Core Concept Structures
Hegel’s system is at first a seemingly steep and high vertical wall. There is, believe it or not, a way to climb this wall even with a starting point from near nothing but a basic understanding of western philosophical history. Grasping the “method” is paramount for this, and while this method is graspable for those who are are already convinced and committed to finding the secret, it’s clear that for anyone else it must appear as either a mystery or a delusional myth considering the language of the text.
If one can grasp dialectics in the act of their development the path to the system opens. However, do not be fooled. Being able to carry out the dialectics is just the beginning. There are layers to Hegel which boggle the mind with how far reaching and how simple many of the implicit elements in the developments are. The greatest insights in Hegel’s philosophy are implicit in the activity of the thought developments and are seen only with reflective recollections on what has already gone on.
Hegel is one of the philosophers which resists reduction. He is perhaps the one that resists such absolutely. Hegel’s philosophy simply cannot be reduced or simplified. The more I learn of the system, the harder it becomes for me to be able to give any acceptable entry summary, for all summaries miss so much by abstracting and making one-sided claims. This one-sidedness, however, is the ineliminable and necessary starting point of all knowledge, and Hegel’s philosophy is no different. When one is asked to tell what Hegel basically aimed at—what ‘x’ part of his system is fundamentally meant to tell us—it seems utterly impossible to give an honest answer that is succinct and true to those who aren’t yet thinking like Hegel. Is the Logic fundamentally about intelligibility? Is it about metaphysics? Is it about an ontology? Is anything in Hegel about any particular aim like prior philosophy? Could there really be a given end, or was Hegel caught in the grasp of the absolute method—the dutiful agent of speculative thought that resists static conception nor definition? Hegel, it seems, can only be said to have aimed at one thing: The Absolute. Everything that could be found in the eternal and infinite reaches of ever-shifting thought’s grasp.
There is, for me, a beauty in the philosophy of Hegel precisely in his commitment to method and the profoundness of content. To this end, these are my humble attempts at making a few significant footholds for others to grasp onto and begin climbing from in order to scale the wall that is the system of Absolute Idealism. The system is something unique and unlike any other precisely because of its method as its origin.