Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 59 (2):440-442 (2005)
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The value of what Magee has done can best be appreciated by recalling the number of times that scholars of Hegel have pointed toward the relationship with the esoteric and mystical sources in which he had been immersed. The romantic and idealist circle at Jena seemed at times consumed with an unquenchable thirst for the Gnostic, Hermetic, theosophical, and speculative mysticism that they felt resonated with their own project. Moreover, the connection between the philosophical and the mystical does not have to be discerned through some secret reading of their texts. It is openly acknowledged, and they make no secret of their admiration. Both Schelling and Hegel extensively reference Jacob Boehme, a pivotal link within this mystico-speculative tradition. Hegel singles him out in the Lectures on the History of Philosophy as the great speculative source of the modern world, comparable in significance to the Baconian empiricist foundation of natural science. With Magee’s study in hand, scholars need no longer shy away from this acknowledged connection and can certainly no longer employ the excuse of its obscurity to resist closer examination.



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David Walsh
University of Ottawa

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