Sunday, January 5, 2014

Would Hegel be a Hegelian Today?

(Photo of H.S. Harris with his students on his 70th birthday, 1996.  Courtesy York Repository.)

I've discovered two very interesting items.  The first is a repository of the famous Hegel scholar H.S. Harris (where I found the photo to your left).  The repository contains some very rare texts and photos, as well as a depiction - in the form of an etching - of Hegel writing The Phenomenology.  The link to the repository is HERE.  Interestingly, there are also lecture notes on the Encyclopedia Logic from Harris' seminars.

Harris is probably the ultimately trustworthy person to read when it comes to Hegel.  Harris' 2 volume Hegel's Ladder is worth the ridiculously expensive price if you plan to take a year or two to work through the Phenomenology (otherwise there are .pdfs of the book floating around online for free of course; it depends if you must "read with a pencil" as I do).

Really, Harris' Hegel's Ladder set is equivalent to H.J. Patton's Kant's Metaphysics of Experience (also a 2 volume set), which finally appeared in paperback - so much cheaper - around 2007 I believe.  (Amazon link HERE.)  As I spent three seminars on Kant in graduate school it turned out that the Patton set was just as indispensable.  With just one seminar on Hegel in graduate school we were required to buy the Harris Ladder set anyway.  Still, with many of my students pressuring me to do reading groups on Hegel, to this day it was worth it.  A note and a warning: DO NOT buy the Harris from amazon.  I've heard weird things if one tries to do that.  I called Hackett and ordered the set over the phone.  (See HERE.)

With my finger on the pulse through many of my students, I saw U of Oregon ran a Hegel seminar focusing on the role of "the negative" in the Phenomenology, and so apart from any supposed "projection of grim human moods" one is certainly able to discern that thinking about the role that negativity, loss, and diremption plays in nature's own processive development is a hot topic for a reason.  Afterall, diremption and loss, dismemberment, is indeed very much part and parcel of reality.  That does not depend on human beings to be of a reality.  Aesthetic tones and intensities make for the motions of concepts, and the conceptual is birthed only through a form of sullen and melancholic loss.  This is true moreso in Schelling, but in Hegel its there.

Secondly, Cosmos & History for some reason archives issues that are before 2007, and so I happened to stumble upon an EXCELLENT issue on Hegel.  Open access, but what struck me was the re-publication of H.S. Harris's article. "Would Hegel be a Hegelian Today?"  This is an especially important question for me due to a number of factors.  First, in the spring, some of my students are doing a reading group where will be covering readings aimed at looking at Hegel within contemporary metaphysics.  Second, last year our group divided out the Phenomenology over a yearlong period of study, followed by a semester's worth of study on the Logic.  So Harris' notes, I am sure, will be invaluable to my students and those involved in some of our reading groups.

You can find the Cosmos and History issue on Hegel HERE.  Harris' article in that issue is HERE.