms of violence and oppression. Those people who claim to be working in the service of some higher absolute truth or ideal have no scruples about sacrificing others or using them as means to this end. De Beauvoir rejects this form of thinking and its pernicious results. Instead, she proposes that one embrace the ambiguity by accepting that one is responsible for the creation of one’s own values and meanings. By realizing this, one knows that one can never justify the suffering or oppression of others due to one’s own self-made values. The upshot of her analysis seems to be that the many pitfalls of the modern, morally dubious characters mentioned above can be avoided if one authentically realizes and accepts the finitude of one’s own values, and accepts responsibility for this in one’s actions. She thus argues that the ethics of ambiguity, far from undermining or destroying ethics, in fact makes it possible. It is rather the absolutists who destroy ethics by appealing to some abstract and illusory universal, and who thereby inauthentically attempt to escape from their freedom and thus their responsibility. Although ethical values are ambiguous this does not mean, as is often claimed, that they are absurd or meaningless. Since we live in a world and exist in specific situations we always have values, goals and projects that we have invested with meaning. While this is, to be sure, not an absolute or transcendent meaning, it is still significant. De Beauvoir appeals to the analogy of the artist and the natural scientist. No one would reproach the artist for not achieving absolute beauty with the concrete work of art. Indeed, even the greatest works of art by the most accomplished masters contain flaws and imperfections. There is no such thing as absolute beauty in the sense required. Thus the vocation of the artist is to attempt through skill and industry to perfect his skills and to produce the best works possible, all the time being aware that he will never manage to attain this impossible standard. But this in no way undermines art or the work of the artist; on the contrary, it gives it meaning. For if there were absolute beauty available for all to see, then there would no longer be any point in pursuing art. So also with regard to the work of the scientist, it would be obtuse to criticize science for not explaining everything or not producing the absolute truth. Instead, the goal of the scientist is simply to develop theories, models and laws that reflect the observed phenomena as accurately as possible. But the scientist is well aware that every theory has certain exceptions or cases that do not fit as well as desired; every paradigm has its anomaly. But again, this does not undermine science as such.


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The situation of ethics is similar in that we are always striving in the sphere of ambiguity with the consciousness that we will never reach any absolute values. The very nature of ethics presupposes this ambiguous field and could not exist without it. If there is an implicit value claim in de Beauvoir’s work, it is surely the notion that the promotion of freedom is good, and the limitation or retardation of freedom in any form is bad. While this is a more or less unargued thesis, it could well be that she assumed it to be uncontroversial. It does, however, give her the ability to criticize any number of nefarious social and political forces in a way that would seem to be off-limits to a more relativistic view. In this context it should be noted that de Beauvoir’s reflections on ethics are (like those of Sartre) largely shaped by her immediate experience during World War Two and the German occupation of France. For this reason many of her examples have a clearly political tone, and sometimes she seems indeed to equate ethical action with politics. It is probably safe to surmise that much of the motivation for her work on this topic was a desire to bring into harmony her own deeply felt social-political views and the seemingly problematic results of Sartre’s existentialism. How can one criticize the fascist or the traitor, given Sartre’s apparent relativism? How can people invest their lives with a positive value if all values are ultimately arbitrary and relative? De Beauvoir’s writings on ethics can be seen as addressing these kinds of questions, which were quite urgent in the initial phase of French existentialism in the 1940s. Existentialism’s contribution to ethics has often been overlooked due to the fact that modern commentators mistakenly tend to seek universal rules for conduct, which are generally taken to be the mark of an ethical theory. When they fail to find such rules among the existentialists, they conclude that existentialism has no ethics. But this in effect merely reflects the modern prejudice in favor of rule-based theories, and fails to recognize that existentialism is working within a wholly different tradition of ethical thought. In fact, in its rejection of formalism and all general rules for ethical conduct, existentialism can be seen as applied ethics. The existentialists turn to the individual and the concrete moral situation, and reject abstract theorizing about the proper application of rules to individual cases. In order to understand and appreciate existentialism’s contribution to ethical thought, it is useful to place it within the larger tradition of ethics and social theory. In the history of ethics, a distinction is often drawn between theories that concentrate on the cultivation of virtuous character

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traits in the individual, which are designated “virtue-based ethics,” and those that aim to give rules for proper conduct, which are generally referred to as “rule-based ethics.” Much of ancient ethical theory is characterized by the former, and much of modern by the latter. Ancient theories of ethics such as those of Plato, Aristotle, Stoicism, Epicureanism and Augustine focus primarily on the moral character of the individual as such. Theories of this sort are characterized by the fact that they concentrate primarily on what virtue amounts to, and how to live in accordance with it. Given that rules cannot guide moral action on this view, the goal of moral life is to cultivate a virtuous character which can make the right decisions in the particular moral situation. In addition, these theories enumerate the various vices and try to explain how to avoid them. Moreover, the virtues that were traditionally emphasized were ones such as humility, continence and temperance, which referred primarily to the individual and had only a secondary reference to relations with others. Like the virtues, the vices, for example, gluttony, garrulousness and incontinence, also focus primarily on the individual. Modern philosophy tends to conceive of the question of moral life differently. In the modern world “after virtue,” ethics is considered not to be something which concerns virtue alone but rather universal rules for action. For modern theories such as those of Kant or the utilitarians, the focus is on some universal principle which transcends the individual and which should govern individual conduct and inter-subjective relations. These general principles are, for example, the “categorical imperative” or “the greatest happiness for the greatest number.” For these theories, the moral life of the individual is conceived as the general correspondence of the individual will with some universal. While there are areas of overlap, and the distinction between virtue-based theories and rulebased ones cannot be conceived as absolute, this is nevertheless useful for understanding the various approaches to ethics in the history of Western thought. The existentialists in some respects revive the ancient tradition, in large part in protest against the modern focus on the universal. Like these ancient theories, existentialism is skeptical of the possibility of universal laws giving direction in particular moral situations. No universal rule or system can tell the individual what to do in the particular instance since such rules are always indeterminate and every ethical situation unique. For the existentialists, the individual must decide on their own without recourse to rules. Thus, the existentialists are primarily concerned with the inward, subjective life of the individual. Although the

For Kierkegaard. Virtue. similar to Heidegger’s notion of “the they” or “das Man” to which the individual tries to escape. While authenticity can be regarded as the highest virtue among the existentialists. Heidegger’s conception of virtue is an authentic mode of existence in being-towards-death. Any attempt to escape from one’s freedom via inauthenticity is for the existentialists a moral vice. This is. . namely. For Dostoevsky. creativity and other classical Greek virtues are revived and reinstituted as moral character traits worth striving after in a godless world. for Nietzsche. there is a sense in which maintaining human dignity and avoiding giving way to despair can be regarded as virtues. and by so doing loses his individuality and natural strengths. with the exception of Nietzsche. the way in which this is interpreted among the individual thinkers varies. Seen in this light the primary. Camus’ criticism of those thinkers who seek solace from the absurd by retreating to a position of metaphysical comfort can be seen as a theory of inauthenticity and modern vice. By the same token. For Kierkegaard. of course. “the herd. strength. the development of one’s inwardness and subjectivity before God has the distinct look of a virtue. For Dostoevsky. which amounts. virtue for existentialism is authenticity. do not tend to speak of virtue per se. for Sartre. for Sartre any attempt to escape from one’s freedom is inauthentic and a clear sign of a moral character flaw or vice. a theory of what constitutes an inauthentic human life. For Nietzsche. but once again inauthenticity is interpreted differently among the various thinkers. is clearly the acceptance of one’s freedom and moral responsibility according to the dialectic of facticity and transcendence.” where the individual finds comfort for his own weakness. Likewise. Inauthenticity is a feature of the collective mass or. virtue involves listening to the voice of conscience or spontaneous moral sentiment and not allowing oneself to be led astray by the sophistry of reason. independence. inauthenticity is the mark of the absent-minded objective thinker.196 Idealism and Existentialism existentialists. generally speaking. if not the only. who forgets his own inwardness and subjectivity in the course of his striving for objective knowledge. all of the existentialists have some sort of theory which corresponds to the ancients’ account of the vices or character flaws. it is found in one who allows himself to be subjected to the false rules and conceptions of the good life offered by the various demagogues and ideologues of the modern world. there is a clear family resemblance between their accounts of the ethical life and traditional virtue-based theories. For Camus. to the acceptance of one’s freedom and moral responsibility.

then one would have natural proclivities to do or not to do something. there are no universal a priori or fixed goods apart from determinate projects which humans posit for themselves. Human beings are essentially a nothingness until they create themselves through their actions. human beings have a fi xed essence. have a fi xed essence. For Plato and Aristotle. Thus. such as happiness. virtuous life given that fixed nature. But on this view. One might argue. If we take Sartre’s definition that existence precedes essence as existentialism’s principle dogma. the very possibility of virtue. but also in its denial of the notion of a natural good or of human nature. understood as authenticity. So also for Kierkegaard: humans.Existentialist Ethics 197 While existentialism can be seen as a continuation of ancient virtuebased theories in the sense that it focuses on virtues and vices. for Nietzsche there is a sense of a determinate human nature which has been corrupted by Christianity and Christian ethics. for example. Any number of failures to live up to the standard of full authenticity could always be minimized with platitudes to the effect that such failures or shortcomings are only human. that a determinate human nature does not necessarily preclude freedom since one’s essence or nature might only determine one’s actions partially. and human freedom would be no greater than the freedom of animals which are determined by nature. as has been seen. all of the existentialists espouse in one form or another. Likewise. is only made possible by the denial of a fixed human essence and of natural human ends. A fixed human nature or essence would seem to limit one’s freedom ahead of time. and from this objective account of natural ends. Likewise. they believe that there are specific natural ends which all humans strive after. In this sense the existentialists. Contrary to the other existentialists. for the existentialists.) Existentialism’s rejection of natural essences and ends is bound up with the very conception of authenticity which. In order to be authentic. If there were such an essence. and in the sense that it rejects universal rules for conduct. it nevertheless departs from the ancient tradition—not only in its conception of these virtues and vices. From this objective account of human nature they generate a theory of virtue which indicates how the individual can lead a flourishing. being created by God. they derive an account of how one ought to act to achieve these ends. in their rejection of the metaphysical underpinnings of classical . one could always escape from one’s freedom by appeal to one’s essence or nature. (It seems that all of the existentialists except Nietzsche and Kierkegaard would accept this. then existentialism clearly rejects both the notion of a fixed human nature and that of natural ends or goods. one must be free and take responsibility for one’s freedom. as indeed the ancient virtue theorists do.

existentialism can be seen as perhaps the most significant alternative to the formal. . can be seen as making an original contribution to the discussion while working within the same general tradition of ethical thought.198 Idealism and Existentialism virtue-based theories. Understood as a theory in line with the classical doctrines of virtue. rule-based theories of ethics that have dominated modern ethical thought.

They were both counted as existentialists. it is Jupiter who proclaims: “The painful secret of gods and kings is that men are free.”2 This proclamation can be seen in many respects as the starting point of Sartre’s thought. Between them it is a matter of a dialogue where at the same time they opposed and complemented one another. and later became colleagues in the Resistance and on the editorial board of Les Temps Modernes. They were acquaintances at school. if not of the entirety of Sartre’s philosophy. namely. to dub Sartre’s thought . whether to criticize them together or to oppose the one to the other. political works. and their collective intellectual output can be seen as a sort of dialogue. theater pieces. describes their relationship in his eulogistic essay on MerleauPonty in the following terms: “We must insist on the living and never interrupted dialogue with Jean-Paul Sartre. I would like to explore one of the most important points of contact in their intellectual debate. Their thought. and in a number of different roles and contexts. was bound together as tightly as their lives. despite their many differences. In Sartre’s celebrated play The Flies. Jean Hyppolite. 3 This theme runs throughout his essays.Chapter 10 Merleau-Ponty’s Criticisms of Sartre’s Theory of Freedom The history of the development of the personal and professional relationship between Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty is a long and complicated one. They knew each other over a period of many years. novels.4 Thus. and sundry introductions and prefaces. the Hegel scholar who was the lifelong friend of both men.”1 Taking up this insight that Sartre is Merleau-Ponty’s chief interlocutor and that their philosophical works constitute a sort of dialogue. comrades from a very early age. book reviews. is that of human freedom. Most commentators would agree that the central thesis of Being and Nothingness. the issue of human freedom which played such an important role in virtually all of French existentialist philosophy. and can be found in every period of his intellectual development.

is by no means inappropriate.9 he was genuinely concerned to develop such a theory as a second part of the ontological system begun in Being and Nothingness.”11 Thus. and these modifications themselves have in turn been the source of much discussion.5 The theory of freedom constitutes in many ways the centerpiece of Being and Nothingness from which many of the work’s other theses are derived. which constitutes the first half of Part Four of the work. Sartre’s fi rst task is to establish a wide-ranging notion of human freedom.” as some scholars have done. the emphasis is on the moral aspects of the theory which are only briefly touched on in Being and Nothingness itself in the short section “Freedom and Responsibility. alluding to other texts only in order to illustrate the aspects of his theory which are expounded there. since such an overview has been made the subject of book-length studies. 8 nevertheless. . We should note here that Sartre modified some of his more radical views on this subject in the course of his intellectual development. each devoted to different aspects of his theory of freedom and action.” where Sartre tries to draw conclusions about the nature of responsibility on the basis of his ontological account of freedom. it is clear that in Being and Nothingness Sartre sets as his end the establishment of the ontological basis for human freedom since he intends later to derive ethical consequences from it.10 Therefore. This chapter is divided into three rambling sections. He tries to do just this in the fi rst two sections of the chapter “Being and Doing: Freedom” in Being and Nothingness.6 Given that the theory finds without doubt its most detailed and systematic exposition in that work.”12 In order to derive this extreme and severe concept of responsibility. Any attempt to provide here a general overview of Sartre’s lifelong struggle with the concept of freedom would necessarily fall short. The moralizing tone of this section is unmistakable: “The essential consequence of our earlier remarks is that man being condemned to be free carries the weight of the whole world on his shoulders.200 Idealism and Existentialism a “philosophy of freedom” or to attach to him the epithet “philosopher of freedom.7 Although Sartre in his own lifetime never published the ethical theory that he had promised in the final pages of Being and Nothingness. as his recently published posthumous work shows. for the purposes of this chapter I wish by and large to confine myself to Sartre’s account of freedom in Being and Nothingness. Sartre confirms this later when he says that the theory of freedom presented in Being and Nothingness was not exactly what he originally meant to say: “What I wanted to say is that one is responsible for oneself even if the acts are provoked by something outside the self.

Although freedom cannot be regarded as the central thesis of MerleauPonty’s Phenomenology of Perception. Nowhere else in the entire Phenomenology of Perception does Merleau-Ponty discuss Sartre’s philosophy more directly. and in many ways he seems to take the theory of freedom as paradigmatic for Sartre’s thinking as a whole. evaluating their merits in terms of Sartre’s theory. I wish to leave to the side the issue of the continuity of the early and late thought. and that his theory is not as naïve as it is often portrayed. As one can readily observe from his comments in a number of interviews. I have attempted to isolate the principal ones in order to treat them in some detail. the final chapter of that work is dedicated solely to this problem and tries to draw conclusions about the issue based on the accounts of experience and perception elaborated in the rest of the book.16 This thesis runs contrary to most of the accounts in the secondary literature. I have organized my discussion according to the individual objections that Merleau-Ponty raises.15 I will isolate and systematically analyze his counterarguments to Sartre’s position as discrete units. Thus. . some have argued that there is more continuity on this issue between the early and the late Sartre than is generally acknowledged. Moreover. and his account of the powers of socialization only eight years later in Saint Genet: Actor and Martyr seems to contradict some of the basic tenets of his early work. Instead of trying to recount exhaustively Merleau-Ponty’s criticisms. I will ultimately argue that Sartre has the theoretical equipment to deal with Merleau-Ponty’s charges.13 Sartre tempers considerably his claims about the absolute scope of freedom. However. and limit my account primarily to Sartre’s early philosophy and above all to Being and Nothingness. Merleau-Ponty’s criticisms are not necessarily inconsistent with Sartre’s view. I will claim that in the final analysis. which are more sympathetic to Merleau-Ponty’s criticisms. In the present chapter. I wish to take up an analysis of this final section of the Phenomenology of Perception where Merleau-Ponty issues his famous criticism of Sartre’s view.14 For our purposes here. aside from this amendment. Equally important for our purposes is the fact that this short chapter represents one of the most serious challenges to Sartre’s theory ever issued. This criticism of Sartre is in many ways revelatory for understanding much of the basic orientation of Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy in its own right. Nevertheless. the precise nature of the modifications is far from clear.Merleau-Ponty’s Criticisms of Sartre 201 The theory of freedom 18 years later in the Critique of Dialectical Reason is not the same as that in Being and Nothingness. and there is a great deal of work to be done in the secondary literature before anything resembling a consensus is reached.

since indeed every act is free: “It will not be possible to declare: ‘Here freedom makes its appearance. This is.”19 In order for the very concept of freedom to make sense. in order to be discernible. then the idea of freedom is rendered meaningless. non-freedom or limitation. freedom being anterior to all actions.202 Idealism and Existentialism I. as Sartre says. In order to establish freedom. then it cannot be held that there is such a thing as free action. absent. we must attempt to determine certain characteristics of action as criteria by which we can distinguish a free act from one that is not free. but equally nowhere. Merleau-Ponty argues that if. then the very concept of freedom would be destroyed since a free act would not be possible: The result. there must simultaneously exist its opposite. and even in our passions. Sartre’s view makes freedom independent of any particular action. Instead of criticizing Sartre’s theory from without. His criticism can thus be seen as an immanent critique. however. If indeed it is the case that our freedom is the same in all our actions. The Conceptual Problem of Freedom According to Merleau-Ponty’s first counterargument. We may say in this case that it is everywhere. But when any action at all counts as free by virtue of the fact that freedom is synonymous with consciousness or existence in general. as Merleau-Ponty points . Merleau-Ponty tries to demonstrate how Sartre’s theory renders the very notion of freedom unintelligible.”18 Freedom conceived in this way rules out the possibility of isolated acts that we can readily identify as free. which proves to be self-contradictory on closer examination. These two concepts mutually determine one another and make each other conceptually intelligible. and by so doing destroys the very concept of action. there is something fundamentally incoherent about the very idea of radical freedom. every action is free and we are at absolutely every moment free in a uniform fashion.’ since free action. of this first reflection on freedom would appear to be to rule it out altogether.17 This way of conceiving the issue makes freedom a sort of background for all of human existence. or almost entirely.e. however. our “primordial acquisition” or “the nature of consciousness. or as Merleau-Ponty puts it. and if the slave displays freedom as much by living in fear as by breaking his chains. i. if it is not to be measured in terms of our conduct. has to stand out against a background of life from which it is entirely. wishes to insist on the one and entirely do away with the other. Freedom would simply be a fundamental way of being in the world. Sartre’s theory.

quite problematic since the two concepts are clearly complementary.”20 This destroys our notion of freedom by removing all the intermediary elements between intentions and actions which we usually consider to hinder or limit our freedom in some way. Whatever happens. There Merleau-Ponty claims that the kind of absolute or existential freedom which Sartre outlines is in fact empty or meaningless. then it would be necessary to boast the freedom of the prisoner bound in chains at the bottom of a dungeon.”21 If all potency is immediately transformed into actuality and every intention in itself an action. There must be a sphere of non-free actions against which the free ones can stand out and be recognized as free in the first place. one nevertheless always had the freedom of . or of a crucified slave. If freedom is the fundamental way of being in the world that always characterizes human beings. In order to be able to talk about free actions at all. During the Occupation. then when are we ever not free? It is precisely in this context that Merleau-Ponty takes up a discussion of freedom in his essay “The War has Taken Place. Merleau-Ponty concludes that there must be certain fi xed aspects of the world which could conceivably serve as obstacles to our freedom and against which genuinely free acts stand out as free. one must know what counts as a non-free action. then the concept of freedom becomes meaningless since there is nothing which could constitute a genuine obstacle to it. and there is nothing that stands in the way: “There are merely intentions immediately followed by their effects. Sartre argues that even in the most dire of existential situations man is free. there must be something to hold it away from its objectives. I do freely. He begins an essay from the period shortly after the Liberation by saying: “We were never more free than under the German Occupation.” and in the next argument he tries to distinguish different elements which might be thought to characterize it. since it seems as if it has confined freedom to mere freedom of thought and by so doing has made it such that we are always free. it seems we are always ultimately free to think what we will. From this initial counterargument. and every act is ipso facto a free one. If freedom “is to be describable as freedom. Whatever I do. then we can no longer talk of freedom at all.” We can probably assume that Orestes’ response is Sartre’s as well: “Why not?”22 Elsewhere Sartre revels in similar paradoxical formulations. He calls this a “field. even under such circumstances as the Occupation.” which was published in the same year as the Phenomenology of Perception.”23 If we are free according to this view. This comes out well in The Flies when Jupiter says to the insolent Orestes: “If you dare to claim that you are free.Merleau-Ponty’s Criticisms of Sartre 203 out. Sartre’s theory lends itself to this criticism in many ways.

