Philosophy and the Experience of Loss in Hegel and Augustine

  • Speaker: Bill Bristow, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy
  • Event title: Philosophy and the Experience of Loss in Hegel and Augustine
  • When: Wednesday, March 30, 3:30
  • Where: Mitchell Hall 195
  • Event description:
    Augustine, in Book IV of his Confessions, provides a classical description of the experience of devastating loss (the death of a dear friend), a description which serves (for me, anyway) as a template to help interpret a famous passage in GWF Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, in which Hegel describes the self-transformative experience of the fear of death. Hegel’s description of this experience influences later existentialist thinkers (Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Sartre and others) in their understanding of the experiences of anxiety (Angst), dread, forlorn-ness, and despair, experiences or emotions that they take to be revealing of the human condition. Some questions asked about both Augustine’s and Hegel’s classical depictions of the self-shattering experience of loss: How is the fundamental experience best described and what is the relation of this experience to being human? How do experiences of this sort change us, if they do? Do such experiences, despite their being prone to cast us into despair, also convey redeeming philosophical self-knowledge or wisdom, and, if so how? Are such experiences in some sense necessary for becoming fully what we are?
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