An Exposition of Hegel
9 February 2010
As I am able to find them in the library, I have been listening through a series of lectures titled, “The Odyssey of the West”, published under the series The Modern Scholar, which is a collection of lectures on CD published by Recorded Books. In previous posts I have mentioned several of the courses that are part of The Modern Scholar series; all have been excellently produced and have been intellectually stimulating and satisfying.
I‘ve just finished listening to Part V of “Odyssey of the West”, subtitled, “Enlightenment, Revolution, and Renewal.” The whole “Odyssey of the West” series has been produced under the editorship of Professor Timothy B. Shutt of Kenyon College, and I notice that many of the lectures are his colleagues from Kenyon College.
Lecture 11 of Part V is a lecture about Hegel given by Joel F. Richeimer, associate professor of philosophy at Kenyon College. This is, hands down, the best brief treatment of Hegel that I know of. I’ve listened through this lecture twice now, and I will probably listen to it a couple more times before I return this to the library. Within the compass of about a half hour it gives a sense of Hegel that is largely free of schematic oversimplifications. I heartily recommend this.
Another good treatment of Hegel is from Darren Staloff of the City College of New York. He recorded a wonderful series of lectures for The Teaching Company titled “The Search for a Meaningful Past: Philosophies, Theories and Interpretations of Human History.” This must be the only set of lectures devoted exclusively to the philosophy of history and available to the general public. Unfortunately, I suspect that the course was not too popular, as The Teaching Company has discontinued it. I own a copy of the lectures, and one of the cassettes became damaged. I wrote to The Teaching Company to request a replacement, and they told me that there were no replacements available because the course had been discontinued. It is a great course, and certainly better than many Teaching Company offerings that remain available.
Staloff also contributed a lecture on Hegel to The Teaching Company’s “Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition.” I have listened to this also (though I don’t own it) and it is very similar to the Hegel lecture in Staloff’s no-longer-available “The Search for a Meaningful Past.” While I enjoy Staloff’s insights on the philosophy of history, his lecture on Hegel is nowhere nearly as good as Joel Richeimer’s lecture of Hegel, though, to be fair, Staloff is focused on Hegel’s philosophy of history while Richheimer is more concerned with an overview of Hegel’s thought, not even mentioning Hegel’s famous efforts on the philosophy of history.
I own a lot of Teaching Company courses because they are affordable. It is unfortunate that The Modern Scholar makes their courses so expensive, though I am deeply grateful to the library system for owning as many of them as they do. I will listen to Richeimer on Hegel, and I will probably check it out and listen to it again in the future to get all that I can out of it, just as I listen to my Teaching Company courses over and over again to get all the benefit out of them that I can.
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