- Hegel on Philosophy in History ed. by Rachel Zuckert and James Kreines
Hegel on Philosophy in History is a Festschrift for Robert Pippin, one of the most important contemporary Hegel scholars. Pippin's importance has to do not only with the way in which he opened up the field of Hegel studies beginning in the 1980s, but also with the extraordinary number of other figures and discussions in philosophy with which he has brought Hegel's thought into connection. These aspects of Pippin's importance are connected, of course, since it is the latter that allowed the former to blossom into a whole field with wide-ranging discussions and a fruitful plurality of perspectives rather than to fade after a brief renaissance. Those Hegel scholars (including this reviewer) who have more recently taken up professional positions in academic philosophy certainly owe Pippin a tremendous debt of gratitude. In this connection, I am happy to report that this Festschrift does justice to both aspects of Pippin's influence, and can be highly recommended as a substantive contribution to the field that his influence helped to open up.
Two features of the book allow it to stand out from the ranks of ordinary Festschriften. First, it features an all-star lineup of authors from the current debate about the meaning of Hegel's philosophy. There are contributions from authors such as Paul Redding and Terry Pinkard, who have points of view relatively similar to Pippin's and who have long been associated with each other under the general banner of generally sympathetic, post-Kantian interpretations of Hegel. There are contributions from authors such as Christoph Menke and J. M. Bernstein, who are far more critical of Hegel's views and of their philosophical defensibility as Pippin reconstructs them. There are contributions from authors such as Ludwig Siep, Rolf-Peter Horstmann, and Karl Ameriks, who take a more traditionally historical approach than Pippin, and then contributions from authors such as Slavoj Žižek and Jonathan Lear, who emphasize the supplementary value of post-Hegelian psychoanalytical approaches to the topics Hegel treats. When reading over these papers, one cannot help but be struck by the wide variety of ways Hegel's thought has become relevant to contemporary philosophical perspectives, which makes the book somewhat of a Festschrift not only to Pippin but to the discursive space he was and continues to be so instrumental in carving out.
Second, it is organized around a particular theme, namely, history and the question of its centrality to Hegel's thought, to its contemporary relevance, and to the philosophical issues that Hegel treated. Though, of course, some of the chapters engage more or less with the theme than others, all of the contributions take up the relation of history to Hegel's thought in some way or other. From John McDowell's and Robert Stern's argument that one ought not emphasize history as much as Pippin does, to Sally Sedgwick's consideration of the question of the historicity of even the most abstract and apparently a priori part of Hegel's system (namely, his Science of Logic), there is a multilayered discussion of the different ways in which actual historical events and historicity itself can be relevant to different issues in philosophy as Hegel treated them. Axel Honneth's contribution treats Hegel's contribution to the theory of freedom itself as a historical watershed that must be incorporated into contemporary reflection on the topic. And Bernstein and Žižek come to different conclusions about the philosophical tenability of Hegel's views, but on the basis of the same basic perspective of examining them against the background of the historical experience that lies between our world and Hegel's own. In reading the collection it becomes [End Page 740] clear in how many different ways history can play a role in philosophical reflection.
As a result, the book is useful for at least three purposes: first, in giving a multi-perspectival introduction to the body of work of one of the most...