Interpreting Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit

Expositions and Critique of Contemporary Readings

12-14 May 2022


Hegel himself described the Phenomenology of Spirit as an introduction to philosophical thought as such and thus also to the encyclopaedic system that summarizes his own interpretation of the categorial forms of philosophical truth. Insofar as the Science of Logic is often considered to comprise the system's 'first' part, several interpreters of Hegel's thought argue that the Phenomenology's deductions are supposed to prepare the thinker to the kind of presuppositionless thought that the deductions of the Logic and the system’s subsequent parts require. However, there is considerable overlap between the Phenomenology and the Encyclopaedia as far as the latter's third part, the Philosophy of Geist, is concerned. Since Hegel remained adamant to have the Phenomenology reprinted without any changes while he seems to have attempted to ‘save’ – or ‘sublate’ – its content in his later system, one may ask what could be done about this ‘curious early work’ today. More specifically, we would like to pose the following questions:

• Against the backdrop of contemporary readings, which elements, themes, concepts or arguments of the Phenomenology remain important and worthy of development independently of or in conflict with Hegel’s later thinking?

• Why did Hegel transfer categorial truth claims from the Phenomenology's alleged introduction to philosophy into his account of truth as such? Does this mean that already the Phenomenology contains properly philosophical truth?

• If the Phenomenology constitutes a first, possibly rejected, attempt to write a philosophy of Geist, what did Hegel change with regard to the architecture and the content of his description of Geist's categories between the Phenomenology and the Encyclopaedia and why?

• Taken as competing accounts of truth, do the changes that occur between the Phenomenology and the Encyclopaedia's Philosophy of Geist constitute an improvement or a regress? Is Hegel closer to the truth about Geist in the Phenomenology or in the Encyclopaedia or did he miss the mark altogether?

• Given the complexities of the Phenomenology’s place in Hegel’s system of philosophy, which strategies of reading this text could be adopted in contemporary thinking?

The workshop is conceived as a development of our initial project, which resulted in the book on the contemporary readings of Hegel’s Phenomenology. Our conversation will shed new light on the strengths and weaknesses of Hegelian philosophy and contemplate its possible futures.


Thursday, 12 May

14.00 – 14.15

Welcome remarks

14.00 – 14.15

Andreas Schmidt

The reconciling Yes. On the notion of forgiveness in Hegel‘s Phenomenology of Spirit

15.30 - 15.45


15.45 – 17.00

Christian Martin

Hegel on scientific cognition of nature and its limits

17.00 – 18.15

Anna Yampolskaya

“Now Is the Night”: Deixis in Hegel and Maldiney



Friday, 13 May

9.00 – 10.15

Ivan Boldyrev

Take the Time to End: Schiller, Hegel, and the Dangers of Poetry

10.15 – 11.30

Sebastian Stein

Philosophical knowledge and knowledge thereof. The development of Hegel’s notion of philosophy from the Phenomenology to the Encyclopaedia

11.45 – 13.00

Ioannis Trisokkas

Heidegger on Hegel's Phenomenology

13.00 – 14.30


14.30 – 15.45

Josh Wretzel

The Logic of the Subject Made Manifest: Hegel's Presentation of Idealism in the Jena Phenomenology

15.45 – 17.00

Annette Sell

Heidegger’s search for the inner law of the Phenomenology of Mind

17.00 – 17.15


17.15 – 18.30

Mariana Teixeira

Death struggle or mutual recognition? On the agonistic and reconciliatory readings of the master-slave dialectic



Saturday, 14 May

9.15 – 10.30

Christian Krijnen

Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit assessed from the Perspective of Speculative Idealism

10.30 – 11.45

Marina Bykova

On the Thematization of Anerkennung and Bildung in the Phenomenology and Encyclopaedia Philosophy of Spirit.

11.45 – 12.00


12.00 – 13.15

Sebastian Ostritsch

Hegel’s Phenomenology and the Revolution

13.15 – 14.45


14.45 – 16.00

Johannes-Georg Schülein

What is wrong with Formalism? Hegel’s Critique and a Defense

16.00 – 17.15

Sascha Freyberg

From Hegel's Phenomenology to the Marxist Ontology of Production


Farewell - Conference Ends


Ivan Boldyrev is Assistant Professor at Radboud University Nijmegen. He is the author of Ernst Bloch and His Contemporaries (2014); Hegel, Institutions and Economics (with Carsten Herrmann-Pillath, 2014); and Die Ohnmacht des Spekulativen: Elemente einer Poetik von Hegels Phänomenologie des Geistes (2021). Apart from German Idealism and critical theory, he also works on the history and philosophy of economics.

Sebastian Stein is a Lecturer at Stuttgart University and a DFG Research Associate at Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg. He is co-editor of Hegel’s Political Philosophy (OUP, 2017), Hegel and Contemporary Practical Philosophy (Routledge, 2019), Hegel’s Encyclopedic System (Routledge, 2021) and The Cambridge Critical Guide to Hegel’s Encyclopedia (CUP, 2021). He has authored several journal articles and book chapters on Hegel, Fichte, Aristotle, and Kant.

Supported by:
Gesellschaft der Freunde Universität Heidelberg e.V. Stiftung Universität Heidelberg


Venue: Neue Universität Grabengasse 3 - 5, Hörsaal 04, 04a