2014 volume 32(1) pages 179 – 198

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Bond D W, 2014, "Hegel’s geographical thought" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 32(1) 179 – 198

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Hegel’s geographical thought

Dean W Bond

Abstract. This paper sketches out the contours of the philosopher G W F Hegel’s geographical thought. Until now, geographers have shown little interest in Hegel’s geographical writing. He has figured minimally in histories of geography, and critical geographers who have engaged with Hegel have done so indirectly, either through Karl Marx’s work or through Marxist and postcolonial scholars’ readings of Hegel. This paper offers a more direct reading. It begins from an understanding of geographical thought as both an intellectual and a practical endeavor with its own distinct historical geographies. It examines Hegel’s concepts of ‘nature’ (Natur) and ‘space’ (Raum); his understanding of geography’s relationship to history and anthropology; his relationship to Carl Ritter and Alexander von Humboldt; and the significance of ‘territory’ in his political philosophy. It highlights the ambiguity that characterized Hegel’s thinking about geography, especially in his discussion of climate’s influence on humans. It also challenges Henri Lefebvre’s reading of Hegel’s view on the state’s relationship to territory. Finally, it suggests that Hegel’s conceptions of nature, space, and geography mattered not only for his philosophies of history, nature, and subjective spirit, but for his understanding of modernity’s geographies as well.
Keywords: G W F Hegel, historical geography, philosophy of geography, space, territory

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