Thinking and being: an introduction into Hegel’s philosophy

Graduate Program (& Advanced Certificate) Status

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Course Description: 

Contemporary analytic philosophy draws a sharp distinction between understanding how the world is (metaphysics) and how we can gain knowledge about it (epistemology). For Hegel, these two questions cannot be severed. Philosophy aims to uncover the rational structure of the world through investigating how the world is represented by concepts, judgments, and inferences. This course is an attempt to re-evaluate Hegel’s metaphysics, which, despite Hegel’s mind-boggling style, has many interesting insights even for contemporary philosophers. The course does not attempt to defend Hegel on all fronts, its main purpose is to understand the importance of his legacy by a close reading of (some of) his texts. Some issues to be discussed: reason and reality; being and becoming; identity, difference, and contradiction; conceptual evolution and history; abstraction and concretization; teleology and the logic of life.

Learning Outcomes: 

Students attending this course are expected to familiarize themselves with the most important aspects of Hegel’s philosophy, especially his metaphysics and philosophy of logic. Students are expected to acquire the ability to reconstruct and analyze philosophical arguments or positions. These involve the understanding of validity and soundness of the arguments, the ability to identify background principles and assumptions as well as the ability to draw out the consequences of certain philosophical commitments. They are also expected to acquire certain oral communication skills such as the ability to formulate arguments concisely and accessibly in words, and to give short critical comments. They should also learn how to identify and execute an appropriate writing project. Finally, they should be familiarized with some of Hegel’s most important thoughts about some basic issues in metaphysics, such as being and becoming, identity, the nature of judgment, reason, and life. Learning outcomes shall be measured by term papers and oral presentations on the relevant topics.  


Students’ performance shall be evaluated on the following grounds. First, students are required to attend classes regularly and to participate actively in seminar discussions. 30 % of their final grade shall be given on the basis of this in-class activity. Second, students are required to give one or two short presentations of some chosen topic(s). The choice of topic is optional, but overlap should be avoided. This will make up another 30 % of their final grade. Thirdly, students are required to submit an approximately 2 000 word long term-paper. The chosen topic should be approved by the instructor and presented in the last class of the course. The term paper’s contribution to the final assessment of students’ performance is 40 %.