Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 3, No 2-3 (2007)

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The Spirit of The Age and the Fate of Philosophical Thinking

Paul Ashton, Toula Nicolacopoulos, George Vassilacopoulos

Abstract


Drawing on Hegelrsquo;s claim that lsquo;it belongs to the weakness of our time not to be able to bear the greatness, the immensity of the claims made by the human spirit, to feel crushed before them, and to flee from them faint-heartedrsquo;, this essay explores the possibility of a renewed encounter with Hegelrsquo;s thought. Arguing that it is not the acceptance or rejection of the lessons of Hegelrsquo;s thought that is important, but rather that ever since Hegel, philosophers are challenged to experience philosophy as such as the happening of the spirit of the age. It further asks the question how is it that the spirit of the age might emerge in an otherwise spiritless age? From this perspective the question for us is whether philosophizing today has the power to generate a level of intensity, not so much for the spirit of our own age to emerge clearly and distinctively, but for the spirit of the age to emerge at all. Perhaps, instead, the real issue for those of us who come after Hegel is whether we are strong enough to intensify and withstand the intensity that Hegelrsquo;s thinking has already released. From this perspective to encounter the spirit of the age can be neither to look for it in the developments of the twenty-first century world nor to produce a radically new philosophy. The essay suggests that the fate of those of us who follow the arriving of Hegel, the revolutionary thinker, is to face the challenge of dwelling in his arriving.

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