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Hegel is one of the most important modern philosophers, whose thought influenced the development of existentialism, Marxism, pragmatism, hermeneutics, and deconstruction. Yet Hegel's central text, the monumental Science of Logic, still remains for most philosophers (both figuratively and literally) a firmly closed book. The purpose of The Opening of Hegel's Logic is to dis Hegel is one of the most important modern philosophers, whose thought influenced the development of existentialism, Marxism, pragmatism, hermeneutics, and deconstruction. Yet Hegel's central text, the monumental Science of Logic, still remains for most philosophers (both figuratively and literally) a firmly closed book. The purpose of The Opening of Hegel's Logic is to dispel the myths that surround the Logic and to show that Hegel's unjustly neglected text is a work of extraordinary subtlety and insight. Part One argues that the Logic provides a rigorous derivation of the fundamental categories of thought and contrasts Hegel's approach to the categories with that of Kant. It goes on to examine the historical and linguistic presuppositions of Hegel's self-critical, ""presuppositionless"" logic and, in the process, considers several signifi­ cant criticisms of such logic advanced by Schelling, Feuerbach, Gadamer, and Kierkegaard. Separate chapters are devoted to the relation between logic and ontology in Hegel's Logic and to the relation between the Logic itself and the Phenomenology. Part Two contains the text-in German and English-of the first two chapters of Hegel's Logic, which cover such categories as being, becoming, something, limit, finitude, and infinity. Part Three then provides a clear and accessible commentary on these two chapters that both examines Hegel's arguments in detail and relates his insights to those of other philosophers, such as Descartes, Spinoza, Kant, Nietzsche, and Levinas. The Opening of Hegel's Logic aims to help students and scholars read Hegel's often formidably difficult text for themselves and discover the wealth of philosophical riches that it contains. It also argues that Hegel's project of a presuppositionless science of logic is one that deserves serious consideration today.


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Hegel is one of the most important modern philosophers, whose thought influenced the development of existentialism, Marxism, pragmatism, hermeneutics, and deconstruction. Yet Hegel's central text, the monumental Science of Logic, still remains for most philosophers (both figuratively and literally) a firmly closed book. The purpose of The Opening of Hegel's Logic is to dis Hegel is one of the most important modern philosophers, whose thought influenced the development of existentialism, Marxism, pragmatism, hermeneutics, and deconstruction. Yet Hegel's central text, the monumental Science of Logic, still remains for most philosophers (both figuratively and literally) a firmly closed book. The purpose of The Opening of Hegel's Logic is to dispel the myths that surround the Logic and to show that Hegel's unjustly neglected text is a work of extraordinary subtlety and insight. Part One argues that the Logic provides a rigorous derivation of the fundamental categories of thought and contrasts Hegel's approach to the categories with that of Kant. It goes on to examine the historical and linguistic presuppositions of Hegel's self-critical, ""presuppositionless"" logic and, in the process, considers several signifi­ cant criticisms of such logic advanced by Schelling, Feuerbach, Gadamer, and Kierkegaard. Separate chapters are devoted to the relation between logic and ontology in Hegel's Logic and to the relation between the Logic itself and the Phenomenology. Part Two contains the text-in German and English-of the first two chapters of Hegel's Logic, which cover such categories as being, becoming, something, limit, finitude, and infinity. Part Three then provides a clear and accessible commentary on these two chapters that both examines Hegel's arguments in detail and relates his insights to those of other philosophers, such as Descartes, Spinoza, Kant, Nietzsche, and Levinas. The Opening of Hegel's Logic aims to help students and scholars read Hegel's often formidably difficult text for themselves and discover the wealth of philosophical riches that it contains. It also argues that Hegel's project of a presuppositionless science of logic is one that deserves serious consideration today.

