Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit

14 week course
Seminar of the NYC Marxist Hegel-Studies Collective
Spring and Summer, 2016
Conducted by Russell Dale

Hegel’s philosophy has had a great influence on much of what has happened in the world since his time (1770 – 1831) and is crucial to understanding much of modern social thought and philosophy as well as to understanding Marxism and the socialist tradition in its varied aspects.

Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit is generally considered the first exposition of and an introduction to Hegel’s later work, what is often referred to as Hegel’s “system.” Thus, knowledge of the Phenomenology is indispensable for anyone interested in today’s world.

At the same time, the Phenomenology is an extremely difficult work to read, so it really helps to do so with a group of fellow-readers.

In this course, we will read the entire Phenomenology of Spirit. Discussion will focus on Hegel’s view of history, the history of philosophy, subjectivity, the self, and society, and Hegel’s influence on later thinking and history. An important part of our discussion will be the socially reactionary conclusions that Hegel ultimately drew, while at the same time HHegel’s work became inspirational for so many radical and progressive thinkers as well, including Marx and Engels. We will give special attention to and treatment of the fact that Hegel had white-supremacist, racist views, and played an important role in the development of the pseudo-science of biological race theory. We will look at what these views mean for the tradition of thought that stems from Hegel, which includes some of the greatest thinkers of African descent in the twentieth century, such as W. E. B. DuBois, C. L. R. James, Frantz Fanon and others.

The course will run for 14 weeks on Friday evenings from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM starting on Friday, May 27, 2016 and continuing until Friday, August 26, 2016. We will be reading the edition of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit translated by A. V. Miller, and published by Oxford University Press. (Arrangements will be made for students who cannot buy a copy of this book, which costs about $11 – $15 online.)

Russell Dale is an activist and a philosopher. He teaches philosophy at Lehman College, CUNY. He taught classes on Hegel and various other topics for the last six years. Russell is also on the Manuscript Collective and Editorial Board of the Marxist journal Science & Society, as well as on the Local Station Board of radio station WBAI, 99.5 FM (wbai.org).

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