What I wish to do, however, is to call attention to the manner in which Hegel speaks of Minerva's owl and to juxtapose both the manner and the substance of his thought about the twilight of philosophy and civilization with some of Hölderlin's dichterisch and Heidegger's denkerisch meditations on similar themes. For if Hegel has announced the coming of the night, Hölderlin and Heidegger have sought to make the night their very own territory and to comprehend it from within. If Hegel has rather gingerly allowed himself to lapse into that famous figurative discourse of the owl and the gray in gray, he has immediately weakened his remarks by calling them "external and subjective" in the very next paragraph; Heidegger has had no hesitation—no shame, many professional philosophers would say—in speaking seriously of the most extreme sayings of modern poets about the night of the modern world and in making his own writings into poetic meditations on the night. I hope that the significance of these juxtapositions will become apparent by looking at some internal problems of the Hegelian perspective; and this long way around may yield a deeper sense of the questions which I began by deferring.
Copyright © 1977 Johns Hopkins University Press. This article first appeared in Philosophy and Literature 1, no. 3 (Fall 1977): 276-94. doi:10.1353/phl.1977.0005.
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Shapiro, Gary. "The Owl of Minerva and the Colors of the Night." Philosophy and Literature 1, no. 3 (Fall 1977): 276-94. doi:10.1353/phl.1977.0005.