In his biography of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Jürgen Kaube thoroughly dispenses with the genre of the heroic narrative. Both elegantly and with irony, he portrays the philosopher as a man who recognised and pondered the contradictions of the period of upheaval around 1800 even as he repeatedly failed to recognize their revolutionary potential – in terms of women’s demands for freedom, for example. For Kaube, intellectual history is cultural history, and Hegel’s strength was to expose himself wholeheartedly to all fields of knowledge and to doubt his own insights in the process. It is this engagement with a changing world that makes Hegel so inspiring for the present, in which unbiased thinking must stand up to false certainties, hostility to science and the exclusion of more vulnerable groups.
Over the course of the decades of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s life, the world changed from the ground up, transformed by ideas that brought about revolutions – political, industrial, aesthetic and pedagogical. Jürgen Kaube recounts Hegel’s life, explains his work and shows how the epochal upheavals led to the attempt at an ultimate revolution – in thinking.
People have often consulted Hegel in times of crisis, and the same is once again true today; after all, this thinker very much shapes our understanding of society and of the nation in transition to a new era. As Jürgen Kaube shows in his monumental biography of the philosopher, the brokenness of modern society was fundamental to Hegel’s experience. Kaube unfolds the spirit of modernity for us as reflected in Hegel’s life and work. Kaube’s analytical gaze brings to light not only Hegel’s worldly work, which seeks to decipher everything novel, but also a questioning philosopher who radically confronts contradictions in his thinking. Kaube has a masterful and instructive ability to nimbly, elegantly and sometimes ironically offer an understanding of the Hegelian possibility of freedom.
Jürgen Kaube was born in 1962 and is a managing editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung. He previously oversaw the humanities desk and was vice editor-in-chief of the culture section. In 2012 he was awarded the title of journalist of the year in the field of science by medium magazine and received the Ludwig-Borne prize in 2015. His highly acclaimed biography of Max Weber (2014) was nominated for the Leipzig Book Fair prize.
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