A lot of my professors suggested just reading through Kojève's 'Introduction to the reading of Hegel'. One of my professors advised me to read Hegel first, and only then refer to Kojeve for what I didn't understand, while others insisted that it's literally not worth it. How did you do it? Also, all of them refer to a problem of interpreting Hegel that comes from the fact that you have to accept his game to be able to even begin with anything, and if you accept his game you just end up sounding like Hegel, instead of as someone interpreting him. One of my professors said he listened to an amazing course in his youth that was analytic in nature in which the lecturer managed to avoid this problem, but he wasn't able to direct me to any literature. Do you have anything for me other than Kojeve?

  • Maybe you can try with : Robert Stern, Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, Routledge (2013) or Dean Moyar & Michael Quante (editors), Hegel's Phenomenology of Sprit : A Critical Guide, Cambridge (2008). Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 12:19
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    The most commonly read text is Phenomenology of Spirit. It's not at all an easy read by itself, but there are several problems with Kojeve as an interpreter from what I hear... You could look at Frederick Beiser's Hegel or Quentin Lauer, Hegel's Idea of Philosophy.
    – virmaior
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 12:46
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    It indeed is a 'joke' among Hegel experts that when you dedicated at least a decade of your life studying Hegel to thoroughly understand him, you are left with the choice to either admit that it is trivial in the end and you wasted a decade of your life as you can hardly express intelligibly to others how other than hegeliesk, or you continue to think and claim it is the only real philosophy. Guess what they choose. Kojève has his own reading of Hegel, founding a French tradition of Hegelianism. But it is questionable whether this is more Hegel or more Kojève.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 13:05
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    In addition, I think it is crucial to understand the historical and systematic setting of Hegel and his conceptual framework. Eckart Förster's The Twenty-Five Years of Philosophy provides both this and an excellent interpretation of the project and method of the Phenomenology of Spirit.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 13:10
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    There are (at least) two threads with "enter Hegel" recommendations already Book recommendations for learning Hegel and Wittgenstein and What should I read before reading Hegel's “Phenomenology of Spirit”?
    – Conifold
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 0:57

2 Answers 2


The question is a bit like asking "Where should I go on my first trip to China?" You should go, or start, wherever is easiest and most interesting to you. Whether you read Kojeve, or Hyppolite, or the preface to Hegel's Phenomenology (or whether you visit old Beijing, or the hotspots of Shanghai, or take a Yangtze River cruise) you will learn a lot. And no matter where you start you will not master the subject until you start over in a lot of other places where you could just as well have begun.

Stanley Rosen used to say Kojeve wrote the only commentary on Hegel worth reading, because it is the only one that is not on Hegel. To be more helpful: Kojeve masters Hegel's thought and uses it in important ways, he does not reproduce it (which, by the way, means there is an alternative to the grim picture painted by Philip Klöcking in a comment to the question). Rosen may have been exactly right about that. But you probably should not read Kojeve's whole book before beginning Hegel.

You could plunge into the dramatically involving Phenomenology, or for a quick easy start that hits many typical themes read the introduction to Hegel's Philosophy of History. You cannot grasp Hegel without understanding the Science of Logic (also called the larger logic), and vice versa. Hegel says you have to read that, and then come back to it much later to understand it. You could read an assortment of his prefaces and introductions without reading the full works, at first.

If you just want to spend one afternoon on it, you cannot find a more comprehensive, orderly, accurate and concise intro than Peter Singer's Hegel: A Very Short Introduction (another refutation of Philip Klöcking's comment). But note that Hegel himself is "comprehensive" in very different way than Singer, and "orderly" in a radically different way. "Accurate" is not how most people describe Hegel, and Hegel himself is quite purposefully not concise.

Or, for something completely different, spend an hour on Ludwig Feuerbach's 1839 essay Towards a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy.

It really depends on what you want to get out of it. If you want mastery of Hegel as a whole then start anywhere you like.


I cite here a number of philosophers mentioned in Hegelian Science of Logic. It would be useful to have (more or less) an overall view of the issues these philosophers deal with and their role in the development of philosophical thought so to follow the text more closely

About an analysis I would recommend Herbert Marcuse's Hegel's Ontology and Theory of Historicity

Presocratics, Plato Philebus, Phaedo and more, Aristotle Metaphysics, Thomas Aquinas On Being and Essence, Karl_Leonhard_Reinhold, Spinoza Ethics, Immanuel Kant Critique of the Pure Reason, Descartes's Meditations on First Philosophy, Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, Leibniz, Fichte, David Hume.

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