The Owl of Minerva

Volume 50, Issue 1/2, 2019

Jon Stewart
Pages 69-90

Hegel's Analysis of Egyptian Art and Architecture as a Form of Philosophical Anthropology

In his different analyses of ancient Egypt, Hegel underscores the marked absence of writings by the Egyptians. Unlike the Chinese with the I Ching or the Shoo king, the Indians with the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the Persians with the Avesta, the Jews with the Old Testament, and the Greeks with the poems of Homer and Hesiod, the Egyptians, despite their developed system of hieroglyphic writing, left behind no great canonical text. Instead, he claims, they left their mark by means of the architecture and art. This paper explores Hegel’s analysis of the Egyptians’ obelisks, pyramids, sphinxes, etc. in order to understand why he believes that these are so important for understanding the Egyptian spirit. This analysis illustrates Hegel’s use of history and culture in the service of philosophical anthropology.