This is the reading for June 24th’s meeting. You can get the location and other details at our meetup.com page.
1. In chapters 1 and 2, Pippin argued that Hegel’s practical philosophy—which Hegel would have called a philosophy of spirit—is primarily a theory of freedom. His idea of freedom is quite far from our usual notions of freedom, which tend to revolve around abstract questions of free will and political questions of what we ought to be free from or to do. To some degree, Hegel combines these two sides of freedom when he says that a free act is not necessarily one freely caused by me, but rather an act which I can, on reflection, fully endorse. Further, this sort of reflective endorsement is only possible when one understands one self and others in particular ways and stands in rule-governed institutional relations.
2. Pippin also introduced the claim that “spirit is a product of itself.” Spirit is the industry-standard translation of the German word Geist, and for our purposes, we can basically define it as both the development and actual existence of a given historical period’s package set of fundamental concepts and practices.
3. This claim that spirit is a product of itself is important for two reasons. First, it both connects Hegel to, and differentiates him from, earlier German idealists like Kant and Fichte. Second, it is one of the main points in his social, collective idea of freedom. These two points are connected: for Kant and Fichte, cognitive and practical normativity (how we ought to think, what we ought to do) find their origins in the (either logically or practically necessary) cognitive acts of individuals, while for Hegel, both kinds of normativity are the result of collective, historical development.