The Owl of Minerva 10 (1):7-9 (1978)

Professor Kelly has produced a most delectable collection of essays, all distinguished by great felecity of style, profound erudition in the areas covered and topics discussed, and highly thought-provoking arguments and lines of interpretation - features which do not come as a surprise to those familiar with his previous work. The book will be of considerable interest to political philosophers, historians of ideas whether or not closely concerned with Hegel, and to Hegel-scholars, probably in this order. To wit, the conspicuous dualism of title and sub-title truly reflects, not merely a duality of levels and orientation which could fairly have been expected, but also, more seriously, a preponderant weighting in favour of what seems to be covered by the sub-title. Kelly’s own explanation is that he is dealing with three topics: Hegel’s development, the relationship of politics, history and philosophy in Hegel’s thought, and aspects of Hegel’s theory of the state. Of these three only the first belongs to the topic suggested by the title, and to be sure only two essays out of eight are concerned with this. There is nothing in the book about Hegel’s “eleusis” and relatively little, and little that is consequential or strikingly novel in biographical terms, about his “retreat” from this position, his growing maturity. What there is, to be sure, is full of interest and pertinent information; one may question the author on small points of detail, but one ought readily to acknowledge the value and overall validity of his interpretive glosses. The two essays belonging in this category are concerned, respectively, with “Hegel’s Lordship and Bondage” and “Social Understanding and Social Therapy in Schiller & Hegel”. The latter, replete with interesting detail on Schiller’s diagnoses of and remedies for the modern age, and comparatively reserved on Hegel’s, concludes by pointing out Hegel’s decisive rejection of “aestheticism” in favour of reason and politics. The former, cast mainly in the form of a polemic with Kojeve’s Marxistic interpretation, makes the timely and perfectly valid point that Hegel’s lordship-bondage dialectic should be understood in psychological, and not merely in socio-historical terms. Kelly argues, while stimulatingly filling in the relevant intellectual background with reference to Rousseau, Kant and Fichte, that Hegel’s topic is “Platonic in foundation” and has, essentially, to do with the simultaneous process of man’s liberation from external oppression and his enslavement by himself: the Lutheran-Kantian scenario. Of course, for Hegel this is not the end of the matter: just as it is erroneous, with Marx and commentators influenced by him, to explain lordship and bondage by proclaiming the “victory of the slave”, it is also un-Hegalian to remain rooted on the level of unreconciled internal suppression. Kelly could have been more explicit on this point.
Keywords Major Philosophers
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ISBN(s) 0030-7580
DOI owl19781016
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