30 review for The Opening of Hegel's Logic: From Being to Infinity

  1. 5 out of 5

    Karl Hallbjörnsson

    Houlgate gets it! Great stuff — only wish this wasn't merely the opening, but rather the whole shebang. Read again for Houlgates course on the Logic. Houlgate gets it! Great stuff — only wish this wasn't merely the opening, but rather the whole shebang. Read again for Houlgates course on the Logic.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Samir Dathi

    As the General Election fallout endures, and the British left settles back into familiar territory of recrimination and despair, I have decided to take refuge in abstruse metaphysics. There is something comforting in believing you can reconstruct this shitty world from first principles using nothing but deductive logic, thus avoiding the inconvenience of class struggle. I've put off reading Hegel for years. ACTUALLY reading Hegel, mind. Not relying on secondary sources, such as flicking through As the General Election fallout endures, and the British left settles back into familiar territory of recrimination and despair, I have decided to take refuge in abstruse metaphysics. There is something comforting in believing you can reconstruct this shitty world from first principles using nothing but deductive logic, thus avoiding the inconvenience of class struggle. I've put off reading Hegel for years. ACTUALLY reading Hegel, mind. Not relying on secondary sources, such as flicking through Bertrand Russell’s cantankerous précis in his History of Western Philosophy, or rewatching for the squillionth time Bryan Magee’s whimsical, but ultimately superficial, BBC series from the 70s. But I shall prevaricate no more! Only, upon reading the opening passages of the Science of Logic, it quickly becomes apparent that it’s not deductive logic you’re dealing with here. At least not in a recognisable Aristotelean sense. At first blush, the SoL presents a land of nonsense logic where a is not a, or is just as likely to vanish into b. Or something. But if Hegel seems to be the hookah pipe smoking caterpillar spinning non sequiturs, British Hegelian Stephen Houlgate is Morpheus offering you a red pill, that is to say, a splendid close reading of the opening sections of the SoL. I'm not aware of any other author that's done a close reading of SoL, which is surprising, given that there is really no way to understand Hegel’s speculative method without parsing the primary text at a granular level. And for that you need the help of a master (Houlgate is a card carrying Hegelian and his devotion to the material is endearing if not, at times, quaint). This is essential reading if you want to re-emerge from the Hegelian rabbit hole with your proverbial head still on your shoulders.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    This is probably the best "guide" to a text I have ever read. Not only because it succeeds at rendering intelligible the Logic, a notoriously difficult text. But also because Houlgate equips you to understand and articulate the differing interpretations of the Logic, to even go against the very reading that Houlgate provides here. With a little background in Kant and modern western philosophy, this book has made me more comfortable with the Logic and its arguments than I would have thought possi This is probably the best "guide" to a text I have ever read. Not only because it succeeds at rendering intelligible the Logic, a notoriously difficult text. But also because Houlgate equips you to understand and articulate the differing interpretations of the Logic, to even go against the very reading that Houlgate provides here. With a little background in Kant and modern western philosophy, this book has made me more comfortable with the Logic and its arguments than I would have thought possible without a teacher, two essays, and an exam.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    Hegelian philosophy has been a plague upon human thought for two centuries, for it makes good people depressed and depressed people evil. Dialectics is, quite seriously, how an idiot must view the universe. Things dissolve into their opposites and suddenly appear out of nowhere - imagine being severely mentally handicapped, wouldn't that be exactly how you would view reality, as everything merging, flickering on and off into being because your attention span cannot last long enough to comprehend Hegelian philosophy has been a plague upon human thought for two centuries, for it makes good people depressed and depressed people evil. Dialectics is, quite seriously, how an idiot must view the universe. Things dissolve into their opposites and suddenly appear out of nowhere - imagine being severely mentally handicapped, wouldn't that be exactly how you would view reality, as everything merging, flickering on and off into being because your attention span cannot last long enough to comprehend why anything is happening in your life; no wonder Hegel has so many unkind words for mathematics. If you're feeling with thought, you're just feeling; if you're thinking with emotion, you're not thinking (this dialectical thinking will wear off on you). This study of the beginning of Hegel's logic does not have those faults; it is remarkably clear, and will help everyone understand why an insane person might think there exists something more fundamental to the universe than "something". The author explains, in fact, how something comes to be: ahem, being and nothing, in their incessant vanishing into one another become becoming in their settledness and from there determine themselves first into relation, then relation to self, and then something is born. Why do you think Kant thought "something" was the most basic constituent of the universe? Well, if you don't think so, then you have to admit that something comes out of being, and being and nothing are indistinguishable, and then, eventually, you have to admit that church and state shouldn't be separate because they're indistinguishable, just like thinking and feeling, and that freedom for all is actually only guaranteed under a monarchy presided over by the IMF who are conducting the world historical dialectic towards absolute knowing - for white males. Makes sense.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Z. J. Pandolfino

