A Reply from George Armstrong Kelly

The Owl of Minerva 10 (4):10-11 (1979)
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While I deeply appreciate the painstaking and often generous remarks in R.N. Berki’s review of my book Hegel’s Retreat From Eleusis, [OWL, September 1978], I should like to correct two of his misapprehensions. First, the point is not that I try to “steer a middle course between ‘antiquaries’ who relegate Hegel to history books and ‘renovators’ who believe that Hegel is directly relevant,” but between the former and those who warp Hegel out of context in support of their preferred vision of social and political action and/or explanation. Second, I do not conclude negatively about “the contemporary value of Hegel’s doctrine of the state;” If I had, the book would scarcely have been worth writing. It is simply that, in line with the first point, I counsel caution and salutary “archaeological” reflection. Current reality is messy: Hegel guides us and teaches us, but he furnishes no coup de foudre for solving our institutional problems. If this is irresolute, so be it. Does Mr. Berki propose bringing back monarchy, estates, and early 19th century municipal life? My own position is stated on pp. 109, 142–144, 183, 222–223. Although this may be, in Hayden White’s language, a Rankean trope, my option is surely not for “the historical dustbin.”



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