Shop now Shop now Shop now See more Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now DIYED Shop now Shop Fire Shop now Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
22
4.3 out of 5 stars
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£20.49+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 22 November 2012
Do not ever believe anyone who describes this book as 'impossible', 'impenetrable', 'obscurant', 'nonsensical', 'badly written' or other such dumb terms. It is true that this may be the most challenging read you ever tackle, even for a trained philosopher, however this does NOT mean that it makes no sense. This is simply the claim of people (Schopenhauer included) who have failed to understand it and refuse to accept their failure.

On the other hand, know that this is not a quick read. If you think you can flick through this and get some quick nuggets of insight, you need to forget it. You cannot read this book on your holiday. If you want to understand it you are going to need to invest some serious time and patience to 'study' it as a serious project. Know that people have spent decades in this pursuit.

But most importantly, do not believe that you are incapable of it. If you are looking at this then chances are that you already have the inquisitiveness and the interest to tackle it. If you also have the patience you are more than capable. Here is some guidance:

1 - Background. You do not need a philosophy degree. People with philsophy degrees have simply read a lot of philosophy (I know because I have a philosophy degree). You can do the same. In my opionion you should make the following the focus of your preparatory reading: Spinoza, Kant, post-Kant (by which I mean the philosophers which came between Kant and Hegel: Jacobi, Reinhold, Novalis, Fichte, Schelling etc - you can read summaries of this period rather than the source texts). It also helps to have a good grasp of Aristotle and, if you are new to philsophy, Descartes. This background reading can be a huge undertaking in itself, but remember I never said this was going to be quick or easy.

2 - Guide texts. Often guide texts can do more harm than good, as you really need to be making your own interpretation. However with this book it helps occasionally to get unstuck with someone else's view. The Routledge Guidebook by Robert Stern and the Reading' by Russon are in my opinion the best.

3 - Translation. None of the existent translations are perfect, and know that the German is also extremely difficult to read. Read more than 1 translation in tandem. Don't underestimate how helpful this can be.

4 - Study. Do not 'read' this book; make notes, summarise its sections in your own words; write down your own thoughts; think about its relevance today; unravel its meaning for yourself. You will find that this is itself an important implication of Hegel's philosophy.

The rewards of all this are massive. Hegel, rather than being an obscurant, is probably one of the most innovative and original philosophers of modern times. When you truly 'get' this book you will be very glad you took the time and effort. It also makes it much easier to move onto the likes of Heidegger; also very difficult but not in comparison to Hegel.
33 comments| 36 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 6 April 2010
This text provides a great, relatively accessible translation with a helpful paragraph-by-paragraph analysis to guide readers through it. The reason I gave it 4 stars rather than 5 is that the analysis section doesn't quite go far enough. I feel a glossary would have been welcome to explain the unique and somewhat slippery ways Hegel uses terms, such as 'Notion' for example. This is one of the most daunting texts in philosophy and I feel the publisher could have included more material to orientate the reader with some extremely alien concepts.

Dense as anything, if you give it the time and effort it's extremely rewarding. Don't jump into it straight away though - I recommend Stern's excellent guidebook and free articles on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as great ways of getting to grips with the text.
0Comment| 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 25 August 2011
This is the first English translation of Hegel's classic text the Phenomenology of Mind (1807) that appeared just before the first world war. There's a later translation titled Phenomenology of Spirit (Galaxy Books) by AV Millar, the German 'Geist' covering both English terms. Baillie's translation is more colloquial than Millar's and has helpful contextualising references to world literature, where Millar has a paraphrase by JN Findlay. Both are usable.

The Phenomenology was intended to be an introduction to a System of Science comprising a Logic of metaphysical ideas; followed by philosophies of Nature and Mind/Spirit. It expounds the progress from everyday consciousness to the standpoint of philosophical 'science'. It does this in eight chapters, starting from 'consciousness' (1-3) through self-consciousness to reason, spirit, religion and a brief chapter on 'absolute knowledge'. The later chapters add more concrete ideas and content illuminated by glancing references to historical events and literature that locate the ideas being developed. The system was eventually published as the Encyclopaedia (1817) with a new introduction in the early chapters of the Encyclopaedia Logic.

Hegel often begins chapters with a section bristling with impenetrable abstractions and it is only when the 'dialectic' (argument) starts that the chapter becomes easier to follow. The concluding transitions, being at times arbitrary, are again often obscure. The abstract parts jostle with wonderful lyrical metaphors. One very famous passage is the dialectic of master and slave in which the labour of the slave benefits him more than the freedom of the master. This influenced many Left writers from the Young Hegelians on. The famous Preface summarises Hegel's entire thought.

