Hegel, Literature and the Problem of Agency


Allen Speight argues that behind Hegel’s extraordinary appeal to literature in the Phenomenology of Spirit lies a philosophical project concerned with understanding human agency in the modern world. It shows that Hegel looked to three literary genres–tragedy, comedy, and the romantic novel–as offering privileged access to three moments of human agency: retrospectivity, theatricality, and forgiveness. Taking full account of the authors that Hegel himself refers to (Sophocles, Diderot, Schlegel, Jacobi), Allen Speight has written a book with a broad appeal to both philosophers and literary theorists.


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