The Hegel web site and its mailing lists exist so that international participants may discuss any and all aspects of the philosophy of G.W.F. Hegel.
Its primary goal is to help students of philosophy (both outside and within academic studies) understand Hegel's system of thought.
It also supports a project of relating Hegel's philosophy to modern advancements in science and philosophy. So a secondary goal is to further a comparative analysis of Hegelian thought along with modern and postmodern philosophy and science.
Is Hegelian philosophy useful? For a nearly 200 year-old philosophy like Hegel's, it seems reasonable to ask about its validity in modern times. From a modern and postmodern perspective, Hegel's philosophy may appear to be the final outburst of metaphysical, rationalist thought. Yet, for many, the current mood of philosophy is closer to hermeneutics or deconstruction.
Hegelians are not convinced that postmodern philosophy is able to address all the pressing issues of our time. We find value in Hegel's system and we hope to share our views with our readers. Hegel proposed a scientific, systematic philosophy, and we maintain that contemporary civilization and history can be adequately understood and expressed with scientific and systematic means.
We can express facts about our culture and history best when we understand our culture and history more profoundly. As cultural and historical beings, we stand to benefit from the great principle of Greek antiquity: Know Thyself. For Hegel, this was a fair yet undeveloped expression of the goal of philosophy. We know ourselves best when we know our history, our culture and the historical development of philosophy and theology.
Hegelians maintain that this method of thinking is able to encompass other forms of philosophical method, and this gives it a dimension of superiority. However, we are aware of the need to demonstrate this, and not merely assert it.
Many elements in Hegel's system remain to be cleared up, and some may benefit from correction by developments in 20th century philosophy. We hope to show that other forms of philosophical method are contained in Hegel's dialectical method. That will be part of our task here.
2.0. APPROACH TO HEGEL
2.1. Hegel's system aims to sublate (see http://www.hegel.net/general/dict/sublation.htm) all other systems within itself, to incorporate the rational and verifiable within other sciences, philosophies, religions and so on. (This is a consequences of Hegel's insight that the unlimited, infinite and eternal includes the limited, finite and non-eternal, and so avoids being limited by the finite).
2.2. Hegel's logic offers a means to achieve this sublation, and lets us to focus on the preconditions of any theory, so we can explore them and cross their boundaries.
2.3. Hegel resolves all one-sidedness and dualism. This gives special importance to avoiding the 'trap of dualism' that is manifested in vicious circles like, 'materialism versus idealism' and others. Dualism can and should be resolved with Hegel's principles.
Our goal is to disseminate an understanding of Hegel in order to apply this to understanding of the modern and postmodern world. Updating Hegel's system with current thinking that is logically compatible with Hegel's thinking is a part of this goal. With this goal we confront postmodern philosophy head-on with new paradigms for the complex nature of a global culture that overarches nationalities, and a global philosophy that overarches scientific disciplines. This will include:
(a) Interdisciplinary work, from science to the humanities, as Hegel's system provides a rational foundation for a complete system, for basic principles of science, perhaps "holistic," not limited to partial visions of the truth;
(b) New dialogue, where prevailing and fixed theories, doctrines and dogmatic world-views can confront different cultures, religions, sciences, politics and unorthodox, even heretical ideas.
This goal envisions a dialogue between cultures and religions in a time
of globalization and its concomitant clash of
civilizations. Hegel's system offers philosophies
of logic, science, art and culture as well as a complete
framework for a dialogue that can overcome boundaries without the
4.0. READING HEGEL AS A COMMUNAL DISCIPLINE
Every scientific effort requires a foundation in a social community.
Any attempt to constitute a community on the
Internet, where people hear each other but do not
see each other, where time is global, and where
misunderstanding takes on global dimensions, may seem very difficult.
Following are some elements of a communal discipline to guide a community in commenting upon and discussing Hegel's thought. These elements are necessary preconditions of common labor. (These rules are also open for discussion and further suggestions.)
4.1. German scholars today use philology (linguistics) to approach Hegel's works. They also research Hegel's biographical and historical situation in life. They also are concerned with the interpretation of his work (e.g. Meiner Verlag, Hamburg and Fromann-Holzboog, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt).
