The Palgrave Hegel Handbook 9783030265960

This handbook presents the conceptions and principles central to every aspect of Hegel’s systematic philosophy. In twent

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The Palgrave Hegel Handbook

Table of contents :
Series Editor’s Preface
Notes on Contributors
Introduction: Understanding Hegel and His Philosophical Project
Part I Intellectual Background and Philosophical Project
Chapter 1 Hegel: His Life and His Path in Philosophy
1 Early Life and First Encounter with Philosophy
2 Time in Tübingen: Acquaintance with Hölderlin and Schelling, and Lived Experience of the French Revolution
3 Pre-Jena Period: Despair, Uncertainty and Desire for a New Path
4 At Jena: Launching His Academic Career
5 Between Jena and Heidelberg: Another Period of Despair
6 Heidelberg Period: Return to the University
7 Call to Berlin: Realization of Goals and Ambitions
Chapter 2 Situating Hegel: From Transcendental Philosophy to a Phenomenology of Spirit
1 Kant’s Transcendental Philosophy
2 Early Skeptical Critiques of Kant’s Transcendental Philosophy
3 Fichte’s Philosophy of Freedom
4 Schelling’s Turn to Spinoza
5 On the Way to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit
Chapter 3 Kant, Hegel and the Historicity of Pure Reason
1 Introduction
2 Kant and the History of Pure Reason
3 Hamann, Herder and the “Meta-critique” of Pure Reason
4 The Profusion of Post-critique Alternatives
5 Hegel’s “Self-Consummating Skepticism”
6 The Twin Targets of Hegel’s Phenomenological Critique
7 Hegel’s Phenomenological, Critical History of Pure Reason in the 1807 Phenomenology
8 Hegelian Conclusions
Chapter 4 Hegel’s Epistemology
1 Problems of Scholarly Neglect of Hegel’s Epistemology
2 Hegel’s Striking Originality in Epistemology
3 Skeptical Naturalism and Reconceiving Knowing as a Dynamic Process
4 Kant’s Critical Self-Scrutiny of Reason is Achieved Historically
5 Hegel’s Systematic Philosophy Anticipates (inter alia) Structural Realism
6 Knowing is Anchored in Doing, in Practical Reasoning and Activities
Part II Phenomenology of Spirit
Chapter 5 The Role of Religion in Hegel’s Phenomenological Justification of Philosophical Science
1 Introduction
2 Hegel’s Ambiguous Discussion of the Presupposition Question
3 Hegel’s Scientific Proof Procedure
4 Consciousness Retreats into the Infinity of Life and Self-Consciousness
5 Self-Consciousness Retreats into the Transcendence of the Rational
6 The Emergence of the Irrational and the Retreat into Spirit
7 The Spirit of the Enlightenment
8 The Spirit of the Moral World and the Retreat into Religion
9 The Spirit of Religion and the Retreat into Absolute Knowing
10 Conclusion
Chapter 6 Absolute Spirit in Performative Self-Relations of Persons
1 Introduction and Main Results
2 Systematic and Conceptual Background
2.1 Ding an sich, Transcendental Apperception, and Intellectual Intuition
2.2 Self-Consciousness
2.3 Being an Object of Knowledge and Being as a Performative Attitude
2.4 Relative Self-Ascriptions and Absolute Performation
3 Investigating Real Human Consciousness
3.1 Deconstructing Empiricist Self-Knowledge
3.2 Deconstructing a Thinking Soul as the Master of the Body
3.3 Deconstructing Intuitive Appeals to Reason
3.4 Human Spirit as the Form of a Personal Subject in We-Groups
4 Absolute Spirit
4.1 Finite Knowledge and the Practical Role of Ideals
4.2 The Idea of the Good
4.3 Ideal Truth
4.4 Mundane Truth in Religion and Art vs. Parochial Views in Empiricism and Scientism
5 Conclusion
Chapter 7 Individuality, Individualism and Our Human Zoôn Politikon
Part III Science of Logic and the System of Philosophy
Chapter 8 Method in Hegel’s Dialectic-Speculative Logic
1 Form and Content of Thinking: Formal, Transcendental, Dialectic-Speculative Logic
2 Method and the Inner Self-Movement of the Content
3 Conclusion
Chapter 9 Aufhebung
Chapter 10 Freedom as Belonging: A Defense of Hegelian Holism
1 Introduction
2 A Tale of Two Stories
3 “Freedom Is Not Free”
4 Kill, Eat, Be Free
5 An Exercise in Idealism
Part IV Philosophy of Nature
Chapter 11 Levels of Reality or Development? Hegel’s Realphilosophie and Philosophy of the Sciences
Chapter 12 Causality, Natural Systems, and Hegel’s Organicism
1 Introduction
2 Conceptual Analysis and Philosophical Naturalism
3 Hegel’s Lessons from and Corrections to Kant’s Critical Philosophy
4 Hegel and Scientific Biology
5 Hegel’s Central Theses in “Force and Understanding”
6 Hegel’s Semantics: Conceptual Explication and ‘the Necessity of the Concept’
7 One Central Aim of Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature
Chapter 13 Hegel’s Philosophy of Natural and Human Spaces
1 Introduction
2 Space from Mechanics to Physics
2.1 Nature as the Idea in the Form of Being-Other
2.2 The Quantitative Beginning of the Philosophy of Nature: Indifferent Spatial Externality in Mechanics
2.3 The Significance of Space in the Physics of Individualized Matter
3 Space in the Experience of Inhabiting the Earth
3.1 Animal Life and Its Space
3.2 Geognosy, Physical Geography and World History: Hegel’s Speculative Deduction of Natural Spaces
4 Space in Spirit
4.1 Space from the Natural Soul to the Phenomenality of Spirit
Part V Philosophy of Spirit
Chapter 14 Embodied Cognition, Habit, and Natural Agency in Hegel’s Anthropology
1 Ontology of Living Activity
1.1 Embodiment
1.2 Self-Organization
1.3 Interaction
2 Embodied Cognition
3 Habit as Sensorimotor Life Form
3.1 Bodily Memory and Imagination
3.2 The Integration of Holism and Associationism in Habit Formation
3.3 Lower and Higher Level Habits, and Animal Life
4 Embodiment Revisited. Physiological, Functional, and Phenomenological Aspects
5 Habits and the Conditions of Agency
5.1 Hegel’s Continuity Thesis
Chapter 15 Sentience and Feeling in the Anthropology
1 Introduction
2 On Waking up to Sentience
3 On Quivering, Sensibility, and Sentience
4 Transition from Sentience to Feeling
5 On Self-Feeling
6 Conclusion
Chapter 16 Intuition, Representation, and Thinking: Hegel’s Psychology and the Placement Problem
1 The Method
2 Intuition
3 Representation
3.1 Recollection (Erinnerung)
3.2 Imagination (Einbildungskraft)
3.3 Memory (Gedächtnis)
4 Thinking (Denken)
5 Conclusion: Overcoming the Dilemma
Chapter 17 Hegel on Poetry, Prose and the Origin of the Arts
1 Hegel on the Origins of Poetry and Art
2 The Development of Prose
3 Poetry in the Developed World of Prose: The Literary and Post-romantic Art
4 Conclusions and Questions
Chapter 18 Hegel’s Recasting of the Theological Proofs
1 Introduction
2 Hegel’s Critique of Kant’s Understanding of Religion
3 Philosophy of Religion Displaces Traditional Natural Theology
4 Kant’s Fact of Reason: From Immanence to Transcendence
5 Hegel’s Fact of Religion as Elevation of Spirit to God
6 The Cosmological Proof
7 The Defect in the Traditional Cosmological Proof
8 Differentiating Elevation of Spirit from the Traditional Cosmological Proof
9 The True Infinite: The Ontological Proof and the Unity of the Proofs
Part VI Practical and Political Philosophy
Chapter 19 Logic and Social Theory: Hegel on the Conceptual Significance of Political Change
1 The Logical Significance of the Objectivity of Political Spirit
2 The Logical Significance of Free Choice of Profession Open to Talent
3 The Logical Significance of Social Pluralism
4 Conclusion
Chapter 20 Sittlichkeit and the Actuality of Freedom: On Kant and Hegel
1 Criticism of Kant’s Formalism as Criticism of the Program of Transcendental Philosophy
2 The Perspective of Actualizing Freedom
3 On the Exposition of the Concept of Freedom in Kant and Hegel and its Ramifications
4 Hegel’s Criticism of Practical Formalism
4.1 Formalism as Frustration of Actualizing Freedom
4.2 Hegel’s Logic of Freedom
4.3 Externality as the Unfreedom of Action
4.4 Hegel’s Sittlichkeit as Rationalization of the Content
Chapter 21 Speculative Institutionalism: Hegel’s Legacy for Any Political Economy that Will Be Able to Present Itself as a Science
1 Speculative Political Economy: What Were the Questions?
2 Hegel’s Institutional Theory: A Tentative Reconstruction
3 Habit: A Redemptive Repetition
4 Corporations: Devices of Conformity
5 Hegel and Current Economics: Accepting the Prophet?
6 Conclusion: Political Economy of the Future
Chapter 22 Hegel’s Philosophy of Bildung
1 Introduction
2 On the Early History of the Term
3 Hegel and the German Tradition of Bildung
4 A Note on Sources
5 On the Relation Between Bildung and Spirit
6 Bildung as the Dialectic of Recognition
7 Otherness and Its Importance to Bildung
8 Dialectical Negation and Bildung
9 Mutual Recognition, Intersubjectivity and the Social Significance of Bildung
10 The Historical-Cultural Significance of Bildung: Acculturation and Freedom
11 Conclusion
Part VII Philosophy of World History and History of Philosophy
Chapter 23 Hegel’s Philosophy of World History
1 On the Tradition of the Lectures
2 The Systematic Position of World History
3 Types of Historiography: The “Introduction” 1822–1828
4 History and Reason: The Introduction 1830/31
5 The End of History
Chapter 24 Freedom and the Logic of History
1 Providence, Teleology and Freedom
2 Reason, Passion and the Universal
3 World History and the State as the Realization of Freedom
Chapter 25 History of Philosophy in Hegel’s System
1 Evolution and Change in Hegel’s Account of the History of Philosophy
1.1 Establishing History of Philosophy as a Philosophical Discipline
1.2 Dating Hegel’s Lectures on History of Philosophy
2 Problems with Michelet’s Record of Hegel’s Lectures on History of Philosophy
3 Hegel’s Introduction to His Lectures on History of Philosophy (28 October 1816, Jena)
4 Hegel: Introduction to the History of Philosophy, and its Concept
5 This Entails Further Consequences That Hegel Stresses
6 Sources of the History of Philosophy
7 Philosophy as “Its Epoch Captured in Thought”
8 Philosophy, its Distinctive Character, and the Role of the History of Philosophy
9 “Gestalt” of Recent German Philosophy in Hegel’s Concept of the History of Philosophy
10 Hegel’s Analysis of “the Latest German Philosophy” Through Its Central Concepts
10.1 Freedom of the Human Spirit
10.2 Hegel’s Historical-Philosophical Portrait of Kant
10.3 Philosophical Idealism as a Distinct Feature of German Classical Philosophical Teachings of Hegel’s Time
10.4 “Objective Spirit” and the History of Philosophy
11 The Place of History of Philosophy in Hegel’s System
12 “Final Result” of the History of Philosophy as Portrayed by Hegel
Part VIII Hegelianism and Post-Hegelian Thought
Chapter 26 Hegel and Recent Analytic Metaphysics
1 The Hidden Role of Hegel in the Development of Modal Logic in Twentieth Century
1.1 Hegel, Royce, Russell and C. I. Lewis
1.2 Hegel, Findlay and Prior
2 Hegel’s Idealism as Mediated Actualism
3 Conclusion
Chapter 27 Hegel’s Pragmatism
1 Mind and Knowledge in the Cartesian Tradition
2 Problems with Cartesianism, 1: The Case of “Experience”
3 Problems with Cartesianism, 2: Agency and Externality
4 Problems with Cartesianism, 3: Rational Being as Social Achievement
5 Yet Hegel Was Not a Pragmatist
Chapter 28 The “Pittsburgh” Neo-Hegelianism of Robert Brandom and John McDowell
1 Introduction
2 From Sellars to the Sellarsians: Rorty, Brandom and McDowell
3 The Creation of the Pittsburgh “Neo-Hegelians”
4 A Future for Pittsburgh Neo-Hegelianism?
The Chronology of Hegel’s Life
Hegel’s Philosophical System in His Writings and Lecture Series
Conclusion: An Agenda for Future Research
Name Index
Subject Index

Citation preview

The Palgrave Hegel Handbook Edited by Marina F. Bykova · Kenneth R. Westphal

Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism Series Editor Matthew C. Altman, Philosophy & Religious Studies, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA, USA

Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism is a series of comprehensive and authoritative edited volumes on the major German Idealist philosophers and their critics. Underpinning the series is the successful Palgrave Handbook of German Idealism (2014), edited by Matthew C. Altman, which provides an overview of the period, its greatest philosophers, and its historical and philosophical importance. Individual volumes focus on specific philosophers and major themes, offering a more detailed treatment of the many facets of their work in metaphysics, epistemology, logic, ethics, aesthetics, political philosophy, and several other areas. Each volume is edited by one or more internationally recognized experts in the subject, and contributors include both established figures and younger scholars with innovative readings. The series offers a wide-ranging and authoritative insight into German Idealism, appropriate for both students and specialists. More information about this series at The Palgrave Kant Handbook Edited by Matthew C. Altman The Palgrave Schopenhauer Handbook Edited by Sandra Shapshay The Palgrave Hegel Handbook Edited by Marina F. Bykova and Kenneth R. Westphal The Palgrave Fichte Handbook (forthcoming) Edited by Steven Hoeltzel The Palgrave Handbook of German Romantic Philosophy (forthcoming) Edited by Elizabeth Millán Brusslan The Palgrave Schelling Handbook (forthcoming) Edited by Sean J. McGrath & Kyla Bruff The Palgrave Handbook of Transcendental, Neo-Kantian, and Psychological Idealism (forthcoming) The Palgrave Handbook of Critics of Idealism (forthcoming)

Marina F. Bykova · Kenneth R. Westphal Editors

The Palgrave Hegel Handbook

Editors Marina F. Bykova Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC, USA

Kenneth R. Westphal Department of Philosophy Boğaziçi Üniversitesi İstanbul, Turkey

Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism ISBN 978-3-030-26596-0 ISBN 978-3-030-26597-7  (eBook) © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2020 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Cover illustration: Berlin, Hegel ( by Dierk Schaefer, is licensed under CC BY 2.0 ( This Palgrave Macmillan imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland

Series Editor’s Preface

The era of German Idealism stands alongside ancient Greece and the French Enlightenment as one of the most fruitful and influential periods in the history of philosophy. Beginning with the publication of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason in 1781 and ending about ten years after Hegel’s death in 1831, the period of “classical German philosophy” transformed whole fields of philosophical endeavor. The intellectual energy of this movement is still very much alive in contemporary philosophy; the philosophers of that period continue to inform our thinking and spark debates of interpretation. After a period of neglect, as a result of the early analytic philosophers’ rejection of idealism, interest in the field has grown exponentially in recent years. Indeed, the study of German Idealism has perhaps never been more active in the Englishspeaking world than it is today. Many books appear every year that offer historical/interpretive approaches to understanding the work of the German Idealists, and many others adopt and develop their insights and apply them to contemporary issues in epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, politics, and aesthetics, among other fields. In addition, a number of international journals are devoted to idealism as a whole and to specific idealist philosophers, and journals in both the history of philosophy and contemporary philosophies have regular contributions on the German Idealists. In numerous countries, there are regular conferences and study groups run by philosophical associations that focus on this period and its key figures, especially Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, and Schopenhauer. As part of this growing discussion, the volumes in the Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism series are designed to provide overviews of the major figures and movements in German Idealism, with a breadth and depth of coverage that distinguishes them from other anthologies. Chapters have been specially commissioned for this series, and they are written by established and emerging scholars from throughout the world. Contributors not only provide overviews of their subject matter but also explore the cutting edge of the field by advancing original theses. Some authors develop or revise positions that they have taken in their other publications, and some take novel approaches that challenge existing paradigms. The Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism thus give students a natural v


Series Editor’s Preface

starting point from which to begin their study of German Idealism, and they serve as a resource for advanced scholars to engage in meaningful discussions about the movement’s philosophical and historical importance. In short, the Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism have comprehensiveness, accessibility, depth, and philosophical rigor as their overriding goals. These are challenging aims, to be sure, especially when held simultaneously, but that is the task that the excellent scholars who are editing and contributing to these volumes have set for themselves. Matthew C. Altman


This new volume in the Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism series focuses on Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, whose work marks the pinnacle of the movement commonly known as German idealism. With Hegel’s death, German idealism came virtually to the end, giving way to new philosophical movements and schools, most of which first appeared in response or as a critical reaction to Hegel and Hegelian philosophy. Hegel secured himself an important place in the history of philosophy not only as the last of the great philosophical system builders of modern times who employed dialectic to emphasize the progress of history and of thoughts, but also as one whose groundbreaking ideas and far-reaching insights continue to influence work in philosophy and many other humanities and social science disciplines today. Indeed, Hegel made original and profound contributions to virtually all of the key areas of philosophical inquiry, including logic, epistemology, ontology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, ethics and moral philosophy, philosophical anthropology and philosophy of psychology, aesthetics and philosophy of art, philosophy of science, social and political philosophy, philosophy of law and philosophy of religion, philosophy of history and history of philosophy, as well as philosophy of education. Many philosophical ideas that become fashionable today could be traced to Hegel, and his systematic philosophy has been a source of inspiration and point of departure for numerous contemporary philosophical concepts and theories that vary in their contents and theoretical intentions. Despite differences in philosophical views and positions presented by the various philosophical schools and movements of today, most of them, directly or ­indirectly, have been impacted by Hegel. Thus, it is no wonder that Hegel’s work continues to attract the attention of scholars and broader audiences. The Palgrave Hegel Handbook provides a comprehensive overview of Hegel’s philosophy based on the best results in contemporary Hegel scholarship. This volume includes twenty-eight original chapters authored by highly qualified and accomplished scholars in the field, offering a series of well-researched, comprehensive—and comprehensible—discussions that together provide a reliable,




accessible, and considered account of Hegel’s philosophical system and thoughts. Adding to established readings of Hegel and his philosophical project, contributors present new interpretations of his main ideas and writings. In addition, the volume presents detailed consideration of arguments against Hegel’s views and central contemporary controversies concerning his philosophy. The aim of the editors and contributors of this book is to help readers navigate the enormously complex and notoriously difficult system that Hegel developed and appreciate its philosophical value and historical importance. The volume is suitable for both established scholars and budding philosophy students seeking to advance their knowledge of the main aspects of Hegel’s thought. As a distinctive compendium of scholarship reflecting the current state of Hegel studies and offering an accessible yet not over-simplified comprehensive account of Hegel, it is a valuable contribution to an ongoing debate which inspires new thinking about Hegel and his philosophical legacy. Marina F. Bykova Kenneth R. Westphal


The editors, Marina Bykova and Ken Westphal, wish to thank first and foremost Matthew Altman for his kind invitation and constructive assistance in conceiving, commissioning and producing this volume. We thank heartily all our contributors for their superb contributions. It has been a great honor and pleasure to work with this group of such outstanding Hegel scholars! Our thanks also go to both the editorial and production teams at Palgrave. We appreciate their patience and understanding with such a large, complex Handbook. The production staff’s conscientious editorial and publishing efforts have been invaluable.

Permissions An earlier version of Chapter 11 (by Michael Wolff) was originally published in German as “Realitätsstufen oder Entwicklung? Hegels ‘Realphilosophie’ und die Philosophie der Wissenschaften” (Hegel-Jahrbuch 1989, 397–415). Permission for English translation has been granted by the author and the publisher as holders of the copyright. The detailed information is indicated in the citation to the chapter.


About This Book

This Analytical Contents provides a topic outline of each chapter and of the entire volume, complementing the Table of Contents, the closing section of the Introduction (§0.5) and the Subject Index. A uniform numbering of §§ and s­ ub-§§ by legal decimals is used here which preserves the structure and numbering of the authors’ sub-section headings. The first digit is in each case the number of the chapter. Some section headings have been supplied for this Analytical Contents; these are placed in square brackets. Contentsxxi Notes on Contributors xxv Notes on Sources and Key to Abbreviations xxxi 0 Introduction: Understanding Hegel and His Philosophical Project, Kenneth R. Westphal and Marina F. Bykova 0.1 Introduction  0.2 Hegel’s Entré  0.3 Hegel’s Systematic Philosophy  0.4 Dialectic  0.5 The Palgrave Hegel Handbook: Aims and Scope 

xxxix xl xliii xlviii l

I. Intellectual Background and Philosophical Project 1

Hegel: His Life and His Path in Philosophy, Marina F. Bykova

1.0 [Introduction]  1.1 Early Life and First Encounter with Philosophy  1.2 Time in Tübingen: Acquaintance with Hölderlin and Schelling, and Lived Experience of the French Revolution  1.3 Pre-Jena Period: Despair, Uncertainty and Desire for a New Path 1.4 At Jena: Launching His Academic Career 

3 4 6 8 10 xi

About This Book


1.5 1.6 1.7

Between Jena and Heidelberg: Another Period of Despair  Heidelberg Period: Return to the University  Call to Berlin: Realization of Goals and Ambitions 

13 16 17

2 Situating Hegel: From Transcendental Philosophy to a Phenomenology of Spirit, Michael Baur 2.0 [Introduction]  2.1 Kant’s Transcendental Philosophy  2.2 Early Skeptical Critiques of Kant’s Transcendental Philosophy  2.3 Fichte’s Philosophy of Freedom  2.4 Schelling’s Turn to Spinoza  2.5 On the Way to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit 

23 24 26 30 35 38

3 Kant, Hegel and the Historicity of Pure Reason, Kenneth R. Westphal 3.1 Introduction  3.2 Kant and the History of Pure Reason  3.3 Hamann, Herder and the “Meta-critique” of Pure Reason  3.4 The Profusion of Post-critique Alternatives  3.5 Hegel’s “Self-Consummating Skepticism”  3.6 The Twin Targets of Hegel’s Phenomenological Critique  3.7 Hegel’s Phenomenological, Critical History of Pure Reason in the 1807 Phenomenology  3.8 Hegelian Conclusions  4

45 48 49 50 52 55 57 59

Hegel’s Epistemology, Giuseppe Varnier

4.0 [Introduction]  4.1 Problems of Scholarly Neglect of Hegel’s Epistemology  4.2 Hegel’s Striking Originality in Epistemology  4.3 Skeptical Naturalism and Reconceiving Knowing as a Dynamic Process  4.4 Kant’s Critical Self-Scrutiny of Reason is Achieved Historically  4.5 Hegel’s Systematic Philosophy Anticipates (inter alia) Structural Realism  4.6 Knowing is Anchored in Doing, in Practical Reasoning and Activities 

65 66 67 69 72 75 78

II. Phenomenology of Spirit 5 The Role of Religion in Hegel’s Phenomenological Justification of Philosophical Science, Ardis B. Collins 5.1 Introduction 


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5.2 Hegel’s Ambiguous Discussion of the Presupposition Question  5.3 Hegel’s Scientific Proof Procedure  5.4 Consciousness Retreats into the Infinity of Life and Self-Consciousness  5.5 Self-Consciousness Retreats into the Transcendence of the Rational  5.6 The Emergence of the Irrational and the Retreat into Spirit  5.7 The Spirit of the Enlightenment  5.8 The Spirit of the Moral World and the Retreat into Religion  5.9 The Spirit of Religion and the Retreat into Absolute Knowing  5.10 Conclusion 


86 88 91 93 95 97 99 102 105

6 Absolute Spirit in Performative Self-Relations of Persons, Pirmin Stekeler-Weithofer 6.1 Introduction and Main Results  6.2 Systematic and Conceptual Background  6.2.1 Ding an sich, Transcendental Apperception, and Intellectual Intuition  6.2.2 Self-Consciousness  6.2.3 Being an Object of Knowledge and Being as a Performative Attitude  6.2.4 Relative Self-Ascriptions and Absolute Performation  6.3 Investigating Real Human Consciousness  6.3.1 Deconstructing Empiricist Self-Knowledge  6.3.2 Deconstructing a Thinking Soul as the Master of the Body  6.3.3 Deconstructing Intuitive Appeals to Reason  6.3.4 Human Spirit as the Form of a Personal Subject in We-Groups 6.4 Absolute Spirit  6.4.1 Finite Knowledge and the Practical Role of Ideals  6.4.2 The Idea of the Good  6.4.3 Ideal Truth  6.4.4 Mundane Truth in Religion and Art vs. Parochial Views in Empiricism and Scientism  6.5 Conclusion 

109 116 118 119 120 121 121 121 122 122 124 125 125 127 128 128 129

7 Individuality, Individualism and Our Human Zoôn Politikon, Kenneth R. Westphal 7.1 [Introduction: Self-Consciousness and Self-Sufficiency]  7.2 [Social Ontology: Moderate Collectivism]  7.3 [Hegel’s (Kantian) Campaign against Logical Egoism]  7.4 [Individualistic Claims to Self-sufficiency, from ‘Sense Certainty’ through ‘Spirit’] 

133 134 135 135

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7.5 [Reconciliation, Reciprocal Recognition and Absolute Spirit]  7.6 [Why Autonomous Individual Rational Judgment and Justification are Fundamentally Social and Historical] 

143 144

III. Science of Logic and the System of Philosophy 8

Method in Hegel’s Dialectic-Speculative Logic, Angelica Nuzzo

8.0 [Introduction]  8.1 Form and Content of Thinking: Formal, Transcendental, ­Dialectic-Speculative Logic  8.2 Method and the Inner Self-Movement of the Content  8.3 Conclusion  9

151 153 161 164

Aufhebung, John W. Burbidge

9.0 [Introduction]  9.1 [Sublation: from Being to Dasein]  9.2 [As developed in the Science of Logic]  9.3 [As developed in the Phenomenology of Spirit and the Philosophy of Spirit]  9.4 [As developed in the Philosophy of Nature] 

167 169 172 178 180

10 Freedom as Belonging: A Defense of Hegelian Holism, Henry M. Southgate 10.1 Introduction  10.2 A Tale of Two Stories  10.3 “Freedom Is Not Free”  10.4 Kill, Eat, Be Free  10.5 An Exercise in Idealism  10.6 [Conclusion] 

183 186 187 190 194 195

IV. Philosophy of Nature 11 Levels of Reality or Development? Hegel’s Realphilosophie and Philosophy of the Sciences, Michael Wolff 11.0 [Introduction: ‘Realphilosophie’ and Philosophy of the Special Sciences]  11.1 [Why Special Sciences Afford and Require Realphilosophie]  11.2 [Hegel’s Creation Metaphor encloses a Notable Core] 

201 204 213

12 Causality, Natural Systems, and Hegel’s Organicism, Kenneth R. Westphal 12.1 Introduction 


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12.2 Conceptual Analysis and Philosophical Naturalism  12.3 Hegel’s Lessons from and Corrections to Kant’s Critical Philosophy  12.3.1 Singular Cognitive Reference  12.3.2 Matter and Dynamism  12.3.3 Deductive Scientia and Conceptual Analysis  12.3.4 Transeunt Causality  12.3.5 Metrics for Natural Phenomena?  12.3.6 Functional Explanation  12.3.7 Reductionism and Complex Systems  12.4 Hegel and Scientific Biology  12.4.1 Geosphere, Biosphere and Environment  12.4.2 Causal Powers vs Causal Activities?  12.5 Hegel’s Central Theses in “Force and Understanding”  12.5.1 [Six Central Theses from “Force and Understanding”]  12.5.2 [Hegel’s Critique of the Traditional Concept of Substance]  12.6 Hegel’s Semantics: Conceptual Explication and ‘the Necessity of the Concept’  12.6.1 [Philosophical theory of knowledge must take the natural sciences into close consideration.]  12.6.2 Hegel’s Co-determination Thesis  12.6.3 Conceptual Explication  12.7 One Central Aim of Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature  13

220 221 221 222 222 223 224 224 225 226 226 226 227 227 227 228 228 230 231 232

Hegel’s Philosophy of Natural and Human Spaces, Cinzia Ferrini

13.1 Introduction 241 13.2 Space from Mechanics to Physics 242 13.2.1 Nature as the Idea in the Form of Being-Other 242 13.2.2 The Quantitative Beginning of the Philosophy of Nature: Indifferent Spatial Externality in Mechanics 246 13.2.3 The Significance of Space in the Physics of Individualized Matter251 13.3 Space in the Experience of Inhabiting the Earth 253 13.3.1 Animal Life and Its Space 253 13.3.2 Geognosy, Physical Geography and World History: Hegel’s Speculative Deduction of Natural Spaces 255 13.4 Space in Spirit 258 13.4.1 Space from the Natural Soul to the Phenomenality of Spirit 258

V. Philosophy of Spirit 14 Embodied Cognition, Habit, and Natural Agency in Hegel’s Anthropology, Italo Testa 14.0 [Introduction] 


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14.1 Ontology of Living Activity  14.1.1 Embodiment  14.1.2 Self-Organization  14.1.3 Interaction  14.2 Embodied Cognition  14.3 Habit as Sensorimotor Life Form  14.3.1 Bodily Memory and Imagination  14.3.2 The Integration of Holism and Associationism in Habit Formation  14.3.3 Lower and Higher Level Habits, and Animal Life  14.4 Embodiment Revisited. Physiological, Functional, and Phenomenological Aspects  14.5 Habits and the Conditions of Agency  14.5.1 Hegel’s Continuity Thesis  15

270 270 271 272 273 275 278 280 282 284 287 291

Sentience and Feeling in the Anthropology, Allegra de Laurentiis

15.1 Introduction  15.2 On Waking up to Sentience  15.3 On Quivering, Sensibility, and Sentience  15.4 Transition from Sentience to Feeling  15.5 On Self-Feeling  15.6 Conclusion 

297 299 302 304 307 311

16 Intuition, Representation, and Thinking: Hegel’s Psychology and the Placement Problem, Markus Gabriel 16.0 [Introduction]  16.1 The Method  16.2 Intuition  16.3 Representation  16.3.1 Recollection (Erinnerung)  16.3.2 Imagination (Einbildungskraft)  16.3.3 Memory (Gedächtnis)  16.4 Thinking (Denken)  16.5 Conclusion: Overcoming the Dilemma  17

317 319 323 325 327 328 329 330 332

Hegel on Poetry, Prose and the Origin of the Arts, Allen Speight

17.0 [Introduction]  17.1 Hegel on the Origins of Poetry and Art  17.2 The Development of Prose  17.3 Poetry in the Developed World of Prose: The Literary and Post-romantic Art  17.4 Conclusions and Questions 

337 338 341 343 347

About This Book



Hegel’s Recasting of the Theological Proofs, Robert Williams

18.1 Introduction  18.2 Hegel’s Critique of Kant’s Understanding of Religion  18.3 Philosophy of Religion Displaces Traditional Natural Theology  18.4 Kant’s Fact of Reason: From Immanence to Transcendence  18.5 Hegel’s Fact of Religion as Elevation of Spirit to God  18.6 The Cosmological Proof  18.7 The Defect in the Traditional Cosmological Proof  18.8 Differentiating Elevation of Spirit from the Traditional Cosmological Proof  18.9 The True Infinite: The Ontological Proof and the Unity of the Proofs 

351 353 354 355 356 358 360 361 365

VI. Practical and Political Philosophy 19 Logic and Social Theory: Hegel on the Conceptual Significance of Political Change, Christopher L. Yeomans 19.0 [Introduction]  19.1 The Logical Significance of the Objectivity of Political Spirit  19.2 The Logical Significance of Free Choice of Profession Open to Talent  19.3 The Logical Significance of Social Pluralism  19.4 Conclusion 

373 376 379 382 386

20  Sittlichkeit and the Actuality of Freedom: On Kant and Hegel, Christian Krijnen 20.0 [Introduction]  20.1 Criticism of Kant’s Formalism as Criticism of the Program of Transcendental Philosophy  20.2 The Perspective of Actualizing Freedom  20.3 On the Exposition of the Concept of Freedom in Kant and Hegel and its Ramifications  20.4 Hegel’s Criticism of Practical Formalism  20.4.1 Formalism as Frustration of Actualizing Freedom  20.4.2 Hegel’s Logic of Freedom  20.4.3 Externality as the Unfreedom of Action  20.4.4 Hegel’s Sittlichkeit as Rationalization of the Content 

389 389 392 393 396 398 399 400 401

21 Speculative Institutionalism: Hegel’s Legacy for Any Political Economy that Will Be Able to Present Itself as a Science, Ivan Boldyrev 21.0 [Introduction] 


About This Book


21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 21.5 21.6

Speculative Political Economy: What Were the Questions?  Hegel’s Institutional Theory: A Tentative Reconstruction  Habit: A Redemptive Repetition  Corporations: Devices of Conformity  Hegel and Current Economics: Accepting the Prophet?  Conclusion: Political Economy of the Future 


Hegel’s Philosophy of Bildung, Marina F. Bykova

410 413 416 417 418 420

22.1 Introduction  425 22.2 On the Early History of the Term  427 22.3 Hegel and the German Tradition of Bildung429 22.4 A Note on Sources  432 22.5 On the Relation Between Bildung and Spirit  433 22.6 Bildung as the Dialectic of Recognition  434 22.7 Otherness and Its Importance to Bildung  436 22.8 Dialectical Negation and Bildung  437 22.9 Mutual Recognition, Intersubjectivity and the Social Significance of Bildung  438 22.10 The Historical-Cultural Significance of Bildung: Acculturation and Freedom  440 22.11 Conclusion  444

VII. Philosophy of World History and History of Philosophy 23

Hegel’s Philosophy of World History, Andreas Arndt

23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 23.5

On the Tradition of the Lectures  The Systematic Position of World History  Types of Historiography: The “Introduction” 1822–1828  History and Reason: The Introduction 1830/31  The End of History 


Freedom and the Logic of History, Simon Lumsden

24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3

[Introduction]  Providence, Teleology and Freedom  Reason, Passion and the Universal  World History and the State as the Realization of Freedom 


History of Philosophy in Hegel’s System, Nelly V. Motroshilova

25.1 Evolution and Change in Hegel’s Account of the History of Philosophy  25.1.1 Establishing History of Philosophy as a Philosophical Discipline 

453 454 458 460 464

467 468 473 478

485 485

About This Book

25.1.2 Dating Hegel’s Lectures on History of Philosophy 25.2 Problems with Michelet’s Record of Hegel’s Lectures on History of Philosophy  25.3 Hegel’s Introduction to His Lectures on History of Philosophy (28 October 1816, Jena)  25.4 Hegel: Introduction to the History of Philosophy, and its Concept  25.5 This Entails Further Consequences That Hegel Stresses  25.6 Sources of the History of Philosophy  25.7 Philosophy as “Its Epoch Captured in Thought”  25.8 Philosophy, its Distinctive Character, and the Role of the History of Philosophy  25.9 “Gestalt” of Recent German Philosophy in Hegel’s Concept of the History of Philosophy  25.10 Hegel’s Analysis of “the Latest German Philosophy” Through Its Central Concepts  25.10.1 Freedom of the Human Spirit  25.10.2 Hegel’s Historical-Philosophical Portrait of Kant  25.10.3 Philosophical Idealism as a Distinct Feature of German Classical Philosophical Teachings of Hegel’s Time  25.10.4 “Objective Spirit” and the History of Philosophy  25.11 The Place of History of Philosophy in Hegel’s System  25.12 “Final Result” of the History of Philosophy as Portrayed by Hegel 


487 487 489 490 492 494 497 499 501 504 504 505 506 508 511 513

VIII. Hegelianism and Post-Hegelian Thought 26

Hegel and Recent Analytic Metaphysics, Paul Redding

26.0 [Introduction]  26.1 The Hidden Role of Hegel in the Development of Modal Logic in Twentieth Century  26.1.1 Hegel, Royce, Russell and C. I. Lewis  26.1.2 Hegel, Findlay and Prior  26.2 Hegel’s Idealism as Mediated Actualism  26.3 Conclusion  27

521 523 523 526 531 536

Hegel’s Pragmatism, Willem de Vries

27.0 [Introduction]  27.1 Mind and Knowledge in the Cartesian Tradition  27.2 Problems with Cartesianism, 1: The Case of “Experience”  27.3 Problems with Cartesianism, 2: Agency and Externality  27.4 Problems with Cartesianism, 3: Rational Being as Social Achievement  27.5 Yet Hegel Was Not a Pragmatist 

541 543 544 547 549 553


About This Book

28 The “Pittsburgh” Neo-Hegelianism of Robert Brandom and John McDowell, Paul Redding 28.1 Introduction  28.2 From Sellars to the Sellarsians: Rorty, Brandom and McDowell  28.3 The Creation of the Pittsburgh “Neo-Hegelians”  28.4 A Future for Pittsburgh Neo-Hegelianism? 

559 561 564 567

Appendices573 The Chronology of Hegel’s Life 575 Hegel’s Philosophical System in His Writings and Lecture Series 577 Conclusion: An Agenda for Future Research, Marina F. Bykova and Kenneth R. Westphal581 Name Index 587 Subject Index 591


Series Editor’s Preface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v Preface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii Acknowledgements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix About This Book. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xi Notes on Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxv Notes on Sources and Key to Abbreviations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxxi Introduction: Understanding Hegel and His Philosophical Project. . . . . xxxix Part I  Intellectual Background and Philosophical Project 1

Hegel: His Life and His Path in Philosophy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Marina F. Bykova


Situating Hegel: From Transcendental Philosophy to a Phenomenology of Spirit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Michael Baur


Kant, Hegel and the Historicity of Pure Reason . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Kenneth R. Westphal


Hegel’s Epistemology. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Giuseppe Varnier




Part II  Phenomenology of Spirit 5

The Role of Religion in Hegel’s Phenomenological Justification of Philosophical Science. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 Ardis B. Collins


Absolute Spirit in Performative Self-Relations of Persons. . . . . . . . 109 Pirmin Stekeler-Weithofer


Individuality, Individualism and Our Human Zoôn Politikon. . . . . 133 Kenneth R. Westphal

Part III  Science of Logic and the System of Philosophy 8

Method in Hegel’s Dialectic-Speculative Logic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151 Angelica Nuzzo


Aufhebung . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 167 John W. Burbidge

10 Freedom as Belonging: A Defense of Hegelian Holism. . . . . . . . . . . 183 Henry M. Southgate Part IV  Philosophy of Nature 11 Levels of Reality or Development? Hegel’s Realphilosophie and Philosophy of the Sciences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 201 Michael Wolff 12 Causality, Natural Systems, and Hegel’s Organicism. . . . . . . . . . . . 219 Kenneth R. Westphal 13 Hegel’s Philosophy of Natural and Human Spaces. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 241 Cinzia Ferrini Part V  Philosophy of Spirit 14 Embodied Cognition, Habit, and Natural Agency in Hegel’s Anthropology. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 269 Italo Testa 15 Sentience and Feeling in the Anthropology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 297 Allegra de Laurentiis 16 Intuition, Representation, and Thinking: Hegel’s Psychology and the Placement Problem. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 317 Markus Gabriel 17 Hegel on Poetry, Prose and the Origin of the Arts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 337 Allen Speight



18 Hegel’s Recasting of the Theological Proofs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 351 Robert Williams Part VI  Practical and Political Philosophy 19 Logic and Social Theory: Hegel on the Conceptual Significance of Political Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 373 Christopher L. Yeomans 20 Sittlichkeit and the Actuality of Freedom: On Kant and Hegel . . . . 389 Christian Krijnen 21 Speculative Institutionalism: Hegel’s Legacy for Any Political Economy that Will Be Able to Present Itself as a Science. . . . . . . . . 409 Ivan Boldyrev 22 Hegel’s Philosophy of Bildung. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 425 Marina F. Bykova Part VII  Philosophy of World History and History of Philosophy 23 Hegel’s Philosophy of World History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 453 Andreas Arndt 24 Freedom and the Logic of History. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 467 Simon Lumsden 25 History of Philosophy in Hegel’s System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 485 Nelly V. Motroshilova Part VIII  Hegelianism and Post-Hegelian Thought 26 Hegel and Recent Analytic Metaphysics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 521 Paul Redding 27 Hegel’s Pragmatism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 541 Willem de Vries 28 The “Pittsburgh” Neo-Hegelianism of Robert Brandom and John McDowell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 559 Paul Redding Appendices 573 The Chronology of Hegel’s Life. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 575 Hegel’s Philosophical System in His Writings and Lecture Series. . . . . . 577



Conclusion: An Agenda for Future Research. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 581 Name Index. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 587 Subject Index. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 591

Notes on Contributors

Andreas Arndt  is Professor Emeritus in Philosophy at the Humboldt University, Berlin, and Director and Research Coordinator of the Schleiermacher Research Center in Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Germany. In his research, he focuses on nineteenth-century philosophy, most notably on Hegel, Schleiermacher, Feuerbach, and Marx. His latest book publications include Die klassische Deutsche Philosophie nach Kant (with Walter Jaeschke, 2012), Friedrich Schleiermacher als Philosoph (2013), and just recently, Die Reformation der Revolution. Friedrich Schleiermacher in seiner Zeit (2019). Michael Baur is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University. He currently serves as Secretary of the Hegel Society of America. He has published on a variety of thinkers (including Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Heidegger, Gadamer, and C. S. Peirce) and on a variety of topics (including German Idealism, American pragmatism, hermeneutics, the philosophy of law, and contemporary continental thought). He is the co-editor (with Stephen Houlgate) of The Blackwell Companion to Hegel (2011 and 2015), editor of G. W. F. Hegel: Key Concepts (2014), and, more recently, author of “Winckelmann’s Greek Ideal and Kant’s Critical Philosophy,” in Kant and His German Contemporaries: Aesthetics, History, Politics, and Religion (2018). Ivan Boldyrev is Assistant Professor at Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands. His research interests include German idealism, critical theory, science studies, and history and philosophy of recent economics. His major publications include Hegel, Institutions and Economics (with Carsten Herrmann-Pillath, 2014) and Ernst Bloch and his Contemporaries: Locating Utopian Messianism (2014). He has recently completed a work on the dialectical imagery in Hegel’s Phenomenology. John W. Burbidge  is Professor Emeritus in Philosophy at Trent University, Canada. His research is concentrated on the logical transitions by which Hegel develops his systematic philosophy, particularly in the Science of Logic and the Philosophy of Nature. Recent examples are The Logic of Hegel’s Logic: An Introduction (2006) and Hegel’s Systematic Contingency (2007). Subsequently, he has been xxv


Notes on Contributors

exploring philosophical puzzles: the distinction between ideas (representations) and concepts in Ideas, Concepts and Reality (2013); and the nature of casual processes in Cause for Thought: An Essay in Metaphysics (2014). He is Honorary President of the Hegel Society of Great Britain, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Marina F. Bykova  is Professor of Philosophy at North Carolina State University. She is the author of Hegel’s Interpretation of Thinking (1990), The Mystery of Logic and the Secret of Subjectivity (1996), and co-author (with Andrei Krichevsky) of Absolute Idea and Absolute Spirit in Hegel’s Philosophy (1993). She is also the editor of the Russian translation of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit (2000) and most recently of Hegel’s Philosophy of Spirit: Cambridge Critical Guide (2019) and The German Idealism Reader: Ideas, Responses and Legacy (2019). Ardis B. Collins  is Professor Emeritus in Philosophy at Loyola University Chicago and Editor-in-Chief of The Owl of Minerva, an international journal published by the Hegel Society of America. She is the editor of Hegel on the Modern World (1995) and the author of Hegel’s Phenomenology: The Dialectical Justification of Philosophy’s First Principles (2013), as well as various articles and book chapters on Hegel’s thought, focusing especially on epistemological, social-political, and religious questions. Most recently, her Hegel Society of America presidential address, entitled “Anonymity, Responsibility, and the Many Faces of Capitalism,” appeared in Hegel and Capitalism, ed. Andrew Buchwalter (2015). Allegra de Laurentiis  is Professor of Philosophy at Stony Brook University, New York. Her research centers on Hegel’s Aristotelianism, on Hegel’s philosophy of history, and on conceptions of morality, right and politics in Kant, Hegel, and Marx. Her recent publications include Subjects in the Ancient and Modern World: On Hegel’s Theory of Subjectivity (2005), the edited volumes, Bloomsbury Companion to Hegel (2013; co-edited with Jeffrey Edwards) and Hegel and Metaphysics. On Logic and Ontology in the System (2016), as well as the forthcoming monograph Life and Psyche in Hegel’s Anthropology (2020). Willem de Vries  is Professor of Philosophy at the University of New Hampshire. He works on issues in the philosophy of mind, metaphysics and epistemology, and the history of philosophy. His publications have focused principally on Hegel and on Wilfrid Sellars, with occasional forays into other topics. His books include Hegel’s Theory of Mental Activity (1988), Knowledge, Mind, and the Given: A Reading of Sellars’ “Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind” (with Timm Triplett; 2000), Wilfrid Sellars (2005) and the edited collection, Empiricism, Perceptual Knowledge, Normativity and Realism: Essays on Wilfrid Sellars (2009). Currently, he serves as co-editor (with Henry Jackman) of the book series, Routledge Studies in American Philosophy. Cinzia Ferrini  is a researcher at the University of Trieste (2000), where she teaches history of modern and contemporary philosophy. She is a member of the Academia Europaea (2005). Her main research areas are Early Modern and classical German Philosophy. She has published widely in international peer-reviewed journals and

Notes on Contributors


in book collections on Hegel’s logic, phenomenology, philosophy of nature, and on Kant and the sciences. She edited the international collection Eredità kantiane Bibliopolis (2004) and authored L’invenzione di Cartesio (2015). Markus Gabriel  is Professor of Epistemology, Modern, and Contemporary Philosophy at the University of Bonn. He has published widely on topics in metaphysics, epistemology, and the history of philosophy (most notably ancient philosophy and German Idealism). His major recent publications include Transcendental Ontology: Essays in German Idealism (2011), Die Erkenntnis der Welt. Eine Einführung in die Erkenntnistheorie (2012), Warum es die Welt nicht gibt (2013), Fields of Sense: A New Realist Ontology (2015), Ich ist nicht Gehirn. Philosophie des Geistes für das 21. Jahrhundert (2015; in English 2017), and Neo-Existentialism (2018). Christian Krijnen  is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Kant, Hegel, Neo-Kantianism, and contemporary transcendental philosophy play a major role in his numerous monographs and articles. His recent book publications include Nachmetaphysischer Sinn (2001), Philosophie als System (2008), Recognition: German Idealism as an Ongoing Challenge (2014), The Very Idea of Organization (2015), Sozialontologie in der Perspektive des deutschen Idealismus: Ansätze, Rezeptionen, Probleme (2018), Metaphysics of Freedom? Kant’s Concept of Cosmological Freedom in Historical and Systematic Perspective (2018), and Concepts of Normativity: Kant or Hegel? (2019). Simon Lumsden  is Associate Professor of philosophy at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. He is author of the book, Self-Consciousness and the Critique of the Subject: Hegel, Heidegger, and the Post-Structuralists (2014) and of numerous essays, most recently, “The Satisfaction of Absolute Spirit” (Owl of Minerva, 49:1/2, 2018), “Hegel and Pathologized Modernity or the End of Spirit in the Anthropocene” (History and Theory, 57 (4), 2018), and “Community in Hegel’s Social Philosophy” (Hegel Bulletin, 49: 1, 2017). His research is primarily concerned with German idealism and environmental thought. He is currently completing a monograph on Hegel’s philosophy of history. Nelly V. Motroshilova  is Principle Research Associate at the Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, Russia. Her research focuses on an array of topics that include German idealism, most notably Kant and Hegel, as well as Husserl, Heidegger, and Russian philosophical thought. She is co-editor (with Burkhard Tuschlng) of bilingual Russian and German edition of Kant’s works, in 5 vols. (1994–2014). Among her most recent books are Russian Philosophy in the 50–80s years of 20th Century and Western Thought (2012), Martin Heidegger and Hannah Arendt: Being, Time, Love (2013) and The Early Philosophy of Edmund Husserl (Halle, 1887–1901) (2018). Angelica Nuzzo  is Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center and B ­ rooklyn College, City University of New York. Among her recent books are Kant and the Unity of Reason (2005), Ideal Embodiment. Kant’s Theory of Sensibility (2008), History, Memory, Justice in Hegel (2012), and Approaching Hegel’s Logic, Obliquely. Melville, Molière, Beckett (2018).


Notes on Contributors

Paul Redding  is Professor Emeritus in Philosophy at the University of Sydney. He is the author of Hegel’s Hermeneutics (1996), Analytic Philosophy and the Return of Hegelian Thought (2007), Continental Idealism: Leibniz to Nietzsche (2009), and the co-edited (with Paolo Diego Bubbio) collection, Religion After Kant: God and Culture in the Idealist Era (2012). Henry M. Southgate  is a lecturer in philosophy and undergraduate career advisor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His research is situated at the intersection between rationalism, German idealism, phenomenology, and existentialism. His recent publications include, “Hegel and the Identity of Indiscernibles” (Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie, 2014), “The Paradox of Irrationalism: The Logical Foundation of Hegel’s Philosophy of the Absurd” (The Owl of Minerva, 2015); and a review of Wirklichkeit: Beiträge zu einem Schlüsselbegriff der Hegelschen Philosophie. (The Journal of the History of Philosophy, 2019). Allen Speight  is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Boston University. He is the author of Hegel, Literature and the Problem of Agency (Cambridge University Press, 2001) and The Philosophy of Hegel (McGill, 2008), co-editor/translator of Hegel’s Heidelberg Writings (Cambridge University Press, 2009) and editor of Narrative, Philosophy and Life (Springer, 2015). He has written numerous articles on aesthetics and the philosophy of art in Hegel and German Idealism. Pirmin Stekeler-Weithofer  is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Leipzig. In 2008–2015, he served as the President of the Saxonian Academy of Science. His research interests include philosophical logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics; Plato, Kant, Hegel, and Wittgenstein. Among his recent books are Hegels Phänomenologie des Geistes. Ein dialogischer Kommentar, in 2 vols. (2013) and the edited collection, The Pragmatics of Making it Explicit (2008), as well as essays, “Mathematical Thinking in Hegel’s Science of Logic“ (Internationales Jahrbuch des Deutschen Idealismus/International Yearbook of German Idealism, 2005), and “The Question of System: How to Read the Development from Kant to Hegel” (Inquiry 49:1, 2006). Italo Testa  is Associate Professor at the University of Parma. His research interests include classical German philosophy, critical theory, pragmatism, and social ontology, with a focus on the notions of habit, second nature, and the theory of recognition. Among his books: Hegel critico e scettico (2002), Teorie dell’argomentazione (2006), Ragione impura (2006) and La natura del riconoscimento (2010). He edited I that is We, and We that is I. Perspectives on Contemporary Hegel (2016) and a collection of essays of Theodor Adorno, La crisi dell’individuo (2010). Currently, he is editing Habits. Pragmatist Approaches from Cognitive Neurosciences to Social Sciences, which is under contract with Cambridge University Press. Giuseppe Varnier is Research Fellow and Professor of Epistemology in the Department of Social, Political and Cognitive Studies at the University of Siena. His research has focused on Kant, Hegel, and the influence of (ancient) skepticism

Notes on Contributors


on German idealism. Recently he has examined indexicality and the intersection of analytic philosophy of language, epistemology, and philosophy of mind. His publications include “Unity of the Mental and ‘Logical’ Identity: After Kant and Hegel” (2000); “‘Esilio’ fondazionalistico e nomadismo da Wittgenstein e ­Neurath a Quine,” (2006); “Quasi-Indexicals, Kaplanian Monsters, and Self-Consciousness” (2014), “Self-Consciousness and Language II: What can be Learned from de se Attitudes” (2016); “Reflections on Quasi-Indexicals, Self-Consciousness and Self-Knowledge” (2017), Filosofia come meditazione e filosofia come fondazione in Descartes e Husserl (2019). Kenneth R. Westphal  is Professor of Philosophy at Boğaziçi Üniversitesi. His most recent books include: How Hume and Kant Reconstruct Natural Law: Justifying Strict Objectivity without Debating Moral Realism (Clarendon, 2016), Grounds of Pragmatic Realism: Hegel’s Internal Critique and Transformation of Kant’s Critical Philosophy (Brill, 2018), and Hegel’s Civic Republicanism: Integrating Natural Law with Kant’s Moral Constructivism (Routledge, 2020). Robert Williams  (1940–2018) was Professor Emeritus of German, Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He authored and edited seven books. His last book, Hegel on the Proofs and the Personhood of God: Studies in Hegel’s Logic and Philosophy of Religion, was published in 2017. He also translated and edited Hegel’s Lectures on the Philosophy of Spirit 1827 (2007). Michael Wolff  is Professor Emeritus in Philosophy at the University of Bielefeld, Germany. His current research areas include logic (both Aristotelian and modern), moral philosophy (in particular Kant’s metaphysics of morals) and philosophy of mind. Among his publications are such books as Geschichte der Impetustheorie. Untersuchungen zum Ursprung der klassischen Mechanik (1978), Das Körper-Seele Problem (1991), and most recently, Abhandlung über die Prinzipien der Logik. Mit einer Rekonstruktion der Aristotelischen Syllogistik (2nd ed., 2009) and Der Begriff des Widerspruchs (2nd ed., 2009). Christopher L. Yeomans  is Head and Professor of Philosophy at Purdue University. He is the author of two books on Hegel, Freedom and Reflection: Hegel and the Logic of Agency (2011) and The Expansion of Autonomy: Hegel’s Pluralistic Philosophy of Action (2014), both from Oxford University Press. He has research interests in German Idealism, political philosophy, and the philosophy of action.

