The Owl and the Angel

Оксана Тимофеева. Старший преподаватель, факультет политических наук и социологии, Европейский университет в Санкт-Петербурге. Адрес: 191187, Санкт-Петербург, ул. Гагаринская, 3. Email: otimofeeva@eu.spb.ru
Ключевые слова: Hegel; Walter Benjamin; Owl of Minerva; Angel of History; h ness; revolution; dialectics
In Hegel’s philosophical system, the owl of Minerva is not just a m phor, but a significant symbol. In the symbolism of Hegel’s time, it stood for ideas of enlightenment and political emancipation, including radical, revolutionary, cosmopolitan, anti-monarchical, and even anarchistic ideas. Hegel, however, places the owl in a context that appears utterly un-revolutionary. “The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of dusk,” he writes in the preface to the Philosophy of Right, thus summing up his argument that philosophy’s task is not to teach the world how it ought to be, nor to issue instructions to the state, but rather to comprehend the world as reasonable. Not only does Hegel’s owl seem to defend the reactionary present state (a state against which she previously fought in the name of reason and freedom), but she also seems to teach us to accept the present with joy. The point is not merely to reconcile oneself with reality, but also to enjoy it. This paper traces a number of explanatory trajectories—philosophical, psychological, and anthropological—in order to elucidate the paradoxical nature of this enjoyment, and compares the figure of Minerva’s owl with another flying creature, Walter Benjamin’s Angel of History. Such a comparison aims to pave the way towards a new interpretation of Hegel’s philosophy of history and time.
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