Huge New Discovery of Notes on Hegel’s Lectures

Posted in books, the 18th century in the news by Editor on December 20, 2022

From The Guardian:

Sara Tor, “Manuscript Treasure Trove May Offer Fresh Understanding of Hegel,” The Guardian (29 November 2022).

One of the papers from a trove of 4,000 notes on Hegel, found by Professor Klaus Vieweg (Photograph: Marko Fuchs/Copyright Archiv und Bibliothek des Erzbistums München und Freising).

Library discovery of undocumented transcripts of German philosopher’s lectures like ‘finding new Beethoven score’

A biographer researching the German philosopher Hegel (1770–1831) has uncovered a massive treasure trove of previously undocumented lectures that could change perceptions regarding one of the leading figures of modern western philosophy. More than 4,000 pages of notes on Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s lectures were found by Klaus Vieweg in the library of the archdiocese of Munich and Freising.

“The discovery of these manuscripts is comparable to finding a new score by Beethoven or a previously unseen painting by Constable,” said Vieweg, a professor at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena in Germany.

He said an early reading of the notes had hinted at a fresh understanding of how Hegel formed his influential ideas on aesthetics, the philosophy around beauty and art, and how he analysed Shakespeare’s plays to help develop his ideas.

The transcripts are thought to have been written by Friedrich Wilhelm Carové, one of the first students at Heidelberg University to be taught by Hegel during the philosopher’s time there between 1816 and 1818. Hegel’s ideas and works are notable for their formidable difficulty. The British philosopher Bertrand Russell described him as “the hardest to understand of the great philosophers.” Vieweg hopes the new find might bring clarity. The papers will now be compiled into an annotated edition by a team of international experts, headed by Vieweg and Christian Illies, a professor of philosophy at the University of Bamberg.

“Major sections of Hegel’s work are only known through his lectures, so scholars have long been trying to find transcripts,” said Illies. “Several were found and published in the 19th and 20th centuries, but over the years uncovering new material has become less and less likely.”

Vieweg’s find is probably the single largest of its kind ever made. It was unearthed after a reader of his recent biography on Hegel pointed him to the archive of Friedrich Windischmann. Windischmann was a professor of Catholic theology in Munich whose father, Karl Joseph Hieronymous Windischmann, was a philosopher and friend of Hegel. A letter between Hegel and Karl Windischmann shows that Carové gave the set of manuscripts to the latter as a gift.

Although research on the material has only just begun, there has already been one significant find: the boxes contain a transcript from one of the very first lectures Hegel gave on aesthetics. Currently, any knowledge of Hegel’s thoughts on aesthetics originates from much later lectures given in Berlin. These were published after his death by his student Heinrich Gustav Hotho using a combination of lecture transcripts and Hegel’s own notes. As there have been no other sources to compare this with, questions have arisen as to how far this material was influenced by Hotho. The discovery of early lectures, therefore, could help to finally clear up the uncertainty. . . .

The full article is available here»

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