. it is “contingent” with respect to the posited end and takes place only in a “situation” determined and created by that end. a word to which there can be no reply is nonsense. It is clear that Merleau-Ponty recognizes both of these notions of freedom. . 35 but he seems to address only one of them with this criticism. for Sartre it is the very ontological nature of consciousness to be free.”27 But this kind of Stoic escapism cannot count as real freedom. Merleau-Ponty writes: “This is no reason to surrender all that is exterior and to confine ourselves to our thoughts. Here freedom characterizes what we are as human beings.25 reproaches Sartre for holding an empty Stoic view of freedom. This division of interior and exterior is abstract. the Roman Empire presented such a time.26 An abstract freedom is always a limited freedom. only one of which is addressed here by Merleau-Ponty.”30 It is important to note that Sartre operates with two different notions of freedom. my freedom is interwoven with that of others by way of the world. it is the same as consciousness. one was free to withdraw from the world and dwell in the realm of thought: “. and thus this freedom is in the final analysis no freedom at all. even in the mind of a slave. In this sense. roughly following Hegel’s criticism of Stoicism in the Phenomenology of Spirit.”28 Freedom. i.”24 Merleau-Ponty.”32 In other words. there is another more measured notion of freedom in Sartre which can be called “freedom in situation” 33 or “contingent freedom. only makes sense if it is accompanied and empowered by real possibility: “. thus. It is this conception of freedom that Merleau-Ponty’s fi rst argument rightly takes issue with.e. which are always free. Stoicism historically appears at periods of helplessness and oppression. Clearly on this ontological account. limited to thought. the very notion of freedom is in jeopardy.204 Idealism and Existentialism thought—to approve or disapprove. . as did the Occupation of France.”29 He writes: “A judgment without words is incomplete. however. This notion has been referred to as “ontological freedom”31 or “categorial freedom. and it appears instead merely as “the reveries of captives. return to our gods and great writers as if they were vices. according to Merleau-Ponty. and distinguishes us from objects. During the Occupation. we were not denied Plato or Descartes or rehearsals at the Conservatory on Saturday mornings.”34 This is the kind of freedom we have when we choose the means for a given end. no effective freedom exists without some power. for example. Freedom is our way of being in the world. We could begin our adolescence all over again. But precisely this kind of freedom is limited to a sphere where it can only be thought and never realized. . There is first the fundamental sense in which we are always free to choose our project. .

therefore. the theory of radical freedom rules out the very possibility of a meaningful conception of responsibility since it conceives of action simply as an isolated monadic instant entirely separated from the past and the future: The very notion of freedom demands that our decision should plunge into the future. If each act can immediately be erased by the next without there being any meaningful pattern of logic behind them. and no continuity of character in the individual can be discerned in this chaos of freedom. II. In fact. If. it is clear that Sartre also wants to derive moral conclusions from his theory of freedom. there must be a separation between intentions and action. On this point it seems that there is ultimately no conflict between the two. however. Each instant. Sartre never denies that there are obstacles to our freedom. though not necessitated. for freedom to make sense.38 A free act must be one that is performed in the context of a freely chosen project. or commitment to a general conception of moral obligation to other human beings. If freedom is doing. he says explicitly that the existence of obstacles is necessary for the very concept of freedom. in his account of the situation and specifically of the environment. one that is done in accordance with the project. there is not a project that fixes the background or .36 He agrees with Merleau-Ponty that. But according to Merleau-Ponty’s second counterargument.37 Free acts must be acts that have meaningful results and which imply commitments. that the subsequent instant should benefit from its predecessor and.Merleau-Ponty’s Criticisms of Sartre 205 In many ways Sartre seems to be his own worst enemy by presenting his theory with so many paradoxical formulae which so readily lend themselves to misinterpretation. should be at least required by it. he wants to be able to derive a strong notion of human responsibility. the Field and Sedimentation Our intuitive notion of freedom as autonomy is one that involves commitment and responsibility. theories of freedom are often accompanied by theories of morality and. then there can be no talk of genuine autonomy or ethical responsibility which rests on some conception of concern. Above all. Freedom. In the philosophical tradition. as has been noted. that something should have been done by it. it is necessary that what it does should not be immediately undone by a new freedom. Freedom cannot be seen as isolated instances. It is clear that leaving all the slogans aside. must not be a closed world.

. . must have a field.”40 Merleau-Ponty goes on to outline different aspects of the factical field which Sartre’s theory seems to smooth over. Such facts constitute the field within which freedom acts. . Granted that my project to climb the rock makes it appear within the category of scalable or not scalable. there is no freedom without a field. and for another something to which they are more or less indifferent. but because choice presupposes a prior commitment and because the idea of an initial choice involves a contradiction . is the very condition for it. for another beautiful. we are rooted in a determinate manner that we have not chosen and cannot change. and one merely acts arbitrarily. We are embodied. we never experience freedom. not only because there is no time anterior to time. as it were. Merleau-Ponty indicates that there must be stable factors or intelligible structures in our behavior by which our actions can be perceived as free in the first place. This is a fact about the world and about the nature of the rocks relative to one another and judged against the common criterion of my project. Thus. freedom .206 Idealism and Existentialism horizon of action. then there can be no talk of moral responsibility or rationality. The choice of an intelligible character is excluded. a natural self from which we cannot budge. but rather only come to light in terms of our freely chosen project. open situations requiring a certain completion and capable of constituting a background to either a confirmatory or transitory decision. Merleau-Ponty states his thesis here succinctly: “. But Merleau-Ponty undermines the complete relativity that Sartre seems to ascribe to such judgments by indicating the fixed nature of certain facts ordered inside a particular judgment or project. or realities which tend to cling to being. We have. By virtue of our body. By way of further elaborating the notion of a field or our sedimentation in the world. as if by whim. this does not contradict the fact that certain rocks are more scalable in themselves than others and that my project has not determined this relation. He begins by granting Sartre’s claim that any number of characteristics and qualities of objects do not inhere in things themselves. . our “sedimentation” in the world: Unless there are cycles of behavior. on the contrary. Merleau-Ponty talks about “a natural self ”41 in a way . which means that there must be for it special possibilities. the rock is for one person scalable. and this constitutes our natural limit.39 The fact that humans tend to act in ways that display certain regularities does not contradict freedom but. Such structures constitute our rootedness or. . as MerleauPonty says. .

Merleau-Ponty’s Criticisms of Sartre


that sometimes seems to imply that there is some predetermined, fi xed ontological entity called the human subject. However, his claim need not be construed as being so strong. In his analyses he points out certain universal ways of human perception that refer to a kind of natural subject, which need not imply any ontological commitment about the nature of human beings. He refers to his earlier account of perception,42 where he pointed out that certain figures are universally conceived and organized by the human mind in the same way. His example is a series of dots which the human mind spontaneously orders and seizes as six pairs of dots: It is as if, on the hither side of our judgment and our freedom, someone were assigning such and such a significance to such and such a given grouping. It is indeed true that perceptual structures do not always force themselves upon the observer; there are some which are ambiguous. But these reveal even more effectively the presence within us of spontaneous evaluation: for they are elusive shapes which suggest constantly changing meanings to us.43 This universality of experience implies certain fixed structures in human thought which are not determined as a result of a cognitive act of the will. These cognitive or perceptual structures make experience possible in the first place, since without them “we would not have a world.”44 They are also necessary for human communication and inter-subjectivity, which would seem to be problematic given Sartre’s account.45 The structures of perception, although themselves not things we can freely choose, thus constitute one such given field which makes freedom possible in the first place. Merleau-Ponty adds that perception is not the only sphere where a field is given or fixed: “This is true not only of an impersonal and, generally speaking, abstract function such as ‘external perception.’ There is something comparable present in all evaluations.”46 Merleau-Ponty’s counterargument here does not seem to compel agreement, since Sartre responds by way of anticipation to this issue in the section “My Fellowman,” where he outlines a number of universal linguistic, social and psychological structures which seem to be imposed on the individual without his or her assent. Sartre says that we are thrown into a world in which techniques have a meaning we have not given them. In other words, we come into a world where other people have already created certain meanings for things: “One may recall, for example, the innumerable host of meanings which are independent of my choice and which I discover


Idealism and Existentialism

if I live in a city: streets, houses, shops, streetcars and buses, directing signs, warning sounds, music on the radio, etc.”47 The objection to the theory of freedom issued by this section is that such adventitious universal structures, meanings and techniques seem to constitute a limit to human freedom since, after all, we do not personally create them. The meanings of, for example, a train schedule or a traffic sign cannot be altered by an act of my free will. Not only are the meanings of objects determined adventitiously and without my help, but also the meaning of my very being is determined in a thousand different ways by the language I speak, the social skills and competences I have acquired, and so forth. These things distinguish me from people from other countries and social classes, yet these meanings have not been consciously chosen by me through the exercise of my freedom. Predictably enough, Sartre will argue that we are free only in the context of such universal structures and techniques. In this section, Sartre discusses at some length the nature of language as a representative of all such pre-established universal structures which come from without and whose meaning is not determined by the individual or his project. We do not need to examine his account of language here in great detail, and I will only touch on it here to the extent necessary for illuminating his account of freedom and facticity. We seem to be limited by our fixed historical situation and the level of technological, social and linguistic development of our culture. As Sartre notes, the subject is thrown into a world in which he or she apprehends various techniques of the instrumental complexes of others as objects or patterns of conduct. The individual freely historicizes those techniques and accepts them as part of his or her world. By doing so, one is responsible for the world one has so constituted. Sartre says: “By arising in a world in which Pierre and Paul speak in a certain way, stick to the right when driving a bicycle or a car, etc., and by constituting these free patterns of conduct into meaningful objects, the for-itself is responsible for the fact that there is a world in which they stick to the right, in which they speak French, etc.”48 The act of the collective other thus becomes constituted as an object by the for-itself. Sartre argues: “This historization, which is the effect of the for-itself’s free choice, in no way restricts its freedom; quite the contrary, it is in this world and no other that its freedom comes into play.”49 In other words, by historicizing the world, the for-itself gives itself a context within which its freedom can operate. This does not mean that we are free to choose the society or culture that we live in or the language we speak, but rather that we choose ourselves as existing in a particular society or culture: “For to be free is not to choose the historic world in which one

Merleau-Ponty’s Criticisms of Sartre


arises—which would have no meaning—but to choose oneself in the world whatever this may be.”50 Sartre continues by arguing that it is absurd to think that the techniques of one’s time restrict human possibilities. It is perfectly obvious that different ages at different stages of development have developed differing techniques. The question is now whether we can say that a certain past age was somehow less free since it did not know modern technology. Is someone living in the Middle Ages not free since he does not have at his disposal the use of the automobile or the airplane? This absurdity seems to be what the objection raised here is implicitly committed to. Clearly, these possibilities only appear to us since we are wont to see them as representative of our own techniques. Someone living in the Middle Ages has clearly accepted and historicized a world with very different techniques which would preclude his perception of the possible use of the automobile or the airplane on his horizon of experience. Although people in the Middle Ages could not possibly have imagined our current level of technology, this surely cannot be seen as a limit to their freedom.51 Their freedom existed in the sphere of their own level of technological development. It would be a perverse and philosophically uninteresting notion of freedom which required as its condition that one have at one’s disposal every single possible technique from every conceivable age. On such a view, one would not be free unless one could freely choose to speak a language not yet invented, or employ a technology not yet developed. Thus, this objection is implicitly committed to a wholly implausible conception of freedom which need not be entertained further. For Sartre, the sphere of freedom that we are concerned with is that localized inside a given network of meanings and techniques. The upshot of Sartre’s discussion here about universally predetermined meanings amounts to seeing such meanings merely as so many aspects of the facticity of the human condition. As Sartre says, the universally defined meaning of a thing “is not distinguished from the quality of the in-itself.”52 Thus, although we do not create these significations or techniques any more than the climber creates the crag, nevertheless it is through our projects that these things take on the meaning and value that they have for us in the context of our own lives. The existence of such universal structures cannot therefore be seen as limiting one’s freedom any more than any other aspect of one’s facticity limits it. Generally speaking, it is by no means clear how Merleau-Ponty’s conception of a “field” differs from Sartre’s conception of facticity or the situation. It is clear that Merleau-Ponty recognizes Sartre’s account of freedom in situation, since years later he says explicitly: “. . . human beings, as Sartre


Idealism and Existentialism

presents them in Being and Nothingness, are situated beings.”53 Sartre would clearly grant that there are universal structures of perception which are a part of what makes us human, just like walking upright or using of language. He even grants that we do not choose these: “. . . each man finds himself in the presence of meanings which do not come into the world through him.”54 The question is whether or not such structures represent a threat to Sartre’s theory, or can be conceived as truly limiting our freedom. Clearly, according to Sartre’s discussion in the aforementioned section, they do not. Thus, we need some demonstration that these universal structures actually limit freedom in a way that Sartre’s theory does not allow. Lacking this, it appears that Sartre and Merleau-Ponty are ultimately in agreement on this issue.

III. The Social Order and History
Merleau-Ponty’s last major counterargument involves demonstrating the phenomenological rootedness of human beings in social and historical conditions. He gives an extended and provocative analysis of social class that is intended as a criticism of Sartre’s apparent claim that one is always spontaneously free to choose oneself, and thus one’s identification with a particular social class.55 Merleau-Ponty points out that social class is not merely a question of free decision, but rather a way of being in the world. 56 He gives examples of a factory worker and a day laborer, and describes their unhappy social experience. He writes that in such cases “one cannot in any case talk about a choice . . . it is enough that I should be born into the world and that I exist in order to experience my life as full of difficulties and constraints—I do not choose so to experience it.”57 My experience in a social class is not something which I have determined through the exercise of my freedom. It belongs rather to the facticity of the situation. But this situation does not determine me absolutely, either. One’s perception of oneself in a certain class is based on a perception of a common experience that one shares with others, “in a certain basis of coexistence.”58 As Merleau-Ponty says: “Thus to be a bourgeois or a worker is not only to be aware of being one or the other; it is to identify oneself as worker or bourgeois through an implicit or existential project which merges into our way of patterning the world and co-existing with other people.”59 What assigns us to a particular social class is not an arbitrary act of the will, but rather our common experience with others who share our lot and with whom we identify. These common experiences, which last a

Merleau-Ponty’s Criticisms of Sartre


lifetime, shape who we are and cannot be seen as the object of free choice. Merleau-Ponty concludes: For class is a matter neither for observation nor decree; like the appointed order of the capitalistic system, like revolution, before being thought it is lived through as an obsessive presence, as possibility, enigma and myth. To make class-consciousness the outcome of a decision and a choice is to say that problems are solved on the day they are posed, that every question already contains the reply that it awaits; it is, in short, to revert to immanence and abandon the attempt to understand history.60 The attempt to see class affiliation as merely a matter of personal choice is deeply misguided, since it badly underestimates the way of being in the world common to members of various classes and to those with common experiences. This counterargument is, however, something of a straw man since Sartre’s theory does not commit him to claiming that one freely or arbitrarily chooses one’s social class. In fact, he discusses at some length how common language and techniques in some sense make us what we are in terms of class affiliation. He agrees that these various techniques shape one’s way of perceiving and of being in the world: “. . . to be a Savoyard is not simply to inhabit the high valleys of Savoy; it is, among a thousand other things, to ski in the winters, to use the ski as a mode of transportation.”61 These techniques and habits are what makes one person French and another German, one person bourgeois, another proletarian. The essential question is whether or not these things represent a threat or limit to freedom. Once again it is clear from Sartre’s analysis of freedom in situation that they do not. These techniques provide us with a certain modality of being in the world, and the exercise of freedom takes place within this sphere. Merleau-Ponty then turns to the issue of history and offers a reductio ad absurdum in refutation of what he perceives as Sartre’s view that every individual act of history is one that issues from an absolute freedom that is not grounded in any past or tradition. The result would be, he claims, that there would be no identifiable meaning or trends in history which obviously do exist and can be discerned by any astute observer.62 He writes: If indeed I made myself into a worker or a bourgeois by an absolute initiative, and if in general terms nothing ever courted our freedom, history would display no structure, no event would be seen to take shape in

and anything might emerge from anything else . but it is one that we seek out. he claims that history is coherent first in terms of the present historical configuration.212 Idealism and Existentialism it. This is the point of Sartre’s example of Clovis. Instead of it being purely a question of individual personalities.64 as Merleau-Ponty illustrates with the persuasive example of the Napoleonic dictatorship in 1799. Napoleon’s rise to power would be simply a question of the free choice of one man. and second precisely in terms of the goals of the individual figures involved. for him.”66 There is thus a reciprocal movement between the faceless forces of history. i. or the fortuitous result of their occurring together. and a fi xed historical context. nor would it be possible to say that even over a short period of time events were conspiring to produce any definite outcome. Clovis wanted to expand Roman influence in Gaul.”65 For Merleau-Ponty there is a social-historical context of a universal “one” or anonymous collectivity which is prior to any cognitive volition or desire. .63 This would rule out any talk of historical movements.e. These two stand in a constant dialectical interaction: “There is an exchange between generalized and individual existence. It is the concrete project of a future which is elaborated within social coexistence and in the One before any personal decision is made. On the contrary. There is a meaning and logos in history. and the historical meaning of his work. it is precisely the goals and ambitions of the individual historical actors which give history its meaning. and its meaning or structure is simply an interpretation of this ambition. One cannot distinguish between his ambition. there was also a much larger historical context that made these events possible.67 nevertheless it does not follow that. his action. and the will and ambition of individuals. history is chaotic or unintelligible. and given our own present political agenda. by contrast. The events of the Napoleonic dictatorship are important for us given the course of history since then. Secondly. According to Sartre’s assumed view. and in his account of freedom he himself uses a great number of historical examples. . Although it is true that he ascribes an important role to individual initiative in history. as his example of the conversion of Clovis illustrates. History would never move in any direction. There are thus two factors involved: individual free will. each receiving and giving something. . it was the general historical moment which in a sense presented itself: “What is known as the significance of events is not an idea which produces them. Sartre is not blind to this kind of argument. His ambition is his action. although Napoleon’s will and ambition doubtless played a role. For Merleau-Ponty.

.” He grants that such factical elements exist. since even in this reciprocal relation the individual remains free. never determinism and never absolute choice. Although he denies straightforwardly that the world or the in-itself can ever serve as a motive for action. Merleau-Ponty’s account of the reciprocal relation between the historical context and the individual in no way contradicts Sartre’s fundamental intuition. or taking away from one’s freedom—in fact make freedom possible in the first place. and so on. . nor does it render it impossible to distinguish meaning and structure in history. but the key point is his denial that they in any way threaten our freedom. after having rejected Sartre’s view. as is evinced by the section “My Past. . Sartre is also aware of the weight of the historical context. Humans are free to modify and improve the institutions and techniques which have been handed down to them. and that these structures—far from causing one’s actions to be predetermined. human inventions which change with time. history. he is nevertheless free in his turn to shape the world. There is thus a reciprocity between the individual and the world. Language and social techniques are. and it is only in this domain that we can speak of freedom. it seems that his theory in fact is not so distant from Merleau-Ponty’s account of reciprocity. specific forms of social competence. after all. presents his own theory of freedom. However. The individual is thrown into a world and is obliged to adapt himself to these structures and techniques. The central thesis of his theory is that the individual is a preset structure of cognition. therefore. In this sense they shape the world by the exercise of their autonomy. in the second we are open to an infinite number of possibilities . Finally. Although Sartre couches the matter in a very different way rhetorically. we exist in both ways at once. In a fashion parallel to his account of history. I am never a thing and never bare consciousness. The world shapes the individual by its preformed meanings and structures.Merleau-Ponty’s Criticisms of Sartre 213 Thus. but also never completely. At the end of his criticism Merleau-Ponty.”68 The world and the individuals who inhabit it mutually condition each other. inter-subjectivity. He learns a language. Nothing stands in the way of his admitting that these clearly do determine and shape us as individual agents. Although he seems to be determined in this sense. nevertheless Sartre does admit the existence of universal structures and techniques as a fundamental fact of human existence. in the first case we are acted upon. Sartre’s view neither reduces history to random actions or particular individuals. There is. and so on. he argues that there is a reciprocal movement between the individual and the world: “The world is already constituted.

For Merleau-Ponty. For Sartre the individual is and must be free. but rather the more Heideggerian-sounding notion of being-with. it is the subject or the for-itself alone which is entirely responsible for the creation of meaning and for the positing of particular projects. not as radical as is often thought. The fundamental ontological concept for Merleau-Ponty is not the dualistic split of for-itself and in-itself. the foritself is fundamentally distinct and separate from the world. The question of interaction is thus unproblematic. Thus. we are always already situated in the world. I am always in a concrete situation which is determined in many different ways apart from myself and my project. Thus the individual can never be hindered in his projects by the world. from which spring two competing views of freedom.214 Idealism and Existentialism Sartre refuses to grant that this fact limits our freedom in any way. merely by indicating that the sphere of freedom which he has outlined as freedom in situation exhibits both sides of the reciprocal movement. but yet I am always free to determine other aspects of it by my free choice of particular ends. the two different conceptions of freedom that we are presented with here issue from two radically different conceptions of the individual human subject. Although the world can influence and shape our actions. Thus. . freedom for Merleau-Ponty is conceived of as reciprocity. Thus. it does not follow that we are not free. According to Sartre’s dualistic view. since there is no genuine interaction with the world that might hinder freedom. Not surprisingly. but only by limitations which he himself posits and recognizes. however. At bottom there are two different ontologies at work. he can perfectly well grant Merleau-Ponty’s account of reciprocity. The differences between these views are. since we are constantly in reciprocal and dialectical interaction with the world.

”2 and it is perhaps this claim which best characterizes his theory in Being and Nothingness. He then goes on to analyze forms of self-deception which he calls “bad faith” (mauvaise foi). For the French existentialists. the notion of consciousness is closely tied to that of freedom. Sartre says that for him the two terms were synonymous. i. Although the theory of consciousness does not play the central role in Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy that it does in Sartre’s.Chapter 11 Sartre and Merleau-Ponty on Consciousness and Bad Faith The theory of human consciousness is one of the hallmarks of the French existentialist movement. There we find his celebrated refutation of Freud’s account of the unconscious and Sartre’s own theory of selfdeception. Sartre argues that there is a “total translucency of consciousness.3 His extended account in his chapter “The Cogito” from the Phenomenology of Perception offers refutations of both Sartre’s account of the total transparency of consciousness and Freud’s account of the subconscious. since it is here that he analyzes the ways in which human beings try to flee their freedom and responsibility. Finally. In the second section. In the first section of the present chapter I treat the third part of the Introduction to Being and Nothingness entitled “The Pre-Reflective Cogito and the Being of the Percipere. Indeed. He begins with the thesis that consciousness is transparent to itself.” in which Sartre lays the foundation for his theory of consciousness. and as a result is fully cognizant of its actions.e. it is clear that MerleauPonty is anxious to take a stand on the issue. This issue remained a point of contention between Sartre and Merleau-Ponty throughout their respective careers. in the third section I give an account of Merleau-Ponty’s criticisms of Sartre’s views on the nature of consciousness that appear in . This account is important for both his ontology and his ethics.1 Contrary to theories of the unconscious. In the context of the war and the Occupation this account had great explanatory power.” which in many ways can be seen as an important corollary to his theory of consciousness. I treat Sartre’s well-known chapter “Bad Faith. that it knows itself and its motives and desires.

” from the Phenomenology of Perception.”8 This is what Sartre refers to as “non-positional” or “non-thetic” consciousness.”7 which represents Husserl’s theory of intentionality in a nutshell. Intentionality and the Pre-Reflective Cogito Sartre’s theory of the cogito and human consciousness is essential for his project as a whole.10 This is not to imply that I am self-aware in every act of consciousness. a logical absurdity in the idea that there can be consciousness apart from any particular representation. bad faith. It is the very nature of consciousness to have a relation to representations. for Sartre. therefore. 5 It is Husserl’s theory of intentionality and consciousness that forms the basis for Sartre’s theory of the transparency of consciousness and everything that follows from it: freedom. I. for Husserl. Here Sartre echoes Husserl’s famous slogan that all consciousness is “consciousness of something. and thus all consciousness is directed toward or “intends” something. responsibility. and so on. I wish ultimately to argue that Merleau-Ponty’s criticisms are in large measure convincing since they expose an implicit and unintended essentialism at the heart of Sartre’s theory of consciousness. In the Introduction to Being and Nothingness. Sartre argues that this “positional consciousness” necessarily presupposes a non-cognitive relation of consciousness to itself: “However.216 Idealism and Existentialism the chapter “The Cogito. to begin our analysis we must first examine the nature of this consciousness. idea or object.” 9 and what. Sartre gives the following example: If I count the cigarettes which are in that case. since it serves to ground his theory of freedom and responsibility.4 Sartre reports that he found the tools he needed to construct his own theory of consciousness in Husserl.”6 It is consciousness which is the basic characteristic of all human subjects. I must also implicitly be aware of my awareness. is a fundamental precondition of all consciousness. since I can be so engaged in a particular activity that I forget myself. the necessary and sufficient condition for a knowing consciousness to be knowledge of its object. This property appears to my consciousness as a property existing . is that it be consciousness of itself as being that knowledge. Sartre begins by claiming that “the law of being in the knowing subject is to-be-conscious. This is what Kant called the “transcendental unity of apperception. I have the impression of disclosing an objective property of this collection of cigarettes: they are a dozen. In order for me to be aware of an object. There is.

there is a pre-reflective cogito which is the condition of the Cartesian cogito.13 The conclusion that he wants to draw is an ethical one. Thus we begin with an account of consciousness. It is very possible that I have no positional consciousness of counting them. Thus he wishes to derive ethical consequences from this account. II. We have chosen. We cannot justify our actions by an appeal to the unconscious. arguing that what Freud attributes to the unconscious is in fact domiciled in consciousness. . we are always aware of our mental states. as is evinced by the moralizing tone in the “Bad Faith” chapter of Being and Nothingness. Since a pre-reflective cogito is necessarily implied in every act of consciousness and thus constitutes the very nature of consciousness. instead we are condemned to be free. but it is also always implicitly reflexive. which will lead to accounts of freedom and responsibility. and can be seen in some ways as the very foundation stone of the rest of the book. What Sartre sees in Husserl’s theory is an account of consciousness upon which he can build in order to establish clear criteria for human responsibility. “I am counting. indeed. it is non-reflective consciousness which renders the reflection possible. Sartre’s Theory of the Transparency of Consciousness The ontological fact of freedom does not come to humans as a happy benefaction.”11 Thus. . If anyone questioned me. . It is necessarily implied in every intentional act: “. Thus any appeal to something hidden from consciousness. This means for Sartre that self-consciousness is always implicitly aware of itself. I need not necessarily be aware of myself as conscious of what I am doing at every instant I am doing it. is rejected. “What are you doing?” I should reply at once.Sartre and Merleau-Ponty on Bad Faith 217 in the world. Sartre wants to make use of this account of the pre-reflective cogito to ground his account of freedom and human responsibility. In the section analyzed below Sartre refutes precisely Freud’s account of the unconscious.”12 This doctrine of the pre-reflective cogito is important for Sartre’s theory.14 Freedom is experienced in . Sartre calls this the “pre-reflective cogito. Ultimately. and we are aware of our choices. Then I do not know myself as counting . It is always intentional or positional in so far as it is always conscious of its relation to objects. if anyone should ask. such as unconscious desires or motivations. The self-conscious subject is transparent to itself. but the possibility must always exist for me to be aware of what I am doing by an act of reflection.” and he claims that it is a necessary condition for all consciousness. .

and it is in many ways the logical conclusion of his theory of the transparency of consciousness. bad faith does not come from outside to human reality.”21 Since deceiver and deceived are the same person. Psychoanalysis recreates the dualism of deceiver and deceived by sundering the human psyche into the conscious “ego” and the unconscious “id. Sartre begins by refuting the explanation offered by Freud. on the contrary. “the duality of the deceiver and the deceived does not exist here.16 This is Sartre’s account of self-deception. . He proposes to examine the psychological phenomenon which “is essential to human reality”18 and accompanies this consciousness.218 Idealism and Existentialism anguish. Sartre takes himself to have established the nothingness of human existence in the first chapter of the book.”15 Humans try to avoid this responsibility by denying their freedom with what he calls “bad faith. and thus it transcends the liar. since it enjoins us to face an enormous moral burden which Sartre calls “the terrible responsibility.” These two parts are mediated by the “censor” which allows certain drives to . the nature of which is to be conscious of the nothingness of its being. The question with bad faith or self-deception is more complicated since. Thus. A. they stand on exactly the same epistemological footing. bad faith is wholly immanent to consciousness: “. He then argues that consciousness is aware of this nothingness and is defined by this awareness. He begins by distinguishing bad faith from a simple lie.” 20 There is a barrier between the deceiver and the deceived. His thesis here is that “the lie is a behavior of transcendence.”17 This definition highlights Sartre’s central thesis that consciousness is transparent to itself. Bad Faith and Falsehood Sartre begins his account of bad faith and the nature of consciousness with a revised definition of consciousness: “Consciousness is a being.” 22 The question then is how to explain this phenomenon of self-deception.” Bad faith is one of the best-known and most influential concepts in Being and Nothingness.”19 whereas bad faith is one of immanence. although it too involves a deception and lying. He notes that the liar has a sort of transparency of consciousness since he knows that the way in which he represents the situation to others distorts or contradicts the truth: “Thus there is no difficulty in holding that the liar must make the project of the lie in entire clarity and that he must possess a complete comprehension of the lie and of the truth he is altering. A lie is oriented towards another person. Bad faith. . implies in essence the unity of a single consciousness. unlike simple cases of lying.

since they are simply facts about the world. I can interpret this impulse unproblematically as resulting from my interest in the book.’ in the position of the Other. and so forth. I have no privileged access to the id. The “id” is. since .”25 Sartre then steps back and investigates whether or not this theory is satisfactory. Sartre writes: “Freud in fact reports resistance when at the end of the first period the doctor is approaching the truth. As Sartre says: “I stand in relation to my ‘id. or offers misleading explanations for. According to this view self-deception takes place when the ego ignores. who can arrive at the truth of my psychic life better than myself: “I can know myself only through the mediation of the other. a thing: “It simply is. but ultimately amounts to the patient’s blocking the way to the discovery of the truth of his or her inner life.”26 Sartre takes psychoanalysis to task on just this point. which is neither true nor false in itself but simply real. He tries to refute psychoanalysis by its inability to explain the phenomenon of resistance. The real truth may be some traumatic experience in my childhood which the censor represses and does not allow to come to consciousness. This resistance is objective behavior apprehended from without: the patient shows defiance. it takes many forms. Thus we have no real responsibility for them and cannot really be held accountable for them. Consciously. exactly like this table. in the position of the deceived other in the example used above. its exaggerated price.Sartre and Merleau-Ponty on Bad Faith 219 pass for legitimate and thus to come to consciousness. observed in psychoanalytic practice. Another result of this theory is that the individual has no privileged access to his or her drives and complexes. Sartre uses the example of the impulse to steal a book.”24 Since these drives remain hidden from me I am.”23 Since we are not conscious of these hidden impulses. its rarity. One result of this split between the conscious self and the hidden drives and impulses is that the latter are considered to be beyond our control. we have no control over them until they are brought to consciousness. Resistance appears in patients when the analyst seems to be on the way to discovering the true meaning behind the action. But these interpretations do not get at the real truth behind the impulse. gives fantastic accounts of his dreams. Therefore I need the help of a trained psychoanalyst. sometimes even removes himself completely from the psychoanalytic treatment. refuses to speak. as it were. in a sense. behaviors that originate from the id. for example as dreams or nervous tics. while censoring others and compelling them to remain in the realm of the unconscious where they can only manifest themselves in indirect ways. so I am obliged to interpret the matter based on what is presented to me.

this could not suspect that the psychiatrist is approaching the end since the ego’s relation to the meaning of its own reactions is exactly like that of the psychiatrist himself. it seeks to express itself in any way possible. it must come from the censor: “It alone can comprehend the questions or the revelations of the psychoanalyst as approaching more or less near to the real drives which it strives to repress. according to the theory. If the resistance does not come from the ego. sleep) to be expressed in clear consciousness? And how are we to explain that it can relax its surveillance . But this explanation also proves to be problematic: “The complex as such is rather the collaborator of the psychoanalyst since it aims at expressing itself in clear consciousness. Sartre’s explanation of the phenomenon is simple: the patient is conscious of the fact that the analyst is getting closer to a truth which the patient wants to remain hidden.”28 The id cannot be responsible for the resistance since. it must be conscious of both kinds of drive. . If the resistance cannot be explained by either the ego or the id. thirst. which it must repress.”27 Thus the ego should. But in order to do this.’ envisaged as a psychic totality of the facts of consciousness. since it plays tricks on the censor and seeks to elude it.220 Idealism and Existentialism it does not seem to have the conceptual apparatus to explain satisfactorily this phenomenon of resistance. be unaware of the possibility of imminent discovery. Sartre asks: “How could it happen otherwise that the censor allows lawful sexual impulses to pass through. that it permits needs (hunger. from illegitimate ones. it must be able to distinguish legitimate drives. which it permits to manifest themselves. according to the Freudian account. The obvious response would be that the ego resists since it. after all. ?”30 The inevitable conclusion is that the censor must be conscious of the drives it wishes to repress.”29 But Sartre points out that for the censor to perform its function. The ego is in no privileged position with respect to these hidden drives or complexes. it must come from the id. and therefore cannot know any better than the analyst or any other third party that the analyst is getting close to the truth of the matter: “It cannot be the ‘Ego. Sartre poses the question of which aspect or component of psychic life is doing the resisting. For Sartre. is the conscious element. Its drives should thus welcome the direct expression offered by psychoanalysis. . But this cannot be the case since it is the conscious component from which the object of repression is supposed to be hidden from view. . notwithstanding the censor’s resistance. Sartre thus shows that the phenomenon of resistance in the patient contradicts the dualism of the conscious and unconscious aspects of the psyche espoused by psychoanalysis.

Sartre suggests that the woman is in bad faith since she wants to have it both ways: she wants to be regarded as sexually attractive since it is precisely this element which gives the situation its playful charm. He designates these structures using his terms of art: “facticity” and “transcendence.e. and in part constitute and determine my person. Thus. Thus. since by being obliged to act in accordance with them the suitor indicates. their accomplishments and their failures. He begins with the famous example of the coquette.” For Sartre. On the one hand. the woman is charmed and flattered that the suitor desires her.Sartre and Merleau-Ponty on Bad Faith 221 consciousness is aware of all its drives and desires. She appreciates the social games that mediate sexual practices. His respectful and deferential small talk is more than simply small talk and signifies a sexual interest. i. was born of certain parents. Patterns of Bad Faith Sartre’s discussion of the forms of bad faith is perhaps the best-known section in Being and Nothingness. on the one hand. Indeed. human beings in any given human situation are always bound up in the dialectic of facticity and transcendence. But they do . facticity is pure actuality. she would be shocked. if he approached her in the same way he would approach his grandmother. however. but rather a straightforward assertion and declaration of desire. Humans are. the sum total of their actions. but it tries to deceive itself nonetheless. To use another category. He invites us to imagine a woman on a first rendezvous with a suitor who is making advances toward her. their pasts. she would be insulted. she would be insulted if his interest in her was completely sexual. what they are. This is the phenomenon of bad faith that Sartre now tries to elucidate with his own theory. she flatters herself by investing the small talk with a deeper meaning. but she also wants to be taken seriously as a person and appreciated apart from her physical attraction and sexual virtues. B. at least to all appearances. On the other hand. that he is interested not only in a sexual adventure but also in her life and person. or failed a certain course—all these belong to my facticity. in which he brilliantly describes the contradictory ways of thinking bound up in courtship practices. that I won a certain contest. the facts that I am of a certain nationality. These facts collectively constitute the facticity of an individual. Sartre indicates that there are universal structures or patterns of bad faith to be found in this simple example. She is charmed by the fact that behind his outward show of respect there lies a hidden desire. If there were no coquettish games and no small talk.

will recognize its transcendence.222 Idealism and Existentialism not determine it completely. i. but we are also always free to transcend it. and she contemplates it as though from above as a passive object to which events can happen but which can neither provoke them nor avoid them because all its possibilities are outside of it. In the case of the coquette. a little too precise.”31 To be in bad faith is to focus on only one side of the dialectic. without realizing the converse. .e. to existing in the mode of the in-itself. Human beings are always free to go beyond or transcend the elements which make up their factical situation. . Sartre enjoins us to imagine that the suitor takes the woman’s hand and with this overt gesture displays more openly his desire for her. and escape to transcendence. Sartre treats escape to facticity with his famous example of the waiter. . insofar as she wants to be flattered for her sexual allure. for Sartre human beings exist in this constant dialectic of facticity and transcendence: we are fixed in a certain way by the facticity of the situation.”33 This switching back and forth between facticity and transcendence is indicative of bad faith. But instead. she interprets the words and gestures of the suitor as purely factical without any transcendent meaning: “She has disarmed the actions of her companion by reducing them to being only what they are.”32 But insofar as she wants to be esteemed as a person. He comes toward the patrons with a step a little too quick.36 who goes about his job with a bit too much zeal: “His movement is quick and forward. Humans are not merely what they are. actuality.”35 There are in principle two main structures or forms of bad faith: escape to facticity. She leaves her hand there and pretends to ignore the transcendent meaning of the gesture: “. the hand rests inert between the warm hands of her companion—neither consenting nor resisting—a thing. she sees a transcendent meaning in the words and the gestures of her suitor: “But she permits herself to enjoy his desire. to the extent that she will apprehend it as not being what it is. This is the element of transcendence. since they are also potency.”34 Sartre writes: “Finally while sensing profoundly the presence of her own body—to the degree of being disturbed perhaps—she realizes herself as not being her own body. that is. Finally. As Sartre says: “These two aspects of human reality are and ought to be capable of a valid coordination. Retracting her hand would indicate her disapproval and moving closer would evince her approbation. She is expected to make a decision by either rebuffing or accepting his advances. she continues the charade. since she is torn between the poles of facticity and transcendence. I can always reinterpret my past and change my ways of living and thinking in the future. but she does neither. a little too rapid. since there remains the element of transcendence. Thus.

always doing their duties and playing their roles. and anyone else who tries to escape the contingency of their existence and situation by becoming the object which is their role: “What I attempt to realize is a being-in-itself of the café waiter. He thereby escapes to facticity and denies his freedom and responsibility by denying his transcendence. he is playing at being a waiter in a café. The pederast only fleetingly acknowledges the actions and deeds which constitute his past. his eyes express an interest a little too solicitous for the order of the customer.43 Sartre here uses the example of the pederast who has what we would call a guilty conscience about his pederasty. Sartre’s account of the escape to facticity is also closely tied to his frequent criticisms of a certain unreflective mode of being in the world that he refers to as bourgeois. duties and positions that was unencumbered by reflections about the contingencies of their existence and social role: “Their souls at peace that day as on other days with God and the world. by denying that he is or could be anything else but a waiter. to command. All social roles are in a sense contingent. as if these were given facts of their existence. where he finds portraits of the town’s leading citizens from past generations. . This recalls Shakespeare’s famous line: “All the world’s a stage.Sartre and Merleau-Ponty on Bad Faith 223 He bends forward a little too eagerly. to immortality. his voice.”37 This overzealous behavior indicates that he is attempting to live fully his role as waiter: “.”42 these pious citizens were always at home in the world and in their social roles. and made themselves into objects. these men had slipped quietly into death. They thus lived their entire lives in bad faith. and thus we can never be them fully. And all the men and women merely players. a waiter. In his famous novel Nausea. the narrator and protagonist Antoine Roquentin describes his visit to the local museum.”39 The truth of this can be seen in the actions of the waiter. and finally. that is.”41 Contrary to the selfreflective Roquentin who realizes that his “place is nowhere. Yet his profession is based on contingency: no one is. For they had a right to everything: to life. or any other vocation. To escape the contingency of existence they hid behind the veneer of respectable and dignified social life. to wealth. The people portrayed inhabited a world of necessary and unquestioned rights. to claim their share of eternal life to which they had a right. He sees his previous seductions not as essential parts of his personality . to respect. which they never questioned for a moment.”40 The waiter tries to become an “automaton” in the way a chair is a chair. ontologically speaking. . The mirror image of this form of bad faith is the escape to transcendence.”38 Sartre’s point is that he was not born a waiter but became one of his own free choice. to work.

C. It cannot be either a cynical lie or certainty—if certainty is the intuitive possession of the object.”45 Thus. Sartre writes: “For me to have represented it to myself as bad . by our transcendence. Nor can it be a certainty since if the waiter actually believed his ontological existence were that of a waiter. We are determined in part by our facticity and also in part by our hopes. he needs this perpetual rebirth. that is. The pederast constantly flees his facticity and escapes into the transcendence of the future. then he would be naïvely in good faith.”47 Sartre begins by indicating that bad faith cannot be seen as an isolated incident. the individual wholly denies his past and every factical aspect of his life. . Sartre wants to establish the epistemological modality of bad faith as a kind of belief. dreams and future. . and escapes into the transcendence of human existence. where I will not have such sexual encounters: “. this constant escape in order to live. By attempting to reduce the pederast to mere facticity. The “Faith” of Bad Faith In this final section of his account of bad faith.”44 They form no coherent pattern of behavior. There is what he calls an “original project of bad faith. He tries to see the pederast’s activity as a fact of the matter. and are thus dismissed as unimportant details. He wants the pederast to confess and to admit his pederasty to himself and others. The difficulty is to keep this dialectical tension alive and not to slip into one side or the other. and not as a contingent thing. in order to escape one’s freedom and responsibility. For Sartre.46 He explains: “The true problem of bad faith stems evidently from the fact that bad faith is faith. he admits. The waiter who plays at being a waiter knows that his being a waiter is actually contingent. but rather as simple instances “of bad luck” or “the mistakes of the past. he seeks to limit him to his past and deny to him any possibility of change or transcendence. human existence dwells in this dialectical tension of facticity and transcendence. But his quest is also a form of bad faith. But it is this very awareness of our ultimate contingency and freedom that psychologically tempts us to these forms of bad faith. but rather refers to a general disposition or way of being. but that is not what I truly am. Sartre also discusses what he calls the “champion of sincerity.224 Idealism and Existentialism or character. Yes. with this form of bad faith. My true identity lies in the future.” the person who wants to see things for what they are.” It cannot be a lie since one cannot present it to oneself as a lie. he must constantly put himself beyond reach in order to avoid the terrible judgment of collectivity. there have been mistakes in the past.

