Hegel’s ‘Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, Volume I: Manuscripts of the Introduction and the Lectures of 1822-1823’

This is the first part (of three) of the new translation of Hegel’s Lectures on World History from 1822-1823 in translation by Robert Brown and Peter Hodgson, which was published by Oxford University Press in 2011. This edition includes a lengthy introduction by the translators, along with translations of notes and loose sheets by Hegel.

It represents an entirely new version of Hegel’s lectures on the development and scope of world history. Volume I contains Hegel’s surviving manuscripts of his introduction to the lectures and the full transcription of the first series of lectures (1822-23). These works treat the core of human history as the inexorable advance towards the establishment of a political state with just institutions-a state that consists of individuals with a free and fully-developed self-consciousness.

Hegel interweaves major themes of spirit and culture—including social life, political systems, commerce, art and architecture, religion, and philosophy—with an historical account of peoples, dates, and events. Following the spirit’s quest for self-realization, the lectures presented here offer an imaginative voyage around the world, from the paternalistic, static realm of China to the cultural traditions of India; the vast but flawed political organization of the Persian Empire to Egypt and then the Orient; and the birth of freedom in the West to the Christian revelation of free political institutions emerging in the medieval and modern Germanic world.

Brown and Hodgson’s new translation is an essential resource for the English reader of Hegel, and provides a fascinating account of the world as it was conceived by one of history’s most influential philosophers. The Editorial Introduction surveys the history of the texts and provides an analytic summary of them, and editorial footnotes introduce readers to Hegel’s many sources and allusions. For the first time an edition is made available that permits critical scholarly study, and translates to the needs of the general reader.

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