This book provides a critical analysis of Hegel’s “Anthropology,” a long-neglected treatise dedicated to the psyche, or “soul,” that bridges Hegel’s philosophy of organic nature with his philosophy of subjective spirit. Allegra de Laurentiis recuperates this overlooked text, guiding readers through its essential arguments and ideas. She shows how Hegel conceives of the “sublation” of natural motion, first into animal sentience and then into the felt presentiment of selfhood, all the way to the threshold of self-reflexive thinking. She discusses the “Anthropology” in the context of Hegel’s mature system of philosophy (the Encyclopaedia) while also exposing some of the scientific and philosophical sources of his conceptions of unconscious states, psychosomatism, mental pathologies, skill formation, memorization, bodily habituation, and the self-conditioning capacities of our species. This treatise on the becoming of anthropos, she argues, displays the power and limitations of Hegel’s idealistic “philosophy of the real” in connecting such phenomena as erect posture, a discriminating hand, and the forward gaze to the emergence of the human ego, or the structural disintegration of the social world to the derangement of the individual mind.
A groundbreaking contribution to scholarship on Hegel and nineteenth-century philosophy, this book shows that the “Anthropology” is essential to understanding Hegel’s concept of spirit, not only in its connection with nature but also in its more sophisticated realizations as objective and absolute spirit. Future scholarship on this subject will recount—and build upon—de Laurentiis’s innovative study.
“Many scholars would like to ignore Hegel’s Anthropology because it does not accord with their view of what he ought to have said. But not Allegra de Laurentiis, who reveals that the Anthropology is far from being an embarrassment; it contains profound reflections that illuminate many aspects of Hegel’s philosophy. This important book makes clear that the Anthropology is not just a Hegelian cabinet of curios, but an integral part of Hegel’s system that has been unduly neglected. In particular, de Laurentiis’s discussion of Hegel’s fascinating treatment of madness is the clearest, and the most interesting, that I have read.” —Glenn Alexander Magee, author of Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition
"For all the stress upon ‘embodiment’ in contemporary philosophy and especially in Hegel scholarship, these discussions remain stymied by various versions or specters of mind/body dualism. Hegel’s subtle and penetrating re-examination of Aristotle’s De Anima and of a wealth of historical and contemporaneous medical literature shows that there is no problem of how mind and body interact or relate, because within the anthropological soul, they are identical, insofar as animation is the form of the soul’s embodiment, whilst the soul’s embodiment is its embodiment, not its vehicle, nor its mere functional(ist) ‘realization.' Hegel develops a cogent, illuminating non-reductive identity theory, by addressing the question, 'How must an organic being be structured such that it affords mentality?' (Hegel’s philosophy of nature has, inter alia, addressed the question, 'How must nature be structured, such that some of it affords organic life?') Many historical theories which Hegel critically examines are shown by de Laurentiis to remain germane insofar as they have direct contemporary counterparts. This is a very lucid, incisive, insightful, well-matured work of philosophical, critical, historical and textual scholarship; a major achievement equally useful to students, to philosophers, to Hegel experts and to scholars in allied disciplines. Rich in insights and revelations, judicious in interpretation and assessment, it is a philosophical pleasure and benefit at every turn." —Kenneth R. Westphal, coauthor of The Palgrave Hegel Handbook