Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

Spiritualized Nature: Hegel on the Transformative Character of Work and History [Special Issue]

Topics: History of Analytic Philosophy, Metaphysics
Keywords: Hegel, history, Master/Slave Dialectic, Naturalism, Work


It is argued that one of Hegel’s main strategies in overcoming the opposition between nature and spirit is to recognize a realm of “spiritualized nature” that has a distinctive ontological character of its own, one that, though it is rooted in nature, must be understood in essentially historical terms. It is argued that for Hegel the activity of work is premised upon a commitment to the independent standing of such spiritualized nature and its historical character, and a detailed reading of Hegel’s account of the slave’s work in the Phenomenology of Spirit is developed to show just how it is that work transforms nature into something of historical import.

There are various points in Hegel’s writing in which nature is conceived as something fundamentally distinct from and opposed to spirit, where the term “spirit” is generally meant to capture what is distinctive about us as free, self-conscious, thinking, and willing beings, and which more broadly includes the various legal, moral, economic, political, aesthetic, and religious ideals or norms to which we as subjects are uniquely responsive.


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