We should collect, read and examine: (i) Hegel's writings; (ii) writings of the Hegelians after him; and (iii) the secondary literature written about these. An important, on-going, incremental result of this effort will be a commented list of works and writers most worth studying, with a view toward scientific standards. In this way we can avoid "re-inventing the wheel" and build on the best results of the past. Another result will be an identification and discussion of existing differences, problems and gaps, so we can contribute to progress in Hegel studies.
4.2. Careful studies of Hegel's texts and lectures (especially of the late Hegel of the Nuremberg, Heidelberg and Berlin periods) will be the basic staple of reading.
We will carefully read these original texts, word by word, sentence by sentence. Questions about text must be referred to the German original, so that German scholars might clarify the logical and grammatical structure of sentences that may seem too lengthy or complicated.
Adriaan Peperzak demonstrates how to show logical relations between parts of Hegel's sentences in his work, "Hegels praktische Philosophie". Hegel.Net contributors Martin Grimmsmann and Lutz Hansen have shown how to make Hegel's text clearer by correct pronunciation in their Hegel audio tapes as well as by the appropriate colouring of words and line breaks in their excellent (mainly German) on-line presence at http://Hegel-System.com.
From a study of sacred texts, hermeneutic method arose in the 20th century to question the mere reliance upon original texts, because differences can still arise regarding how to understand that text correctly. (Hegel wrote about this in the Foreword of his Lectures on the philosophy of Religion.)
So, some basic guidelines on how to read Hegel's text might be appropriate:
4.2.1. We will not judge Hegel merely externally, on the basis of whether or not he meets our personal expectations and judgments. Our own judgments should be at least as much in question as those of the philosopher. We will begin by giving Hegel the benefit of any doubt, and ensure first of all that we have not misunderstood.
4.2.2. We will not take Hegel's word for anything at all, but always seek to grasp Hegel's meaning, his intention, his situation in life, his motivation, his actual terms, his implicit and explicit arguments. This is the best way to determine the truth and limitation of Hegel's system. We would reconsider current thinking about Hegel's motives to ensure we have more than just a portion of the whole picture.
4.2.3. We will obtain a more satisfying interpretation by addressing five aspects of Hegel's arguments:
(a) arguments Hegel gives in the text;
4.2.4. To grasp the role of a topic in Hegel's system, we will familiarize ourselves not only with a partial aspect of Hegel's system, but obtain at least an overview of the whole system (e.g. at minimum the 'Encyclopedia') and seek to study all relevant parts of the system, from the 'Science of Logic' to the lectures on history, fine arts, religion and philosophy.
4.2.5. We will phrase our findings in words that are easy to understand, and track any problems we find as either our errors in understanding Hegel's text or as problems to address as above. This will help ensure that these problems are cumulatively recorded to better support the students of the future.
4.2.6. Since several different interpretations of Hegel's philosophy do exist, even among the best Hegel scholars, we seek to avoid the idea that one interpretation is totally exclusive of the others. Like Hegel, we will seek the grains of truth and the limitations in all interpretations, and incorporate what is rational in them, and sublate pluralism.
5.0. ENCYCLOPEDIC KNOWLEDGE
Insofar as Hegel's system is the system of sciences, the system of knowledge in general, we can understand our world better understand by studying Hegel's philosophy. As a corollary, we will also better understand Hegel's philosophy (and avoid dogmatism) when we study the world.
Like Hegel, we seek an Encyclopedic understanding of the world. We aim for the content of all major sciences in a General Study, including:
mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, earth sciences (geology, meteorology), biology (evolution theory, ecology), anthropology, ethnology, psychology, law, ethics, population science, sociology, economics, political science, foreign affairs, world history, philosophy of art (architecture, sculpture, music, painting, literature), comparative religion, theology and the history of philosophy.
We will include the basic concepts and content of all these sciences, as well as the deepest meanings of their axioms, methods and concepts. We will also search for all possible connections of these sciences with each other.
