The Beginning Before the Beginning: Hegel and the Activation of Philosophy


  • Paul Ashton Victoria and LaTrobe University


Hegel, Beginning, Revolution, Freedom, Modernity, Dwelling, We, Thought


This paper suggests that it is not enough to simply account for the lsquo;beginningrsquo; in Hegelrsquo;s philosophy. To capture the speculative depth of Hegelrsquo;s thinking one must also account for the beginning of philosophy as such. That is, how or why the philosopher begins or lsquo;the beginning before the beginningrsquo;. The question of the activation of the philosophical project itself is explored through Hegelrsquo;s notion of the lsquo;need of philosophyrsquo; and the fundamental relation between the historical event of the French Revolution and philosophical thinking. This question is explored through a critical discussion of those thinkers who are also concerned with the philosophy/revolution relation but are critical of Hegelrsquo;s approach. It is suggested that these critical readings employ a thematic approach to both Hegel and philosophy more generally. This approach renders them unable to appreciate Hegelrsquo;s philosophy speculatively and as a consequence the relation between philosophy and freedom, via the revolution, is misconstrued. In contradistinction to these readings the question of how one encounters Hegelrsquo;s thought non-thematically is explored through an analysis of the willingness of the would-be philosopher to activate themselves into the philosophical project and dwell with Hegel in the lsquo;wersquo;. Rather than providing answers to the questions raised, this paper seeks to act as a provocation for a renewed encounter with Hegelrsquo;s philosophy. br /




How to Cite

Ashton, P. (2007). The Beginning Before the Beginning: Hegel and the Activation of Philosophy. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 3(2-3), 328–356. Retrieved from