Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Spirit” as a screenplay for a documentary
by Reinhold Jaretzky and Matthias Pfeffer
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel wanted to apprehend „his own time in thoughts“. Are these thoughts still viable today, in a time of Silicon Valley, artificial intelligence and genetic engineering? This question is pursued by the documentary in the form of a road movie. Because the millennium work “Phenomenology of Spirit” is itself a travelogue, it is based on the flourishing travel literature of the 18th century and describing the journey of an identity finding: the journey of consciousness to itself. The road movie leads into environments and situations that allow to validate Hegel’s concept: whether contemplating an opulent starry sky with its not-too-obvious rules of movement, visiting a Butler school, learning the roles of master and servant (Hegel’s Master-Slvae-dialectic) or crossing the Frankfurt financial district, where the fantasy of stock market prices, yields, interest, profit visions attach a deceptive concept of freedom. Hegel´s „world spirit“ is also explored at the Star Trek Festival in the Canadian Vulcan, assuming that in the TV classic the Hegelian imperative of the equality of all sentient beings is relevant. And, of course, in Silicon Valley, where thinkers and doers starting inventing the future of the world. The red thread of the film is the question of Hegel’s actuality, and it concludes in the summary: how suitable is his famous „Register of Freedom” today.