The Opening of Hegel's Logic: From Being to Infinity (History of Philosophy) Paperback – 30 Mar 2006
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About the Author
Stephen Houlgate is a professor of philosophy at the University of Warwick. His books include The Opening of Hegel's Logic: From Being to Infinity (Purdue, 2006), and An Introduction to Hegel: Freedom, Truth and History (Blackwell, 2005).
Top Customer Reviews
So, if you fall under one of these categories, I will not only recommend this book as a wise buy, I will strongly urge you to get hold of it the sooner the better. Houlgate is a rare figure within academic philosophy because he accomplishes the incredibly difficult task of at one and the same time to do justice to Hegel's philosophy and make him understandable to readers who are not themselves Hegel-scholars, by spelling out step by step the complex and rich-in-detail logical moves that the philosopher/reader is forced to make in order to follow the trail of thought as it unfolds itself within the presuppositionless philosophy of Hegel.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It would be hard to praise this book too highly as an introduction to Hegel's formidable Science of Logic. Houlgate manages to do two things with this book and he does both extremely well.
First, Houlgate has written an accessible introduction to one of the most difficult texts in the history of philosophy for those who, like me, are still beginner's when it comes to Hegel.
Second, Houlgate engages in a scholarly debate with many of the most important commentators/interpreters/critics of Hegel beginning with contemporaries of Hegel or near contemporaries (Schelling, Trendelenburg, Kierkegaard) and moving all the way through modern times (Gadamer, Derrida, Taylor, Pippin). The reader gets both an introduction to Hegel's logic and an introduction to the historical debates surrounding the interpretation of Hegel's thought and logic.
Houlgate is particularly strong in his analysis of the transitions between the logical categories. He is always careful to refrain from bringing in "external reflections" in transitioning between the categories, instead allowing the categories to develop based on their own internal logic. This is certainly the way Hegel himself viewed and understood his logic. Whether you believe Hegel was actually successful in this task is, of course, a separate question. There will be many who will be critical of these transitions, just as there are many who are critical of the whole notion of bringing movement into logic in the first place. However, before you can criticize a philosopher it is obviously necessary to first understand them. And if your goal is to understand Hegel I highly suggest you buy this book immediately.
I would also like to make a few comments in regard to Hegel's continuing relevance. Charles Taylor famously proclaimed that Hegel's ontology was dead. And I think it would be hard to find too many philosophers these days who would try to defend or agree with Hegel's idealist ontology. With all the successes of the modern, empirical sciences it would also be hard to find too many people who would agree with the idea that the analysis of pure thought can tell us something about the nature of reality. And finally, even for those who are interested in logic purely for it's own sake, the fact is that modern, formal logic has gone in a very different direction from Hegel's logic. You could say that modern, formal logic has it's source in Aristotle's syllogistic logic which Aristotle develops in his Prior Analytics. Hegel's logic, on the other hand, is more in the tradition of Aristotle's Categories. Modern, formal logic is about the nature of valid inference, while Hegel's logic is ultimately an analysis of the categories through which the mind grasps reality. So one might wonder whether Hegel is still relevant.
I think he is. Of course Hegel has had a great deal of influence in the Continental tradition of philosophy and so he is worth studying for that reason alone. It would be impossible to fully understand thinkers like Derrida, Deleuze, Adorno, Habermas or Zizek without a pretty solid understanding of Hegel; but more than that, I believe Hegel is worth studying in his own right.
It is ultimately not necessary to accept every claim made by a philosopher to find value in their work. Hegel has very interesting things to say about the relations between conceptual and pre-conceptual reality, the metaphysical interdependence of objects, the nature of meaning and language, time, change, necessity, contingency, the relation between thought and existence, etc. that are not at all dependent on an acceptance of his absolute idealism or his claim to have derived the absolute validity of the categories from the concept of pure being.
This is somewhat vague because I have just begun to study Hegel. When I have read more, and have some more free time, I intend to update my review by providing a more complete summary of Houlgate's book as well as a more in depth discussion of Hegel's contemporary relevance. For now I would just recommend picking up Houlgate's book before you make your mind up one way or the other in regard to Hegel's relevance.
First Houlgate gives an explanation of Hegel's basic aims and presuppositions and evaluates them, one by one. Then comes the text of the beginning of Hegel's "Logic" - both in German and English - and the discussion of it.
Houlgate's book surely makes Hegel's philosophy less frightening! I'd recommend it, along with Burbidge's "The Logic of Hegel's Logic", as an ideal starting point for anyone struggling to understand Hegel's thought.