The Owl of Minerva

Volume 40, Issue 2, Spring/Summer 2009

George di Giovanni
Pages 221-237

Jewish and Post-Christian Interpretations of Hegel
Emil Fackenheim and Henry S. Harris

Despite the radically different interests that motivate Emil Fackenheim’s and Henry Harris’s respective interpretations of Hegel, the two have significant points of commonality. They in fact come the closest precisely at points where they seem to differ most. The need and the possibility of ‘reconciliation’ is the theme that animates both interpretations, and both also agree in their assessment of Hegel’s treatment of ‘evil.’ There are nevertheless crucial differences separating the two, which the essay details. The essay concludes wondering, on the one hand, how seriously Harris recognizes that, in a post-Holocaust world, ‘reconciliation’ calls for existential conditions such as Hegel could never have imagined; and on the other hand, how much Fackenheim would be willing to admit that his immersion into history will necessarily bring violent consequences in train for which there will have to be an accounting.