Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit

The inaugural vision of the modern age
Fall Semester Part I

Septemter 22 to December 1
Fridays, 8:00 – 9:30 PM
10 sessions.

This class series will explore Hegel’s most influential and least understood work.
While conceived as an Introduction to his system of logic and science, this work stands on its own as a masterpiece of the Western philosophical tradition. It is safe to say that many of the themes in the Phenomenology of Spirit have defined how we understand the modern world even though this work was written 210 years ago.

Some of the themes we will discuss:

How to Begin
The Inverted World
Skeptics and Stoics
The Lord of the World
The Dialectic of Master and Slave
The Cynical Bohemian
The Beautiful Soul
Madness and Suicide
The Age of Reason
The Enlightenment
Freedom and Terror
The Moral Imperative
Grace and Redemption
Spirit Externalized as Nature and History
The Absolute

We will travel from the Ancient world, from the drama of Antigone to the Jacobin Terror of the French Revolution and the realization of the idea of Freedom and the World Historical Individual. At the end of this journey that Hegel likened to a philosophical “Stations of the Cross” we will gain an understanding of what it means to say “The True is the Whole”.
We will discuss how this still has relevance for us in the 21st century, what is living in Hegel today and how this legacy was appropriated by Marx and the movement for human liberation.

Alex Steinberg has previously taught the philosophy of Hegel and Marx at the New Space, the Brecht Forum and most recently the Marxist Education Project. He also taught classes ranging from the dialectics of nature, the implications of dialectics for contemporary science, and contemporary philosophical trends on the left and right inspired by Nietzsche. He has presented papers on Marx and Hegel at the Left Forum and Historical Materialism Conferences. He has also organized events for the Marxist Education Project including a Trotsky in New York Walking Tour. Alex is a member of the Local Board of Radio station WBAI and its parent organization the Pacifica National Board.

The Young Hegelians (1831-1842)

Seminar of the NYC Marxist Hegel-Studies Collective
Marxist Education Project

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 himself died in 1831. In Berlin, where Hegel had taught for nearly a decade-and-a-half up to his death, a small group of philosophers – the so-called “Young Hegelians” – struggled with questions of interpreting Hegel in terms of the actual conditions of life in Germany and Europe at that time. The questions that this group of philosophers dealt with ranged from questions of re-interpreting religion, to the nature of the individual, society, and the state. Both Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were involved in the work of the Young Hegelians, and ultimately it was the rejection of much of the thinking of Hegel and the Young Hegelians that allowed Marx and Engels to formulate what became the general outlook we today think of as Marxism.

In this seminar, we will study various works of the Young Hegelians including David Strauss, Ludwig Feuerbach, Bruno Bauer, Max Stirner, and others, and including as well some early writings of Marx and Engels themselves.

The philosophy of Hegel as well as numerous of the Young Hegelians also included reactionary, racist/white-supremacist thought, which we will give special critical attention to. The rejection of Hegel and the Young Hegelians by Marx and Engels is also in important ways a rejection of the racism and white-supremacy and all that that has historically entailed in the development of contemporary capitalist society. This theme will be of fundamental importance in this class as will be the critique of the system of patriarchy – the oppressive subordination of women to men – the struggle to end such oppressions being fundamental to Marxism.

The course will run for 14 weeks on Friday evenings from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM starting September 16, 2016 and continuing until December 16, 2016. We will be reading the book The Young Hegelians: An Anthology, edited by Lawrence S. Stepelevich. (Arrangements will be made for students who cannot buy a copy of this book which costs about $12 online in a Kindle edition, or from about $25 and up for a used copy on abe.com or elsewhere.)

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).