Memory, History, Justice in Hegel

This book offers a new perspective on Hegel’s idea of history. While the philosophy of history is today one of the most discredited and certainly least studied parts of Hegel’s system, a “standard” interpretation of it continues to be cited in the debate among historians and philosophers – although it is cited, more often than not, in order to be rejected by the historians as a chief example of suspicious “philosophy of history” (teleological, based on faith in progress, etc.) and by the philosophers as an outright metaphysical mystification (What is “spirit” as the subject of history?).

In this work, Angelica Nuzzo proposes a reconstruction of Hegel’s idea of history and historical process – a reconstruction that in two main respects departs from the way interpreters usually approach the topic. First, taking as her starting point the recent debate on the relation between history and memory, she investigates the systematic connection between these two concepts in Hegel’s philosophy and construe his idea of history as a result.

In choosing an “external” perspective as the entry point in Hegel’s thought, her aim is to set on new ground the interpretation of this part of his philosophy, which has reached today a phase of sterile impasse. Thus, instead of taking for granted the notion that Hegel’s “spirit” (Geist) is historical, she reconstructs his considered justification of this claim: on what (systematic, theoretical, factual) basis does Hegel claim that spirit is historical? This is the central issue that Nuzzo sets out to address in this book. How is history first introduced in the development of spirit, that is, on which systematic and conceptual grounds? Does memory play a role in Hegel’s argument?

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