a1 Barnard College, Columbia University
Books on the major thinkers in the history of philosophy are faced with difficult tasks. Not only do they run the risk of being too scholarly for the nonspecialist or insufficiently detailed for the specialist, but also they must observe the fine line between avoiding anachronism and establishing the current relevance and merits of the past philosopher. These problems are compounded for the English-speaking philosopher by a figure like Hegel who is either identified with a very unhegelian British idealism, or largely ignored. The anglophone interpreter of Hegel must find fresh ways of expressing his ideas and methods for a philosophical audience whose recent resurgence of interest in Hegel emerges from a zero degree, or worse, of understanding or empathy. Charles Taylor's book is brilliantly successful at rehabilitating Hegel and providing a vigorous, stimulating reading of his major works.