We choose to believe.” it knows that it has consented to believe. Sartre uses the example of believing in a person’s friendship: I believe that my friend Pierre feels friendship for me. Merleau-Ponty’s Criticisms In the chapter “The Cogito” from the Phenomenology of Perception. finally. or “translucent. since it implies that the verifiable facts are insufficient to compel assent. But at the same time the very law of the pre-reflective cogito implies that the being of believing ought to be conscious of believing. and thus an alternative account of self-deception. I believe it in good faith. Sartre explains this as follows: “But it [non-thetic consciousness] is in its very translucency at the origin of all knowing. bad faith can be neither a lie nor a certainty. Thus the non-thetic consciousness of believing is destructive of belief. But this consent undermines the belief itself.Sartre and Merleau-Ponty on Bad Faith 225 faith would have been cynicism. to believe it sincerely innocent would have been in good faith. MerleauPonty offers an alternative conception of the experience of consciousness and self-awareness. if the facts were compelling. I believe it but do not have for it any self-evident intuition. Belief is the willful acceptance of a certain assertion or view. and there is in every act of belief an act of will. It is instead in the modality of belief. then I cannot in all sincerity believe in the content of the assertion. as if I were certain of it—and all this is the synthetic unity of one and the same attitude. The act of believing is not something that is compelled by the observable facts.51 Although Merleau-Ponty never refers to Being and Nothingness by name. I allow myself to give in to all impulses to trust it. and as such is concerned with evidence which is ultimately indeterminate or inconclusive. for the nature of the object does not lend itself to intuition. Sartre concludes that this conscious choice to believe undermines belief itself. I decide to believe in it. In the absence of such certainty we are called upon to judge for ourselves. and the rearranging of one’s other beliefs and conduct around it. . they would lead to certainty rather than belief. that is. III. and to maintain myself in this decision: I conduct myself. When I realize that my belief is based not upon observable facts but upon my own desire to believe.”50 Since consciousness is transparent to itself. I believe it.49 There is a certain intentionality about the nature of belief.”48 Thus.

since we have direct access to them: “From the moment I feel love. . whereas on a second look it turns out to be only a paper blowing in the wind. I can correct my mistaken versions of it using further perceptions.”54 It seems that “a feeling. even when the object does not in fact . I may think that I feel love for a certain person. which may or may not be consonant with what they actually feel. Merleau-Ponty then turns to the perception of internal phenomena such as emotions. considered in itself. that I am joyful or sad. By criticizing Sartre’s theory of the transparency of consciousness. it cannot present me with a ‘reality’ otherwise than by running the risk of error. It is absolutely necessarily the case that the thing. the perceptual ‘synthesis’ has to be incomplete. he wants to criticize both views as inadequate in order to put forward his own account as a third alternative. is always true once it is felt. Perceptual errors are possible due to this perspectivism. but against other perceptions. if it is to be a thing. MerleauPonty’s view of perceptual truth is based on this possibility of perceptual error. should have aspects of itself hidden from me. In his account Merleau-Ponty draws heavily on his own theory of perception. Thus at a funeral one experiences sadness but not necessarily in a genuine fashion. it is the case that I love. He recalls certain social situations such as weddings or funerals which. recalling that there are many instances in life when individuals conspire with themselves in order to feel certain emotions. . joy or sadness. and involves the comparison of various perceptions. but then on reflection come to realize that I was mistaken and that my feeling of love was directed not at her entire person but only at a specific characteristic or . He writes: “.226 Idealism and Existentialism there is little doubt that it is one of his principal targets. Although I cannot have a panoptic view of an object. .”55 But Merleau-Ponty invites us to examine the issue more closely. have the value that I now attribute to it. One of the foundation stones of Merleau-Ponty’s theory of perception is the claim that our perceptual awareness of objects is always necessarily incomplete. In a dark alley I might imagine that I see a cat. Merleau-Ponty in no way wants to reaffirm a Freudian conception of the unconscious. in a sense. the truth of a perception is measured not against some object or external standard. Merleau-Ponty uses the example of a self-deceiving belief that one is in love. .52 Instead. Thus on MerleauPonty’s view. program a certain set of emotions in people. ambiguous and subject to error.”53 The perspectival nature of perception permits us to perceive only parts of an object at one time. It may seem that we can never be mistaken about our emotions. which he has sketched in the rest of the book. The entire realm of epistemology lies within perceptual consciousness.

a thing hidden in my unconscious. I was either unaware of this. it will be objected. in which case it is not a question of illusory love. even ‘mistaken.Sartre and Merleau-Ponty on Bad Faith 227 memory which she evoked in me. and is continually being reshaped as we re-evaluate our lives and our experiences.”57 There must be some aspect of the mystical experience which distinguished it from the usual symptoms of puberty. but nonetheless remain static. since there is. Merleau-Ponty illustrates this by returning to his example of mistaken love: “The love which worked out its dialectic through me. whether I recognized it or not. and that it becomes.”58 He claims this view differs from those of Sartre and Freud. But this defense is problematic since my love was illusory from the beginning.”59 For psychoanalysis. There is no doubt that I had certain emotions that I was conscious of. but of a true love which is dying—or else I did know. but constantly changing. in which case there was never any love at all. nor was it an object before my consciousness. when independently evaluated in later life. everything that I am later to learn concerning myself. and of which I have just become aware. Merleau-Ponty argues that these facts are not static. But the experience remains ambiguous. its existence being identifiable with its awareness of existing. . Merleau-Ponty then considers the arguments against psychoanalysis found in Sartre’s theory: “. since I was consciously aware of . from the start.’ ”56 Psychoanalysis would suggest that “my” love was in fact genuine to the extent that any awareness of its falsity remained hidden from me in the unconscious. For Sartre these facts are accessible to consciousness. is not so very different from the notion of the unconscious: in both cases we have the same retrospective illusion. He writes: “The idea of a form of consciousness which is transparent to itself.”60 The psychoanalytic account cannot be accurate. the essential facts about my mental life constitute a fi xed complex that can only come to the surface consciously through psychoanalytic therapy. . insofar as it does not posit the subject to be a fi xed and static entity. Merleau-Ponty argues that our self-understanding is always in flux. was not. but I was mistaken in my assessment of them and attributed to them a loftier status than they actually deserved. Merleau-Ponty then takes up the same example that Sartre uses in Being and Nothingness: “Nor can it be said that a mystical crisis at 15 is without significance. an incident of puberty or the first signs of a religious vocation. My understanding of my own life and emotions is always “in the making. What one knows or understands about one’s self changes from moment to moment. introduced into me as an explicit object. Only when that true love began to weaken did I realize I was mistaken about its object.

Merleau-Ponty’s point is that Sartre’s account of bad faith seems to require a static view of the self. then this transparency must have a relation to something. Sartre’s view requires something that is in principle wholly knowable. If consciousness is ultimately wholly transparent to itself. it can account for the phenomenon of self-deception and self-misunderstanding without appeal to a fi xed self. The upshot of Merleau-Ponty’s criticism is that Sartre unintentionally reifies the self with his theory of the transparency of consciousness. without a fixed self about which one can be transparent. of course. He. They are possible because the perceptual elements are not always consistent with one another and not. this contradicts Sartre’s explicit anti-essentialism. Needless to say. If our experience is always fragmented and ambiguous. My feelings were experienced and interpreted differently at different times. . and unknowingly posited the self as an ontological entity. while avoiding the problems of the Freudian subconsciousness. Merleau-Ponty’s theory of the ambiguity of perceptual experience seems to solve this problem since. Merleau-Ponty’s view thus seems ultimately to be a more satisfying account of the phenomena that Sartre wishes to describe. However. It might seem at first glance that Sartre can respond to this criticism. as for Sartre. But this awareness was never unambiguous or straightforward. Sartre seems to have gone too far in the opposite direction. The question Sartre must address is how it is possible to have a theory of the transparency of consciousness. then error and deception are possible. because consciousness is not in harmony with a true self or the true facts of the matter. emphasizes that our interpretations of ourselves and our past are always changing in accordance with our present goals and projects.228 Idealism and Existentialism certain feelings that contradicted the notion of love. Thus in his refutation of Freud.

p. pp. Jackson. See also W. § 4: “The whole course of the dialectic forms one example of the dialectic rhythm. Hegel: A Reinterpretation. vol. M. essence as Antithesis and Notion as Synthesis. “Ist die ‘These-Antithese-Synthese’-Formel unhegelisch?” Archiv für die Geschichte der Philosophie. the Real and the Rational. “Vorurteile gegen Hegel. New York: Holt. . G.. pp. vol. Hegel: An Introduction to the Science of Wisdom. See M. pp. 703. Garden City. with Being as Thesis. Walter Kaufmann. pp. 19. 1987. 1971. 1958. trans. For an example of this belief see J. F. 198f. David E. Stuttgart: Ernst Klett Verlag 1961. and pp. The Philosophy of Hegel. réunies et publiées par Raymond Queneau. History of Western Philosophy and its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day. London: George Allen and Unwin 1961. Bertrand Russell. Paris: Gallimard 1947. pp. 64–8. Each of these has again the same moments of Thesis.” International Studies in Philosophy. Rinehart and Winston 1964. vol. cit. 94 and p. See John Findlay. “What is Dialectic?” Mind. 154f. W. 12. pp. 49. pp. Antithesis and Synthesis. New York: Collier 1962. 15f. Chapter 1 1 2 3 4 5 For a list of the Hegel myths see the following: Wilhelm Seeberger. New Haven: Yale University Press 1974. 413f. The Philosophy of Hegel: An Introduction and Re-Examination. 35–40. Mueller’s “The Hegel Legend of ‘Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis’ ” in Journal of the History of Ideas.” For a debunking of this myth see Gustav E.” in his Hegel oder die Entwicklung des Geistes zur Freiheit. Garden City. See Alexandre Kojève. 53. T. E. Introduction à la lecture de Hégel: Leçons sur la phénoménologie de l’esprit professées de 1933 à 1939 à l’École des Hautes Études. Stanley Rosen. The Philosophy of Hegel. Green. In English as Introduction to the Reading of Hegel. See Karl R. Popper. Stace. p. MacTaggert’s A Commentary on Hegel’s Logic. James H. trans. 411–14. 183. 62f. “Hegel. vol. 42f. Nichols Jr. 1971. pp. 1966. op. New York: Basic Books 1969. W. 73f. New York: Anchor. 1940. p. New York: Dover 1955.Notes Introduction 1 One well-known example of this is Karl Löwith’s From Hegel to Nietzsche: The Revolution in Nineteenth-Century Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1910.. 19. John Findlay. Philipp Merlan. and pp.

Hans-Christian Lucas and U. pp. E. 22. Hubert Kiesewetter. 1987. Cologne: Kohlhammer 1965. op. Walter Kaufmann. “The End of History and the Return of History. Sidney Hook. 12.” Philosophy. Wilhelm Seeberger. 1935. T. 1979. vol. op. 420–58. Reinhard Klemens Maurer. 9. “Hegel and Nationalism. 159. Carritt. 1940. vol. Rameil.. and the End of History. London: George Allen and Unwin 1950. 1940. Jacques Maritain. 246–8. Vorlesungen über Enstehung und Entwickelung. 2. Walter Kaufmann. p. pp. F. vol. vol. For a debunking of this myth see Walter A. cit. p. Jahrhunderts: Hegel. 313–4.” The Owl of Minerva. “Hegel. pp. Otto Neurath. Einige Bemerkung wider die Legende von Hegel als preußischem Staatsphilosophen. Rudolf Haym. op. Cologne and Berlin: Verlag Kiepenheuer and Witsch 1963. Von Hegel zu Hitler: eine Analyse der Hegelschen Machtstaatsideologie und der politischen Wirkungsgeschichte des Rechts-Hegelianismus. op.” in Hegel’s Political Philosophy. 172. 1963.. pp. “Hegel Rehabilitated” and “Hegel and His Apologists. Irrational Man: A Study in Existential Philosophy. Hans-Christian Lucas. Popper. “Hegel and the Seven Planets. 15. 246–8. Originally: Die großen Dialektiker des 19. vol.” Clio. pp. See also Herbert Marcuse’s discussion in his Reason and Revolution. Hegel und seine Zeit. Walter Kaufmann. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1972. Garside. 155. 21. pp. op. 274–83. New York: Atherton Press 1970. “Hegel and Prussianism. 15. Berlin: Verlag von Rudolph Gaertner 1857. cit. New York: Doubleday 1958 and 1962.” in Hegel’s Political Philosophy. Bertrand Russell. pp. Esposito. Hegel: A Reinterpretation.” Mind. vol. 1947. L. 63. 1951. vol. p. See Karl R. “Hegel und die Politik. cit. pp. pp. “Wege der wissenschaftlichen Weltauffassung. pp. London: Cambridge University Press 1947. 63. Hegel und das Ende der Geschichte.” Zeitschrift für Didaktik der Philosophie. 154–61.230 Notes 6 7 8 9 10 11 Alexandre Koyré. cit. Bertrand Russell. Berlin. Philosophy and Politics. Bertrand Russell. 355–65. 1980. See Bertrand Beaumont. Zur Kritik der politischen Hegellegenden. Hegel. vol.. Kierkegaard. Absolute Knowledge. 709. “Hegel and Prussianism. 1954. Marx. pp. 27. Marx. vol. 1940. M. “Hégel à Iéna (à propos de publications récentes). Grier. p. Paris: Gallimard 1960. The classic example of this is of course Karl Popper’s account in The Open Society and Its Enemies. p. vol. pp. 202. Interpretationen zur Phänomenologie des Geistes. 414f. pp. 15. The Open Society and Its Enemies. 55–70 and pp. 87–105. Hamburg: Hoffmann and Campe 1974. vol. 51–63 and pp. 55. pp.” Revue philosophique de la France et de l’étranger. cit. 1930–31. vols 1–2. ed. William Barrett. p. “Furcht vor der Zensur?” Hegel-Studien.” Philosophy. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul 1952.” Zeitschrift für Politik. 170 and p. p. 190–96 and pp. La Philosophie Morale. Kierkegaard. Wesen und Werth der Hegel’schen Philosophie. Unpopular Essays. Hegel and the Modern State. pp. Stuttgart. 49. “Philosophie und Wirklichkeit. 15. Robert Heiss. Philip T. “Critical Notice.” Mind. 705 and p. B. Shlomo Avineri. vol. 26. . E. 1990. 1. Henning Ottmann. 1934. Knox. “What is Dialectic?” Mind.” Erkenntnis. 118. 131–44. Karl Popper. New York: Dell Publishing Co. ed. 109–36.” The Philosophical Review. See also Gilbert Ryle. 190–91. 235–53. p. Kaufman’s “The Hegel Myth and its Method. Shlomo Avineri. 60. pp. 52–3. 1983. vol. pp. trans. 63–93. 315–17. History of Western Philosophy. 107. p. 357f. Hegel oder die Entwicklung des Geistes zur Freiheit. reprinted in Revue d’histoire et de philosophie religieuse. vol. vol.

pp. Richard Kroner. Schopenhauer’s . legions of twentieth-century readers who barely know Schelling’s name have come to take for granted as historically accurate his spiteful caricature of Hegel. 702: “Nevertheless. Pantschu Russew.. Hegel: A Reinterpretation. p. Die Zerstörung der Vernunft. 8. 12.” Walter Kaufmann. pp. 1959–60. 2. 29. op. 33. § 6. Kaufmann attributes this to the fact that Kierkegaard. op. p. 1959–60. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press 1987.” Hegel-Jahrbuch 1971. p.” Passages which have led to this conclusion include the following: PR. Many people assume that Hegel is the antipodes of existentialism. justifies every internal tyranny and every external aggression that can possibly be imagined. vol. vol. p. cit. Nietzsche: Philosopher. Von Kant bis Hegel.. New York: Humanities Press 1941. the great propagator of a number of Hegel legends. p. 8. Neuwied am Rhein: Hermann Luchterhand Verlag 1962. 1954 (reprinted Boston: Beacon Press). “Hegel and Some Contemporary Philosophies. 84f. Hegel. History of Western Philosophy. cit. p..” William Earle.: “. History of Western Philosophy. See especially chapter 2: “Die Begründung des Irrationalismus in der Periode zwischen zwei Revolutionen (1789–1848). pp. is from the less to the more perfect.’ ” See Popper’s analysis of this passage in The Open Society and Its Enemies. 47f. p. Jub. See also EL. op. p. p. or actuality.. cit. through the cognition of this accord. pp. is right. op. 1940. vol. 352–64. See Russell. p. 290. See Robert Solomon. Tübingen: Mohr 1921–24. William Earle.” EL.. pp. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1950. 7. . PR. the identification of the real and the rational leads unavoidably to some of the complacency inseparable from the belief that ‘whatever is.. Jub. 364. Jub. vol. 7. 413f. op. vol. Rudolf Haym. if accepted. See also Karl Popper. 357f. § 6.Notes 231 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 Hegel and the Rise of Social Theory. vol. Preface. cit. 20. 48. 268 (my translation). 300–5. p. both in an ethical and in a logical sense. “Hegel im Schatten des Irrationalismus. 706: “The time-process. vols 1–2.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. was a student of the embittered Schelling who was jealous of the success of Hegel’s philosophy and jaded at the decline of his own influence in the German academy. cit. vol. vol. 582. pp. cit. In the Spirit of Hegel. Bertrand Russell. according to Hegel. “What is Dialectic?” Mind. 35: “To recognize reason as the rose in the cross of the present and thereby to delight in the present—this rational insight is the reconciliation with actuality which philosophy grants to those who have received the inner call to comprehend.” pp. “Hegel and Some Contemporary Philosophies. pp. 49.. 108: “One can oppose the shallow optimism of so many Western thinkers and yet refuse to negate life. . Antichrist. 2. 4f. History of Western Philosophy. Jub. vol.. 20. 113–20. 711: “Such is Hegel’s doctrine of the State—a doctrine which.” See Walter Kaufmann. Hegel und seine Zeit. Irrationalismus zwischen den Revolutionen. p. Kaufmann writes: “Through Kierkegaard.. Georg Lukács. Bertrand Russell. p. it has to be seen as the supreme and ultimate purpose of science to bring about the reconciliation of the reason that is conscious of itself with the reason that is. Psychologist.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.. op.

1969. Jub. vol. Fackenheim.. pp. op. Die Zerstörung der Vernunft. PR. p. Jub. God is not literally in the religious objects. 92–103. cit. There is a certain kind of mysticism or irrationalism that has occasionally been attributed to Hegel which would have to be accounted for before we could begin to answer these questions fully.. op. Philosophy and Politics: A Commentary on the Preface to Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. 10.” (My italics. 2. pp. Dreyfus and Patricia Allen Dreyfus. p. “Hegel and Existentialism: On Unhappiness. cit. Jackson. PR. p. 20. since philosophy is the exploration of the rational. 84f. vol. the conscious identity of the two is the philosophical Idea. PR. Allan W. Maurice Merleau-Ponty. appearances. p. 12. translated as Kojève. and content is reason as the substantial essence of both ethical and natural. Hegel’s Ethical Thought. vol. Hubert L. 7. 22. 61–77. Jub. pp. p. See Arthur Lessing. the Enlightenment caricatures religion for its literal belief that God is in objects. PR. pp. Hegel’s Theory of the Modern State. “Hegel.. not the setting up of a world beyond which exists God knows where—or rather.. pp. Georg Lukács. 7. “Hegel’s Existentialism. 7. vol. Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff 1987. pp. pp. of which we can very well say that we know where it exists. vol. Von Kant bis Hegel. the Real and the Rational.. 19. pp. Hegel. but this criticism aims at merely a straw man since. PR.” The Review of Metaphysics. pp.: “For since the rational. EL. p. 23.. seeing that belief as based on dubious philological evidence . 44f.. Jub.. 336–7. Jub. vol. cit.. it is for that very reason the comprehension of the present and the actual. 270f. by Nietzsche] together with the superficial optimism of the popular Hegelians. Wood.: “. op. 8. 7.” See Hegel.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1990. § 3. Irrationalismus zwischen den Revolutionen. 23. and shapes. Pantschu Russew. 2.” See Hegel. 1968.” op. 115–31. 10f.. 11–19. 20f. pp.” in his Sense and Nonsense.. vol. 49. it emerges in an infinite wealth of forms. An Introduction to the Reading of Hegel. Northwestern University Press 1964. PR. Addition. 35f. namely in the errors of a one-sided and empty ratiocination. 7. W. p. vol. pp. See Shlomo Avineri.232 Notes 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 negativistic pessimism is rejected [sc. § 6. § 3. which is synonymous with the Idea. 49. Adriaan Peperzak. 424–5. 33f. but rather these objects have merely symbolic value. p. (See PhS. 698.. This influence has been strongly mediated by Alexandre Kojève’s famous lectures at the École practique des Hautes Études (1933–1939).: “For form in its most concrete signification is reason as conceptual cognition. p. See Hegel.. trans. “Hegel im Schatten des Irrationalismus. “On the Actuality of the Rational and the Rationality of the Actual. Jub. pp. cit. . pp. p.” Hegel. Published as Introduction à la lecture de Hégel. 29. cit. 31. 1987. pp. The Enlightenment thus unjustly transfers its own emphasis on sense-certainty and the empirical to religion. vol. Jub. op. Addition. vol. 300–5. op. Jub. vol. Hegel. pp. See Richard Kroner. 63–70. cit. On Hegel’s account. 43. vol.. 7.” The Personalist.) Moreover the Enlightenment questions the religious proselyte’s grounds for belief. 32f. Hegel. for religion. becomes actual by entering into external existence. M. .) Emil L.” International Studies in Philosophy. pp.