Notes on Sources and Key to Abbreviations

Hegel is cited according to volume and page numbers of the German critical edition: Gesammelte Werke. (If important, line numbers added too; e.g.: GW 9:56.11–13.) Below is the list of abbreviations used for all references, as well as the list of English translations used. If the author provides his/her own translations, this is stated in a note and a reference to an appropriate German edition is given. References to the work of all major thinkers are keyed to the standard scholarly editions (examples: Kant, Akademieausgabe [AA]; Fichte, Gesamtausgabe [GA]; Schelling, Werke: Historisch-Kritische Ausgabe [HKA]; Marx, Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe [MEGA]). Recent translations of the works of Kant and Hegel contain pagination from their critical German editions. References to pages of English translations of Kant’s and Hegel’s works are only provided when the translation does not contain pagination from the critical edition of the thinkers’ works. As a rule, multivolume editions of Hegel’s works are cited by volume: page numbers; when needed, they are cited by volume: page.line numbers. Works divided into numbered sections are cited by section (§) number (see more below). Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit is cited according to the critical edition in his Gesammelte Werke, vol. 9. Contributors quoting Hegel’s 1807 Phenomenology use Terry Pinkard’s translation (Cambridge, 2018) or provide their own translations clearly state this in added notes. Hegel’s Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences and Philosophy of Right are composed as lecture syllabi. They contain three distinct kinds of text: Main sections, Remarks Hegel appended to those main sections, and “Zusätze,” lecture notes appended by Hegel’s editors to Hegel’s sections or remarks. Where Hegel’s published remarks are cited, the section number is followed by the suffix “R,” as in “§345R.” Where student notes from Hegel’s lectures are cited, the section number is followed by the suffix “Z,” as in “§345Z.” Where both a main section and a remark or a lecture note are cited an ampersand is interposed thus: “§345 & R” or “§345 & Z.” (In no case are all three kinds of text cited together.)



Notes on Sources and Key to Abbreviations

Kant Kants Gesammelte Schriften, 29 vols. Königlich Preußische (now Deutsche) Akademie der Wissenschaften. Berlin: G. Reimer, now De Gruyter, 1902–. [Listed as Ak and volume number.] CPR Kritik der reinen Vernunft: 1st ed., 1781 (A), Ak 4; 2nd ed., 1787 (B), Ak 3. The Critique of Pure Reason. P. Guyer and A. Wood (trs.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Anth. Anthropologie in pragmatischer Hinsicht (1798, rev. 2nd ed.: 1800), Ak 7. Prol. Prolegomena zu einer jeden künftigen Metaphysik, die als Wissenschaftlich wird auftreten können (1783), Ak 4. Prolegomena to any future Metaphysics. Günter Zöller (ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. MFNS Metaphysische Anfangsgründe der Naturwissenschaft (1786), Ak 4. Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. M. Friedman (ed., tr.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. CPrR Kritik der praktischen Vernunft (1788), Ak 5. Critique of Practical Reason. M. Gregor (tr.) in: M. Gregor (ed., tr.), Immanuel Kant, Practical Philosophy (pp. 133–272). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. CJ Kritik der Urteilskraft (1790), Ak 5. Critique of the Power of Judgement. P. Guyer (ed., tr.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. MM Metaphysik der Sitten (1797), Ak 6. Metaphysics of Morals. M. Gregor (tr.) in: M. Gregor (ed., tr.), Immanuel Kant, Practical Philosophy (pp. 353–604). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. (Note: ‘MM’ without italics is used to designate Moldenhauer and Michel, eds., Werke in 20 Bänden. Confusion is avoided by the context of the citation––one involves an attribution to Hegel, the other to Kant––and by the use or lack of italics.) Gr Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten (1785), Ak 4 (4:387–463). Rel. Die Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der bloßen Vernunft (1793), Ak 6. Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason. G. di Giovanni (tr.) in: A. Wood and G. di Giovanni (eds., trs.), Immanuel Kant, Religion and Rational Theology (pp. 39–216). New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996. R Reprint of Eberhard’s Vorbereitung zur natürlichen Theologie (1781), along with Kant’s annotations (18:489–606). [Refl. 6206–6310] In Metaphysics Nachlaß II (1928), xxiii, 725 pp., edited by Erich Adickes. - Ak 18. [Both Eberhard’s Vorbereitung and Kant’s annotations are translated into English in Eberhard [2016, 1–129].] AA

Fichte GA

J. G. Fichte—Gesamtausgabe der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. R. Lauth and H. Jacob (eds.). Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, 1965–.

Notes on Sources and Key to Abbreviations



The Science of Knowledge, P. Heath and J. Lachs (eds., trs.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982. Early Philosophical Writings. D. Breazeale (ed., tr.). Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988. Foundations of Natural Right, Frederick Neuhouser (ed.). Cambridge University Press, 2000. The Vocation of Man, translated by Peter Preuss. Indianapolis, In: Hackett Publishing Company, 1987.

Schelling SW

Schellings Sämtliche Werke, 10 vols., edited by K. F. A. Schelling. (Originally published in 1856). Stuttgart: Cotta, 1956 (München: Beck, 1958); cited by vol: page numbers.


Werke: Historisch-Kritische Ausgabe. W. G. Jacobs and W. Schieche (eds.). Stuttgart: Frommann-Holzboog, 1976–.


System of Transcendental Idealism (1800). P. Heath (tr.). Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1978. The Science of Knowledge with the First and Second Introductions. P. Heath and J. Lachs (trs.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982. “Fernere Darstellungen aus dem System der Philosophie,” Neue Zeitschrift für speculative Physik 1(1):1–77, 1(2):2–174, 1802. (Reprinted in SW 1, 4:334–510.) “Further Presentations from the System of Philosophy,” §§2, 4. M. Vater (tr.), The Philosophical Forum 32.4:373–397, 2001. (Translated excerpts from FDSP.)



Hegel GW




Gesammelte Werke, 21 vols. Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, with the Hegel-Kommission der Rheinisch-Westfälischen Akademie der Wissenschaften and the Hegel-Archiv der Ruhr-Universität Bochum. Hamburg: Meiner, 1968–. Hegels Gesammelte Werke. Katalog anlässlich des 31. Internationalen Hegel-Kongresses 17.–20. Mai 2016 in Bochum, Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag, 2016. Werke in 20 Bänden. K. Moldenhauer and K. Michel (eds.). Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1970. (Note: “MM” with italics is used to designate Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals. Confusion is avoided by the context of the citation––one involves an attribution to Hegel, the other to Kant––and by the use or lack of italics.) Werke, herausgegeben von einem Verein von Freunden des Verewigten, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1832–1845.








Phil. Prop. JS I JS II JS III



Notes on Sources and Key to Abbreviations

Sämtliche Werke, edited by George Lasson. Leipzig: Verlag von Felix Meiner, 1917. Karl L. Michelet’s “Vorrede” and “Vorwort” to Hegel’s Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie printed in SW 13 (2. Aufl.), S. v–xviii. “Differenz des Fichte’schen und Schelling’schen Systems der Philosophie”. Kritisches Journal der Philosophie 1.1 (1801):111–184; rpt. GW 4:3–92. The Difference Between Fichte’s and Schelling’s Systems of Philosophy. H. S. Harris and W. Cerf (eds., trs.). Albany, State University of New York Press, 1977. “Verhältniß des Skepticismus zur Philosophie, Darstellung seiner verschiedenen Modificationen, und Vergleichung des neuesten mit dem alten”. Kritisches Journal der Philosophie 1.2 (1801):1–74; rpt. GW 4:197–238. “Relationship of Skepticism to Philosophy, Exposition of its Different Modifications and Comparison to the Latest Form with the Ancient One.” H. S. Harris (tr.) in H. S. Harris and G. di Giovanni (eds.) Between Kant and Hegel: Texts in the Development of Post-Kantian Idealism (pp. 311–62). Rev. ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Hackett Publishing Co., 2000. „Glauben und Wissen oder die Reflexionsphilosophie der Subjectivität, in der Vollständigkeit ihrer Formen, als Kantische, Jacobische, und Fichtesche Philosophie“. Kritisches Journal der Philosophie 2.1 (1802):3–189; rpt. GW 4:313–414. Faith and Knowledge. W. Cerf and H. S. Harris (eds., trs.) Albany, State University of New York Press, 1977. System der Sittlichkeit. Reinschriftentwurf (1802–1808). GW 5, pp. 277–361. System of Ethical Life (1802/3) and first Philosophy of Spirit. H. S. Harris and T. M. Knox (eds., trs.). Albany: State University of New York Press, 1979. „Kurse. Manuskripte und Diktate,“ GW 10:523–818. (Formerly designated „Texte zur Philosophischen Propädeutik (1801–1813).“) The Philosophical Propaedeutic. M. George and A. Vincent (eds.), A. V. Miller (tr.). Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986. Jena Systemetnwürfe I (1803–1804). GW 6. Jena Systementwürfe II (1804–1805). GW 7. Jena Systementwürfe III (1805–1805). GW 8. The Jena System 1804–05: Logic and Metaphysics. J. W. Burbidge, G. di Giovanni, H. S. Harris (eds., trs.). Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1986. System der Wissenschaft. Erster Theil, die Phänomenologie des Geistes. (1807). GW 9. Phänomenologie des Geistes. H.-F. Wessels and H. Clairmont (eds.), with an Introduction by W. Bonsiepen. Hamburg: Meiner, 2006. Based on GW 9; provides a page concordance among the standard German editions of Hegel’s Phenomenology (pp. 621–627). The Phenomenology of Spirit. T. Pinkard, tr. & ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018. (Provides pagination of GW 9, and correctly numbers each consecutive paragraph.) Cited without further reference to the page or paragraph numbers of the English translation.

Notes on Sources and Key to Abbreviations




Enc. 1 Enc. 1W Enc. 2 Enc. 2P Enc. 3 Enc. 3P ETW



Phenomenology of Spirit. A. V. Miller (tr.). Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1979. (Cited by paragraph numbers that refer to the original German edition of the text, and not to the Miller’s translation; translations revised without notice.) “Proceedings of the Estates Assembly in the Kingdom of Wűrttemberg 1815–1816.” In Heidelberg Writings, B. Bowman, A. Speight, 32–136. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. GW 15. Wissenschaft der Logik. Erster Band. Die objective Logik (1812). GW 11. Wissenschaft der Logik. Zweiter Band. Die subjective Logik oder Lehre vom Begriff (1816). GW 12. Wissenschaft der Logik. Erster Teil. Die objective Logik. Erster Band. Die Lehre vom Seyn (1832). GW 21. The Science of Logic. George di Giovanni (tr.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Contains pagination from GW.) Hegel’s Science of Logic. Transl. A.V. Miller. Amherst: Humanity Books, 1969. „Naturrechtsaufsatz“ (1802). GW 4. Naturrecht und Staatswissenschaft im Grundrisse. Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts (1821). GW 14. Elements of the Philosophy of Right. A. Wood (ed.), H. B. Nisbet (tr.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, 2nd ed. T. M. Knox, tr., S. Houlgate, ed. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 2008. Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Translated by Alan White. Newburyport, MA: Focus Publishing, 2002. Enzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften (1st ed.: 1817, 2nd ed.: 1827, 3rd ed.: 1830), 3 vols., GW 19, 20; cited by §, as needed with the suffix ‘R’ for Remark (Anmerkung), or ‘Z’ for Zusatz (addition from student lecture notes). Hegel’s Encyclopedia Logic, T. Geraets, W. Suchting, and H. S. Harris (trs.). Cambridge, Mass.: Hackett, 1991. Hegel’s Logic. Being Part One of the Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences (1830), trans. William Wallace. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975. Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature, A. V. Miller (tr.). Oxford: The Clarendon Press. Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature, 3 vols. M. J. Petry (ed., tr.). London: George Allen & Unwin; New York: Humanities Press, 1970. Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind, W. Wallace and A. V. Miller (trs.). Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976. Hegel’s Philosophy of Subjective Spirit (Enc. 3, §§377–482), 3 vols. M. J. Petry (ed., tr.). Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1978. (Also contains the ‘Berlin Phenomenology’.) On Christianity. Early Theological Writings of Friedrich Hegel. Transl. by T. M. Knox, with an introduction and fragment. transl. by R. Kroner. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1961. Natural Law. The Scientific Ways of Treating Natural Law, Its Place in Moral Philosophy, and Its Relation to the Positive Sciences of Law. Transl. by T. M. Knox. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1975.


Notes on Sources and Key to Abbreviations


Hegel and the Human Spirit, A translation of the Jena lectures on the Philosophy of Spirit (1805–6) with commentary by Leo Rauch. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1983. Vorlesungen. Ausgewählte Nachschriften und Manuskripte. 16 vols. (to date). Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag, 1983ff. Vorlesungen über die Logik. Vorlesungen vol. 10. Hamburg: Meiner, 2001. Vorlesungen ueber die Logik. Berlin 1831. Nachgeschrieben von Karl Hegel. Hg. v. Udo Rameil u. Mit. v. H.-C. Lucas. Hamburg: Meiner 2001. (Bd. 10 of the Vorlesungen series.) Vorlesungen über Naturrecht und Staatswissenschaft (1817/18). C. Becker, W. Bonsiepen, A. Gethmann-Siefert, F. Hogemann, W. Jaeschke, Ch. Jamme, H.-Ch. Lucas, K. R. Meist, O. Pöggeler, H. Schneider (eds.). Vorlesungen vol.1. Hamburg: Meiner, 1983. Vorlesungen über die Philosophie des Rechts (1819–20). Vorlesungen vol. 14. E. Angehrn, M. Bondeli, H. N. Seelmann (eds.). Hamburg: Meiner, 2000. Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Kunst (1823). Vorlesungen, 2 vols. A. Gethmann-Siefert (ed.). Hamburg: Meiner, 1998. [Vol. 2 of GWF Hegel: Vorlesungen: Ausgewählte Nachschriften und Manuskripten (Meiner), and the English translation is Robert F. Brown’s 2014 OUP version; see below.] Lectures on the Philosophy of Art: The Hotho Transcript of the 1823 Berlin Lectures Together with an Introduction by Annemarie Gethmann-Siefert, trans. Robert F. Brown Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2014. Hegel’s Aesthetics. Lectures on Fine Art. 2 vols. T. M. Knox (ed., tr.). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975. Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Religion. Teil 1. Einleitung. Der Begriff der Religion (1824, 1827, 1831). Vorlesungen vol. 3. W. Jaeschke (ed.). Hamburg: Meiner, 1983. Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Religion. Teil 2. Die bestimmte Religion. Vorlesungen vol. 4. W. Jaeschke (ed.). Hamburg: Meiner, 1985. Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Religion. Teil 3. Die vollendete Religion. Vorlesungen vol. 5. W. Jaeschke (ed.). Hamburg: Meiner, 1984. Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, edited and translated by E. B. Speirs, J. B. Sanderson, and Kegan Paul. London: Trench, Trübner, & Co., 1895. Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion. 3 vols. Peter C. Hodgson (ed.), R. F. Brown, P. C. Hodgson, J. M. Stewart (trs.). Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984; 1987; 1985. [Reissued in: Hegel. Lecture Series, in 3 vols. Oxford UP, 2006.] Vorlesungen Über die Beweise vom Dasein Gottes, Gesammelte Werke, Vol 18, Vorlesungsmanuskripte II (1816–1831), edited by Walter Jaeschke, Hamburg: Meiner Verlag, 1995. Lectures on the Proofs of the Existence of God, edited and translated by Peter C. Hodgson, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007. Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Natur (1819–1820). Vorlesungen vol. 16. M. Bondeli, H. N. Seelmann (eds.). Hamburg: Meiner, 2002. Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Natur (1825–1826). Vorlesungen vol. 17. K. Bal, G. Marmasse, Th. Posch, K. Vieweg (eds.) Hamburg, 2007.





LFAHotho LFA VRel1

VRel2 VRel3 LPRel



LProofs VNat1 VNat2

Notes on Sources and Key to Abbreviations


UVNat Hegel, Vorlesung über Naturphilosophie. Berlin 1821/22. Nachschrift von Boris von Uexküll. Hgg. v. Gilles Marmasse und Thomas Posch. Frankfurt a.M. et al.: Lang, 2002. GVNat Hegel, Vorlesung über Naturphilosophie. Berlin 1823/24. Nachschrift von K.G.J.v. Griesheim, hrsg. v. G. Marmasse. Frankurt a.M. et al.: Peter Lang, 2000. VGeist Vorlesungen über die Philosophie des Geistes (1827–1828). Vorlesungen vol. 13. F. Hespe, B. Tuschling (eds.). Hamburg: Meiner, 1994. LPS Lectures on the Philosophy of Spirit 1827–8. 2007. Robert R. Williams (ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. VPhSG Vorlesungen über die Philosophie des subjectiven Geistes. GW 25.1, Nachschriften zu den Kollegien der Jahre 1822 und 1825. Christoph Johannes Bauer (ed.). Hamburg: Meiner, 2008. VPhG Vorlesungen über die Philosophie des Geistes. GW 25.2, Nachschrift zu dem Kolleg des Wintersemesters 1827/28 und Sekundäre Überlieferung. Christoph Johannes Bauer (ed.). Meiner, Hamburg, 2011. VPhW Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Weltgeschichte (1822–1823). Vorlesungen vol. 12. K. H. Ilting, K. Brehmer, H. N. Seelmann (eds.) Hamburg: Meiner, 1996. VPhGes Die Philosophie der Geschichte. Vorlesungsmitschrift Heimann (Winter 1830/1831), edited by Klaus Vieweg. Munich: Fink Verlag, 2005. LPWH Lectures on the Philosophy of World History: Vol. I [1822–1823]. Translated by R. F. Brown and P. C. Hodgson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. LPWHIntro Lectures on the Philosophy of World History: Introduction. Reason in History (1837). Translated by H. B. Nisbet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975. VPhWIntro Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Weltgeschichte. Bd. 1. Die Vernunft in der Geschichte (1837), ed. Johannes Hoffmeister. Hamburg: Meiner, 1955. VGPh1-4 Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie. Vorlesungen vols. 6–9. P. Garniron, W. Jaeschke (eds.) Hamburg: Meiner, 1986–1996. LHPHald Hegel’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy (1840). E. S. Haldane, F. H. Simson (trs.). Vol. 1–3. New York: Humanities Press, 1955. (1892–1896, 1955, 1963.) LHPBrown1-3 Lectures on the History of Philosophy: The Lectures of 1825–1826. 3 vols. R. F. Brown (ed., tr.), J. M. Stewart with assistance of H. S. Harris (trs.). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. LHPIntro Introduction to the Lectures on the History of Philosophy. Translated by T. M. Knox and A. V. Miller. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985. EGP Einleitung in die Geschichte der Philosophie. ed. J. Hoffmeister. Hamburg: Meiner, 1940. Briefe Briefe von und an Hegel, 4 vols. J. Hoffmeister (ed.). Hamburg: Meiner, 1969–1981. Letters Hegel: The Letters. C. Butler, C. Seiler (trs.). Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984.

Notes on Sources and Key to Abbreviations


Other Sources MEW MEGA Arist.


Marx-Engels Werke, 44 vols. (46 bks). Berlin: Dietz Verlag, 1956–1968, 1990, 2018. Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe. Berlin: Dietz Verlag; Walter de Gruyter, 1975–. The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation, 2 vols. Edited by Jonathan Barnes. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984.—Cited by the title, a book and chapter number, and an extra number to specify the part of the text. Locke, Jonh. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690). In The Works of John Locke in 10 vols., vols. 1–3. 1823. (Reprinted in Scientia Verlag Aalen, 1963.)—the work is divided into the “books” and “chapters.” The chapters, in turn, are divided into numbered and headed paragraphs. Cited by book.chapter.paragraph.

Introduction: Understanding Hegel and His Philosophical Project Kenneth R. Westphal and Marina F. Bykova

Introduction Hegel has always had an audience problem, not primarily of his own m ­ aking. These began with Kant’s readership, who were hardly prepared to grapple with, much less to comprehend, the philosophical revolution initiated by Kant’s Critical philosophy (di Giovanni 2000). Kant’s contemporaries—and not only they— remained deeply committed to their long-accustomed dichotomies between rationalism and empiricism, and with psycho-physiological issues about the origins or content of fundamental concepts and principles, to the neglect of Kant’s key insight, that our possession of concepts settles no philosophical issues about whether, or how, they can be used in any legitimate, humanly possible judgements. One key aim of justifying a priori concepts (concepts which cannot be exhaustively defined on the basis of, nor acquired solely from, sensory experiences) Kant learned from Tetens (1777): Demonstrating that any concept (or principle) has a legitimate (genuine, sufficiently accurate and justifiable) cognitive use requires localizing and indicating (pointing out, or to) at least one relevant instance of that concept. Tetens called this “realizing” a concept. Kant adopted this use of the verb “realize” from Tetens; Hegel adopted it from them both. Compounding readers’ perplexities was Kant’s further, central claim that some key “synthetic,” i.e., logically contingent principles (both they and their negations are logically consistent) can be known a priori. Kant argued that these synthetic a priori principles specify necessary conditions a priori for the very possibility of human self-conscious experience, even of the most minimal sense of it merely appearing to any one of us that some sensory appearances appear to occur before, during or after others; this is one way to restate the thesis of Kant’s “Refutation of Idealism” (CPR B275). However, Kant argued that these key synthetic a priori principles can only be known if a distinctive, very sophisticated version of idealism is true, according to which space and time are nothing but our human forms of sensory receptivity (CPR A37/B53, A381, B53–54). To those who believe in commonsense or in scientific knowledge of nature, Kant’s cure appeared worse than the skeptical disease. xxxix


Introduction: Understanding Hegel and His Philosophical Project

To those faithful to rationalism or to traditional theology, Kant’s restriction of the legitimate use of concepts and principles to judging only spatiotemporal phenomena appeared to be the skeptical disease, now bolstered by philosophical resources not even Hume could imagine. To Kant’s early converts, it appeared that grave difficulties arose from Kant’s apparent views about “noumena,” or about nonspatiotemporal “things in themselves,” so that Kant’s Critical philosophy required purification and refounding—mostly on borrowed, broadly Cartesian grounds. And to anti-rationalists and historicists it appeared that Kant’s magisterial claims about the powers of human reason and our capacity to develop a cogent critique of pure reason were woefully over-confident, because human reason is rooted in language, while language is rooted in human history and our inherited usage, metaphors and images. According to these critics, human reason is not at all competent to conduct Kant’s proposed critique of pure reason, because we altogether lack pure reason. To empiricists and to skeptics, on the other hand, it appeared that no new Critical Kantian philosophy was necessary; Hume had settled these matters definitively—never mind troubles reconciling the apparently skeptical and the apparently commonsense realist strands in Hume’s views. Empiricists remain convinced that any (purported) synthetic a priori claims must involve some sort of rational intuition into reality itself—a view Kant himself expressly rejected, though exactly this proposal was championed by Schelling’s (FDSP §2) intellectual intuitions of the absolute. What is to be done?

Hegel’s Entré Hegel’s first book is his unjustly dismissed De orbitis planetarum (1801), in which, among much else, he identifies some key methodological shortcomings in Newton’s Principia. One is that Newton’s limit-taking operations presuppose, but cannot demonstrate, that there is a limit approached by his successive approximations to any celestial orbit (planets, moons, comets). Another is that Newton’s methods of approximation lend themselves all too readily to reifying his analytical factors into distinct components (rather than momentary aspects) of any orbital motion. Hegel understood the natural sciences and mathematics of his day far better than his critics, and most of his commentators as well (ourselves included).1 He appreciated fully the importance of Johann Bernoulli’s refounding of Newtonian mechanics on mathematical analysis (calculus) (Enz. §270R), which inter alia both the misleading analytical reifications in Newton’s own calculations and also Newton’s fervent desire to use the Principia to bolster natural theology. Hegel’s Science of Logic (GW 21:273–299) contains a very cogent critical assessment of Cauchy’s landmark “first reform” of (mathematical) analysis (Wolff 1986). In short, Hegel recognized early on that philosophical theory of knowledge requires detailed knowledge of the empirical sciences, although philosophy can make distinctive contributions to our understanding of human knowledge (Westphal 2018, §§116–126). One question then is, whether or how this can be demonstrated

Introduction: Understanding Hegel and His Philosophical Project


to traditional epistemologists, who aim to proceed in an a priori manner, or to later-day “naturalists” who think philosophy has nothing distinctive to contribute to epistemological understanding? These are among the questions Hegel addressed in his second book, The Phenomenology of Spirit (1807). Though he begins as blandly as possible in his Introduction, postponing any and all definite contentions on his own part to the body, if not to the end (and to the Preface) of his massive book, Hegel takes up knowledge—human cognition—as an appearance, or a range of a­ppearances, to try to examine whether any of these appearances may manifest genuine knowledge of the world. By proceeding as he does, Hegel implicitly though quite definitely addresses the “meta-critical” skepticisms of Johann Georg Hamann and Johann Gottfried Herder about the very possibility of Kantian Critical philosophy, the anti-Critical skepticisms of contemporaneous empiricist or skeptical Humean rejoinders to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, and also Pyrrhonian skepticism itself, which Hegel knew to be a far more serious philosophical opponent than empiricist skepticism, though also much more instructive (see below, Chapter 3). Hegel recognized that Gottlob Ernst Schulze’s anonymous “Aphorisms on the Absolute” (1803) had implicitly though pointedly countered Schelling’s (FDSP) intellectual intuitionism by re-stating and deploying the Pyrrhonian Dilemma of the Criterion. One of Hegel’s key achievements is solving that Dilemma by explicating the very possibility of constructive self-criticism (Westphal 2018, §§60–64; Bykova 2019b, Chapter 5). This solution undergirds Hegel’s critical examination of candidate forms of knowledge as “forms of consciousness” on strictly internal grounds: grounds provided by the core principles of a candidate account of human experience and knowledge, taken in conjunction with its favored domain of objects, known or unknowable (in the case of skeptical forms of consciousness). By critically examining the core principles and their use within plausibly human forms of experience or knowledge, Hegel proposes to demonstrate the competence of philosophy to examine (inter alia) epistemological issues, and more broadly: issues concerning the scope and character of rational judgement and justification in non-formal domains. In this regard, Hegel aims to reconstruct and to justify Kantian Critical philosophy, as a comprehensive critique of rational judgement and justification, without appeal to Kant’s transcendental idealism (nor to any such view: Hegel’s “idealism” is, as he indicates, a moderate ontological holism). The contrast between formal and non-formal domains is precise: The one strictly formal domain consists in a scrupulous reconstruction of Aristotle’s square of opposition (Wolff 2009a). All further domains require various semantic and existence postulates, at the very least, to specify their domains. Many such domains can be formalized on the basis of those postulates, yet which of these formalized domains may be cognitively useful is a further question, which cannot be addressed by formal considerations alone. This Kant had already recognized; it is one key reason why he rejects pure conceptual analysis and instead explicates key concepts to the extent necessary to examine his main topics in Critical philosophy (CPR A727–730/B755–758). Pure conceptual analysis aims to provide necessary and sufficient conditions defining and specifying the exact semantic content


Introduction: Understanding Hegel and His Philosophical Project

(intension) of any problematic concept or term. In contrast, conceptual explication cannot be known to be complete, does not provide necessary and sufficient conditions for a concept’s proper use, and must be assessed by whether, or how well, it may improve upon its predecessor in the original context of its use. This contrast between conceptual analysis and conceptual explication is among Kant’s reasons to address the content and a priori justificatory status of key synthetic principles. Logical empiricists have sought to avoid such principles, or to treat them only as conventions. Neither strategy suffices, in part because some logically contingent yet indispensably necessary semantic capacities and functions are presupposed even in the most elementary specification of any semantic use of any mark as a symbol, of any formation rules for sentences composed of such marks, and of any rules by which any sentence can (or cannot) be derived from any other (Quine 1936). More generally, “synthetic necessary truths” are required to structure any form of disciplined inquiry, even if those fundamental principles may be revisited or revised in the course of inquiry (Toulmin 1949). Wilfrid Sellars recognized that Kant was right to argue for the legitimacy of some key a priori synthetic principles. Yet, unlike Kant, though like Hegel, Sellars realized that such principles are required, necessary, and justifiable independent of Kant’s transcendental idealism, or any such metaphysical view. Hegel’s 1807 Phenomenology is a propaedeutic to rigorous philosophical examination of such issues as these. In this work, Hegel seeks to explicate and justify basic a priori principles of judgement required by commonsense experience and knowledge of objects, persons, events and structures surrounding us—as also by more exacting empirical inquiry into any of these particulars. These principles Hegel identifies and justifies by regressive argument through a strictly internal critique of candidate accounts of human experience and knowledge which purport to succeed without any such principles, beginning in “Sense Certainty” with radically naive realism, according to which sensation alone suffices to account for our experience and empirical knowledge. The first three chapters of Hegel’s Phenomenology provide a counterpart to Kant’s “objective deduction” of the categories, demonstrating that we can, must, and do use key a priori concepts and principles to localize, identify, judge, and causally explain various particulars and events in our surroundings. In the remainder of the Phenomenology, Hegel provides an alternative to Kant’s detailed functionalist cognitive psychology (Brook 2016; Westphal 2020), because those details presume what is at issue in Hegel’s book: That we are—or can become—philosophically competent to examine such issues cogently. Instead, the remainder of Hegel’s Phenomenology examines, explicates, and justifies some of the core social and historical aspects of rational justification—implicitly, though quite deliberately, explicating and defending key features of Kant’s own transcendental doctrine of method, in particular, this thesis: Because we are such finite and fallible cognizant beings, in forming any considered, putatively justified judgement about any public phenomenon, we must first scrutinize our own judgement so as to determine as well as possible whether our judgement and its justifying grounds are such that they can be communicated to all others, such that others can understand and assess our judgement and its

Introduction: Understanding Hegel and His Philosophical Project


grounds, and can find them to be sufficiently accurate and justifying; and second, we must actually communicate our own judgement and its grounds to all others, and consider their considered assessment of our own best judgements, Kant indicates that the only alternative to such cosmopolitan modesty about our own finitude and fallibility is “logical egoism” (Anth. §2), which results in an intellectual counterpart to Hobbes’ state of nature; Kant names Hobbes in exactly this connection (CPR A751–752/B779–780). Hegel’s examination of what he calls “The Animal Kingdom of the Spirit” (PhG GW 9:216–228) elaborates exactly this scenario from Kant, to underscore the very same conclusions about the character and scope of our capacities to judge and to justify anything rationally. Hegel’s conclusion, expressly drawn in “Evil and its Forgiveness” (PhG GW 9:358–62), is that rational judgement and justification is humanly possible, though only as a social and historical phenomenon. This result thus expands the self-critical structure of our human consciousness into a recognitive community of finite, fallible, yet cognitively competent community of self-disciplined rational inquiry (see below, Chapter 7).

Hegel’s Systematic Philosophy In his Introductions both to the 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit and to the later Science of Logic (1812–1816), Hegel stresses that philosophy cannot begin with any presuppositions; that instead, any and all presuppositions must be subjected to critical assessment within philosophy, even such presumptions as expressed in the generically Kantian notions of “cognitive capacities,” “capacity,” “power,” (Kraft) or “subjective cognizing” (Enz. 1817, §36R). This appears to raise incomprehensible problems about how to begin if we are not allowed anything with which to begin. Or perhaps we cannot avoid beginning with our being aware of ourselves as philosophically perplexed or dumbfounded, utterly lacking resources even to express ourselves or our perplexity? Hegel does not think philosophical thinking bootstraps itself into existence and functionality ex nihilo, nor even from the merest appearance to oneself of one’s own self-consciousness. Hegel is clear that our self-consciousness is only possible on the basis of our consciousness of something (or someone) else (Enz. §424; Cramer 1979). Hegel also agrees with Kant that we can only be conscious of other particulars in our surroundings if a host of sub-personal cognitive functions effectively enable us to be conscious of our surroundings, and hence also able to be self-conscious. Hegel’s point against “presuppositions” has a more nuanced sense: We are to relinquish our commitments to any and all of our philosophical preconceptions or presuppositions, and to identify these preconceptions and presuppositions—among others—so as to scrutinize them critically. Hegel’s verb aufzugeben has both of these senses (Grimm 1854). Hegel uses both connotations, even if he does not, in those brief Introductions, expressly emphasize them both; that would invoke too much philosophy prior to our commencing with his philosophizing. He does, however, indicate them both in


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the first edition of his Encyclopaedia Logic (Enc. §§35, 36+R), where he stresses that preconceptions and presuppositions are to be rescinded qua suppositions, centrally because these are presumed by taking them for granted, rather than expressly identifying and assessing them; their identification and assessment is a philosophical task commenced by Hegel’s Logic. Translations and commentaries often recognize only one of these two connotations, thus needlessly complicating Hegel’s starting points. Recalling his formulation in the Preface to the Phenomenology (PhG GW 9:26.21), Hegel reiterates in his Lectures on the History of Philosophy: “in philosophy the point is to know (erkannt) that which is presupposed as familiar (bekannt)” (MM 20:352, LHPHald 3:444, LHPBrown 3:237). For all he achieves in the 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel singles out one result required for his Science of Logic, namely that we can comprehend the fundamental constitutive structure and features of a host of natural, social, and historical phenomena. These constitutive structures Hegel calls “Sachen,” not a term unique to Hegel, though it lacks any adequate English counterpart. To comprehend such constitutive structures requires that we can develop our categorical thinking in ways adequate to these structures. A central feature of Hegel’s thought is revealed by an important common point linking three faults he finds in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Hegel expressly faults Kant for relegating concepts of reflection to an Appendix to his Transcendental Logic (WL II GW 12:19.34–38), for treating reason as “only dialectical” and as “merely regulative” (WL GW 12:23.12, .16–17), and for failing to scrutinize our most fundamental concepts to determine whether they “can be true” (WL GW 12:28.8–24, cf. Enz. §42Z3, Enz. 47R). Kant’s concepts of reflection include these pairs: “identity/difference” or “unity/diversity,” “inner/outer,” “form/matter,” and “agreement/contradiction” (CPR A263–266/B319–322). Kant examines the use of these concepts to specify the character of, and to individuate particular objects of pure understanding and of spatiotemporal phenomena. In regard to spatiotemporal phenomena, Kant’s key point is anti-Leibnizian: conceptual specifications alone suffice only to identify and to individuate objects of pure reason (such as mathematical constructions), but not to individuate spatiotemporal particulars, which requires localizing and specifying the spatiotemporal region occupied by any one spatiotemporal particular; qualitative specification does not suffice to identify or individuate single spatiotemporal particulars. Thus for any judgement about spatiotemporal particulars (of whatever kind or scale) to be a candidate for cognitive standing, requires ascribing features to at least one relevant, indicated, localized, differentiated, characterized spatiotemporal particular. Ascription is required for any judgement (or analogously, statement) to have a truth-value, or value as an approximation; it is required to be able to assess that truth-value or accuracy; it is required for that judgement to have any cognitive justification; and, it is required for any judgement to have sufficient accuracy and cognitive justification to count as knowledge. This may be called the Thesis of Singular Cognitive Reference. It is justified by Kant’s analyses of our competent use of the concepts “space,” “spaces,” “time,” “times,” “individuation” and “particular,” as the conjoint consequence of the Transcendental Aesthetic and the Transcendental Logic.

Introduction: Understanding Hegel and His Philosophical Project


Hegel too upholds and defends this thesis of singular cognitive reference, though he argues for it much more directly, and faults Kant for not using it more thoroughly. Any spatiotemporal particular (of whatever kind or scale) can be identified only by individuating or differentiating it from its surroundings, which requires identifying various of its features. Any such identification and individuation of spatiotemporal particulars involves conjoint, discriminatory use of Kant’s concepts of reflection, especially “unity/diversity” and “inner/outer.” These opposed concepts can only be used by contra-distinguishing particulars, their features, and their relations. Contra-distinguishing particulars, their features, and their relations requires competent use of discriminating classifications of those particulars, their features, and their relations. In such discriminatory judgements by which we identify and individuate particulars and their features, we do competently use integrated pairs or sets of counter-posed conceptual classifications (of particulars, features or relations) by which alone we can and do identify which particulars are unitary and so are distinct to others, by identifying which features or relations are internal to (or constitutive of) any one particular, which features or relations are outer, linking or contrasting it to other particulars, systems or processes. Hence, there is legitimate cognitive use of “dialectically” related or structured concepts, within our experience and knowledge of the spatiotemporal realm. Examining these concepts, their specific content, and their mutual contra-distinction is a central task of Hegel’s Science of Logic. When faulting Kant for not examining our fundamental categories to determine whether they “can be true,” at least one central point is that our fundamental categories must be specified sufficiently so that they can be “realized” (in the sense specified above). This requires properly specifying, differentiating and integrating their content, scope, and proper use, so that they can be instantiated, and so that we can determine that they are instantiated, by actual spatiotemporal phenomena. (These claims are deliberately modal; see below.) Classically conceived, “conceptual analysis” aims to identify the necessary and sufficient conditions for the proper use of any philosophically puzzling concept or term. Hegel follows Kant (as does Carnap) in recognizing that in all non-formal domains, conceptual analysis in this strict sense is unachievable. Instead, the substantive concepts, terms, phrases and principles relevant to morals or to epistemology (including history and philosophy of science) can only be partially explicated, perhaps through such explication also clarified and improved, although the sufficiency or adequacy of any conceptual explication can only be assessed by whether or how it may (not) improve upon the initial concept (etc.) subjected to explication in that original context of use (CPR A727–730/B755–758). Conceptual explication requires a fallibilist account of rational justification, and it requires important aspects of semantic externalism (context dependence). Much more than Kant or Carnap, Hegel developed, exploited, and augmented these fallibilist and externalist aspects of conceptual explication (Westphal 2018, §§100–110, 132–139). Using, developing, and assessing terms, concepts, or principles involve judgement and evaluative criteria and considerations. Accordingly, explicating our most fundamental terms, concepts, and principles (our “categories,” to speak with Kant) to determine whether, how or in what domain(s) they can be true (per above)


Introduction: Understanding Hegel and His Philosophical Project

requires explicating also the subjective aspects of logic, including judgement, inference, and syllogism, as well as the basic principles used in causal-mechanistic, chemical, functional(ist) and teleological explanation, together with the fundamental concepts and principles governing, indeed constituting, our bases for evaluating our own best conceptual explications and their possible, realizable use. These are all topics for Part II of Hegel’s Logic, the “subjective logic.” Hegel’s logic is expressly not limited to strictly deductive logic of inference or syllogism (WL GW 12:110.1–21). Hegel includes the basic forms of syllogism within his logic, but his use of the term is common in the Modern period, when to “logic” also belonged the use of concept, principles, judgements, and inferences within human knowledge. The developments within Hegel’s Science of Logic are to be “immanent,” but this term, or claim, does not yet address the question, immanent within what, exactly? The concepts (etc.) examined in Hegel’s Science of Logic are not expostulated ex nihilo; they were developed through and throughout intellectual history, including the histories of the sciences. Hegel purports to first examine these concepts (etc.) in relative isolation from their actual domains of use, the Realphilosophie of nature and of spirit, which are examined in the second and third volumes of his Encyclopaedia. One central aim of the opening sections of Hegel’s Science of Logic, from “Being” up through “Dasein” (“existence,” “beingthere”) is to argue regressively (via indirect proof by internal critique) that any candidate for cognitive judgement, or claim, must be at least as determinate (specific) as the concept “Dasein.” One central aim of Hegel’s Science of Logic, from “Dasein” up through “Wirklichkeit” (“actuality”)—the third and final section of the Doctrine of Essence—is to argue regressively (via indirect proof by internal critique) that any credible, determinate, informative, assessable use of distinctions between “appearance” and “reality” requires the full complement of concepts examined in the Doctrine of Essence. With those results in hand, Hegel commences his examination of our possible and proper judgemental and inferential use of those concepts and principles, including explanatory principles, within his “Subjective Logic” or “Doctrine of the Concept,” Part II of the Science of Logic. This is elaborate, yet neither artificial nor aimless. Hegel is aware of confusions easily occasioned by failing to distinguish, specify, and properly to appreciate and integrate which features of concepts (etc.) pertain to their logical or proto-cognitive character, roles, or prospective usage; which features of concepts (etc.) pertain to specified domains of actual inquiries which constitute and specify the various domains of Realphilosophie (within nature, spirit); and, which features of concepts (etc.) pertain to their actual use within any actual inquiry within any one specific domain within Realphilosophie. Such care and detail explicating and examining these issues and our resources for addressing them are required once we must, for sound reasons, rescind Cartesian self-transparency, introspective psychology, narrow construals of mental content, pure conceptual analysis and justificatory infallibilism (declared in 1277 by Étienne Tempier’s condemnation of neo-Aristotelian heresies; see Boulter 2011), while recognizing that empiricism fails to account for some of our most basic cognitive capacities.

Introduction: Understanding Hegel and His Philosophical Project


One recurrent theme in Hegel’s Science of Logic is that identification requires specification, which requires differentiation or discrimination. Our identification by discrimination of anything—spatiotemporal particulars, processes, structures, of whatever kind or scale, or their features, properties or constitution—requires comparative concepts (etc.) and involve relations. Hegel is aware of how easily and how often analytical distinctions, distinctions of reason, or comparative discriminations by contrast, are mistakenly reified by misconceiving them as mutually independent entities, beings, or factors. Accordingly, Hegel constantly highlights and discriminates the relevant, specific forms of relations, and also argues that proper use of these comparative, discriminatory concepts (etc.) can, and often do, properly identify constitutive relational features of the objects of inquiry within any branch of Realphilosophie. In both regards, Hegel emphasizes that relations are not themselves relata, even though some relations (partially) constitute particular relata. We have a chronic tendency to reify relations into presumably distinct, mutually independent particulars: relata misconceived—reified—as if they were not relata. Grasping, recognizing, or comprehending relations is altogether an intellectual achievement; relations are not objects we can perceive (sense) or stumble upon (or over); not even spatial or temporal relations are themselves sensory. To identify and to comprehend relations accurately, and to comprehend the relational features of particulars (of whatever kind or scope) requires enormous care and intellectual self-discipline. That is central to Hegel’s conceptual explications in the Science of Logic, continued much more concretely in the two branches of Realphilosophie, the Philosophy of Nature, and the Philosophy of Spirit, and further specified within the respective sections of his philosophical Encyclopaedia. Complementing Hegel’s logic, which so specifies our categories that they can be true, Hegel’s “Realphilosophie” aims to show that those realizable categories are realized within nature and in culture, the realms of spirit. Thus, we have the second volume of Hegel’s Encyclopaedia, “The Philosophy of Nature,” and the third, “The Philosophy of Spirit.” Hegel’s philosophy of nature is deeply informed, intensively and extensively, by the natural sciences and mathematics of his day. In it, Hegel seeks to coordinate the various special sciences with each other, and to integrate them into a comprehensive account of the fundamental features and aspects of nature, including how nature provides the prerequisites of organic life, sentience and our finite human rational agency (see below, Chapter 12). The first (and longest) part of his “Philosophy of Spirit,” the “Philosophy of Subjective Spirit,” addresses the anthropological, physiological and psychological pre-conditions of our human form of mindedness. In this regard, Hegel seeks to show how Aristotle’s account of the soul can be updated and integrated with Kant’s account of our sub-personal cognitive functions. Developing the philosophical understanding of our human form of embodied rational agency was extremely important to Hegel; his contributions to this domain are beginning to attract the attention they deserve (see below, Chapters 13–15; Bykova 2019a). The second part of Hegel’s “Philosophy of Spirit” is his account of “objective spirit,” or human social life. This is detailed extensively and systematically in his Philosophical Outlines of Justice (or, Elements of the Philosophy of Right,


Introduction: Understanding Hegel and His Philosophical Project

1821). The third part is Hegel’s account of the realms of “absolute spirit”: art, religion, and philosophy itself, including history of philosophy. Hegel never completed these as separate works for publication, but several excellent sets of transcripts of his famous lectures in Berlin on these topics have been preserved. More recently they have been properly edited (GW 28,1; 29,1; 30,1; 30,2) and several of the Lecture series have been translated into English (see, e.g., LFAHotho, LPR1-3, LHPBrown,). Hegel produced a holistic philosophical system, expounded as a “system of philosophical sciences.” His goal with the system is to show how reality (Being as such) is ultimately comprehensible in its all-inclusive totality. This quest for “absolute knowing” is not only a topic of the 1807 Phenomenology, but the focus of his entire system. Hegel argues that the most accurate and complete account of absolute knowing is attainable only in the form of an organized totality of cognitions constituting a scientific system (Wissenschaft). This system of knowledge develops from a kind of thinking that generates its categories internally and that dialectically—through self-criticism—overcomes its own limitations at each stage. Such knowledge is not produced at any intermediate stage; it results from and within the whole process of philosophizing, which resembles a circle that presupposes its end (goal), but becomes actual only when completed (PhG GW 9:18). In this sense, the very process (coming-to-be) of cognition is necessarily an integral part of the result reached. Thus, comprehensive knowing involves not only exploring the possibility of absolute knowing (shown in the Phenomenology), but also includes the actual grasp of this possibility as provided by the account of thought in and for itself (investigated in the Science of Logic). Yet, as Hegel insists, because knowledge results from internalization (active assimilation) of the materials of our historical experience, the philosophical account of knowledge must be necessarily “validated” in and through thought’s manifold relations to natural and social phenomena. The distinctive forms of this “validation” Hegel portrays in his Encyclopaedia’s Philosophy of Nature and Philosophy of Spirit.

Dialectic Hegel’s distinctive philosophical approach has become known as dialectical thinking. The dialectic is, in Hegel’s work, not merely a feature of concepts that holds among various shapes of consciousness and forms of thinking. Hegel is distinctive in his view that the dialectic occurs within and accounts for all movement and change, both in the world and in our thought about it; this is a progression in which each successive movement emerges as a dialectical overcoming (sublation) of deficiency ­inherent in the preceding movement. This overcoming is a process of both eliminating the deficient aspects and preserving those that are sufficient in a new, higher standpoint of thought or at a more advanced level of development.

Introduction: Understanding Hegel and His Philosophical Project


Hegel uses several kinds of “dialectic.” Dialectical explication determines the content and proper use of concepts or (likewise) principles. It begins with an elementary, general concept from a domain of inquiry, examines its content and range of application and critically assesses its adequacy, or failure, to account for salient features of examples in its purported domain. Such failures justify introducing a more sophisticated concept to account for the domain, which again is explicated and assessed critically. The result of such dialectical explication is an integrated series of concepts which specifies the proper domain of each and which preserves the legitimate content of earlier concepts in the final, most comprehensive and adequate concept. For example, Hegel’s Logic explicates concepts which purport to characterize the whole of reality. The first concept treated is “being,” which is criticized for its descriptive vacuity and for connoting stasis, which ill-describes a fundamental trait of reality, viz. change. These defects justify introducing the interim concept of “nothing” and then the concept of “becoming.” This concept is then in turn explicated and assessed. Dialectical arguments offer indirect proof. They justify controversial principles for a domain by criticizing the simplest principle from that domain. Hegel believes that inadequacies in a principle can be generated internally, between the principle and examples from its intended or preferred domain. These inadequacies specify more accurately the proper content, scope, and use of the principle, and they justify introducing a more sophisticated principle which purports to account for the original insights and successes, and also for the deficiencies of the previous principle. The dialectical examination is then repeated. Increasingly sophisticated principles are justified by showing that they are the simplest principles which can account accurately for the relevant phenomena in the domain. Such arguments often argue regressively from an obvious phenomenon to demonstrate either necessary or sufficient conditions for the possibility of that phenomenon. For example, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit begins its defense of a non-foundational epistemology by arguing against aconceptual knowledge, in the form of naive realism. He purports to show that no such view can account for obvious abilities to distinguish among different objects of knowledge or to specify the relevant spatial or temporal scope of ostensive reference without admitting that concepts are necessary even to the most elementary examples or episodes of human cognizance of our surroundings. This failure justifies introducing a view of knowledge that admits elementary concepts for sensory qualities. This view is then submitted to analysis and used in a further indirect proof. Dialectical relations hold between particulars, concepts or phenomena when two or more of them appear to be independent but are, in fact, interdependent. Typically, these dependencies would now be expressed as biconditional relations. Dialectical developments occur in history or in society when an historical or social phenomenon either depends upon or generates a distinct and opposed phenomenon, where these phenomena ultimately are encompassed within a larger framework. Dialectical explanations explain dialectical relations, or dialectical developments, by explicating their dialectical character.2


Introduction: Understanding Hegel and His Philosophical Project

The Palgrave Hegel Handbook: Aims and Scope From what has been said, readers will gather this Handbook is neither an introduction to Hegel’s philosophy, nor a dictionary of his elaborate, distinctive terminology. Excellent introductions and dictionaries precede this Handbook.3 Neither is this the first or only handbook to Hegel’s philosophy (in English). Our volume is designed to complement the others, primarily by aiming to address the full range of Hegel’s philosophical texts, issues, and views, by addressing them philosophically as well as textually, historically, and critically.4 This rationale is exhibited in this book’s Table of Contents and its divisions, beginning in Part I with the intellectual background and context of Hegel’s philosophical project, then turning in Part II to his 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit, following in Part III with Hegel’s Science of Logic, though focusing on its methodological underpinnings, in order next to consider the subsequent divisions of Hegel’s encyclopedic philosophical system: Philosophy of Nature (Part IV) and Philosophy of Spirit (Part V). Hegel’s moral philosophy, which conceptually belongs to his philosophy of spirit, is elaborated in much greater detail in two further areas of philosophical inquiry: his Practical and Political Philosophy (Part VI) and his philosophies of history, encompassing both Philosophy of World History and also History of Philosophy (Part VII). Part VIII considers subsequent and contemporary Hegelian thought; Part IX provides two important chronologies, one of Hegel’s own life, the other of his philosophical system as formulated in his writings and his justly famous lecture series, primarily those given in Berlin. Our Handbook then closes with a concise agenda of issues for further research. Each chapter, and the volume as a whole, is outlined in the About This Book. The Handbook consists of twenty eight chapters written by a group of internationally recognized Hegel scholars. All essays included in the volume are original works that offer a scholarly introduction to the subject under consideration. Despite being sizable, this volume does not intend to be comprehensive, and some omissions and gaps in coverage of Hegel’s vast philosophical legacy are unavoidable. In this volume our goal is to provide a series of well researched, comprehensible contributions, which together adequately and reliably take account of Hegel’s philosophical system and thought. We believe we have achieved our aim by presenting a state of the art understanding of Hegel’s philosophy, evaluating arguments made against Hegel’s views, and assessing central contemporary controversies concerning his philosophy. We hope our readers will appreciate the clarity and engaging style adopted by the contributors to this Handbook and shall benefit significantly from this compendious, robust examination of Hegel’s philosophy.

Notes 1. On Hegel’s De orbitis, see Ferrini (1991), (1994), (1995), (1997a), (1997b), (1998), (1999), and Nasti de Vincentis (1995), (1998). 2. Most of this section 4 was first published in Westphal (1992). The author is grateful to the editors and publisher for kindly allowing its revision and publication here.

Introduction: Understanding Hegel and His Philosophical Project


3. Among introductions in English we recommend especially—in alphabetical order—Caird (1896), Hartnack (1986), Hoffman (2015), Houlgate (2005), Mure (1940), Plant (1973), and Siep (2014). For Hegel dictionaries, see: Burbidge (2008), Inwood (1992), and Magee (2010). 4. As for misunderstandings still circulating as “received wisdom” about Hegel’s supposed views, see Stewart (1996). The image of Hegel’s philosophy as a monolithic block originates with Michelet’s editing his collected works; see Jamme (1984), and Michelet’s (1870) hagiographic title.