To do this we must also have in our library:
(a) the best scientists discussing the foundations
of their sciences;
6.0. A PROGRAM FOR THE STUDY OF HEGEL
We may outline the various sections of Hegel's system to focus upon for study and comment, as follows:
6.1. Commenting on Hegel's writings:
(a) when we gain a better understanding of it;
6.2. Commenting on Hegel's lifetime:
Hegel may not have fully sublated certain sciences, arts or religions, perhaps because of the state of 19th century knowledge, perhaps because of an omission (e.g. Hegel has not dealt with all artists, philosophers or religions. For example, a recent Hegel Congress concluded that Hegel did not handle Buddhism adequately).
6.3. Commenting on Hegel's School:
What was incorporated or corrected in the writings of Hegelians during Hegel's lifetime and after?
6.4. Commenting on the time after Hegel, independent of Hegel's School:
(a) all relevant development after Hegel's death remains open to be incorporated into his system;
6.5. Commenting on specific areas of Hegel's system:
Several questions, presented systematically, are asked in Vittorio Hoesle's German book, HEGEL'S SYSTEM (1995). The following questions are preliminary, to establish a starting point):
Hegel's science of logic is still new and exceptionally rich in ideas.
Some areas of possible improvement might be:
6.5.2. Natural Science
The history of science until Hegel will have ideas that he cannot have known. Natural Science after Hegel (e.g. Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Unified Theory, Ecology, Cosmogenesis, Evolution of Geography, Evolution of Life, and more) should be re-worked dialectically. How much of Hegel's system of Natural Science must be re-written? Did Hegel make 'translation errors' as he sought examples for his logical structure in the limited science of his day? Are there better examples in modern sciences to give Hegel's system more fitting samples?
6.5.3. Subjective Spirit
Human Psychology after Hegel has expanded into many dynamic directions. How can they be treated dialectically and re-worked dialectically How can ideas of Psychoanalysis, such as the Unconscious mind, be treated dialectically? How are topics in parapsychology to be treated in Hegel's system?
6.5.4. Objective Spirit
We can address all aspects of international law, including:
Since Hegel's day, monarchies have retained less power than democracies, while modern democracies are vastly different from democracies of the 19th century. Changes in international relations, treaties and law in the last 200 years, may treated and understood dialectically.
6.5.5. Fine Art
It will be interesting, from a Hegelian viewpoint, to comment on Fine Art internationally, including:
(a) new forms of Art, e.g. Film, Cinema and
We can address all aspects of international Religion, including:
We can address all aspects of international Philosophy, including:
7.0. MODERN PHILOSOPHY AFTER HEGEL
In sum, our goal is to develop interdisciplinary studies in Hegel studies, and to help build a foundation for a future University with a new organization and a new flourishing of the sciences, arts and philosophy.
Naturally we should be willing to turn to experts in any given field (e.g.nuclear science) who are less familiar with Hegel's project, yet who are open-minded about Hegel and are willing to share their insights in our forum, to help us in our goal of keeping Hegelian science up-to-date.
We hope to be useful to scholars who seek us out. We will avoid living in an ivory tower as some philosophers do. We will incorporate present knowledge from specialists in all scholarly fields to help us update Hegel's Encyclopedia of Knowledge.
To better apply Hegel's spirit, self reference and dialectic to our own attitudes and methods, we encourage participants to develop a sense of humor so that obtaining new knowledge is not a painful undertaking. Self-criticism is necessary, and it need not be a humorless endeavor.
Nor is it enough to conform to Hegel's every word, as this might lead to such dogmatism as in any ordinary, fan e-list. When we follow Hegel closely and understand him, we should expect to improve our own attitudes towards openness, dialogue, self-criticism, self-awareness, and so question our own beliefs and applied categories.
We should always be able to pause, and seek creative solutions to dualistic dogma. This will make us different from ordinary, fan e-lists. It will ensure that we avoid narrow-minded dogmatism as we grow in our knowledge of Hegel's system.
Hegel often emphasized the value of an open mind, an atmosphere of open inquiry (for example in his comments on the urbane atmosphere of Athens in his discussion of Socrates in his, LECTURES ON THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY (1830), and in his discussion of world coastal cultures in the Foreword to his LECTURES ON THE PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY (1828).
Let's remain open, risk new ideas, and give attention to new upsurges of the world spirit, because all truths were once new and different ideas.