The Phenomenology is a heart and soul engagement with life and culture. I have read it several times and I would say in criticism only that there is a tendency to read the nature of God back from created minds that depends on the idea, derived partly I think from Jacob Boehme's mysticism and Spinoza, that God had to create the world. If the world is an act of divine love (rather than necessity), this is harder to maintain and even the best of life only hints at the goodness and mercy of God. That said, there is a lot of secular truth here and a deep sense of the wholeness and significance of experience. Alexandre Kojève's Introduction to the Reading of Hegel is a classic commentary though there are many more and there are free discussions on the hegel-yahoo email lists.
0Comment| 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 December 2013
A much better English translation than the JB Baillie one, especially for readers who don't speak German well.
The book itself is the basis for most of today's critical theory so you must read it
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 9 August 2016
People say this book is difficult, but surely, it can't be THAT difficult, you think.
It is, and if you're curious about what exactly it is that makes the Phenomenology of Spirit difficult to read, it's probably that, near the start, Hegel explains that it's impossible to say anything specifically, because by saying 'this,' while MEANING 'this specific this; this thing here,' SAYING 'this' can only SAY ALL THISES. This is merely this. This is every this. All thises are this this, and this this is not this this, but actually is. This this written here is a different this to the one written up there, but they're still both just this.
Accordingly, considering that it's almost impossible to explain something specifically, Hegel doesn't really bother. The book is essentially a general narration of European history, religion, and philosophy, presented entirely via vague, metaphoric thought-movements. It's difficult to understand what Hegel is talking about, because you need to ALREADY KNOW what he's talking about -- Hegel is merely narrating the metaphysical flux of Spirit.
Five stars for being that much of a pain in the arse.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 22 July 2011
This is a modern English translation of Hegel's classic text the Phenomenology of Spirit (1807). An older translation by JB Baillie appeared just before the first world war under the title The Phenomenology of Mind, the German 'Geist' covering both English terms. Millar's translation is more literal and accurate and Baillie's more colloquial. Where Baillie has helpful contextualising references to world literature, Millar has a forward and paraphrase by JN Findlay. Both are usable. There's also a draft online edition with facing German by Stephen Houlgate. Unfortunately Hegel's language is so idiosyncratic that translation becomes an issue.

The Phenomenology is an introduction to a System of Science comprising a Logic of metaphysical ideas; followed by philosophies of Nature and Mind/Spirit. It thus expounds the progress from everyday consciousness to the standpoint of philosophical 'science'. This is done in eight chapters, starting from 'consciousness' (1-3) through self-consciousness to reason, spirit, religion and a brief chapter on 'absolute knowledge'. Hegel often begins with a section bristling with impenetrable abstractions and it is only when the 'dialectic' (argument) starts that the chapter becomes easier to follow. The concluding transitions, being at times arbitrary, are again often obscure. The abstract parts jostle with wonderful lyrical metaphors. The later chapters add more concrete ideas and content illuminated by glancing references to historical events and texts that locate the ideas being developed. The System was eventually published as the Encyclopaedia (1817) with a new introduction in the early chapters of the Encyclopaedia Logic.

The book is a heart and soul engagement with life and culture. I have read it several times and I would say in criticism only that there is a tendency to read the nature of God back from created minds that depends on the idea, derived partly I think from Jacob Boehme's mysticism and Spinoza, that God had to create the world. If the world is an act of divine love (rather than necessity), this is harder to maintain and even the best of life only hints at the goodness and mercy of God. That said, there is a lot of secular truth here and a deep sense of the wholeness and significance of experience besides. Alexandre Kojève's Introduction to the Reading of Hegel is a classic commentary though there are many more and there are free discussions on the hegel-yahoo email lists.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 19 October 1998
Hegel's Phenomenology is probably the most influential book in modern philosophy. The influence is very strong in the more contemporary thinkers such as Marx, Heidegger, Sartre, Lacan, Marcuse, Habermas, and more. The book has been very important in the schools of philosophy that deal with historisization and phenomenology. Hegel was not a poor writer; actually his writing (in German) was very eloquent and clear, taking full advantage of the rich, complex German language. Unfortunatly much of his writings have been poorly translated, but this is not a suprise. The topics which Hegel takes up in the Phenomenology are very complex and the whole book is based on the Hegelian dialectic, which has been misrepresented becuase of its complexity and that it has been accused as being a tract of Nazism and Stalism, wehich are absolutely false (look at Marcuse's Reason and Revolution). People who cannot understand the Phenomenology immediately accuse Hegel of being a poor writer, but that is a cop out becuse they think that whatever they can't understanding must be the result of bad writing. Those individuals who think that Hegel was a poor writer are simply poor thinkers.
11 comment| 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 5 June 1998
Hegel was the first writer to present a Science of Human Experience. His term for this is Phenomenology. His basic theory is that Human Experience evolves or develops from rudimentary states to higher states of consciousness.
In an ascending Ladder, Hegel presents the following evolution of Consciousness (this is a very sketchy outline):
1. Sense-Certainty 2. Perceptual Consciousness 3. The Pure Understanding 4. Self-Consciousness - Desire - The Master/Slave Struggle - Stoic Consciousness - Skeptic Consciousness - Cynic Consciousness - Unhappy (Monk) Consciousness - Idealist Consciousness 5. Rational Consciousness (Reason) - Scientific Consciousness - Ethical Consciousness - Legal Consciousness 6. Spiritual Consciousness - Tragic Consciousness - Alienated Consciousness - Lacerated (Bohemian) Consciousness - Duty Consciousness - Freedom Consciousness - Forgiveness Consciousness 7. Religious Consciousness - Religion of Nature - Religion of Art - Religion of Revelation 8. Philosophy Consciousness - Dialectic Consciousness - Spirit Consciousness - Absolute Consciousness.
Hegel richly deserved all the attention he got in the past 190 years from our best thinkers.
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 2 July 1997
It is easy to dismiss a book because it is 'difficult'. Hegel's Phenomenology is indeed difficult. But how could it be otherwise? It is designed to invert a pattern of thought that has been in place for more than 2000 years. The best minds of our age--Marx, Heidegger, Kojeve--have wrestled with it. No one has yet pinned it down. That is a challenge worth facing, like Everest, because it is there.
0Comment| 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 21 December 2009
...for anyone who, reading Zizek and other contemporary philosophers, finds it necessary to visit the Hegel page of Wikipedia several times a day. After months of such exercise, one finally realises it might pay to go to the source.
0Comment| 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse