Hegel's Theory of Imagination

By Jennifer Ann Bates

Subjects: Hegel, Continental Philosophy, Aesthetics
Series: SUNY series in Hegelian Studies
Paperback : 9780791462089, 248 pages, February 2014
Hardcover : 9780791462072, 248 pages, October 2004

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents




Schematic Breakdown of the Imagination in Each of the Philosophy of Spirit Lectures

Key German Terms and their Translation as "Imagination" and Related Words

List of Abbreviations

PART ONE: Imagination in Theory: "Subjective Authentication"


1. The Sundering Imagination of the Absolute
(Hegel's Earliest Works)

2. Dialectical Beginnings
(Fragment 17 of Geistesphilosophie 1803–04)

3. The Dialectical Imagination
(Geistesphilosophie 1803–04) 35

4. The Inwardizing Imagination
(Geistesphilosophie 1805–06)

5. The Communicative Imagination
(Philosophy of Subjective Spirit 1830)


PART TWO: Imagination in Practice: "Objective Authentication"


6. Memory, the Artist's Einbildungskraft, Phantasie, and Aesthetic Vorstellungen
(Lectures on Aesthetics)


PART THREE: Synthesis and Disclosure: The Phenomenology of Spirit


7. Imagination and the Medium of Thought
(Phenomenology of Spirit "Preface")





A comprehensive account of the role of the imagination in Hegel's philosophy.


Filling an important gap in post-Kantian philosophy, Hegel's Theory of Imagination focuses on the role of the imagination, and resolves the question of its apparent absence in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. Jennifer Ann Bates discusses Hegel's theory of the imagination through the early and late Philosophy of Spirit lectures, and reveals that a dialectic between the two sides of the imagination (the "night" of inwardizing consciousness and the "light" of externalizing material) is essential to thought and community. The complexity and depth of Hegel's insights make this book essential reading for anyone seriously interested in understanding how central the imagination is to our every thought.

Jennifer Ann Bates is Visiting Scholar of Philosophy at the University of Guelph and at the Centre for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto.


"…Bates is undoubtedly successful in establishing that the role of imagination within the Phenomenology needs to be thoroughly investigated, and while she may not get to the bottom of every issue entailed by such a project, she certainly makes a challenging and important contribution to it. " — Owl of Minerva

"…it is indispensable reading for anyone interested in Hegel's account of the role of the imagination in our mental, communicative, and creative lives. " — British Journal of Aesthetics

"This work is a detailed analysis of the role of the imagination in the works of Hegel. One of its major contributions is that it brings to the forefront a relatively neglected issue in Hegel scholarship, as well as casting light on Hegel's relation to the movements of German Idealism and Romanticism. " — Philosophy in Review

"In focusing on the imagination in Hegel, Jennifer Ann Bates explores a topic which has not received much detailed consideration. Bates presents a careful, close reading of relevant texts, both of Hegel and his predecessors. " — William Maker, editor of Hegel and Aesthetics