p. 51. Matlaw.. although Kierkegaard focuses on those manifestations which presuppose a considerable degree of self-reflection and awareness. 35f. 6. with its own set of beliefs. 77. pp.M. 426–7. 28f. 419. Wilfred Ver Eecke. “Revolution und Terror.. cit.” Hegel-Jahrbuch 1975. Notes From Underground and The Grand Inquisitor.” Praxis. Hence most of the aspects under which he examines despair are particularly germane to the feverishly conscious Underground Man. cit. 7. “Hegel’s Existentialism. 8. Hegel] who started the attempt to explore the irrational and integrate it into an expanded reason which remains the task of our century. p. Jean Hyppolite. pp. pp. pp. Ralph E. but rather the origin of belief is in the inwardness of the individual conscience. Fyodor Dostoevsky. vol.. vol. vol. p.. p..” in his Études sur Marx et Hegel. The “myth of reason” in Hegel continues to persist despite the fact that this connection has been occasionally noted.” Dostoevsky. SUD. CUP1. Jub. cit. 331. PhS.. . p. 332–3. Paris: Librairie Marcel Rivière et Cie 1955. pp. does not base his belief on philological or historical evidence. 142: “Ultimately every form of despair . vol. Jub.” See Richard Kroner. pp. (Zum Kapitel ‘Die absolute Freiheit und der Schrecken’ aus Hegels Phänomenologie des Geistes). Hegel und die Französische Revolution. . p. pp. p.. See Kierkegaard’s criticism or rational theology in the Concluding Unscientific Postscript: CUP1. Nietzsche sees science as replacing the beliefs of religion. “Hegel’s Critique of the French Revolution. PhS.. op. 332. Hegel. 118. in miracles. John Viertel. See GS. See Maurice Merleau-Ponty. 331f. vol. 574f. 49–61. 71. SKS. 2. 1958. it was he [sc. “La signification de la Révolution française dans la Phénoménologie de Hegel. pp. 270: “Der Rationalismus des Hegelschen Denkens enthält also einen Irrationalismus an ihm selbst. vol.Notes 233 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 of chance historical events. pp. GS. vol. But in fact the true believer. 337–8. 276–96. 3. 11. pp. EL. 418f. 2. p. pp. op. § 19. For an interesting account of these similarities see Geoffrey Clive’s “The Sickness Unto Death in the Underworld: A Study of Nihilism. SKS. Hegel. for Hegel as for Kierkegaard. p. pp.” Kierkegaard. Notes From Underground and The Grand Inquisitor. 182. vol.” in Sense and Nonsense.” op. 29.” Philosophisches Jahrbuch der Görres-Gesellschaft. “Hegel’s Dialectic Analysis of the French Revolution. vol. Jub. 121–41. Jub. pp. vol. . Frankfurt a. 1970. 418. p.) See Kierkegaard. Karl-Heinz Nusser. 8. SKS. . op. and so on.. vol... 2. p. for example in reason and in causality. “Die französische Revolution und Hegels Phänomenologie des Geistes. p. Boston: Beacon Press 1973. p. Danko Grlic. cit. SUD. pp. 280–83. albeit not by means of the illness metaphor.: Suhrkamp 1965. KSA. 2. 2. pp. PhS. Von Kant bis Hegel. 28f.” Theory and Practice.. is tied to the sickness. § 372.. SKS. 145. Hegel. . pp. Jub. pp. 7. 35f. § 344. Joachim Ritter. pp. vol. New York: Meridian Books 1960. KSA. Hegel. trans. Addition. Kierkegaard.” Harvard Theological Review. 45–81. vol. p. (See PhS. 561–7. See Geoffrey Clive. vol. 6. for example in God. “The Sickness Unto Death in the Underworld: A Study of Nihilism. 135–67. 63: “. trans. 3. 11. p. 623–4. 1971. 49. Jürgen Habermas. vol.

vol.” § 4. 157. p. Albert Camus. solange man sich. 96f. KSA. auf Grund von Urteilen aus zweiter und dritter Hand über Hegel Gericht zu halten. See Nietzsche. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht 1995.’ ” Nietzsche-Studien. (My italics. “Attempt at a Self-Criticism. “Remarks on the Kierkegaard-Hegel Controversy. statt sich erst einmal auf Grund eines soliden Quellenstudiums ein eigenständiges Urteil zu erarbeiten. pp. KSA. vol. 13. p. p. § 2. 60. 45. 12. Justin O’Brien. The Myth of Sisyphus. 1961. 1996. The Plague. 96. Jean-Paul Sartre. Nietzsche. 245. Siegfried Blasche. Nausea. Arne Grøn. pp. p. damit begnügt. p. wie es bei Hegel Usus geworden ist. vol. Albert Camus. (My italics. 107f. ibid.” Kierkegaard Studies Yearbook.” Synthese. p. BT. p. New York: Random House 1975. 1. 214–33. p. p. vol. 2. cit. p. 4). BT. 13. Reitzels Boghandel 1979 (Bibliotheca Kierkegaardiana. A. BT. pp. Wilde. pp. § 15. vol. pp. BT. in a manner characteristic of many Hegel–Nietzsche studies. “Die Entwicklung des dialektischen Denkens bei Kierkegaard. 34. 11. 99 (ellipses from the original text). The Myth of Sisyphus. 38.. Nausea. p. op. KSA. p.) Despite drawing a number of interesting parallels between Hegel and Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy. KSA. F. The Plague. Daniel Berthold-Bond.234 51 Notes 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 See. 59–71. “Lunar Musings? An Investigation of Hegel’s and Kierkegaard’s Portraits of Despair. wird eine solche Kritik stets von mehr als nur zweifelhaftem Werte sein. KSA. 43: “Solange es in der beiläufig betriebenen Hegel-Kritik an der Tagesordnung bleibt... Auch bei der Philosophie Hegels kann die via regia nur über das eigene Studium und über den eigenen Nachvollzug führen. ibid. 372–89. Albert Camus. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1985. 15. p.) Jean-Paul Sartre. 56f. Dunning. see Walter Kaufmann’s Nietzsche: Philosopher. 38.. Albert Camus. vol. trans. 1.-E.. öffentlich Urteile über ihn zu fällen. 21. Stuart Gilbert. fails to note this similarity. Die Krankheit zum Tode von Sören Kierkegaard. 1. SUD. Joachim Ringleben. p... p. Psychologist. A Structural Analysis of the Theory of Stages. p. trans. Antichrist. Nietzsche. “Attempt at a Self-Criticism.) Nietzsche. ohne ihn auch nur gelesen und so die minimalsten Voraussetzungen für ein wirkliches Verständnis geschaffen . p. vol. 1. Erklärung und Kommentar. 7–55. “Kierkegaards Phänomenologie?. For a rather different account of this metaphor in Nietzsche. 1. ibid. p. 16. “Hegelianismus im Umfeld von Nietzsches ‘Geburt der Tragödie. Albert Camus. Copenhagen: C. 34. § 7. 38. p. 42. 1. New York: Random House 1975. Kierkegaard. KSA. New York: New Directions 1964. BT. vol. pp. Nausea. vol. op. Stephen N. for example. p. The Myth of Sisyphus and other Essays. 91–116. ed. p. See Wilhelm Seeberger. Hegel oder die Entwicklung des Geistes zur Freiheit.. 1986. James Bogen. cit. 30. p. BT. Jean-Paul Sartre.” § 1. (My italics.” in Kierkegaard and Speculative Idealism. pp. Kierkegaard’s Dialectic of Inwardness. vol. 33–59. op. ibid. vol. 18. § 4. trans. 1998. Niels Thulstrup. Nietzsche. Blasche.” Religious Studies. 245. 4. cit. Lloyd Alexander. Nietzsche. 99f. pp. SKS. p.

H. Solomon. System of Transcendental Idealism. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press 1969. that there is a system in our knowledge. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press 1983. trans. p.” in his Consequences of Pragmatism. Alexandre Kojève. “From Absolutism to Experimentalism. In the Spirit of Hegel. now a skit.” Robert C. p. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1975. p. 1930. Peter Heath. trans.” See Manfred Walther (ed. ibid. that is. George P. Kemp Smith. “One really has to put on blinkers and immerse oneself in carefully selected microscopic details to avoid the discovery that Phenomenology is in fact an utterly unscientific and unrigorous work. Robert C. P. 33. cit. Peter Heath and John Lachs. Hegel: A Reinterpretation. Axx. p.). (Nb. Würzburg: Könighausen and Neumann 1991. A840/B869. New York: The Macmillan Co. Solomon. 1971. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press 1982. Montague. Alan Bloom. Kaufmann writes in a similar vein. Paris: Gallimard 1947.) See Philip T. “The End of History and the Return of History. trans. Edo Pivcevic. Walter Kaufmann. p. See “I should prefer to speak of charades: now a tableau. Garden City. ed. Fichte. that it is a whole which is self-supporting and internally consistent with itself. J.. 220. Kant. vol. vols 1–2. now a brief oration” (ibid. See Kant. Walter Kaufmann. New York: St Martin’s Press 1963. 21. 22. 21. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1982. In the Spirit of Hegel. 127). Kant. Grier.. p. 2. 171–87. vol. 221.. “Hegel und der Pantheismus. “First Introduction to the Science of Knowledge. 43–8. Schelling. Critique of Pure Reason. . 133.Notes 235 zu haben.. Nichols. p. John Dewey. See p. p.” op. 653.” (in Phenomenology and Philosophical Understanding. “Philosophy in America Today. 15: “It will be assumed as a hypothesis. 236. p.” Chapter 2 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Richard Rorty. wird die Urteilsgrundlage stets nur eine vage Vorstellung von der Sache sein und das so häufig mit Aplomb verkündete Urteil sich in Wirklichkeit als ein bloßes Vorurteil erweisen. ed. 14.” The Owl of Minerva. In “Hegel’s Conception of Phenomenology.” in Contemporary American Philosophy. 1990. 229). Bxxxvii–xxxviii.. p. N. ibid. New York: Anchor 1966. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia 1978. A832/B860. Kant. 1.” in The Science of Knowledge. pp.. vol. cit. Introduction à la lecture de Hegel. trans. 6. See Tobie Goedewaagen. p. ed. 142. p. Adams and W. p. p. ibid. Spinoza und der Deutsche Idealismus. Bloom does not include it in the English edition: An Introduction to the Reading of Hegel. op.” Hegel Studien. 224. “Hegel’s Conception of Phenomenology. He gives it only the following short pages: pp.

12. Frankfurt a. 236–8. § 16.. Hegel: A Reinterpretation. Jub. vol.. 18. 2. pp. op. Jub. p. PhS. § 32.” See Hegel.236 16 Notes 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 See. Walter Kaufmann. 4. EL. Tjeenk Willink and Zn.. “Entstehungsgeschichte der Phänomenologie des Geistes.. Hegel. p. Cited from the reprint in Materialien zu Hegels Phänomenologie des Geistes. 8. “First Philosophy of Spirit” (1803–4).. 2. 2. Letters. “Die Komposition der Phänomenologie des Geistes. 13. EL. p. [70]. Jub. Beiträge zur Phänomenologie des Geistes.. 45. 54. Bamberg. p. pp. Otto Pöggeler. For Hegel’s problems with his publisher. and his “The Philosophy of Spirit” (1805–6).. p. B. 27.” Hegel. p.. Rudolf Haym. Prop. Hans Friedrich Fulda and Dieter Henrich. Jub. vol.” in Verhandlungen des III. 27–74. p. 112f. 3. Briefe. vol. p. Addition. 1 May 1807.. and the taste and form of its fruits. 24. 2. Beiheft 3). vol. ibid. so do the first traces of Spirit virtually contain the whole of that history. Berlin: Verlag von Rudolph Gaertner 1857.. p. Hegel. vol. but rather as a very neat and sensible way of arranging the parts of philosophy—not even the neatest and most sensible possible. of Hist. p. that is described in this Phenomenology of Spirit. Hegel. ed. vol. pp. vol.. C. Haarlem: N/VH.. Jub. is the non-spiritual. Rudolf Haym. vol. . therefore. PhS. See. See Friedhelm Nicolin.. Jub. 15. PhS. Phil. A426/B454–A433/B461. Jub.. sense-consciousness. pp. 56. for example. Hegel und seine Zeit. 106. 56. cit. Critique of Pure Reason. Kant. 3. Jub. Hegel. p.” Phil. Hegel und seine Zeit. 13. Hegel. vol. p. 3. See also PhS. 8. p. 30: “It is this coming-to-be of Science as such or of knowledge. 8. 61–3. 11. p. PhS. See EL. p. 2.” in Hegel-Tage Royaumont 1964. 113–23. Hegel’s “System of Ethical Life” (1802–3). System of Ethical Life and First Philosophy of Spirit. cit. 195. to show how Hegel himself handled his system: not as so much a necessary truth.. p. Hegel. 118–36. ed. Wesen und Werth der Hegel’schen Philosophie.D. p. p. and Tübingen: J. 14. 2. 399–402. Knowledge in its first phase. ibid. Vorlesungen über Entstehung und Entwickelung. 1. pp. Rudolf Haym. PhS. Mohr 1934. [68]. 8.: Suhrkamp 1973. SL. vol. Jub. B. “Zum Titelproblem der Phänomenologie des Geistes. i. EL. Jub. of course. 1. Wigersma. Hegel uses the same metaphor in his lectures on the philosophy of history: “And as the germ bears in itself the whole nature of the tree. pp. PhS.” Hegel. for example. p. Jub. see his letters to Niethammer [67]. Hegel to Schelling [95]. Hans-Georg Gadamer. vol. vol. Bonn: Bouvier 1966 (Hegel-Studien.. but only the best he could do in time to meet the printer’s deadline. p. ed. 2.M. Jub.. 329–90. 36. For example. Jub. called Phenomenology of Mind [or Spirit]. pp. vol. [72]. 238. vol.. 14. Jub. [76]. vol. § 14. op. EL. 1967. Jub. 159–62. vol. pp. 11. p. pp. ed. 102: “The Science of consciousness is. PhS. 4. 27. p. 80. 60. Jub. Hegel und seine Zeit. p..e. 2. Internationalen Hegel Kongresses 1933. Briefe. vol. 235–6. p. deduced once and for all in its inexorable sequence. p. Theodor Haering. § 82. vol. 2. or immediate Spirit. These texts are available in English in Hegel..” Hegel-Studien. 20. p. 98. p.. pp. vol. 243: “The central point of our philological excursus is. [73]. § 25. p. 8.

Knox. p. But also included in the series are such apparently non-epistemological and only partially epistemological forms as the masterservant relation. vol. p. 330. Jub. Ibid. vol. Burbidge and George di Giovanni. 11. 373. Hegel to Schelling [95]. 1. Harris and T. Briefe. 94. p.. 1981. of historical forms] is absolutely arbitrary.. vol. 4. op. New Jersey: Humanities Press 1982. Walter Kaufmann. PhS. the moral view of Kant’s ethics.. 2. . cit.Notes 237 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 and trans. Evanston: Northwestern University Press 2000. 333. cit. p. Hegel’s Idealism: The Satisfactions of Self-Consciousness. The Jena System. Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1983. op. p. John Findlay. 141. Letters.” in Materialien zu Hegels Phänomenologie des Geistes. See Rudolf Haym. MW. Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press 1986. argues that the “Self-Consciousness” chapter betrays the true goals of Phenomenology with a radical break from the “Consciousness” chapter. Flay. cit. pp. “Einleiting des Herausgebers.. 261. 242: “The selection [sc. Hegel: A Reinterpretation. Hegel und seine Zeit.” Review of Metaphysics. “Hegel’s Conception of Phenomenology. An Introduction to Hegel’s Metaphysics. the conflict between human and divine law as exemplified in Sophocles’ Antigone.” in Method and Speculation in Hegel’s Philosophy. 4: “The magnificently ambitious. Sämtliche Werke. p. p. cit. Hegel. See Johannes Hoffmeister. Kritische Ausgabe. See Otto Pöggeler. 316–17. vol. Robert C. p. Briefe. by Leo Rauch. p. 159–62. A Translation of the Jena Lectures on the Philosophy of Spirit (1805–6). vol. 119–22. Bamberg. and various forms of art and religion. 135. 56. H.” Thought. Hegel to von Meyer [605a].” Preuss. 114–15. op. 723. and trans. pp. See also Hegel. xxxv. p. Albany: SUNY Press 1979. Detroit: Wayne State University Press 1983. 9 August 1829. 28. Walter Kaufmann. The Philosophy of Hegel: An Introduction and Re-Examination.. p.. “Entstehungsgeschichte der Phänomenologie des Geistes. pp. p. p. John W. pp. . Letters. pp. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1989. “Selfhood and the Battle: The Second Beginning of Phenomenology. 93. 1 May 1807. 80. p. program of Phenomenology of Spirit required ordering all forms of consciousness into a single ascending series . Hegel. 121. Solomon. S. New York: Collier 1962. . op. if quixotic and unfulfilled. cit. Letters. Hegel: A Reinterpretation. Merold Westphal. p. ed. I have attempted such a commentary in my The Unity of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. See Ivan Soll. “Truth and Self-Satisfaction. 129f. Robert Pippin. 1804–5: Logic and Metaphysics.” op. for instance. p. vol. 1. cit. M. vol. pp. Phänomenologie des Geistes. Walter Kaufmann. 71–83.. “Die Komposition der Phänomenologie des Geistes. 1975. Briefe. 214. See Hegel to Niethammer [74].” in Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Peter Preuss. Leipzig: Felix Meiner 1937. 282. “Religion and the Absolute Standpoint. Berlin.” See Joseph C. 30–32. and in Hegel and the Human Spirit. See also Theodor Haering. ed.” op. pp. p. 143.

Otto Pöggeler. vols 1–2.. Hegel. 1969. Johann Heinrich Trede. 8. Letters. pp. 93–105. Untersuchung zur kategorialen Einheit von Vernunft und Geist in Hegels Phänomenologie des Geistes. I have attempted this in my book The Unity of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit: A Systematic Interpretation. Hegel: A Reinterpretation. 495–524. 1975. vol. Gerd Kimmerle. p.) Hegel. Zu den Grundlagen einer Diskussion. Walter Kaufmann. André Léonard. Bamberg. Haarlem: N/VH. Dieter Henrich (ed. Evanston. “Die Komposition der Phänomenologie des Geistes. pp. W. 2. pp. 74. Pierre-Jean Labarrière. 27–74.” Revue philosophique de Louvain. Hegel sein Wollen und sein Werk. I would not wish to claim that my emphasis on Hegel’s philosophy as a system is entirely unique or novel. vol. May 1. § 14. 1971. Die Logik der Phänomenologie des Geistes. Bonn: Bouvier 1974. “Pour une exégèse renouvelée de la Phénoménologie de l’esprit de Hegel. F. C. 38. p. B. 8.. pp. 80. 479f. Sein und Selbst.” Revue philosophique de Louvain. vol. vol. 1976.” Hegel-Studien. ed. Paris: Aubier. David Lamb.. Hegels Idee einer Phänomenologie des Geistes. vol. pp.. Bonn: Bouvier 1978. Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press 1979.: Suhrkamp 1973. Ist systematische Philosophie möglich? Bonn: Bouvier 1977 (Hegel-Studien. Hegel: From Foundation to System. Johannes Heinrichs. 10. 24. Tjeenk Willink and Zn. Internationalen Hegel Kongresses 1933. Structures et mouvement dialectique dans la Phénoménologie de l’esprit de Hegel. Hans-Georg Gadamer. p. Wigersma. Darstellung. 329–90. pp. 1968. 118–36. See also Theodor Haering. EL. Hegel to Schelling [95]. Untersuchung zur Einheit der systematischen Philosophie G. Hegels. 372. André Léonard. cit. Illinois: Northwestern University Press 2000. Beiträge zur Phänomenologie des Geistes. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff 1980. 572–93. Leipzig and Berlin: Teubner 1929–38. Cited from the reprint in Materialien zu Hegels Phänomenologie des Geistes. pp. Bonn: Bouvier 1966 (Hegel-Studien. Jub. 121f.” L’Arc. Hans Friedrich Fulda and Dieter Henrich.). Hegel. “Phänomenologie und Logik. . Jub. Beiheft 17).” in Hegel-Tage Royaumont 1964. Beiheft 3). Frederic Escaraffel. New York: Anchor 1966. “Die Komposition der Phänomenologie des Geistes. 158.. ed. vol. (My translation. Garden City. 60. See Otto Pöggeler. 1807. History and Truth in Hegel’s Phenomenology. 1. 69. pp. “Entstehungsgeschichte der Phänomenologie des Geistes. Freiburg and Munich: Karl Alber 1973. op. p. § 14. vol.D. PhS. E. 159–62. 173–210. Jub. p. “Des mouvements parallèles dans la Phénoménologie de l’esprit. Mohr 1934. ed.” in Verhandlungen des III. vol. 2.238 Notes Chapter 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 The question of the possibility of a systematic philosophy today formed the topic of the International Hegel Conference in 1975.” in Materialien zu Hegels Phänomenologie des Geistes.g. Methode und Struktur. Merold Westphal. Notably.M. “La structure du système hégélian. Bonn: Bouvier 1973. Otto Pöggeler. p. B. and Tübingen: J. Briefe. Theodor Haering. 11. Frankfurt a. pp. 60. See L. pp. vol. Bruno Puntel. EL. p.

