Hegel’s Grammatical Ontology: Vanishing Words and Hermeneutical Openness in the ‘Phenomenology of Spirit’

Reading The Phenomenology of Spirit through a linguistic lens, Jeffrey Reid provides an original commentary on Hegel’s most famous work. Beginning with a close analysis of the preface, where Hegel himself addresses the book’s difficulty and explains his tortured language in terms of what he calls the “speculative proposition”, Reid demonstrates how every form of consciousness discussed in The Phenomenology involves and reveals itself as a form of language.

Elucidating Hegel’s speculative proposition, which consists of the reversal of the roles of the subject and predicate in such a way that the copula of the proposition becomes the lively arena of dialogical ambiguity and hermeneutical openness, this book offers new onto-grammatical readings of every chapter of The Phenomenology.

Not only does this bring a new understanding to Hegel’s foundational text, but the linguistic approach further allows Reid to unpack its complexity by relating it to contemporary contexts that share the same language structures that we discover in Hegel. Amongst many others, this includes Hegel’s account of sense-certainty and the critique of the immediacy of consumer culture today.

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