Christine Williams presents this tidy overview of a vast and complex canon, her light, clear voice lending some much needed levity to the depths of Hegel’s thorny philosophical musings, often considered quite difficult to parse. Williams’ clear diction and careful pacing make this introduction accessible and even enjoyable - no small feat in the philosophical trenches....
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By snakegandhi on 01-03-2016
Excellent introduction, if a bit biased.
What made the experience of listening to Hegel: A Very Short Introduction the most enjoyable?
The author took a smart approach to explaining the Hegelian philosophical model, starting with the most concrete: Hegel's philosophy of history, and then moving toward his abstract Phenomenology of Mind. I found myself genuinely learning and retaining what I heard.
What other book might you compare Hegel: A Very Short Introduction to and why?
All of the other Very Short Introduction works by Oxford Press are highly recommended.
What does Christine Williams bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Her inflection is not overdrawn, and her ethereal voice is pleasing accompaniment to a difficult work, yet she never overpowers the work itself to become a distraction.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No, but I did listen in about three sittings. It definitely helps if you complete the chapters in one sitting each.
Any additional comments?
The author has a fairly obvious bias in two major places. Firstly, when introducing the Phenomenology of Mind, he explains his reasoning behind his choice to break from tradition and translate Hegel's "geist" as "mind" and not spirit. He claims that this is to avoid presupposing a religious connotation, and preserve accessibility for non-Hagel scholars, but the translation of "geist" as "mind" is not only breaking with the tradition of translation but I believe going against the school of Anti-positivism in general that Hegel so strongly influenced. The author did, however, address his choice many times and toward the end of the chapter, admit that it would perhaps be more fitting to use "spirit" instead of "mind", but at least the listener is able to more clearly see the ambiguity of the concept as a whole by using the less appropriate connotation. The second instance of bias occurs in the final chapter, "Aftermath". It is a minor note, but understandable when viewed through the author's bias of translation mentioned above. The author speaks of the Hegelian tradition splitting into two groups, the Right Hegelians (who affirmed Hegels beliefs within the Protestant idea of God) and the Left Hegelians (who waged war on religion as a whole, and professed that man is the highest form of the divine. This group later gave way to its own "gospel message", communism.) The author states that "no major thinkers" emerged from the Right Hegelian tradition, which is true but misleading. No major philosophers emerged, but some incredibly important and "progressive" theologians did. The Aftermath chugs on, explaining Left Hegelianism while completely neglecting to mention the impact laid on intellectual giants such as Søren Kierkegaard (arguably the founder of existentialist thought) or Karl Barth. Again, not a particularly large issue, but one to be aware of in the least. Peter Singer did an incredible job, and is a wonderfully gifted author. But Hegel's panentheism and its effects on Protestant theology are not to be ignored.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
By Thomas on 26-07-2016
Hegel is unintelligible in much of his writing but Singer does an amazing job of clarifying what the old man was trying to say. Highly recommended as an introduction to Hegel!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful