Hegel's Phenomenology is among the most difficult, if it is not in fact the most difficult, philosophical treatise ever published. Owing to its opacity of form and content, the Phenomenology, which Hegel quite accurately describes as the highway of despair upon which natural consciousness travels to its absolute knowing, has had its share of hitchhikers (§78). In their efforts to comprehend the scenery along this highway, many readers of this text rely on any number of analytical commentaries and expositions. Westphal (2003) offers a welcomed contribution to this kind of secondary literature.
As its title suggests, Westphal's text seeks to introduce Hegel's Phenomenology in a novel way, namely with explicit reference to the epistemological issue at its core. This is the Dilemma of the Criterion from Sextus Empiricus' Outlines of Pyrrhonism. (Benson 1996). In addition to introducing the central features and characteristics of the epistemological aim of the Phenomenology, Westphal devotes considerable effort to showing how, that is by what method, Hegel responds to at least Pyrrhonian skepticism.
Westphal's examination of Hegel's method is framed by two questions. The first question is: what is Hegel's method? The answer that Westphal offers, namely that Hegel employs a phenomenological method, agrees with a host of classic and contemporary commentators, including Ivan Iljin (1946:126), Alexandre Kojève (1980: Ch. 7), Kenley R. Dove (1969-70), William Maker (1982), Wendy Lynn Clark and J.M. Fritzman (2002). Nevertheless, Westphal does offer a detailed, sophisticated, and novel account of the characteristics of Hegel's phenomenological method that is unrivaled in the extant literature.