The Logic of Desire: An Introduction to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit


Peter Kalkavage’s The Logic of Desire guides the reader through Hegel’s great work. Given the book’s legendary difficulty, one may well ask, “Why even try to read the Phenomenology?” In his preface, Kalkavage explains why he thinks a reader should try:

There is much to commend the study of Hegel: his attentiveness to the deepest, most fundamental questions of philosophy, his uncompromising pursuit of truth, his amazing gift for characterization and critique, his appreciation for the grand sweep of things and the large view, his profound admiration for all that is heroic, especially for the ancient Greeks, those heroes of thought in whom the philosophic spirit first dawned, his penetrating gaze into modernity in all its forms, his enormous breadth of interests, and his audacious claim to have captured absolute knowing in a thoroughly rational account.

According to Kalkavage, the Phenomenology belongs to a quartet of the greatest works on education. The other three members of the quartet are Plato’s Republic, Dante’s Divine Comedy, and Rousseau’s Emile. No genuine philosophic education can omit a serious encounter with this giant of the modern age, the giant who absorbed all the worlds of spiritual vitality that came before him and tried to organize them into a coherent whole.


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