The Southern Journal of Philosophy

Volume 47, Issue 1, Spring 2009

Daniel Berthold
Pages 25-47

The Death of the Author in Hegel’s Philosophy

Criticism of Hegel has been a central preoccupation of “postmodern” philosophy, from critical theory and deconstruction to Lacanian psychoanalytic theory and Foucauldian “archaeology.” One of the most frequent criticisms is that Hegel’s invocation of “absolute knowledge” installs him in a position of authorial arrogance, of God-like authority, leaving the reader in a position of subservience to the Sage’s perfect wisdom. The argument of this article is that this sort of criticism is profoundly ironic, since Hegel’s construction of the role of the Sage possessing absolute knowledge is in fact an elaborate mask covering over a radical project of disappearance of the author by which it becomes the reader who is left to author the text. The article explores Hegel’s commitment to his own death as an author in his invention of a new method of demonstration, his epistemology, his philosophy of language, his theory of desire, and even in the seemingly least likely place of all, his portrait of “absolute knowledge.”