Bibliography Boulter, Stephen. 2011. “The Mediaeval Origins of Conceivability Arguments.” Metaphilosophy 42 (5): 617–641. Brook, Andrew. 2016. “Kant’s View of the Mind and Consciousness of Self.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by E. N. Zalta. win2016/entries/kant-mind/. Burbidge, John. 2008. Historical Dictionary of Hegelian Philosophy. Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press (Rowman & Littlefield). Bykova, Marina F., ed. 2019a. Hegel’s Philosophy of Spirit: A Critical Guide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bykova, Marina F., ed. 2019b. The German Idealism Reader: Ideas, Responses and Legacy. London: Bloomsbury. Caird, Edward. 1896. Hegel. London and Edinburgh: Blackwood and Sons; Reprint: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2002. Cramer, Konrad. 1979. “Bewusstsein und Selbstbewusstsein. Vorschläge zur Rekonstruktion der systematischen Bedeutung einer Behauptung Hegels im §424 der Berliner Encyclopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften.” In Hegels Philosophische Psychologie, edited by Dieter Henrich, 215–225. Bonn: Bouvier. di Giovanni, George. 2000. “The Facts of Consciousness.” In Between Kant and Hegel: Texts in the Development of Post-Kantian Idealism, edited by Henry S. Harris and George di Giovanni, 2nd rev. ed., 2–50. Cambridge, MA: Hackett Publishing. Grimm, Jacob, and Wilhelm Grimm. 1854–. Deutsches Wörterbuch. Leipzig: Verlag von S. Hirzel. Ferrini, Cinzia. 1991. “Features of Irony and Alleged Errors in Hegel’s De orbitis planetarum.” Hegel-Jahrbuch, 459–477. Ferrini, Cinzia. 1994. “On Newton’s Demonstration of Kepler’s Second Law in Hegel’s De Orbitis Planetarum (1801).” Philosophia naturalis 31: 150–170. Ferrini, Cinzia, ed. 1995. Guida al «De orbitis planetarum» di Hegel ed alle sue edizioni e traduzioni. Bern: Haupt. Ferrini, Cinzia. 1997a. “Die Bibliothek in Tschugg: Hegels Vorbereitung für seine frühe Naturphilosophie.” In Hegel in der Schweiz (1793–1796), edited by H. Schneider and N. Waszek, 237–259. Frankfurt a. M.: Lang. Ferrini, Cinzia. 1997b. “Il giovane Hegel critico di Newton.” Intersezioni 17 (3): 395–417. Ferrini, Cinzia. 1998. “Framing Hypotheses: Numbers in Nature and the Logic of Measure in the Development of Hegel’s System.” In Hegel and the Philosophy of Nature, edited by Stephen Houlgate, 283–310. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Ferrini, Cinzia. 1999. “On the Role of Newton’s Mechanics and Philosophy of Nature in the Genesis of Hegel’s Dialectic.” In Hegel’s Denkentwicklung in der Berner und Frankfurter Zeit, edited by M. Bondeli and H. Linneweber-Lammerskitten, 197–224. Paderborn: Fink. Harris, Henry S., and George di Giovanni, eds., trs. 2000. Between Kant and Hegel: Texts in the Development of Post-Kantian Idealism, 2nd rev. ed. Cambridge, MA: Hackett Publishing. Hartnack, Justus. 1986. From Radical Empiricism to Absolute Idealism. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellon Press.


Introduction: Understanding Hegel and His Philosophical Project

Hoffman, Thomas Sören. 2015. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: A Propaedeutic. Translated by D. Healan, 2nd ed. Leiden and Boston: Brill. Houlgate, Stephen, ed. 1998. Hegel and the Philosophy of Nature. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Houlgate, Stephen. 2005. An Introduction to Hegel, 2nd rev. ed. Oxford: Blackwell. Inwood, Michael. 1992. A Hegel Dictionary. Oxford: Blackwell. Jamme, Christoph. 1984. “Editionspolitik. Zur »Freundesvereinsausgabe« der Werke G.W.F. Hegels.” Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung 38 (1): 83–99. stable/20483336. Magee, Glen Alexander. 2010. The Hegel Dictionary. London: Continuum. Michelet, Carl L. 1870. Hegel der unwiderlegte Weltphilosoph. Eine Jubelschrift. Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot. Mure, G.R.G. 1940. An Introduction to Hegel. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. Nasti de Vincentis, Mauro. 1995. “Gli argomenti hegeliani contro il modello newtoniano.” In Guida al «De orbitis planetarum» di Hegel ed alle sue edizioni e traduzioni, edited by Cinzia Ferrini, 203–240. Bern: Haupt. Nasti de Vincentis, Mauro. 1998. “Hegel’s Worm in Newton’s Apple.” In Hegel and the Philosophy of Nature, edited by Stephen Houlgate, 227–256. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Plant, Raymond. 1973. Hegel. London: George Allen and Unwin. Quine, W. V. O. 1936. “Truth by Convention.” In Philosophical Essays for A. N. Whitehead, edited by O. H. Lee, 90–124. New York: Longman’s; rpt. In idem. (1976), The Ways of Paradox and Other Essays, 2nd rev. ed., 77–106. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Siep, Ludwig. 2014. Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Translated by D. Smyth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Stewart, Jon, ed. 1996. The Hegel Myths and Legends. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. Tetens, Johann Heinrich. 1777. Philosophische Versuche über die menschliche Natur und ihre Entwicklung, 2 vols. Leipzig: M.G. Weidmanns Erben & Reich. Toulmin, Stephen. 1949. “A Defence of Synthetic Necessary Truth.” Mind ns 58 (230): 164–177. Westphal, Kenneth R. 1992. “Dialectic: Hegel.” In The Blackwell Companion to Epistemology, edited by J. Dancy and E. Sosa, 98–99. Oxford: Blackwell. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2018. Grounds of Pragmatic Realism: Hegel’s Internal Critique and Transformation of Kant’s Critical Philosophy. Leiden and Boston: Brill. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2020. “Kant’s Analytic of Principles.” In Kant, edited by M. Timmons and S. Baiasu, Chapter 8. London: Routledge. Wolff, Michael. 1986. “Hegel und Cauchy. Eine Untersuchung zur Philosophie und Geschichte der Mathematik.” In Hegel und die Naturwissenschaften, edited by R.-P. Horstmann and M. J. Petry, 197–263. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta. Wolff, Michael. 2009a. Abhandlung über die Prinzipien der Logik. Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann. Wolff, Michael. 2009b. Der Begriff des Widerspruchs. Eine Studie zur Dialektik Kants und Hegels, 2nd rev. ed. Frankfurt am Main: Frankfurt University Press.

Part I

Intellectual Background and Philosophical Project

Chapter 1

Hegel: His Life and His Path in Philosophy Marina F. Bykova

Rightly considered the most systematic of German idealists, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) elaborated a comprehensive philosophical system which, he believed, could consistently explain how everything in the world, including our thoughts, is interrelated. It is hard to overestimate his ambition and the complexity of his undertaking, which, together with the highly abstract metaphysical background of his philosophy, has led to a number of misinterpretations and misconceptions about both his philosophical project and its results. Hegel’s writings are difficult to read and comprehend, yet his many valuable insights into numerous topics remain philosophically significant today and secure for him a permanent place in philosophy and its history. This chapter sketches the thinker’s life and views him in the context of his historical time and intellectual milieu. It does not attempt to discuss all the nuances of Hegel’s intellectual development. There are many outstanding biographies of Hegel published only in recent years (Pinkard 2000; Althaus 2000; Fulda 2003; Vieweg 2019), and it would be hard to surpass either their details or their breadth. My more modest aim is to explore links between Hegel’s life, philosophical ideas, and specific intellectual context that together can provide the context necessary for a thorough understanding of the thinker and his ideas. This chapter examines the most formative and decisive periods of Hegel’s life, which either significantly impacted his thought or reflected some notable changes in his philosophical views. It begins with a discussion of the early stage of Hegel’s intellectual development, which focuses on his life in Stuttgart (most notably 1777–1788), then turns to Hegel’s time in Tűbingen and his interactions with Hölderlin and Schelling that proved to be instrumental to his philosophical self-awareness (1788–1793). The third section considers the transitional years between his time as a student and the beginning of his academic career, as he first tries his hand at writing philosophical essays (1793–1800), the fourth

M. F. Bykova (*)  North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA e-mail: [email protected]

© The Author(s) 2020 M. F. Bykova and K. R. Westphal (eds.), The Palgrave Hegel Handbook, Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism,



M. F. Bykova

turns to Hegel’s stay at Jena where he successfully launched his university career (1801–1806), the fifth section draws from Hegel’s years outside the university (1807–1816), the sixth examines a short two-year period at Heidelberg, and the final, seventh, section addresses the Berlin period, perhaps the most productive of Hegel’s philosophical career (1818–1831). I thus aim to consider Hegel in his natural setting, i.e. the historical and intellectual context that shaped him as an individual and influenced the development of his philosophical thought.

1 Early Life and First Encounter with Philosophy The son of Georg Ludwig Hegel and Maria Magdalena Louisa, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was born on 27 August, 1770 in Stuttgart, the capital of the Duchy of Württemberg. The youngest of six children, only he, his sister Christiane Luise, and his brother Georg Ludwig survived into adulthood. Throughout his life Hegel was plagued by health difficulties and, in his early years, suffered through several life-threatening illnesses. Hegel’s father, Georg Hegel, had studied law at Tűbingen University and eventually became a secretary to the revenue office at the court of Wűrttemberg. Equally impressive, Hegel’s mother was unusually educated for a woman of her time. The Hegel family was moderately well off in comparison to other households, which allowed them to move close to the “non-noble notables” (Ehrbarkeit) “who staffed the Wűrttemberg assembly of estates and who had a near-monopoly on the better, more prestigious positions in Württemberg” (Pinkard 2000, 5). However, Hegel’s family was not part of this establishment and had to rely on education and the opportunities procured through their hard work and talent instead of familial or social connections. As a child, at the age of three, Hegel began attending German School. In addition, his mother taught him Latin at home, and by the time he was placed in Latin School, he already knew basic Latin. No doubt, this emphasis on education and learning would characterize Hegel’s views on the role education (both as schooling and as enculturation [Bildung]) would play in the modern world. When Hegel was eleven, his mother died from bilious fever (a sort of acute intestinal or malarial fever) that spread through Stuttgart. Hegel himself barely survived and, as a result of the disease, developed a speech impediment characterized by stuttering and periodic gasping, with which he had to cope his entire life. His mother’s death had a lasting, traumatic impact on the young boy, who was now left in the care of his father. In 1784, Hegel was admitted to the Gymnasium Illustre in Stuttgart. The school, like many others during this period, was unorderly and in a state of partial disarray. Nonetheless, it managed to combine Enlightenment thought with the Protestant humanism of the Renaissance, thus giving Hegel a sense of both tradition and progress in his youth. The decision to send the boy to the Gymnasium was likely a compromise between his father, who wanted to provide Hegel with an

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Enlightenment education, and his deceased mother’s desire to see her son studying theology at Tűbingen. As some of the seats at Tűbingen were reserved for students who attended the Gymnasium, Hegel could get an Enlightenment education and still be qualified for a theological career (Pinkard 2000, 8). One of the most significant influences on Hegel’s thought during this period was his friendship with Professor Jacob Friedrich von Abel, a faculty member of the Karlsschule, a unique educational institution founded by Duke Karl Eugen of Württemberg to train officials and high ranking military officers in the new sciences.1 Hegel’s sister wrote that von Abel “fostered” Hegel (or made him his “protégé”), so it should be no surprise that, when Abel voiced his opinion on the debate surrounding Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics through the publication of his 1787 book Versuch über die Natur der speculativen Vernunft zur Prüfung des Kantischen Systems (An Essay on the Nature of Speculative Reason for a Test of the Kantian System), Hegel would take his mentor’s opinion very seriously. Abel’s book sought to defend the traditional rationalist metaphysical stance against Kant’s claims that positive metaphysical knowledge of the world is impossible, and that all one can know is the negative claim that there are metaphysical things. Moreover, in light of the view that God is a metaphysical being, Kant’s argument held that one cannot know anything of God. It was this line of thought that Professor Abel attacked in his book, which claimed that the world simply must have a creator and that this divine creator establishes the relation of our experience to the world (Pinkard 2000, 13). This book was one of Hegel’s first introductions to Kant’s philosophy, and given the influence that his mentor had on him, it is likely that Hegel would have been inclined to have a highly critical view of Kant’s philosophy. Indeed, his anti-Kantianism seems to be confirmed by his dismissive attitude toward Kantian philosophy over the next several years. While Hegel might have held less than enthusiastic views about Kant’s philosophical system, he was greatly swayed by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729– 1781), whose attitude toward philosophy and education of the general public made a substantial impact on Hegel’s intellectual development. In a letter to Hegel, one of his contemporaries, Karl Joseph Hieronymus Windischmann, observes: The study of your system of science has convinced me that someday, when the time for understanding has come, this work will be viewed as the elementary text of human emancipation, as the key to the new Gospel announced by Lessing. (Letters 558)

Lessing, a philosopher, writer, publicist, and art critic, was widely regarded as one of the German-speaking world’s most prominent “men of letters.” In particular, Hegel became fascinated with Lessing’s role as an “educator of the people” (Volkserzieher) and envisioned a similar future for himself. His diary was filled with musings on what being an educator of the people entailed, and what exactly he would teach all of them.2


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2 Time in Tübingen: Acquaintance with Hölderlin and Schelling, and Lived Experience of the French Revolution In 1788, Hegel began his studies at the Tübinger Stift, a Protestant theological Seminary, which he entered with the intent of studying theology and eventually becoming a Lutheran pastor.3 Many commentators and biographers of Hegel underscore the idyllic setting of the Stift on the bank of the Neckar River and the glorious traditions of this oldest of theological institutions, whose roots can be traced to the Middle Ages (see Plant 1999). Yet, at the time of Hegel’s arrival, the Stift was in such a state of decline that it was in danger of closing altogether: the lecturing material was antiquated, the professoriate was comprised of amateurs who were only able to teach in virtue of their family relationships or friendship with the Stift administration, and the Seminary’s antiquated mission of providing corrective attitudes towards the students was oppressive. Thus, it should not come as a surprise that Hegel’s initial reaction was one of overwhelming disappointment and discouragement. Nonetheless, two major events that happened during Hegel’s stay in Tübingen altered the course of his life forever. The first event was not a single moment in time, but rather two separate happenings stretched over several years. Both of them involved developing lasting friendships that had a crucial formative significance. The first occurred during Hegel’s first year at the Stift, when he struck up a friendship with Friedrich Hölderlin (1770–1843), a same-year student who, like Hegel, felt alienated and frustrated with the way the school was being run. Hölderlin, who would grow into a key figure of German Romanticism and one of the most renowned poets of his era, tremendously influenced the direction of Hegel’s intellectual development and became an invaluable asset for Hegel later on in his life. Another of Hegel’s formative experiences was associated with an event that occurred a few years later, during the fall term of 1790. This is when Hegel and Hölderlin first crossed paths and developed a close friendship with a student several years younger than they. That student was Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775–1854), who himself would later become one of the most renowned representatives of the German idealist movement, eventually succeeding Hegel at the University of Berlin after the thinker’s death. The influence Hölderlin and Schelling had on Hegel’s intellectual development was immense, although this outcome could not have been predicted while the three were still in Tübingen.4 They might have shared similar views (they all vowed not to become pastors, for instance), but there were distinct ways in which their beliefs diverged that determined their later philosophical views and career paths. This was especially true with regards to Kantian philosophy. While Hölderlin and Shelling actively participated in a Kant club that students organized at the Seminary, Hegel decided not to join or even take part in discussions held there. At that point in his life, he still did not see himself as becoming a philosopher; rather, he still planned to follow in Lessing’s footsteps and become a religious and moral reformer of the people like the man he admired. Furthermore, his

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suspicion of Kant’s philosophy, which he had likely maintained since his time in Württemberg, surely dampened his desire to study Kant more fully, thus putting him at odds with Hölderin and Schelling on the matter. In January 1795, reflecting on his experience with Kant, Hegel wrote in his letter to Schelling: Some time ago I took up again the study of Kantian philosophy to learn how to apply its important results to many an idea still current among us…With more recent efforts to penetrate to more profound depths I am still just as little familiar as with the efforts of Reinhold. For to me these speculations, rather than being of great applicability to universally usable concepts, seem of more direct significance mainly to theoretical reason alone. Thus I am not more directly cognizant of these efforts with respect to aim, and my intimations regarding them are even more obscure. (Letters 30)

Hegel seemed to be skeptical about the applicability of Kantian philosophy to pressing practical questions of the time, whereas Schelling viewed it as a powerful tool for resolving not only theoretical but also most practical issues central to philosophy. The second major event that occurred during Hegel’s time at Tübingen was the French Revolution, which broke out in 1789. News of the Revolution sent shockwaves throughout the European continent; some welcomed the change (including Hegel, Schelling, and Hölderlin), while others, especially those with vested interests in the tradition of monarchy, were undoubtedly worried about the future of the crown. To protect themselves from the spread of the Revolution, Austria and Prussia pledged to defend their monarchic values, which culminated in the Declaration of Pillnitz in 1791. When an anti-revolutionary coalition was formed (spearheaded by émigrés of the French nobility), France declared war on 20 April, 1792. The struggle for power came to a head on 20 September with a decisive French victory over the coalition during the battle of Valmy (near Paris). The next day, the newly elected National Convention in France abolished the monarchy. Hegel and his friends were overjoyed at these developments. A persistent (but most likely false) rumor was spread that on the fourteenth of July 1793, Hölderlin, Schelling, and Hegel planted a “victory tree” in a field near Tübingen, then danced and sang the Marseillaise, which Schelling had translated into German (see Pinkard 2000, 24). Although Schelling actually translated the Marseillaise, the rest of the story seems to have little historical support. However, it is clear that the three friends undoubtedly shared a strong pro-French sentiment. In the aftermath, Hegel himself opted to join a political club created at Tübingen to discuss the Revolution, as did many of his friends and classmates. In the summer of 1793, during a particularly rough spell of bad health, Hegel decided to take time off from the Seminary and return to Stuttgart to recuperate at home. While there, he received an offer to become a Hofmeister, or house tutor, for a wealthy family in Berne. This was a common route for many educated young men to take during Hegel’s day, and given his desire to escape the oppressive atmosphere of the Seminary and start a life as a “man of letters,” Hegel gladly accepted the offer. After petitioning to take his theological exam early (which he easily passed), Hegel finished his studies ahead of schedule and set out to find his own pathway and calling in the world.

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3 Pre-Jena Period: Despair, Uncertainty and Desire for a New Path In October of 1793, Hegel began working as a house tutor for the two children of the Steigers, a wealthy family in Berne. Much like his original experience in Tübingen, Hegel was overwhelmed by disappointment. Indeed, the position of being a house tutor was in many ways fraught with unfairness and a lack of respect. Although the tutor was usually much more educated than the family he worked for, he was still treated as a domestic servant—esteemed slightly higher than regular servants—but by no means an equal to the family. As such, tutors were alienated both from their employers and from the other servants of the household. This alienation made Hegel feel depressed, but at the same time created opportunities for him to continue pursuing his own goals and visions. At this point, Hegel still wished to be an “educator of the people,” but, shifting away from the desire to be a strictly religious educator, Hegel now intended to be a “popular philosopher”; someone who would spread modern philosophy to enlighten the people and thus bring the spirit of the French Revolution to Germany. Although the intellectual landscape in philosophy was heavily influenced by Kantians and those who either sought to refute or refine Kant’s ideas, Hegel was still not involved in philosophical discourse, nor was he yet interested in working out its intricacies. In a revealing letter to Schelling, Hegel writes about how, in his mind, the particular points being debated around the Kantian philosophical system, while necessitating their understanding by intellectuals, would not be that important in what a popular philosopher (as Hegel already viewed himself) actually presented to the people (see Letters 35/Briefe I, #11). This is not to say that Hegel still remained largely anti-Kantian. To the contrary, he now thought that Kant’s ideas were central to the cultural reformation beginning to take hold in Europe. Yet Hegel thought that these ideas merely had to be applied in the right way, and that this task would be left to the popular philosopher to figure out. This point is further elaborated in the same letter to Schelling, where Hegel writes that from the Kantian philosophy and its highest completion I expect a revolution in Germany. It will proceed from principles that are present and that only need to be elaborated generally and applied to all hitherto existing knowledge. (Letters 35/Briefe I, #11)

While in Berne, Hegel had begun working on several manuscripts that focused on Christianity and its role in the modern world. However, he came to be dissatisfied with the content of his work and decided against publishing these manuscripts. Feeling isolated from the real intellectual milieu, Hegel’s despondency only continued to grow. His disappointment was evident in the letters he wrote to Hölderlin and Schelling around this time. Alerted by this development, Hölderlin, who had grown much closer to Hegel than Schelling ever did, began looking for a way to help his old Tűbingen friend. Eventually, Hölderlin, who lived in Frankfurt, learned that a local man, a wine merchant named Gogel, was looking for a

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Hofmeister for his children. The prospect of living closer to his friend encouraged Hegel to undertake the move. Furthermore, Hölderlin assured Hegel that Gogel’s family would be much more hospitable than the Steigers’ in Berne, and so, after getting permission from the Konsistorium (the church authorities) in Württemberg, Hegel set off to Frankfurt at the end of 1796. Frankfurt, which was centrally located and much larger than Berne, proved to be more suitable for Hegel’s intellectual interests, and he soon found himself surrounded by intellectuals involved in philosophical pursuit. Equally pivotal was Hegel’s reunification with Hölderlin, who had been developing his ideas on the post-Kantian movement for quite some time. Indeed, while Hegel was serving as a house tutor in Berne, Hölderlin was attending Fichte’s lectures at the University of Jena, which at that time became a breeding ground for post-Kantians and Romanticists. While there, he gave much thought to what he felt was wrong with Fichte’s system. Hölderlin’s influence on Hegel during his time in Frankfurt was immense. For one, it was Hölderlin who suggested that Hegel drop his colloquial writing style, which, up to that point, attempted to reframe the ideas of Kantian philosophy in a way that could be made accessible to the public. Instead, Hölderlin insisted that Hegel had to write in a way that would force the reader to learn and appreciate Hegel’s ideas in his own terms. Taking his friend’s advice to heart, Hegel quite suddenly changed his writing style and began presenting his thoughts in a highly dense and technical manner. Second, Hölderlin’s insights into Fichte’s idealism demonstrated to Hegel that he had been trying to apply a system of ideas that were in desperate need of resolution themselves. Upon reflection, Hegel realized that he had come to an impasse. He came to view his early dream of emulating Lessing, spreading popular philosophy, and aiding the spirit of the Revolution, as foolish. Already in his early thirties, Hegel was unpublished, had little money, and still had not accomplished anything important. This was especially visible in comparison to Hölderin, whose poetry was starting to gain significant attention, and Schelling, whose meteoric rise in philosophy was nothing short of breathtaking, Hegel knew that if he was to become a person who would drive the modern world forward, he had to establish himself in the academic world. On 2 November 1800, Hegel wrote to Schelling asking for advice on where to move, declaring (perhaps with false modesty) that he was not ready to live in a place like Jena, but nonetheless affirming his desire that the two would once again be friends. Hegel also added that in “[his] scientific development, which started from more subordinate needs of man, [he] was inevitably driven toward science, and the ideal of youth had to take the form of reflection and thus at once of a system” (Pinkard 2000, 85). The subtext of this confession-like statement is hard to miss. While earlier, Hegel had dismissed Schelling’s intellectual path as esoteric, he now tacitly admitted that Schelling had been correct to pursue systematic philosophy while he, Hegel, had gone down the wrong intellectual path. Schelling responded by inviting Hegel to move to Jena with him, an offer which Hegel accepted at once. He moved to Jena in January 1801, eager to launch his philosophical career in the academic world.


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4 At Jena: Launching His Academic Career At the time of Hegel’s arrival, Jena, which had just recently acted as a center of the post-Kantian and Romantic movements, fell into a state of gradual decline, although the situation was not as dire as what Hegel experienced in Tübingen. Indeed, following Fichte’s dismissal in 1800 (due to the infamous accusation that he was an atheist), much of the intellectual talent originally teaching at Jena began to migrate away from the city and its university. It was against this backdrop that Hegel moved into a garden apartment next to Schelling and, encouraged by his Tübingen friend, began shaping his academic career. In an attempt to secure a position at Jena, he wrote a habilitation thesis on the orbit of the planets, which he defended in 1801. He hoped to be installed as an “extraordinary professor” (a professor without a chair). However, this aspiration would not be realized until 1805, and for a while he had to content himself with a position as an unpaid lecturer (a Privatdozent). In order to make a living as a Privatdozent, he had to survive on the lecture fees he collected from his students, who were often few and far between during his early years of teaching. During Hegel’s first year in Jena, he published a book titled The Difference Between Fichte’s and Schelling’s Systems of Philosophy (1801). This work, commonly known as the Differenzschrift (see Diff.), was widely viewed as a ­vigorous defense of Schelling’s philosophy over Fichte’s. In this same year, he and Schelling began editing a journal called the Kritische Journal der Philosophie (or the Critical Journal of Philosophy). The journal, which appeared for two years (1802–1803) and consisted of two volumes and six issues, published essays that had mainly Schellingian themes and content. While the journal published a number of Hegel’s early works, the position he formulated there was still largely similar to the one argued by Schelling. However, minor tensions between Hegel and Schelling had already started to emerge during this time, foreshadowing their ­inevitable split. For one, Schelling was dissatisfied with the way Hegel edited his (Schelling’s) essays for their journal, noticing in Hegel’s revisions a visible departure from his own position. Schelling took the journal to be their joint project that should present philosophical views they both share. Certainly, this placed Hegel in a difficult situation. On the one hand, by adhering to Schelling’s ideas, Hegel did not have the space to develop his own position, despite the fact that so doing would help distinguish himself and his own intellectual prowess, thereby furthering his career. On the other hand, straying too far from Schelling’s ideas would have been viewed as a slight against a friend who had greatly assisted Hegel in starting his academic career and getting him settled in Jena. Adding to this, Schelling became embroiled in a controversy that forced him to leave Jena in 1803. The controversy concerned his private life but it impacted his relations with others, including his friends and colleagues. Around the same time that Hegel was launching his academic career in Jena, Schelling became romantically involved with the wife of August Schlegel,5 Caroline Schlegel.

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The two began an affair that lead to Caroline Schlegel divorcing her husband. Eventually, in 1802, she and Schelling got married. Hegel never developed friendly feelings towards Schelling’s new wife, who returned the attitude in kind. Only after Schelling’s departure from Jena to the University of Würzburg, did Hegel begin to establish himself as a thinker who was more than just Schelling’s disciple. Although he still shared many ideas with Schelling, Hegel’s views began to gradually form into a position that was entirely his own. In his Differenzschrift, Hegel had described what he saw as the fundamental difference between Fichte’s and Schelling’s philosophical positions and their understandings about the direction that post-Kantian philosophy should take. Whereas Fichte’s search for a first principle had led to a self-positing I (or more precisely to the self-identity of consciousness with itself [I = I]), Schelling (and Hegel at the time) had thought that the tension between the subjective and objective points of view, between the theoretical and practical, etc., were grounded in something more fundamental and original that made this distinction possible. Both Schelling and Hegel called this the “Absolute,” which Hegel would later identify with “all that is,” i.e. the ultimate reality and all of the moments of the history of thought (including human culture in all its entirety) taken up together as a whole. This Absolute is a unity of thought and being that underlies our ability to form a differentiated experience of the subjective and the objective; this unity thus lies at the heart of debates between realism and idealism (see Pinkard 2000, 158). Despite many similarities, already in Jena Hegel began to deviate from Schelling’s understanding of the Absolute as an absolute identity always revealed in some form in which the Absolute identifies with itself (or, as Schelling terms it, reaches the Absolute’s self-affirmation).6 In 1802, Hegel started tackling the Absolute (and some related philosophical questions) in a way that sought to synthesize productive ideas from Fichte, Hölderlin, and Schelling, which they developed in response to the shortcomings of Critical philosophy. Yet Hegel’s own approach differed decisively from all three thinkers. Hegel accepted Hölderlin’s insight that Fichte’s first principle was flawed insofar as he started from a purely subjective aspect of experience, and that there was some underlying fundamental unity before the divide of consciousness and its object (subject and object). For Hölderlin that unity was a kind of non-discursive, primordial Being. However, Hegel believed that this approach would be limited because it needed to start with something originally given as pure and true, and thus not prompted to undertake any changes and development. Instead, Hegel insisted that the Absolute should be the demonstration of the systematic unfolding of the history of thought in its totality. These and some other ideas began to take form in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, a book intended to show the necessity of completing a systematic philosophy that could ground and justify the modern realization of freedom. Without such a philosophical underpinning, modernity would be subject to Jacobi’s charge that world historical progress ultimately culminates in nihilism (Jacobi 2004).


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While Hegel was working on his Phenomenology, his life in Jena became increasingly difficult, and his options for finding a way to secure a livelihood were running out. His position as a Privatdozent meant that he could not have a constant income; even if he did have a university salary, a paid professor was still only barely able to make ends meet in Jena. At this point he had virtually no money, and although he had acquired a small inheritance after his father’s death, this sum was quickly depleting. Devastated by his unfortunate financial situation, Hegel wrote constant letters to his friends and colleagues asking for possible job openings at other universities. In the midst of this personal turmoil, one particularly crucial asset of Hegel’s was his friendly relation with the theologian Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer (1766–1848), whom Hegel had originally befriended while the two were studying in Tübingen. Niethammer, who for about ten years held a professorship at Jena, in 1804, like Schelling, had transferred to the University of Würzburg, but, after the city was given over to the Austrians, was dismissed on account of his Protestant beliefs, for which he was subsequently compensated with a job in the Bavarian civil service. Being in a bad financial situation, Hegel had to constantly borrow money from Niethammer. On top of Hegel’s financial woes, he had a liaison with Christina Charlotte Johanna Burkhardt, his landlady, who became pregnant with Hegel’s illegitimate child, Ludwig Fischer. Hegel now urgently needed to find money, and find it quickly. The extent to which Niethammer supported Hegel during this trying period was made especially clear when he published the Phenomenology. As Hegel was constantly having to push back the completion of his work, his publisher in Bamberg, Joseph Anton Goebhardt, became increasingly vexed with Hegel’s inability to give him a definite date for when the manuscript would be delivered. After several pleas from Hegel, Niethammer agreed to serve as his guarantor: he promised the publisher that he himself would buy up all produced copies of the book, should Hegel fail to turn the manuscript in by the deadline (see Pinkard 2000, 227). Immensely thankful to his guarantor, Hegel turned to work fully committed to submit the book on time. Yet, while he was finishing the Phenomenology, the situation in Jena changed for the worse. On 14 October—just four days before the Phenomenology had to be submitted—French troops led by Napoleon appeared outside of Jena to engage the Prussian forces that had amassed there. The Battle of Jena lasted only for a few hours and ended with the decisive defeat of the Prussian army. The city was partially destroyed and many houses were set aflame. Hegel stayed at a friend’s house, but the place where he lived was looted by the French and, as he himself wrote in a letter to Niethammer, his papers came to be “messed up … like lottery tickets” (Briefe I, #76; Letters 114). As a result of the French invasion, the University of Jena closed down, and Hegel was forced to leave the city. He had no money or recognition and expected to win neither upon publication of his Phenomenology, which he publicly announced as the Introduction to the System of Science.7 In dire need of employment, he hoped to receive a call from the University of Heidelberg, where many of his former colleagues and friends from Jena had gone. Instead, Niethammer, who

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was at that time already living in Bamberg, offered him a position as an editor for a Bamberg newspaper, which Hegel thankfully accepted, although not without a measure of disappointment. Hegel strongly felt that his place was at a university, an ambition he refused to abandon. “I must … stipulate that the engagement into which I am entering … not to bind me firmly for any length of time. … I cannot be entirely without hope of being formally called to Heidelberg,” Hegel wrote to Niethammer about Niethammer’s proposal (Briefe I, #89; Letters 127; see also letters to Voss, Letters 104–107). Hegel clearly believed that his job with the newspaper was only temporary, and he elucidated that should a better offer arrive, he would leave at once. In this way, he could work without feeling obligated to stay indefinitely.

5 Between Jena and Heidelberg: Another Period of Despair In 1807, about a month after the birth of Ludwig Fischer, his illegitimate son, Hegel came to Bamberg to assume editorship of a local newspaper, the Bamberger Zeitung. Before moving to Bamberg, he finally finished his long-anticipated book, and the Phenomenology of Spirit appeared shortly after his arrival in the Bavarian city. Publication of the Phenomenology put Hegel’s name on the map of the philosophical world, and he began to be regarded as an independent thinker, well positioned within the post-Kantian movement. Many of his former students and colleagues praised the book for its ability to successfully address shortcomings in previous philosophical theories. Hegel himself was praised for the originality of his position and novelty of his approach. Some commentators started to distinguish openly between Hegel’s own views and those associated with Schelling. Both thinkers were now viewed as equally important contributors to the progress of philosophical thought. A former student of Hegel at Jena, K. F. Bachmann, commenting on the impact that Hegel’s book and ideas had on his contemporaries, noticed that if Schelling was like the Plato of modern philosophy, then Hegel was “Germany’s Aristotle” (Briefe I, notes to #155/Letters 498–499). The independence of Hegel’s thoughts now became widely recognized. Yet this also meant that he was creating a distance between his own ideas and Schelling’s. This could not go unnoticed by Schelling himself, who grew more and more impatient about how Hegel portrayed his (Schelling’s) own philosophy in the Phenomenology. In particular, there was a passage in the Phenomenology that described Schelling’s identity philosophy as the “night in which all cows are black” (PhG GW 9:17.28–29). Schelling was outraged, and Hegel undoubtedly had to soften it for his Tübingen friend. On 1 May, 1807, Hegel wrote to Schelling to explain that his criticism of Schelling’s system was targeted at those who misappropriated Schelling’s ideas and insights. Schelling’s response was somewhat conciliatory, yet his feelings were clearly hurt. He replied that if Hegel had indeed aimed his criticism merely at those who misused his (Schelling’s) ideas, it would


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seem that “in the text itself the distinction is not made” (Briefe I, #107/Letters 80). Furthermore, Schelling was disappointed that Hegel broke away from what he thought was their shared project, namely, the articulation of the intellectual intuition. Commenting on this issue, Schelling wrote that concept and intuition were both aspects of “what [he] and [Hegel] have called the Idea—which by its very nature is concept in one of its aspects and intuition in another” (ibid.). Hegel never replied to this letter, and all written correspondence between the two ceased (Pinkard 2000, 257). Beyond Schelling’s reception of the work, many other interpretations of the Phenomenology flooded the scene—a fact evidenced by the competing claims about the book in the literature. During Hegel’s lifetime, some found the text to be indecipherable, yet others viewed the work as purely Schellingian. More recently, an epistemological reading of the work has developed (currently highly influential), which views Hegel’s project as an inquiry into the character and range of our knowledge, “questioning the notion of knowledge as an instrument by means of which one could take possession of the absolute” (Althaus 2000, 96; see also Westphal 2003). Another important interpretation points to Hegel’s attempt to outline a science of the experience of consciousness, which he describes as a history of the development of consciousness itself (Pinkard 2000, 204). In Bamberg, Hegel’s professional life as an editor was unfolding. However, it proved to be less than satisfactory, and he continued to make clear that his true vocation lay elsewhere. Moreover, he was annoyed by the political censorship of newspaper publications. Much effort had to be spent trying to avoid being entangled in undesired controversies and political intrigues that could cost him his job. In an attempt to escape further complications and to secure a better job, he turned again to Niethammer, who was then in charge of education in Bavaria. Niethammer responded on 26 October 1808, offering Hegel a highly demanding rector position at a Gymnasium in Nuremberg (see Briefe I, #133). Although Hegel gratefully accepted this offer, he noted that he still hoped to find a position in a university. At that point, he was ready to settle on any university and he believed that the most feasible would be perhaps the University of Altdorf which Niethammer had under his patronage. Hegel wrote to Niethammer in this regard: any prospect you would hold out for me there [Universität Altdorf] would by itself be most appreciated, but what completely elevates this prospect above all others is the hope of thus joining you in a common life of teaching and active endeavor. (Briefe I, #135/Letters 178)

He also noted that this new appointment would be “directly linked to his literary activities, [which] at least do not differ in type even if they do differ in shape” (ibid.). By November 1808, Hegel assumed his new post in Nuremberg. Although Niethammer likely assisted Hegel, out of consideration of their friendship, Niethammer, a neo-humanist by his philosophical views, also needed allies who could support him in his desire to reform the Bavarian (and eventually the German) educational system, and Hegel was certainly sympathetic in this regard (Wenz 2008). Both Hegel and Niethammer wanted to cultivate Bildung-ideals in

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their students, and to do this, both were convinced that philosophy would be central to achieving such an end. Indeed, when Hegel accepted the offer, he wrote that he was “ever more convinced that theoretical work accomplishes more in the world than practical work. [And that] once the realm of ideas is revolutionized, actuality will not hold out” (Briefe I, #135/Letters 178).8 In addition to serving as rector of the Gymnasium, Hegel was also appointed professor of the philosophical preparatory sciences. This position entailed teaching philosophy to the students of the Gymnasium and exposing them to speculative thought in order to prepare them for the philosophical courses they would encounter at university. Hegel also became the “head teacher” for philosophy, per Niethammer’s administrative directive that such a position be created. Niethammer believed that Hegel’s teaching efforts could not only improve students’ educational experiences in the Gymnasium but also serve as a sample to follow for other educational institutions. He also hoped Hegel would use his teaching as an opportunity to develop philosophy curriculum for Gymnasium. Unfortunately for Niethammer, Hegel quickly discovered that it would be better not to teach speculative philosophy to students at the Gymnasium, as only a few could grasp what was taught. In a letter to Niethammer, Hegel mentioned that “of the 160 pupils” only three or so were able to understand “such an abstract” subject (see Letters 191). Aside from his career, Hegel’s personal life was also moving forward. On 15 September 1811, Hegel married Marie Helena Susanna von Tucher, who was almost twenty years younger than he. The von Tuchers were well established in Nuremberg, and Hegel played to this situation by writing to Niethammer that his marriage to Marie was contingent on him landing a paid position at a university (which was certainly not true, because despite von Tuchers’ good connections, they did not have any standing within academia). In spite of his unrequited career ambitions, Hegel was nonetheless delighted at being married, and he expressed as much in a letter to Niethammer, stating that he had “reached [his] earthly goal” (Briefe, I, #196/Letters 255). However, it is clear that his sentiments were somewhat hyperbolic, for while Hegel was indeed generally satisfied with his marriage, other, more urgent philosophical issues remained to be worked out. The most important among these was the question about the paradigm of his philosophical system and its actual introduction. As his time in the Gymnasium had shown him, the Phenomenology’s place within Hegel’s overall system had gradually come to be less and less clear for him. He saw the need for rethinking the very idea of developing philosophy as “science,” a project that was central to Kant and his followers and which still remained uncompleted. This became Hegel’s central task in the Science of Logic, a notoriously complex philosophical study, on which he began to work almost immediately after the Phenomenology came out. Due to its complexity, the Logic found little to no audience immediately after its tripartite presentation of Being, Essence, and Concept were published between 1812 and 1816. In the Logic Hegel sought to reinvent the traditional fields of logic and metaphysics by creating a single comprehensive “science of logic” in which “system” and “method” were to be united as one (Althaus 2000, 126).


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6 Heidelberg Period: Return to the University Despite the initial rather cool reception received by the Science of Logic, this work earned Hegel a higher position in academia and rocketed him to the top, both professionally and in prestige. In the summer of 1816, Hegel accepted an offer from the University of Heidelberg and thus finally fulfilled his long-standing hopes of becoming a salaried professor and of being installed at the University of Heidelberg, of which he had dreamed since leaving Jena. Back in 1805, Hegel wrote to Johann Heinrich Voss, then a Professor at Heidelberg, that the spirit of Jena had moved to Heidelberg and taken root there (Briefe I, #55/Letters 105–106). Although this view proved to be only partially true by the time Hegel arrived, he seemed to still feel this way. Hegel’s old habits such as stuttering, gasping for breath and nervously shuffling about returned when he began teaching at Heidelberg, although these impediments were not as pronounced as they were during Hegel’s time in Jena. In 1817, during his second year at Heidelberg, Hegel published the Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences.9 Originally meant as a supplement to his lectures, this work contained a condensed version of his tripartite system (including his Logic, now in somehow abbreviated form, thus known as the Lesser Logic). Yet an emphasis was put on the philosophy of nature and the philosophy of spirit (Geist), the two other central parts of his system.10 Hegel’s time in Heidelberg was further punctuated by his involvement in three controversies: the proposed constitutional reforms in German states, the codification of German law, and the new student fraternity movement—the so-called Burschenschaft. The first controversy over constitutionalism was grounded in the post-Napoleonic uncertainty of Germany’s political direction, which was contested by three groups: those who wanted to restore their aristocratic privileges, those who wanted to maintain their recent gains, and a minority group who wanted to unify the Germanic states. A compromise between these various interests came to fruition in June 1815 when the Congress of Vienna passed the Bundesakte (The German Federal Act), which created a loose confederation of German states, headed by the Bundesversammlung. The second controversy, the codification of German law, hinged on whether the traditional patchwork German legal system—which had particularistic and fragmented legal arrangements that varied across hometowns and principalities— ought to be reformed, and about the model such reform should take (here, the “Prussian general code,” enacted by Friedrich Wilhelm II, was the paradigmatic model favored by reform-supporters). Thirdly, the rise of a German national consciousness, rooted in the (false) belief that the Germanic people had retained their original identity and language from the Teutons, had spurred the formation of a national consciousness that, among other things, sought to replace the old student fraternities (the Landsmannschaften) with the more universally-orientated Burschenschaften.

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Hegel entered the debates concerning these issues with his essay “Proceedings of the Estates Assembly in the Kingdom of Württemberg 1815-1816,” which was published in the Heidelberger Jahrbücher in the winter of 1817–1818. In this work, Hegel argued that what was at stake had to do with the substantial differences between the “commitments underlying modern life” and those that determined the foundation of the previous way of life, which he took to be competing, mutually exclusive claims (PEA GW 15). The old order, he maintained, had collapsed under the weight of its own internal contradictions and deficiencies; further, he argued that the new, rationally orientated direction in which the modern world was now heading would be the rallying call of Germany’s future. Hegel’s clearly progressive position had its roots in his revolutionary and reform-oriented views, which he maintained throughout his life. However, many people disagreed with Hegel on the matter, including Niethammer, who argued that Hegel would not have written his essay if he “had been in the position of having to see these ruling rationalities face to face” (Briefe II, #327).

7 Call to Berlin: Realization of Goals and Ambitions After the death of the Grand Duke of Baden, Frederick I, Hegel began worrying that Heidelberg would fall under Bavarian rule, which, after his rather frustrating experiences in Bamberg, was something he undoubtedly wished to avoid. As if to answer Hegel’s worries, on 26 December 1817, Karl Sigmund Franz Freiherr vom Stein zum Altenstein, the newly appointed minister of culture, wrote to Hegel to invite him to come to the University of Berlin and assume Fichte’s former chair. Hegel was overjoyed at the offer, which he happily accepted, and he moved to Berlin with his wife Marie and their three children on 5 October 1818. Yet his time in Berlin, despite being professionally satisfactory and productive was, nonetheless, much like his stay in Heidelberg, marked with controversy and scandal. On 23 March 1819, the ultra-reactionary playwright August von Kotzebue was murdered by a twenty-three-year-old student, Karl Sand, who was greatly influenced by a particularly radical leader of the Burschenschaften, Karl Follen. Then, a few weeks later, Karl von Ibell, an official in the Land of Nassau, was murdered by another member of the Burschenschaften. These deaths greatly alarmed the reactionary forces in Prussia, who then began a search for potential “demagogues” connected with the Burschenschaften movement and their supporters, which unfortunately implicated Hegel. One of the first people to be arrested in the “demagogue” affair was Gustav Asverus, a former student of Hegel’s from his time at Heidelberg. Although Asverus had no direct connection to Karl Sand, he wrote a provocative letter praising Sand and Hegel, which was then intercepted by the police and used as evidence in his arrest. To make matters worse, Hegel’s brother-in-law, Gottlieb von Tucher, was also involved with the Burschenschaften movement, and was good


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friends with Asverus. Although Hegel was not under surveillance, he clearly had reason to worry.11 This situation came to a head on 13 November 1819, when Hegel exchanged bitter remarks with the theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher over the recent firing of Wilhelm Martin Leberecht de Wette from the University of Berlin, who had written a letter of condolence to the mother of Karl Sand. Hegel was of the opinion that de Wette’s firing was acceptable, while Schleiermacher sharply disagreed. The two ended up hurling insults at each other, which caused a permanent rift between them. Unfortunately for Hegel, Schleiermacher was a member of the Academy of Sciences, which, coupled with his disdain for speculative philosophy, virtually ensured that Hegel would never join the Academy, and indeed, he never did. Remarkably, even during this trying period, Hegel remained committed to his revolutionary and reformist roots. On a trip to Dresden in 1820, Hegel publicly made a toast to the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, much to the astonishment of those around him, given his precarious situation. During this time, Hegel was also working on the Elements of the Philosophy of Right (1821), which was largely a work in political philosophy that presented a richer and more detailed account of objective spirit than that developed in the Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences. The central topic of the work is the question of freedom and what is needed for its actualization. The answer that Hegel provided links freedom to right (or justice), conceptualizing the latter as the necessary condition for the realization of the former. In this respect, Hegel disagrees with Kant’s notion that freedom entails a sort of non-natural causality on the part of the individual, or a “transcendental causality” as such. Rather, Hegel holds that having a will is to act in a minded way, which is simply to act according to norms. Moreover, the will is a form of thought. This form of thought as freedom is actualized when an individual acts in a way that is consistent with what they would rationally endorse for themselves, not from what they would be coerced into endorsing. Yet as the Phenomenology had shown, the individual here cannot be regarded merely in isolation, as the individual becomes who he is only within the social context of human life, that is, in reciprocal acknowledgement and interaction with other individual agents. This social context is objective spirit as such, the externalized form spirit develops in interacting with itself in the social dimension. However, the reception of the Philosophy of Right was extremely damaging to Hegel’s reputation. Many readers felt that Hegel had sided with the Prussian ­reactionary movement. The truth of the matter was very different, yet public opinion was largely indifferent to Hegel’s attempts to clarify himself and a misunderstood statement that precipitated the critical and controversial reception of the book. Namely, in the book’s Preface, Hegel stated that “what is rational is actual, and what is actual is rational” (PR 20).12 As this central idea was set in bold on the page, it made it impossible to miss. Although almost a decade earlier in his Logic, Hegel already explained that “what is rational is what is efficacious – its actuality announces itself through that which it brings forth” (WL SL 546), the line in the

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Philosophy of Right was interpreted as saying that the Prussian regime at that time (the actual) was also rational, and that therefore, any attempt at reform was irrational. Despite his multiple efforts to correct this interpretation (Enz. §6R), he was unable to fully recover from the negative public reception of his book, which is perhaps among the most interesting and influential works in political philosophy. During his years in Berlin Hegel taught a variety of courses based on his own philosophical system. In the various Lectures he developed different parts and sections of his enormously complex system.13 His Lectures still remain a trove of knowledge which—each in its own way—further elucidates and clarifies Hegel’s philosophical project and specific ideas he developed. In the years following the publication of the Philosophy of Right, Hegel’s health began to noticeably deteriorate. Hegel started to complain of headaches and suffer chest pains as his overall condition steadily worsened. Those around him also began to notice the pallor on his face, which likely indicated a form of anemia. Still, he was able to continue working despite his health. In addition to publishing two new, heavily revised editions of the Encyclopaedia (1827 and 1830), he also planned a new (expanded) edition of the Phenomenology. However, this plan never came to realization. When in the fall of 1831 the cholera epidemic struck Berlin, exposure to the disease proved lethal to Hegel. Infected with cholera, he died on 14 November 1831 in Berlin. He was 61 years old. He was buried near the University of Berlin, where he rests next to Fichte. *** Hegel’s legacy is vast and, like his philosophical system, very complex and difficult to navigate. His life too was filled with events and personal encounters that stimulated his thoughts and—to some significant degree—influenced their direction. External events, such as French revolutionary upheaval, political alterations in modern Prussia, the social and political controversies of the time, philosophical disputes, intellectual and personal disagreements—all those events undoubtedly shaped his personality and influenced his constantly evolving ideas. Thus, to fully understand Hegel’s philosophy and appreciate all its turns and peculiarities, it is crucial to view it in the context of the thinker’s life, placing him in dialogue with his contemporaries and his surroundings. The present study is a modest attempt to contribute to this task.

Notes 1. Originally conceived and run as a military academy, the Karlschule eventually grew into a broad university-like educational institution combining a medical school, business school, arts college, and music school (Beiser 2005, 13–14). Hegel’s older brother Georg attended this school. Similarly, Schiller was a student there from 1773 to 1780. 2. For more details about Hegel’s entries in his diary see Pinkard (2000, 15).


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3. Another possible career path for the graduates of this famous Swabian educational institution led to influential positions in the state administration; many of Hegel’s Stift classmates later grew into high-ranking state government officials. 4. For a discussion of Hegel’s friendship with Hölderlin and Schelling in Tübingen see Bykova (1990, 140ff.). Cf. Jamme and Schneider (1990), Harris (1972), Kondylis (1979). 5. A German poet, translator and critic, August Wilhelm Schlegel (1767–1845) was an influential representative of the Jena intellectual milieu. Along with his brother Friedrich Schlegel, he is known as a leading figure of Jena Early Romanticism. 6. The most programmatic text in this regard is Schelling’s Presentation of My System of Philosophy (1801), where he articulates his understanding of the Absolute as an absolute identity and explains the crucial significance of form as a manifestation of the Absolute. For Schelling, the Absolute always exists and is expressed only in form, and only through a mutual correlation of different forms the Absolute becomes revealed in its fullness. 7. That was an official subtitle of the Phenomenology of Spirit which Hegel supplied at the early stage of his work on the book. 8. Hegel’s emphasis on theoretical work was first mentioned and discussed in detail in Kaufmann (1978). 9. In 1817, Hegel published the first (concise) edition of the work, now known as the Heidelberg Encyclopaedia. Later, while already in Berlin, he brought to completion—much more expanded—the second and third editions of the book that appeared in 1827 and 1830 respectively. Whereas the Heidelberg Encyclopaedia was compiled as a single volume, the two later editions grew into a three-volume book, where most of the sections (§§) came to be supplemented by Hegel’s own additional remarks that sought to explain main ideas in greater detail. 10. Interestingly, the part on philosophy of nature garnered some controversy, partly from Hegel’s defense of Goethe’s theory of colors, which was to be contrasted by Newton’s account of color; consequently, this work was largely dismissed by the natural scientists at Heidelberg and elsewhere. How appropriate this reaction was, the reader can judge for him/ herself. Important insights into Hegel’s philosophy of nature are discussed in Part IV of this Handbook. 11. For more on this development see Pinkard (2000, 436ff.). 12. For excellent discussions of a true meaning of this statement, which is usually called the Dopplesatz, see Hardimon (1994) and Stern (2006). 13. For a complete list of Lecture series that Hegel taught during his tenure at Berlin, consult the Chronology, “Hegel’s Philosophical System in His Writings and Lecture Series,” provided in this volume.

Bibliography Althaus, Horst. 2000. Hegel: An Intellectual Biography. Translated by Michael Tarsh. Cambridge: Polity Press. Beiser, Frederick. 2005. Schiller as a Philosopher: A Re-examination. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Bykova, Marina F. 1990. “Was Hegel ein schrecklicher Mensch? Überlegungen über die Persönlichkeit des jungen Hegel.” Wiener Jahrbuch für Philosophie 22: 135–153. Fulda, Friedrich. 2003. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Műnchen: Verlag C.H. Beck. Hardimon, Michael O. 1994. Hegel’s Social Philosophy: The Project of Reconciliation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Harris, Henry S. 1972. Hegel’s Development: Toward the Sunlight 1770–1801. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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Harris, Henry S. 1983. Hegel’s Development II: Night Thoughts (Jena 1801–1806). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Jacobi, Friedrich H. 2004. “Brief an Fichte.” In Werke, edited by W. Jaeschke and I.-M. Piske, 187–258. Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag. Jamme, Christoph, and Helmut Schneider, eds. 1990. Der Weg zum System: Materialien zum jungen Hegel. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Kaufmann, Walter. 1978. Hegel: A Reinterpretation. 1st ed., 1965. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. Kondylis, Panajotis. 1979. Die Entstehung der Dialektik. Eine Analyse der geistigen Entwicklung von Hölderlin, Schelling und Hegel bis 1802. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta. Magee, Glen Alexander. 2010. The Hegel Dictionary. London: Continuum. Pinkard, Terry. 2000. Hegel: A Biography. New York: Cambridge University Press. Plant, Raymond. 1999. Hegel: On Philosophy and Religion. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge. Rosenkranz, Karl. 1844. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegels Leben: Supplement zu Hegel’s Werken. Berlin: Duncker und Humblot. Schneider, Helmut, and Norbert Waszek, eds. 1997. Hegel in der Schweiz (1793–1796). Frankfurt am Main: Lang. Stern, Robert. 2006. “Hegel’s Doppelsatz: A Neutral Reading.” Journal of the History of Philosophy 44 (2002): 235–266. Vieweg, Klaus. 2019. Hegel-Biographie. Műnchen: Verlag C.H. Beck. Wenz, Gűnter. 2008. Hegels Freund und Schillers Beistand: Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer (1766–1848). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2003. Hegel’s Epistemology: A Philosophical Introduction to the Phenomenology of Spirit. Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company.

Chapter 2

Situating Hegel: From Transcendental Philosophy to a Phenomenology of Spirit Michael Baur

This chapter aims to situate Hegel’s philosophical outlook by illuminating it against the backdrop of Immanuel Kant’s transcendental philosophy, some early skeptical critiques of that philosophy, Fichte’s philosophy of freedom, and finally the Spinozistic thinking of Schelling and of Hegel himself. Hegel’s philosophical project does not represent a return to pre-critical (or “dogmatic”) metaphysics, even though Hegel does endorse some central ideas drawn from pre-Kantian metaphysics. Similarly, Hegel’s project is not an entirely negative or skeptical one, even though Hegel’s thought does incorporate some key insights drawn from postKantian skepticism. In a sense, Hegel’s philosophy can be seen as an attempt to pay off some of the promissory notes that Kant had issued in connection with his transcendental, “scientific” philosophy. The Hegelian pay-off, in rough outline, takes place through a strategy that seeks to combine the pre-Kantian thought of Spinoza with the post-Kantian thought of Fichte. In the spirit of post-Kantian skepticism, Fichte had argued that the mind (or knowing) is radically free and uncaused insofar as it is always possible for the mind (or knowing) to question, doubt, and negate (and therefore to abstract or separate itself from) what is merely given to it. In the spirit of pre-Kantian rationalism, Spinoza had argued that the mind and the world are not two independent or separable entities, and so it is a mistake to think that the mind is capable of abstracting from or separating itself from the world as given. Hegel seeks to unite these two seemingly incompatible perspectives by arguing in favor of what he calls “determinate negation.” Determinate negation is an ongoing, negating activity that is radically free and unbounded (quite in line with what Fichte had argued). But precisely because the activity of determinate negation is unbounded and infinite, it is also not an activity that takes place by means of abstraction or separation from the world as given (quite in line with what Spinoza had argued).

M. Baur (*)  Fordham University, New York, NY, USA e-mail: [email protected]

© The Author(s) 2020 M. F. Bykova and K. R. Westphal (eds.), The Palgrave Hegel Handbook, Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism,



M. Baur

1 Kant’s Transcendental Philosophy Early in his Critique of Pure Reason, Kant explains: “I entitle transcendental all knowledge which is occupied not so much with objects as with our way of knowing objects insofar as this way of knowing is to be possible a priori” (CPR, A11–12). Transcendental philosophy thus involves a certain kind of “return to the subject that knows,” or a certain kind of “call to self-knowledge” (CPR, Axi); but this is not an unqualified return to the subject. Transcendental philosophy is concerned with our way of knowing objects “insofar as this way of knowing is to be possible a priori.” The term a priori refers to that which is independent of experience, and independent not merely of this or that instance of experience, but “absolutely independent of all experience” as such (CPR, B2–3). When Kant speaks of “independence” here, he is referring to the origin, or source, of that which is said to be a priori: that which is “independent” of experience is that which does not have its origin, or source, in experience. For Kant, experience is “cognition through connected perceptions” (CPR, B161); and perception is “sensation of which one is conscious” (CPR, A225/B272). Hence, to have experience is to have cognition of “objects” insofar as such cognition includes not only consciousness of what is presented in sensation (i.e., perception) but also an apprehension of the connectedness of the perceptions that are thus presented. The project of transcendental philosophy implies not only that there may be something about our way of knowing which is independent of experience in the sense described. It also implies that what is a priori about our knowing is itself a condition of our having any experience in the first place: it is “indispensable for the possibility of experience” (CPR, B5). Furthermore, that which is a priori about our way of knowing is not just an external condition of our possible experience of objects. What is a priori in our knowing also plays a role in enabling the objects of experience to be objects of experience in the first place. Without such an enabling condition, our experience could not be an experience of objects (interconnected perceptions) at all, but only a “blind play of representations, less even than a dream” (CPR, B112). Without the connectedness of perceptions made possible by the a priori in our knowing, nothing could even make an appearance as an “object”; for without such connectedness, “all relation of cognition to objects” would disappear, and what might otherwise count as an “object” would “be as good as nothing for us” (CPR, A111). Thus, the a priori conditions of possible experience are at the same time the conditions of the possibility of the experienced objects themselves (CPR, A111). Because that which is a priori in our knowing plays a role in enabling the objects of experience to be objects of experience in the first place, it is possible to speak not only about “our way of knowing” as a priori, but also about the knowledge itself as a priori. Kant thus speaks frequently about “a priori knowledge,” and offers a second, slightly different account of what is meant by the term, “transcendental”: the term “transcendental” has to do with “the a priori possibility of

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knowledge, or its a priori use” (CPR, A56/B80). This reveals a further aspect of transcendental philosophy as such. Transcendental philosophy involves a “return to the subject,” but transcendental philosophy cannot be solely concerned with the knowing subject; that which is a priori also belongs, in some sense, to the known object; and so the knowing subject, even in its pursuit of self-knowledge, “has to deal not with itself alone but also with objects” (CPR, Bix). Thus, for Kant, “what alone can be entitled transcendental is the knowledge that these [a priori] representations are not of empirical origin, and the possibility that they can yet relate a priori to objects of experience” (CPR, A56/B81). Transcendental philosophy is concerned with both our way of knowing and the object-character of the known objects insofar as these cannot be explained naturalistically (or on the basis of what happens within experience). It would be misleading, however, to think that transcendental philosophy aims at providing a kind of alternative “explanation” for the occurrences of experience or for what happens within experience. For one commonly thinks of explanation as a matter of tracing one state of affairs back to another, or of giving an account of one object (or set of objects) in terms of another (or others). As noted earlier, transcendental philosophy is concerned not with objects as such, but rather with our way of knowing objects and with the object-character of objects, insofar as these are a priori. Even if transcendental philosophy does offer what might be called an “explanation” of some kind, such an explanation would have to be understood in terms quite different from our more common notions of explanation. The kind of explanation characteristic of transcendental philosophy is not based on tracing one set of objects or states of affairs back to another. After all, transcendental philosophy is concerned with the very conditions of our being able to speak of “objects” or “states of affairs” in the first place. This feature of transcendental philosophy is also the reason why, for Kant, it is possible for transcendental philosophy to claim the status of a “science.” According to Kant, no explanatory system which takes its bearings from objects of experience can ever be assured of its unity and completeness as a system, since the domain of possible objects of experience is inexhaustible (CPR, B23; A12–13; B26). Because of this inexhaustibility, there remains the ineluctable possibility that the discovery of new objects, or features of objects, could force a revision of such explanations. By contrast, argues Kant, transcendental philosophy is concerned with our way of knowing and with the object-character of the known objects, only insofar as these are a priori. Since all that is a priori has its own systematic unity (CPR, Axiii; A67; B92; A474; B502; A845; B873), and since it is just such a unity which raises a mere aggregate of knowledge to the rank of science (CPR, A832/B860), it follows for Kant that transcendental philosophy can, at least in principle, claim the status of “science.” Here, “science” is not to be understood in terms of the more restricted, contemporary notion of “science,” which is commonly taken to denote “empirical science.” Transcendental philosophy, for Kant, does not focus on what can be discovered within experience about objects; it focusses instead on what is a priori about our way of knowing objects.


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Along these lines, Kant argues that transcendental philosophy is immune, and can recognize itself as immune, to the kinds of revision which might be demanded by the discovery of new objects or new features of objects within experience. Transcendental philosophy involves no extension of our knowledge of things (CPR, A11–12/B25–26; A135/B174); precisely because of this it can be called “science.” While the discovery of new objects can never be complete, one can rest assured that, in the field of the a priori, “nothing can escape us” (CPR, Axx). In fact, transcendental philosophy constitutes the very idea of science as the system of all that is a priori in our knowing and in the objects known (CPR, A13/B27). For Kant, a metaphysical system which is scientifically grounded by means of transcendental philosophy will likewise be immune to any further revision or elaboration, save in the manner by which it might be expressed or taught (CPR, Axx/ Bxxiv; Bxxxviii). Metaphysics, once it has been placed upon the sure path of science, will no longer have to retrace its steps, or attempt any new lines of approach (CPR, vii); for the sure path of science, “once it has been trodden, can never be overgrown, and permits of no wandering” (CPR, A850/B878). Kant suggests that transcendental philosophy will be able to place metaphysics on the “sure path of science” insofar as it imitates what has already been done in mathematics and natural science, where the scientific character of each was achieved by means of “a revolution brought about all at once” (CPR, Bxv–xvi). If transcendental philosophy succeeds in its scientific aspirations and thus in laying the groundwork for metaphysics as a science, then it becomes possible to adjudicate disputes in metaphysics going back to ancient philosophy by relying on the single, systematic vantage point that transcendental philosophy provides. For example, Zeno’s claim that God is neither finite nor infinite can be fully justified if understood properly in light of transcendental thought (CPR, A502–07/B530–35). Similarly, “if we set aside the exaggerations in Plato’s methods of expression,” we can appreciate “that which accords with the nature of things” in his doctrine of the ideas (CPR, A313–19/B370–75; see also A471/B499). Furthermore, the defects which characterize Aristotle’s table of categories can be remedied if the content and divisions of the table are “developed systematically from a common principle”; and this cannot be done inductively, as Aristotle tried, but only transcendentally (CPR, A81/B107). Finally, the Scholastic teaching concerning the convertibility of unity, truth, and goodness can be shown to have “its ground in some rule of the understanding which, as often happens, has only been wrongly interpreted” (CPR, B113–114).

2 Early Skeptical Critiques of Kant’s Transcendental Philosophy In 1792, the skeptical philosopher Gottlob Ernst Schulze published a relatively short work with a rather long title: Aenesidemus, Or Concerning the Foundations of the Philosophy of the Elements Issued by Prof. Reinhold in Jena Together with

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a Defense of Skepticism Against the Pretentions of the Critique of Pure Reason. This work was presented as a dialogue between Hermias (a representative of Kant’s transcendental philosophy) and Aenesidemus (a Humean critic of Kantian philosophy). Schulze’s argumentation was ostensibly aimed at the post-Kantian theorizing of Karl Leonard Reinhold, whose “philosophy of the elements” or “elementary philosophy” sought to show that Kant’s transcendental philosophy could be understood and formulated in a way that would make it defensible against the skeptical criticisms that at the time were being directed against the transcendental philosophy. In taking aim at Reinhold, Schulze succeeded in raising serious doubts not only about Reinhold’s reformulation of Kantian philosophy, but also about the viability of Kant’s transcendental philosophy in general. Using the character of Aenesidemus as his mouthpiece, Schulze argued that Kant’s transcendental philosophy did not and could not deliver on the promises that it had made. A fundamental problem was that transcendental philosophy sought to account for how we know certain features of objects which make an appearance within experience by appealing to what is a priori in our way of knowing, even though these a priori conditions of our own knowing do not themselves make an appearance as objects within experience. As part of his transcendental argumentation, Kant had directly acknowledged that we as knowers never know ourselves as we really are in ourselves, but only as we appear as objects within experience. Thus Kant writes that we “know even ourselves only through inner sense, thus as appearance” (CPR, A278/B334). Kant had sought to illuminate the object-character of those objects which make an appearance within our experience by giving an account of the transcendental conditions of such experience, even though the “transcendental” source of such “objectivity” remained outside the scope of our possible experience and thus unknowable as it is in itself. Focusing on Kant’s attempt at providing a transcendental or a priori account of human knowing, Schulze observed: For since we know nothing of what the mind is in itself, as the Critique of Pure Reason also concedes, by choosing one derivation over the other [by choosing a transcendental derivation over an empirical one], we do nothing more than substitute one form of non-knowledge for another. After all, if the origin of the necessary and synthetic judgements is to be more comprehensible when traced to the mind rather than to the objects outside of us, we must be able to know at least one property in the mind which objects lack that would indeed make the origin of those judgements in the mind more comprehensible. But the Critique of Pure Reason has failed altogether to identify any such property in the mind. (Schulze 2000, 118)

Kant’s transcendental philosophy, Schulze argues, amounts to an intolerable, unphilosophical attempt at accounting for what is more known to us (objects within experience) by appealing to what is less known (an unknown and indeed unknowable mind which allegedly underlies and makes possible experience, but never in itself makes an appearance as any object within experience). For Schulze, to explain what makes an appearance as objects for us within experience by appealing to the “mind” (which allegedly makes possible but in itself never appears within experience) is as philosophically respectable as explaining experience by discussing a transcendental author of nature:


M. Baur To wish to explain certain properties of our cognitions from a transcendental being, or from a supra-natural subject and its modes of operation “in-itself,” of which we understand nothing at all, is just as unphilosophical and as much an encouragement to intellectual sloth as to explain the order and purposiveness of nature, not on natural grounds and according to natural laws, but by appeal to a transcendental author. (Schulze 2000, 124)

A young Johann Gottlieb Fichte was deeply moved and disturbed by the anti-Kantian criticisms which Schulze had formulated in his Aenesidemus dialogue, for Fichte realized that Schulze’s critique undermined not only Reinhold’s attempt at reformulating the Kantian system but also the entire Kantian system itself. As Fichte wrote in a 1793 letter to his friend J.F. Flatt: Aenesidemus, which I consider to be one of the most remarkable products of our decade, has convinced me of something which I admittedly already suspected: that even after the labors of Kant and Reinhold, philosophy is still not a science. Aenesidemus has shaken my system to its very foundations. (EPW, 366)

Furthermore, Fichte saw that the problem which Schulze had identified in Kant’s transcendental philosophy was related to other difficulties in the Kantian system. These other difficulties revolved around the fact that Kant’s transcendental philosophy was committed to the view that an adequate account of human knowing must take care to maintain a sharp distinction between human knowing and divine knowing. A key difficulty had to do with the question of how one can account for the finite character of human knowing without making knowledge-claims which, according to the Kantian system itself, were not sustainable as valid knowledge-claims. According to Kant, human knowing (unlike divine knowing) is essentially finite. Insofar as it is finite, human knowing is dependent upon that which is given to it by means of sensory (non-intellectual) intuition. Human knowing is dependent on sensible intuition, and such intuition “takes place only insofar as the object is given to us” (CPR, A19/B33). If our knowing were not dependent on such givenness by means of sensible intuition, then we would be capable of a kind of “originating” or “original” intuition (intuitus originarius). But if we human knowers were capable of “originating” or “original” intuition, then our activity in knowing would be the very origin or source of that which is known by us. In that case, our knowing could not be sharply distinguished from divine knowing (which, as “original intuition,” is the full and complete origin or cause of that which it knows). The difficulty was therefore the following: on the one hand, Kant argued that there is something a priori about our way of knowing; that which is a priori in our knowing is not caused by and does not arise out of any encounter with objects in experience but instead makes possible such experience in the first place. On the other hand, Kant argued that our way of knowing—even though it is not derived from or dependent on what is encountered within experience— must nevertheless be dependent on that which is given to it by means of sensible intuition. If human knowing is to be understood as finite and thus as dependent upon that which is given to it by means of sensible intuition, then how can one give a coherent and credible account of this givenness and this dependence? It would

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seem that, for Kant, this dependence could not be understood as a kind of causal dependence, since—according to Kant’s own theory—our knowledge of causal relations is valid knowledge only insofar as it pertains to objects which can appear as objects within possible experience. But if that which is “given” by means of sensible intuition and which renders human knowing finite and dependent is not to be understood in terms of any kind of causal dependence, then how is it to be understood at all? Kant ended up having to argue that human knowing, since it is finite and dependent on some kind of sensible “givenness,” is not fully self-determining but rather limited and determined by something apart from or independent of itself. Yet this givenness, which somehow limits and finitizes human knowing, cannot be known to stand in any causal relation (or relation of causal dependence) with the knower, since objectively valid knowledge pertains only to objects of possible experience. For Kant, then, we must think—but never quite know on theoretical, objective grounds—that human knowing is genuinely limited and finite; and we must think of such finitude by thinking of such knowing as being related to and finitized by an unknown and unknowable “transcendental object” or “thing-in-itself.” The Kantian system required us to think that human knowing is rendered finite and dependent because of its dependence on a “transcendental object” or “thingin-itself” that stands outside of such knowing. Nevertheless, according to Kant’s own argument, it is wrong to think of such a thing-in-itself as causally related to knowing, since the thing-in-itself stands outside of all knowing and all possible experience, and causality is valid only for relations within possible experience. And so Jacobi complained that Kant’s system of transcendental philosophy made it necessary to think of human knowing as being dependent upon an independent “transcendental object” or “thing-in-itself” that somehow finitizes human knowing. At the same time Kant’s system apparently made it impossible to think coherently about this independent something or thing-in-itself, since the system also holds that one cannot licitly think of the thing-in-itself as playing any kind of role within a causal relation or a relation of causal dependence. Thus, Jacobi observed: “without that presupposition [of a transcendental object or thing-in-itself], I could not enter into the [Kantian] system, but with that presupposition, I could not stay within it” (Jacobi 1994, 336). Fichte accepted the criticism that the finite or dependent character of human knowing could not coherently be explained on the basis of an allegedly independent “something” or thing-in-itself. Furthermore, Fichte saw that problems surrounding the Kantian notion of a thing-in-itself were related to problems surrounding the idea which Schulze had identified: the idea that the mind exists as a kind of “substrate” which is unknown and unknowable “in itself” but which nevertheless underlies and makes possible the object-character of the objects which are known within experience. These two ideas, then, are really two instantiations of the same idea: the idea of the mind as a non-experienced “substrate” which underlies and makes possible our finite experience of objects, even though in itself it never shows up as an object within experience; and the idea of a “transcendental object” or “thing-in-itself” which limits our knowing and ensures that our knowing

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is always a finite knowing of objects within experience, even though in itself it never shows up as an object within experience. Writing to his friend Friedrich Immanuel in 1793, Fichte put the two problems together. For Fichte, attempting to explain the character and scope of human knowing by appealing to an unknowable, underlying “substrate” which allegedly makes such knowing possible is not essentially different from attempting to explain human knowing by appealing to an unknowable, independent “thing-in-itself.” For as far as our own knowing is concerned, the idea of an unknowable, underlying “substrate” is nothing other than the idea of an unknowable, underlying “thing-in-itself”: Kant demonstrates that the causal principle is applicable merely to appearances, and nevertheless he assumes that there is a substrate underlying all appearances – an assumption undoubtedly based on the law of causality (at least this is the way Kant’s followers argue). Whoever shows us how Kant arrived at this substrate without extending the causal law beyond its limits will have understood Kant. (EPW, 369)

The system of philosophy that Fichte sought to develop during the 1790s and early 1800s—Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre—is nothing other than Fichte’s attempt at understanding Kant better than others had previously understood Kant; and indeed it is an attempt at understanding Kant better than Kant even understood himself. Interestingly, in his own Critique of Pure Reason, Kant had invited readers to try understanding him better than he understood himself, even if this invitation was not issued intentionally, or with full and transparent self-knowledge. Kant wrote: when we compare the thoughts that an author expresses about a subject, in ordinary speech as well as in writings, it is not at all unusual to find that we understand him even better than he understood himself, since he may not have determined his concept sufficiently and hence sometimes spoke, or even thought, contrary to his own intentions. (CPR, A314/B371)

In his own attempt to understand Kant better than Kant understood himself, Fichte went so far as to argue that a philosophical interpreter is not only permitted but is indeed required to go beyond “the letter” in order to apprehend “the spirit” of an earlier philosopher’s work. It is necessary to go beyond “the letter,” Fichte argued, because genuinely philosophical thinking must be pursued freely and actively. Adherence to the mere “letter” of an earlier philosopher’s work renders an interpreter both passive and unfree, and thus ultimately unphilosophical.1

3 Fichte’s Philosophy of Freedom Fichte’s attempt to reformulate and complete Kant’s transcendental philosophy can be viewed as an extended reflection on what it means for the finite human knower to apprehend itself as genuinely free. For Fichte, Schulze’s and Jacobi’s skepticism regarding the Kantian system can provide a good starting point for understanding the nature and extent of the human knower’s freedom. As Schulze

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and Jacobi had argued, there is something problematic in Kant’s suggestion that an account of human knowing can rely on an appeal to some unknowable, underlying “substrate” or some unknowable, independent “thing-in-itself” that allegedly makes human knowing possible. Other post-Kantian thinkers had regarded this unknowability (whether articulated in terms of the underlying “substrate” or an independent “thing-in-itself”) as a serious defect, which made the Kantian system ultimately untenable. By contrast, Fichte tried to show that this “unknowability” was a hidden strength, and that a careful, sustained unfolding of the implications of this “unknowability” would make it possible to develop a systematic philosophy. A key element in Fichte’s theorizing is the recognition that the “unknowability” of the underlying “substrate” or the independent “thing-in-itself” is not an altogether unknown or unacknowledged unknowability. Rather, it is a kind of unknowability that we knowers are able to recognize for what it is: what is unknowable—what cannot be known “in itself”—is any given content or determinacy or entity (any underlying “substrate” or independent “thing in itself”) that allegedly is what it is (and is known to be just what it is) apart from the knower’s own activity in knowing it. For Fichte, to recognize the inescapable unknowability of that which allegedly is what it is apart from our knowing, is to recognize that no given content or determinacy or entity outside of our knowing is able to cause or determine our knowing to be what it is. To recognize this, in turn, is to recognize that our knowing is in a crucial sense free (uncaused, or undetermined, by anything outside of it). Another way of saying this is that, regardless of what sort of content or material seems to be externally “given” and seems to cause or determine our knowing, it is always possible for us knowers to doubt whether such an apparently external givenness really is—as it is “in itself”—playing the externally determining or causal role that it might, at first, appear to be playing. For Fichte, then, our knowing of the “unknowability” of what allegedly is “in itself” (apart from our own activity as knowers) is itself an indicator of our radical freedom as knowers. In being aware of our own capacity to question, to doubt, or to negate the allegedly independent or “in itself” character of anything that seems to be externally “given” to us as knowers, we are also aware (if only implicitly) of our own radical freedom. And so an awareness of one’s own freedom is connected to a kind of radicalized skepticism about what can be known (a radicalized skepticism about the very knowability of anything that allegedly is what it is, “in itself,” apart from our activity in knowing it). Fichte’s emphasis is not on the skepticism as such, but rather on the kind of self-awareness that is operative or implicit in such skepticism. One might say that the aim of Fichte’s system of philosophy—his Wissenschaftslehre—is to begin with such skepticism about theoretical knowing (to begin with the inescapable unknowability of anything that allegedly is what is “in itself,” apart from its relatedness to our knowing), and to develop an entire system of freedom by unpacking what is implicit in such skepticism. A crucial step in Fichte’s development of a system of freedom is his argument to the effect that the unknowability of any independently given “in itself” cannot be understood as any kind of unknowability that is somehow inscribed into


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the nature of things as they are simply given. Rather, it is an unknowability that is manifest, or that prevails, or that counts as an unknowability, only because of the knower’s own activity—only because of what the knower actively does—as a knower. In his popular work, The Vocation of Man (published in 1800), Fichte sought to explain how the unknowability of things as they are “in themselves” is not really a function of any things “in themselves,” but rather a function—a product—of our own doing. First of all, argues Fichte, the knower is led to the idea of a thing that exists outside of knowing (a thing that simply is, “in itself,” apart from the knower’s activity of knowing), only because the knower is not satisfied with—the knower is able to question, doubt, or negate—the alleged self-sufficiency or independence of any entity that appears as an entity within the knower’s own consciousness or experience: I find something to be determinate in such and such a way. I cannot be satisfied with knowing that it is so, and I assume that it has become so, and that not through itself but through an outside force. This outside force which made it contains the cause, and the expression through which it made it so is the cause of this determination of the thing. That my sensation has a cause means that it is produced in me by an outside force. (VM 42; GA I/6, 230)

However, after having posited the existence of an “outside force” in order to explain the appearance of an object within the knower’s own consciousness, the knower also expresses dissatisfaction over the idea of an allegedly external force outside of consciousness itself. For the allegedly external force is not really an independent force that is altogether outside of consciousness, but is only a product of the knower’s own skepticism and dissatisfaction regarding what is present to it within consciousness. The knower thus extends the skepticism and dissatisfaction by questioning, doubting, and negating even the independent, “in itself” character of the external force that allegedly exists outside of consciousness. In other words: the demand that there be something “outside” of consciousness in order to explain what happens “within” consciousness—along with the positing of a connection between what is “inside” and what is “outside” of consciousness—is just a disguised expression of consciousness’s own ongoing dissatisfactions and its ongoing attempts to remedy those dissatisfactions. Of a connection outside of consciousness, however, I cannot speak. I have no way of conceiving such a connection. For, just in that I speak of it I know of it and, since this consciousness can only be of a thinking, I think this connection. And it is quite the same connection which occurs in my ordinary natural consciousness, and no other. I have not gone beyond this consciousness by a hair’s breadth, just as little as I can jump over myself. All attempts to think of such a connection in itself, of a thing in itself which is connected with the ego in itself, only ignore our own thinking. (VM 58–59; GA I/6, 246)

For Fichte, then, no appeal to something that simply is “in itself” apart from the knower’s own activity (whether this “in itself” is construed as an “underlying” substrate or as an “external” thing) can do any meaningful work towards explaining the knower’s own knowing activity. Even “the consciousness of a thing outside of us is absolutely nothing more than the product of our own presentative

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capacity” (VM 59; GA I/6, 246). In the final analysis, our activity as knowers can be adequately explained only by reference to what is internal to that activity itself. That is, it can be explained only by reference to the knower’s own activity of being skeptical and dissatisfied with the mere givenness of what appears within experience, and thus being motivated to come up with the ideas of determining causes and external things in themselves. Two important implications follow from Fichte’s account. First, the knower’s awareness of its own freedom as a knower (or what amounts to the same thing, the knower’s awareness that no given content can simply cause or determine its own knowing) cannot be a representational kind of awareness. More pointedly: the knower’s awareness of its own freedom as a knower can never be the awareness of any determinate content or entity that appears within experience (including even a content or entity that is imagined or thought to be some hidden “substrate” that somehow underlies the knower’s own activity as a knower). The knower’s own activity as free never directly makes an appearance—it always remains “invisible”—and never shows up as any kind of entity or presence within experience. After all, the knower’s awareness of its own freedom consists precisely in the awareness that every given content can be questioned, doubted, and negated, and therefore that no given content can cause or determine the knower’s own knowing. The knower’s awareness of its own freedom is thus a non-representational, non-representable kind of activity and nothing more. It is not an awareness of any determinate thing that shows up within experience, but consists only in the activity of knowing—or perhaps better, the activity of actualizing—the questionability, the doubtability, the negatability, or the non-self-sufficiency of any determinate thing that does show up within experience. Fichte thus writes that the knower’s awareness of its own freedom—an awareness that constitutes the knower’s very being as a knower—does not refer to any given content or fact [Tatsache] whatsoever, but is simply an activity [Tathandlung], namely the activity of being aware, in a non-representational way, of being essentially free and uncaused in one’s knowing. For Fichte, the self that engages in knowing: “is an act, and absolutely nothing more; we should not even call it an active something” (SK 21; GA I/4, 200). Fichte’s use of the term, Tathandlung (often translated as “fact-act”) indicates something about the kind of counter-intuitive argument he is trying to make. For Fichte, the self that engages in knowing is not nothing; it is a kind of “fact” or “deed” (Tat). However, it is a “fact” or “deed” that consists in nothing that can be “found” as merely present or representable; rather, it consists in being the pure act (Handlung) of knowing (in a non-representational way) that it is simply the uncaused, free activity that it is. The second implication that follows from Fichte’s claim is that it is altogether impossible for the knower to “step outside” or “go beyond” its own consciousness in seeking to give an account of that consciousness. That is, it is never possible for the knower to find any “outer limit” or “outer boundary” to its own activity as a knower. This is because any allegedly outer limit or outer boundary that might be found by the knower is—precisely because it is found and thus allegedly known to the knower—always within the knower’s own knowing


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or consciousness. Thus the knower’s activity as a knower has a certain kind of unbounded, unlimited, or infinite character to it. The knower can never discover that its own activity as a knower is limited or bounded from the outside by anything external to it. Precisely because the knower’s activity in knowing is free—it cannot be understood as being caused or determined by any underlying substrate or independent thing that lies outside of the knower’s own activity of knowing— the knower cannot account for its own activity by reference to anything that allegedly bounds or limits or finitizes this activity from the outside. Fichte wants to hold (just as Kant did) that the knower’s activity in knowing is somehow finite. At the same time, he also argues that it is never possible for the knower to account for such finitude by claiming to have knowledge of any externally-given constraint or limit or boundary (an externally-given thing in itself) which somehow impinges upon it and renders it finite. Thus, Fichte does not deny that the knower’s activity in knowing is somehow finite; what he does deny is that the knower can come to know the finite character of its own knowing by knowing the existence of some independent thing (a thing-in-itself) that the knower somehow knows to exist apart from its own activity as a knower. For Fichte, then, there is something infinite, unbounded, and unlimited about the knower’s activity as a knower: it is not limited or constrained or bounded on the outside by anything which is known to exist outside of itself, but is somehow limited or constrained or bounded only by means of its very own activity. The two implications of Fichte’s account are intimately connected with one another. If one were to hold (wrongly) that the knower’s awareness of its own freedom were a representational kind of awareness, then one would be h­ olding—in effect—that the knower’s free activity could make its appearance within experience as a limited, bounded thing (that is, an extensive magnitude) whose spatial-temporal limits and boundaries were determined by other, similarly limited and bounded things (extensive magnitudes) immediately surrounding it and abutting it in space and time. Yet, as we have seen, for Fichte, the knower’s awareness of its own freedom is not a representational kind of awareness, and so the knower’s activity is not any kind of representable thing (it is not any kind of extensive magnitude) that shows up as an item within experience. It is for this reason, furthermore, that the knower’s activity is also a kind of unbounded, infinite activity. Rather than being any kind of extensive magnitude (rather than being any kind of bounded, representable thing among other things), the knower’s activity is more like an unbounded whole (a kind of infinite magnitude) within which all bounded, representable things make their appearance but which does not, itself, make any appearance. Along these lines, Fichte sometimes refers to the activity of the knower as the activity of an “absolute I” (see, for example, SK, 97, 109). This is the activity of rational, knowing consciousness within which every representable thing shows up, even though the wholeness which is consciousness itself does not—and cannot—show up as any kind of thing at all.

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4 Schelling’s Turn to Spinoza Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling was an early Fichtean follower and enthusiast, but as he grappled with the problems and prospects of Fichte’s philosophy in the 1790s, he began to distance himself from the Fichtean system. Schelling grew increasingly uneasy about what he regarded as unresolved, interconnected problems in Fichte’s system. Two of these problems are especially relevant here. First, Fichte had argued that there was something absolute, unbounded, or infinite about the knower’s activity in knowing. However, he denied that this absoluteness or infinitude could itself ever become known to the knower as a matter of theoretical reason. For Fichte, what is absolute or infinite about the knower’s activity can never become an item of theoretical knowledge but must forever remain an article of faith. To be sure, such faith for Fichte was a matter of moral or practical faith, i.e. faith in the meaningfulness of one’s ongoing, infinite striving towards transforming the world as given and making it conformable to moral purposes. Yet, the absolute or the infinite in one’s activity remained for Fichte always a matter of faith and never one of knowledge. Secondly and relatedly, the way in which Fichte presented and argued for his system implied that there was something individualistic, subjective, and perhaps even arbitrary and voluntaristic about the way in which others were expected to appreciate and enter into the system. Fichte had argued, for example, that his own critical philosophy (his “idealism” or his system of freedom) was entirely incompatible with and thus dogmatically opposed to all systems of realism (or what he called “dogmatism”). For this reason, Fichte argued, it was impossible for him to provide any kind of theoretical or argumentative “bridge” that could lead realist (dogmatic) thinkers into accepting his system. In what has become one of his most frequently-quoted statements, Fichte reinforced the impression that entry into his system could be achieved only through an apparently arbitrary, unreasoned, and voluntaristic “all-at-once” leap into it: “What sort of philosophy one chooses depends, therefore, on what sort of man one is…” (SK, 16; GA, I/4, 195). Fichte even suggested that he would have regarded his own efforts as a failure if certain kinds of individuals (dogmatic or realist philosophers who have “lost themselves” through “protracted spiritual slavery”) were capable of appreciating his system: “I would be sorry if they understood me” (SK, 5; GA, I/4, 185). Starting in late 1794 or early 1795, Schelling began to develop the idea that the completion of systematic philosophy, and thus the overcoming of the remaining shortcomings in Fichte’s system, might best be accomplished by means of a passage through Spinoza’s seemingly dogmatic (pre-Kantian and unscientific) metaphysics. Writing to Hegel in February of 1795, Schelling excitedly explained, “I have become a Spinozist! Don’t be astonished. You will soon hear how” (Letters 32–33; Briefe I, 22). There can be little doubt that Schelling’s interest in Spinoza was heavily influenced by Friedrich Hölderlin, Hegel’s and Schelling’s mutual friend and former roommate at the Tübinger Stift (the Tübingen Seminary). In a letter that Hölderlin wrote to Hegel roughly one week before Schelling


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announced his own conversion to Spinozism, Hölderlin suggested to Hegel how it might be possible to think about Fichte’s philosophy of freedom by connecting it with Spinoza’s seemingly dogmatic metaphysics. According to Hölderlin, “… [Fichte’s] Absolute Self, which equals Spinoza’s Substance, contains all reality; it is everything, and outside of it, is nothing” (Letters 33; Briefe I, 19–20). In a document that was probably authored a year later (this document is now known as the “Earliest System Programme of German Idealism”), the possibility of connecting Fichteanism with Spinozism is spelled out further. The text of this document is written out in Hegel’s hand, even though it is not entirely clear whether Hegel or someone else was its original author.2 What is clear, however, is that the ideas expressed in the document were ideas that Schelling, Hölderin, and Hegel were together discussing and grappling with as they sought to make sense of Fichte’s philosophy in light of the metaphysics of Spinoza. The document explains that the knower’s unbounded activity as a knower is an activity that not only actualizes the knower’s own non-representational awareness of itself (its “being for self”) as a knower, but also actualizes the being of an entire world for the knower. The knower’s actualization of itself as a kind of unbounded whole is also an actualization of the unbounded whole that is the world. For this reason, it is possible to speak about the actualization of unbounded knower (mind) and unbounded known (world) as a kind of dual creation out of nothing—indeed, this is the only kind of “creation out of nothing” that the critical, post-Kantian philosopher can regard as worthy of intellectual assent. Through this activity of “creation out of nothing,” both unbounded knower (mind) and unbounded known (world) come to be “all at once,” so to speak: The first Idea is, of course, the presentation of my self as an absolutely free entity. Along with the free, self-conscious essence there stands forth – out of nothing – an entire world – the one true and thinkable creation out of nothing.3

The Spinozistic and thus anti-Cartesian lesson of the “Earliest System Programme” is clear enough: we should not think about mind and world in the way that Descartes suggested we should think about them. We should not think about mind and world as two different entities or substances (or kinds of substances) that somehow succeed or fail at entering into relation with one another. It is altogether wrong to think of mind and world as two different substances or entities at all. One might say that mind and world—understood properly—are something like infinite magnitudes that are fully co-extensive, fully inter-penetrating, fully inter-permeating, and fully overlapping with one another. What is in the world as such does not exceed and does not fall outside of what is in the mind as such; and what is in the mind as such does not exceed and does not fall outside of what is in the world as such. As Spinoza famously declared in his Ethics (Book II, Proposition 7): “The order and connection of ideas is the same as the order and connection of things” (Spinoza 1985, 451). Finally, since mind and world are not two different entities or substances but rather two different ways of being of the one and the same infinite, unbounded, original activity (an activity outside of which there is nothing), it makes no sense to think that there is any kind of “third

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thing” (e.g., a transcendent God), which stands outside of this activity and somehow explains or guarantees the connectedness of mind and world. According to the Spinozistic view, mind and world are fully co-extensive with and fully overlapping with one another, and thus not related to and bounded by one another. For if they were related to and bounded by one another, they would not be infinite. This leads to the question: how does mind (or knowing) come to know itself as the free, unbounded, infinite activity that it is, and thus come to know its own co-extensiveness with a world that is seemingly given to it from the outside, even though this world is not at all given from the outside but is—like mind itself—equally infinite and unbounded from the outside? It should be clear by now that the mind (or knowing) cannot come to know this about itself by finding or discovering something that is present to itself as knower. For anything that is present to the mind is something that is related to the mind in the way that one thing is related to another thing. But if one thing is related to another thing, then both of the things thus related must be finite; neither thing can be co-extensive with everything that is (neither thing can be infinite), since each thing is related to (and thus bounded by) something that is other than it. Stated differently: if what is present to the mind is something other than the mind, then what is present to the mind is rendered finite; it is finitized insofar as it is related to something (mind) that is other than it. Reciprocally, something that is found or discovered by mind also renders the mind itself finite, since the mind itself is related to (and thus bounded by and finitized by) something other than it which it (as mind) has found or discovered. It appears, then, that mind (or knowing) cannot come to know itself as the free, unbounded activity that it is (an activity that is co-extensive with an equally unbounded world) by any kind of finding or discovery. Instead, it appears that mind (or knowing) can come to know itself only by virtue of what it does, or only by virtue of its own activity as infinite. This, however, also seems impossible. For how can mind know itself as the infinite, unbounded activity that it is, except by somehow becoming an activity that is present to itself (or that makes an appearance to itself) as something to be known? The problem is that anything made present to mind as something to be known (even if what is made present is an activity) cannot be mind as it is in itself. For what is made present to mind is something that is related to mind, and thus is something that is finitized—but in that case, it is not the infinite, unbounded activity of mind as it is in itself. In summary: it appears that mind can come to know itself only by somehow becoming present to itself, or by becoming objective, or by making an appearance to itself. If, however, it becomes present to itself, or becomes objective, or makes an appearance to itself, then it is thereby finitized and thus is not known as it really is in itself. Reflection on these difficulties led Schelling to conclude, by the end of the 1790s, that the infinite, unbounded activity that is the activity of mind (or knowing) could never become known to the mind (or knowing) as a matter of theoretical or speculative reason.4 Thus, in his System of Transcendental Idealism (published in 1800), Schelling argued that it is not philosophy but only art that can provide access to what theoretical reason vainly seeks to apprehend: “art is at


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once the only true and eternal organ of philosophy, which ever and again continues to speak to us of what philosophy cannot depict in external form…” (Heath 231; SW I/3, 627). In his later philosophy, Schelling continued to grapple with the meta-philosophical issues that he first sought to articulate in 1800. However, he never departed from his quasi-Romantic conviction that reason (or mind) can never provide a satisfactory theoretical account of the co-extensiveness of mind and world (or thought and being). According to what Schelling would later call his “positive philosophy,” the co-extensiveness of mind and world (or thought and being) cannot be comprehended or explained by mind (thought) itself, but must always be presupposed (in which case mind and world—thought and being—are not fully co-extensive with one another, after all).

5 On the Way to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit Hegel had been an early follower and ally of Schelling’s philosophy, but he was not willing to follow Schelling into holding that mind (or knowing) cannot come to know itself philosophically, or by means of theoretical reason, as the free, unbounded, infinite activity that it is (an activity that is co-extensive with an equally infinite and unbounded world). Hegel surely agreed that mind cannot come to know itself philosophically as any kind of object or entity or substance that appears to it, or is present to it, or is related to it. But for Hegel, it does not follow from this that mind is altogether unable to know itself philosophically as it really is in itself, that is, as it is in its unboundedness, its infinity, and its coextensiveness with an equally unbounded, infinite world. For Hegel, mind can come to know itself philosophically, as it is in itself, insofar as it can come to know itself as an unbounded activity that is reflected out of, or mirrored out of, an equally unbounded, infinite world. Yet how does mind come to know itself as thus reflected out of the world? It does so, as Fichte already suggested, only by means of its own activity: by means of its activity of being free always to question, to doubt, to negate that which is merely given to it; its activity of being always dissatisfied with the given as given; its activity of always driving itself beyond the merely given so as to posit (within itself and never beyond itself as mind) a cause whose positing is meant to account for the givenness of the given; its activity of knowing (in a non-representational way) that no given content as merely given is ever determinative of its own knowing. Hegel accepted these fundamental insights from Fichte’s philosophy of freedom; but Hegel developed them in a direction that Fichte himself did not anticipate. Hegel argued that this activity of being free to question, to negate, and to doubt, is never an activity that makes an appearance (or that can be known) allat-once as the kind of activity that it is. For Hegel (and contrary to the implications contained in the philosophy of Fichte and Descartes), the mind’s questioning, doubting, and negating activity can never be understood as a wholesale, global,

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all-at-once kind of activity. As Spinoza had already argued (against Descartes), the mind’s questioning, doubting, and negating activity never shows up and thus never knows itself as a global, wholesale, comprehensive doubting of everything (of all givenness) all at once. For Spinoza, mind is able to doubt something only because the idea being doubted is connected to something else that is not doubted: if the Mind perceived nothing else except the winged horse, it would regard it as present to itself, and would not have any cause of doubting its existence, or any faculty of dissenting, unless either the imagination of the winged horse were joined to an idea which excluded the existence of the same horse, or the Mind perceived that its idea of the winged horse was inadequate. (Spinoza 1985, 489)

Accordingly, the mind’s (the knower’s) activity of doubting never shows up as an all-at-once, global, wholesale, world-negating activity, but rather shows up only as a kind of movement, or a kind of passing over from one thing (one idea) which is doubted to some other thing (some other, connected idea) which is not (or not yet) doubted. In a similar vein, Hegel argues (against Fichte) that entry into a true system of freedom cannot be an entry that is actualized through the all-at-once “leap” of an individual thinker who—in making such a “leap”—sets herself in opposition to less capable (or morally obtuse) dogmatic thinkers. Another way of saying this is that for Hegel (unlike for Fichte), mind knows itself as the activity of being reflected out of the world—and thus knows itself philosophically as the activity that it is in itself—insofar as it knows its activity as the activity of ongoing determinate (and not merely abstract) negation. The activity of determinate negation is a doubting, negating activity that does not actualize itself by separating itself, or standing apart from, that which is to be negated. It does not actualize itself by operating as if there are given, fixed, discernible boundaries that can be erected and known as existing between itself (as negating activity) and what is given (what it is to be negated). Rather, determinate negation is a negating activity that negates only by seeping into and permeating and becoming immersed in the given. As we have already seen, the turn to Spinoza in post-Kantian thought is motivated by the idea that mind and world are infinities that are fully co-extensive, fully interpenetrating, fully inter-permeating, and fully overlapping with one another. The infinite and unbounded activity of mind, insofar as it is an activity of determinate and not abstract negation, is an activity which negates by seeping into, interpenetrating, inter-permeating, and mixing itself fully (and this means—as we shall see—mixing itself invisibly) into what appears as given. For Hegel, only determinate negation (and not abstract, external, boundary-erecting negation) can allow both mind and world to be the fully co-extensive, fully interpenetrating, fully inter-permeating, and fully overlapping infinities that they are. In determinate negation, mind genuinely actualizes the kind of unbounded negating activity that it is as mind. It is crucial that determinate negation is not any kind of activity whereby mind and world are somehow set alongside one another or bounded by one another or related to one another. Determinate negation is very different from abstract negation. With abstract negation, mind


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sees itself or finds itself as somehow standing apart from the world and negating the givenness of the world by means of a global, all-at-once, abstractive, discrete act of its own. By contrast, determinate negation is the activity of negating the givenness of the world by means of an activity that fully interpenetrates and inter-permeates the world: it is an activity that is immersed in the world and that negates the givenness of the world by dissolving this givenness “from within,” so to speak. The activity of determinate negation is an ongoing, continuous (i.e., “synechistic” in C.S. Peirce’s sense), laborious, world-permeating activity that does not apprehend the world from an external or abstractive point of view, but is in fact continuous with the world’s own (immanent) activities and negations. It follows from this account that mind as the ongoing activity of determinate negation does not and cannot immediately or directly make an appearance to itself (it cannot be known immediately or directly to itself) as any kind of entity or object or presence which shows up in the world. Rather, the activity of determinate negation shows up only as a kind of perpetually operative negativity or non-presence in the midst of what is present. It reveals itself only as the ongoing coming-to-be of absences or privations in the midst of what is present. It manifests itself only as the ongoing vanishings of presences which had been present to mind but have now been passed over (negated and doubted) as they make way for other presences (which are, for the moment at least, not negated or doubted). Some insight from the history of philosophy might be helpful in this regard. In Book IV, Chapter 12 of his Enchiridion, Augustine famously argued that what we call “privation” is nothing that is present or that has being in its own right. Instead, our talk of “privation” refers only to what is a kind of non-presence (or gap or void or hole or fissure or break) that resides within being or in the midst of what is present. It is significant that Spinoza himself held that error or ignorance is nothing in itself but only a kind of privation or not-knowing in the midst of knowing. In a similar vein, Hegel holds that the activity of determinate negation (which is the ongoing, infinite, unbounded, negating, interpenetrating, inter-permeating, dissolving activity of mind) does not itself show up or appear or become known as any kind of being or object or presence within the world. Rather, the activity of determinate negation makes its showing within the world only indirectly, insofar as it shows up negatively as the coming-to-be of privations or gaps or non-presences in the world of what is given. It makes its showing only negatively as the showing up of instances of absence or not-knowing which reside in the midst of what is present or known. As Fichte had already suggested (though not fully comprehended), the doubtability, questionability, and negatability of what is given within the world of appearances need not lead us into positing some kind of thing-in-itself or underlying substrate beyond (or beneath) the appearing world. Instead, this doubtability (which appears only as a kind of privation or “known not-knowing” in the midst of what is known) is only the reflecting-back of the knower’s (or mind’s) own activity, which is the negating activity of being dissatisfied, skeptical, doubtful, and unwilling to accept the given as given. Privations, negations, absences,

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gaps, fissures, and opacities, which show up within the world of being or presence, are able to show up as such (that is, show up precisely as nothing present at all) only because of the knower’s (or mind’s) dissatisfaction or unwillingness to accept being or presence as merely given. They show up as privations, only because of the knower’s (or mind’s) non-representational awareness that (1) in the midst of knowing what is merely given or present, it also knows that no given content or presence can cause or determine its own knowing; and (2) it is always free to negate what is merely present or given (and thus free to go “beyond” the merely present or given, even while never going “beyond” or outside of its own activity or its own consciousness of the world as a whole). Furthermore, as Fichte had suggested, the privations or absences, which show up within the world of appearance, are instances of a kind of not-knowing that resides in the midst of what is known, given, or present. But these instances of not-knowing are not altogether empty, blind, abstract, or wholesale instances of not-knowing; they are always instances of a known not-knowing. Accordingly, these privations or absences can show up in the world as the “little nothings” (the little non-presences or privations) that they are, only because they are instances of the knower’s own (indirect, non-immediate, “reflected back”) self-knowing; they are reflections of the mind’s (the knower’s) own activity of being aware (non-representationally) that no given content can cause or determine its own knowing; they are reflections of the knower’s perpetual dissatisfaction and skepticism about the allegedly independent or self-sufficient character of any determinate thing that is merely “present” or “given.” According to Hegel, Fichte had failed to recognize the possibility of an activity such as determinate negation. Accordingly, Fichte thought that entry into his own system of freedom could be accomplished by the knower only through a kind of individualistic, voluntaristic, all-at-once, wholesale, abstract negation of (or self-separation from) the world of appearance or being or givenness. By contrast, Hegel suggested that there was a way of entering into a system of freedom (which at the same time would be a post-Kantian, post-Spinozistic system of metaphysics) through the mind’s (or knower’s) activity of determinate negation. This is an activity which negates the mere givenness or being or presence of the world, not through separation and boundary-erecting, but only through the activity of immersion, inter-permeation, and seepage into the world as given. For Hegel, because the activity of determinate negation (the ongoing, negating activity of mind) does not and cannot itself show up or appear as any kind of being or object or presence in the world, it is an activity that mind, at first, does not and cannot know as its own. At first, mind knows the privations, negations, gaps, and absences that reside within the appearing world only in an immediate and direct way. As a result, it knows them at first only as privations, negations, gaps, and absences that appear to belong to the world simply on its own, as if the world could be the world itself apart from mind. Accordingly, mind at first apprehends the privations, negations, gaps, and absences that appear in the world as if these were only features of the interactions (the comings-to-be and the passings-away,


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the appearings and the vanishings, the births and deaths) of things within a world alone. This world apparently exists independently of the mind and needs no mind in order to be itself as world. For Hegel, even though mind (or knowing) does not know itself directly by means of what it sees within the world, it can come to know itself (or what amounts to the same thing: it can come to know its own activity) indirectly, by means of how it sees itself “reflected” or “mirrored” out of what it sees in the world as given. The activity of determinate negation might be likened to the activity of an invisible sculptor. Because the sculptor is invisible, the sculptor is unable to see herself; and so the sculptor’s own activity as a sculptor does not and cannot appear to the sculptor as anything that is immediately visible or present to be seen. However, the sculptor’s activity, not immediately visible to the sculptor herself, can be known to the sculptor insofar as this activity is reflected back to the sculptor out of what the sculptor does (that is, out of what the sculptor sees as the result of her doing). This activity can be reflected back to the sculptor by means of the differences that the sculptor’s own activity makes to what is seen; it can be reflected back by means of the privations, negations, fissures, and gaps that the sculptor herself brings about in the given medium (e.g. in the clay) by means of her own, invisible activity. The sculptor’s activity is reflected back to the sculptor, not as any kind of presence that is seen as one presence among others; rather, this activity is reflected back—and thus knowable—to the sculptor only through the non-presences (privations, gaps, and fissures) that the sculptor herself is responsible for introducing into the given. The invisible sculptor does not and cannot immediately see or know her own activity, but can come to know that activity insofar as she knows the coming-to-be of privations, non-presences, gaps, and fissures in the midst of what is visible or present to her. For Hegel, the mind (or knowing) is like the invisible sculptor in this respect. It cannot directly or immediately come to know itself as the kind of (invisible, non-object-like) activity that it really is. It can come to know itself only indirectly, as a kind of determinately negating activity which must be reflected out of what directly appears, where this appearing must seem as if it is the appearing of something other than the mind’s (the knower’s) very own activity. It is for this reason, Hegel argues, that the coming-to-be of self-knowing (in the Phenomenology) can be actualized only indirectly, i.e., only by means of a methodological distinction: the distinction between “observing” and “observed” consciousness. According to the argument of the Phenomenology, “we philosophical observers” look on in order to see how “ordinary” (“observed”) consciousness encounters various objects as given to it and how this other (“ordinary, observed”) kind of consciousness attempts (though always inadequately) to give an account of itself as the kind of knowing activity that it is. The argument of the Phenomenology is completed when “we philosophical observers” (we readers of the Phenomenology) come to recognize that the “ordinary, observed” consciousness which we have been observing all along is really nothing other than our own activity engaged in the activity of coming to know itself.

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Ultimately, for Hegel, mind knows itself as the infinite, unbounded activity that it is, (1) when mind knows that it cannot be itself as mind, if its activity as mind is not reflected out of a seemingly given otherness (world); and (2) when mind knows that the world—in turn—cannot be itself as world, if the world is not also the otherness (or “mirror”) which reflects mind back to itself and thereby enables mind to be itself (as mind) in the first place.5 According to Hegel, the Phenomenology of Spirit provides the “ladder” by means of which the unscientific knower is able to arrive at the standpoint of “scientific” philosophy. This is philosophy which recognizes itself as having come to recognize that mind and world are not two independent or separate entities but in fact are infinite, unbounded activities which fully interpenetrate and inter-permeate one another. In the Phenomenology, the activity by means of which “observing” consciousness comes to know that its own object (“observed” consciousness) is not really an object that is external to it, is identical to the activity by means of which “observing” consciousness comes to know itself as the fully infinite, unbounded activity that it is. For an activity that is not bounded by any object external to it, is an infinite, unbounded activity.

Notes 1. For more on this, see Fichte’s set of lectures, “Concerning the Difference between the Spirit and the Letter within Philosophy” (EPW, 185–215; GA, II, 3: 315–342). 2. Some scholars have argued that “The Earliest System Programme” was originally written by Schelling (or by Schelling and Hölderlin) and that the fragment which we now have is the result of Hegel’s having copied what he had read from a now-lost original text. However, Otto Pöggeler and H. S. Harris have both argued that this fragment was not only written out in Hegel’s own hand, but also originally authored by Hegel himself. See Harris (1972, 249– 257); and Pöggeler (1969, 17–32). 3. This translation of the text is taken from H. S. Harris (1972, 510). 4. Andrew Bowie has helpfully explained Schelling’s problem in the following way: “For Schelling, as for Jacobi and Hölderlin, it is clear that the Absolute cannot appear as itself, precisely because it cannot become an object…. The issue is simply the problem of reflexivity, or self-referentiality, which is the key problem of Romantic philosophy…. Any attempt to encompass a totality must adopt a perspective outside the totality, and thus include the totality in itself only as a relative totality, or face the problem that totalities cannot describe themselves as totalities, in that the description must then include a description of the description, and so on ad infinitum” (Bowie 1993, 49–50). Accordingly: “Philosophy therefore cannot positively represent the Absolute because reflexive thinking operates from the position where absolute identity has always been lost in the emergence of consciousness” (ibid., 53). 5. Thus there is an important way in which Hegel diverges from Augustine. For Augustine, the relation between being (positing, presence) and privation (negation, absence) is an asymmetrical one: there cannot be privation without being, but there can be being without privation. Hegel denies this asymmetry: for Hegel, privation cannot be privation without its being a privation within being; but conversely for Hegel (and not for Augustine), being cannot be being (it cannot be itself and actualize itself as being) if it does not show up (if it does not actualize itself) as having determinacy (negation, privation, being-for-other) within it.


M. Baur

Bibliography Augustine. 1961. The Enchiridion: On Faith, Hope, and Love. Translated by J. F. Shaw. Chicago: Regnery Gateway. Bowie, Andrew. 1993. Schelling and Modern European Philosophy: An Introduction. London and New York: Routledge. Harris, Henry S. 1972. Hegel’s Development, vol. 1: Toward the Sunlight (1770–1801). Oxford: The Clarendon Press. Jacobi, Friedrich Heinrich. 1994. The Main Philosophical Writings and the Novel Allwill. Translated and Edited by George di Giovanni. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press. Pöggeler, Otto. 1969. “Hegel, der Verfasser des ältesten Systemprogramms des deutschen Idealismus.” Hegel-Studien 4: 17–32. Schulze, Gottlob Ernst. 2000. “Aenesidemus, Or Concerning the Foundations of the Philosophy of the Elements Issued by Prof. Reinhold in Jena Together with a Defense of Skepticism Against the Pretentions of the Critique of Pure Reason.” In Between Kant and Hegel: Texts in the Development of Post-Kantian Idealism, translated and edited by George di Giovanni and H. S. Harris, 104–135. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company. Spinoza, Baruch. 1985. The Collected Works Spinoza, vol. 1. Edited and Translated by Edwin Curley. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Chapter 3

Kant, Hegel and the Historicity of Pure Reason Kenneth R. Westphal

1 Introduction Having examined thoroughly the modest successes, serious shortcomings and endless controversies of previous philosophical aims, methods and results, Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason inaugurated a “changed manner of thinking” (CPR Bxi), innovating so profoundly that it baffled its reading public, even its first supporters.1 Indeed, Kant’s Critical alternative to both empiricism and rationalism remains foreign to most philosophers today, though not for lack of excellent critical literature (Guyer 1987; Melnick 1989; Rosenberg 2005; Bird 2006; O’Shea 2017; cf. Westphal 2017). The confusions about Kant’s Critical philosophy reigning in Hegel’s youth have been canvassed very well by di Giovanni (2000). Here one brief example may illustrate. Both Fichte (GA 1.2:368.25–369.2, 1.3:189.14–191.20) and Schelling (HKA 1.2:137.25–27) vaunted Maimon’s criticisms of Reinhold’s (1790) Kant-inspired theory of representation in his “philosophy of the elements” (Elementarphilosophie), though neither they nor others noticed that Maimon’s (1790) empiricist objections to Kant’s Critical philosophy neglected entirely Kant’s core analysis of the transcendental unity of apperception and its necessary a priori conditions.2 The main hindrance lay in persisting rationalist or empiricist predilections, both of which stress issues about the definition or the acquisition (source) of concepts, to the neglect of issues about their legitimate (justifiable) cognitive use to judge and to know (or even to err about) particular objects, events, persons or structures—the issue Kant designated as the objective validity of our cognitive judgements. Empiricists always stressed the sole role of empirical evidence in defining terms and in justifying claims, but persistently neglect the conceptual and intellectual preconditions for identifying any one ­spatio-temporal particular, or any one of its manifest features, so as to be able to

K. R. Westphal (*)  Department of Philosophy, Boğaziçi Üniversitesi, İstanbul, Turkey

© The Author(s) 2020 M. F. Bykova and K. R. Westphal (eds.), The Palgrave Hegel Handbook, Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism,



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define any relevant term to designate that particular or its chosen feature, or to be able to cite its perception as evidence for or against any statement. These basic cognitive achievements require already possessing and properly using a host of concepts which cannot be defined in accord with concept empiricism, including: ‘space,’ ‘spaces,’ ‘time,’ ‘times,’ ‘individual,’ ‘I,’ ‘it’ or ‘that’ (spatio-temporal particular) and individuation (Westphal 2013). That Hegel agrees with Kant about these basic points in Critical epistemology has been needlessly obscured by three factors worth noting here. One is widespread preoccupation, on the part of fans and critics alike, with Kant’s transcendental idealism, and with Hegel’s alternative “absolute” idealism. Kant claims that his Critical philosophy requires transcendental idealism. Hegel’s critical re-examination of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason shows instead that transcendental idealism is unjustifiable, and yet is not required by Kant’s comprehensive critique of rational judgement, justification and knowledge. Indeed, Kant’s Critique of Reason, throughout his Critical writings, is more successful and more tenable without transcendental idealism. Elsewhere I have argued in detail that Hegel is quite correct about these surprising results (Westphal 1989, 2018). A second obfuscation is neglecting that, and how, Hegel learned from both Kant and Tetens (1775, 1777) what Kant had learned from the latter, that the key epistemological issue does not concern our possession of concepts, whatever may be their content, intension or origins, but rather our capacity to use concepts properly to classify and thus identify extant particular objects, events, persons or structures. Demonstrating that we can so use a concept by demonstratively indicating (ostending) a relevant, localized, identified particular instance Tetens called “realizing” that concept (realisiren). This terminological innovation was adopted by both Kant and Hegel. Like Kant, Hegel realized that the key epistemological task regarding any a priori concept is demonstrating whether we can, or cannot, “realize” that concept by locating, identifying and properly classifying or characterizing at least one relevant particular as an instance of that concept. Those a priori concepts which we can so realize are, in Kant’s lexicon, “objectively valid”; Hegel retained from Kant this issue and terminology, too (e.g., Enc. §§38, 126Z, 131Z, 468Z; WL GW 12:18–19, 28, 174). Now both Kant and Hegel do examine issues about concept acquisition, procedures and processes of inquiry, and about judgement. However, both Kant and Hegel are alert to the issues highlighted later by Frege’s (1884, 1893) critique of “psychologism.” Stated generally, as Kant does in the Introduction to the Critique of Judgement: No account of historical, psychological, social or causal etiology as such can or does address issues about the validity, justifiability or justification of whatever results from those generative processes.3 If processes do reveal anything about the validity of their products, they do so only insofar as those processes satisfy normative standards or constraints, not merely insofar as they are causal or historical events or effects.4 The third factor obscuring Hegel’s allegiance to Kantian Critical philosophy is the central topic of this chapter: His philosophy certainly does not look anything like Kant’s Critical philosophy, especially not in its first major installment, Hegel’s

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1807 introduction to his systematic philosophy, the Phenomenology of Spirit. Late in life, Hegel planned to re-issue his 1807 masterpiece, which is properly the propaedeutic to his systematic philosophy (or “Wissenschaft”), although it is, he noted, a peculiar early work; do not revise; pertains to the time of its composition; in Preface: the abstract absolute then predominated. (PhG GW 9:448)5

Perhaps Hegel’s philosophical success during his lifetime eclipsed the merely abstract conception of the absolute, but following his death, after Schopenhauer and Schelling were called to Berlin to “stamp out the dragonseed of Hegeli­ anism,”6 and with the persistence of empiricism, rationalism or logicism within subsequent philosophy, today we hardly have even an abstract conception of any absolute. In accord with Fulda (1975), Harris (1997) and Collins (2013), I (1989) have argued in detail that Hegel’s 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit retains its proper introductory function as propaedeutic to his systematic philosophy because it, and it alone in Hegel’s corpus, examines whether, and demonstrates that, human reason is competent to address philosophical issues cogently.7 Here I augment these findings by sketching how Hegel’s 1807 Phenomenology addresses an astonishing constellation of issues, so as to justify the competence of philosophical reason—and more specifically: to justify its competence to conduct a cogent critique of reason, quite in accord with Kant’s Critical philosophy, though without any appeal to transcendental idealism. This constellation of issues can be appreciated by reconsidering the question, Why and how can Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit take human cognition itself as a phenomenon, as an appearance, which can be scrutinized, so as to determine whether human cognition is merely a semblance, or may instead (at least on some occasion or in some form) manifest genuine knowledge of the world or genuine self-knowledge— perhaps even both? Surprisingly, Hegel’s answer takes (in effect) the form of writing Kant’s unwritten, closing chapter of his transcendental doctrine of method, “The History of Pure Reason” (§2). These Critical issues about the historicity of human reason underscore issues about the very possibility of a rationally competent critique of reason—an issue highlighted by the attempted “meta-critique” of reason proposed by Hamann and Herder (§3). Their issues buttress those already mentioned about the confusions which greeted Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and the profusion of philosophical alternatives to it then proposed. That profusion exhibited once again a phenomenon highlighted by Pyrrhonian skepticism, the trope of relativity, which purports to reveal that claims to know anything which is in any regard obscure or controversial themselves appear to be no more than literally incredible semblances of knowledge. This constellation of factors highlights the importance of the Pyrrhonian Dilemma of the Criterion, and whether it can be solved. Without mentioning Pyrrho or Sextus Empiricus, this issue was highlighted anonymously by G.E. Schulze (§4). This constellation of issues (§§2–4) is so tightly interwoven that no piecemeal resolution or dissolution is possible. To address this constellation of epistemological, methodological and meta-philosophical issues comprehensively, Hegel took for his model the ancient

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masters of skeptical dialectic, so as to develop his own phenomenological ­skepticism regarding the entire range of merely apparent forms of human cognition through his capacious “self-consummating skepticism” (§5). These findings help identify the twin targets of Hegel’s phenomenological meta-critique, and why and how his 1807 Phenomenology integrates systematic, historical and pedagogical aims, issues and methods (§6).

2 Kant and the History of Pure Reason Having devoted over 850 densely argued pages to identifying the character, scope and limits of human thought and knowledge, so far as these are purely a priori, entirely independent of empirical evidence (CPR B2–3), the fourth, final chapter of Kant’s transcendental doctrine of method bears a surprising title: “The History of Pure Reason.” After all his detailed concern with normative validity, why is there any topic regarding history of reason, much less, any history of pure reason? One aspect of the answer is Kant’s experimentalism about rational inquiry. This aspect of his answer is reinforced by another: Kant’s extensive and sophisticated account of sub-personal cognitive processing, on the basis of which alone we can be aware of our perceiving anything whatever.8 One consequence of these views is that, whatever our innate cognitive capacities may be, and whatever may be the “original” (a priori, non-empirical; CPR B167) acquisition of our most basic categories on the basis of our forms of sensory intuition and of judgement, none of these aspects of, or factors in, human judgement, experience or knowledge is self-evident or transparent to our introspective reflection. Identifying these “elements,” as Kant calls them, of human cognisance requires “transcendental reflection” (CPR A260–3, 269–70, 295/B316–9, 325–6, 351), guided by the table of judgement forms and the central problem of how sensory intake over time and through space can be integrated, synchronically and diachronically, so that we can so much as appear to be aware of any apparent spatio-temporal particulars surrounding us, and can distinguish some sequences of appearances as appearing to occur before, during or after others. Such transcendental reflection, Kant insists, “is a duty no one can shirk, if [s]he shall judge anything a priori” (CPR A263/B319). Unfortunately, Kant said rather too little about his method of transcendental reflection, and about its resources. That is one key reason for confusion occasioned by publishing his Critique of Pure Reason. For example, his grounds for claiming his Table of Judgements is complete were not understood, barely recognized, until Michael Wolff (1995, 2000, 2004, 2017) discerned and explicated them. Human experimentation using our rational capacities to inquire into morals, nature, theology or metaphysics is a central theme of Kant’s concluding chapter, which he admits to be a mere place holder for an actual history of pure reason: This title stands here only to designate a place that is left open in the system and must be filled in the future. I will content myself with casting a cursory glance from a merely transcendental point of view, namely that of the nature of pure reason, on the whole

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of its labors hitherto, which presents to my view edifices, to be sure, but only in ruins. (CPR A852/B880)

In the philosophical controversies about our rational inquiries and their purported results Kant finds three themes marking key philosophical divides. Regarding the objects of rational inquiries, the main divide is between “sensual” (sensory) and intellectual accounts of knowledge. Regarding the origin of our most basic concepts, the main divide is between empiricists and “noologists,” i.e., those who contend that human noûs can grasp the cosmic noûs which structures and governs the universe. Regarding methodical procedure according to principles, the main divide is between (commonsense) naturalists and systematic “scientists,” i.e., either dogmatists or skeptics. Kant names Christian Wolff and Hume as key representatives of these latter two camps. Without detailing his specific findings, Kant has already argued en detail that none of these kinds of philosophy is adequate, though each offers some important considerations—yet their debates, if continued, are condemned to stalemate. In this judgement, Kant has been most prescient. He thus concludes that his radically innovative ‘changed method of thinking’ is altogether required, so that: The Critical path alone is still open. If the reader has had pleasure and patience in travelling along in my company, then he can now judge, if it pleases him to contribute his part to making this footpath into a highway, whether or not that which many centuries could not accomplish might not be attained even before the end of the present one: namely, to bring human reason to full satisfaction in that which has always, but until now vainly, occupied its lust for knowledge. (CPR A855/B883)

Thus concludes Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.

3 Hamann, Herder and the “Meta-critique” of Pure Reason Kant published the Critique of Pure Reason well in advance of his Critical moral philosophy, and of his Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone (1793). Although the Transcendental Dialectic discusses moral and theological issues in considerable detail, it is understandable that Kant’s first readers had difficulty understanding, not to say: taking seriously, his claim to have found it necessary to delimit knowledge in order to preserve room for faith (CPR Bxxx), and they could not read this remark in Kant’s Preface to the second edition until 1781. Hamann and Herder both sought to secure their fervently Christian fideism, untrammelled by Kant’s Critical philosophy. Hamann (1784) sketched an infamous “meta-critique of pure reason,” in which he contends that human reason is rooted in human language, and human language is rooted in human history, indeed so deeply and obscurely, that neither language nor human reason can conduct any such inquiry as a critique of reason, much less: a critique of pure reason—for there is no “pure” reason at all within our human domain. Though unpublished, Hamann’s sketch


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was profoundly influential. A full-scale attempt at such an historicist-linguistic critique of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason was mounted by Herder (1799).9 Hamann and Herder both, however, neglected a key reflexive question: If human language and reasoning are as limited as they apparently contend, how can they conduct their rational inquiries into the origins—as well as the scope and limits—of human language? How could they even construct their purported meta-critique of Kant’s Critique? They also neglected Kant’s own use of linguistic similes in the Critique of Pure Reason (CPR A314/B370–371, A352; cf. Prol. §§30, 39/Ak 4:312, 323) to underscore the twin Critical issues: How is unity within human thinking or within human experience at all possible, even within any one thought, judgement or claim? Under what conditions is any such unity also cognitively valid—justifiable as sufficiently accurate, erroneous or refutable? Hamann and Herder were the first post-Kantians to again commit the methodological error of obscuring issues of validity by clouding them with speculations about mere processes—Frege’s point later against “psychologism.” Both Hamann and Herder were fans of Hume, but neither realized—as Kant had—that Hume’s empiricist theory of ideas cannot at all account, on any empiricist basis, for the fabulous capacities of Hume’s “imagination,” which alone provides us with meaningful words, as distinct to mere vocalizations, or provides us with the bevy of distinctions of reason which alone enable us to locate anything, or any sensory appearance, even apparently or approximately, within any, even merely apparent, spatial or temporal order (Westphal 2013, 2017). Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason examines the sub-personal cognitive functions required for us to be able at all to develop, learn or acquire language, so that we can understand (e.g.) a series of individual words as expressing any one thought (CPR A352). Without these ­capacities, and without our effective, competent exercise of them, there simply could be neither an origin, a history, nor any use of human language.

4 The Profusion of Post-critique Alternatives 3.1 It is unsurprising that Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and his further publications in Critical philosophy occasioned a surge of philosophical activity, both critical and favorable. Adickes’s (1894–1896) Bibliography of Writings by and on Kant in Germany up to 1804 runs to over 600 pages.10 Each philosophical faction Kant’s Critique undermined found its enthusiastic defenders, including rationalism (e.g., Eberhard 1788–178911), empiricism (e.g., Maimon), skepticism (e.g., Schulze), fideism (Hamann, Herder, Jacobi), and varieties of Kantianism propounded by avowedly friendly converts as Fichte, Bardilli and Reinhold, who sought to do better what they thought Kant had attempted.12 3.2 This flood of non-, anti- and pro-Kantian philosophical views is bewildering, especially to non-experts. Yet even the views of philosophical experts often diverge significantly, even radically. This profusion of apparent philosophical alternatives raises yet again an ancient skeptical concern, the Pyrrhonian Trope

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of Relativity. Pyrrhonian skeptics neither doubt nor dispute whatever is utterly ­obvious, such as (during sunshine) “it is day” or (when speaking) “I am now conversing” (PH 1:192–3, 208, 2:8–10, 97; AL 1:391, 2:144; M 8:144). However, they remain unconvinced that anyone has identified credible inferences from whatever is utterly obvious to the advocate’s favored account, explanation or theory of why and how the utterly obvious or the merely apparent came to be as it is, wherever and whenever it appears (e.g., PH 1:104, 135–40, 175–7, 2:132). They are, in the main, skeptics about claims to know what something really is, if that is said to contrast in any notable regard to what or how it merely appears to someone to be. Pyrrhonists are very content to trot out the irresolvable controversies amongst philosophers or other know-somethings as at least apparent evidence that none of the parties to the dispute uses a credible, genuinely cognitive method to identify how something really is (e.g., PH 1:202–4, 2:8, 95, 134–192, 3:7–12, 186). 3.3 If this threat of relativism is not trouble enough, soon a further ancient Pyrrhonian trope re-appeared on the philosophical scene. G.E. Schulze published the first skeptical attack on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, titled for one of the greatest ancient skeptics: Aenesidemus (1792). Schulze’s book gained such prominence that a decade later it was a central case in point when Hegel examined and highlighted the profound differences between ancient Pyrrhonian skepticism and modern empiricist skepticism, such as Schulze’s, in his extensive early article, “The Relation of Skepticism to Philosophy” (1802). There Hegel argued in detail (and quite rightly) that Pyrrhonian skepticism is far more searching and profound than is Modern empiricist skepticism. Yet at this time (ca. 1800–02), Hegel followed Schelling’s lead by contending that even those ancient skeptical tropes only undermined the various “finite” or limited claims of the understanding, due to its inevitable use of conceptual dichotomies (cf. Düsing 1988). These skeptical problems and appearances, Schelling and Hegel claimed, are transcended by intellectual intuition of the absolute. These “absolute idealist” claims and ambitions were burst by G.E. Schulze’s anonymously published “Aphorisms on the Absolute” (1803). Schulze wrote as if propounding Jena-style absolute idealism, yet he slyly and masterfully turned the rhetorical and philosophical tables on intellectual intuitionism, in part by ­re-invoking issues of criteria for distinguishing the absolute, or for distinguishing any genuine intellectual intuition of it, from any imposter, counterfeit or deliberate subterfuge, including issues of petitio principii (begging the question). Schelling (Schelling 1805, §64n./SW 7:153 n.2) believed Hegel had already resolved those issues in his previous article, “The Relation of Skepticism to Philosophy.” Hegel understood epistemology far better, and realized (by late 1804) that Schulze had called their philosophical bluff,13 in effect, by invoking the Pyrrhonian Dilemma of the Criterion, reported by Sextus Empiricus: in order to decide the dispute which has arisen about the criterion [of truth], we must possess an accepted criterion by which we shall be able to judge the dispute; and in order to possess an accepted criterion, the dispute about the criterion must first be decided. And when the argument thus reduces itself to a form of circular reasoning the discovery of the criterion becomes impracticable, since we do not allow [those who make knowledge

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claims] to adopt a criterion by assumption, while if they offer to judge the criterion by a criterion we force them to a regress ad infinitum. And furthermore, since demonstration requires a demonstrated criterion, while the criterion requires an approved demonstration, they are forced into circular reasoning. (PH 2:20; cf. PH 1:116–7)

Though stated regarding criteria of truth, this Dilemma holds equally of criteria of justification. In his early article, “The Relation of Skepticism to Philosophy,” Hegel merely mentions this Dilemma in passing (Skept. GW 4:212.9/SkeptEng. 328), confident that it is bypassed by intellectual intuition (Skept. GW 4:219.33– 220.24/SkeptEng. 335–337). In his 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel restates precisely this Dilemma exactly in the middle of his Introduction (PhG GW 9:58.12–22), directly in connection with distinguishing—if possible—between merely apparent knowledge and genuine manifestations of knowledge. Previously I have examined, reconstructed and defended Hegel’s solution to this Dilemma in detail (Westphal 1989, 2003, 2018; for concise summary, see Westphal 2009b). I now offer a further conjecture regarding Hegel’s describing his 1807 Phenomenology as “self-consummating” skepticism (sich vollbringender Skepticismus; PhG GW 9:56.12–13). This puzzling description is a crucial key to understanding that, and how, Hegel’s 1807 Phenomenology completes Kant’s unwritten chapter on the history of pure reason.

5 Hegel’s “Self-Consummating Skepticism” In his Introduction Hegel proposes to examine all humanly possible forms of consciousness so as to distinguish, if possible, between merely apparent and genuinely manifest knowledge. Treating “knowledge” or claims to knowledge as mere appearances is Pyrrhonian stock-in-trade. In “The Relation of Skepticism to Philosophy,” Hegel had lamented the fate of those master teachers of ancient dialectic who were reputed to have taught to their students nothing but skeptical dialectic, for decades if need be, until the student finally could see through all the skeptical dialectic. Only then would the master begin with any positive philosophical views. The fate Hegel (Skept. GW 4:210.29–211.28/SkeptEng. 327–328) lamented is that only their reputation remained, though none of their texts or lectures.14 Concurrently, another proponent of positive use of Pyrrhonian skepticism ­recommended its careful study as the single best preparation for understanding and assessing Kant’s Critical philosophy. This advice was given by Buhle (1801) in his Preface to his translation of Sextus Empiricus’ Outlines of Pyrrhonism (Grundrisse des Pyrrhonismus), where he concludes: The same method of philosophizing which the Greek skeptics followed, by which they discovered the ungroundedness and conflict of the older philosophical systems familiar to them, can also be applied to the newer systems and equally well reveals to the probing reason their weaknesses. Thus is it indeed Greek skepticism which can be regarded as

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the ground upon which the Critical philosophy developed, and which it first and foremost aims to, and must, destroy, if it shall in other regards achieve its aims. To that extent the study also of Greek skepticism undeniably is not only the most instructive propaedeutic to the Critical philosophy, it also retains the inestimable advantage of teaching how to rationally doubt even this Critical philosophy, i.e., how to assess it cogently. (Buhle 1801, v–vi)

Though I cannot document Hegel’s having read Buhle’s advice,15 Buhle’s advice is in fact Kant’s own advice, which Hegel certainly did read. Yet more directly than Buhle, Kant indicates that Greek skeptical doubts about dogmatic philosophy can be used positively to identify the character, competence and limits of our cognitive capacities: Against the uncritical dogmatist, who has not first measured the sphere of his understanding and so has not determined the limits of his possible cognition according to principles, so that he does not already know in advance how much he can do, but instead thinks he can find this out merely by various attempts, these [ancient] skeptical attacks are not merely dangerous, but are to him utterly destructive. – Since if he is countered at any one single contention which he doesn’t justify and apparently cannot derive from principles, the suspicion falls upon all [his] contentions, however convincing they may otherwise be. And thus the skeptic is the master instructor of the dogmatic reasoner towards a sound critique of understanding and reason themselves. If he has achieved this [critique], then he need not fear any further [skeptical] attacks; for he then distinguishes his possessions from that which lies entirely beyond them, to which he makes no claim and so cannot embroil himself in controversies about it. Thus the skeptical procedure as such is indeed unsatisfactory for the questions of reason, although indeed it is propaedeutic (vorübend), to awaken its caution and to indicate fundamental means by which to secure its legitimate possessions. (CPR A768–9/B796–7, cf. A423–5/B451–3)

Now Hegel not only heeded Kant’s and Buhle’s advice about proper skeptical training and procedure, in some early Jena essays (1801–1802) Hegel had already begun working through Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason in just this way, by which he discovered, on grounds strictly internal to Kant’s transcendental idealism, two decisive problems which begin to reveal how to disentangle Kant’s Critical philosophical method and his Critique of rational judgement and justification from his transcendental idealism, and how to develop Kant’s Critical philosophy into a far more cogent form of epistemological realism (Westphal 2018, §§25–36, 43–49). Prompted by Schulze’s “Aphorisms,” Hegel finally addressed rather evaded the Pyrrhonian Dilemma of the Criterion—restating it right in the middle of his Introduction; throughout, Hegel’s 1807 Phenomenology exhibits exactly the strategy Kant and Buhle recommend. Thinking through Pyrrhonian skepticism from beginning to end, and likewise: thinking through the entire range and scope of apparent claims to philosophical knowledge (PhG GW 9:55.30–31, .36–37, 56.36–37), and these alone, suffice for “the thorough and explicit history of the formative education of consciousness itself” to be able to engage in cogent philosophical inquiry or “science” (Wissenschaft; PhG GW 9:56.19–21). This relentless critical skepticism directed to “the entire range of appearing consciousness” alone “makes spirit first able to examine what truth is” (PhG GW 9:56.29–31). Indeed, in this way Hegel aims to provide and to justify “the conscious insight


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into the untruth of [merely] apparent knowledge” (PhG GW 9:56.10–11). Hegel’s proposed “self-consummating skepticism” (PhG GW 9:56.12–13) thus expressly aims to justify our positive, demonstrable capacity to grapple with the truth about philosophical issues, and to achieve cogent, justified results. The central issue of the 1807 Phenomenology is whether we can attain absolute knowing, in the sense of knowing “what in truth is” (PhG GW 9:53.1–5, 54.21– 22). In Hegel’s lexicon, “the absolute” is not some special object; it is the world as it actually is—whatever that may prove to be. Hegel uses the term “absolute” adverbially, a sense already indicated by Kant: The word absolute is now often used merely to indicate that something pertaining to the matter at hand (Sache) is considered in itself and thus is valid intrinsically. (CPR A324/ B381)16

The kind of critical, skeptical training required to discern whether or when something known or claimed counts absolutely goes back at least to Parmenides, and was known to Plato and Aristotle as Parmenidean exercises, as Hegel knew (cf. Plato, Parm., 135c–136d, Theat. 162, 168; Aristotle, Met. 1:985a1, 2:994b32– 995a20, 4:1005b1; Hegel G&W GW 4:207.15–25, 211.20–28; Enc. §81Z2; Skept. GW 4:210.27–32/SkeptEng. 327; VGPh3:34/MM 19:79–81/LHPBrown2:205–206). When the character of young Socrates admits reaching a philosophical impasse, not knowing how to proceed, Parmenides admonishes him: you undertake to mark off something beautiful and just and good and each one of the characters too soon, before being properly trained. … train yourself more thoroughly while you are still young; drag yourself through what is generally regarded as useless, and condemned by the multitude as idle twaddle. Otherwise, the truth will escape you. What is the manner of training, Parmenides? [Socrates] asked. … Parmenides replied … it is also necessary to do this still in addition: to examine the consequences that follow from the hypothesis, not only if each thing is hypothesised to be, but also if that same thing is hypothesised not to be, if you wish to be better trained. In short, concerning whatever may be hypothesised as being and as not being and as undergoing any other affection whatever, it is necessary to examine the consequences relative to itself and relative to each one of the others, whichever you may choose, and relative to more than one and relative to all in like manner. And the others, again, must be examined both relative to themselves and relative to any other you may choose, whether you hypothesise what you hypothesise as being or as not being, if you are to be finally trained accurately to discern the truth. (Plato, Parm., 135c–136a)

The group then stress how extraordinary, extensive, and frightfully challenging is this proposed training (Plato, Parm., 136a–137a), yet Zeno adds: most people do not realise that without this kind of detailed ranging and wandering through everything, it is impossible to meet with truth and gain intelligence. (Plato, Parm., 136c)

Then Zeno joins Socrates in beseeching Parmenides to proceed, “so that I too may learn from you after all this time” (Plato, Parm., 136e). Zeno in his maturity still seeks tutelage from Parmenides! Parmenides acknowledges that, in this training required to comprehend truth, one must “drag” oneself “through what is generally regarded as useless, and condemned by the multitude as idle twaddle” (Plato, Parm., 135d), a condemnation often directed against Hegel’s writings, too.

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This coincidence is not accidental, I submit. Albeit a literary dialogue, all of these indications are to the philosophical point. Their topic was metaphysics; Hegel’s topic in the 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit is restricted instead to apparent claims regarding what human knowledge is, i.e.: epistemology, though for us homo sapiens sapiens, not for divinities, nor for mere logically possible beings. This is one key point of Hegel’s examining forms of consciousness—to examine basic core views and issues in epistemology, by examining their paradigmatic principles— expressed as the “certainties” defining the various forms of consciousness—in connection with paradigmatic examples of claims to know about various purportedly experienced particulars. Hegel agrees with the reputed Ancient masters, that the thorough study of skeptical dialectic, and its thorough application to known philosophical views, ultimately enables the student, not only to recognize the shortcomings of various philosophical views, but also to see through skeptical tropes themselves as mere appearances of knowledge or insight. This point Hegel captures in distinguishing between merely “abstract” negations, which settle for skeptical suspension of judgement—Sextus Empiricus’ convenient, calm resting point—and ‘determinate’ negations, which develop critical assessment strictly internally, sufficiently and accurately so as to identify at least clues of a superior view, by identifying the strengths or insights, as well as the omissions or shortcomings, of whatever view is examined (PhG GW 9:57.1–17). Unlike the reputed ancient masters, Hegel composed and published his masterful dialectical lessons, beginning with his 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit.

6 The Twin Targets of Hegel’s Phenomenological Critique The twin targets of Hegel’s phenomenological critique, both substantive and methodological, are on the one hand, naïve realism, e.g. Krug, Schulze or Jacobi, according to which philosophy is not at all necessary, and especially not Critical philosophy; and on the other hand, Hamann’s and Herder’s purported metacritique of reason, according to which Critical philosophy is not at all possible. To show that Critical philosophy is possible, and through that, to show that we can comprehend philosophically—and natural-scientifically—how things themselves actually are, i.e., we can know how the world is absolutely, Hegel cannot begin as Kant did, with a transcendental doctrine of the elements of human knowledge, based upon first demonstrating that we have a set of basic a priori concepts, the categories plus the concepts of space and of time, then demonstrating that we can use these a priori concepts in legitimate cognitive judgements about spatio-­ temporal particulars, and then third: that we can use these concepts in legitimate cognitive judgements only about spatio-temporal particulars (of whatever scale).17 Starting with any specific philosophical claim or analysis would invite his opponents to cavil about it endlessly, without first considering their own capacities to make, understand or assess any such claim. These issues arise already with merely terminological matters (PhG GW 9:53–5). Hegel’s Introduction is deliberately


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preliminary, general, even vague; he expressly reserves any and all definite contentions on his own part to his results within or at the end of his massive tome (PhG GW 9:58.10–11). His discussion of the models of knowledge as an instrument or a medium (PhG GW 9:53–54) is very vague, though it recalls the Pyrrhonian tropes directed against that “by which” anything is said to be known (PH 2:48–69) and Locke’s simile of our senses being the windows by which alone light can enter the otherwise dark room of our understanding (Es 2.11.17). His allusion to Kant’s distinction between phenomena and noumena (PhG GW 9:54.21–25), too, is no more than cursory. His most brilliant achievement in the Introduction—solving the Pyrrhonian Dilemma of the Criterion by explicating how constructive self-criticism is possible—is largely implicit, requiring careful disambiguation of distinctions Hegel marked by grammatical cases (Westphal 2018, §§62–63). The one point he states definitely concerns the commonsense notion of consciousness as our awareness of some object distinct from ourselves (PhG GW 9:58.25–35, 59.5–11), which he claims suffices for his phenomenological critique of apparent knowledge (PhG GW 9:60.2–3). This statement is made uncontentious by beginning with a naïve realist, commonsense form of consciousness in “Sense Certainty” (PhG GW 9:63). What Hegel achieved in the 1807 Phenomenology and how he achieves it requires and rewards the kind of detailed, systematically philosophical, historically sensitive and textually scrupulous examination, reconstruction and assessment characteristic of the very best scholarship on Ancient philosophy. Hegel’s strictly internal, phenomenological critique of forms of apparent knowing in the 1807 Phenomenology is tantamount to Parmenidean exercises, which only come into philosophical focus by exacting, comprehensive study through which the systematic philosophical, the historical and the textual analyses of Hegel’s sections, chapters, major parts and the structure of his whole book converge, so as to illuminate and corroborate each other. Much of this has been missed by Hegel’s expositors; here I can only mention briefly six related cases in point. 1. Hegel’s devotés have neglected Kant’s use of the term “realize” in connection with concepts or principles (above, §1), and so have missed just what philosophical issues and terminology Kant thus adopted from Tetens, and so have missed how Hegel uses this verb in exactly the same sense and with the same philosophical point, viz. 2. In “Sense Certainty” Hegel argues for Tetens’ and Kant’s point about why and how we must realise any concept involved in knowing by locating and identifying some relevant instance of it within space and time. Yet exactly this localization and individuation of relevant particulars requires possession and competent use of the a priori concepts of ‘space,’ ‘spaces,’ ‘time,’ ‘times,’ ‘I,’ ‘it’ or ‘that’ particular, ‘individuation’ and ‘situation’ or ‘circumstances.’ Hegel’s conclusions hold against naïve realism, a.k.a. ‘knowledge by acquaintance’, and they hold without appeal to any transcendental idealism. Hegel’s point concerns the character and necessity of singular, specifically cognitive reference to particulars; it rules out any and all purportedly cognitive use of concepts without referring them in judgements to localized, identified spatio-temporal particulars (of whatever kind or scale).

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3. This semantic, referential thesis thus secures the key aim of verification empiricism, without invoking any thesis about meaning, intension or conceptual content! That alone suffices to rule out experience-transcendent metaphysics as cognitively vacuous, however clearly or cleverly conceived it may be. 4. In “Perception” Hegel demonstrates by reductio ad absurdum of Hume’s empiricism, specifically, of Hume’s insightful analysis, “Of skepticism with regard to the senses” (T 1.4.2), that also the concept of any one thing with a plurality of characteristics is a priori, and that the distinction ‘substance/attribute’ or ‘thing/ property’ is a distinction of reason which cannot be replaced by, nor reduced to, the relations ‘one/many’, ‘whole/part’, ‘set/member’ nor ‘product/ingredient’. 5. Hegel’s critique of substantive individualism, and his case for our being fundamentally interdependent, social beings, only begins in the infamous discussion of “Lord and Bondsman.” Hegel’s critical re-examination of individualist analyses of human phenomena persists through to the very end of “Spirit,” culminating only in “Evil and its Forgiveness,” after critically assessing an extremely dense series of individualistic forms of consciousness (Westphal 2020a, b). 6. In these regards, the first part of Hegel’s Phenomenology, “Consciousness,” provides a direct counterpart to Kant’s “objective deduction” of the categories, to demonstrate that we can use concepts, including those a priori concepts just indicated (Nos. 2, 4), in genuine, legitimate, justifiable cognitive judgements about spatio-temporal particulars. The remainder of Hegel’s Phenomenology provides an alternative “subjective deduction,” aiming to identify and to justify the key social and historical structures and achievements required for us to be able to know the natural world in which we live, and to know ourselves as the social and historical beings we are, and what we have collectively achieved, in knowing about nature and about our own rational agency and cognizance (Westphal 2009b).

7 Hegel’s Phenomenological, Critical History of Pure Reason in the 1807 Phenomenology Having so sharply contrasted issues of process, including historical sequence, to those of validity (above, §1), consider now why and how Hegel’s Phenomenology fills in Kant’s unwritten chapter on the history of pure reason. Because Hegel’s phenomenological critique of forms of consciousness provides indirect, regressive proof of some main Critical theses, and because the series of forms of consciousness Hegel examines itself forms a cogent structure of (regressive) proof, to demonstrate that non-social, non-historical, non-conceptual or also non-Critical accounts of our cognizance, agency and the particulars we know and act upon in our surroundings all demonstrably fail to account for our human forms of mindedness and for our human spirit through history and, ultimately, across the globe, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit does indeed present our collective and individual history of formative education, through a series of key problems, partial solutions, reconsiderations and eventual comprehension of who we are, what we


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can know, and how we can comprehend all this. The history of thought, inquiry, critical assessment and sharpened ingenuity all matter to specifying as exactly and comprehensively as possible what we can and do know, how we know it, and who we are who can and do know such actual things or achievements for what they unqualifiedly are—absolutely. Much of Hegel’s re-examination of “Self-Consciousness,” “Reason,” “Spirit” and “Religion” are expressly or at least quite evidently historical, though Hegel’s examination of “Reason observing nature” closely examines important episodes in history and philosophy of science (Ferrini 2009), as also does his examination of “Force and Understanding” (Westphal 2015). Although “Sense Certainty” centrally aims at aconceptual sensory knowledge of particulars—at naïve commonsense realism—such naïve confidence in human cognition has a very close cousin amongst early Ionian thinkers; and as Hegel elsewhere indicates, much of his dialectical critique of “sense certainty” draws upon Ancient Greek skepticism (Düsing 1973), as well as upon Stoic logical analysis of deixis (ostensive or indexical reference; cf. AL 2:93–103, 112–17, 418–19; Hegel, VGPh3:104, 107–8). Although Hegel’s central target in “Perception” is Hume, the host of issues relevant to sensation, such as the proper and the common sensibles and their relation(s), if any, to things in our surroundings, go back at least to Plato’s Theatetus (156a–157c, 159c–160d, 177c–183c), and indeed to Protagoras, at least as reported by Plato. Finally, although the central issues in “Force and Understanding” are the character and possibility of casual explanation of spatio-temporal phenomena, these issues involve relations between (purportedly) universal causal laws of nature and the plethora of distinctively individuated, manifest, phenomenal natural instances to which they are said to pertain. These issues about relations between universals, which we do not literally sense or perceive, and particulars and their features, which we do, are age-old, as Hegel makes plain in his lectures on Greek philosophy. More specifically, in “Force and Understanding” Hegel exposes a key equivocation in the terms ‘inner’ or ‘internal’ which plagues ontology and epistemology at least from Aristotle through Kant and into the present day. One sense of ‘inner’ or ‘internal’ used to characterize features of any one individual means that a feature is (partly) constitutive of that individual; another sense of these terms means that the feature is contained solely within that individual, so that it is non-relational. Failure to distinguish these distinct senses directly generates the pervasive idea that no relational feature of an individual can be constitutive of it. This idea entails that no causal relations can be constitutive of an individual. Humean skepticism about causal powers awaits in the shadows of this conflation. In “Force and Understanding” Hegel exposes this equivocation, inter alia, to support Newton’s causal realism about gravitational force (Westphal 2015), and the scientific legitimacy of distance forces generally. Finally, the purported skeptical regress of manifest forces triggered by forces of solicitation, which themselves are said to be triggered by yet further forces of solicitation, ad infinitum, against which Hegel argues (cogently) in “Force and Understanding’ (PhG GW 9:85.9–87.37; cf. Enc.

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§136R) is a view of causal “solicitation” not found in Kant or Leibniz, but solely, explicitly (and especially, Hegel notes) in Herder (1787).

8 Hegelian Conclusions The history of “pure” reason is in fact the history of our development and use of our innate conceptual capacities (whatever these may be) in connection with the natural, individual, social, moral or historical phenomena into which we inquire, however informal or exacting our inquiries, methods or findings may be. The history of “pure” reason is the history of reason applied to figuring out, understanding, explaining and comprehending our world and ourselves. Distinguishing and identifying which aspects of our concepts, or the principles and judgements we formulate with them, trace back to any set of innate or “originally acquired” Grundbegriffe, and which aspects are more indebted to our own ingenuity in our cognitive inquiries, must be a retrospective, reflexive achievement of regressive philosophical inquiry and explication. As Hegel indicates, our most basic categories—and, of course, many more of our compound or derivative categories— are embedded in human language (WL GW 21:10–11, 17–8, 41–2; Enc. §24Z2). Transcendental reflection must consist in regressive, analytical explication, deeply informed by actual inquiries and the critical assessment of their scope, achievements, limits and short-comings. A properly “naturalized” epistemology need not, and should not, appeal to empirical psychology (á la Quine); that was the pervasive error of later nineteenth-century “psychologism.”18 Instead, any cogent epistemology must be Critical epistemology, and must appeal copiously to credible history and philosophy of science. Hegel’s 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit is but the propaedeutic to showing that, and how, this can be achieved philosophically—though only if philosophy is systematic, historical and linguistically scrupulous. These results redound upon the twin targets of Hegel’s phenomenological meta-critique by demonstrating against those two forms of skepticism about philosophical inquiry that, on the one hand, naïve realism is not humanly possible, and so cannot evade our obligation to engage in scrupulous transcendental reflection; whilst on the other hand, our capacities for, and our development and use of our intellectual disciplines alone enables us to investigate nature, society or history credibly, and further that reviewing the philosophically salient episodes and structures of the historical development of our cognitive disciplines and self-understanding exposes Hamann’s and Herder’s putative meta-critical skepticism to be nothing but empty verbal cant—a conclusion which holds not only against their presumptions. This is why and how Hegel’s “rigors of the concept” (PhG GW 9:41.24–25) require and involve such extensive and intensive Parmenidean exercises. This is also why the fate of reason—philosophical and otherwise—depends entirely upon how well we train and discipline ourselves rationally (Westphal 2016b).19


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Notes 1. I dedicate this chapter to Robert G. (Bob) Turnbull (1918–2004), in abiding esteem, fond recollection and profound gratitude. 2. Neither I nor Engstler (1990) found the slightest mention of Kant’s central doctrine anywhere in Maimon’s published writings. 3. “However, if one presumes to demonstrate the origin of these principles, and attempts to do so psychologically, this is entirely contrary to the sense of those principles, for these do not state what happens, i.e., according to what rules our cognitive capacities actually function, and how we do judge; instead they state how one ought to judge; and this logically objective necessity is not forthcoming, if the principles are merely empirical” (CJ Einl./Ak 5:182.26–32). 4. On Hegel’s sensitivity to this issue see Michael Wolff’s contribution to this volume (below, Chapter 11). 5. All translations from German sources are my own. 6. Friedrich Wilhelm IV to Bunsen, 1 Aug. 1840, in: Bunsen 1869, 2:133; cf. Engels (1842). 7. The “Phenomenology of Spirit” in Hegel’s Encyclopaedia (§§413–468) has very different aims, method and content. For discussion of this topic see Westphal (2019). 8. Kant’s account of sub-personal cognitive processing is charted at the end of Westphal (2020c). 9. On Hamann’s and Herder’s meta-critiques, see resp. Butts (1988), Seebohm (1972). As for their fideism and its ilk, Kant rightly reflected, “The nonsense rests mainly upon the twaddle (Geschwätze) about religion without prior specification by theology, and indeed first of all by that which originates solely from reason and which must be laid down as the basic criterion for the adequacy (Richtigkeit) of any other, whether it be grounded in history or in immediate devotion (Eingebung). Thus especially in our times it is most urgent to develop a thoroughly thought through and completely executed [theology] of reason alone, which can be achieved, since it does not require knowing everything pertaining to its object, but rather [to know] what human reason can know about God” (Refl. 6215, Ak 18:505; cf. CPR A642–643/B670–671). Hegel agreed; cf. Westphal (2020b, §6). Both Kant and Hegel argued cogently and in detail that the foremost virtue, both cognitively and practically (morally), is the modesty and humility to recognize one’s own incomplete understanding and comprehension, together with our own fallibility, so as not to impose our views or aims upon others. This virtue and conduct alone affords domestic and international justice, peace and cosmopolitan hospitality. 10. A very useful reprint series is Aetas Kantiana; titles list: Aetas_Kantiana?oldid=2356333; also see Landau (1991). 11. Eberhard co-founded a journal expressly to “assess” Kant’s Critical philosophy, the Philosophisches Magazin. Eberhard published his objections to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason in several installments across the four issues of this journal’s first volume, as indicated below in the references, together with several other reviews or criticisms of Kant’s Critique, all unfavorable. 12. A very good introduction to this fertile period is Beiser (1987). 13. A conspectus and corroboration of Schelling’s bluffing is provided by Götz (1807)—unwittingly; cf. Engels (1842). Schelling’s intellectual adventures nevertheless had salutary influence upon the development of life sciences (Richards 2002). The occasion of Hegel’s methodological volt face is examined in Westphal (2018, §§37–42). 14. Compare Hegel’s remarks on Carneades’ skeptical appearances in Rome; VGPh3:139–40/B 2:298–9/MM 19:348–9. 15. Records (thoroughly reconstructed in the late 1990s) do not indicate it held in Jena’s library; Hegel used the Greek original.

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16. “Das Wort absolute wird jetzt öfters gebraucht, um bloß anzuzeigen, daß etwas von einer Sache an sich selbst betrachtet und also innerlich gelte” (CPR A324/B381). On the character of Hegel’s “idealism” see Westphal (1989, 140–145; 2018; forthcoming). 17. A synopsis of what Kant means by specifically “Critical” philosophy is provided in Westphal (2018, §§2–3). 18. On Hegel’s critique of such views, see Westphal (2018, §§140–148). 19. In his brief note regarding renewed publication of his 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel mentions a “logic. Behind consciousness.” Whether this use of “logic” may denote his contemporaneous manuscripts on logic and metaphysics, or his anticipated Science of Logic, cannot be determined by this note, though there are significant parallels between the 1807 Phenomenology and those early manuscripts; see Heinrichs (1974). My observations here may help to address a question raised by Michael Wolff (1989; see below, Chapter 11) about whether or how Hegel accounts (or presumes to account) for the origins or source(s) of the semantic content or “intension” of our basic categories. (Research on this paper was supported in part by the Boğaziçi Üniversitesi Research Fund (BAP), grant codes: 9761, 18B02P3.)

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Eberhard, Johann August. 1789b. “Ueber das Gebiet des reinen Verstandes.” Philosophisches Magazin 1 (3): 263–289. Eberhard, Johann August. 1789c. “Ueber den wesentlichen Unterschied der Erkenntniß durch die Sinne und durch den Verstand.” Philosophisches Magazin 1 (3): 290–306. Eberhard, Johann August. 1789d. “Ueber die Unterscheidung der Urtheile in analytische und synthetische.” Philosophisches Magazin 1 (3): 307–332. Eberhard, Johann August. 1789e. “Ausführliche Erklärung über die Absicht dieses philosophischen Magazins.” Philosophisches Magazin 1 (3): 333–339. Eberhard, Johann August. 1789f. “Ueber den Ursprung der menschlichen Erkenntniß.” Philosophisches Magazin 1 (4): 369–405. Eberhard, Johann August. 1789g. “Ueber die Antinomie der reinen Vernunft.” Philosophisches Magazin 1 (4): 469–495. Engels, Friedrich. 1842. Schelling und die Offenbarung. Kritik des neuesten Reaktionsversuchs gegen die freie Philosophie. Leipzig: Binder (Rpt.: MEW 41: 173–221; MEGA 1, 3: 265–314). Engstler, Achim. 1990. Untersuchungen zum Idealismus Salomon Maimons. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstadt: Frommann-Holzboog. Ferrini, Cinzia. 2009. “Reason Observing Nature.” In The Blackwell Guide to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, edited by K. R. Westphal, 92–135. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. Frege, Gottlob. 1884. Grundlagen der Arithmetik. Breslau: Koebner (English translation: idem., 1953). Frege, Gottlob. 1893. Grundgesetze der Arithmetik. Jena: Pohle (English translation: idem., 1964). Frege, Gottlob. 1953. The Foundations of Arithmetic, 2nd rev. ed. Edited by J. L. Austin. New York: Harper. Frege, Gottlob. 1964. The Basic Laws of Arithmetic. Edited and translated by M. Furth. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Fulda, Hans-Friedrich. 1975. Das Problem einer Einleitung in Hegels Wissenschaft der Logik, 2nd rev. ed. Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann. Götz, Johann Kaspar. 1807. Anti-Sextus, oder Über die absolute Erkenntniss von Schelling. Heidelberg: Pfæhler. Guyer, Paul. 1987. Kant and the Claims of Knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hamann, Johann Gottlieb. 1784 (unpublished ms). “Metakritik über den Purismum der reinen Vernuft”. Hamann, Johann Gottlieb. 2007. “Metacritique on the Purism of Reason.” In Writings on Philosophy and Language, translated by K. Haynes, 205–218. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Harris, Henry S., 1997. Hegel’s Ladder. 2 vols. Cambridge, MA: Hackett Publishing. Harris, Henry S., and George di Giovani, eds. 2000. Between Kant and Hegel: Texts in the Development of Post-Kantian Idealism, 2nd rev. ed. Cambridge, MA: Hackett Publishing. Hegel, G. W. F. 2009. Hegels Werk im Kontext. Edited by K. Worm. 5th Release. Berlin: InfoSoftWare. Heinrichs, Johannes von. 1974. Die Logik der Phänomenologie des Geistes. Bonn: Bouvier. Herder, Johann Gottfried von. 1787. Gott. Einige Gespräche. Gotha: Ettinger. Herder, Johann Gottfried von. 1799. Verstand und Erfahrung, Vernunft und Sprache. Eine Metakritik zur Kritik der reinen Vernunft. 2 vols. Wien and Prag: Haas. Hume, David. 1739–1740. A Treatise of Human Nature. Cited as ‘T’ by Pt.Book.§.Par. numbers, as in Hume (2000). Hume, David. 2000. A Treatise of Human Nature. Edited by D. F. Norton and M. J. Norton. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Kant, Immanuel. 2009. Kant im Kontext III – Komplettausgabe, 2nd ed. Edited by K. Worm and S. Boeck, Release 6. Berlin: InfoSoftWare. Landau, Albert. 1991. Resensionen zur kantischen Philoosphie 1781–87. Bebra: Landau.

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Locke, John, 1690. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Edited by P. Nidditch. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1975. Cited as ‘Es’ by Book.Chapter.§ numbers. Maimon, Solomon. 1790. Versuch über die Transscendentalphilosophie. Berlin: Voss. Melnick, Arthur. 1989. Space, Time and Thought in Kant. Dordrecht: Kluwer. O’Shea, James, ed. 2017. Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason: A Critical Guide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Plato. 1997a. Parmenides, 2nd rev. ed. Edited and translated by R. E. Allen. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Plato. 1997b. Complete Works. Edited by J. M. Cooper, with D. S. Hutchinson. Cambridge, MA: Hackett Publishing. Richards, Robert. 2002. The Romantic Conception of Life: Science and Philosophy in the Age of Goethe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Rosenberg, Jay. 2005. Accessing Kant: A Relaxed Introduction to the Critique of Pure Reason. New York: Oxford University Press. Schelling, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von. 1805. “Aphorismen zur Einleitung in die Naturphilosophie.” Jahrbücher für Medizin als Wissenschaft 1: 2–88 (Rpt. SW 1,7:140–197; HKA 1,15). Schulze, Gottlob Ernst. 1792. Aenesidemus: oder über die Fundamente der von dem Herrn Prof. Reinhold in Jena gelief. Elementar-Philosophie; nebst eine Verteidigung des Skeptizismus gegen die Anmassung der Vernunftkritik. Hehnstaedt, n.p. (Rpt. Berlin: Reuther & Reichard, 1911). Schulze, Gottlob Ernst (Anon.). 1803. “Aphorismen über das Absolute.” In Neues Museum der Philosophie und Literatur, edited by F. Bouterwek, vol. 1(2), 107–148. Leipzig. (Rpt. in Transzendentalphilosophie und Spekulation: Der Streit um die Gestallt einer Ersten Philosophie (1799–1807), edited by W. Jaeschke, Quellenband, vol. 2(1), 337–355. Hamburg, Meiner, 1993). Schulze, Gottlob Ernst. 2020. “Aphorisms on the Absolute,” translated and edited by K. R. Westphal, with J. Sares, and Caleb Faul, translators. (Translation of previous item; indicates original pagination). The Owl of Minerva 51. (Forthcoming). Seebohm, Thomas. 1972. “Der systematische Ort der Herderschen Metakritik.” Kant-Studien 63 (1): 59–73. Sextus Empiricus. 1933a. Against the Logicians. In Works in 4 vols., vol. 2, translated by Rev. R. G. Bury. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (Loeb Library). Cited as ‘AL’ by Book. paragraph numbers. Sextus Empiricus. 1933b. Outlines of Pyrrhonism. In Works in 4 vols., vol. 1, translated by Rev. R. G. Bury. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (Loeb Library). Cited as ‘PH’ by Book.paragraph.numbers. Tetens, Johann N. 1775. Über die allgemeine speculativische Philosophie. Bützow and Wismar: Boedner. Tetens, Johann N. 1777. Philosophische Versuche über die menschliche Natur und ihre Entwicklung. 2 vols. Leipzig: M.G. Weidmanns Erben & Reich. Tetens, Johann N. 1913. Über die allgemeine speculativische Philosophie – Philosophische Versuche über die menschliche Natur und ihre Entwicklung. Edited by W. Uebele, vol. 1. Berlin: Reuther & Reichard. Turnbull, Robert G. 1998. The Parmenides and Plato’s Late Philosophy: Translation of and Commentary on the Parmenides with Interpretative Chapters on the Timaeus, the Theaetetus, the Sophist, and the Philebus. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Westphal, Kenneth R. 1989. Hegel’s Epistemological Realism: A Study of the Aim and Method of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Dordrecht: Kluwer. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2003. Hegel’s Epistemology: A Philosophical Introduction to the Phenomenology of Spirit. Cambridge, MA: Hackett Publishing. Westphal, Kenneth R., ed. 2009a. The Blackwell Guide to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.


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Westphal, Kenneth R. 2009b. “Hegel’s Phenomenological Method and Analysis of Consciousness.” In The Blackwell Guide to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, edited by K.R. Westphal, 1–36. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2013. “Hume, Empiricism and the Generality of Thought.” Dialogue: Canadian Journal of Philosophy/Revue canadienne de philosophie 52 (2): 233–270. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2015. “Causal Realism and the Limits of Empiricism: Some Unexpected Insights from Hegel.” HOPOS: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 5 (2): 281–317. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2016a. “Cognitive Psychology, Intelligence and the Realization of the Concept in Hegel’s Anti-Cartesian Epistemology.” In Hegel’s Philosophical Psychology, edited by S. Herrmann-Sinai and L. Ziglioli, 191–213. New York and London: Routledge. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2016b. “Back to the 3 R’s: Rights, Responsibilities and Reasoning.” SATS—Northern European Journal of Philosophy 17 (1): 21–60. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2017. “Kant’s Dynamical Principles: The Analogies of Experience.” In Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason: A Critical Guide, edited by J. O’Shea, 184–204. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2018. Grounds of Pragmatic Realism: Hegel’s Internal Critique and Transformation of Kant’s Critical Philosophy. Leiden: Brill. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2019. “Hegel’s Critique of Theoretical Spirit: Kant’s Functionalist Cognitive Psychology in Context.” In Hegel’s Philosophy of Spirit: A Critical Guide, edited by M. F. Bykova, 57–80. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2020a. “Individuality and Human Sociality: Individualism and Our Human Zoôn Politikon.” In The Palgrave Hegel Handbook, edited by M. F. Bykova and K. R. Westphal, 133–148. London: Palgrave Macmillan (Springer Nature). Westphal, Kenneth R. 2020b. “Kant, Hegel and Our Fate as Zoôn Politikon.” In Hegel and Contemporary Practical Philosophy: Beyond Kantian Constructivism, edited by J. Gledhill and S. Stein, Chapter 10. London: Routledge. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2020c. “Kant’s Analytic of Principles.” In Kant, edited by M. Timmons and S. Baiasu, Chapter 8. London: Routledge. Westphal, Kenneth R. Forthcoming. Hegel’s Critique of Cognitive Judgment: From Naïve Realism to Understanding Causal Force. Wolff, Michael. 1989. “Realitätsstufen oder Entwicklung? Hegels ‘Realphilosophie’ und die Philosophie der Wissenschaften.” Hegel-Jahrbuch 8: 397–415; rev. English translation in this volume, 201–218. Wolff, Michael. 1995. Die Vollständigkeit der kantischen Urteilstafel. Mit einem Essay über Freges ‘Begriffsschrift.’ Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann. Wolff, Michael. 2000. “Kantische Urteilstafel und vollständige Induktion: Nachtrag zu meiner Kontroverse mit Ulrich Nortmann.” Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 54 (1): 86–94. Wolff, Michael. 2004. “Kants Urteilstafel. Nicht nur eine Replik.” In Metaphysik und Kritik, edited by S. Doyé, M. Heinz, and U. Rameil, 109–136. Berlin: De Gruyter. Wolff, Michael. 2017. “How Precise is Kant’s Table of Judgments?” In Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason: A Critical Guide, edited by J. O’Shea, translated by K. R. Westphal, 83–105. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Chapter 4

Hegel’s Epistemology Giuseppe Varnier

Focusing on Hegel’s epistemology requires, to begin with, abandoning strictly “onto-theological” and “post-modernist” interpretations, in order to stress the possibility, if not of an “analytic” interpretation of Hegel’s works, at least of one that connects him to the main tradition of modern theory of knowledge centered on subjectivity, from Descartes to Kant. Indeed, Hegel’s philosophy systematically reconstructs both the thought and sciences of his age, and the concepts of knowledge and inquiry, to improve their rational justification. To understand Hegel’s epistemology, consider first the evolution of his philosophical system. In his first systematic drafts in Jena, along with a Schellingian metaphysics of the one, absolute Substance, Hegel develops a negative, skeptical epistemology, denying all value to appearances (doxa), which constitutes the “negative side of knowledge of the Absolute.” This strongly metaphysical position opposes a prevalent, contemporaneous form of naive, scientistic naturalism (G. E. Schulze was perhaps its foremost representative), with roots in a simplistic understanding of Locke and Hume. Schelling and Hegel called it “Lockeanismus.” Even in his mature system, Hegel insists that there is no truth in the simple Givens of consciousness, in the “Tatsachen des Bewußtseins.” He is thus one of the first critics of the Myth of the Given, of the idea of uninterpreted, basic sensory data. Hegel’s view—throughout his writings—is decidedly anti-empiricist and anti-foundationalist. Starting from 1803, however, Hegel basically rejects the philosophy of Substance, and re-discovers the Fichtean principle of subjectivity as a (necessary but not sufficient) guide to completing a system of philosophy. This prompts the main ideas of his first masterpiece, the 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit. In particular, it prompts a deeper reading of ancient skepticism, that of Pyrrho and of Sextus Empiricus, which enables him to pose the dilemma of the criterion of truth, and to solve it by posing within self-consciousness and its methodic confrontation

G. Varnier (*)  Department of Philosophy, University of Siena, Siena, Italy e-mail: [email protected]

© The Author(s) 2020 M. F. Bykova and K. R. Westphal (eds.), The Palgrave Hegel Handbook, Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism,



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between itself as knower and the structure of knowledge itself. In this regard, knowing and consciousness as processes are all that survive Hegel’s methodological skepticism. The 1807 Phenomenology is not only a unique work of historical and social epistemology, but also an introduction to Hegel’s philosophical “Science.” In this regard, it merits comparison to Hegel’s other introductions to his systematic philosophy: (i) ancient (or genuine) skepticism itself; (ii) the three attitudes of thought regarding objectivity (Enc. §§19–78); (iii) the “resolution to think purely” in the Science of Logic; and (iv) the historical introductions to Hegel’s lectures on history of philosophy and on philosophy of history. Hegel’s epistemological thinking thus does not end with the 1807 Phenomenology; e.g., the structure of the tropes used to criticize and sublate (aufheben) finite determinations is also used in later works, such as the Encyclopaedia and the Science of Logic. Eventually, in these systematic works, skepticism, which is true in all its particular aspects, in the end is itself sublated. In particular, the distinction between concept and instantiation, or likewise, the text of the system and reality itself, is shown to be only an aspect of the development of thought. This is as close as Hegel comes to proving the identity of subject and object, and thus to secure epistemologically the certainty of knowledge. To appreciate these “proofs,” one must consider the final part on “Cognition” in the Science of Logic, the section on “Theoretical Spirit” in the Encyclopaedia, and the Three Positions of Thought in the Encyclopaedia. These texts, with the Phenomenology, probably contain the summa of Hegel’s epistemological reflection. The final result is an epistemology that rejects all Givens and all kinds of immediacy. I suggest that Hegel was a Cartesian and Kantian epistemologist, but went beyond Kant, and a realist in an epistemological regard, whereas he was an idealist or monist in ontology. He believed that correspondence somehow “supervenes” on coherence. After considering these aspects of Hegel’s epistemology, I conclude with some remarks on such questions as the impossibility of formalizing dialectical logic, and about the possible influence of his thought on contemporary analytic philosophy, including whether Hegel was an externalist in any significant regard.

1 Problems of Scholarly Neglect of Hegel’s Epistemology Discussion of Hegel’s epistemology faces one main problem: Even if possible, it is very hard, and simplistic, to downplay the fact that the main tradition(s) in Hegelian scholarship up to the present day have not focused on the line connecting Descartes and then Kant to contemporary epistemology, whether analytic, phenomenological or neo-Kantian. The problem is that Hegel is not commonly seen as a proper member of this more “scientific” tradition of thought, with the exception of some “minor” elements, including important scholarly works on Hegel’s

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Naturphilosophie. Analytic philosophy saw Hegel as a foe, and, since Heidegger and hermeneutics, Erkenntnistheorie (theory of knowledge) seemed to have nothing at all to do with Hegel, other than as a milestone in the history of onto-theo-logic, leading from Kant (seen as a metaphysician) through Hegel, Schelling, and contemporary thinkers of the tradition prevailing today on the Continent, and beyond. It is not important that today onto-theo-logic is not on the forefront, but rather deconstruction, post-modernism, or critical theory. Even in the so-called “HegelRenaissance” in the USA, these remain the typical glossary entries under which Hegel’s philosophy is mentioned, and occasionally carefully read and interpreted.

2 Hegel’s Striking Originality in Epistemology Although he rejected some parts of the preceding epistemological tradition, Hegel was an epistemologist, and a strikingly original one. To understand how this is so, one must understand the particular historical context in which his thought developed, and abandon the typical and partly misleading, though often fascinating, reconstructions of his thought by critical theorists and postmodernists. There are now many studies, both in America and on the Continent, which stress the continuity of Hegel’s thought with the tradition of inquiry on knowledge and science beginning with Descartes and finding its culmination in Kant. Unfortunately, in most of these studies the role of Hegel’s main work, the Science of Logic, is neglected in favor of the Phenomenology of Spirit. It is impossible to restore Hegel to the epistemological tradition, or to vindicate some continuity with analytical philosophy, without a new interpretation of the Science of Logic, an interpretation that does not see it as an ontological theory of the absolute in a historical, onto-theological sense. I think this is possible, though it cannot be undertaken here. Here we assume that the Science of Logic is (or includes) an ample theory of all ontological structures of science and of common knowledge, which make knowledge possible and certain. The Phenomenology, like other types of “introductions” to the Logic Hegel offers, “provides [the individual] …with the ladder” (PhG GW 9:23.3–4) to ascend from his or her present condition to the dimension proper of the Logic. The plurality—and necessity—of these other introductions is accentuated by the fact that Hegel, in his notes to a new edition of the Phenomenology, calls it “Voraus, der Wissenschaft” (“Prelude, to Science”) (PhG GW 9:448). One introduction is skepticism itself; if rightly understood, it does the very work of the Phenomenology, which is, as Hegel states, the “self-consummating skepticism” (PhG GW 9:56.12–13). Another introduction, provided by the Three Attitudes of Thought with Regard to Objectivity in the beginning of the Encyclopaedia, emphasizes very clearly both the role of empiricism and the importance of the negative, critical moment of skepticism. Another kind of introduction, I suggest, is provided by the first, introductory book of Hegel’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy. A methodological masterpiece, this volume ends by specifying two essential consequences of historical development itself:


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the theoretical principle of the independence of the “I,” and the practical ­principle of the independence and freedom of every individual. The co-essential nature of these two principles, and the necessity and sufficiency to grasp them in order to achieve clarity about the nature of philosophy, can explain the surprising thesis of Hegel’s published Remark to §78 of the Encyclopaedia, which concludes the third of the three “Attitudes of Thought towards Objectivity”: the introduction to Hegel’s logic, as “fully completed skepticism” seems to be replaceable by “the resolution to will to think purely.” This is also the final meaning of the Phenomenology, and, I suggest, the main condition imposed by Hegel on an epistemology of Science. As a consequence, Hegel’s metaphysics is deeply revisionary, and so is his epistemology, even with respect to Kant.1 His epistemology also exhibits “therapeutic” aims and aspects, which today we would call a Wittgensteinian theme. His two main achievements in epistemology are: (1) an original “neutralization” of skepticism—not a hasty refutation of the skeptic, but embracing all the good points of skepticism, all the “negativity” of reality and thought, as he would say; (2) a complex criticism of empiricist epistemology and of all forms of phenomenalism about knowledge, including those aspects of Kant’s philosophy that can be so characterized. We shall start from the second, which includes one of the earliest attacks on the “Myth of the Given” in the history of philosophy, and on foundationalism, and then consider the neutralization of skepticism. Some historical background is necessary. Perhaps the dominant trend (a sort of theoretical “popular philosophy”) in Germany during Hegel’s youth, alongside Reinhold’s and Fichte’s Kantianism, was a skeptically-minded, empiricist blend of (subjectivistic) Kantian epistemology with Humean doubts about everything metaphysical. This is interesting historically because, taking empirical science as its only guide, this philosophical current can be seen as an early, if fledgling, forerunner of contemporary naturalism or physicalism. Schelling and Hegel disparagingly called it (and similar trends, such as materialism) “Lockeanismus.” The main exponent of this current was perhaps Gottlob Ernst “Aenesidemus” Schulze, the author of a critique of Reinhold and of a ponderous Critique of Theoretical Philosophy (1802), which Hegel reviewed in his Essay on Skepticism of the same year. Hegel’s epistemology develops, before and after the Phenomenology, that is both before and after his re-discovery of the primacy of the Kantian–Fichtean subject over Spinoza’s substance, as a sustained criticism of rather bald naturalistic and scientistic philosophy. As such, it presents from the start, if we reconstruct his texts with a contemporary eye, many positions typical of such criticism, and some specific to Hegel. These include: (a) synthetic a priori judgements are possible; (b) there are no basic data of knowledge nor any “transcendental constitution of things” (Skept., GW 4:220)2; (c) any account of “reality” is radically theory-laden, and all empirical theories not metaphysically secured are underdetermined by data; (d) metaphysics is possible, first of all in the form of a “genuine skepticism” that proves by equipollence both the utter meaninglessness of ultimate foundations, and also trust in empirical phenomena as fixed grounds of knowledge; (e) there is no ultimate principle of philosophy, only (after 1803–1804)

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consciousness, understood as a non-immediate, dynamic process of thinking analogous to Kant’s transcendental apperception (WL GW 21:57–58, cf. Enc. §10R); (f) knowledge is circular: the process of epistemological securing of truth and certainty eventually ends with the starting point itself (sensible certainty), which we can then look at in a new, positive, fully differentiated and integrated way, to proceed further anew; (g) the True cannot be expressed in one word, one proposition, nor at the beginning, but is a result; Hegel stresses holism and systematicity (though not any Duhem-Quine thesis), that follows the dynamics of the subject matter. (Of these points, (f) and (g) are central to the Phenomenology, and further developed in later works.)

3 Skeptical Naturalism and Reconceiving Knowing as a Dynamic Process Behind all these theses lies Hegel’s early idea that the skeptical naturalism of his own times, which cleaves to utterly “certain facts of consciousness” (“Tatsachen des Bewutseins”; Skept.), is neither genuine nor effective skepticism; its own claims notwithstanding, it is a barbarous form of empiricism, of immediacy in knowing raw Givens. True skepticism is ancient, the skepticism of Pyrrho and Sextus Empiricus. In particular, the five later tropes of Agrippa are suitable to describe the Absolute. They are: (1) diversity; (2) regress into infinity; (3) the relationship, or pros tí; (4) hypothesis, or petitio principii; and (5) dialleles or circularity. The Absolute is defined, rather than refuted by these tropes; it survives and supercedes them all. Prior to the Phenomenology, during the period of the Spinozistic Absolute, (4) was the most important trope in this regard. Later, the central trope became (3), which stresses the infinite inter-connectedness of all finite determinations. Theses (a)–(g) are partly positive theses, far transcending skepticism, as the “negative side of knowledge of the Absolute” (Skept. GW 4:207, cf. 222). These must be articulated in a system, metaphysics, which Hegel calls “Science.” How can this be done? Hegel sees the problem starting from 1803. It is a complex problem, which is decisive for his first masterpiece, the Phenomenology of Spirit (1807). Starting from 1803 Hegel distances himself from Schelling, and, probably through a new reading of Plotinus and Sextus Empiricus, takes up again the Fichtean principle of the self-identity of the I (“I = I”) as a provisional definition of self-consciousness, which is now the starting point, though by no means the end, of Hegel’s system. (It is also identified with the critical principle of modernity, in contrast to the neutrality of Schelling’s Substance.) This also requires, however, to address the dilemma of the criterion posed by Sextus Empiricus (PH II, 4, §20), if indeed reality is restored as the possible object of knowledge (Wissen) by consciousness, and the subjectless metaphysics of absolute, substantial identity is put aside. Sextus’ dilemma (or trilemma) asks how it is possible to solve a dispute about the truth of competing propositions, before the dispute about the very criteria for


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solving such dispute is settled. Since it seems that the dispute about the criterion is itself a matter beyond normal assessment of competing propositions, there is a regressus in infinitum, and no criterion of truth can be found or stipulated. Hegel poses the problem expressly (PhG GW 9:58.12–22); we cannot detail Hegel’s solution here. It involves the (Heraclitean) “identity of identity and of non-identity,” one of Hegel’s earliest ways to express the Absolute; it involves distinguishing between Wissen and Erkennen (considered below). In the Phenomenology Hegel discovers that this also expresses the structure underlying the problem of the criterion for consciousness, because consciousness itself, having two possible objects of attention, can itself solve the dilemma (see in particular PhG GW 9:61). In his Introduction to the Phenomenology, Hegel stresses that the basic relation (Wissen) to the world is the relation of consciousness to its intended object, which it conceives to be independent from consciousness’s putative cognitive relation to it. Second, Hegel suggests that Sextus’s dilemma errs, because there is no vicious, but rather a virtuous circle, in comparing consciousness’s putative knowledge of its object, its way of approximating a true idea of what known things must be like, and its relative conceptions of knowledge as such—the way in which the alleged true object is organized. Consciousness itself is, in short, capable of self-criticism, because knowing is a temporally extended process, and consciousness has both an object it experiences, and its conceptions of that object, and of its knowing of that object; consciousness is not only object-directed, but also reflexively self-conscious. This holds even in the initial case of generalized skepsis, according to which all its beliefs about anything outer or external are false and deceptive.3 It is interesting to note that the application of skepticism to itself (early in the Jena period, prior to Hegel’s mature conception of consciousness) is already, implicitly, a form of such a structure, because it reduces Givens to pure, groundless phenomena that are, as such, comparable to shared appearances and conceptions of objects known according to some criterion, however fallacious. Better still, we can compare phenomena—objects as they appear to us, and our knowledge of those objects as this knowledge appears to us—to the pretentions of cognitive systems of beliefs, both empirical and second-level, i.e. about the structure of what knowledge is. This procedure Hegel comes to recognize as the internal dynamics of self-conscious Wissen in the Phenomenology (Varnier 1996, 303–305). This internal, dynamic structure of Wissen marks Hegel as an interestingly heterodox epistemologist. Hegel appears to accept the idea that knowledge is, by definition, justified true belief, and that truth is, concretely, the adequation of subject and object, although adequate cognitive justification is systematic and extremely complicated. In the Preface to the Phenomenology, he writes repeatedly that we can encounter our own presumtive, untrue, indeed false knowing; Hegel states: “To be sure, we can know falsely. For something to be known falsely means that knowing is unequal to its substance” (PhG GW 9:30.36–38). We could say that such wissen is not objective, according to Hegel; for exactly that reason it is connected to what is insubstantial, but can further develop toward substantiality and objectivity from a systematic viewpoint. Non-substantiality is still a part,

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sometimes a central part, of negativity, of the logical content of thinking, so that “knowing falsely” still means to have an object, though not the right object, or not yet adequately to grasp the object known, and certainly not the right justification. (These are implicit references to Plato’s Theaetetus, and to the polemic against the Eleatics.) Throughout his works, Hegel distinguishes between sentences or propositions that can be true, or better known, but are outside the comprehensive system and so are not contextually connected to its nexus of arguments and reasoning: he calls them Sätze, (mere) propositions. The propositions true within the system he calls Urteile, judgements. What we can know falsely are Sätze. Note Hegel’s use of “Wissen,” not “Erkennen.” Metaphysical truth, so to speak, “supervenes” on the mere act of Wissen, which is just the pretention of having an object whatever; also recall point (b) above. The negative, destructive epistemology of skepsis, that all singular determinations are prey to skeptical tropes and so are untrue, and Hegel’s solution to the dilemma of the criterion are thus deeply interconnected. This happens as follows. Truth, and the solution of the dilemma of the criterion, are achieved by cognition through self-consciousness, as ordered in a system. However, cognition in itself is ‘naturally’ seen and considered as divorced from the process of self-consciousness. This is what Dieter Henrich calls a “natural ontology,” and the reason why such an ontology is, in itself, false, or rather: misleading. Although the constant application of tropes and of counter-positions to determinations is not always complete, or clear, according to Hegel, ideally every proposition is ‘counterbalanced’—to employ R. Chisholm’s term for skeptical activity—by a counter-proposition, or an argument to an opposite conclusion. At every point of the system, so to speak, there is no truth, but only skeptical criticism. In the whole development of the system truth is made manifest, as consciousness itself progresses through various stages of knowledge. For this to be possible, the Phenomenology must have already shown that the “opposition of consciousness” (Gegensatz des Bewußtseins) is overcome. This means to have shown that the subject has, in principle, genuine access to forms of knowledge at the level of the Concept, the level at which the objectivity of subjective thought is made thematic. In the Introduction to the Science of Logic we read that the concept of “pure science” is presupposed, because the Phenomenology is nothing but the very “deduction” (Deduction), i.e. justification of it. Hegel continues: Absolute knowing is the truth of all modes of consciousness, since, as that movement (Gang) brought it forth, it is only in absolute knowing that the separation of the object (Gegenstand) from the certainty of itself has perfectly resolved itself, and the truth has become equal (gleich) to this certainty, just as this certainty has become equal to truth. Pure science [viz., the Science of Logic] thus presupposes the liberation from the opposition of consciousness. It contains the thought, inasmuch it is also the thing (Sache) itself, or the thing itself, inasmuch as it is also pure thought. As science, the truth is the pure, self-developing self-consciousness, and has the form (Gestalt) of the Self, that the known concept being in and for itself, the Concept as such, thought, is the one [Concept] being in and for itself. (WL GW 21:33)


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4 Kant’s Critical Self-Scrutiny of Reason is Achieved Historically From the preceding, Hegel clearly intends that all kinds of skepticism—Pyrrhonian, Cartesian, “veil of perception” skepticism, skepticism about appearances of things in themselves—are in this way overcome (this is point 1, above), but not in a preliminary, abstract way, but rather insofar as systematic philosophy can reconstruct knowledge in all forms concretely so as to undermine any and all grounds of doubt. This is the systematic aim of Hegel’s Logic, which culminates in the Concept, in the “subjective” Logic. Hegel makes clear that “subjective” here no longer means “arbitrary” or “contingent,” etc. (WL GW 21:49.18–22), but only the pure procedure of the knowing subject once it becomes possible to describe philosophically the methods and strategies by which it obtains and organizes knowledge. Hegel writes: “The subjective Logic is the Logic of the Concept, – of the essence, that has sublated its relation to a Being or an appearance (Schein), and in its determination is no longer external, but is the freely autonomous subjective determining itself within itself, or rather is the subject itself” (WL GW 21:49.15–18). The principle of self-consciousness, and it alone (as such and as noted: not as contingently subjective), survives even the skeptical tropes, which are able to show the equivalence and nothingness of every finite, empirical determination, according to Hegel. As such, indeed, it contains both the solution to the dilemma of the criterion and the guide to further development of that skepsis-turned-positive that Hegel calls “dialectical method.” In this function, consciousness in its definitive form, discussed above, is prefigured in the whole development of the Phenomenology, not only because it applies skeptical arguments to all determinations of thought, it also shows how proposed, initial definitions of knowledge across the range of their progression are not adequate to capture conceptually what knowledge is. Hegel uses the language of correspondence between “object” and “concept” to make such failures clear. The method is reminiscent of the progressive realization of a sentient, conscious human being out of a statue by Condillac. At first, we see that consciousness as “sense certainty” cannot even designate particulars. It needs “perception” to do that, to comprehend indexicality. “Perception” in turn requires a further ascent to “force and intellect,” because without such an organization, and yet remaining empirical, it could not go beyond observation terms. It then turns out that, in order to make sense of a Newtonian world, more still is needed. Here comes a decisive, Kantian move. Mere intellect cannot organize itself unless it is centered on self-consciousness. Self-consciousness, in itself, must come to recognize its independency and autonomy in confrontation: we have the master-slave dialectic, and, at the end of it, the requirement that self-consciousness is free. There is probably a break in the structure of the work with the chapter Reason (Vernunft), but this line of thinking continues. Hegel appears to argue that the conditions which make adequate Erkenntnis possible (and there are different forms of contextual knowledge we meet in the process) are socio-cultural,

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and even historical. In contemporary terms, we could say that Hegel in the sequel performs a thorough criticism also of the roots and presuppositions of the Kantian conception of subjectivity: also the “absolute” subject, not just objectivity, must be put into question. This requires its examination, not merely stating the question; Hegel’s Phenomenology may be his proposal to supply the unwritten chapter of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason which Kant merely titled: “The History of Pure Reason” (CPR A852-856/B880-884). This progression, though very convoluted and “historied” in the Pheno­ menology, is much like other such progressions in Hegel’s works. It is a necessary, skepticism-based progression, in which figures, principles or categories turn out to be insufficient to grasp truth. And it is a progression toward definitive truth defined as the final goal, knowledge of the conclusive adequation of concept and object, conducted through the continual comparison between given knowledge, and ideals of cognitive success implied in a definition thereof. Hegel retains the classical definition of knowledge, according to which “faith” or “belief” (Glauben) is part of “knowledge” (Wissen), but Wissen need not be propositional; and it is also the internalized form of belief justified by some cognitive practice, or forms of life in the Phenomenology, such as “skepticism” as an historical figure of the “truth of self-certainty”; each successor being a better attempt at cognition. Coherence in the progression is not mere logical consistency, and the adequacy of a system of beliefs is only a temporary stage in it, not adequate truth. Mere “belief” (Glauben) thus must become Science; it must not stop at mere feeling or sentimental assent (whence his criticism of Jacobi and of the idea that religion is a feeling). What counts is the very progression leading to new forms of partial adequation? They constitute a nexus of “dialectical configurations” (Gestalten) in the Phenomenology, or in other works, (sets of) categories. Only by their totality is Glauben (“faith” or “belief”) transformed into Wissen, and ultimately into knowledge proper (Erkenntnis), i.e. into Science. The constraints placed on the succession of configurations are obviously stronger than mere logical consistency; there is relevancy and conceptual, and even historical, connection. Hegel is a coherentist, in this regard; he works with a provisional idea of correspondence to bring his dialectical arguments to completion. A sort of final correspondence then supervenes on coherence (with some analogy to Davidson’s notorious strategy, though general agreement plays no role in Hegel’s view) (Davidson 1984). Truth as adequate comprehension is finally regained, unqualifiedly, only in the eventual self-reflection of Spirit on itself, as Idea, which is the objective, abstract structure of both the world and of knowledge. We see here again that what is built by using the five skeptical tropes—at first: self-consciousness, eventually: absolute knowing of Spirit itself—cannot itself be criticized by those very tropes; it survives them, and dictates the very development of the system also as an epistemological treatise. In an important section of the Encyclopaedia we find perhaps Hegel’s best real and objective, not merely nominal, definition of knowledge. Note that, at least in the Encyclopaedia, Wissen is (again) the formal counterposition of the subject


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to an object, which is already possessed by consciousness. The concrete form of knowledge is proper Erkennen, which always involves pure will, i.e. to pure, autonomous judgement by the individual, in Kant’s sense. Towards the end of the Remark to §445, in “a. Theoretical Spirit,” we find an impressive discussion of Erkennen, which comes very close to a skeptical result. Hegel writes: The action and deed of intelligence as theoretical spirit has been called Knowing (Erkennen), not in the sense that spirit, among other things, also knows, and intuits, represents, remembers, imagines and so on; such a position depends already upon the isolation of spiritual faculties we faulted just above, and furthermore also on the great question of modern time, whether true knowing, that is knowledge of truth, is possible; so that, when we have the insight that it is not possible, we must abandon all this effort. … Here is the place of the simple concept of knowing, which goes against the wholly general point of view of that question, that is, to put into question the possibility of true knowing in general, and to pretend it to be just a possibility and an arbitrary caprice, whether to pursue or instead to abandon knowing. The concept of knowing has revealed itself [here] as intelligence itself, as the certainty of Reason; the reality of intelligence is now knowing itself. … To the contrary [of that alleged caprice], knowing is true (wahrhaft), exactly inasmuch as [intelligence] makes it real, that is, posits for itself the concept of knowing itself. This formal determination has its concrete sense in that very same thing in which the knowing has it. The moments of its realizing activity are intuiting, representing, remembering and so on; these activities have no other immanent sense. … The True, which is ascribed to this satisfaction [of these activities as knowledge] lies in this: that intuiting, representing and so on are not isolated, but are present only as moments of the totality, of knowing itself. (Enc. §445R)

This passage cannot be dissected here, but the epistemological point should be clear by now (it is elaborated in §§465–468). The (Cartesian) question of the possibility of knowledge is emptied from within, and explained away. The knowing application of concepts to reality is indeed not possible, it is rather necessary, as for Kant—if and whenever we think at all. (Compare §13 of the B Deduction, and Kant’s treatment there of the concept of the “unity of the understanding.”) At the beginning of §445, Hegel had already written: “This activity [of intelligence] is knowing. The formal knowing (Wissen) of certainty ascends, as reason is more concrete, to determined and concept-adequate knowing. The proceeding of this ascending is itself rational.” In the Zusatz to §449 we read: “The achieved knowing belongs only to the pure thinking of conceptual (begreifenden) reason.” So, one is free to abandon the pursuit of knowledge, on whatever grounds. However, this option alone proves nothing; perhaps such skepticism is irrefutable, but it need not be refuted. Knowledge is possible, if we insist on using such inadequate locutions, Hegel suggests, because it is one and the same as intelligence and will, whereas all our cognitive capacities are artificially isolated from knowledge by so many philosophers. In the (Aristotelian) unity and action of these capacities in theoretical and practical spirit, knowledge is very real, indeed unavoidable. The so-called “Cartesian question” is misleading. If we pursue systematic knowledge, to its very end in Hegel’s very Aristotelian sense, we not only do know, but know truly and not “falsely,” as is the fate of skeptics, bald naturalists, and ultimately of all those who refuse to philosophize systematically.

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Hegel’s conception of a Science of Logic, and of the structure of an adequate philosophical system in which this definitive “solution” of the epistemological problem is embedded, can only be sketched here, to identify an epistemological core. There are three realms: Logic, Nature, and Spirit. (The contemporary reader will find some affinities here with Roger Penrose’s view.) Logic is the science of the abstract Idea. It alienates itself freely into Nature (frei entläßt: “to alienate itself freely as Nature starting from itself,” §244). When the “development” of Nature reaches Man, who is capable of conscious thinking and language, the “logical element” experiences a “resumption” (sometimes called “Resumtion”) that culminates in “absolute Spirit,” to which the Idea is transparent, and in which the knower and the known are fully adequate to each other. The third part of this system is the Philosophy of Spirit. The whole of the first section, Subjective Spirit—this is the “resumption” noted above—is similar in idea and intent, I maintain, to the structure of the System of Transcendental Idealism by Schelling (and even to the Fichtean idea of a “pragmatic history of self-consciousness”). It is enriched by a brief version of the Phenomenology, but also wisely shortened with respect to this model, as there is no place in it for an “organon” (like art) of absolute knowing, contra Schelling. Instead, this is replaced by Hegel’s two great innovations: “objective Spirit” (later developed in the Philosophy of Right), and “absolute Spirit,” by which a new, non-romantic and much less metaphysical description of the nature and limits of philosophical thinking, and especially of romantic subjectivity, is achieved. If this is so, then within the whole structure of Hegel’s complete system, the greatest innovation is the very first part, the Logic—realized also as an autonomous work, the Science of Logic. The Science of Logic can itself be seen as a work of philosophical epistemology: an almost formal (tropological) treatise on the conditions and constraints under which knowledge of ontology (in the first part, the “objective logic”) and knowledge of logic and epistemology themselves (in the second part, the “subjective logic”) are possible and must be conducted (or, if you insist, narrated). This is why it is so important to take into account also the Logic in trying to understand Hegel’s epistemological ideas. For this same reason, there is a rich textual basis to envisage Hegel as a proper epistemologist.

5 Hegel’s Systematic Philosophy Anticipates (inter alia) Structural Realism Given these provisos, one may wonder what kind of philosopher Hegel really is. First of all, he is a systematic philosopher, in the very strong sense that actual knowledge (Science), hence reality, and the exposition of it in the system coincide: the more comprehensive and specific the exposition, the wider and deeper the knowledge. (Hegel was conscious that he had only sketched the whole of an ideal total system.) Below we shall consider the epistemological ground of this surprising view. Note first that adherence to the system means not to adhere to any of the finite determinations it examines—not even the very final one: absolute Spirit.


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Only this can avoid skepticism and the equipollence of reasons at every stage. Hegel’s idealism consists exactly in this irreality at every stage of any and every finite standpoint, at least for the genuinely knowing subject: truth is in the circular process and in its infinite expansion (see Rockmore 1986, 2005). The criterion is in the ability to conduct infinite criticism. In a sense, everything is put at stake in the system, from the absolute object to the absolute subject, and at the same time. This is how we renounce all presuppositions, as Hegel intends. There is by now some agreement among scholars that Hegel was a realist, and pluralist, in epistemology, and an idealist, and monist, only in ontology (Westphal 1989, 2018; Halbig 2002; Halbig et al. 2004).4 He believed that only the Idea, or better: its dynamic structure, exists—not as any finite entity, but as a continuing structured process. This process is absolute Spirit, which has itself, and also many (subordinate) manifestations, as its objects, and we human beings can and do achieve objective knowledge of these manifestations, epistemically secured by the system in the ways we saw. In contemporary terms, it is possible to regard Hegel’s trust in the possibility to understand the forms of the world and of the theories describing them as a form of structural realism, as prefigured also in Russell (Worrall 1989). His theory can also be seen as a theory about the identity of subject and object in knowledge. A fragment from the Nürnberg or Bamberg period seems to corroborate this hypothesis right at the start: “Knowing has essentially itself as an object, or the object is, to it, itself. The determination or realization of itself is therefore the prosecution of the determination of its object; because this object is the making and the existence of that knowing; but as separated from its object this is the simple essential unity, or precisely the abstract moment of this self-equality (Selbstgleichheit) with itself” (WL GW 12:257.1–5). In “The Idea of the Knowing,” Hegel states that the Idea has two sides, the Concept as aim, and the “limit (Schranke) of the subjective, the objective world”; and “this unity is now posited by the knowing” (WL GW 12:199.9ff., and line 18). It is clear that we can compare this with our previous comments on the phrase “it is certainly possible to know falsely”: knowing must be developed in a systematic way, in order to be more than a merely possible, abstract identification of subject and object. Everything indicates that, according to Hegel, this is possible within the system. Through argument (i.e., a form of cognitive mediation), in the Science of Logic, Hegel argues that it is superfluous to assume a world “behind” the world, so to speak, and then to hold that we know only mere appearances. Epistemologically, this “proof”—described as the exposition of Wirklichkeit (actuality)—is contained especially in Hegel’s transition from essence (Wesen) to Concept (Begriff). If it is a proof, it is hugely complicated, and impossible to examine here. It brings us, however, to the point indicated above: knowing as the necessary synthesis of the two sides of the Idea is knowledge of structures of cognitive procedures and forms of description of their objects. It would be not wrong, though highly misleading, to conclude from this anti-Kantian proof that Hegel claimed that we can know things in themselves in Kant’s sense. First of all, in common sense we lack genuine knowledge of things

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or isolated states of affairs. We have knowledge (only) of a totality—or of totalities, of connections among things. The very idea of “noumena” is a foundationalist illusion: after knowledge is secured in the sense shown, only proper reality (independent of the finite, empirical subject), and not “appearance” (dóxa), remains to be known. What then is “proper knowledge”? This is difficult to answer briefly and directly, but recall what was said about “structural realism.” The “thing in itself,” Hegel argues, is posited as “identical with exterior existence,” and also as “the empty abstraction from all determination” (WL GW 11.328–332); to be merely something “in itself,” it must lack any and all constitutive features and relations, even the purported relation of being external to us. The “thing in itself” is unknowable because there is nothing to know about it, other than that it is an empty, cognitively useless expostulation. How can we appreciate the idea of a dialectical logic that leads us to such conclusions? How can such conclusions be cognitively adequate? According to the Cartesian tradition, the logic of the mind never errs, unless it deceives itself by mis-judgment; it cannot, and need not, be artificially improved. This logic is deposited in language, and deceives itself only insofar as it overlooks the true nature of the linguistic medium. According to this tradition in epistemology, thinking pursued with due attention and from correct premises can never fail: our inferential abilities are, in themselves, infallible. According to another tradition, that of Leibniz and John Stuart Mill, we need aid in thinking through logic and exercise in using it. Hegel bridges both traditions; he acknowledges the centrality of cultural, social and historical developments in thinking, and strongly rejects “immediate knowledge.” According to Hegel, all that is penetrated by thought exhibits a dialectical structure that human beings are able to discern and to trace back, through dialectical counter-balancing of arguments and ideas, without fail to its source in “absolute knowledge”—“absolute,” although it must be spelled out as such for the finite subject. And everything is ultimately comprehensible by thought. These views are the among the main reasons why Hegel always opposed merely “formal” (deductive) logic (WL GW 12:110). Hegel’s “logic” also includes—as was common in the Modern period—accounts of judgement and syllogism, and their cognitive roles and use. This non-formal, substantive “logical” element of cognition is present, though not immediately, in language and in conceptually structured thought. Deposited in language as linguistic thought is “das Logische,” i.e.: objective thought (Enc. §§474, 475, cf. §419; WL GW 21:15–16; GW 11:22, 28; 12:11ff., 236–238). If we elucidate this properly, which Hegel purports to do in and with his “system,” it is necessary that we come to knowing, in the ways indicated above. There is, in thought, as we saw in connection with “Sense Certainty” and “Perception,” both a (non-conceptual) representational element, which is immediately present and often image-like, and a logical element, which belongs to language and of thinking, but is obscured by the former, and thus requires “mediation,” and even a holistic analysis of our thinking and speaking, in order to be fully grasped; only then is it true and fully justified. This latter achievement is properly infallible; it comprehends the very heart of reality; whereas the former is,


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according to Hegel, “abstract,” it can neither make nor assess and properly integrate the subtle distinctions necessary to objective thinking and knowledge. Improving our thinking and knowing means not restraining it with external rules, but making it ever more acute and accurate until it becomes wholly and naturally independent of prejudices and incomplete, partial representations: until it becomes “absolute” with respect to the contents it entertains and judges. This is the task of Hegel’s dialectical method; critical circularity is its procedure: “the true is the whole” (PhG GW 9:19.12). As a consequence the substance must become subject, a process that runs through Hegel’s system. (On the transformation from “substance” to absolute subject in the Logic see Düsing 1995.)

6 Knowing is Anchored in Doing, in Practical Reasoning and Activities Especially in the Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences (Psychology: Spirit), as we saw, Hegel proposes yet another way of regarding knowledge. Knowledge is closely connected to practical thinking. It is in a sense a dianoetic virtue (an Aristotelian idea) that cannot be divorced from acting practically in the proper way. In this perspective, knowledge (Wissen) is the right way of thinking and doing in and about the world and ultimate reality. Knowledge, also Erkenntnis, is not separate from pragmatic conditions or social effectiveness. Hence we can speak of a kind of “virtue epistemology” in Hegel, and that knowledge requires an adequate social setting and so on. (In the Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, knowledge is intrinsically connected to ethics, to the knowledge of good and evil.) Also in this perspective, we can appreciate one of the particular meanings of the word “absolute,” for instance in “absolute knowing.” “Absolute” (ab-solutum) means “independent,” that which is not relative to anything, and in respect to which everything else is dependent. Absolute knowing thus allows us to pass a definitive judgement on reality in all its facets: what is true, and what is good, independently of all presuppositions, that must have been discarded in the course of the system, the “science without presuppositions.” Ultimately, in these systematic works skepticism, which is valid in all its particular aspects, is consumated by being sublated and superseded. In particular, the distinction between concept and instantiation, or, if one prefers, text of the system and reality itself, is shown to be itself only a part of the development of thought.5 This is as close as Hegel comes to prove the identity of subject and object, and thus to secure epistemologically the certainty of knowledge. It is clear also that Hegel’s system, including his Science of Logic, is an epistemology, not a system of formal logic, nor a system which can be usefully formalized. In the end, what kind of an epistemologist was Hegel? It is clear that he was anti-foundationalist. The whole totality of mediations spirit requires to reach knowledge and effective, accurate reference to reality does suggest that he is a kind of externalist in semantics and epistemology. (A large part of the mediation is social and cultural, given in the history of thought itself.) In strictly Hegelian

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terms this applies, however, only to the finite, empirical subject, who is the typical prey of representation and over-confidence in the raw “data” of experience (and commonsensical belief). When this subject ascends to absolute knowing, as it must, the situation is different. As we saw, Hegel is still, after all, a Cartesian epistemologist of a sort. The absolute subject or spirit is supposed to know all mediations and to be able to judge about truth and reference independently, wholly on its own. In this respect, justification is internal to the subject, though the grounds for it are constituted by the whole system that the subject itself realizes and inspects. This is also the reason why, since in the end “absolute spirit” entails the justification of all “valid knowledge” from as independent a standpoint as possible, Hegel is no relativist, though he was certainly a historical source for relativism. This is also why he is not, in the end, a skeptic, although he does not believe in the independent self-sufficiency of empirical knowledge and accepts, in a sense, all the skeptic’s objections to such knowledge and to scientific knowledge, and foundations. Hegel is an anti-foundationalist, infinitist,6 circular epistemologist: at the conclusion of the system, one is not dogmatically certain of reality, one is back to the initial situation (sinnliche Gewißheit, the “certainty of the senses”) with an enhanced trust in the powers of the human mind for criticizing and reasoning away alleged, though inadequate (usually merely empirical) knowing. And the process must be repeated ad infinitum. All the “presuppositions” of Science must have been sublated, along with the possible errors of representations; this is a continuing process, not an end-point. Hegel’s epistemology is clearly anti-representationalist, too. Hence some open questions remain. Is knowledge a direct relation to its object, or to a complex, general object? (This relates to possible influences from the Scottish School, by Hume.) Is his epistemology coherentist or correspondentist? It seems that systematic coherence, a concept to be defined only in terms of the “dialectical method,” ultimately lends credibility to the notion that correspondence, and perhaps directness too, supervenes on the results of the systematic path at the “end” of the system. But such conjectures require further elaboration than is possible here. We can end by remarking that Hegel’s way of reconstructing epistemological theories, its extreme (historical and conceptual) complication notwithstanding, is full of important suggestions for contemporary thought, in addition to offering an historically unique way of addressing skeptical challenges.

Notes 1. See Bristow (2007), also about our further considerations on the criterion and the central role of the modern, free subject of epistemological inquiry. 2. Hegel’s essay on scepticism is very early (1802); his rejection of any transcendental constitution of things represents a Kantian position about reality being a product of the activity of consciousness; at this time, Hegel considered Kant a metaphysician who had not pursued metaphysical thinking to its necessary end, and got then stuck with the problematic “Ding an sich.”


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3. This mode of self-criticism is examined and justified in detail in Westphal (1988). My whole discussion of criterion depends on his analysis. 4. See also Paul Redding’s several recent articles on Hegel’s theory of judgement. 5. Along with the conception that the trope of relationship is central, this seems to me to be the key idea formulated by Forster (see Forster 1989). 6. See Aikin (2010). For anti-foundationalism, see Dancy (1985, 277ff.), and already Sellars (1997). Acknowledgements  Translations are all mine, and as literal as possible. I thank Dr. P. Masciarelli for help and suggestions.

Bibliography Aikin, Scott F. 2010. “The Problem of the Criterion and Hegel’s Model for Epistemic Infinitism.” History of Philosophy Quarterly 27 (4): 379–388. Bristow, William F. 2007. Hegel and the Transformation of Philosophical Critique. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Chisholm, Roderick. 1989. Theory of Knowledge, 3rd ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Dancy, Jonathan. 1985. Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology. London: Blackwell. Davidson, Donald. 1984. “A Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge.” In Kant oder Hegel? edited by Dieter Henrich, 423–438. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta. Düsing, Klaus. 1995. Das Problem der Subjektivität in Hegels Logik. Systematische und entwicklungsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen zum Prinzip des Idealismus und zur Dialektik, 3rd ed. Hamburg: Meiner Verlag. Feuerbach, Anselm. 1795. “Über die Unmöglichkeit eines ersten absoluten Grundsatzes der Philosophie.” Philosophisches Journal einer Gesellschaft teutscher Gelehrten 2 (4): 306–322. Forster, Michael N. 1989. Hegel and Skepticism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Forster, Michael N. 1998. Hegel’s Idea of a Phenomenology of Spirit. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Halbig, Christoph. 2002. Objektives Denken: Erkenntnistheorie und Philosophy of Mind in Hegels System. Stuttgart-Bad Canstatt: Frommann-Holzboog. Halbig, Christoph, Michael Quante, and Ludwig Siep, eds. 2004. Hegels Erbe. Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp. Harris, Henry S. 1983. Hegel’s Development: Night Thoughts (Jena 1801–1806). Oxford: Clarendon Press. Henrich, Dieter, 1982. Selbstverhältnisse: Gedanken und Auslegungen zu den Grundlagen der klassischen deutschen Philosophie. Stuttgart: Philipp Reclam. Marconi, Diego. 2001. Filosofia e scienze cognitive. Roma-Bari: Laterza. Meist, Kurt Reiner 1993. “‘Sich vollbringender Skeptizismus.’ G. E. Schulzes Replik auf Hegel und Schelling.” In Transzendentalphilosophie und Spekulation: Der Streit um die Gestalt einer ersten Philosophie (1799–1807), edited by Walter Jaeschke, 192–230. Hamburg: Meiner Verlag. Petry, Michael J. ed. 1987. Hegel und die Naturwissenschaften. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt. Fromann-Holzboog. Petry, Michael J. ed. 1993. Hegel and Newtonianism. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog. Pippin, Robert B. 1989. Hegel’s Idealism: The Satisfactions of Self-Consciousness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pippin, Robert B. 1991. Modernism as a Philosophical Problem: On the Dissatisfactions of European High Culture. Oxford: Blackwell.

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Pippin, Robert B. 1997. Idealism as Modernism: Hegelian Variations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Plato. 2006. The Republic. Translated by R. E. Allen. New Haven: Yale University Press. Rockmore, Tom. 1986. Hegel’s Circular Epistemology. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Rockmore, Tom. 1996. On Hegel’s Epistemology and Contemporary Philosophy. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International. Rockmore, Tom. 2005. On Constructivist Epistemology. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield. Rockmore, Tom. 2016. German Idealism as Constructivism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Schulze, Gottlob E. 1801. Kritik der theoretischen Philosophie. 2 vols. Hamburg: Bohm. Schulze, Gottlob E. 1803. “Aphorismen über das Absolute.” In Neues Museum der Philosophie und Litteratur, edited by Fr. Bouterwek, vol. 1(2), 105–148. Sellars, Wilfrid. 1997. Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind, with an Introduction by Richard Rorty. Boston: Harvard University Press. Sextus Empiricus. 1933. Outlines of Pyrrhonism. In Works in 4 vols., vol. 1, translated by Rev. R. G. Bury. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (Loeb Library).—Cited as ‘PH’ by Book, paragraph numbers. Varnier, Giuseppe. 1996. “Versuchte Hegel eine Letztbegründung? Bemerkungen zur wissenschaftlichen Skepsis als Einleitung und zum Begriff einer ‘skeptischen Wissenschaft.’” In Skeptizismus und spekulatives Denken in der Philosophie Hegels, edited by H. F. Fulda and R.-P. Horstmann, 285–330. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta. Westphal, K. R. 1988. “Hegel’s Solution to the Dilemma of the Criterion.” History of Philosophy Quarterly 5 (2): 173–188 (Expanded version: In The Phenomenology of Spirit Reader: A Collection of Critical and Interpretive Essays, edited by J. Stewart, 76–91. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997). Westphal, K. R. 1989. Hegel’s Epistemological Realism: A Study of the Aim and Method of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Dordrecht: Kluwer. Westphal, Kenneth R. 1998. Hegel, Hume, und die Identität wahrnehmbarer Dinge. Historischkritische Analyse zum Kapitel ‘Wahrnehmung’ in der Phänomenologie von 1807 (Philosophische Abhandlungen. Bd. 72). Frankfurt/Main: Vittorio Klostermann. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2003a. “Hegel’s Manifold Response to Skepticism in the Phenomenology of Spirit.” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 103 (2): 149–178. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2003b. Hegel’s Epistemology: An Introduction to the Phenomenology of Spirit. Cambridge, MA: Hackett Publishing Co. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2018. Grounds of Pragmatic Realism: Hegel’s Internal Critique and Transformation of Kant’s Critical Philosophy. Leiden: Brill. Worrall, John. 1989. “Structural Realism: The Best of Both Worlds?” Dialectica 43 (1/2): 99–124.

Part II

Phenomenology of Spirit

Chapter 5

The Role of Religion in Hegel’s Phenomenological Justification of Philosophical Science Ardis B. Collins

1 Introduction Hegel suggests in various statements that philosophical science from its beginning has a religious dimension. The subject matter of philosophy is already familiar, he says, because it belongs to religion (Enc. 1 GW 19, §1). The Science of Logic describes this first part of Hegel’s philosophical system, as “the exposition of God as he is in his eternal essence before the creation of nature and of a finite spirit” (WL GW 21:34). Hegel’s examination of three positions on objectivity rejects the way Kant’s Critical Philosophy restricts reason to the rationality of human reason and human morality, because it fails to recognize that truth is made actual by God, whose absolute truth resolves the oppositions typical of human reason (Enc. 1 GW 19, §§41–44, 58–60). The same examination endorses Jacobi’s claim that the human spirit knows the infinite, all-encompassing truth that God is, and also the way Jacobi conceives this truth as thought identified with the self-standing, independent reality of being. The examination rejects, however, the way this knowing takes the form of an intuition that asserts the actual existence of the infinite based on nothing but the knower’s own felt conviction, the way it excludes all mediation and thus all dependence on a demonstration that proves its truth. According to Hegel, this “excluding posture” reduces our knowledge of the infinite to a fact of consciousness, “a psychological phenomenon”, an experience (Erfahrung). As such, it can make no claims on the consciousness of anyone else, and thus loses its status as the universal, necessary truth required for philosophical science (Enc. 1 GW 19, §§63–66, 69–71, 76).1 According to these statements, therefore, philosophy begins with a concept of truth that carries with it transcendence claims usually associated with religion, this concept requires a demonstration

A. B. Collins (*)  Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA e-mail: [email protected]

© The Author(s) 2020 M. F. Bykova and K. R. Westphal (eds.), The Palgrave Hegel Handbook, Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism,



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of its truth, and this demonstration must prove that the conclusion has the kind of necessity that compels assent from every knower. The discussion developed in this chapter examines the way Hegel interprets the Phenomenology of Spirit as the fulfillment of these proof requirements. The examination focuses first on the structure of the proof procedure and the role it plays in Hegel’s claim that philosophy begins without presuppositions. With this established, the focus shifts to the way the proof structure governs specific moves in the Phenomenology. The whole discussion seeks to show how Hegel’s proof procedure preserves strong, even radical, otherness within the sameness of a whole, and how this determines the way the transcendence of religion’s God persists in the beginning concept of philosophical science. The limited domain of a single chapter, however, cannot provide a careful analysis of all the moves involved in the topic proposed. This presentation, therefore, reconstructs the proof in a schematic form, sometimes only suggesting the way it develops over large sections of Hegel’s text, and in some parts simply selecting the elements most relevant to the topic. It also takes for granted an analysis I have published elsewhere, in which I address questions raised about whether the move from the conclusion of the Phenomenology to the beginning concept of philosophical science involves a transition in which fundamental changes are developed (Collins 2013, Chapters 18 and 19). In the discussion presented here, I will assume that the truth conceived in absolute knowing at the end of the Phenomenology is fundamentally the same as the truth conceived in the beginning concept of philosophical science, although the form of knowing it is different.

2 Hegel’s Ambiguous Discussion of the Presupposition Question Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit is an early work (1807), and some scholars have suggested that Hegel in his later years no longer considered it a correct or adequate representation of his thought.2 In order to take this into account, we focus here on a set of texts selected from the introductory essays of the Science of Logic. These essays, composed in the final years of Hegel’s life, belong to the later developments of Hegel’s thought.3 The Logic develops the interpretation of the Phenomenology within the context of a distinction between ordinary phenomenal (erscheidenden) consciousness and philosophical thought. Ordinary phenomenal consciousness assumes that the object stands alone, that it is what it is whether or not it is involved in a relation to knowing, whereas thought cannot be thought unless it is completed by its relation to the content provided by the object. A more reflective version of this consciousness makes explicit what other versions leave undetermined, namely that thought and its object belong to different spheres with no pre-established appropriateness

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between them. Hence whatever thought does to make the object intelligible reveals not what the object itself is, but only what thought has made of it (WL GW 21:10–15, 27–29). Hegel distinguishes this set of assumptions from those of philosophical science. Philosophical science, he says, “presupposes” thought liberated from the opposition that separates thought from the independent objectivity of what it thinks. The concept that identifies the subject matter of philosophical science is pure thought, thought focused on itself, but with the presupposition that pure thought identifies what being in its own independent reality truly is. Since ordinary phenomenal consciousness challenges this presupposition, Hegel says that overcoming the opposition in phenomenal consciousness is a necessary condition for entering the standpoint of philosophical science (WL GW 21:33–34; see also Enc. 1 GW 19, §§26–29.). The introductory essays of the Logic explicitly and repeatedly assign the task of “overcoming” the opposition in consciousness to the Phenomenology. Moreover, they call this “overcoming” a “deduction” that produces as its result the beginning concept of philosophical science; and they insist that this concept cannot be justified in any other way. According to these same texts, this justification demonstrates that free self-contained thought is the truth of consciousness. Overcoming the opposition in consciousness does not set aside ordinary phenomenal consciousness; it exposes what phenomenal consciousness truly is (WL GW 21:32–34, 45). In the essay, “With What Must the Beginning of Science Be Made,” Hegel considers an alternative to this way of entering philosophy. He calls the alternative “beginning with the I.” He opens the discussion by explaining why this approach seems appropriate for philosophy. If the beginning of philosophy cannot depend on anything else, precisely because it is the beginning, then philosophy must begin with something immediately accessible. Moreover, this immediately accessible truth must carry with it a legitimacy that goes beyond the subjective feelings of a particular subject. It must be true for every knower. Finally, the beginning of philosophy must be detached from all content, so that it can derive all its determinations from itself. The structure of a self that knows immediately its own identity with itself seems to fulfill all these requirements (WL GW 21:62–63). Hegel, however, challenges the claim that this empty “I am I” is immediately accessible. The thinking subject has direct access only to ordinary consciousness, the ego absorbed by its relation to the concrete, diversified content of empirical consciousness. Before this ego can become the beginning of philosophy, it must separate itself from its content and become conscious of itself as the empty “I am I” in which the difference of subject and object disappears. If, however, philosophy begins by simply demanding that the individual ego assume this position, then it reduces the beginning of philosophy to an arbitrarily chosen (willkürlicher) standpoint, “a subjective postulate,” or even to an empirical state of consciousness that may or may not be found or produced in each and every thinker (WL GW 21:62–64).4


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Thus, the introductory essays of the Logic state explicitly that philosophy begins with a concept that emerges from and is justified by the critical examination of knowledge developed in the Phenomenology. The same claims appear in the introductory essays of the Encyclopedia (Enc. 1 GW 19 §25R). These essays also say, however, that philosophy begins without presuppositions, that one can begin philosophical science by a simple resolve to focus on thought as such without any determinations or predicates (WL GW 21:56; Enc. 1 GW 19 §§17, 78 & R). Yet the Logic’s “With What Must the Beginning of Science Be Made?” explicitly rejects a beginning that simply chooses to assume the position of an abstract “I am I” that derives all its determinations from its development within philosophical science.5

3 Hegel’s Scientific Proof Procedure6 Hegel says explicitly and repeatedly that the same scientific procedure operates in philosophical science itself and in the Phenomenology. Indeed, he uses the ­procedure developed in the Phenomenology as an example for explaining the general structure of the procedure (WL GW 21:8, 37–38, 57–59). Hegel explains the structure of scientific procedure by comparing it to other sciences. Every science has an ambiguous relation to the concept with which it begins. Each science begins with a concept that identifies the subject matter to be investigated. The investigation itself produces the concept as a result by exposing its full meaning. Other sciences, however, take from an external source the beginning concept and the method used to develop its full meaning. Biology, for example, assumes that there is life in nature, begins with the generally accepted understanding of what life is, and investigates life by using the established procedure of the empirical sciences. Philosophical sciences, however, must justify the beginning concept itself by demonstrating the necessity of its beginning definition and by proving that it cannot be dismissed as an empty, meaningless notion; and they must derive the full meaning of the concept from necessities implicit in its beginning definition (WL GW 21:7, 27, 39–40). The philosophy of right, for example, begins with a definition of right whose necessity has been demonstrated by what precedes it in the philosophical system; and it develops the fuller articulation of what right is from necessities implicit in the definition with which the science begins (RPh GW 14 §§1, 2 & R, 4, 29, 31 & R). The presupposition issue, therefore, involves two different questions. Every philosophical science derives all the determinations of its subject matter from the necessities implicit in the minimal concept that identifies the subject matter of the science. In this sense, the science presupposes nothing; the determinations of the subject matter emerge within the science itself. Philosophical science as a whole begins by focusing on the logical or rational, and it produces as its result a full articulation of what the logical is. Logic itself proves what the determinations of the logical are (WL GW 21:27). However, philosophical necessity also requires

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proof that the beginning concept of the logical or rational must be accepted as a correct definition and cannot be dismissed as an empty notion. Hegel analyzes the inference structure of scientific procedure as a series of determinate negations, which he describes as “correct inferences,” in which “nothing extraneous” is introduced (WL GW 21:37–38, 57–58). The negation emerges from a necessity implicit in the concept that it negates, which determines the move to a higher form (WL GW 21:37–38). Because the result, the negation, is a determinate negation, it has a content. It is a new concept but one higher and richer than the preceding – richer because it negates or opposes the preceding and therefore contains it, and it contains even more than that, for it is the unity of itself and its opposite. (WL GW 21:37–38; see also PhG GW 9:56–57, ¶79)

This necessary connection between opposites is what Hegel calls the ­self-contradictory. Hegel’s self-contradictions, however, do not assert and deny the same claim. They emerge in opposition relations to which both the original concept and its opposite belong as opposed, necessarily different extremes. This proves the necessity of shifting to a concept that holds the necessary differentiation of the opposites within the sameness of the whole dynamic. Hegel explains the full development of this process as a retreat into a ground. The demonstration begins with something accessible and accepted as true. It proceeds to show that this truth depends on a ground from which it has been derived and by which it has been determined. Thus, the process of coming to know the truth reverses the priorities of the truth itself. Coming to know begins with what has been derived from the ground; and it uses its knowledge of the derivative truth to prove, to ground, its knowledge of the ground itself. In order to know the truth in its proper form, however, knowledge must reverse direction and derive its knowledge of what is determined by the ground from its knowledge of the ground. Knowledge begins this process by asserting the ground as not mediated, i.e. as independent of relations to anything other than itself, and hence as without presuppositions. Knowledge can do this because this immediate knowing asserts the originating principle, the ground, of the evidence that has retreated into it. In the Phenomenology, therefore, scientific procedure exposes determinate negations in which each form of phenomenal consciousness dissolves in a necessary connection to its opposite, until the whole field of phenomenal consciousness collapses into a connected whole and retreats into the ground that governs its diversification and unification. Philosophical science asserts this ground in its immediacy, independent of its relations to phenomenal consciousness, because this is what the Phenomenology has proved it to be. Hence, logic begins with the concept of pure knowledge, cut off from all determining relations, in order to think it as the source, not the result, of the forms of consciousness through which its necessity has been proved (WL GW 21:32–34, 44–45, 54–59). From this analysis of the phenomenological project, Hegel develops a threefold way of conceiving the beginning of logic. First, the beginning concept of logic, thought as such or pure knowledge, presupposes the necessity of its emergence in consciousness, which the Phenomenology has demonstrated. This is the beginning


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as mediated, conceived as the truth of consciousness. Second, the examination developed in the Phenomenology sets up pure knowing as not a phenomenal consciousness kind of knowing. Consciousness has its truth not in phenomenal consciousness itself but in pure knowledge or thought as such. This is the beginning as mediation sublated; its emergence in consciousness separates it from phenomenal consciousness. Third, logic begins with the resolve to consider thought as such, to begin with thought simply being. This is the beginning cut off from all mediation. The beginning, however, depends on the examination of consciousness, which proves that the logical or rational is properly conceived as thought liberated from its relation to consciousness, thought standing in itself, on its own, not conceived in terms of consciousness (WL GW 21:55–56).7 According to Stephen Houlgate and Kevin Thompson, beginning philosophy with the immediate and presuppositionless form of thought thinking itself can qualify as an alternative to a beginning derived from the Phenomenology’s critical examination of consciousness (Houlgate 2006, 144–150, 157–162; Thompson 2014–2015, 120–122). According to my interpretation, this presuppositionless beginning is not an alternative; it is the last move in the transition that derives the beginning concept of philosophy from the retreat into a ground developed in the Phenomenology. It thinks the ground as what the Phenomenology has proved it to be, the origin and determining principle of everything that has led up to it (WL GW 21:54). If, however, the Phenomenology operates according to a scientific procedure, then we must ask how the beginning concept of the Phenomenology itself is established. The Introduction to the Phenomenology presents the beginning concept not as a concept formulated by thought, but as the fundamental structure of consciousness, the minimal conditions for any form of consciousness to appear, consciousness conscious of something (etwas) (PhG GW 9:57–58, ¶¶80–82).8 The Phenomenology has as its subject matter the reality of consciousness engaged in being conscious of something (etwas). Hence, it must develop the necessary implications of this concept from the internal dynamics of an actual experience, beginning with its minimal form (PhG GW 9:61–62, ¶¶88–89). Hegel finds in this minimal form a self-critical dynamic between the object for consciousness and the object in itself. Although Hegel interprets the object in itself as “external to” (außer) the consciousness relation, he insists that the distinction between the object in itself and the object for consciousness falls within consciousness, that consciousness itself compares them, and that the whole dynamic is “present in the very fact that consciousness knows an object at all” (PhG GW 9:59, ¶85). Consider, for example, consciousness of blue. Being conscious of blue does not make it blue. It just is blue. Yet blue is also “for” consciousness, since consciousness is conscious of blue. Thus, the simple fact that consciousness is conscious of blue contains both blue being blue and blue being “for” consciousness. Consciousness conscious of something expects the truth to be what an object is in itself, on its own, simply because it cannot complete the consciousness relation, and hence cannot happen, unless this independent content is provided. Consciousness tests the truth of its consciousness by whether the experience of

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the object, its being for consciousness, meets this truth expectation. The truth criterion changes if this experience exposes a necessary connection between the original truth criterion and something else; and the new truth criterion must assert nothing more than the dynamic unity implicit in the connection thus exposed. The Phenomenology, like the introductory essays of the Logic, analyzes these moves as determinate negations (PhG GW 9:56–57, ¶79; 59–60, ¶¶84–86). The Phenomenology develops its examination of cognition by taking the position of an observer consciousness detached from the truth expectations of the various forms of cognition examined. In order to meet the requirements of scientific procedure, however, the observer must not interfere with the internally determined dynamics of the consciousness being examined. Consciousness in its minimal form must experience whatever it is conscious of according to its built-in orientation toward an object with a content of its own. It must shift its norms according to the necessities exposed by the determinate negations that emerge from this experience; and these negations not only negate, they also positively determine what the new orientation must be. Everything that develops in the process must emerge from the necessary implications of the beginning structure, without introducing anything “extraneous.” The observer consciousness follows the track of the negations that emerge until it finally retreats into a ground that identifies the subject matter of philosophical science and functions as its beginning concept (PhG GW 9:59–60, ¶¶84–85, 89; WL GW 21:54–55, 57–58).9

4 Consciousness Retreats into the Infinity of Life and Self-Consciousness The Phenomenology begins with the truth expectations defined by the minimal concept of its subject matter, which takes the truth to be what the object is in itself, independent of its relation to consciousness, and takes consciousness to be a pure relation completely receptive to and dependent on this independent content. When, however, consciousness tries to become conscious of what the object is, the object dissolves into a continuity of different objects sensed in a series of different conscious states. In order to catch hold of an object standing firm in what it is, consciousness must focus on a content that spreads out and persists within a part of the continuity cut off from the rest. This calls for a shift into the truth expectations of perception, which takes the truth to be a separate, self-identical thing. Perception finds that consciousness of a thing in its separateness depends on a dynamic in which the thing displays itself as a diversity of properties involved in contrast relations to other properties, and manifests its separation from the perceptual field as these same properties overlapping and belonging to each other. Thus, perception succeeds in becoming conscious of a separate, self-identical thing only to find that its separateness dissolves into excluding relations to other things.


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This dynamic preserves the being-for-self exclusiveness of the thing’s self-identity within a continuity that joins its exclusiveness to that of other things. As a result, the separateness of things becomes a separation and relation dynamic between opposed forces, which transforms the whole perceptual field into an interconnected system (PhG GW 9:74–75, ¶117; 78–79, ¶¶125–128; 83–88, ¶¶136–141). In order to become conscious of the field in this form, consciousness distinguishes the unity of the system from the diversity of its appearances. The unifying principle, however, has no other content than the manifested diversity itself re-conceived as a connected whole. Hence, consciousness cancels the distinction, and thinks the diversity as intrinsic to the unifying principle itself. The principle explains not only the connection that integrates the diversity of its appearances into the same whole, but also the diversifying dynamic that separates the whole into mutually exclusive identities setting themselves off from each other. This unification-diversification dynamic, which Hegel calls infinity, re-defines the objective order as a life system. A universal life force distributes and diversifies itself in the separate self-identity of individual organisms situated within a continuous space-time environment. This same force reunites with itself by driving the organisms through their life needs into dynamic relations with each other and the environment. The whole system operates as a life and death process in which different self-identities emerge and are negated. The “distinction cancelled” move also cancels the distinction between the unifying principle that preserves the independence of the objective system and the appearances in which this principle makes itself manifest to consciousness. The “beyond” is re-conceived as an inner truth whose very essence requires its appearance in the perceptual field’s being-for consciousness. The life system determines itself as an independent world that necessarily relates itself to and exists for the conscious self. The unification-diversification dynamic of the objective life-system, in which unity is one of the participating opposites, brings itself to a persistent self-sameness in its being-for the conscious self (PhG GW 9:88–91, ¶¶143–149, 94–102, ¶¶154–165).10 This move calls for and justifies a shift to a different set of truth expectations. According to the truth expectations of consciousness, the object dominates the whole relation and defines the other member of the relation, i.e. consciousness, in terms of the object. Consciousness is true by knowing what the object is. According to the truth expectations of self-consciousness, the conscious self dominates the whole relation, and defines the other member of the relation, i.e. the independent objective world, in terms of the self. To know what the object truly is requires knowing it as being-for the conscious self (PhG GW 9:103–104, ¶¶166–167). Self-consciousness preserves the independent otherness of the objective world, but situates this otherness within the dynamics of self-consciousness. Relation to the object’s otherness becomes a self-relation.

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5 Self-Consciousness Retreats into the Transcendence of the Rational The examination of self-consciousness begins within the consciousness of a single self. The self experiences the independent character of natural things as predisposed to satisfy the self’s desires. The desire experience also reveals a self related to and dependent on what the independence of the natural world provides. In order to know what self-consciousness takes the truth to be, therefore, the self must withdraw from this involvement in life, assert its dominance over the whole natural system, and confront a natural world in which this dominance is manifest. Selfconsciousness confronts the whole life system summed up in its being for another self, and engages this self in a battle to the death. The willingness to risk life earns recognition for each combatant’s independence of life, and in the process challenges the opponent’s appropriation of the natural world. Thus, the life world confronting the self expands to include another self claiming the natural world as its own (PhG GW 9:103–105, ¶¶167–168; 107–109, ¶¶173–177; 109–110, ¶¶179–183; 110–111, ¶¶186–187). Victory, however, deprives the victor of the recognition provided by the defeated combatant and restores the resistant otherness of the natural world. As a result, self-consciousness seeks the truth in a master-servant dynamic, which preserves the negated life of the defeated self as a servant whose whole self dissolves in fear of the master. This all-consuming fear identifies the servant self with the natural world’s subordination to the master, and makes this manifest in service and work. Because work belongs to the servant’s self-surrendering service, it acts as an extension of the master’s mastery. The servant’s work becomes an additional force integrated into the natural system, which transforms the natural world into a world existing for the master. Thus, the relation that surrenders the servant’s self to the master identifies the servant with what self-consciousness takes the truth to be, a self independent of life for which the whole objective life system exists. In the process, however, mastery becomes dependent for its actualization in the natural world on the work of the servant self. Thus, the master-servant dynamic identifies each self, master as well as servant, as a self necessarily related to and identified in terms of the other (PhG GW 9:111–116, ¶¶188–196; 118, ¶199). This result refers the dynamics between self and world to an inner truth in which the self in its independence of life and the self engaged in transforming and appropriating the life system become a distinction within the same truth. Self-consciousness detached from its involvement in life becomes thought knowing the true essence of the life world as an inner truth and goodness, which transforms the resistant otherness of this world into a reflection of the self’s detached thought. This is Stoicism (PhG GW 9:116–118, ¶¶197–199). At this point in the phenomenological project, however, “thought” has no other determination than the detachment that separates it from the otherness of life. In order to become conscious of itself as the true essence of this other, thought must become actively involved in exposing the self-defeating dynamics of this otherness, which makes


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the self appear as the self-same negativity of thought persisting throughout the process. This is Skepticism. Skeptical thought, however, dissolves the thoughtful self into a contradictory dynamic in which independent self-conscious thought turns itself into thought negatively involved in and identified with the otherness of life, whereby it re-establishes its original detachment. The self becomes conscious of itself as a divided self, constantly changing into its opposite, and hence as not the self-sameness that it takes the truth to be. This is unhappy consciousness (PhG GW 9:118–121, ¶¶200–207; 122–123, ¶209). At this point, the examination of self-consciousness shifts into a distinction made and cancelled move. Unhappy consciousness takes the truth to be detached independent thought turning into thought immersed in the objective otherness of the natural world while remaining unchangeable. Unhappy consciousness knows itself as thought divided against itself in this dynamic. For this form of self-consciousness, therefore, truth is other than the self. This other, however, is a truth demanded by what unhappy consciousness itself is. Hence, the unhappy self takes the truth to be the otherness of the unchangeable identified with a singular self who belongs to the unhappy self’s own world. Unhappy consciousness becomes true by completely surrendering its self to the life of this true self (PhG GW 9:122–125, ¶¶208–213). Hegel’s account of the ways in which unhappy consciousness moves toward this truth brings the contingency of time and place into the dynamics of self-consciousness. The unchangeable formed into a singular self takes on the exclusivity of a self and the place-time contingency of its existence, which separates the true self from unhappy consciousness (PhG GW 9:124, ¶212). In order to become identified with the otherness of the true self, unhappy consciousness surrenders in obedience to the will of a mediator who represents the will of the unchangeable, and lives this surrender in asceticism. Asceticism lives every aspect of life as a vanity of vanities. This development reduces the self of unhappy consciousness to the unimportance and subordinate status of a thing, an element belonging to the dynamics of objective existence, and hence existing for the self-consciousness of an other. Through the assurances of the mediator, unhappy consciousness knows its surrender to be acknowledged and its self to be accepted into the life of the unchangeable (PhG GW 9:128–131, ¶¶224–230). Cancelling the distinction between unhappy consciousness and the unchangeable, therefore, does not reduce the unchangeable to the limited self of unhappy consciousness. It elevates the divided unhappy self into the transcendent self-sameness of another self-consciousness in which thought identified with the independence of the self persists without change in the independent otherness of objective existence. Thus, the phenomenological examination of consciousness and self-consciousness retreats into a ground in which these opposite forms of thought are one and the same rationality (PhG GW 9:131–132, ¶¶230–232; 193–194, ¶348).11 The transcendence of the rational, however, is not a religious transcendence. Reason as it emerges from the pain of unhappy consciousness has no religion, because rational self-consciousness knows itself, its own rationality, in what stands immediately before consciousness (PhG GW 9:363, ¶673).

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6 The Emergence of the Irrational and the Retreat into Spirit Reason begins as a retreat into a ground must begin. It reverses direction by asserting as an immediate, ungrounded intuition the truth proved by the prior demonstration. The critical examination of consciousness and self-consciousness proves that these forms of knowing belong to and are governed by a more fundamental truth. In order to know this truth in its proper form, reason must know itself as the origin, not the result, of what has retreated into it. Hence, reason asserts itself as the immediate, ungrounded certainty of being all reality, and proceeds to re-think the developments of consciousness and self-consciousness as developments derived from this certainty. The development begins with idealism in which thinking the original certainty spontaneously develops different ways of thinking, all belonging to the same unity of self-consciousness, and carries thought into relations with a diversity of sensations presented by the otherness of a thing. Unlike self-consciousness, which seeks to suppress and master the otherness of the world, reason seeks the very otherness of the thing expecting to find in this otherness only reason’s own “infinitude.” Truth requires, however, that reason show itself realized in all the multiplicity and difference of a world immediately confronting it, a world that Hegel characterizes as an indifferent alien other (gleichgültiges Fremdes). Reason’s truth expectation begins, therefore, as a contradiction dynamic between self-sameness and the strong otherness of alien difference. As a result, reason as actual reason acknowledges that it must devise strategies for actively exposing the self-sameness of reason in the alien otherness of the world (PhG GW 9:132–138, ¶¶231–241). Reason as observation expects to find universal rationality in what is presented immediately to consciousness, using as its strategy an active engagement in running experiments to expose universal laws operating in the given data. This approach fails because in every part of the external world—the continuity of matter, the individual organisms situated in it and interacting with it, the self-conscious individuals occupying it—reason observes relations and associ­ ations that lack the necessary connectedness required for a persistent, universal self-sameness (PhG GW 9:142–146, ¶¶249–255; 154, ¶275; 159–166, ¶¶283–297; 179–180, ¶323; 185–186, ¶335; 188–189, ¶340). In Hegel’s account of reason observing the dynamics of life, such contingencies play a necessary dialectical role in the development of reason itself. They manifest “the freedom of Nature released (entbundene) from the control of the concept,” which Hegel interprets as reason’s opposite, the irrational (Unvernunft) (PhG GW 9:154, ¶275). In the examination of phrenology, which tries to know the character of a self-conscious being by what is presented in the shape of the skull, reason finds itself “presented as its own self and its opposite” and hence is “apprehended irrationally (unvernünftig); …” (PhG GW 9:191–192, ¶346). From this point on, the development of reason must work with an element of contingency that reason cannot escape and cannot completely control, which manifests reason’s necessary relation to a resistant, opposed otherness.


A. B. Collins

At this early stage, this irrational element provokes a shift from reason as observation to practical reason. The examination of practical reason shows how the rational agent integrates the contingencies of life into the dynamics of rationally motivated actions, so that rational self-sameness appears as the sameness between the agent and the agent’s produced effect (PhG GW 9:196, ¶356). In this framework, Hegel introduces the law of individuality, which he calls the way of the world. A rational agent asserts as a law for everyone a law that belongs to the agent’s own exclusive individuality, a law of the heart, only to be challenged by others whose law belongs to their exclusive individuality. Since reason expects the truth to be a persistent sameness played out in the dynamic between self, world, and other self-conscious individuals, the phenomenological examination shifts to a form of reason whose aim is to negate this way of the world and transform it into a world in which everything and everyone is harmoniously one. This virtuous aim fails, however, because the agent cannot act without getting involved in the dynamic individuality of the real world. Reason cannot exist in the reality of the world without becoming divided against itself in the dynamics of mutually ­exclusive individuality (PhG GW 9:201–214, ¶¶367–393). Reason taking itself to be real in and for itself, which I call self-confident individuality, integrates into these dynamics the given determinate content of each agent’s self and the contingent relations that emerge from this determinacy. In the process, it expands the self-assertion of each agent to include the agent’s appropriation of what other agents contribute to the shared field of action (PhG GW 9:214–228, ¶¶394–417).12 This result provokes a shift into the truth expectations of law-governed reason. The rational agent acts according to laws that spontaneously emerge from the dynamics of rational agents interacting with each other, which gives the action a kind of universality. These actions show, however, that the tensions played out in self-confident individuality persist as an opposition within the law itself, between the way the law is understood and willed by the individual agent and the way it exists in the world outside the self. Reason, therefore, distinguishes the sameness of the law from the diversity of law-governed action by taking self-sameness to be a criterion for determining whether a given law can indeed be a law (PhG GW 9:228–232, ¶¶418–427). It finds, however, that every law becomes divided against itself in real action because action necessarily operates in the dynamics of individuality. Thus, reason as criterion develops a necessary connection between the unification of what is opposed and the opposition of what is the same, which dissolves the dynamics of universal reason into the unification-diversification dynamics of a whole (PhG GW 9:232–234, ¶¶428–430). Reason retreats into a ground that governs the whole process, which transforms the whole into the sameness of reason actualized in the concrete, diversified, shared life of a community (PhG GW 9:235–240, ¶¶435–440). The universal status claimed by the rational individual belongs to a spirit shared with other participants in the same social whole. Hegel makes strong claims for the otherness preserved within this whole. The other members of my folk or country confront me as my own being-for-self. Even in their independence as a free thing that I am not, and as self-confident individuals who appropriate my works and deeds into their own being-for-self, in spirit

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they stand before me as my other self. The spirit we share transcends its being identified with my exclusive singular self, as it also transcends its being identified with the exclusive singularity of others. Because my spirit lives in them, they become an extension of who I am, even in their exclusive otherness. This retreat into a ground demonstrates the necessity of reversing direction. The self knows itself immediately identified with the spirit of the social whole, accepts without question or justification the authority of its laws, and derives from the social dynamics of the whole the diversifying dynamics of the rationality that has retreated into it (PhG GW 9:193–195, ¶¶347–350; 238–239, ¶437–439).

7 The Spirit of the Enlightenment Spirit begins its development as a human spirit actualized in a shared culture and custom. Religion appears in this development as a feature of some cultural forms, and hence belongs to the spirit of a people and the dynamics of human social relations. We begin our discussion of spirit with the spirit of the Enlightenment, in which religious faith and human reason compete for the mind and heart of the whole society. The presuppositions that govern the spirit of the Enlightenment emerge from the determinate negation of a culture that Hegel calls self-alienated spirit (PhG GW 9:239–241, ¶¶437–442). The critical examination of this spirit introduces language into the dynamics of communal relations, and one form of language introduced here becomes a crucial element for interpreting the transcendence that persists in the final moves of the Phenomenology. Self-alienated spirit takes the form of an independent social order confronting the members of society as an external authority. Individuals become identified with the spirit of society by dedicating their lives to their role in the social system. This identification with the cause of society as a whole, functions as the norm that determines what is good, and this normative judgement makes itself manifest in the noble life. An individual sacrifices his own particular interests to serve the ruler, whom he acknowledges as the ruling element in the social order. The ruler acknowledges the individual’s service to society by transferring to the individual’s control some of society’s wealth (PhG GW 9: 263–265, ¶¶485–486; 267–268, ¶¶487–489; 270–271, ¶494; 274–275, ¶502–504). The judgement implicit in the noble life, however, separates what it judges as good from an element that persists as a significant force in the social structure. Particular interests are manifest in the way society breaks up into different classes and estates, each with its own specific concerns, interests, and values. A noble individual who does not lose his life defending the cause of society as a whole continues to be a definite individual with a will of his own and interests specific to him. This renders his service ambiguous and suspect. Does it serve the good of the kingdom, or only the particular interests of his class or estate (PhG GW 9:275, ¶505)? In order to achieve complete identification with society as a whole, the individual must somehow separate himself from particular interests.


A. B. Collins

He achieves this in a form of speech that Hegel calls “language authoritative as language” (gilt als Sprache), which has the form of speaking itself as its content. What, then, is the pure form of speaking? Speech expresses what the self experiences as its own consciousness; and consciousness belongs only to the one whose experience it is. Speech brings this inner consciousness out into a domain shared with others and delivers it over to them. Unlike work, the speech does not become existent outside consciousness in the objective reality of the world. It disappears into the consciousness of the one who hears it. Thus, the inner, private consciousness of the speaker comes to exist as the inner, private consciousness of someone else. What, then, does it mean for language to say nothing more than what the form of speaking itself does? It means that the speaking surrenders the speaker’s own exclusive singular self into the domain shared with others, to become existent as the exclusive singular self-consciousness of the one to whom the speech is spoken. The noble individual says to the ruler, “I am your man.” He surrenders his very self, the singularity of self that he alone is, to the ruler. By doing so, he relates to the ruler no longer as an institution, as part of the social order, but as another, singular self who hears the self-surrendering speech and thus becomes, in his otherness, the speaker’s true self. Since what is spoken is the very self of the speaker, this self lives now in the self of another. The noble individual says to the ruler, “I am your man, you are my king,” and this speech gives the ruler his kingly self, his being the personification of society itself in whom the noble becomes universal (PhG GW 9:275–278, ¶¶506–510). The phenomenological examination of self-alienated spirit shows how the social order falls apart in a struggle between three opposing claims to primacy in social affairs. The head of state represents the governing will and the interests of society as a whole distinguished from special interests and individual s­ elf-concern. Special interests acquire status and wealth by serving the government, are treated with suspicion because of their special interests, and represent a constant threat because of their power to undermine the government’s authority by refusing to cooperate with it. The whole system of social roles treats individuals as members existing for its purposes, while individuals treat the social system as a system accountable to them. Thus, every part of the social dynamic negates and compromises the primacy of the others in social affairs (PhG GW 9:275–281, ¶¶506–517); 285–287, ¶¶524–525). The Enlightenment spirit defined by this result preserves the self-negating dynamic that exposes the meaninglessness of the established social structure. It rejects the values that belong to this structure—state power and wealth, pleasure and prestige—as it also rejects the social divisions caused by conflicting social roles and expectations. It seeks a higher value as the true essence and real meaning of the existing social order. Enlightenment faith finds this higher value in a transcendent kingdom of God, which restores the social world to harmony and peace. Enlightenment insight conceives the true essence as the universality of the self’s own reason. Both agree that the public social order must belong to some unifying principle that integrates its opposing forces into a meaningful whole.

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For faith, this unifying principle is an other, the kingdom of God; for Enligh­ tenment insight, the unifying principle is the rationality of the human self (PhG GW 9:287–291, ¶¶528–535). Enlightenment insight discredits faith by demonstrating that what faith represents as a transcendent other is really only a projection of the self’s aspirations. Faith conceives a God in whom the self is not lost but found, a God whose acceptance gives the self its true worth. Self-sacrifice signals the self’s desire to detach itself from its worldly condition and attach itself to something more meaningful. Faith accepts the authority of unreliable historical texts only if and because its own inner witness acknowledges their message. All this shows that faith’s transcendent world is only the otherness dimension of a reality that gets its true meaning by being a reflection of the self. Thus, insight’s critique of faith restores the independent otherness of the social world to insight’s own position, but reduces it to an empty “other” whose determinate content has meaning only as something appropriate to the human self’s own rationality. The result is a social world without substance. It has no integrity of its own. By itself, it is dispersed and destabilized by conflicting social forces. Only as a reality existing for the rational self is it held together and given a unifying, stable orientation. Thus, the spirit of the Enlightenment treats the whole natural and social world as a reality in service to rational individuals, its value reduced to being useful (PhG GW 9:297–298, ¶549; 299–303, ¶¶552–556; 305–310, ¶¶562–570; 310–311, ¶¶572–573). With the advent of the Enlightenment, the principle of equality enters the dynamics of social existence. Each individual, as a rational self, claims the rights of rationality. Individuality isolated in its own separate singularity claims the rights of the universal. Enlightenment insight, however, separates the rational self from the content of the world, even from the self’s own concrete interests and social role. Nothing has value or meaning except as the embodiment of the individual’s independent will. The Enlightenment self has nothing left to think and to will except the singular self’s existence as the free individuality whose independence dominates and appropriates the whole social world. Since, however, the rights of universal rationality belong to the exclusivity of a singular self, the self cannot maintain its status without challenging by its mere presence in the world other equally exclusive individuals with the same status. Hence, Enlightenment rationality dissolves in the world of absolute freedom and terror (PhG GW 9:314–320, ¶¶580–591; 423–424, ¶791)

8 The Spirit of the Moral World and the Retreat into Religion13 As the determinate negation of absolute freedom, the moral view of the world preserves the will’s complete detachment from the dynamics of the established social system; and it also negates absolute freedom’s divisive individual will.


A. B. Collins

Duty requires that the moral will overrule not only its own particular interests but also its singularity and exclusivity. The dutiful will wills the principle that integrates each will into the same intention, the same willing (PhG GW 9:321–323, ¶¶594–595; 325, ¶¶599–600). Moral action, however, wills as duty a particular concern that the agent feels as her or his own; and it seeks the happiness of having achieved its purpose. The universality of dutiful intentions, therefore, becomes inevitably mixed up with the particularity of the agent’s interests and the exclusivity of this agent’s will and accomplishment. Moreover, duty in action needs a world alien to it, a world that must be overruled by it, so that the moral agent can know the moral essence of the world as the agent’s own act. In order to think the unifying principle that integrates self and world into the same rational spirit, therefore, the moral spirit distinguishes the self-sameness of moral subjectivity and objective existence from the compromises manifest in the field of moral action, referring to this self-sameness as a consciousness, a holy will, a God postulate. The same spirit cancels the distinction by expecting happiness to be granted by the grace of God, even if moral action is inevitably compromised and hence cannot be worthy of this reward. This transforms the field of moral action into the unifying spirit of morality appearing as the same spirit distinguished from itself in the different elements of moral agency, which re-defines the moral spirit as the spirit of conscientiousness. The conscientious agent brings together the concern for duty, the particular interests of the agent, the given circumstances of the action, and forms a conviction about what is concretely right, which the spirit of conscientiousness accepts as the inner voice of God (PhG GW 9:325–328, ¶¶601–604; 329, ¶607; 333–342, ¶¶618–634). In this way, duty becomes identified with the exclusivity of the individual’s singular self-consciousness, and everything comes under its authority. No content, no law or principle, no social order has a moral legitimacy of its own. Everything gets its validity from the individual’s personal conviction (PhG GW 9:342–344, ¶¶634–638; 345–349, ¶¶641–646). This form of conscience, however, is the spirit of a social world. The individuality of the agent’s conscientiousness must actually exist as the will of society itself. Here again language plays the role proper to language as such. It brings the inner, private self of the individual into a domain shared with others and gives it existence in those who hear the word and acknowledge it. The agent must say that the act is an act of conscience, that it is driven by the inner moral conviction of the agent. This, however, is not enough. One who justifies an act to others by an appeal to the agent’s conscience alone asserts blatantly that the act wrongs them. The agent must declare that the duty is an acknowledged duty, that the agent’s personal conscience exists in the conscience of others as well (PhG GW 9:344–345, ¶¶639–640; 351–353, ¶¶652–654; 356–357, ¶662). Thus, inter-subjective linguistic communication situates the individuality dynamics of moral action within an interpretive framework that makes explicit in the actual world its belonging to a universal moral spirit. The spirit of conscientiousness, however, becomes divided against itself in its talk. The agent’s works satisfy the agent’s own interest in a project; and they give the agent alone the satisfaction of having accomplished it. Hence, what the agent does manifests the agent’s exclusive self-concern, which belies the universality

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claimed by the agent’s conscientious talk. Others refuse to acknowledge the conscientiousness of the action and accuse the agent of hypocrisy. In order to protect their own purity of purpose, however, these critics must avoid all involvement in real action, since the structure of action itself focuses the work on the exclusiveness of the agent. The conscientiousness of the critics exists in a community that talks about nothing but the purity of their intentions; and it exists in judgmental talk that condemns the self-interest and hypocrisy of those engaged in particular projects. Those engaged in works and projects condemn this withdrawal from the field of action as itself hypocritical. Those who withdraw pass off judgmental talk as an act of conscience. But the talk commits the speaker to no practical pursuits that claim the world for moral purposes; and it separates the conscience of the speaker from the conscience of others by refusing to acknowledge the conscientiousness of those engaged in practical pursuits (PhG GW 9:350, ¶¶648–649; 352–360, ¶¶655–668). Thus, the moral world dissolves into a dynamic of unification and diversification. The singular, exclusive self-consciousness of conscientious individuals cannot become a communal self-consciousness unless their commitment to the moral fellowship overrules their preoccupation with their own personal projects. The unity of the moral fellowship cannot claim the world as its own, nor can it claim as its own the singular, exclusive self of moral individuals, unless it lets itself go in the personal projects of conscientious agents. This development demonstrates that the spirit of the community exists in the whole opposition dynamic between the two positions, and this changes the fundamental issues. Each party in the dynamic must acknowledge the very opposition of the other as an essential element in its own spirit. The righteousness of morality talk must give way to words of forgiveness and reconciliation, in which the divisive conscientiousness of real action and the self-righteous conscientiousness of unified fellowship acknowledge that each belongs to the true spirit of the community and neither by itself can be the whole truth. The true spirit of the community, therefore, is not the dynamic of morality itself, since nothing within this dynamic encompasses the whole. Morality retreats into a ground in which the spirit distributed in the dynamic of unification and diversification is one, self-same spirit, the absolute spirit of religion, which makes itself manifest in human self-consciousness as the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation (PhG GW 9:359–362, ¶¶667–671; 364–367, ¶¶678–680). Hegel does not tell us exactly why this move shifts from truth defined as spirit to truth defined as absolute spirit. His discussion at the end of the Phenomenology shows that at some point along the way, Hegel has shifted from the spirit of a particular society to the all-encompassing spirit of human history (PhG GW ­ 9:433–434, ¶¶807–808). I will only suggest here how this might work. Since the moral spirit conceives the truth as a spirit common to all rational beings, the concept that emerges from its determinate negation must know the spirit of truth as a spirit not limited to a particular society or culture. Religion may belong to a particular culture at a particular time in history. But it interprets the culture as a society that belongs to a spirit that transcends the particularity of the culture and its confinement to a particular place and time (PhG GW 9:359–362, ¶¶667–671; 364–367, ¶678–680).


A. B. Collins

Now we must ask what has happened to reason’s victory over faith in the spirit of the Enlightenment. When spirit loses its anchor in a spirit that transcends the dynamics of the human social world, it exposes the limitations of the human spirit. This spirit, left to its own devices, reduces objective existence to utility in service to a self preoccupied only with itself; and it reduces this self to a free individuality that must wipe out the existence of other free individuals for no reason except that they are other. The shift into morality tries to rescue the rational self with the universality of moral principles. In the moral view of the world, however, moral righteousness depends on a transcendent principle, a God postulate, which posits the self-sameness of moral subjectivity and objective existence not in the dynamics of human morality, but in a holy will that must be distinguished from it. In the spirit of this postulate, the moral view conceives human morality as a compromised righteousness redeemed by God’s grace, which accepts the flawed universality of human moral agency as if it were truly universal and worthy of reward. In the spirit of conscientiousness, the universality of rational individuals takes the form of an indwelling divine spirit that gives moral worth to the convictions of moral individuals, and this ultimately reveals that human morality has its ground in a spirit that transcends the rationality of the human spirit. As a retreat into a ground, this calls for a reversal that shifts into the immediate, un-derived assertion of the ground itself and a demonstration of the way the moral world is derived from and determined by it. Hence, Hegel begins the examination of religion’s truth expectations by distinguishing religion as it appears in the preceding forms of consciousness from religion as it emerges in the determinate negation of the moral spirit. In the preceding forms, religion appears according to the truth expectations of these forms, which look for truth in the way human consciousness knows an object. Even self-consciousness knows itself in the way the object makes the self known to itself; as reason and spirit, it knows itself realized in the independent reality of the objective world. In these forms of consciousness, therefore, absolute being, which is religion’s object, appears as a transcendent other in which a particular form of human knowing becomes conscious of what the truth is. Religion as it emerges from the moral spirit takes the truth to be the form of knowing proper to absolute being itself. Human experience shifts to the object side of the knowing relation, and conceives itself as the other in which absolute being manifests itself (PhG GW 9:363, ¶672).

9 The Spirit of Religion and the Retreat into Absolute Knowing14 Before proceeding to the critical examination of religion, Hegel identifies something missing in the way reason’s certainty of being all reality has developed up to this point. He points out that the moral spirit and the concept of religion that emerges from it accomplish the aims of knowledge by finding the true essence of

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objective reality in a universal, rational element that reflects the rational spirit of the human self. This, however, leaves out the irrational element in natural existence and as a result does not give the radical otherness of nature its due. The spirit of conscientiousness accepts as necessary the compromises of natural existence, but only as vehicles of the universal. The element of otherness is forgiven for the sake of the conscientiousness that cannot become real without it. As a result, the move into the concept of religion conceives the actual social world, in which thought remains attached to the content of natural existence, as a reality in service to a spirit not properly its own, the unifying spirit of religion. Before the world of conscientiousness can become a true manifestation of absolute spirit, it must bring into its certainty of being all reality the contingent, irrational element of natural existence and the alien otherness exposed in it (PhG GW 9:330–331, ¶¶611–612; 364–365, ¶¶677–678; 367–368, ¶¶682–683). The critical examination of religion reproduces the forms of consciousness, self-consciousness, reason, and spirit as different ways in which absolute being makes itself manifest in human experience (PhG GW 9:366, ¶680; 9:367, ¶683). In the form of consciousness, absolute being manifests itself as the independent objectivity of a natural thing, e.g. God as light (PhG GW 9:368–372, ¶¶684–688). In the form of self-consciousness, it manifests itself as a divinely inspired work of art, e.g. epic poetry and Greek tragedy, which tell of gods involved in the culture and history of the artist’s community and reflect the Muse acting in the artist’s self-consciousness (PhG GW 9:376–378, ¶¶699–704; 388–397, ¶¶727–743). In the form of reason, absolute being reveals itself as the self-sameness of independent being and pure thought, conceived as opposites reconciled in morality’s God concept, and as this concept actualized in the dynamics of conscientiousness. Revelatory religion gives this rational form the form of a divine being knowing itself in its absolute opposite. Hegel says explicitly that the way revelatory religion represents God meets the requirements implicit in the determinate negation of conscientiousness (PhG GW 9:361–362, ¶671; 419–420, ¶786). Revelatory religion represents absolute being as a divine essence that speaks a word into which it pours its very self. The hearing of the word by the other becomes the very self of the other. In this self-speaking and self-hearing, each self knows the other as its own self; and nothing alien or discordant belongs to their relation. This is the purity and self-sameness of absolute spirit existing on its own, completely enclosed within its own tranquility and transparency. Spirit in this form, however, also excludes everything that stands opposed to it, everything alien and discordant. Thus, absolute being, by being exclusive, posits a world whose being is the opposite of God’s harmonious self-sharing. The world is God’s alien other, torn apart by the self-centeredness of self-consciousness, tangled up with the contingencies that manifest nature released from the control of the rational. From this perspective, the world of the human spirit becomes a struggle between good and evil, with evil characterized as enclosed, disconnected separateness, and good characterized as the unifying self-sameness of spiritual belonging. This is the purity and self-sameness of absolute being necessarily ­connected to its opposite through its excluding relation and opposition.


A. B. Collins

Revelatory religion moves beyond this opposition and separateness in the doctrine of the Incarnation. According to this doctrine, the word of God enters the broken world of God’s alien other, takes the form of a human self, and thus becomes an individual participant in the human spirit, subject to its limiting conditions. God incarnate identifies the divine spirit with the evil element that isolates the human spirit in a singular self and creates an alien otherness between self and nature. This is absolute being related to its absolute other as its other self; and this other includes within itself the element that manifests nature released from the control of the rational (PhG GW 9:404–407, ¶¶758–762; 9:410–418, ¶¶769–783). The death of God transforms the absolute otherness of the human world into the absolute spirit of God given away to its other. In its natural meaning, death belongs to the dynamics of the life system, which absorbs individual organisms into the universal process of life coming to be and passing away in its different forms. In the death of God, death “loses its natural meaning,” the incarnate self of God “does not actually die, as the particular self-consciousness is represented as being actually dead.” The death of the incarnate God negates the exclusive particularity that isolates the divine self in one individual situated in a particular time and place, and absorbs the divine self into the movement of human history. Death also negates the detached transcendence that keeps God isolated in the otherness of divine being, and releases the divine self to live as “the universality of the Spirit who dwells in His community, dies in it every day, and is daily resurrected” (PhG GW 9: 418, ¶784–785). The absolute being of God becomes actual for itself in the world of the human spirit (PhG GW 9:419–420, ¶786). These religious representations bring to consciousness the negative side of the determinate negation that emerges in the spirit of conscientiousness: the world of human experience and human rationality is not in itself the truth; the human spirit belongs to a truth that transcends human reason. Hence, religious representation preserves the form of consciousness. It represents God as an other, a “beyond.” Religious representation does not articulate the positive result implicit in morality’s determinate negation, that morality’s spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation manifests a necessity within the transcendent being itself. The transcendent unity of thought and being manifests itself not only as the negation that collapses the otherness of thought and being into the sameness of a whole, but also as the positive distribution and diversification of this unity in the dynamics of the human world. The distinction made must also be cancelled. The transcendent other necessarily pours itself out into the human world, to live as the spirit of human history, to be actualized as the act and responsibility of human moral agents, to be involved in the irrational, unpredictable contingencies of the natural element (PhG GW 9:420–422, ¶¶787–788). Absolute knowing makes this explicit. What revealed religion represents as an other becomes in absolute knowing a concept within human thought (beautiful soul) that necessitates the actualization of truth thus conceived (conscientious action), so that the independence of pure thought knows the independence of the objective world as the same absolute spirit of truth distinguished from itself. This transforms conscientiousness into a knowing with content. Conscientiousness wills as the content of its action the self-sharing

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life of God actualized in the substantial reality of the human spirit’s natural and social-historical existence, with the irrational contingencies of nature and history preserved in it (PhG GW 9:419–423, ¶¶787–789; 425–427, ¶¶795–798). Thus, the Phenomenology retreats into a ground that transcends human rationality, reveals itself as the inward spirit of the human self, and thus identifies human knowing with the absolute truth of thought identified with being. The shift into the beginning of philosophical science asserts this ground in an immediate intuition, which gives it the form proper to what the Phenomenology has proved it to be, the original and presuppositionless principle of the phenomenological development that retreated into it (PhG GW. 9:431–434, ¶¶804–808; WL 21:32–34; 54–56).

10 Conclusion We began this discussion with the aim of determining precisely what kind of transcendence, if any, persists in the beginning concept of philosophical science, which emerges from and is justified by the critical examination of consciousness developed in the Phenomenology. We have shown that when the examination of unhappy consciousness cancels the distinction between the transcendent unchangeable and unhappy consciousness itself, it does not dismiss the unchangeable and its transcendence as a mistaken notion, nor reduce it to the limited form typical of unhappy consciousness itself. Rather it transforms the unchangeable into a self-differentiating unity, and the contradictions of unhappy consciousness into mutually exclusive differences within the same ground. This move, however, does not preserve the strong otherness of the unchangeable and thus transform unhappy consciousness into a religious form of knowing. Rather, it reveals a transcendent dimension within human consciousness itself. The determinate negation of unhappy consciousness carries the examination of consciousness beyond the alien otherness between consciousness and objective existence, which is typical of consciousness in its first two forms. Since, however, it retreats into a rational ground that belongs to human consciousness itself, it does not carry the examination of consciousness into a transcendence that is beyond the human. The focus of our original question must be changed. We must now ask whether the phenomenological project gives evidence of something that transcends human reason. In order to answer the question in this form, it is necessary to pay close attention to the examination of the Enlightenment spirit and the spirit of morality that emerges from it. The examination demonstrates that these forms of consciousness cannot stand on their own, that their own internal structure carries them into a ground that transcends their spirit and exposes their belonging to a rationality that cannot be contained within their limits. When, therefore, Hegel represents the death of God as the negation of God’s independent substantial being and the collapse of divine transcendence into a spirit dwelling within human self-consciousness, this cannot mean that divine transcendence is dismissed or transformed into what is merely human. It means rather that the human spirit is


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transformed into the spirit of God spoken and given away to another, to live as the true essence and ground of spiritual relations played out in the dynamics of the moral world. If, therefore, the Phenomenology is a retreat into a ground, then the transcendent principle that completes the phenomenological project carries over into the beginning of philosophical science. Philosophical science reverses the direction of the Phenomenology’s critical examination of phenomenal consciousness by asserting the ground in its immediacy and developing it as the origin not the result of the determinations that have retreated into it. Philosophical science begins with being in its immediacy conceived as a transcendent ground in which thought and being are one. We must ask, however, whether this reduces the transcendent otherness of God to a transcendent spirit that loses its separate self and becomes absorbed by and reduced to spiritual relations among human beings? The texts of the Phenomenology might allow this interpretation; and it would be enough to justify the presuppositions of philosophical science. It would justify conceiving the truth as the independent reality of being identified with the necessities of pure thought, a truth identified with and revealed in the dynamics of human knowing. It would confirm Hegel’s religious way of speaking about the content of philosophical science and its beginning principle. But would it satisfy to the fullest the aspirations of the human spirit articulated in at least some of its religious forms, those in which God is represented as a self engaged in inter-personal relations— covenant, love, and communication relations—with human beings? I leave this as an open question, and add another question to it. Why does Hegel not insist on preserving the transcendent individuality of God in God’s relations to the human community? In his accounts of family and state, he insists that there must be an individual whose individuality represents to the community the spirit of the community as a whole (PhG GW 9:242, ¶447; 9:245–246, ¶454; 9:262–263, ¶480; 9:275–276, ¶¶506–507; 9:319–320, ¶591). Yet the head of state and the head of a family do not lose the separateness of their individuality in the process. Why not develop a conception of absolute spirit that preserves the independent being of the divine self as one whose spirit represents to the community of humankind the spirit of the community as a whole? Hegel casts revelatory religion in the role of a determinate negation, the negation that governs the transition from the spirit of conscientiousness to the absolute spirit of religion. According to Hegel’s account, revelatory religion represents God as a self-enclosed tranquil and transparent self-sharing, which creates an excluding relation that sets it off from the absolute otherness and divisiveness of the human world? Does the death of God conceived as the surrender of God’s transcendence wipe out this self-enclosed separateness and reduce the divinity to a presence distributed in relations among human beings? Or does it expand the original conception of the Trinity to include its necessary relation to its opposite, which is the way determinate negations are supposed to work? The latter alternative preserves the excluding relation that separates the divine self from the otherness of the human world, but preserves it within

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a relation in which each belongs to the same self-sharing dynamic with the other. In other words, according to this alternative, God lives not only as the spirit of relations among human beings, but also as a relation between a divine self and the community of humankind.15

Notes 1. For more details, see Collins (2013, Chapter 5, 91–103). 2. See, for example, McCumber (1993, 372 n. 98). 3. For an analysis demonstrating that Hegel’s position on the role of the Phenomenology remains consistent in the early and later works, see Collins (2013, Chapter 10). 4. For more details, see Collins (2013, Chapter 6; Chapter 7, §§1–3). 5. For a full discussion of the debate provoked by this ambiguity, see Collins (2013, Chapters 2 and 11). 6. Paragraph (¶) numbers for citations of the Phenomenology of Spirit follow the sequence of paragraphs in the original German text. Paragraph numbers in Miller’s English translation depart from this sequence between ¶404 and ¶549. For these paragraphs subtract 1 in order to locate the paragraphs in the Miller translation. 7. See also Collins (2013, Chapter 4, §§3–6; Chapter 7, §§4–8). 8. Note especially “Das Bewußtsein aber ist für sich selbst sein Begriff” (PhG GW 9, 57). 9. See also Collins (2013, Chapter 9). 10. For a full explanation and defense of this interpretation, see Collins (2013, Chapter 12, especially §§4–5). 11. For a full explanation and defense of this interpretation, see Collins (2013, Chapter 13). For a critique of Alexandre Kojève’s interpretation of the master-servant dialectic, see 288–290. 12. For a more complete analysis of practical reason in this form, with examples to clarify how its complications are experienced, see Collins (2013, Chapter 14, §6). 13. For a fuller discussion of these issues and the debates that have developed around them, see Collins (2013, Chapter 15, §§6–9, and Appendix). 14. For a fuller discussion of this, and a closer examination of the texts, see Collins (2013, Chapters 16 and 17). 15. For an excellent examination of these questions based on Hegel’s Science of Logic, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, and Lectures on the Proofs of the Existence of God, see Williams (2017).

Bibliography Collins, Ardis B. 2013. Hegel’s Phenomenology: The Dialectical Justification of Philosophy’s First Principles. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press. Houlgate, Stephen. 2006. The Opening of Hegel’s Logic: From Being to Infinity. West Lafayette: Purdue University Press. Kojève, Alexandre. 1947. Introduction à la lecture de Hegel, edited by Raymond Queneau. Paris: Gallimard. McCumber, John. 1993. The Company of Words: Hegel, Language, and Systematic Philosophy. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.


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Thompson, Kevin. 2014–2015. “Book Review: Ardis B. Collins, Hegel’s Phenomenology: The Dialectical Justification of Philosophy’s First Principles.” The Owl of Minerva 46 (1–2): 116–128. Williams, Robert R. 2017. Hegel on the Proofs and the Personhood of God. Oxford: University Press.

Chapter 6

Absolute Spirit in Performative Self-Relations of Persons Pirmin Stekeler-Weithofer

1 Introduction and Main Results Hegel’s first book, the Phenomenology of Spirit, had a working title prior to publication: Science of Apparent Consciousness, and was announced as the First Part of the System of Sciences (see PhG GW 9:3). If we recall the meaning of Latin con-scientia, we should not be surprised to find a (meta-)logical treatise on the difficult notions of knowledge, self, conscience, and conscientiousness, and, at the same time, a roadmap for a possible science of spirit in the sense of a philosophy of science,1 according to the Aristotelian expression noesis noeseos, knowledge about knowledge. The emphasis on a phenomenology expresses the insight that philosophical reflection on knowledge is essentially the same as (meta-)logical analysis of scientia. Its task is to explicate the real performances of cognitive and normative claims in all their real appearances, including corresponding evaluations. Such evaluations can take the form of talking about truth, if a sufficient contrast to error or negated propositions is presupposed, together with forms of evaluating correctness or proprieties in quite different dimensions like meaningfulness, rationality, or reasonability. Though this may surprise many readers, I claim there is only a change in the order of presentation when Hegel later develops the topics and methods of the sciences under the title Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences. The received wisdom seems to overlook the basic fact that Hegel’s philosophical science is just the self-consciously reflected Wissenschaft, and that Hegel’s talk of a system here does not designate his own system of philosophical convictions, nor a system of philosophical disciplines, but rather the one and only system of scientific knowledge.

