CfP: “Goethe and Hegel” (Goethe Yearbook 31, 2024)

We are glad to give notice of the Call for Papers Goethe and Hegel: On their Relationship between Philosophy, Aesthetics, and Political Theory, for a Special section of Goethe Yearbook 31 (2024). The guest editor of the thematic issue is Gregor Schäfer.

Deadline for the submission of English or German contributions: 15 February, 2023, to

Please find below the description and information about the submission.


“The Urphänomen” – as it says on the drinking glass that Goethe gave Hegel in April 1821 – “very humbly begs the Absolute to give it a cordial welcome.” On the one hand, the relationship between Goethe and Hegel (as this present attests) is marked by a deep mutual acknowledgement or even veneration. On the other hand, central concepts in both of their thinking – such as we see in the Goethean Urphänomen or the Hegelian Absolute – demonstrate deep tensions. While Goethe’s Urphänomen emphasizes an immediate intuition of nature, for Hegel’s speculative thinking the mediation of conceptual reflection proves constitutive. These tensions do not, however, negate the significant closeness of their interests: the question of the mediation of the singular, particular, and general, that stands at the center of Hegel’s speculative logic is also continually determinative for Goethe’s poetic production and thinking. Thus Goethe writes in conjunction with his completion of the first part of Faust – whose structural and thematic proximity to Hegel’s Phenomenology of the Spirit has been frequently noted – that there are no individuals, who are not related to something general: “All individuals are also general: that is, this one or that one, whichever you wish, is the representative of an entire genre.” And here, for Goethe just as for Hegel, the individual can only become not only a general but also an actual individual when it acts and realizes itself in the concrete fullness of the real world, in order to arrive at itself. Similarly, for both, the reality that opens up through this world-relation connected to activity is essentially characterized by contradiction and conflict, by the critical development of reshaping and transformation: the concrete fullness of the universe shapes itself not only for Hegel but also for Goethe only in passing through the “regulated, methodically cultivated spirit of contradiction” as Hegel summarizes the dialectic in conversation with Goethe. Such an inherently contradictory and tension-filled reality thus contains, for both Goethe and Hegel, a focus on the political and social present in the midst of the French Revolution and its consequences: how the upheavals and crises of the Revolution could lead – in the Age of Napoleon – to the founding of a new social order proves to be, for both, a central task of not just theoretical but also practical importance. This aspect is not least responsible for the enduring modernity of Goethe and Hegel and it inscribes itself in the leading question (for both) of the conditions and possibilities of classical art in the modern age.

The aim of the proposed thematic focus is to collect original contributions that investigate and discuss both the commonalities and differences in the relationship between Goethe and Hegel across the complex field of philosophy, aesthetics, and political theory. Although many aspects of the relationship between the two thinkers have been thoroughly studied, the importance and timeliness of the perspectives addressed here still represent a desideratum in both Goethe and Hegel studies.
In addition to a focus on Goethe and Hegel themselves, contributions that expand the relationship to further figures and constellations of their shared epoch (the Age of Goethe, Weimar Classicism, and Classical German Philosophy) or that investigate them in terms of pertinent later (post-classical, post-idealist) reception are also welcome.

English or German contributions should be submitted by 15 February, 2023, to The essays selected after peer review will be published in the 2024 Goethe Yearbook. Contributions should be submitted according to the guidelines of the Goethe Yearbook:


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