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Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy

Volume 22, Issue 2, Spring 2018

Karin De Boer
Pages 453-466
DOI: 10.5840/epoche2018111111

Hegel’s Non-Revolutionary Account of the French Revolution in the Phenomenology of Spirit

Focusing on the section ‘Absolute Freedom and Terror’ of the Phenomenology of Spirit, this article argues that the method Hegel employs in this work does not capture the full significance of the French Revolution. I claim that Hegel’s method is reformist rather than revolutionary: Hegel deliberately restricts his analyses to transformations that occur within the element of thought and presents the changes that occur within this element as logically ensuing from one another. This approach, I argue, is at odds with the very concept of a revolution. Seen in this way, efforts to frame Hegel’s philosophy as revolutionary are misguided.