Miller. V. vol. 12–21.” Revista Latinoamericana de Filosofía. PhS. pp. p. Bonn: Bouvier 1977 (Hegel-Studien. 143f. religion et science. “Die Komposition der Phänomenologie des Geistes. 7. vol. Hegel. Frankfurt a.” John Burbidge. Hegel.Notes 239 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 André Léonard. Jub. Pierre-Jean Labarrière. This parallelism is. 160. pp. 148–58. Solomon. 3. p.. pp.” op. p. In the Spirit of Hegel. Jub. 11.: Klostermann 1992. Prop. p. 2. vol. See PR. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press 1983. I have argued separately for this last parallelism in the following article: “Die Rolle des unglücklichen Bewußtseins in Hegels Phänomenologie des Geistes. 107. vol. Der Begriff der Negativität in den Jenaer Schriften Hegels. Klaus Kähler and Werner Marx. 209–22. In English as Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind. cit. Also see Otto Pöggeler. “Unhappy Consciousness in Hegel—An Analysis of Medieval Catholicism?” Mosaic. 104–11. p. cit. This is of course the thesis of Haering and Pöggeler. pp.” op. 1981. 59f. 93–105. 350: “Religion therefore also contains that point which. pp.. PhS. Jub. cit. Jub. pp. Beiheft 16). I see it as misguided that Labarrière takes both of these versions together in his attempt to reconstruct the unitary structure of the text.. Remark. Hegel. vol.” Wolfgang Bonsiepen.” I.. 2. PhS.. Bonsiepen also points out this parallelism between the Unhappy Consciousness and Force and Understanding: “The opposition between the sensible and the supersensible world. pp. For a detailed account of these changes. Hamburg: Felix Meiner 1952. 2. pp. vol. pp. in spite of all change. Jub.. William Wallace and A. cit. pp. 158–81.. Hegel. among others. that Parts V and VI (Reason and Spirit) grew far beyond the bounds originally contemplated and that Hegel himself was a little confused about what he had actually got when he was finished.” Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie. 104–11.M. Phänomenologie des Geistes.. “La structure du système hégélian. See also Walter Kaufmann. vol. See Frederic Escaraffel. “La Phénoménologie de l’esprit comme discours systématique: histoire. vol. 1991. Edgardo Albizu. Jub. Oxford: Clarendon Press 1971. 2.. 135: “The table of contents bears out that the work was not planned painstakingly before it was written. pp.e. Hegel. Jub. 119–38. “Des mouvements parallèles dans la Phénoménologie de l’esprit. p. 7. ed. 13f. 139–48. 9. failure of actual . Hegel uses the same language to refer to God in Philosophy of Right. 2. 71–2.. overlooked by Burbidge who would instead see the section entitled “Legal Status” from the “Spirit” chapter as re-examining the material from “Freedom of Self-Consciousness. pp.” This view is also held by. § 270. vol. 39. 127. 1974. Hegel: A Reinterpretation.” Hegel-Studien.. “La estructura de la Fenomenología del espíritu de Hegel y el problema del tiempo. op. pp. Escaraffel. See especially p. vol. pp. 1978. trans. between the here and the beyond in the ‘Force and Understanding’ chapter corresponds to the relation between the individual and the Unchangeable. especially pp. Hegel. pp. 167. See Robert C. see the “Zur Feststellung des Textes” to the edition. Johannes Hoffmeister. Die Vernunft in Hegels Phänomenologie des Geistes. however. 139–48. 401: “It should be seriously questioned whether these first pages are really a distinct form of consciousness at all. 575–8.” op. PhS. Phil. vol. 111–19. 133–6. PhS. pp. Although he interprets it somewhat differently than I do.

op. especially p. 65. pp. 98. 1. Weiss.” in Hegel and the History of Philosophy. affords a consciousness of immutability and of the highest freedom and satisfaction.” See Johannes Hoffmeister. New York: Collier 1958. p. vol. Jub.” Review of Metaphysics.. PhS. 2. Perception and Scientific Understanding.” op.240 Notes 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 ends and interests. PhS. p. p. p. pp. p. PhS. p. Jub. With this. Flay. Jub. cit. 162. vol. Paris: Aubier 1946. p.” PR.” in his In the Spirit of Hegel. pp.” George L. 144. 184.” The fundamental terms on which he bases these parallelisms are “action” and “passion. Hegel. Hegel.) Hegel. Hegel.. p. vol. In the Spirit of Hegel. 679–89. p. 7. ed. somewhat confuses the in-itself. 237.. 185. 2. PhS. Hegel. Algozin. 211. pp. Jub. 189. pp. which he orders according to categories of theory and practice. cit. The Philosophy of Hegel: An Introduction and Re-Examination. 23.. Hegel. 213. Hegel.. vol. vol. Samuel Cherniak and John Heckman. “Des mouvements parallèles dans la Phénoménologie de l’esprit. p. op.” in his Genesis and Structure of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit.. §§ 189–208. Evanston: Northwestern University Press 1974.. See John Findlay. pp. See Joseph C. Especially PhS. PhS. p. 2. 2.. 270–86. Solomon. “Phenomenology of Spirit: Its Structure. 303. p. Frederic G. Frederic Escaraffel. Hegel. See Hyppolite: “What Hegel calls ‘the actualization of rational self-consciousness by its own activity’ is nothing else than the development of self-consciousness repeated in the element of reason. Proceedings of the 1972 Hegel Society of America Conference. p. p. Hegel. 2. for-itself and in-and-for-itself moments. pp. 218. vol. 236. PhS. Robert C. p. vol.” op. Kline also notes these parallelisms with a slightly different role given to the “Unhappy Consciousness.. cit. Jub. trans. Jub. See Solomon who has a glimmering of this structure. 102: “In the treatment of Observation which follows Hegel retraces at a higher level some of the ground covered in his previous study of Sense-Certainty. 2. vol. 209. p. cit. 302. p. Jub. p. 2. 52f. vols 1–2. 302. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff 1974.. 269.. op. 271f. 2.. 272.. Kline. the section “Virtue and the Way of the World” contains roughly the same argument that is found in Philosophy of Right under the heading “The System of Needs. p. p. Jub. See also Theodor Haering. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1975. Jub. 1970.. 141. 268. “Einleiting des Herausgebers. 2. vol. 208. Joseph O’Malley. 236. PhS. p. p. vol. 63. Jub. in my view.. Genèse et structure de la Phénoménologie de l’esprit de Hegel.” See also Charles Taylor. 140f. 129f. xxxv. and loss of possessions. Jub. (Originally. “The Dialectic of Action and Passion in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. PhS. “The Structure of Phenomenology. Solomon. PhS. Hegel. “The History of Philosophy and Phenomenology of Spirit.. 211f. vol. vol. See also Robert C.” in Phänomenologie des Geistes.. 2. cit. p. vol. “Entstehungsgeschichte der Phänomenologie des Geistes. . Keith W. See Escaraffel who seems to follow these parallelisms but who. p..” Jean Hyppolite.

459. 525. Hegel. 337. 264f. PhS. pp. cit. § 1.. 2. 416. 236. Hegel. 614. 2. Hegel. but everlasting / Though where they come from.” Cited from “Hegel’s Advertisement for the Publication of Phenomenology of Spirit” in MW.. Jub. p. Jub. PhS. Jub. op. 488. 221–31. p. Jub. PhS. Hegel. Jub. p. p. 416. p. Hegel. p. p.. vol. p. PhS.. pp.. p. 263. Hegel. 337.. Jub. Jub.. Hegel. vol. Remark. § 270. vol. PhS. Hegel. p.. 2. vol. PhS.Notes 44 45 46 47 241 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 Hegel. Jub. 2. PhS. p. 261.. Jub. then in science as the result of the whole. 538. 2. “Hegel on the Identity of Content in Religion and Philosophy. . 2. 427. vol. p. p. p. 411.. Jub. vol.. Hegel. vol. Jub. PhS. p. p.. 335f. p. PhS. pp. 413.. 522. PhS. ed. 2. writes of these ethical principles: “Thus. 2. (For the German original. 2.. . 2. what Spirit is. 2. 2. Jub. 2.. Jub. Jub. Pierre-Jean Labarrière. 337. p. 384. . 2. p. Jub. p. 338. 292. 2. see Hoffmeister’s introduction in his edition of the Phänomenologie des Geistes. pp. PhS. but only Science is its true knowledge of itself. 8. xxxviii. pp.. Hegel. Hegel.. Their final truth they find at first in religion. and the ‘shapes. none of us can tell.. PhS. 7. 265. Jub. p. Jub.. 337. Jub. Hegel. p. p. 488. vol. p. 531. PhS. p. 521: “Only the totality of Spirit is in time.” Hegel. p. 333. 264. 2. 413. p. p. Jub.” This interpretation is confirmed by Hegel’s announcement of the publication of Phenomenology in which he clearly distinguishes “Religion” from the other forms of consciousness and associates it with truth and science: “The Phenomenology of spirit . 349: “The content of religion is absolute truth. op. vol. p. Darrel E. cit. See Quentin Lauer. 519. 2. vol. display themselves in a temporal succession.. 261–78. vol. PhS. Jub. 264. vol. p. EL. PhS. Hegel. 520f. 524.) . 2. Hegel. p. vol. 41. 416. p. See Labarrière’s account. p. PhS. 2. Hegel. 525. Jub. Sophocles’ Antigone acknowledges them as the unwritten and infallible law of the gods. p. Hegel. 614: “The content of religion proclaims earlier in time than does Science. and it is therefore associated with a disposition of the most exalted kind. includes the various forms of spirit as stations on the way on which it becomes pure knowledge or Absolute Spirit . Jub. Jub.’ which are ‘shapes’ of the totality of Spirit. Jub. vol.. vol. 2. 281–2. 2. p.’ ” Hegel. 302. 521f.. p. PhS. p. Hegel. pp. vol.. vol.. PhS. Christensen. See PR. 420. vol.. 530. Hegel..” in Hegel and the Philosophy of Religion. Structures et mouvement dialectique dans la Phénoménologie de l’esprit de Hegel. pp. PhS. p. 412f. PhS. 525. vol. p. vol. pp. vol. vol.. 419. citing Antigone. 415. p. PhS. 2. vol. vol. p. Jub. p. 2. 2. 264. p. 421.. Hegel. Jub.. p. 413. ‘They are not of yesterday or today. p. vol. 528. Hegel.” See Hegel. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff 1970. p. p. See also PhS. vol. PhS. .. Hegel. PhS.

p. This is the reproach in Wim van Dooren’s review of Labarrière’s book. 2. F. pp. 1. cit. 369.. cit.. PhS. See Parerga and Paralipomena. p. literal. PhS.” Annalen der Internationalen Gesellschaft für Dialektische Philosophie. vol.. p.” Hegel-Studien.” Philosophical Review. pp. § 156. “Zwei Methoden. p. G. 517–601. 2. Religion has only a truth that is suited to the people. 2.. Hegel. vol. 2. vol. ZA. 1. Hegel.. London: Oxford University Press 1974. 619. PhS. dry. vol. 1. pp. 1. if it did not sound too conceited. PhS. 479. Payne. J. Chapter 4 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Arthur Schopenhauer. 2. Nietzsche. and allegorical. Arthur Schopenhauer. vol. vol. § 174. § 357. ZA. Hegel. vol. p. pp.242 71 72 73 Notes 74 Hegel. vol.” Schopenhauer. Jub. 166–81. vol. and unvarnished truth. but in itself the allegory is not what is true. vol. KSA. 10. vol. 602. vol. 126–38. 2. 599. p. 619–42. Hegel. p. vol. vol. pp. pp. 384 (translation slightly modified). p. 2.. 3. § 63. ZA. 2. Christianity is an allegory that reflects a true idea. 7. p. 474. Cunningham. vol. 347f. p. ZA. 307. 492. 17. trans. J. pp. “Das absolute Wissen als Theorie des Gesamtzusammenhangs. GS. Jub. vols 1–2. 1908. 11: “. p. p. 1972. op. vols 1–2. die Phänomenologie des Geistes zu interpretieren. The World as Will and Representation. cit. 1983.. vol. vol. p. 389. op. New York: Dover Publications 1969. ZA. . 9. op. p. Payne. Although this quotation comes from a dialogue. (My translation. § 181. vol. See The World as Will and Representation. vol.) This Preface is not translated in the standard English translation of this work: Essay on the Freedom of the Will. op. 299. 443f. for. p.. cit. 2. vol. 410–78. p. 2. § 174. vol. 383. op. “The Significance of the Hegelian Conception of Absolute Knowledge. But only philosophy aspires to this. vol. 33–7. Schopenhauer. cit. 10. p. ZA. Parerga and Paralipomena. the rationalists and the supernaturalists] is that in religion they look for the plain. 429: “The common error of the two sides [sc. p. 6. 1. Schopenhauer. The World as Will and Representation. Indianapolis and New York: Bobbs-Merrill 1960. p. PhS. See Detlev Pätzold. pp. I might assert that each of the individual and disconnected utterances that make up the Upanishads could be derived . symbolical. 2. The World as Will and Representation. 333 (translation slightly modified). 302 (translation slightly modified). p. xv–xvi. Jub. trans. § 68. . 480. vol. Jub. p. vol. cit. Jub. 356. 275. ZA. Parerga and Paralipomena: Some Philosophical Essays. p. 1. Arthur Schopenhauer.. W. E. § 156.. op. one that is indirect. F. 19. 2. trans. vol. ZA. pp.. ZA. § 181. pp. See Schopenhauer. 327–8. Konstantin Kolenda. there are several other passages which evidence that this is in fact Schopenhauer’s own view and not merely that of the fictional Demopheles. The World as Will and Representation. vol. 475. § 68. 2. E. 603.

p. p. 2. passim. p. p. 1. 83. History of Western Philosophy and its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day. pp. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1996. PR. p. 119. p. “Indledende Notiser. 4.” in his Af Søren Kierkegaards Efterladte Papirer. for example. 217. p. pp. p. 19. which are usually regarded as roughly synonymous. EO1. Jub. VIII–2 B 86. p. 6. Kierkegaard.’ as indeed the practical principles of Kant’s philosophy are confined throughout to this concept. See PF. 9. p. Vorlesungen über Entstehung und Entwickelung. Rudolf Haym. Preface. See. 357f. Encyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften im Grundrisse. vol. V B 41. 2. FT. Reitzels Forlag 1869. pp. 173. Kirmmse. Jub. although conversely my thought is by no means to be found in the Upanishads. SKS. NB:42. 5.. H. vol. PR. p. p. most outward forms of imagination” (Phil. and ed. 279n. CUP1. § 33. 702. p. Kantian usage prefers the expression ‘morality. In English in Encounters with Kierkegaard: A Life as Seen by his Contemporaries. pp. vol. p. even rendering the point of view of ethics impossible and in fact expressly infringing and destroying it. SKS. Jub. Hegel. Yet even representational thought seems to distinguish them. CUP1. EO2. 20. Kierkegaard. 121. 133f. Kierkegaard. . 235. p. trans. 1833–1843.” (Translation slightly modified.. Preface.. Hegel. 171f. 215. Heidelberg: August Oßwald [1817] 1827. p. Pap. 7. 4. 7. SKS. p. See Aesthetics. pp. p. p. 116. London: George Allen and Unwin 1961. vol. p. Translation slightly modified. p. p. For a modern version of this. Not8:33. P. pp. SKS. SKS. 1. vol. 111–32. vol. vol. p. Remark. SKS. “Here fancy makes everything into god” (Phil. p. p. 2. 296n. Kierkegaard. pp. p. vol. vol. p. p. Barfod (ed. PR. vol. vol. 654. 207. Kierkegaard. pp. p. 12. FT. 41.. Pap. Kierkegaard. A. 231. 198–217. vol. for example. 3.” Translation slightly modified. Bruce H. 2. Chapter 5 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Hegel. 167. 171. p. vol. Earlier he comments that in the Hindu religion “differentiation and manifoldness are abandoned to the wildest. SKS.. 356). 19. vol. p. are taken here in essentially distinct senses. p. 8. pp. Hegel und seine Zeit. p. 7. 115. 85: “ ‘Morality’ [Moralität] and ‘ethics’ [Sittlichkeit]. 83. of Religion. Jub. 96.. SKS. Jub. vol. vol. 33. 45. 1611. CUP1. JP.Notes 243 13 as a consequence from the thought I am to impart. vol. SKS. 2. 307n. 20.. p. p. Kierkegaard. vol. vol. Pap. 162. Pap. § 6. 7. 7. Berlin: Verlag von Rudolph Gaertner 1857. pp. Supplement. 270n. vol. 7. 44. 449. JP.). 15. Copenhagen: C. vol. 7. 48. SKS. Jub. 334–5. p. See EL. of Religion. vol. vol. SLW. Hegel. 125f. Wesen und Werth der Hegel’schen Philosophie. Jub. 397). VII–2 B 253. VII–2 B 235. 32. SKS. see Bertrand Russell. SKS.. 5535. Kierkegaard. 15. vol. lii–liii. vol. CUP1. JP. 214f. CUP1. A.) One reads. 8f. 173. 7.

p. 114. p. 4. PhS. PV. pp. vol. vol. 231. IV B 117.” See CUP1. p. CUP1. 341. 171f. then Hegel is right in “The Good and Conscience. Johan Ludvig Heiberg refers to Kierkegaard’s thought as a “philosophy of life” in his statements about Repetition in his article “Det astronomiske Aar. pp. 1844. 134. vol. vol. SV1. 308. 3. See also Kierkegaard. p. 56–7. vol. 140. pp.. 87. 1. p. 220. CUP1. 308. 4. p. vol. p. Kierkegaard. p. p. Kierkegaard.244 16 17 18 19 Notes 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 Kierkegaard. pp.” Translation slightly modified. unless one feels pleasure with its repetitions. pp. p. Kierkegaard. vol. pp. 227f. 11.” Urania. p. vol. SKS. JC. 9. 13. 503. 283: “Existing. vols 1–11. p. 256–62. p. Jub. CI. 7. Reitzel 1861–62. CUP1. 96: “Why has Hegel made conscience and the state of conscience in the single individual “a form of evil” (see The Philosophy of Right). Pap. 110f. 121.. p. 4. 307n. for example. 352. SKS. 7. vol. 270n: “Hegelian philosophy culminates in the thesis that the outer is the inner and the inner is the outer. 119. 98 (reprinted in Heiberg’s Prosaiske Skrifter. 148–9: “If this is the case. pp. vol. 7. which must be annulled [ophævet] in the teleology of the moral in such a way that the single individual who remains in that stage either sins or is immersed in spiritual trial. 7. SKS. vol. 309. p. 12. p. p. SKS. See also PF. cannot be done without passion. E. pp. p. p. 71): “[I]n part from the fact that what the author. 311. vol. p. SLW. SKS. p. vol. CUP1.. Kierkegaard. Søren Kierkegaards Opfattelse af Sokrates. Kierkegaard. pp. SKS. 6. 4. Kierkegaard. p. CUP1. IV B 1. Supplement. pp. pp. SKS. p. 327–34: “Reason as Testing Laws”. SKS. vol.. 166–72. 211f. 270f. pp. 7. vol. Kierkegaard. CUP1. FT. SKS. EO2. p. SKS. 493f. Copenhagen: C.” where he defines man only as a “moral form of evil” (see especially The Philosophy of Right). See Hegel. 148. pp. R. SKS. vol. But this principle is essentially an aesthetic-metaphysical principle. this concept is also treated briefly in Either/ Or and De Omnibus: EO2. pp. tends toward. See. CI. 7. PC. Kierkegaard. p. p.. 281. vol. pp. CUP1. pp. vol. SKS. Kierkegaard. 116. vol. SKS. 113f. 170–6. 2. 141f.g. 162. vol.” Translation slightly modified. 7. but in a philosophy of this kind a sympathizing cohabitation with nature will be an essential moment. p. 186.A. SKS. Pap. R. Copenhagen: Arnold Busck 1924. 4. P. SKS. vol. 54. Apart from the book Repetition itself. every Greek thinker was essentially also a passionate thinker. 118. SKS. 216. p. 14. p. vol. p. 1. p. 41–2. 25. vol. p. vol. M. SKS. p. SKS.” See Jens Himmelstrup. 288–9. p. pp. SKS. 280. CUP1. SKS. Therefore. 125f. 149f. 279n. is what one calls a philosophy of life.” . p. Hegel has finished. p. Kierkegaard. 296n. CUP1. 3. SV1. 115. 7. and in this way Hegelian philosophy is happily and safely finished without having anything to do with the ethical and the religious. but sympathy with nature cannot take place. With this. not only in this work but in others which undoubtedly have the same source. if this is not to be understood as just any sort of existing. 5. R. 7. Kierkegaard. 7. SKS. vol. pp.

322: “To understand oneself in existence was the Greek principle. 318. namely that it is only when actuality has reached maturity that the ideal appears opposite the real and reconstructs this real world. philosophy] appears only at a time when actuality has gone through its formative process and attained its completed state. See JC. Jub. p. 7. p. EL. and it cannot be rejuvenated. and however little substance a Greek philosopher’s teaching sometimes had. p. Chapter 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 See Ralph Henry Johnson. SKS. p. Hist. PR. CUP1. Jub. 193–5. Jub. 589–96. he would be regarded as lunatic. without continuity?” See EO2. p. be existentially absorbed in it. 166. 3. CI. SKS.” Hans Friedrich Helweg. vol. by the grey in grey of philosophy. p. 352. p. 153–4. 256–62. p. like evil. SKS. 3. 7. vol. But to be ingenious and more ingenious and extremely ingenious. 7. 458–64. This lesson of the concept is necessarily also apparent from history. pp. 289. in the shape of an intellectual realm. Jub. p. 171. 8. 172. 3. Kierkegaard. Jub. Pap. vol. . Be that as it may. PhS. p. PR. 170. p. p. but only recognized. 167. p. 830. vol. SKS. p. vol. 169.” EO2. pp. p. 23. vol. 3. a shape of life has grown old. 1855. pp. 167: “But if the contradiction is present.. then it is an Either/Or. “Forgetting in Hegel. SKS. p. 36–7: “As the thought of the world. SKS.” in his The Concept of Existence in the Concluding Unscientific Postscript. pp. is not the negative what evil is in the sphere of freedom and thus. § 54 Addition. pp. 172. “Hegelianismen i Danmark..” in his Something about Kierkegaard. December 16.. vol. 51. vol. 95–118. Christianity) to whom in all the world this could pertain. pp. vol. 2. I am well aware that if anyone nowadays were to live as a Greek philosopher. it [sc. p. the philosopher had one advantage: he was never comic. See also CUP. least of all as it pertains to himself—this I fi nd to be ludicrous. Jub. vol. the Owl of Minerva begins its flight only with the onset of dusk. pp. 10. vol. would existentially express what he would have to call his life-view. p. vol. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff 1972. SKS. who is nevertheless speculating upon existence-issues (for example. IV B 1. vol. See EO2. vol. Hegel. that is. 171.Notes 34 245 35 36 Kierkegaard.” Dansk Kirketidende. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House 1941. SKS. 168. See David F. 328. pp. SKS. 154. 3. 136: “Would it not be an illusion to give negativity the appearance of having continuity? In the sphere of thought. 327–34.. § 135.. EO2. 364–83. PhS. pp. p.” Hegel. 3. 356. pp. 168.. vol. p. vol. 3. of Phil. p. “The Anti-Intellectualism of Kierkegaard.. vol. which it has grasped in its substance. 144–9. EO2. Swenson. 459–84. See EO2. 2. When philosophy paints its grey in grey. no. 7. p. Preface. 173. and so ingenious that it never occurs to the most honored philosopher. pp. 19. 1.

