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  • G. W. F. Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy, 1825–26. Volume II: Greek Philosophy
  • Thora Ilin Bayer
Robert F. Brown , editor and translator. G. W. F. Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy, 1825–26. Volume II: Greek Philosophy. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006. Pp. xiv + 375. Cloth, $160.00.

Hegel delivered his lectures on the history of philosophy nine times during his career, giving them for the first time in Winter 1805–06 in Jena prior to his publication of the Phenomenology of Spirit in 1807. He began to give them for a tenth time before his death in Berlin in 1831. Hegel understood the history of philosophy as philosophy, as showing how reason or spirit in the form of philosophy develops through successive stages to the point that philosophical thinking attains its own self-conscious and self-determinate mode of existence. For Hegel, in the study of its history, philosophy comprehends itself as a systematic development through time.

Hegel regarded philosophy as a unique product of Greek culture, arising directly from the Greek spirit of being at home with itself (Heimatlichkeit) without any proper precedents in near Eastern mythologies or in Chinese and Indian philosophies. Although Hegel briefly discusses Oriental philosophy in the first volume of his lectures, he does not regard such philosophy as belonging to the history of philosophy in its true sense. Hegel's view that philosophy is a distinctive invention of the Greeks and that it is an invention of the Western tradition is also held by Wilhelm Windelband in his well-known History of Philosophy. Hegel's view of the origin of philosophy differs from more recent studies—such as those by F. M. Cornford (From Religion to Philosophy), Bruno Snell (The Discovery of the Mind), and H. A. Frankfurt (Before Philosophy)—showing that the logical, ethical, and metaphysical pursuits of the Greeks arise as transformations of earlier mythological forms of thought

Hegel divides Greek philosophy into three periods: From Thales to Aristotle, Dogmatic and Skeptical Philosophy (including Stoicism, Epicureanism, and Skepticism), and Neoplatonic Philosophy (ending with Plotinus and Proclus). In his treatment of Plato and Aristotle, Hegel calls Plato "one of the 'world-historical' individuals" whose philosophy from its very inception has a significant influence on all subsequent eras (175). Hegel sees Aristotle's philosophy as a systematic development from Plato's doctrines. He says of Aristotle "that no other philosopher has been so wronged by thoughtless traditions about his philosophy that have been kept alive and are still the order of the day" (225). Hegel says, "the usual erroneous view is that the Aristotelian and Platonic philosophies are diametrically opposed, [End Page 664] that Platonic philosophy is idealism and Aristotle's is realism—and indeed realism in the most trivial sense [in the sense of Lockean empiricism]. . . . But we can show that Aristotle surpassed Plato in speculative depth" (226). Hegel is intent on showing that Aristotle is strongly connected to the idealist tradition. Hegel is certainly attached to Plato, in the Phenomenology calling the Parmenides the greatest example of ancient dialectic, but the keys to his system that can be found in Aristotle are often overlooked, something which is not true of G. R. G. Mure's short and still to be recommended An Introduction to Hegel (1940) which is as much about Aristotle as it is about Hegel.

This English translation combines in one volume what appeared in two volumes in the German edition edited by Pierre Garniron and Walter Jaeschke in 1989 and 1996. The lectures are constructed from five different transcripts made by auditors as Hegel delivered them during winter semester 1825–26 in Berlin. These lectures of 1825–26 were chosen because the transcripts of them (the seventh time Hegel gave the series) offer the most opportunity for an accurate reconstruction. The reader will greatly appreciate the extensive historical and critical footnotes throughout the volume. There is a glossary of German to English technical terms followed by a "Bibliography of Hegel's Sources for Greek Philosophy." This bibliography includes in one, single alphabetical list both (a) works from the Auction Catalogue of Hegel's library and works to which he refers and which he likely used...


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