The Phenomenology of Spirit, the most-read of G.W.F. Hegel's works, marked the beginning of a movement in philosophy and history, one which would influence all philosophy to come. It is a text about epistemology and metaphysics, and the inseparableness of the two; it is also a text about history, about religion; about perception, logic, and love. Most critically, it is a text about the 'sociality of reason' – it seeks to show how the concepts of the human understanding find their roots in the interactions of human beings with themselves and with their world, and this radical proposition is the source of “everything great in philosophy for the last century”, in the words of Maurice Merleau-Ponty.
The Preface to this text, a Preface which many consider to be a great text in its own right, was written at the behest of Hegel's publisher, after the completion of the original work. In it, Hegel sought to situate the Phenomenology within his “System der Wissenschaft”, or System of Science, and to link the Phenomenology with the Science of Logic. It is a famously difficult text, for the reason that it outlines the heart of Hegel's philosophy – his methodology – in a few pages. He uses these pages to distinguish his project from that of Kant; his concern is not with finding out any foundation of knowledge, but with watching the development of the human spirit, as it moves from one mode of consciousness to another.
The SPS/PPRG Reading Group shall meet in order to read from, discuss, and examine the Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit. It shall seek to foster an environment where even those with no background in philosophy are welcome, and to encourage contributions from all fields and disciplines. Each session shall deal with specific paragraphs from the Preface, and will be led by individuals whose background and expertise is most relevant to those paragraphs. The discussion shall not stop there; it shall also move to the sections of the Phenomenology itself which are pertinent to what is being discussed, in an attempt to engender a fluid discussion of Hegel's thought.