From Finite Thinking to Infinite Spirit: How to Encounter Hegel after Heidegger's translation?

Susanna Lindberg

University of Helsinki


The last chapter of Phenomenology of spirit, "The absolute knowledge", presents the ultimate Aufhebung of the book: the passage from finitude to infinitude, from representation to concept. I will examine this transition from the point of view of Heidegger's critique of Hegel, which amounts to saying that Hegel suppresses

time, ends history and destroys the possibility of finite thinking. (Although Heidegger only quotes two sentences of this chapter and never studies them in context, they resume the heart of his critique of Hegel.)

Returning to Hegel's text, I will show the shortcomings of Heidegger's critique: actually the concept produces time, instead of abolishing it; it is liberated in nature and in oblivious past, instead of enslaving them. Indeed, Heidegger's coarse reading of Hegel has acted as a provocation, that has lead many (in particular

younger French) scholars to show how Hegelian thinking could actually be a thinking of a finite, contingent, natural and figurative reality. I will present an interpretation of spirit that such a reading presupposes: the spirit is not a separate absolute cogito (as Heidegger makes us believe) but pure activity, a force of figuration

and of defiguration. Such a spirit is not the opposite of finite reality: it is the infinite existence and thought of finitude.


Susanna Lindberg earned her Ph.D. from Université Marc Bloch in Strasbourg, 2000, with the thesis

Heidegger avec Hegel: une explication philosophique. She is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Helsinki. and a postdoctoral researcher of the Academy of Finland and the University of Helsinki. Her current work deals with ideas of “life” and the “elemental” in German idealism, contemporary phenomenology, and deconstruction.