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Philosophy Mind & Body

The Self and its Body in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit

by (author) John Russon

Publisher
University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Dec 2001
Category
Mind & Body, General
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9780802084828
    Publish Date
    Dec 2001
    List Price
    $46.95
  • Hardback

    ISBN
    9780802009197
    Publish Date
    Aug 1997
    List Price
    $102.00
  • eBook

    ISBN
    9781442682344
    Publish Date
    Jul 1997
    List Price
    $105.00

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Description

A major criticism of Hegel's philosophy is that it fails to comprehend the experience of the body. In this book, John Russon shows that there is in fact a philosophy of embodiment implicit in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. Russon argues that Hegel has not only taken account of the body, but has done so in a way that integrates both modern work on embodiment and the approach to the body found in ancient Greek philosophy.

Although Russon approaches Hegel's Phenomenology from a contemporary standpoint, he places both this standpoint and Hegel's work within a classical tradition. Using the Aristotelian terms of 'nature' and 'habit,' Russon refers to the classical distinction between biological nature and a cultural 'second nature.' It is this second nature that constitutes, in Russon's reading of Hegel, the true embodiment of human intersubjectivity. The development of spirit, as mapped out by Hegel, is interpreted here as a process by which the self establishes for itself an embodiment in a set of social and political institutions in which it can recognize and satisfy its rational needs. Russon concludes by arguing that self-expression and self-interpretation are the ultimate needs of the human spirit, and that it is the degree to which these needs are satisfied that is the ultimate measure of the adequacy of the institutions that embody human life.

This link with classicism - in itself a serious contribution to the history of philosophy -provides an excellent point of access into the Hegelian system. Russon's work, which will prove interesting reading for any Hegel scholar, provides a solid and reliable introduction to the study of Hegel.

About the author

John Russon is a professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Guelph.

John Russon's profile page

Other titles by John Russon