Hegel’s Philosophy of Subjective Spirit [Book Review]

The Owl of Minerva 10 (3):1-6 (1979)
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Abstract

While some would see the main theme of Hegel’s Subjective Spirit as the emergence of the nature-bound subjectivity to free spirituality, or the resolution of the subject-object problem and the overcoming of subjective idealism, Petry’s chief concern is Hegel’s relation to empiricism. The doctrine of Subjective Spirit is for Petry a “survey” of the “immediate constituent factors involved in our ordinary activity as conscious beings”, organized according to the “commonsense realism and empiricism of the Idea.” The Idea makes possible a hierarchical order wherein the levels of “an empirically ascertained subject-matter form a progression in degree of complexity.” Hegel’s chief contribution in Subjective Spirit is to organize into levels of complexity an existing body of “professional knowledge” in anthropology, psychology, etc., and it is Petry’s main aim to point to such a body of knowledge and show how Hegel made use of it. Before we examine this approach to Hegel, let us note the main contents of the three volumes.

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