Of Spiritual Failure: The Matter of Hegel's Pyramids


  • Andrew Kingston




This article critically examines GWF Hegel's treatment of the Egyptian pyramids in his Aesthetics as an aporia at a crucial juncture of his systematic philosophy. For Hegel, the pyramids are the aesthetic and historical moment at which 'Spirit' begins to extricate itself from matter. However, this article claims that such a transition is only possible through a repression and a forgetting of the material situation upon which it is predicated. In forming this argument, this article will examine Hegel's dismissive treatment of the pyramids in six sections. In the first and second sections, the pyramids will be situated within Hegel's larger project. In the third section, the article will look at his writings on the pyramids themselves. The fourth section will examine Jacques Derrida's critique of 'Hegel's semiology' as a way to open up a critical perspective. The fifth section turns to Hegel's writing on geology in Philosophy of Nature as a way to focus on the materiality of the pyramids. And finally, the sixth section concludes by considering their labor and the construction. Each of these latter sections attempts  attempts to highlight aspects of the pyramids that fundamentally challenge the Hegelian transition from matter to 'Spirit'.