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date: 26 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Until 1800, Hegel held that religion takes primacy over philosophy. That commitment alters fundamentally with his first publications in Jena. The Difference essay (1801) and Faith and Knowledge (1802) hold the key to the genesis of his mature thought. Chapter 1 focuses on Hegel’s efforts to define the task of philosophy and thereby to shore up his new position. Hegel’s first system program, dedicated to a holistic conception of reality, is shaped by his understanding of three central concepts: the absolute, speculation, and the system. Here the influence of Jacobi and Spinoza is formative. Critical analysis of his reception of their thought illuminates the epistemological problems Hegel was still facing in Jena and reveals the abiding convictions that will henceforth guide him. The system program of the Difference essay thus both sets the agenda and forms the template for the famous Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit.

Keywords: Hegel, Jena, Faith and Knowledge, speculation, system, Jacobi, Spinoza

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