246 11 Notes 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 One can of course appropriate a particular thing in the sense that a police officer or member of the military can. SKS. NB28:32. CUP1. which is a natural reflection of the different cultures in those places. 608. and for this reason will be omitted from the present analysis. . 361. Thus if the matter of eternal life becomes absolutely important to a person. 7. vol. 7. 2046. 29.. the inquiring subject must be in one of two situations: either he must in faith be convinced of the truth of Christianity and his own relation to it. p. . 23. 2046. See Roy Martinez.” Here the phrase “times of commotion” is presumably a . he adopts Christianity. attach yourself most intimately to him—but he expresses what is meant by being dead to the world. at this price a good can be only the absolute good. 240. 104. attach yourself to Christ. vol.. p. “Kierkegaard’s Ideal of Inward Deepening. p. In will be noted that appropriation takes place not only at the individual level but also at the national and regional level. vol. 4. vol. 2. SKS. SKS. does not emerge inasmuch as the issue is rooted specifically in decision. 44. p. vol. TD. vol. The category of the single individual always relates to inward deepening. 25.” in his Kierkegaard and the Art of Irony. PF. NB28:32. vol. p. 7. 1865. 239. It says: Well. 37f. p. p. Jub.” CUP1. Pap.” JP. 2. 25. to lead the single individual to an indifference to external change. 552. JP. without changing anything externally. IX B 63:8: “. Supplement. in which case all the rest cannot possibly be of infinite interest . vol. CUP1. p. R. 416. SKS. SKS. pp. p. vol. SKS. SKS. . 300. 38. however. SKS. and to strengthen inwardness. 97–9. 2013. appropriate a car or a house. JP. 21. pp. 240. 21. Pap. vol. SKS.” CUP1. p. SKS. pp. 2. vol. NB19:14: “Is eternal salvation really so great a good to you that you value it as an absolute good at this price? As a matter of fact. p. to awaken inwardness to a heightened life in the established order. SKS. p. vol. pp. p. . 30. or he is not in a relationship of faith but is objectively in a relationship of observation and as such is not infinitely interested in deciding the question. something Christ does not do either. See JP. under emergency circumstances. This form of appropriation of particular things does not. for example. 267n. JP. although a universal human institution. p. 7. New York: Prometheus Books 2001 (Philosophy and Literary Theory). 25. 291–2n. that along this line the issue never emerges decisively. that is. VI B 111. p. vol. pp. 7. 93–100. CUP1. vol. 1864. This is merely to call attention in advance to what will be expounded in Part Two— namely. vol. vol. 2046. How pedagogically cautious Christianity is! It does not come out immediately with the whole difficulty. p. 22. § 44. 5. 29: “Now. 2. CUP1. vol. vol. This is the primary meaning given by Hegel: PR. SKS. 56f. 2. NB28:32. SKS. NB19:47: “The assurance of an eternal life is bound up with Christ. constitute the philosophical meaning of the term. 338. 52. p. See JP. p. In times of commotion its purpose will be a rescue action of drawing attention away from externality. have a different look in different countries or geographical regions. 23. p. Weddings. vol. 7. 2. vol. p. 7.

has made true that which is indeed eternally true. p. by being oneself the demonstration. p. in which people with all this demonstrating and demonstrating have completely forgotten that the highest a person is capable of is to make an eternal truth true. See also JP. vol. NB21:16: “Christianity is not doctrine. or in demonstrating the truth? No. Kierkegaard was presumably interested in this question about the relation of the individual with his or her inwardness to the outside world. They marry. but not with the same truth. 3665. but he made the truth true. The youth says what is true. vol. 3684. 24. SKS. 120f. SKS. 20. 20. 24. JP. 110): “Therefore the youth who stands at the beginning of life says with the same right as the old man who stands at the end of life and gazes out over the past: One suffers only once. convinced of the vanity and worthlessness of one’s own products. vol. NB24:68. vol. 3521. vol. 1880. vol. from a Christian point of view. Ironically. 305–7. That he understands. This is the only difference. JP. vol. 3. 21. 24. 13–51. But even if it is merely a matter of giving up a little gratuity . vol. 311. 3686. NB22:80. 2. NB10:76. vol. vol. See the related passage JP. that is. As is well known. 12. vol. SV1. NB5:122. pp. p. by a life that perhaps will also be able to convince others. FSE.. p. 3. but the old man has verified it. SKS. 20. p. SV1. NB20:169. have a public office. 12. JP. 10. have the prospect of a certain appointment. vol. 3. FSE. NB7:85: “If I could only have the experience of meeting a passionate thinker. SKS. 366. 420. due to the tumult caused by the events in Denmark and elsewhere during that year.” This can. SKS. p. With the same right—that is. is to become a martyr. pp. JP. p. Kierkegaard remained rather aloof to the events that led to the creation of the Danish constitution.” JP. 296. by virtue of the eternal. of course. even if the statement is equally true. 6. SKS. Christianity is a believing and a very particular kind of existing corresponding to it—imitation. vol. 3669. vol. vol. This seems also to be the upshot of the following passage in Christian Discourses (1848) (CD. such a view leads to the same result as its opposite: one is discouraged and prevented from ever trying to realize one’s ideas by creating something in the real world. 144. SV1. vol. understands that the only true situation for being in the truth. NB24:74. 119.Notes 247 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 reference to the events of the revolutionary year 1848. Such a debilitating disposition is animated by the belief that one’s ideas are fundamentally devoid of value and thus can never be realized in any positive form. or he made it true that he is the truth. p. 3. 6769. Did Christ ever get involved in demonstrating one or another truth. to make it true that it is true—by doing it. someone who honestly and honorably is constantly prepared to express in his life what he has understood! But where are such thinkers? The majority all too soon find security for their lives in countless ways. something that has been overlooked in these times. 23. 2481. JP. 311f. 3. 483. FSE. vol. 21. SKS. i. pp. vol. the tendency to be overly self-denigrating. vol. 363. etc. p. 3. 2640. 20. vol. vol. NB:201. p. 12. p. SKS. Such a man perhaps reads and studies. 21. 3. JP. 98. vol. have children. 24. also lead to the opposite extreme. and that is what he lectures about. SKS.e. SKS.

Kierkegaards Begriff der Wiederholung. SKS. 73–82. ibid. 7. NB6:13. p. Niels Jørgen Cappelørn and Paul Müller. Berlin. CUP1.248 Notes 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 of ten dollars. Perkins. NB6:13. 3. produces an opposite effect: he talks about how the truth is scoffed at— and becomes honored and esteemed himself. 1957. pp. 175f. Reitzel 1993. 192. SKS. p. CUP1. 174.” in Works of Love. SKS. vol. 130. in English in the notes to JP. SKS. an orator. 16. 330. vol. JP. “Kierkegaard’s Concept of Redoubling and Luther’s Simul Justus. Usually there is extreme controversy about the extent to which someone is speaking the truth. When he says the truth is persecuted—he hits so hard that he is hit in return and he can point to himself and say: ‘You can see it on me. p. vol. 7. New York: Walter de Gruyter 1998 (Kierkegaard Studies Monograph Series. p. 7. vol. ed. 141–50. vol.). 39–56.” Kierkegaardiana. p. “dedication” is the concentrating of the individual within himself. SKS. Pap. p. An existential thinker produces the effect he talks about. p. vol. 42–53 (reprinted in Frihed og eksistens. Dorothea Glöckner. IV B 1. p. 45. 3. 9. 7. See. 79. instead of leading to the achievement of finite purposes. p. 74n. 3). vol. Reitzel 1980. ed. For the concept of “redoubling” see Martin Andic.” in Works of Love. 3673. 7. See CUP1. 79. 190. Nøglebegreber i Søren Kierkegaards Tænkning. 7. 22. 161–72. CUP1. for example. 3. SKS.’ ” CUP1. vol. NB13:47: “In its elemental meaning . the religious depends upon to what extent the individual refers everything to God. conscious or in the consciousness that the endeavor. p.” JP. See JC. Gregor Malantschuk. vol. vol. p. Georgia: Mercer University Press 1999 (International Kierkegaard Commentary. pp. vol. Andrew Burgess. 3668. p. pp. pp. 23. ed. SKS. 3660. SKS. 910. . 3. SKS. SKS. 278. he could not dream of it. 73n. by Robert L. 176. vol. pp. p. vol. 220. . A speaker. 303. 243. 7. vol. 9. Robert L. 73f. p. 278. p. p. “Begrebet Fordoblelse hos Søren Kierkegaard. . vol. the main point—whether a person does it [the truth]—is utterly forgotten in the zeal to fight the person who is presenting untruths. 7. Kierkegaard takes some of his inspiration on this subject from Hegel’s account of the ineffability of the particular in “Sense Certainty” from the Phenomenology of Spirit. This is the purely human.. SKS. vol. where this is discussed in terms of a student– teacher relation. vol. Grethe Kjær and Paul Müller. NB16:72) this is expressed as follows: “God’s creative word creates omnipotently from nothing. The next thing. vol. 73. vol. NB15:66. Copenhagen: C. In a similar entry (JP. 280. 301. vol. CUP1. Such a man does an enormous amount of harm—and why? Simply because he talks and lectures about the truth. vol. p. 3668. 16). p. 191f. ed. WL.” See also SKS. pp. SKS. will in fact prevent such fulfillment—he then becomes turned inwards in a self-redoubling [Selvfordoblelse]. Gregor Malantschuk. Macon. 3. 21. 280. 16. p. Copenhagen: C. A. “Love’s Redoubling and the Eternal Like for Like. When an individual begins an endeavor. SKS. WL. vol.. pp. SKS. CUP1. vol. Perkins. A. 23. JP. Studier i Søren Kierkegaards tænkning. 143. CUP1. 9–38. p. pp. 21. p. 2. pp. p.

. 149–50. vol. Kierkegaard. SKS. vol. p. p. pp. 25. 20. John D. 147–81. SKS. 54. 1999. vol. pp. 7. Remark. p. 18. JP. 18n. 158. p. 3. pp. p. 170. 149–50. p. PhS. 337. 25.” Kierkegaardiana. pp.” in his Radical Hermeneutics: Repetition. 2.Notes 249 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 Niels Nymann Eriksen. JP. FT. . 141–50. IV B 1. 24. SKS. IV B 1. SKS. p. 5). NB22:151. 2. I have treated it previously in connection with Fear and Trembling in my Kierkegaard’s Relations to Hegel Reconsidered. 327n. New York: Walter de Gruyter 2000 (Kierkegaard Studies Monograph Series. See Louis Dupré. 346f. NB2:166. 30. pp. JP. Efterföljelsens Teologi hos Sören Kierkegaard. SKS. SKS.: “Suppose the question is: Ought it to be an absolute law that there should be property? . 1896. vol. NB5:78. pp. CA. 149. pp. SKS. vol. 87. vol.. or a common ownership of goods is just as little self-contradictory. AA:13.” in his Kierkegaard As Theologian: The Dialectic of Christian Existence. 82. vol. 141. pp. p. SKS. vol. 148–9. Pap. . pp. 160–61. PC. pp. 405. 251–4. p.” See. vol. 2. p. See also “Hegel’s View of Moral Conscience and Kierkegaard’s Interpretation of Abraham. 96. 2. p. vol. vol. or the death of the whole human race. 270. 140. vol. 1899. 177. 4. vol. 2. pp. p.” PR. New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2003. 328f. vol. 1613. KJN. p. 2. p. vol. I welcome this opportunity to take up this issue again. NB24:48. SKS. 4. SKS. vol. vol. Caputo.. IV B 1. 18. p. 207.. “Kierkegaard and Hegel on Faith and Politics. 20. 24. XI–2 A 284. Hegel. SKS. it is an isolated determinateness. JC. See also FT. SKS. vol. 4. 171. pp. SKS. vol. Stockholm: Diakonistyrelsens Bokförlag 1956. 142. 19. vol. Kierkegaard. 22. 3. Valter Lindström. 4. 68. p. 191. etc. Pap. pp. the non-ownership of things. vol. JJ:159. 24. Jub. for example. 1858. vol. 171. 1497.” Kierkegaardiana. Kierkegaard’s Category of Repetition: A Reconstruction. p. Deconstruction and the Hermeneutic Project. JC. SKS. 58–80. p. NB14:80. “The Imitation of Christ. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press 1987. p. SKS. p. SKS. 1893. JJ:97. p. 2. p. Property. EO2. 1998. p. Chapter 7 1 2 3 4 5 Kierkegaard. KJN. 17. pp. 2. p. 310–23. R. p. vol. Berlin. 1. p. 1847. New York: Sheed and Ward 1963. vol. “Repetition and Kinesis: Kierkegaard on the Foundering of Metaphysics. Pap. 194: “The absence of property contains in itself just as little contradiction as the non-existence of this or that nation. JP. . § 135. vol. 1. Non-property. vol. vol. JP. does not contradict itself. 2. 257f. CI. 11–35. vol. 227–8. Pap. KJN. 20. 391. vol. JC. JP. pp. Kierkegaard. 12. FT. p. SKS. p. or is posited as merely self-identical. vol. 172.. vol. 4. vol. 161–72. Jub. SKS. See EO2. p. 140. family. simply as such. vol. JP. NB24:31. 2. 186.

7. p. pp. pp. vol.” (PR. § 137. p. 7. pp. p. pp... vol. This distinction was clearly noted by Kierkegaard. 7. § 33. Hegel. 196. PR. a point of view of the modern world . . § 135. 196. 261. (See PR. 7... Jub. vol. Remark. Earlier and more sensuous ages have before them something external and given. 229–30. It fails to appreciate the everyday ethical relations that we and others engage in as a matter of course. 7.. Hegel. His claim is that Kant’s ethics based on the abstract moral law ignores fundamental features of the lived ethical experience. and prefers to transfer ethics to the realm of pure thought. 7. Remark. vol.. vol. Hegel. Jub. Hegel. vol. pp. Jub. Yet even representational thought seems to distinguish them. Jub. 7. Addition. 189. 7. Jub. vol. . vol. 7. . Hegel. 7. p. pp. 233: “But if it is simply identical with the actuality of individuals. 7. Jub. § 136. vol. Hegel categorizes in ascending order ever more radical forms of subjective evil (PR.) Hegel writes: “ ‘Morality’ [Moralität] and ‘ethics’ [Sittlichkeit]. Remark. vol. Jub. 7. PR. Translation slightly modified. PR. § 132. 270. Hist. 193–5. 333. Hegel turns this relation around. vol..) While Kant thinks that an abstract ethical principle must be urgently established since it is the presupposition for us to be able to act morally.. Kantian usage prefers the expression ‘morality. § 33. Jub.. . p. PR. Hegel. and actuality of individual existence. vol. § 137. vol. In order to formulate any abstract principle of ethics presupposes that one already has certain ethical intuitions that one has received long ago. Jub. Hegel. vol. PR.. 227. p. 189. Jub. § 132. Hegel. p. p. PR.’ as indeed the practical principles of Kant’s philosophy are confined throughout to this concept. 7. 195. SKS. PR. Jub. Jub. 384–448. appears as custom [Sitte]. p. § 137.” Hegel. § 137. We must first know what an ethical relation or act is before we can abstract from it in order to formulate an abstract moral law. PR. PR. significance. § 140.. Jub. p. § 151. 7. the human being is no longer bound by the ends of particularity. Hegel. 1. vol.. which are usually regarded as roughly synonymous. Jub. so that conscience represents an exalted point of view. and the habit of the ethical appears as a second nature which takes the place of the original and purely natural will and is the allpervading soul. p.250 6 7 Notes 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 Hegel.. pp. 196–8. 7. § 138. vol. 7. 7.. are taken here in essentially distinct senses. Hegel. § 132. vol. as their general mode of behavior... whether this be religion or right . 85. 18. Jub. Jub. the ethical [das Sittliche]. p. p. PR. pp. PR. 190. 42–122. p.” It will be noted that Hegel associates Kant with morality and much of his polemic against the latter is also a polemic against the former. of Phil. In “The Good and Conscience” Hegel characterizes this contrast between the ancient and the modern world in his discussion of the moral conscience: “As conscience. Jub. Remark. vol. abstract rules and principles. Jub. PR. § 148. vol. PhS. 200. 198–200. PR. see CI. p. 197f. vol. Jub. § 139. Hegel... § 136. 197. 85. PR. even rendering the point of view of ethics impossible and in fact expressly infringing and destroying it. 1. 2. 204–23).. which correspond in part to his analyses in Phenomenology of Spirit entitled “Virtue .

vol. vol. Theology sits all rouged and powdered in the window and courts its favor. p. 11. 1. 32–3. 117: because the Socratic principle of subjective freedom “by effecting an entrance into the Greek world. SKS. vol. vol. 7. Who speaks to the honor of this passion? Philosophy goes further. p. 149. vol. p. vol. of Hist. Hegel.. Friedrich Förster. p. Hegel. for the principle of the Greek world could not yet bear the principle of subjective reflection. Ludwig Boumann. Johannes Schulze. 226. Phil. p. p. 444.. ed. This juxtaposition is hinted at even prior to the Problemata. p. of Phil. p. 4. the Beautiful Soul. p. PR. p. 7. p. . 4. 4. 54–5. 168f. pp. 9 in Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s Werke. See FT. Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Geschichte. pp. Berlin: Duncker und Humblot 1832–45. Hegel. 328. FT. pp. Jub. § 139. 148. vol. p. vol. or even tolerate communities whose religion does not recognize even their direct duties towards the state (although this naturally depends on the numbers concerned). SKS. 92. Vollständige Ausgabe.. It is supposed to be difficult to understand Hegel. but not a word is heard about faith. but also bound to react against it according to their law.. To go beyond Hegel is a miraculous achievement. 18. Karl Hegel (1840). Kierkegaard. but to go beyond Abraham is the easiest one of all. SKS. has come into collision with the substantial spirit and the existing sentiments of the Athenian people. Kierkegaard.” Kierkegaard. CI. vols 1–18. 55. 269. vol. Karl Hegel. 227–8. 4. and occasionally we hear a voice that knows how to honor it. § 270. 148. Jub. 4. Kierkegaard. SKS. 149. § 139. p. 54. 148. 128: “Love indeed has its priests in the poets. for they regarded this principle as a crime. 439–40. p. 353–4: “A state which is strong because its organization is fully developed can adopt a more liberal attitude in this respect. vol. 7. pp. Kierkegaard. 197. vol. 200. p. R. and may completely overlook individual matters which may affect it. and is content if they fulfill their direct duties towards it passively. Evil and its Forgiveness” (from “Spirit”). Hist. pp. Karl Ludwig Michelet. 54. 1. It is able to do this by entrusting the members of such communities to civil society and its laws. Jub. Jub. pp. vol. SKS. FT. Commentators have identified some of Hegel’s contemporaries as the targets of his criticism. Kierkegaard. but to understand Abraham is a small matter. p.Notes 251 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 and the Way of the World” (from the “Reason” chapter). and “Dissemblance or Duplicity” and “Conscience. Hegel. vol.” Hegel. p.. 2nd edition. SKS. FT. 7. not only justified. pp. offers its charms to philosophy. ed. SKS. 4. Jub. 270. Eduard Gans. 18. PR.. Hist. Kierkegaard also broaches the question of an exception to the universal in Repetition. vol. Addition.” In a footnote to this passage Hegel mentions precisely the example of exempting from military service citizens who have moral or religious objections. Leopold von Henning. p. 4. vol. vol.. p. FT. 112–13. FT. 202. 54. for example by commutation or substitution of an alternative service. Hegel. Heinrich Gustav Hotho. PR. p. p. vol. of Phil.. Karl Rosenkranz. a reaction had to take place. Kierkegaard. 54. 148f. SKS. p. pp. 1.. The Athenian people were thus. PR.. Jub. Jub. vol. 350. 4. Philipp Marheineke. § 137. FT. vol. SKS.

p. p.. 396. SKS. See.. for example. See R. pp. vol. JP. SKS. 97: “Every human being is to live in fear and trembling. 12. 138. Nietzsche and the Criticism of Metaphysics. 76. p. 4. Kierkegaard. vol. CUP1. 9. Daniel Breazeale. § 140. 221–8). SKS. 12. 12. And fear and trembling signify that there is a God—something every human being and every established order ought not to forget for a moment. vol. 146–64. 296n. PC. 87. pp. 428. pp. § 140. 542. 2. 216. “The ‘Divinity’ of the State in Hegel. SKS. Kierkegaard. PC. Kierkegaard. vol. p. 2. SKS. vol. p. 149. See “The Law of the Heart and the Frenzy of Self-Conceit” from the “Reason” Chapter (Jub. SKS. 4. Remark. 7. 6. SKS. 2. p. Nietzsche and the Criticism of Metaphysics. p. Jub. 97. 207. 214. Hegel. p. See Stephen Houlgate. pp.. Fear and trembling signify that we are in the process of becoming. PC. vol.. 56. 66. likewise the generation. Hegel. Kierkegaard. § 140. JP. 157f. p. Jena: Diederichs 1905. 12. 12. pp. vol. FT. FT. Evanston: Northwestern University Press 1996. p. 229–46. p. vol. p. op. p. Chapter 8 1 2 3 4 5 This problem was first expressed by Karl Joel in his Nietzsche und die Romantik. 2. cit. 150. 20. 492. CUP1. vol. JJ:96. 18. p. 7. 408. PC.252 34 35 Notes 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 Kierkegaard. 1. pp. vol. Franz Grégoire.” Kierkegaard. FT. p. 97. 207.” Nietzsche-Studien. p. p. 88. (e). 54. SKS. vol. CUP1. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France 1962. p. See Hegel. p. vol. SKS. 6. FT. p. 55. SKS. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1986. NB2:166. vol. See also EO1. Hegel. p. 7. SKS. 4. CUP1. p. 7. KJN. vol. 159. PR. Jub. Kierkegaard. SLW. Kierkegaard. vol. vol. Gilles Deleuze. 96. 88. vol. PR. 4. 12–13. pp. p. p. 213–14. p. Remark. pp. Stephen Houlgate. SKS. p. 1961. 96. 155. 223. SKS. p. vol. Chapter 2: “Nietzsche’s View of Hegel. 12. (e). 6. vol. F. 375. p. Jon Stewart. p. 129. Remark. p. 58. vol. 155. vol. 4–5. is and should be aware of being in that process of becoming. p. SKS. 441. p. “Hegel und Nietzsche. 283–92. pp. 7. SKS. Kierkegaard. Nietzsche et la philosophie. PR. SKS. Kierkegaard.. vol. SLW. 294. PC. 88. “The Hegel-Nietzsche Problem. p. 4. SLW. 1613. vol. 270n. SKS. ed. 289–300. Kierkegaard. SKS. and likewise no established order is to be exempted from fear and trembling. vol. vol. p. p. 62. vol. 68.. vol. 87. p.” pp. 4. p. 1613. vol. 4. p. SKS. and every single individual. vol. 7. Kierkegaard. SKS. p. Jub. . 2. vol. 349. 88. 160–61. SKS. FT. 7. p. 1975. FT. 24–37. 20. Hegel. (e). pp. SKS. p.” Hegel-Studien. 62. NB2:166. Kierkegaard. PhS. pp. SKS. Beerling. p. p.” in The Hegel Myths and Legends. p. 170. PC.

