This paper discusses two core concepts in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit: necessity (Notwendigkeit) and memory (Erinnerung). The analysis is based on an investigation of the connotations and linguistic components of the two terms as they are used in the German language. Occurrences of the terms in decisive passages in the Phenomenology of Spirit are investigated and seen as a key to an understanding of Hegel’s overall project of constructing a “scientific” (wissenschaftlich) philosophy in the form of a conceptual system. The paper aims at showing that this project can in part be understood as an attempt to transform the contingency of all moments of the path of the self-cultivation, maturation, and growth (Bildung) of spirit (Geist)—understood both in terms of its personal dimension and as “world spirit”—into necessity. It is argued that memory plays a decisive role in this endeavor, not only in the sense of a recalling of the past, but also as a prerequisite for a future that opens up room for further cultivation, maturation, and growth.
This paper argues that the Zhuangzi《莊子》 represents a specific type of Daoist practical philosophy: It is medicinal or therapeutic and seeks to promote existential ease, often by means of humor. Part of its approach to practical philosophy consists in pointing out the impracticality of many early Chinese philosophical doctrines, and, especially, Confucian political and ethical teachings. To illustrate this understanding of the Zhuangzi, the narrative of Confucius’ visit to the legendary Gangster Zhi (dao zhi盜跖) is analyzed in some detail.