Notes on Hegel's "Lordship and Bondage"

Review of Metaphysics 19 (4):780 - 802 (1966)
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Abstract

Thus Hegel's philosophy did not, as it were, merely paint "gray on gray." Not surprisingly, however, contemporary interest in this "ultimate philosophy" is due chiefly to the suggestive expansion of its insights, rather than to any desire for systematic reconstruction. In a discretionary way, Hegelian problems and patterns have gained a new lease in the fields of social and religious thought and among those for whom classical political theory is not a dead exercise. One might say that Hegel remains vital because he continues to raise polemical questions. When a giant structure of human speculation is superseded—a fate which some feel, wrongly I think, that Hegel tacitly acknowledged for his own philosophy—but survives in membris disjectis, anthologies tend to be compiled for partisan purposes. Karl Löwith reminds us that this was the destiny of the fragile Hegelian balance in the hands of the philosopher's immediate disciples. The last generation has seen a renewal of this Kulturkampf, but now on the far side of total war, Marxism, and religious crisis. The opposition of "What did Hegel mean?" and "What does Hegel mean for us?" is posed and reposed. I personally feel—as a historian of ideas—that some intellectual mischief is caused by the failure to raise the two questions in mutual rapport.

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