If you've seen a few pictures of Hegel, you're probably familiar with the lithograph of Hegel in his study wearing a dressing gown and strange hat by Julius Ludwig Sebbers in 1828, when Hegel would have been 57 or 58:
I always wondered what books Hegel had on his shelves, and I recently found a detailed enough scan to be able to see what was there. Unfortunately, only two of the volumes have legible names:
The Plato looks convincing, but Aristotle looks like an afterthought ... and, further, Plato occupies a prominent position on Hegel's desk, while Aristotle is on the floor.
How should we interpret this?
In his Lectures on the History of Philosophy, Hegel says:
So Hegel obviously has a high opinion of both ancient Greeks, but if we take into account that in part one of the Encyclopedia (Logic), Hegel says:The development of philosophic science as science, and, further, the progress from the Socratic point of view to the scientific, begins with Plato and is completed by Aristotle. They of all others deserve to be called teachers of the human race.
(Haldane/Simson translation, vol. 2, p. 1)
Combine that with his refutation of what he calls in § 115 "the so-called laws of thinking", and I think what we could be witnessing is a visual representation of the superiority of dialectic over Aristotelian logic.Plato is called the inventor of the dialectic, and rightfully so, insofar as in the Platonic philosophy the dialectic occurs for the first time in its free, scientific and thus at the same time objective form.
(Brinkmann/Dahlstrom translation, p.129)
What do you think?
On a final note, I found that Hegel's mahogany desk in the picture is still in existence and may be found at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin: