HUMS 4000 LECTURE SERIES

ON GERMAN HISTORICISM

ON GERMAN HISTORICISM

This lecture Series explores the Philosophy of Freedom, one of the great watersheds in
the history of political thought. Launched by Rousseau in 1750, it evolved through the
writings of Kant, Schiller, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche and Heidegger, who took it into the
20th century. Its animating purpose was to restore the sense of community and human
wholeness that had been evoked by classical political thought to compensate for what
they believed to be the excessive emphasis on material self-interest and individualism in
the social contract theories of early modern thinkers like Hobbes, increasingly leading to
a spiritually impoverished and alienating “bourgeois” way of life. However, all agreed
that the classical approach could not simply be restored. The reason for this was the
triumph of the modern account of nature as “matter in motion” over the cosmologies of
Plato and Aristotle. The over-arching metaphysics of the ancients, grounded in the Idea
of the Good or the Unmoved Mover, integrating the political community with the cosmos
in a unifying third term, had been disproven by modern science in its drive to reduce
human life to materialistic individualism. Therefore, a new unifying third term between
the citizen and the world had to be found. That new unifying third term, developed by
Hegel to address the contradictions in Rousseau’s thinking between nature and freedom,
was the progress of history. The development of historicist philosophy unfolded against
the backdrop of the political crisis of modernity that exploded in the Terror of the French
Revolution, blamed by Burke on the teachings of Rousseau and which Hegel tried to
tame, the beginning of ever-intensifying demands for a politically more radical and
revolutionary future. Hegel’s successors Marx, Nietzsche and Heidegger engage in an
on-going dialogue in which they call into question Hegel’s notion that history unfolds
teleologically and benevolently toward the liberal-democratic “end of history,” and
simultaneously offer ever more millenarian and potentially illiberal visions of a total
revolutionary transformation in the future. This on-going dialogue about the meaning of
history and the collective future of human life is intertwined with a re-engagement by
these thinkers of the original meaning of classical political philosophy itself, including
happiness, civic virtue, and aesthetic fulfillment. 

INTRODUCTORY REMARKS

Lecture 1 (September 5): Classical holism. Modernity's break with classical holism.
00:00 / 1:08:23

NATURE VERSUS FREEDOM: THE ORIGINS OF GERMAN IDEALISM

Lecture 2 (September 10): Plato, Symposium, first half (to speech of Socrates).
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Lecture 3 (September 12): Plato, Symposium, second half (from speech of Socrates to end).
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Lecture 4 (September 17): Aristotle, Politics, Book 1.
00:00 / 1:11:18
Lecture 5 (September 19): Hobbes, Leviathan. Epistle Dedicatory, chapters 1-14, Book 1.
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Lecture 6 (September 24): Hobbes, chapters 15-24.
00:00 / 1:16:33
Lecture 7 (September 26): Rousseau, First and Second Discourses.
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Lecture 8 (October 1): Rousseau, Social Contracts Books 1 and 2.
00:00 / 1:12:11
Lecture 9 (October 3): Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France
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Lecture 10 (October 8): Kant, Metaphysics of Morals, parts 1-2. Schiller, Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man, letters 1, 2, 13, 20, 21, 22.
00:00 / 1:14:16

THE HEGELIAN ABSOLUTE AND THE SCIENCE OF SPIRIT

Lecture 11 (October 10): Hegel, On Love; Introduction to the Philosophy of History.
00:00 / 1:09:59
Lecture 12 (October 15): Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit. Miller Translation. 1-41, Introduction, 166-7. 179-196
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Lecture 13 (October 17): Phenomenology of Spirit. 197-207, 202-5, 206-230, 438-443, 446-463, 464-476, 477-483, 484-6, 582-596, 670-1, 672-683.
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THE FIRST ASSAULT ON ON HEGELIAN IDEALISM: MARX AND MARXISM

Lecture 14 (October 29): Marx: On the Jewish Question
00:00 / 1:14:26
Lecture 15 (October 31): Marx, The Communist Manifesto.
00:00 / 1:08:23