ABSTRACT

In this chapter I want to explain why philosophy matters. In due course I shall come on to Socrates, Plato’s teacher, and Plato. But I start with a much more recent figure, Hegel. For Hegel, like Socrates, philosophy was literally a matter of life and death. He wrote about it as such in probably his greatest work, The Phenomenology of Mind, completed on the eve of Napoleon’s victory in the battle of Jena (1806). We shall see how, at the very least, his chapter on ‘Self-Consciousness’ casts light on contemporaneously existing attitudes to discursively moralized power relations in society.