Monday 2-7 pm, Sophienstraße 22 room 0.03 

General introduction: 23 October 2023; then Saturday 13 (12 - 5 pm); Mondays 22, 29 January and 12 February 2024.

Hegel (1770-1831) has often the reputation of being the author of a totalizing, systematic, suffocating philosophy, which enthrones the unicentral, devoid of tension and conflict. However, in Hegel’s philosophy we find figures that resist the rational discourse of philosophy and that constitute a latent tension within the system, if not a critical point capable of challenging the system as a whole. In this seminar we want to take a closer look at three figures: the “rabble”, the “rebel” and the “mad”.

In Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (1820), the figure of the rabble appears as an immanent contradiction of bourgeois society: the rabble would be the “irruption of politics into philosophy” (Ruda, 2011). In the Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), the analysis, inspired by the events of the Terror in the French Revolution, of “negative freedom”, draws the figure of the rebel as a radical negation of society. Hegel reads this radical rejection of what exists as an intolerance of differences in general, so that the path of this rebellious will towards a normal reconciliation of the spirit is frustrated. Finally, in the Philosophy of Spirit (1817-1830), “madness” is not seen as the absolute way out of reason but, on the contrary, is defined as an inner contradiction to it. These three figures thus seem to constitute a challenge to a strong idea of reason. What is their significance in Hegelian philosophy? Do they call into question the idea of a philosophy that accommodates the existing? Can they be seen as levers for a critique of modern society?

Through a close reading of Hegel’s texts as well as a specific attention to social issues, we will discuss the significance of these figures of social contradiction in his philosophy. In this way, the seminar will offer an introduction to Hegel and a critical engagement with some classical interpretations of his philosophy.

The course will be held in English. The readings will be provided in both English and German. It does not presuppose knowledge in Hegelian philosophy in particular, nor in the history of philosophy in general.

Exam: Term paper or oral examination (not graded) - 3 ECTS

Semester: WiSe 2023/24