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Hegel occupies most of this book, which is written in a respectful but surpassingly pedestrian tone, so that it manages to negate the whole idea of philosophical controversy by its style alone. Heiss manages to use a formula every few pages -- ""on the one hand, on the other hand"" -- it happens to be a formula which Marx and Hegel made special fun of. He also expresses constant, sincere amazement that Hegel gave forth not only ""abstract"" and ""abstruse"" concepts but profound treatments of psychology and strikingly poetic images. The book also gets a toe-step beyond the idea that Hegel simply became a defender of the Prussian state out of self-interest. The sections on Marx and Kierkegaard imply much more than they say. Heiss has a clear sense of the importance for Marx's development of Hegel's concept of labor and Hegel's treatment of ""civil society."" He also sees that Kierkegaard retreated from the very concept of philosophy as the science of all sciences, enabling human beings to gasp reality. But both Marx and Kierkegaard are treated quite perfunctorily. The reader is left to draw out the contrast between Kierkegaard's provincial, selfindulgent withdrawal into negation of history, and Marx's forward motion into what Heiss prefers to think of as ""utopian"" thought. The book wavers between a general view of ""the dialectic"" as some arcane, addled concept, and a basic desire to dig into what these thinkers meant by it. Unhappily, Heiss merely respects, but can't reproduce, the courage of Hegel and Marx, so their ""dialectic"" as presented here is virtually gutted.

Pub Date: Feb. 26th, 1974
Publisher: Delacorte