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BOOK REVIEWS 141 Norbert Waszek. The Scottish Enlightenment and Hegel's Account of"Civil Society." International Archives of the History of Ideas, 12o. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers , 1988. Pp. xvii + 286. DFL a85. Hegelians vexed by having Hegel classified as an idealist insulated from the shocks of political economy will find Professor Waszek's book of great solace. Combining fine scholarship with an elegant style, Waszek presents Hegel as not only concerned with the most advanced economic theories of his day but as one who understood them. But beyond providing a source book and guide for what is and remains to be known about the economic theory of Hegel's "civil society" and the Scotttish school, Waszek also suggests (in muted tones) the absolute relevance of this theory to present practice. Claims less tempered will often burden, if not bend, the objectivity of a work. But this is not the case here. What does come through in the reading is not as much Hegel's relevance as Waszek's scholarship. This is the proper order of things, and the modest goal of his study is clearly stated: "it needs to be emphasized that we are dealing with one influence (a piece of a mosaic, not a portrait in its own right), which is meant to be a supplement to all the better known influence topics (e.g., 'Hegel and Kant'...) and not a substitute for them" (14). One of the difficulties facing commentators dealing with Hegel's relationship to Enlightenment thought is not so much that they themselves are prone to tie Hegel to German philosophy but that even Hegel himself seemed to ignore (if not disdain) any connection to the Enlightenment, in particular the Scottish Enlightenment. However, Waszekjoins an earlier researcher, Johannes Hoffmeister, in maintaining that Hegel's cultural world was simply embedded in the Enlightenment, and that Hegel was subtly and continuously influenced by it, "so that, by the time Hegel constructed his own system, the Enlightenment was no longer a conscious 'influence' deserving acknowledgement , but had become a subterranean current in Hegel's mind" (17). If this is the case, then what did happen was that Hegel incorporated the Enlightenment into his own thought in a very Hegelian manner: by an Aufhebung--i.e., that "Hegel's explicit criticism on the one hand, and acceptance, on the other hand, are often mere elements of a larger consideration" (19). Although the path to the summit from which to view that "larger consideration" is a difficult one, it isjust as difficult to imagine a better guide than Professor Waszek. He graduated from the University of Bochum, the center of Hegelian studies in Germany, and also from the University of Stirling (with a thesis on the Scottish Enlightenment). His publishing credentials in both fields are sound and established. The work has six chapters, and includes five bibliographic appendices. The de- (ailed and exhaustive bibliographic appendices are valuable in themselves, the first to deal with the major literature of the Scottish Enlightenment that had been translated and was available to German intellectuals during Hegel's lifetime. The study begins by laying out the author's project, some general observations on Hegelianism, the problems needing to be addressed, and a survey of the merits and demerits of previous attempts to link Hegel to the Scottish Enlightenment. The second chapter, through a bibliographic study, establishes that "Scottish thinkers 142 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 29:1 JANUARY 1991 enjoyed a wide and marked reception in eighteenth-century Germany, a reception which left its traces in terms of contemporary translations, reviews, and popularization , as well as exerting an influence on the teaching of political economy at German universities" (229). Through a biographical analysis, the third chapter confirms that Hegel had read and critically appreciated the major figures of the Scottish Enlightenment--not only political economists, but philosophers such as Hume. Chapters 4 to 6 are directed at comparing Hegel's account of the "civil society" to what had earlier been said by such major political economists as Adam Ferguson, Sir James Steuart, and Adam Smith. A reading of these final chapters cannot but lead the reader to conclude that Hegel was indeed, at...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 141-142
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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