Category Archives: Philosophy

A Short Note on Reason’s Certainty

In Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, having “reason” means being certain that you are “all reality”, knowing that the whole of the world can be found in your “I”. This self-certainty is well-founded in a sense: idealism is true, and the … Continue reading

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What is Philosophy?

It’s a question philosophers like to ask from time to time, never arriving at a universally satisfactory answer. If you start to read Hegel, you might arrive at the notion that philosophy is the science of Spirit coming to know … Continue reading

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Spirit is the Light of the Morning

“Its shape is in fact shapelessness, the all-embracing light of the morning.” – J.N. Findlay, Analysis of section 686 of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. It’s impossible to see where light begins and ends. You can see it in the green … Continue reading

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How to Begin (Notes on the Introduction to Hegel’s Phenomenology)

It’s no use starting with the assumption that thought and being are identical. For one thing, no one will know what you’re talking about. Hegel started by looking at the philosophical thinking of his day and showing how it was … Continue reading

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Hegel’s Democratic Spirit

The Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit is a good place to begin with Hegel. The key question he’s asking in these pages is: What is philosophy? And his answer tells us a lot about what kind of philosopher he … Continue reading

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Know Thyself

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “Know Thyself” seems to offer up two possible interpretations, and I wonder whether Coleridge believed self-knowledge was possible or not. The poet asks “Say, canst thou make thyself?” and urges his reader to “Learn first that … Continue reading

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Notes on Susan Sontag’s “On Style”

There’s always a distance between the work of art itself and the reality it represents. This distance is “inhuman,” says Susan Sontag: it’s artificial, belonging to the representation and not coming directly from lived reality. But Sontag wants us to … Continue reading

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Hegel’s Scepticism

Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit is an exercise in scepticism. People who call themselves “sceptics” often pride themselves on having their own ideas about the world, and trusting the evidence of their own senses. This is better than accepting established truths … Continue reading

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Review of Slavoj Žižek’s Like a Thief in Broad Daylight (Part 1: “Introduction”)

Slavoj Žižek begins his book Like a Thief in Broad Daylight by discussing the purpose of philosophy. Its purpose, he says, is to “prod” people – meaning to “corrupt the youth” the way Socrates did, by challenging established norms. I … Continue reading

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Vision and Judgement

“I don’t know, let’s see.” – Alfred Korzybski Gilles Deleuze has a problem with judgement. The problem is that judgement has too prominent a place in the way human beings interpret and evaluate the world. We use judgement to make … Continue reading

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