Philosophy Now October - November 2020

Philosophy Now is a magazine for everyone interested in ideas. It isn't afraid to tackle all the major questions of life, the universe and everything. It tries to corrupt innocent citizens by convincing them that philosophy can be exciting, worthwhile and comprehensible, and also to provide some light and enjoyable reading matter for those already ensnared by the muse, such as philosophy students and academics. It contains articles on all aspects of philosophy, plus book reviews, film reviews, news, cartoons, and the occasional short story.

United Kingdom
Anja Publications Ltd
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6 Issues

in this issue

4 min
the biggest picture

Happy 250th birthday to one of history’s great Romantic artists! People don’t usually think of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel as a Romantic Hero, but he’s the philosophical equivalent of Beethoven – born the same year – and his philosophical preoccupations were just as Romantic and Heroic as Beethoven’s musical ones. Hegel’s philosophy is ‘Romantic’ because it’s about penetrating into the deepest nature of Nature and seeking a revelation of ultimate truth through the natural world – which is precisely what the Romantic cultural movement was all about. And it’s heroic because the question Hegel asked himself was, “What’s the fundamental nature of everything?” You can’t get more intellectually ambitious than that. This issue we’re focusing on Hegel’s favourite topic, the meaning of human history – surely a topic of fundamental profundity. Hegel’s…

4 min

Ethics of Covid Vaccinations The intense worldwide search for a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine has given rise to several new areas of ethical debate. Both the development and the administration of a possible vaccine throw up various moral considerations. A paper by Lisa Tambornino and Dirk Lanzerath published in July in Research Ethics gives an idea of the main concerns. It outlines the complexities of balancing the need for a quick result with the ethics of a hastened testing process. It considers the suggestion that the last step should be a human challenge trial, where volunteers allow themselves to be injected with the virus to test the vaccine. It considers risk management, and informed consent issues as well as containment. Other ethicists are researching the ethics of vaccine distribution: who…

12 min
g.w.f. hegel: an introduction

No philosopher has been more influential in the modern age than Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831). He has inspired individuals as diverse as Karl Marx, Francis Fukuyama, and, latterly, the football manager Jose Mourinho. “Have you ever read Hegel?” the former Manchester United boss asked a baffled journalist at a press conference in 2018. The oldest son of a civil servant from south-west Germany, Georg Hegel was born a quarter of a millennium ago, in 1770. As a theology student in Stuttgart, Hegel feared that he would become a Populärphilosoph – a populariser of complex theories. There was little danger of that! In fact, few thinkers are as difficult to understand. Hegel himself in his monumentally dense Phenomenology of Spirit grumbled about the “complaints regarding the unintelligibility of philosophical writings from…

10 min
hegel’s understanding of history

One of Hegel’s most interesting but misunderstood areas of enquiry concerns history, particularly his so-called ‘dialectical’ approach to understanding the development of human society. This article aims to provide a brief but useful outline of Hegel’s historical theory, and demonstrate its relevance to the modern age. Hegel’s Classification of History In his Introduction to Lectures on the Philosophy of World History (1837), Hegel argues that there are three ways of doing history. The first of these is original history. Original history refers to first-hand accounts of events, actions and situations, collected or verified by the historian himself. It includes the historian’s own experiences as part of the history he’s recording. Hegel says that the purpose of original history is to create a ‘mental representation’ of phenomena. Contemporary historians aim to record recent and…

3 min
hegel’s dialectic in a coffee cup

Hegel’s theory of dialectics constitutes the last great philosophical system. History is a process that includes everything and everyone, a process in which we all participate. Hegel’s fundamental idea is that history is not a matter of dates and battles and events, but of ‘logic’. It is about how ideas and beliefs interact and develop out of one another, because ideas rule everything else. Since we are all part of this process, philosophers can think only within the confines of their own historical horizon. This means that philosophy itself is tied to history. To Hegel, philosophy is “its time grasped in thought”. We cannot step outside time, and there is no eternal realm of reason. History and thought emerge together! So, what we try to understand is a complex organic structure,…

15 min
hegel, ‘the father of art history’?

Mention the name ‘Hegel’ among art historians, and you’ll likely be met with a blank expression, or else with fear and trepidation. Love him or loathe him, Hegel has proven to be one of the most influential thinkers of Western academe. But working in an age before the subject divisions of modern-day universities, Hegel practised something that went way beyond ‘philosophy’ alone. For my money, he is the ultimate interdisciplinary thinker. What we today call ‘art history’ was fundamental to Hegel’s project. For Hegel, this included not just the study of the visual arts (including architecture, sculpture, and painting), but also the critique of literature and music, among other media. In the Western critical tradition, there is a venerable history of putting philosophy into dialogue with art, and vice versa. It…