What Is the Phenomenology About?
The Introduction to the Phenomenology sets out, with a clarity and accessibility that are remarkable for Hegel, a program for the book, at least as Hegel conceived it when he wrote the Introduction. In this paper I give a detailed reading of the main points in the Introduction. The Introduction provides an answer to the question what the Phenomenology is supposed to teach us. The plan Hegel explains for the work is to describe a progressive series of self-understandings for a human consciousness, starting out in a state of philosophical naiveté about the power of knowing understood in a way that characterizes it as human. The way in which one stage is succeeded by the next will be determined, in a way that Hegel explains, so that once the series has begun, its progressive trajectory will be inexorable. His idea is that the progression will culminate in a complete understanding of what is distinctive about human mindedness.
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