Hegel. Jub. 443f. Jub. 27. p. Hegel. pp. Jub. 14. p. p. 2. 2. § 14. p. p.. vol. pp.. 539. pp. p. and can only be expounded. Hegel.. p. p. vol.. BT. for example.. p. PhS. Nietzsche. PhS.. 30. Hegel. Hegel. 35. § 1. 2.. 549. 1. vol. p. KSA. 153–62. 27. 2. Nietzsche. pp. 2. 14. 2.. Hegel. vol. Hegel. vol. pp. “The Hegel-Nietzsche Problem. vol. BT. Hegel. p.. § 1. Nietzsche.. 552. pp. Nietzsche. Hegel. p. 2. 15. p. Hegel. p. 91. p. 47.. 1. Aesthetics. 436. PhS. p. 537. Jub.. 1. Jub. 2. 2. Nietzsche. 437f. . p. 428. vol. Nietzsche. § 4. p. 538. 428. pp. PhS. p. 1. .. PhS. KSA. KSA. Hegel. vol. 47. 538. BT. Jub. p. 1. p. KSA. Hegel. 436. p. 552. p. Hegel. pp. Nietzsche. 59–71.. 538. 27. 558f. p. § 1. p. 550. 60. Hegel. 426. Jub... vol. p. 2. vol. PhS. Siegfried Blasche. 41. 70. PhS. “Hegelianismus im Umfeld von Nietzsches ‘Geburt der Tragödie. “Hegelianismus im Umfeld von Nietzsches ‘Geburt der Tragödie. 1. 2. as Science or as system. vol. pp. Jub. Hegel. vol. vol. p. vol.. Nietzsche. 37. p. vol. Jub. 2. PhS. 549. 550. See. BT. p. vol. 8. 1. 2. 2. 29. p. Jub. Nietzsche.. 35.. § 1. 539. vol. 427. p. 538. Jub. 2. vol. KSA. p. vol. 31–7. PhS. 427.. Jub. BT. 2. PhS. op. p. p. cit. 2. cit. Jub. knowledge is only actual.. 33. 2. Hegel. 539.. 1986. p. vol.. Jub. vol. vol. 439. Jub. p. See Breazeale’s criticism: Daniel Breazeale. 428. vol. § 1. Jub. 436f.. p.’ ” op. Aesthetics. p. p. 1193f. vol. 1. 33.’ ” Nietzsche-Studien. p. Hegel. p. Jub. 2. BT. Nietzsche. PhS. Hegel. Hegel insists that philosophical knowledge must of necessity be systematic: “.. 2.. p. PhS. 428. 36. p.. vol. 2. Jub. KSA. 25. vol. 436. vol. PhS. 42. vol. Hegel. KSA. KSA. § 14. BT. 25f. EL.. Nietzsche. p. Jub. cit. vol. p. Hegel. Hegel. vol.” op. Jub. 94. 479–581. 37.. Hegel. 439. vol. op. PhS. p. 33. p. 436. Jub. p. 223. BT. 551. p. BT. p. 2. § 1. Nietzsche and the Criticism of Metaphysics. p. 13. 539. p. KSA. 2. 1. PhS. PhS. 551.” PhS. BT. pp. vol. 1. Jub. p. PhS. p. p. PhS.Notes 6 253 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 Stephen Houlgate. 540. 438. p. vol. 428. See also Siegfried Blasche.. Hegel. 2. p. 2. 552. 549. vol. PhS. 438.. PhS.. pp. § 1. § 1. p. Jub. vol. p. cit.. vol. p. PhS. BT. Jub. 427. In the famous preface to Phenomenology. Nietzsche et la philosophie. vol. p. p. 427. . 526f. vol. KSA. Gilles Deleuze. 28. Jub. Hegel. p.. KSA. pp. PhS. § 4. 1. p. vol. See Hegel. 539. Jub. vol. 427. p. 25. p. 1158–237.

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p. 1.. Berlin. Lester Hunt. KSA. of Hist. Kierkegaard’s Existential Ethics. KSA. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press 1977. For Nietzsche’s ethics. 1. see Frederick A. Principles and Persons: An Ethical Interpretation of Existentialism. see George J. p. Chapter 9 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 For general studies on existentialist ethics. BT. 1. vol 7. 412f. pp. Fyodor Dostoevsky. Verlag 1950. New York: Walter de Gruyter 1998 (Kierkegaard Studies Monograph Series. For Kierkegaard’s ethics. Fyodor Dostoevsky. 100. Piper and Co. 91. 6. § 15. vol. 143. Addition 3. CUP1. Psalms 2. vol. 8. p. Nietzsche’s Moral Philosophy. judgments. for example. vol. New York: Walter de Gruyter 2000 (Kierkegaard Studies Monograph Series. vol. vol. “Attempt at a Self-Criticism. Nietzsche and the Origin of Virtue. KSA. Die Philosophie Dostojewskis. 1. 31–4. see Reinhardt Lauth. Berlin. Kierkegaard. Namely. Nietzsche. 98. Indiana: Indiana University Press 1990. 45. The Question of Ethics: Nietzsche. David Magarshack. Nietzsche’s Dangerous . BT.” § 1. EL. pp. BT. Hegel. See TI. 100: “And since Socrates. vols 1–2. 94. 2. p. BT. Conway. p. § 15. KSA. 99. Nietzsche. Jub. p. 288–311. See. p. 6. vol. 1.” § 7. p. p. 321f. vol. op.11 and Philippians 2.. Bloomington. p. p. The Brothers Karamazov. 691. p. Scott. KSA. cit. 25. p. Olafson. 310. 270. 62. above all other capacities . § 2. 3).” Nietzsche. SKS. § 14. pp. vol. BT. § 45.12. Nietzsche.Notes 81 82 255 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 Nietzsche. “Attempt at a Self-Criticism. 14. trans. BT. KSA. 38–40. vol. Nietzsche. KSA. Daniel W. vol. p. Heidegger. Charles E. pp. Foucault. 1. p. 11. 97. vol. Jub. See BT. BT. this mechanism of concepts. 5). Phil. spreading in ever-widening circles. 94.” § 3. Hegel. . 1. 38–47. KSA. § 24. see John Bernstein. Harmondsworth: Penguin 1958. KSA. London and Toronto: Associated University Presses 1987. 1. 38. p. vol. See Dorothea Glöckner. 96. will never again find any stimulus toward existence more violent than the craving to complete this conquest and to weave the net impenetrably tight. Munich: R. p. § 15. 1. . Stack. p. 30. Kierkegaards Begriff der Wiederholung. vol. pp. p. p. For Dostoevsky’s ethics. KSA. pp.. p. p. vol. 21. The understanding of Kant as the forerunner to the existentialists’ considerations on ethics has been argued for by Frederick A. Anyone who has ever experienced the pleasure of Socratic insight and felt how. Principles and Persons: An Ethical Interpretation of Existentialism. 147. Niels Nymann Eriksen. EH. the Twilight of the Idols and The Antichrist. AC. “The Birth of Tragedy. p. The Brothers Karamazov. Nietzsche. 19. p. § 4.. vol. London: Routledge 1991. KSA. 202. p. Kierkegaard’s Category of Repetition: A Reconstruction. 6. and inferences had been esteemed as the highest occupation and the most admirable gift of nature. 102. it seeks to embrace the whole world of appearances. Olafson.. § 31. ibid. vol. 39. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press 1967.. Nietzsche. vol.

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118. 167. 173. 135. Fyodor 2. 173–8. 117. 172 absolute idea 43 absolute knowing 68–70. 63. Nicolas de 33 conscience 5. 177. 63. 115. 21. 176. 182. 196 The Myth of Sisyphus 21. 29 daimon 122. 183 antinomy 29 anxiety 134. 183–6. 216 actuality (Wirklichkeit. 118. 22. 186 The Rebel 183 The Stranger 177 categorical imperative 89. 91. 188. 215–28 beautiful soul 63 Beauvoir. 112. 178. 183. 137 Adler. 181. 94–119. 133. 177 The Possessed 174. 167 ambiguity 192–4. 172. 7. Gilles 142. 115 indirect 109. 223 Deleuze. 157 comic 94 communication 109. 75 absolute notion 69 abstraction 94–119 absurdity 22. 115. 110 communism 174 Concept. 52. 191 Boethius 33 Buddhism 5. 99–110. 130. 88. Jacques 2. 90. 129–31. 22. 195. 182 appropriation 5. 122. 172. 183. 159. 179. 116–18. 209. 35. 189. 100. 11. Simone de 165. 123. 7. 175. 132. 165. 184. 197 comedy 156. 180. 173 Aristotle 167. 190–8 The Ethics of Ambiguity 190. 205. 196 Dewey. 7. 176. 6. Adolph Peter 82 Aeschylus 158 alienation 25. 105. 181. 114. Albert 2. 67. 166. 40. 185. 176. 196. 152 Derrida. 150. 64. 133. 184–6 The Plague 22. 174. 177 Christianity 5. 196 contradiction. 226–8 Angst 182. 133 death 88. 192 Pyrrhus and Cineas 190. René 123 despair 20. 175 Crime and Punishment 174 Notes from Underground 19. the (Begriff ) 11 Condorcet. 165–7. 77. 91. 175. 196 art 145–62 Augustine 195 authenticity 6. 11 Descartes. 134–7. 139. 184. 117. 77 Camus. 162. 167. 167. 197 autonomy 168–70. 18–20. 213 Bacchus 149–51 bad faith 7. 125–8. 94. 76. 173. 16. 184. 196. 196. 139–41. 148. 172. Virkelighed) 79–93. 76. 131. John 24 Diogenes Laertius 91 Dostoevsky. 110. 170. 106. 184 Winter Notes on Summer Impressions 177 . 23. 173. 204 The Brothers Karamazov 174. 155. 94. 195 Christ 64. 151. 159. 189.Index Abraham 116. 124. 89.

280 double reflection 106. 121. Martin 7. 89. 173–5. 117. 208–10. 181 ethical life (Sittlichkeit) 83. 181. 165. 133. 96. 139. 190. 133. 131. 27. 172 eternal return 179. 94. 136. 139 existence 94. 144. 82. 110. 215. Jean 199 Idea. Rudolf 12. 158 Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion 39. 211–13 Homer 37 Houlgate. 173 Fall 75. 128. 30–2 Hegel. 86. 120–41 “Review of Solger’s Posthumous Writings” 120 Science of Logic 24. Friedrich 96 Enlightenment 2. 79–93. 127 Lectures on the Philosophy of History 127. 196. 15–17. 217–20. 8. 79. Johann Gottlieb 3. 132 Egyptian polytheism 40 end of history 11 Engels. 131. 181. 194. 79. 83. 95. 89. 117. 204 The Philosophical Propaedeutic 50 Philosophy of Right 5. 24–40. 118. 11–23. Jens 90 Hinduism 40. 120–41. 107. 195 eternal happiness 101. 162. 173 immortality 100. 121. 166. 41–70. 172. 182. 44 Heidegger. 79–93. Hans Friedrich 92 Herder. 80. 26. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich 1–6. 23. 24–40. 15–18. 140. 139. Stephen 142 Husserl. Johann Wolfgang von 27 grace 100 . 102. Sigmund 7. 74. 131. 226–8 German idealism 1. 125. 123. 144 epic 154. 41–70. 3. 117. 86 imitation 114–15. Michel 11. 7. 191. 12 freedom see also subjective freedom 86. 145–62. 165–98 existentialist ethics 6. 204 Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences 13. 32 Haym. 29. 176 Goethe. 85. 189. Theodor 30. 109. 140. 27. 199–216. 73. 25. 145. 77. the 14. 120. 118. 82. 172. 13. 12. 103. 83. 70. 107. 8. 79. 70. 2. 94. 78. 162 God-man 135. 13. 83. 8. 68. 135–7. John Niemeyer 35 Foucault. 224 French Revolution 16 Freud. 84. 190. 76 fate 155 Feuerbach. 143. 86. 43. 130. 183. 82 Phenomenology of Spirit 2–4. 156–9 evil 127–9. 80. 196. 101 incarnation 137 inner/outer. 112. 216 Hyppolite. 81. Edmund 165. 182. 109 existentialism 1. 118 duty 140 Index Greek polytheism 38. Johann Gottfried von 27 Himmelstrup. 125–8. 26. 215 Euripides 143. 137. 193. 187–9. 217. 12. 82. 143 ethics 5–7. 75. 77 history 60. 40. 142–62. 123 Science of Knowledge 26 Findlay. 25 Haering. 95. 6. 138. 49. 221–4 faith 6. 50. 155 Epicureanism 90. 40 Greek tragedy 6. 81. 165–98 facticity 188. 73–8. 109–10. 223. 107. 162. 3. 143 Lectures on Aesthetics 120 Lectures on the History of Philosophy 120. 83. 134–7. 123. 196 Being and Time 181–3 Helweg. 132. 197. 20. 11. 2. 19. 173. 130. 138. 21. 16. 31. Ludwig 96 Fichte.

20. 115 Pharisees 135 phenomenology 1. 199–214. 108–10. 27. 84 Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions 103 Works of Love 87. 116. 197 Beyond Good and Evil 178 The Birth of Tragedy 20. 181 Jena. 138. 20. 177. 134. 106 Johannes Climacus. 216 Critique of Pure Reason 26 Karamazov. 105. Friedrich Wilhelm 2. 135. 171 Fear and Trembling 6. 165–7. Søren Aabye 1. 5–7. 173. 215. 74. Gottfried Wilhelm von 35 Les Temps modernes 192. 157. 8. Alexandre 25 281 language 42. 153. 107. 41. 178–81. 109. 79–93. 92. 170. 118. 89. 23. Gabriel 165 martyrdom 108 Marx. 92. 96. 162. 103. Immanuel 2–5. 132. 103. 8. 127–9. 173. 190 mediation 89. 172 For Self-Examination 105. 83. 94. 192. 199 lordship-bondage 15. 29. 181. 35. 208–11. 123. 8. 73. 138. 183 Owl of Minerva. 26. 85. 7. 41. 183–5 Oedipus 124 offense 6. 180. 48–50 love 98. 114. 134. 134–5 Judge for Yourself! 114 The Moment 90 On My Work as an Author 88 “Open Letter to Professor Heiberg” 99 Philosophical Fragments 100. 113. 95. Karl 165. Maurice 7. 89. Ivan 175 Kaufmann. 84. 81. 173 Kojève. 138 Concluding Unscientific Postscript 82. 95 paradox 6. 145. 120. Friedrich Heinrich 132 Jaspers. 19. 136. 135 Prefaces 90 Repetition 89. 184 passion 101. 119 irony 127–9. 85. 134. 141. 73. 96. 12.Index intentionality 216–17. 11. 178. 117. 131. 111. 181. John Stuart 92 Moses 176 natural religion 147 natural science 55 Nietzsche. 85. 138 Jacobi. 225 inward deepening 102–14. 195. 167–70. 192 Stages on Life’s Way 82. 140. 166. 187. 170. 177. 120–41. 213 Leibniz. 144. 135. 129–36. 196. 108. 172 Merleau-Ponty. 91. 95. 82. 216. 120. 215–28 Phenomenology of Perception 7. 99–103. 2. Martin 104 Marcel. 186. 11. 170. 226–8 Luther. Karl 96 Marxism 184. 133 Practice in Christianity 6. 142–62. 83. 170–3. 120. 184. 190. 35. 191. 147–62 Ecce Homo 161 On the Genealogy of Morals 178 Thus Spoke Zarathustra 178 The Will to Power 178 nihilism 175. 176. 165. 99 The Sickness unto Death 20. 183. 181. 20–2. 133. 111. 165 . 131. 196. 137. 137 original sin 18. 132. 165–7. 75 overman (Übermensch) 180. 7. the Battle of 33 Kant. 103. 6. 184. 171 Either/Or 81. 120 Journals 82. 118. 197 The Book on Adler 82 The Concept of Irony 6. or De omnibus dubitandum est 113. 84. 225 “The War has Taken Place” 203 Mill. 201. 94. 25. 120. 112. 119. Walter 41 Kierkegaard. 177. 85. 203. 112.

168. 90 socialism 177. 196. 128–30. 27. 24. 94. 136 Sittlichkeit. 5. 227 Critique of Dialectical Reason 190. 162 salvation 101 Sartre. 206. 205. 121. 174 Socrates 6. 106. 75 Plato 118. 159. 103. 157. 139. 223 No Exit 190 Notebooks for an Ethics 187 Saint Genet: Actor and Martyr 201 Schelling. 90–3. 11. 201. 133. 177. 138. 186 solipsism 190 Sophists. 223. 148. 197. 102. 15. 111. Arthur 2. the 1. 8. 187. 173 responsibility 6. 159 Antigone 36–8. 145 speculative philosophy 3. 196. 31. 225. 200. see ethical life Skepticism 35. 123. 88. 169. 143. 73–8. 67. 131 religion 18. 182. 166. 176. 25 repetition 88. 129. Jean Paul 2. 134. 87. 116. 118 relativism. 67. 221–4 transcendental idealism 4. 19. 179 utopian 19. 109. 150 Romanticism. 11. 107. 203 Nausea 22. 73 transcendental philosophy 26 Trinity 75. 122. 197. 12. 23. 184 system. 213 suffering 13. 158. 84 “the they” (das Man) 182. 121. the 181 Zoroastrianism 40 reason 11–23 recognition 50. 73. 110. 122. 120. 122. the 157. 215–28 Being and Nothingness 7. 75. 210. 187–9. 193 suicide 21. 189. 89. Frederik Christian 80. 179 utopian socialism 174 virtue 196–8 virtue ethics 7. 160 subjectivism. 42 principle of individuation 147 psychoanalysis 218–20. Friedrich 80 Schopenhauer. 14. 113–14. 201 The Flies 188. 197. 82. 186. 133. 128. 20. 123. 23. 35–7. 221. 199–214. 196. 215–18. 171. 100 single individual 104. William 223 . 125. 43. 227 Index Sibbern. 224 ressentiment 179 revealed religion 64. 149. 127–9. 135. 173. 195. 158 Sophocles 36. 44. 24–40. 199. Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von 3. 186–92. 199. 138 subjectivity 86. 108. 196. 165. 167. 200. 11. 204 subjective freedom 82. 89. 117. 136.282 picture thinking 69. 50–3. 106–9. 193. 57. 118. 41–70 Spinoza. 190. Baruch 27. 194. 191 redemption 101 redoubling 106. Otto 32. 93 silence 139 sin 76. 76. 121. 23. 154. 124. 181. 186. 63. 204 Plutarch 191 Pöggeler. 7. 39. 74 utilitarianism 19. 142 sculpture 146–52 self-redoubling 113 Shakespeare. 93 System of Transcendental Idealism 26 Schleiermacher. 147. 196 tragedy 142–62 transcendence 188. 4. 215–19. 22. 26. 67 revelation 64. 94. 95. 144. 207. 81. 157–61. 110–13 reduplication 88. 80. 195. 108. 21. 34. 128. 94. 132. 102. 167 Ethics 27 Stoicism 90. 155. 81. 77 unhappy consciousness 4. 195 will to power. 89.

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