The young Hegelians. An anthology

The young Hegelians. An anthology

222 Book Reviews The Young Hegelians. An Anthology, ed. Lawrence S. Stepelevich (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), xiii + 416 pp., cloth...

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222

Book Reviews

The Young Hegelians. An Anthology, ed. Lawrence S. Stepelevich (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), xiii + 416 pp., cloth f29.50, paper f9.95. The most important factors in assessing an anthology are its contents and the treatment of them. This anthology is constituted as follows. There are eleven authors - D. F. Strauss, A. V. Cieszkowski, L. Feuerbach, B. Bauer, E. Bauer, A. Ruge, F. Engels, K. Marx, M. Stirner, M. Hess, K. Schmidt. The average length per contributor is about thirty pages but this varies between the seventy-four devoted to Ludwig Feuerbach and the nine from Edgar Bauer. Feuerbach’s contribution is drawn from three sources, including his best-known The Essence of Christianity (although this receives slightly less space than his Towards a Critique of Hegelian Philosophy: the shortest extract is from the Provisional Theses for the Reformation of Philosophy). Similarly Bruno Bauer’s contribution is drawn from three sources, one of which is selections from his essay The Jewish Problem, which prompted Marx’s well-known reply. Marx is represented by a brief letter to Ruge and twelve pages from his Critique of Hegel’s ‘Philosophy of Right’. The lack of space devoted to Marx is explained by the editor’s intention ‘merely to exemplify his attitudes during that period of his life’. Arnold Ruge’s and Max Stirner’s contributions are drawn from two of their works. The remaining contributions are excerpted from one of the works of the author in question. In the cases of David Friedrich Strauss, August Cieszkowski and Karl Schmidt the extract is from their best-known work (though in the last case his The Realm of the Understanding and the Individual is hardly known at all). Engels’s mature Feuerbach and End of Classical German Philosophy is not chosen but rather his work contemporary with the others, namely, Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy. Again M. Hess’s best known work (at least written before 1848) The European Triarchy has not been chosen, and this despite Stepelevich’s reference to it in his Introduction as one of the four key Young Hegelian works written after 1841, but rather his short ‘brochure’ The Recent Philosophers. Each of the extracts is prefaced by a brief introduction which provides a line or two of biography together with information on the author’s other writings and the place of that work chosen within the oeuvre. Explanatory footnotes are added. Amongst the various roles performed by these notes are (usefully) supplying exact references to Hegel’s work, both German editions and standard English translations; indicating changes between editions; giving guidance to terminological niceties and conceptual themes; identifying authors referred to; translating classical tags. The book also has a brief but up-to-date bibliography (German titles dominate even though this book appears in a series the purpose of which is to provide translations) and a short Introduction. Of the items included for the first time in English translation are the extracts from Hess and Schmidt; B. Bauer’s Trumpet of the Last Judgment and his The Genus and the Crowd (the preferred translation of Die Gattung und die Masse); Ruge’s articles from the Deutsche Jahrbuche (Hegel’s ‘Philosophy of Right’ and the ‘Politics of Our Times’ and ‘A Self-Critique of Liberalism’); E. Bauer’s Critique’s Quarrel with Church and State; Stirner’s article from the Rhenische Zeitung entitled ‘Art and Religion’. In addition Marx’s letter to Ruge appears in a new translation and George Eliot’s standard translation of the fourth edition of Strauss’s Life of Jesus has been amended by including passages from the first edition which have not previously been translated. How are they treated? Commendably the texts are not mutilated. In general we are supplied with a continuous piece of prose/argument. Thus, for example, the extract from Feuerbach’s Essence of Christianity consists of just the first two sections but gives them in their entirety. Where an extract is not continuous, as with Strauss’s Life of

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Jesus or Bauer’s Jewish Problem, portions from the work’s introduction and its conclusion are given. To sum up, this anthology must be judged a great success. It does provide students (and teachers) with a reliable, accessible and useful compendium. Particularly to be commended are the provision of the extracts from the Bauer brothers and Ruge. Having seen what the anthology comprises the question arises ‘what is its justification?’ One justification we have already touched upon, namely, the provision of some of these texts in English for the first time but that, itself, still needs justifying. Is their availability worthwhile? In the Preface two justifications are intimated: the Young Hegelian ‘movement’ or ‘school’ or ‘circle’ ought to be understood as ‘an authentic school of philosophy in its own right’ and also the collection can serve students of Hegel and Marx - although the first of these is presumably a reaction to the second. In the Introduction Stepelevich never really elaborates upon these intimations. Certainly much more space would have been needed to substantiate the philosophical credentials of the Young Hegelians since, if the extracts here are the guide, that would have been an uphill task. What Stepelevich does provide in the Introduction is a cogent perspective on the School which attends to the relationship between their thought and the changing sociopolitical conditions in Germany between 1830 and 1848. He identifies the School’s ‘dominant theme’ as ‘a secularisation of eschatological Christianity’ and notes how this process moved away from its initial theological context into social and political radicalism. This radicalism was to falter in the face of internal divisions compounded by increasing government and orthodox academic pressure, and philosophically gave way to the irrational egoism of Stirner and the scepticism of Schmidt. Stirner and Schmidt are taken to represent the final working out of the contradictions (the ‘developing logic’) of Young Hegelian thought and that is why they are included in this anthology. This last point is, I fear, too fanciful and the book would not have been seriously damaged by their omission and improved by rather more from Edgar Bauer. This concern with internal development also probably accounts for the choice of the Hess extract (which is largely a critique of Stirner) rather than a piece from the European Triarchy, which was a more obvious choice. But these are essentially minor points when set against the undeniable and considerable merits of the anthology as a whole. Christopher University of Glasgow

J. Berry