Module Outline (updated 09.05.18)

G.W.F. Hegel is at once one of the most important and one of the most challenging writers in the history of philosophy. He was a systematic thinker who made contributions in every area of philosophy – from logic, epistemology, metaphysics and ontology, to ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics, philosophy of art, philosophy of religion and philosophy of history. He also offered a powerful and controversial theory of modern society, of its potential for freedom and the fulfilment of human potential, as well as of its intrinsic tendencies towards misery, fragmentation, alienation and violence.

This intensive research seminar is restricted to final year undergraduates on Philosophy courses. Our aim is to learn as much as we can about Hegel's approach to thinking about the nature of human social reality and the challenges of specifically modern life. We will not be reading any of Hegel's massive books in their entirety; instead we will zero in on a selection of his most important, and most notorious reflections – on the logic of justification in philosophy, on the significance of human mortality, on the struggle for recognition, on the shape of history and the concept of modernity, on the structure of human agency, and on the organic forms of a society in which human freedom can be realised.

The principal aims of the module are as twofold: (a) to learn to penetrate Hegel's notoriously obscure prose style in order to understand and assess the merits of his philosophical contributions; (b) to develop sufficient mastery of Hegel's core concepts and techniques so that we can begin to put those ideas to work in reflecting on the nature of modern life and human freedom in the age of Putin, Brexit and Trump.

A full module description and reading list will be available on Moodle by the start of the autumn term.