    Hegel’s Science of Logic, the foundation for all subsequent Hegelian philosophy, is a difficult and often misunderstood text. In this volume, Stephen Houlgate, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick, offers what some have called a revised metaphysical interpretation of Hegel that sticks closely to Hegel’s text and underscores its post-Kantian, hyper-critical character. That is, Houlgate stresses that, unlike Kant, Hegel philosophizes from a truly critical—i.e., presuppositionless—p Hegel’s Science of Logic, the foundation for all subsequent Hegelian philosophy, is a difficult and often misunderstood text. In this volume, Stephen Houlgate, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick, offers what some have called a revised metaphysical interpretation of Hegel that sticks closely to Hegel’s text and underscores its post-Kantian, hyper-critical character. That is, Houlgate stresses that, unlike Kant, Hegel philosophizes from a truly critical—i.e., presuppositionless—perspective from which the thought of indeterminate, immediate being immanently develops into more determinate categories such as determinate being, something and other, and finitude and infinity. In the first part of the book, Houlgate describes the project of the Logic as related to Kant, presuppositionless philosophy, the Phenomenology of Spirit, and what Houlgate claims are erroneous interpretations of Hegelian thought offered by the likes of Charles Taylor, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Gadamer. This first part defends the Logic as authentically presuppositionless and therefore rebuffs criticisms that Hegel artificially forces dialectic logic onto the supposedly immanent development of the categories, or that his dependence on language similarly renders his project determined in some way from the start. In the second part of the book, Houlgate reproduces the first two chapters of the first section of the Logic from being to infinity in German and English. Lastly, in the third and most helpful part of the book, Houlgate offers commentary on these chapters and patiently elucidates what Hegel really means. Like the first part, this third part defends Hegel’s derivation of the categories just as it explains logic’s movement from being to nothing to becoming, from becoming to determinate being to quality, from quality to something to other, and from determination, constitution, and limit to finitude and finally infinity. Houlgate’s careful explanations are invaluable: he renders Hegel’s dense prose lucid and makes salient Hegel’s often obscure claims. In short, Houlgate excavates from the Logic an extremely persuasive way to undertake philosophy and to see the world, one which uninitiated readers with little to no familiarity with Hegel may not be able to identify and understand themselves. If Houlgate’s interpretation of Hegel is plausibly true to the Hegelian project, then many Hegelian commentators have evidently missed much of what Hegel actually means in the Science of Logic. In the conclusion to the book, Houlgate offers three questions to readers of the Logic who wish to evaluate its philosophical merit: “(1) Should philosophy try to be radically self-critical and take nothing for granted? (2) If so, should it begin from the thought of pure indeterminate being? (3) If so, does the category of pure being actually give rise to the further categories that Hegel sets out?” (437). Houlgate answers the first question in the affirmative, defends the idea that philosophy should start with the thought of pure being, and demonstrates that the Hegelian categories do indeed immanently derive from pure being. Other readers can and will, of course, answer these three questions differently. Yet Houlgate is correct to identify these questions as central to any critical assessment of the Logic. “Not everyone will agree with these theses, but they are surely quite intelligible and capable of being assessed publicly and rationally, just like the claims of most other philosophers,” Houlgate remarks. “Hegel’s Logic is not by any means as impenetrable or absurd a text as some would have us believe” (438). More provocatively, it seems fair to say that dubious interpretations of Hegel derive from one’s failure to seriously consider these questions as part of one’s critical assessment. To critique Hegel’s philosophy as teleological, for example, fails to address the fact that Hegel explicitly starts with the presuppositionless thought of pure being. Only later in the Logic, after the thought of pure being has developed into myriad other categories, does he arrive at the idea that infinite reason within nature and human history works toward self-consciousness. Such a critique therefore fails to address Hegel’s Logic on its own terms vis-a-vis the key questions Houlgate asks readers to consider. At their worst, criticisms of Hegel evidently presume Hegel derives the categories in bad faith—i.e., not immanently, which he insists the philosopher must do. Critics who claim that the thought of pure being is propelled forward by the presupposed power of dialectic, for example, ostensibly imply that Hegel either fails to live up to his promise to philosophize immanently without presuppositions or else self-consciously contradicts the very standard on which he himself insists. While the latter claim is so uncharitable one is tempted to dismiss it out of hand, it may be true that the Hegelian categories manifest in accordance with the presupposed power of dialectic. Still, to prove such a point one would need to contend with Houlgate’s proposed third question—whether the category of pure being actually gives rise to the further categories that Hegel sets out. If it does not, then perhaps Hegel has imposed dialectics on logic and ontology. Lastly, Houlgate helps demonstrate how all too many critics of Hegel object to the ideas presented in the Logic on the basis of presuppositions which Hegel himself would not allow. For these criticisms to be warranted, such critics would have to justify why philosophy should not be radically self-critical in the way Hegel insists it must be, and therefore without presuppositions. Otherwise, they would have to explain why their presuppositions are not presuppositions at all, but justified conclusions about fundamental features of the world. The Opening of Hegel’s Logic is an essential volume for readers new to Hegel who want to learn more about the Hegelian system. Readers who are prepared to consider a new way to think will learn from and enjoy Houlgate’s commentary more than those whose assessment of Hegel is already predetermined. While there is much more to Hegel’s Logic than what Houlgate covers here, this introduction to Hegel provides a firm foundation from which readers can delve deeper into the Logic, the Philosophy of Nature, and the Philosophy of Spirit. One only wishes that Houlgate had authored such patient, detailed commentary for the entire Hegelian corpus.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alex Obrigewitsch

    Houlgate's work on Hegel has, at the very least, one highly estimable value - to render eminently clear the often turgid prose of Hegel. This work is an invaluable resource for those seeking to enter into the labyrinth of the Logic. Houlgate not only explicates Hegel's own text, but often provides glosses on other major interpretations of the passage in question, before explaining his own refutation of said interpretation. The only drawback seems to be the fail safe position of "presuppositionles Houlgate's work on Hegel has, at the very least, one highly estimable value - to render eminently clear the often turgid prose of Hegel. This work is an invaluable resource for those seeking to enter into the labyrinth of the Logic. Houlgate not only explicates Hegel's own text, but often provides glosses on other major interpretations of the passage in question, before explaining his own refutation of said interpretation. The only drawback seems to be the fail safe position of "presuppositionlessness" which Houlgate falls back upon whenever explication and elucidation get tough. At times it appears as though Houlgate's argument for his position is "Hegel is presuppositionless, and therefore...," which, granted, is what Hegel himself wants to claim for the work, but it seems to me that the "presuppositionless beginning" remains, at the very least, an open question. Warwick needs to give Houlgate a sabbatical or something, so he can complete a volume on the Doctrine of Essence. He has worked on it before, and has written various disjecta concerning it. The time for a concentrated reflection is nigh. Grandad Stephen isn't getting any younger - and neither are any of us. Only the text, perhaps, escapes the vicissitudes of time; though perhaps it has suffered its own neglect and oblivion already...

  7. 4 out of 5

    John Russon

    This is a clear and compelling account of the first chunk of Hegel's Science of Logic. Hegel's book is widely misunderstood, partially because it is so hard to read. Houlgate brilliantly explains Hegel's text in a way that corrects many, many misunderstandings, and he demonstrates the power and profundity of Hegel's thought. He also discusses fairly carefully the technicalities of Hegel's argument and language, (and the book includes a text and translation of the first chapters of Hegel's Scienc This is a clear and compelling account of the first chunk of Hegel's Science of Logic. Hegel's book is widely misunderstood, partially because it is so hard to read. Houlgate brilliantly explains Hegel's text in a way that corrects many, many misunderstandings, and he demonstrates the power and profundity of Hegel's thought. He also discusses fairly carefully the technicalities of Hegel's argument and language, (and the book includes a text and translation of the first chapters of Hegel's Science of Logic). This is mandatory reading for any student of Hegel, and would be a excellent selection for anyone with an interest in Hegel's thought.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Iain

    A simply superb account.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Julian

  10. 4 out of 5

    Naronay

  11. 5 out of 5

    William

  12. 5 out of 5

    Myat Thura Aung

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ian Patrick

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alnica

  16. 4 out of 5

    Marty

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jack Pappas

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emilio Schweighart Gate

  19. 5 out of 5

    David O'Dwyer

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sean

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sibilla Cumana

  22. 5 out of 5

    J.W.D. Nicolello

  23. 5 out of 5

    Preston

  24. 4 out of 5

    Justin

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bensu Aydın

  26. 4 out of 5

    Xindi

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cyberdionysos

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alexandre

  29. 4 out of 5

    Aranxa

  30. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Iacovetti

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