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Hegel in Context (PH335)

G. W. F. Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit and Philosophy of Right are two of the best-known texts in nineteenth century continental philosophy. As well as being important contributions to the development of the philosophical movement known as ‘German idealism’, these texts have provided a focal point for recent discussions of Hegel’s philosophy in both the continental and analytic philosophical traditions. Karl Marx is among the later philosophers whom Hegel influenced, and an engagement with key sections of the Phenomenology of Spirit and the Philosophy of Right will therefore be followed by an examination of some of Marx’s central ideas and arguments.

The module encourages the interpretation and critical assessment of particular issues by means of a close reading and analysis of key texts. We will look specifically at the following themes: (in Hegel) the nature of phenomenological method; the relation between self-consciousness, desire and recognition; the relation between freedom and right; the intimate connection between evil and the good will; the difference between civil society and the state; and the problem of poverty and its possible solution; and (in Marx) the materialist conception of history; the contradictions of capitalism; and the nature of communist society.

By the end of the module you will have developed a sound understanding of many of the central philosophical issues and problems raised by Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit and Philosophy of Right and by some of Marx’s writings. You will also be in a position to understand the principal similarities and differences between Hegel and Marx.

Module Director

Stephen Houlgate


This module is worth 15 CATS.