P. Stekeler-Weithofer (*)  University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany e-mail: [email protected]

© The Author(s) 2020 M. F. Bykova and K. R. Westphal (eds.), The Palgrave Hegel Handbook, Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism,



P. Stekeler-Weithofer

Accordingly, the main topic of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit is the Geisteswissenschaften (avant la lettre), or “moral sciences”, including philosophy itself. Under the titles of “nature” and “philosophy of nature,” Hegel reflects in the Encyclopedia on the topics and methods of the natural sciences. Under the title of “logic,” he first reflects on qualitative distinctions, then on sortal or discrete entities in pure or ideal discourse, which means that there are clear equalities N = M and inequalities N ≠ M for their representations N, M defined. Finally, he looks at the measures needed in order to project quantitative magnitudes and mathematical models onto the real world of possible experience. Hence, the real placement problem of philosophy is, if we follow Hegel, not how to fit spirit or sapience into a material world but how to place the physical sciences into our overall knowledge of what there really is. In other words, we have to understand the natural sciences as an achievement of human spirit. As institutions, they are topics of the Geisteswissenschaften and philosophy. As a result, science without philosophy is technics without self-consciousness. Already in the case of animal life, biological knowledge transcends the limitations of physics. This statement contradicts the utopian promise that an ideal (divine?) physicist could, in principle, explain life causally. It is, however not easy to understand the difference between counterfactual possibilities, that are only verbal fictions, like talking about gods, thinking animals or machines with consciousness, and really possible cases with which we should count in our real world, not just in science fiction or utopian novels. We find another impossibility in reducing the phenomena of Practical Philosophy and the Social Sciences to physics. Developments of our systematic knowledge about institutions depend upon norms, rules, laws and the state. We reflect on them systematically in philosophy, ethics, political economy, jurisprudence, and legal studies, but also in the historical sciences and the humanities of letters. In empirical and rational psychology, we develop our knowledge about behavioral and action-related forms of attitudes to the surrounding world and to oneself. The metaphysical agenda in Hegel’s Phenomenology, Logic and Encyclopedia can now be roughly sketched as the insight into the absoluteness of subjectivity. This very expression already explains the label “Absolute Idealism.” It corresponds to a radical acceptance of, and reconciliation with, the finiteness of being and knowledge—in robust criticism of any transcendent metaphysics, to which almost all so-called “isms” belong, from naïve theism to naïve materialism.2 According to the proposed reading, Hegel does not present a phylogenetic or ontogenetic story of an educational development of homo sapiens or (self-)consciousness, starting with animal sentience and ending at some mythical absolute knowledge. This interpretation was suggested by one of Hegel’s greatest admirers, Karl Marx and is shared by Georg Lukács (1986), Alexandre Kojève, and Jean Paul Sartre. Today it seems that almost everyone follows it, including Axel Honneth and Robert Brandom in his very interesting, fresh and new approach to the Phenomenology.3 Even John McDowell expresses a similar position when, in the first paragraph of his “The Apperceptive I and the Empirical Self:

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Towards a Heterodox Reading of ‘Lordship and Bondage’ in Hegel’s Pheno­ menology” he writes: “Hegel’s Phenomenology traces an education of consciousness, as a result of which it is to attain the standpoint of absolute knowing” (McDowell 2009, 147). I find no such path of education in Hegel’s text, nor a fixed standpoint of absolute knowing. Instead, I developed a different reading of Hegel’s Phenomenology (Stekeler 2014), a very short sketch of which is presented here. According to my reading, Hegel’s Phenomenology shows how to understand truth as the fulfilment of specified criteria, in contrast to the pragmatically much more basic performative attitudes and other subjective and expressive acts. In the case of a claim that says, for example, that what I see before me is a deer and not a cow, the question of truth refers to the relation between assumed satisfactionconditions for assertions, on one side, how things stand in the world, on the other. If we do not confuse empirical statements with generic sentences that, instead of representing anything, express conceptual rules presupposed in truth conditions a priori (in a sense even more general than Kant’s), it is harmless to speak of representations in our assumptions, in information, or in hopes (pace Richard Rorty and Robert Brandom). Based on its content, a claim is true only relative to the fulfilment of the relevant criteria or conditions a posteriori. The content is a very complex fulfilment condition due to its presupposed conceptual inferences, which may reach far into the future. The fact that I make some claim in a speech act, or express my attitude to a proposition, is not in this sense relative. It is as absolute as any other performance of an action. According to my reading, Hegel’s Phenomenology disambiguates our usual talk about absolute knowing and truth. Subjective performances are finite but absolute, whereas speculative reflections on “absolute” objectivity of nature as a whole—for example by some implicit appeal to a divine infinite view sideways on, sub specie aeternitatis—are merely counterfactual fictions that may help to articulate the finitude of all real things and all real knowledge ex negativo. This reading may be contested, but it should at least be taken seriously as a possible reading; if it may not capture the whole of Hegel’s protean Phenomenology, it highlights important aspects that have been chronically neglected, and sets a crucial baseline for the adequacy of social theory. We must distinguish between the act a subject actually performs and the generic action the subject means to enact. If I say that it is raining, the information may be wrong, if the truth condition defining the content of the assertion is not fulfilled; but the commitment I undertake by my assurance or belief is absolute in Hegel’s sense, as I read it: it is not relative to what in the end is or was the fact. John Searle’s talk of a direction of fit can be nicely applied here: We can distinguish between cases in which “doing so makes it so” from those claims that “fit” or are true, only if specifiable conditions (typically, in the world) are satisfied, whether by chance or some relative necessity. Systematically, Hegel’s understanding of the absoluteness of performances goes back to Descartes’ insight that any act of doubt already is an act of thinking, of performing a (silent) speech act.4 Fichte’s proto-pragmatist insight into the primacy of (free) action with respect to all knowledge claims has the same root.


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Actions are changes in the world. This holds for acts and speech acts as well as for adopting or rejecting propositional attitudes, if we understand the latter in contrast to alternative attitudes and orientations, which we can or could choose as well. In a sense, the insight into the absoluteness of subjective performances is an elucidation of Kant’s rather obscure talk about the spontaneity of action and thinking. In determining how to act properly, however, the generic content and goal of the action, taken as a type, form and schema of an action, always already depend on general knowledge and belief, i.e. on propositional attitudes, presupposing a determinateness and understanding of the propositions in question. A maxim (Kant), plan (Vorsatz) and intention (Absicht) can exist only relative to such general knowledge and general belief, because there is no access to any possible future if not mediated by conceptual representation, which presupposes language, the basic medium of human intelligence. If we do not forget the truism that we cannot see or perceive, sense, feel or intuit mere possibilities, all forms of empiricism collapse—and we must reflect on the real way to represent possibilities by thinking, i.e. in a public or silent use of language, including pictures and diagrams. Moreover, the generic identity of any action is always contrasted to other relevant action-schemes; it cannot be specified without (at least implicit) reference to a presupposed set of general alternatives. There simply is no well-determined singular act, event or thing, which is not a particular version of instantiating a generic type within a finite set of generic alternatives. Individuum est ineffabile, says Goethe; there are no infimae species, says Kant (GS 24:569) (very much in the spirit of Aristotle). A token in an absolute sense does not exist as a well-defined object of meaningful talk or thought in the real world. In the same way, the notion of a moment now as a time-point with no extension (PhG GW 9:64–68) refers at best to the general form of distinguishing between what happens now and what has happened or will happen at other times. This corresponds to Hegel’s insight that a naked demonstrative like “this” with no indication of the kind of objects to which one wants to refer, has no referent at all (PhG GW 9:63–65). Quine’s famous example is congenial to Hegel’s thought if we want to interpret deictic introductions of a word like “Gavagai” in the foreign language of an unknown tribe properly: we must already surmise that the word might refer to rabbits in contrast to rabbit-parts or to past rabbit shapes (Quine 1960, 31, 90). Hegel distinguishes the generic form, i.e. the type or species of things, events or doings by using the expression “an sich” (“as such,” “in-itself”), from its actualization, the thing, event or action in-and-for-itself. At the same time, Hegel criticizes Kant’s misleading use of the logical expression “an sich.” If we say that a cat as such has four legs, we talk in the mode of the “an-sich” and express a conceptual principle or default rule, referring to the whole genus and the corresponding generic inference(s) or normal expectation(s). If we realize this, we know there are exceptions and that particular cases can contradict the general rule. This is the basic ground for Hegel’s dialectic as the logical insight that applying generic norms in particular cases is, in general, non-monotonic.5 This is a categorical contrast to merely formal logic in sortal domains, as we find them in a pure form only

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in mathematics. In dialogues about the real world, a speaker is supposed to signal important exceptions if he knows that a normal expectation does not hold in a particular, exceptional case. The hearer, in turn, must be aware of the limitations of default entitlements provided by his informants. We know generic things an sich much earlier than their relevant particular exceptions, just as young children already learn about dogs and their typical behavior by looking at picture books and listening to adults, not merely by experiencing real dogs in the external world. In contrast to this, Kant’s Ding an sich refers to the totally empty idea of a world of entities and facts “in itself,” detached from any access by us. To such a thing an sich only a fictional God beyond space and time could have access, whereas we humans are always limited to our forms of thinking or speaking and to our local sensory intuitions, i.e., to our actual relations to spatial and temporal processes at present. Kant’s unfortunate contrast between our limited forms of intuition (and thinking) to God’s intellectual intuition, viewed as a direct access to the world an sich in all past and future, leaves to us only the immanent point of view. We can agree as far as it goes if we only do not forget the fact that in our reflections on our epistemic relations to the world, we ourselves construct a counterfactual view from the side, a fictional divine perspective. Hegel therefore seeks to rectify Kant’s contrast through his phenomenological approach. It includes a critique of dealing schematically with our own speculative views on the world an sich “beyond all appearances.” Here, the principle of formal consistency do not hold. There is no way of talking about God without inner incoherence. Nevertheless, we need such speculative reflections in reflecting on the very notions of truth and knowledge in their tension between actual knowledge and ideal (divine) truth. Moreover, consistency is not enough for serious possibility. Many sets of sentences are formally consistent but do not deserve to be taken seriously at all—such that their content should not count as possible at all, but may be conceptually impossible—as Hegel sees much clearer even than modern Analytic Philosophy. For example, it does not at all suffice to prove the formal consistency of the assumption of a free will in some merely intelligible world. Instead, we require an immanent distinction between acts performed at will and other behaviors or accidents to which the adverbial label “voluntary” is inappropriate. Whereas Fichte seems to urge us to make a basic decision in favor of the pragmatic approach, Hegel develops Fichte’s original insight by contrasting not just the I as the subject and the non-I as the object, but also contrasting force and content, long before Frege invents a notational expression in written formulas for it, namely his assertion sign. The performance of a particular act in and for itself— for example an actualization of a particular illocutionary act in the sense of Austin (1977)—stands in a certain contrast to the generic act in itself. Absolute spirit in the Hegel’s final paragraphs of the Phenomenology is the practice of making speculative self-consciousness explicit, at first in religion and art, and then in philosophy. In these forms of practices, we reflect upon and develop conscious attitudes to our whole being (within the world) as persons. Finite contents of objective knowledge-claims about local facts (in the world) do


P. Stekeler-Weithofer

not play a decisive role for such an infinite attitude, which is, rather, an attitude to the indefinite world (of everything that is, as we say, and to all possibilities). Hegel’s emphasis on becoming (Werden) then expresses the insight that the world of things, facts, events and processes goes far beyond the domain that can be explained by the limited means or methods of mechanisms in the physical sciences. This is so even though all things are made of (chemical) matter and all changes can be viewed, at least in principle, as movements of matter and things. The real problem of physicalism or materialism is its mechanism, as Hegel will show again in the Logic of the Concept. The problem consists in the dogmatic claim that all processes can be explained by forces, ideally represented by pre-determined mathematical functions. The danger of such a sweeping exaggeration of actual possibilities of explanation results from a neglect of the difference between generic pre-knowledge as we develop it in our biological knowledge about the normal and exceptional behavior of living beings and universal generic predictions. Functions that at least in part are only described ex post facto as courses of values are not yet functions by which we can calculate some values and, via some projective applications of the values, predict some typical events in the future. Any (finite) content or concept consists, according to Hegel’s recollection of Plato’s Eidos (see PhG GW 9:40), of the following moments: a differentiation or specification (the Horos of determinateness, as Hegel says; PhG GW 9:14), some normal inferences or expectations attached to the expression (the Logos), and its related default forces or generic dispositions. A world-related conceptual form is such a unity. Science is the institution of working on the concept. In it, we develop a harmonized unity of our conceptual differentiations with some attached normal expectations or dispositions. In contrast to the sciences, philosophy in its modern form reflects on the whole framework of scientific conceptualizations. It does so from a very general point of view. The word “speculation” signals this highest level of (logical) reflection. (“Speculation” derives from speculari [Latin], meaning to observe or examine.) The world of facts and concepts, of physical bodies and intelligent minds, is the one and only world we live in. This monism is the true message of Spinoza’s Ethics and Schelling’s Naturphilosophie. This world contains all possible aspects, not only its physical (mechanical) features. It is therefore not only the cosmos, the universe of stars and planets, nor merely the earth and its creatures that arose after an imagined beginning of a limited cosmos; it is also the institutional world of spirit. Where the scientific worldview turns into physicalism or mechanism, it shifts unwittingly from knowledge and beliefs about things or processes in the world to speculative and metaphysical sentences about the whole world, from pragmatic or instrumental knowledge to a kind of total attitude. Such attitudes are traditionally the topics of religious discourse. Spinoza, Hume, Schopenhauer, and their followers do not seem to see, for example, that their view of human subjects as animals with more or less developed skills and inner drives as the alleged final cause of all human behavior, triggered by enactive perception (Alva Noë), already belongs to

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a quasi-religious, speculative, self-image and not to scientific knowledge at all.6 Hegel agrees only insofar as there is no human action and no act of thinking that does not already make some use of our bodily desires and feelings of satisfaction. We need, however, a sufficient account of their transformation into subjective evaluations of conceptual fulfilment conditions: It is always wrong to remain content with subjective feelings of satisfaction or of discontent; we must instead evaluate propositions as good or bad orientations. Skepticism has a similar logical form as pessimism. To doubt everything or to accept with Hume and his empiricist followers only one’s own perceptual experiences as grounding cognitions means to turn oneself into an animal. Unfortunately, no argument can force such a skeptic or empiricist to admit this verbally, since verbal self-declarations are fundamentally free. Furthermore, nothing follows for me from an (speech–)act without my recognizing freely that something should be inferred on the base of conceptual, standard, typical, species-related knowledge. We therefore must characterize knowledge as the jointly developed and individually learned canon or system of norms of generic and conceptual differential inferences from empirical cognition of singular and particular cases. The canon defines normal or generic correctness of default rules of inferences. Empirical cognition is essentially indexical, referring to some or many singular worldly cases. Generic knowledge is, at least according to its ideal form, time-general. As long as the binding power of generally accepted norms for correct inferences is suspended by a skeptic at will, or if he asks too much in his quest for certainty and justification, no one can convince him to change his attitude. As long as his free will to doubt remains his heaven, all love’s labor is lost. The skeptic’s attitude is absolute, in fact, absolutely arbitrary and subjective when he refuses to see the robust contrast between arbitrary and other kinds of attitudes or judgements, or does not want to take part in distinguishing good and bad, sufficient and insufficient reasons. The difference between an animal and a skeptic is that the animal cannot develop sapience or conceptual competence in our sense at all, whereas the skeptic tries to justify his unwillingness to use free judgement in applying generic knowledge and conceptual norms. He also overemphasizes the truism that the real world always presents us with middling or border-line cases of continuous ranges or classifications, so that we must disregard such specifics in order to focus on sufficiently clear and distinct central cases or normal types. This excludes mere schematic understanding without experienced judgements about what is rational or reasonable in view of our faculty and competence to master joint distinctions and to work with norms of default inference. Asking reasonable questions is an art, not a schematic technique. We make distinctions and check on different levels of reflection the corresponding joint practice of differentiating relevant cases for relevant inferences. This holds also for the corresponding practice of identifying cases, i.e. not differentiating them in an act of negating a negation, but counting them as generically equivalent, or as Hegel says: as “gleichgültig” (equally valid). Improvements in such a practice do not question the practice as a whole.


P. Stekeler-Weithofer

Although no arguments can force a skeptic to take part in a free evaluation of where to stop his doubts and quest for reasons, and where to start cooperative trust in generic knowledge or conceptual truths established by the sciences and philosophy in the past, we know that skepticism and pessimism are wrong attitudes. The main result of the Phenomenology is, in the end, the insight that speculative attitudes to the whole world (a.k.a God) are absolute. Hence, they must be evaluated as good or bad by totally different criteria than empirical facts or generic laws, systematically expressed in scientific theories. The upshot of this path of reflection is a secularization of theodicy, from the book Hiob in the bible to Leibniz. Hegel does not attempt to refute a possible accusation of God or nature (deus sive natura) as being not good but dissolves it by self-conscious reconciliation or sublation (Aufhebung): God cannot be viewed as a finite subject and nature does not act at all. The actual world is the best possible world only because there is no other real world. Any alternative possible world is only a content of a fictitious novel. Living in the real world thus stands against not living at all. The belief in a benevolent God is just a mythical, or rather allegorical, expression of the very insight that there is only one world, the world in which we live, together with the judgement that living is still better than not living. The true solution to théodicée is a generically positive attitude to life and the world as a whole despite all pain and horror in particular cases. Fictions of better worlds than the real world may have some good functions, as fairy tales and novels also do, but only if we remain the masters in using our own sketches of alternative possibilities, ideals, ideas, and hopes. This reading of the Phenomenology is much more radically heterodox than McDowell’s or Brandom’s.

2 Systematic and Conceptual Background Hegel’s original goal in writing the Phenomenology of Spirit seems to have been a comprehensive explication of the notion of knowledge as the subjective moment in a logic of truth. In the course of the work, Hegel’s topic shifted more and more to the task of giving a differential account of animal and human consciousness, and of the notoriously obscure notions of “self” and “identity” in any sort of practical self-relation, including all kinds of “self-consciousness.” Developing our knowledge about the apparent reality of (self-)consciousness turns the Cartesian proposition “I think therefore I am” into a version of the principle “saying so, makes it so” in performative speech acts. As a result, the ominous “intellectual intuition,” which Kant only attributed to God, is, ironically, just the absolute form of practical (self-)relation according to the maxim: “doing so, makes it so.” Absolute spirit is, in the end, the overall form in meta-level self-knowledge of what it is to be a person, performing conscious acts and reflecting on their

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forms. Speculative reflections are first actualized in religious contexts that separate general spirit conceptually from individual subjects and their limited faculties. In a similar way, we talk about a spiritual soul in order to represent our own generic or transcendental “I” in a figurative, anthropomorphic, way. We do this in order to point to our participation in humankind—such that critical philosophy must reconcile the split between me and us, between my subjective mind and our trans-subjective spirit, intelligence, or sapience—and “sublate” the possibly wrong readings. Later, mankind realizes that all representations of the divine, of gods or spiritual powers, go back to our own crafts and arts, to Holy Scriptures and poetry. Art shows up in the architecture of temples and churches with their statues, sculptures, paintings, but also in music and dance. Hegel sketches, indeed, a kind of development from abstract religion to a religion of artists, especially in the Egyptian, Greek and Roman realms, but also in the Renaissance and following epochs. Under the disguise of the divine, the community celebrates itself, namely a (relatively) free society, sheltered by state law, which makes free personal relations between citizens possible. These relations surpass by far the merely communitarian forms of cooperation within the limits of families, tribes, races, or religions. Speculative philosophy is, in the end, meta-meta-level reflection on the real meaning of religion and art, and on the real truths achieved in the sciences and used as conceptual presuppositions or generic knowledge even in everyday language. Religion, art, and philosophy thus are human institutions parallel to the sciences, distinguished by their specific task of reflecting on whole contexts and producing maps of our entire human world, not only of the physical cosmos, from a speculative point of view. The system of education, health care, economy with its contracts and treaties, and the state with its laws and orders are other systems and special topics of speculative reflection: the topics of objective spirit, sc. the Geisteswissenschaften, once designated in English as the moral sciences, but since degraded into mere “humanities” and social sciences. As institutions, they are collective practices, performed by us, and stand beside religion and philosophy. Philosophy as logical reflection, in turn, talks about the expressive forms and speculative roles of religion, art—and of philosophical wisdom itself. Only on this high level of a formally infinite ascent of possible self-reflection do we reach the status of self-consciousness in theoretical and practical matters and learn to know who we are. We are persons and citizens in a cooperative system that makes it possible to become a person. Hegel’s new version of a categorical imperative therefore takes the following form: “be a person and respect the others as persons,” as we find it in §36 of his Philosophy of Right. The gnomic oracle entails Nietzsche’s similar but much less precise version “become who you are,” which, of course, goes back to Pindar (2. Pyth. Ode 72), who says „genoi hoios essi mathōn“, which means that we should become persons by learning.


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2.1 Ding an sich, Transcendental Apperception, and Intellectual Intuition According to my understanding, Hegel begins his considerations in a context in which Schelling and others worried about Kant’s talk about a Ding-an-sich (thingin-itself) and reflected on the sense of Kant’s transcendent “ideas” of God, the World, and the Soul. Further topics are Kant’s talks about (receptive and apperceptive) intuition (Anschauung) in contrast to a “transcendent” notion of “intellectual intuition” as the power of God to produce the whole world just by thinking and willing it (as we find it in all theological religions influenced by Hellenism, e.g. in the Islamic thought of Avicenna). These problems stand in close connection to the basic principle of transcendental apperception and Descartes’ res cogitans. Fichte sees that Descartes’ argument leads from the performance of an act to the existence of me as the actor. As such, the argument has the same form as “intellectual intuition:” thinking a thought makes me into a thinker of that thought. However, as a thinker I am no peculiar res cogitans, but a human being performing (or trying to perform) an act of a certain form. Insofar, a self-conscious inference from “ambulo,” I am walking, to “I am a walker” and from there to “I exist walking” is of the same form, even though Descartes did not agree. All this is closely connected with Kant’s claim that any (conscious) presentation or representation (Vorstellung) of anything in the world must be possibly (or even actually) accompanied by some “I think (of it).” Hegel seems to ask what this all means. In contrast to Hume and to contemporary empiricism (self-)consciousness or con-scientia is, in the usage of Descartes, Kant, and Hegel, much more than (self-) awareness, (self-)attention or vigilance, which we share with animals and their enactive sentience. Descartes even defines thinking as an “inner action” of the “mind,” accompanied by self-control (“conscientia”)—which we should understand with Hegel as merely subjective spirit. An example for such an inner action is our silent reading of books, but even more so our verbal planning or silent intention to perform an action-scheme. “Inner actions” like intending are indeed (necessarily) accompanied by some forms of (self-)consciousness, as Kant unconsciously repeats Descartes. This holds for conscious knowing how to do something, i.e. how to execute a generic form of action, but also for how to make that form of action, its leading maxim (plan and content, intention or form), explicit— and goes far beyond merely behavioral performances. Consciousness and self-consciousness in the sense of con-scientia are already mixtures of knowing how to do things and knowing that we do this or that action. Thinking is thus always already partaking in joint practices of common knowledge (con-scientia) by performing acts of knowing-how-to-do-things-properly and knowing what something is—in view of the relevant norms of conceptual distinctions. Animals do not have consciousness in the proper, normative, sense of the word. They do not have joint knowledge, which is, indeed, one of the meanings of Latin con-scientia and its Greek origin syn-eidesis (see Hennig 2006).

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The more special meaning of conscience develops from the need of self-control in judging one’s own executions and fulfilments of normative conditions of good judgements and actions. Sincerity or good intentions are not enough, as already Hegel and recently Bernard Williams in his last book had pointed out against a merely “coherentist” morality of Kant with its merely subjective sincerity.7 What we need is accuracy (Williams 2002), which I propose to identify with Hegel’s conscientiousness, “Gewissenhaftigkeit,” which alone is ethical self-consciousness about the cultural and social background of all moral norms and ethical duties; this is Hegel’s “Sittlichkeit.” It is, of course, still open how to understand the words “self” and “I” and our talk about the “subject” of thinking and consciousness. What thinking is, who is the thinker, and how to understand the subject of thinking, are leading questions of Hegel’s enterprise in his Phenomenology of Spirit. Parts of the question concern the difference and the identity of me as the object of my reflection with me as subject, i.e. between the “I” and the “Me,” “Myself” or “my Self,” as we can say in generic reflection. These questions are crucial for any human or personal selfconsciousness. We cannot and we should not reduce self-consciousness with Fichte or Henrich to the immediate subjectivity of the performing actor, because the relevant logical form of self-reflection is “I affirm about myself that I have a property P.” In other words, we must include the performative form of self-assurance within the logical analysis, as Frege had also seen when he introduced his assertion sign, expressing the “force” of affirmation. This move is criticized by Wittgenstein (in the Tractatus) and is still contested today—a sign for the fact that it is not yet really understood. According to my reading, Hegel radicalizes and demystifies the Cartesian approach to the human mind insofar as he dismantles ontic talk about a detached soul, as we know it from “rational psychology” and from theological traditions, yet without adopting “materialism,” which identifies the power of the mind with the functions of the brain. Hegel further re-categorizes all talk about God in religious and rational theology.

2.2 Self-Consciousness The Phenomenology is, from the beginning to the end, a project to make explicit the actual and real forms of (self-)consciousness. To understand this goal properly, we must remain aware of how Hegel uses words like “understanding,” “(self-)consciousness” and “reason” (also) as (sub-)labels for limited aspects (or concepts) of spirit. That is, “spirit” is his word for comprehensive (self-)consciousness, which contains, as such, all forms of singular and generic (implicit and explicit, practical and reflective) knowledge about the essential forms of our human life. As a general capacity or competence, spirit is not an object of subjective introspection or intuition. If it is an object, then only as the generic topic of our


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reflections on performative forms of joint practices and institutions. These forms exist as moments in individual and collective actualizations of types of judgements and actions. Subjective mind is the performative I of a personal subject which is different from the objects or themes of self-knowledge. The same holds for the societal, institutional and, as such, generic, We, which is not immediately identical with what I or we say about ourselves. On the other hand, the I is a We and the We is an I (PhG GW 9:108): I do what we can do; and it is always a personal subject who says or assures in an expressive mode “we do this.” Only in a choir we sing the word “we” together if it appears in a song. Only later, in the chapter titled “Spirit,” Hegel makes clear in which sense spirit is the generic We and, at the same time, the generic I. Moreover, this We is, in a sense, the actualized form of a joint human life. This form is not a utopian idea or a mere thought, as the English words suggest. It rather corresponds to Plato’s “highest idea,” the idea of the real good, the true and beautiful form of life, idea tou agathou. As such, “the idea” contains the whole system of norms presupposed in all judgements, in the real forms for all proprieties in reflecting judgements about correctness, rationality, truth, and reason.

2.3 Being an Object of Knowledge and Being as a Performative Attitude Hegel seems to see long before Heidegger the importance of the ontological difference between ourselves as objects of reflective talk and ourselves as subjects of practical life, of mental attitudes, judgements and joint actions. A similar difference concerns nature as the object of the natural sciences and the world, in which we live, the earth as our human habitat together with all other creatures and the surrounding cosmos. The crucial point is that our very presence or Dasein here and now is conditioned by cosmos and nature, but our knowledge and our images of the cosmos, of nature and of ourselves within nature are, in turn, conditioned by our ways of being personal subjects. Moreover, long before George Herbert Mead and his followers (Mead 2009), Hegel realized that each of us in our mental capacity largely depends upon education in community surroundings of family and peer-groups. The forms of thinking and acting together are provided by the tradition and social context in which we live, by the grouping of the We to which we belong. This holds even for our capacities to develop new forms and norms of judgements and actions. Understanding freedom of thought and action correctly is the central task of Hegel’s entire philosophy. Hume and Kant shared that goal; Hume missed it because his picture of man collapses into a picture of a clever social animal, whereas Kant’s transcendental arguments for free will as an existing noumenon mystifies the reality of freedom and action, just as Descartes and Leibniz had done before.

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2.4 Relative Self-Ascriptions and Absolute Performation Performing an illocutionary act such as: “I promise that I will come,” or: “I think about myself (and about you) right now,” is absolute in the sense that it cannot be false in contradistinction to any judgement about another person or myself or any (self-)attribution of some property or faculty. In other words, such judgements and attributions are always relative and subjective in the following sense: They express a claim about a relation between the speaker and the object which can be satisfied or not, true or false. As in the Cartesian proposition “I think,” performing any illocutionary act is, as such, absolute. This does not mean that it involves some absolute knowledge. On the contrary. Later Wittgenstein sees again that the performative reading of this absolute only denies that it is a matter of theoretical knowledge. It is instead a matter of performative practice.

3 Investigating Real Human Consciousness 3.1 Deconstructing Empiricist Self-Knowledge Hegel’s phenomenology proceeds more destructively than constructively; i.e., Hegel deconstructs immediate intuitions about what thinking or mind or (self-)consciousness is. One opponent is the empiricist idea that consciousness is awareness, i.e. a direct perceptual relation either to some objects of my inner sense (such as sense data or raw feels) or to physical objects of the outer world as alleged causes of my sensations and perceptions.8 Hegel, the great foe of immediacy (Sellars), is the first to dismantle the myth of the given (Sellars, McDowell, Brandom). It is the myth of sense-data as we find it in Hume, Berkeley avant la lettre, i.e. before Russell, Carnap, or Ayer. But the idea of impressions, causally produced by physical objects, as we find it already in Locke down to Quine’s epistemic naturalism, is no less problematic. It presupposes quite high-level theories and commentaries about perception and talks about them sideways on. Any referential relation to things in the world is, as Hegel argues, always already conceptually mediated. Therefore, it presupposes generic knowledge together with linguistic and practical competence. The first steps in Hegel’s arguments lead us away from identifying consciousness with immediate awareness or attention to develop an insight into the difference between a merely habitual attitude of desire, i.e. animal appetite, and an already self-reflexive intentionality and self-conscious intention. Self-consciousness as a necessary aspect of human consciousness is due to our need to control the proprieties of proper intentional relations, including our own intentional actions. I must control these proprieties, even when I control or judge about the truth or normative correctness of your claims, judgements or actions. As a result, it sounds as if this I or Self is some kind of


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higher or spiritual entity called “self-consciousness,” which is the master of all judgements and actions, addressed under the word “soul” as the subject or master of thinking and under the word “will” as the subject or master of action. The body seems to be the mere tool of this spiritual master. This is an age-old picture of the relation between my self-consciousness and my body.

3.2 Deconstructing a Thinking Soul as the Master of the Body Hegel shows, according to my reading of the most famous passage of the Phenomenology of Spirit, the chapter on master and slave, that the image sketched above is not only wrong; it is inconsistent and incomprehensible. Unfortunately, the usual reading jumps far ahead into a social reading of joint self-consciousness, of acknowledging other persons. The real problem is to understand what it means to recognize norms as binding in judgements. As such, the usual reading loses track of Hegel’s deconstructive arguments. Stoicism is wrong in identifying the master with pure thinking. Skepticism is wrong because it is the position of the slave in the sense of a thoughtless pragmatism, which is, as such, behaviorism. It is not easy to make sense of all moves in Hegel’s text. Especially, his transitions to new chapters or aspects are hard to understand. It seems clear, however, that the transition from the chapter on self-consciousness to the chapter on reason rests on the insight that any judgement of correctness, truth or rightfulness presupposes a distinction between me as the singular subject performing an assurance on one side, and normative criteria or distinctions between good, true or reasonable assertions or orientations on the other. I always appeal to such normative criteria when I say that something is true, right, correct, reasonable, or real—or not. And such criteria are established by us—in a generic sense of this Us and We. In the chapter on reason, Hegel first shows that we must overcome the mystifying dualism between sentience and sapience, sensitivity and reason. Reason is no transcendent instance to which we can appeal. What is it then? How can I know about reason? How can reason guide me or us? What exactly guides us, if the guide should be reason?

3.3 Deconstructing Intuitive Appeals to Reason One aspect of the chapter on reason is to leave mental subjectivity and solipsism behind and to accept the objectivity of reason. In contradistinction to Kant and most Kantians, Hegel realizes long before Nietzsche, Foucault and post-modernist critics of the self-declared ages of reason and enlightenment that any appeal to reason can hide a version of subjectivism that is even more dangerous than

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immediate egoism. The problem is that in a certain moral stance, the stance of Kant’s Practical Reason, the individual appears as having, allegedly, the last word about all the norms and forms of reason. Thus, the individual subject becomes the master of reason. To assume that I have the last word about anything confuses the performative act with its content and truth, the feeling of certainty with knowledge. Hegel sees, moreover, that the deep mistake in Kant’s subjective philosophy rests on overestimating consistency. If my proposals about what could be acknowledged as moral norms are consistent with what I do, it neither follows that what I am doing is ethically right, nor that those norms which could be consistently accepted can function already as sufficient conditions for evaluating a form of action or maxim as morally allowed or good. The same holds for theoretical knowledge and for speculative images or maps of the whole world. Consistency is never a sufficient condition for truth and knowledge, not even for serious possibility. At best, it rules out a certain form of mistakes, failures, or shortcomings. Hegel’s critique of Kant thus rests on a rather trivial logical insight, which is, in the end, as true as it is important: consistency and sincerity are not nearly good enough. Consistency and sincerity are necessary conditions for true and good judgements, but they are not sufficient for the truth or the ethical goodness of the judgement or corresponding action. This insight corresponds to the important thesis defended in Hegel’s habilitation in Jena. One of Hegel’s theses states: Contradictio regula veri, non-contradictio falsi—contradiction is the limiting rule for what is right, non-contradiction for what is wrong. I.e. non-contradiction or consistency can only be used as a demarcation for what is wrong, it is not sufficient as a criterion of truth. Only now can we understand the basic points in Hegel’s attack on what he calls the “position of reason” in Kant’s subjective idealism: What is reasonable in the sense that it is a possible form or norm of judgement and action, is, as such, not yet true or good. Hence, the mere possibility of a consensus, say, about a proposal “p” to give a normative answer to such questions as, e.g., where it should be permissible to smoke or how to treat embryos, does not at all suffice for using “p” as a norm. In other words, not possible acknowledgments but real agreements are the foundation of ethical judgements. The same holds for the criteria of theoretical truth. The subjectivity of the standpoint of reason is the subjectivity of mere sincerity. Sincerity is never enough. On the contrary, sincere well-meaning without accuracy (Bernard Williams) tends to self-righteous hypocrisy. Therefore, the standpoint of morality, which Hegel identifies with Kant’s Practical Reason and its alleged basic principle, the Categorical Imperative, appears from the standpoint of real ethics as the culmination of subjectivism. Hegel’s irony becomes sarcastic when he says that the principle of moral reason thus turns into a principle of ethical evil. The road to hell is not only paved with good intentions, it is guided by signposts proclaiming: We all should act in such a way that I consistently can think that all could and should act according to it. Of course, a defender of Kant might claim that he did not mean his principle of morality or Practical Reason in this way.


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However, the point is what Kant actually says, not what he means in the sense of what he should have said, given the problems of interpretation Hegel fingers. The standpoint of reason is not sufficiently objective. The objectivity of ethics (Sittlichkeit) only rests on real institutions of cooperation in practice and joint evaluation of judgements. Hence, not subjective moral reason but the state, understood as the entire system of actually instituted norms and forms of proper judgement and action, is the (generic) subject of Sittlichkeit. Not subjective reason but the system of epistemic and ethical institutions is the spirit of laws. The same holds for truth and knowledge, even for good aesthetical judgement. In the chapter on Reason, Hegel deconstructs another attempt to overcome the mystifying idea of a subjective mind by an objective turn, the turn from talking about the soul to talking about the brain. This turn continues the course of argument, which Hegel had developed in the famous passages on master and slave: The real master cannot be a paper tiger of pure thinking, as in stoicism. The real master is the acting body, the slave. From this it is only a short step to assume that my self and my brain are essentially the same and that consciousness and self-consciousness consist of the images or pictures the brain creates about the world at large and the person’s body in this world. However, Hegel ridicules this account, too, where he replaces the soft brain by the hard skull and shows that no observation of living or dead brains or skulls can show us the mental or even intelligent parts and processes in our behavior and action. In other words, brain-watching as an approach to understanding the human mind is superstitious and fundamentally wrong, as mistaken as trying to find the areas of Haydn’s real musical genius or Lenin’s alleged political genius by investigating his skull.

3.4 Human Spirit as the Form of a Personal Subject in We-Groups Mental processes can only be understood in the context of a social philosophy or theoretical (micro and macro) sociology, not in the context of physiology or merely behavioral psychology. These are the results of Hegel’s analysis, if we translate them into modern language: The human mind is a function of our human social life. It is defined by competent participation in social institutions like language and learning, ethics and legal justice, aesthetics and religion. Mental competence is, in the end, personal competence, which depends, as such, on social competence. Nevertheless, Hegel supports the turn of investigation to the real processes, even in the brain. We cannot or should not simply presuppose a spiritual mind or transcendent soul; but the turn to bodily parts is a bad idea, if we neglect the whole person’s and not just the brain’s social and historical context. A brain as such is as dead as the skull. Not the brain makes humans intelligent; a specific use of it can

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be intelligent (or not so intelligent). The same holds for language, which is a social institution, but also requires good usage, good application. From here, it is no great step to the most general and at the same time basic structures of objective spirit. This domain ranges from the informal communities of families and clans to formal society and the state or nation. Families and clans form the realm of the sacred, divine, communitarian law of kinship. The state is the domain of the positive law as the framework for a civic society with its institution of property, free division of labor and all the norms of habeas corpus, of bodily integrity, which define, for example, murder, robbery and kidnapping as crimes. Karl Popper, for one, totally missed all these points and overlooked entirely Hegel’s most radical liberalism in his analysis of human rights and the ‘philosophical’ foundations of a lawful society.

4 Absolute Spirit Subjective idealism appears in the version of the empirical idealism of Descartes or the mystical and sweeping enthusiastic empiricism of Berkeley, as Kant writes in the Prolegomena (GS 4:375 note). Locke’s physiology of understanding wavers between empiricism and materialism in the tradition of Hobbes, i.e. between a subjectivist foundation of cognition and a dogmatic belief in theoretical entities and causes as they belong to our explanations in physics and physiology. Hume’s skeptical behaviorism tries to be more radical but does not succeed in accounting of the very possibility of mathematical physics nor the very notion of cause in scientific explanation. Despite its obvious shortcomings, Hume’s Treatise had been the starting point of Kant’s analysis. However, not only empiricist followers of Locke and Hume overlook even today that they fall into the trap of viewing the world and our knowledge of it sideways-on, silently appealing to some divine or absolute knowledge of a God. Kant himself does not stick radically enough to a phenomenological analysis of our real forms of knowledge and cognition.

4.1 Finite Knowledge and the Practical Role of Ideals In contrast to the basic fact that any (finite and fallible) knowledge of (finite and inner-worldly) things always already is relational and perspectival, there is absolute, i.e. non-relative, knowledge, namely practical knowledge. Practical knowledge is, as such, a kind of self-knowledge. It proves itself as knowledge in doing things. This is, I submit, the deep kernel of Hegel’s pragmatism that foreshadows the primacy of knowing-how to knowing-that as we find it in Peirce, Dewey, Heidegger and Ryle. It is not an instrumentalist but an analytical pragmatism because it vindicates Fichte’s insight that absolute knowledge is practical knowledge and practical knowledge consists in actually performing actions on the


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ground of rational competence that is manifest in our actual acts. I hasten to add, however (pace Timothy Williamson’s reading of Ryle) that practical knowledge does not necessarily involve all possible versions of knowing what I do. Whatever I do, however, I do in part independently of the relative truth of assertions or judgements about my doings, including my own. What I do thus may differ from what I think, believe or intend to do. Differentiating between self-ascriptions of intentions and accurate judgements of what I actually intend is a complicated matter of evaluation with potentially infinite steps of critical reflection. In all actual cases, however, we stop at some level and declare some judgement as sufficient to establish the relevant distinction between (self-)ascription of mental or rational properties like intention, and actually having these properties, i.e. between (self-)appearance and (psychological) facts. This cannot be decided by merely (neuro-)physiological methods in objective brain-watching, though this may be the dream of those scientists who want to circumvent the more difficult questions of hermeneutics and joint understanding. As we see now, the word “absolute” refers here to the identity of subject and object in practical knowledge. If this is correct, the usual idea that Hegel was heading for some absolute knowledge about some transcendent absolute world is misleading. Instead, we can read Hegel’s insight into the absoluteness of performing acts or actions as a revised version of Fichte’s claim that there is a primacy of being an actor over being a theoretical thinker. There is a primacy of actions over the objects of thought. There is a primacy of practical recognition as it is manifest in actions over theoretical, as such mainly verbal, acceptance, avowal or ‘knowledge.’ This insight into the ‘absoluteness’ of our performances in contrast to the relative truth of generic content corresponds in some regards to Descartes’ primacy of the thinking I in contrast to the content and truth of what is thought, and to Kant’s principle of transcendental apperception, as we have already seen in outline above. Hegel’s Logic ends in a kind of proof of the logical primacy of our performative forms of actions and practices: It is presupposed in any claim about the real world. Moreover, we even presuppose the Idea or Spirit, which is nothing other than the implicit life-form of being a human person. This idea can be identified with the very capacity to make rational, reasonable, responsive and responsible judgements. In exercising this capacity (more or less adequately), any person takes part in the Idea. The Idea is the generic totality of practical forms we can perform as persons. In reflective acts, the person identifies him- or herself explicitly with our human form of life, i.e. Spirit. In doing so, he or she takes part in a practice of Absolute Spirit. The celebration of Spirit in the religions and the arts turns us humans into self-conscious persons on the speculative level of most general reflection. Indeed, we must understand religion, art, and philosophy as performative practices, not as claims to theoretical knowledge about local things or topics, events or processes in the world.

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4.2 The Idea of the Good From here, it is only a small step to the absolute presuppositions of the knowing I in the sense of our actively taking part as living persons in joint practices. Hegel brings these practices, taken as performative forms, under the label “idea”, which I propose to translate as effective form or performative form. The Idea in a generic and holistic sense is almost the same as Plato’s idea tou agathou, the idea of the Good as the master of the idea of the True. The Idea makes individual personal life and action possible. Accordingly, Hegel declares that the Concept is the real substance of the whole world as an object of our generic knowledge; it is the situation-invariant conceptual framework giving content to singular empirical knowledge-claims. As such, generic knowledge is categorically distinguished from merely subjective appearances, or from how the world merely seems to me or you. Hegel uses his generic expression “the Idea” in implicit reference to Kant’s notion of Idee as a regulative and speculative form of talking about the world or our lives as a whole. Like the term “world,” it is a singulare tantum. Its speculative use is similar to the object-level use of mass terms like “water” or “wellness.” The Idea is, indeed, the overall performative form of human life (Lebensvollzugsform). As such, it is the realization of Plato’s idea of the Good, as far it goes. The Idea embraces all norms for goodness, beauty, and truth. It contains the whole system of criteria, according to which we can judge whether a certain part of our life is good and true. The Idea (of the Good) thus is the (normative) form in which we also evaluate a singular subject or person as a good one—with respect to presupposed standard or paradigm. Judging about the generic good is much more basic than judging about particular truth. With the word “true,” we evaluate sentences and propositions, speech acts and responses as good enough, presupposing a corresponding canon or standard for what we normatively evaluate as true, what not. It would be misleading to object to this logical or analytical pragmatism, which I ascribe to Hegel, that any such evaluation is always subjective and does not grasp the real meaning of being true. Rather, we must remain aware of the fact that we proceed in this way, even if we may not notice it. Of course, there can be disputes about the quality of the standard or the relevance of the paradigm in question. On the other hand, what Hegel calls “the Idea” is the actually acknowledged set of normative forms. It has real power in our lives. It is real or actual, in so far as it explains actions and judgements not only with respect to their genesis, but also to their teleology and their effectiveness. Here is not the place for more detailed examination of the difficult notion of the Idea and speculative Truth. However, we can already understand the central points: In the end, the only absolute knowledge consists in how we do things; or rather, the only absolute being is performative being, either the being of an individual I or of a collective We. This I is a We with respect to the content of its competence; and this We exists through the doings of singular persons. Both are absolute in the


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sense that doing something is, in its direction of fit, only relative to its content, form or intention. In and for itself, doing is absolute. I can lie and err, but the speech act is what it is. Performing one’s own individual life is thus absolute and depends on fulfilling conceptual conditions only insofar as we evaluate its form as good or bad, rational or unintelligent. As brute performance or behavior, human life has the same feature of absolute subjectivity as animal life. This does not hold for leading a personal life, for fulfilling norms of good cooperation or for taking part in a practice of joint knowledge. Actually leading our life is presupposed in any intuition or judgement. True judgements and drawing the right, canonized, inferences in evaluating future or past possibilities are distinguishing features of a personal life. In other words, we are subjects as animals but we are persons only by taking part in a practice of spirit.

4.3 Ideal Truth Ideal truth is formal truth. It plays a certain part in our reflective talk about the form of our practice of articulating knowledge. Amazingly, most of his critics accuse Hegel of exactly what he himself had fiercely opposed, namely confusing ideal forms of (speculative) reflection with a transcendent notion of objective or absolute truth an sich. After turning away from mythological theism, we can, if we wish, still use the word “God.” But we must not forget that if we say that God is the truth or that God is good we do not say that there is an entity called “God.” Rather, we use the word in a metonymic way in order to talk about the idea of truth, objectivity or, when it comes to questions of ethics, about goodness. In using such a holistic term of reflection on a totality, we refer to the whole project of developing human practice.

4.4 Mundane Truth in Religion and Art vs. Parochial Views in Empiricism and Scientism What is the (particular mode of) truth of speculative statements in our high-level reflections on being, truth and knowledge? This question does not only concern traditional theology. When we, for example, believe that the physical sciences present the only real knowledge of the real world, we just express a view of the world. Hegel, accordingly, criticizes metaphysical mechanism as a wrong understanding of a limited form of explaining some features of nature by its mechanic laws for movements and change. As such, the topics of physics and chemistry cover only a province of human knowledge, which is, as knowledge, but one

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province within human ethical life. Empiricism and scientism are, in fact, parochial in their unnoticed presuppositions. Therefore, it is deeply ironic that Hegel is attacked for talking about the absolute; the messenger gets punished for the message. The message is that atomistic and mechanic materialism is a speculative, not a scientific theory. It defends allegedly objective and universal claims and produces a skeptical attitude towards knowledge about life and spirit by proposing the idea that any real knowledge must be as exact as that of our mathematical physics and that any true explanation presupposes a reduction to physical laws of movements and change. This physicalism or mechanic materialism is an ideological metaphysical belief. For Hegel, “the absolute” is just a title for all actualizations and performances. The existence of us together with our practices of knowledge, science, reflection, and philosophical criticism is silently presupposed in any epistemic act. In the end, we find here the truth of Descartes’ attempt to overcome methodological skepticism: To doubt that there is such a practice of knowledge destroys any sense of doubting. Hegel addresses this logical form as “sich vollbringender Skeptizismus,” as self-consummating skepticism.9

5 Conclusion The term “(personal) subject” stands for what I am, the term “object” stands at first for the topic (“subject-matter”) of my judgements or for any semi-sortal entity with presupposed identity conditions like an animal or a physical thing to which I refer in empirical deixis or statement. Acknowledgement is a performative attitude to judgements (also about myself) or to actions (which may be my own or others’). The question whether a self-model or judgement about myself really is true, i.e. if it should be acknowledged, or if I merely take it to be true, can only be answered in dialectical moves back and forth between my immediate (performative, expressive) self-judgements, your judgements about me, my doings and your answers—and so on. Sometimes, however, I make self-models and judgements about myself true, by acting in a certain way. In this case, self-knowledge turns into active and practical self-determination. In such cases, self-knowledge develops from an unmoving (bewegungslos) tautology as in Fichte’s formula “I am I” to self-determination. This move from theoretical self-consciousness to practical action is the deepest move in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Being in the sense of performing forms of life presupposes being a personal subject or free actor of my actions and speech acts. This is the topic of Hegel’s talk about “Gestalten des Seins,” forms of our performances in our actualizations of our competence to live a human life. In such performances—in being who I am, so to speak—self-knowledge and self-consciousness turn into practical reality.


P. Stekeler-Weithofer

Notes 1. Roi Bar develops this reading in his recent dissertation on Hegel’s Philosophy of Science, Leipzig 2017. 2. “There is no place for “isms” in philosophy,” says Gilbert Ryle (1937, 161). 3. Brandom’s book A Spirit of Trust is published in 2019 by Harvard University Press. 4. Thinking and reflective consciousness (in the full sense) mark the difference between the personal mode of being homo sapiens sapiens and mere animal life: “Es ist ein altes Vorurteil …, dass der Mensch vom Tiere sich durchs Denken unterscheide” (Enc. §2). Descartes had already distinguished a human person as veraloquens, or having a true language, from social animals like ants, termites or bees that use signals for coordinating their ongoing, merely present, behavior, but have no language to represent thoughts nor any possibilities to provide for meta-level judgements about their rationality and importance. 5. Non-monotonicity means that even though we can conceptually or generically infer from p (“the creature is a cat”) in normal cases r (“it has four legs”), p&q (“the creature is a mutilated cat”) can bar us from inferring r. Mere taxonomies in (quasi-)sortal domains are always monotonic, which drastically limits the significance of non-monotonic calculi in formal logic (and vice versa). 6. This image resembles Buddha’s talk about self-centered thirst, a metaphor for animal appetite or Begierde. Nietzsche’s heroism contradicts Buddha’s and Schopenhauer’s rhetoric of altruism by declaring that will to power is the basic principle of an authentic person. 7. Williams knows very little about Hegel and misreads Kant altogether, though Kant’s notion of moral duty really deserves some criticism. 8. Cf. the beginning of Chapter IV of the Phenomenology (PhG GW 9:103): “What the object immediately was in itself—i.e. at first mere being in sense-certainty, then the concrete thing of perception, and finally, for the Understanding, a Force producing sensations or other reactions in observers or other objects—proves to be in truth, not this at all” (here and thereafter, translations from the Phenomenology are mine). That is, we realise that what we take as the object perceived is neither a bundle of sense data nor an object with a power to produce sense-impressions. Talking about such a power or force of objects transcends by far immediate perception or direct experience and presupposes thinking on the ground of some generic knowledge about what things of a certain type usually can do. Hegel continues: “instead, this in-itself turns out to be a mode in which the object is only for an other,” namely in our system of differentiations and relations between generic types (ibid.). 9. Cf. PhG GW 9:56, Introduction: “Dieser sich vollbringende Skeptizismus ist darum auch nicht dasjenige, womit wohl der ernsthafte Eifer um Wahrheit und Wissenschaft sich für diese fertig gemacht und ausgerüstet zu haben wähnt; nämlich mit dem Vorsatze, in der Wissenschaft auf die Autorität [hin] sich den Gedanken anderer nicht zu ergeben, sondern alles selbst zu prüfen und nur der eigenen Überzeugung zu folgen oder, besser noch, alles selbst zu produzieren und nur die eigene Tat für das Wahre zu halten.“ – ” This scepticism, which is so consequent that it transcends itself [namely in a philosophical development of self-conscious science], is therefore also not just that, with which a serious [i.e. merely subjectively sincere] striving for truth and science holds itself to be prepared and equipped, namely with the [Kantian] maxim that true knowledge may never surrender oneself to the authority of the thoughts of others, but rather has to examine everything oneself and to follow only one’s own conviction, or, better yet, to produce everything by oneself and take only one’s own act for true.”

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Bibliography Austin, John L. 1977. How to Do Things with Words, edited by Sbisà Urmson. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Hennig, Boris. 2006. „Conscientia“ bei Descartes. Freiburg: Alber. Lukács, Georg. 1986. Der junge Hegel und die Probleme der kapitalistischen Gesellschaft. 2nd ed. Berlin and Weimar: Aufbau-Verlag. McDowell, John. 2009. Having the World in View: Essays on Kant, Hegel, and Sellars. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press. Mead, Georg H. 2009. Mind, Self, and Society: From the Standpoint of a Social Behaviorist. Vol. 1 “Works of George Herbert Mead,” edited by Charles W. Morris. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Quine, Willard V. O. 1960. Word and Object. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Ryle, Gilbert. 1937. “Taking Sides in Philosophy,” Philosophy XII, 1937, Chapter 11. In Gilbert Ryle, Collected Papers, Vol. II (1929–1968). (2009: Routledge). Stekeler, Pirmin. 2014. Hegels Phänomenologie des Geistes. Ein dialogischer Kommentar. Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag. Williams, Bernard. 2002. Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Geneology. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Chapter 7

Individuality, Individualism and Our Human Zoôn Politikon Kenneth R. Westphal

The examination of “Life and Desire” which opens Hegel’s critique of “Self-Consciousness” is the first step in Hegel’s phenomenological demonstration that we Moderns are, as ever, a zoôn politikon. That preliminary, and the “Battle unto Death,” show (inter alia) that living embodiment is necessary for individual human self-consciousness. Hegel’s infamous examination of “Lord and Bondsman” is, however, only the first step in Hegel’s phenomenological demonstration that our individual rational self-consciousness is fundamentally a social (and historical) achievement, insofar as it is both socially acquired and is— constitutively—socially exercised. That very portentous thesis requires demonstration, for the reader qua observer, extending from the outset of “SelfConsciousness” through to the end of “Spirit”; yet this thesis is only demonstrated for the forms of consciousness observed in the Phenomenology of Spirit in the final chapter, “Absolute Knowing.” The form of consciousness Hegel designates “Self-Consciousness” takes apperception as the model for all human knowledge and experience, and regards apperception not only as necessary, but as sufficient for all human consciousness of any- and everything of which one is aware. This purported self-sufficiency of self-consciousness is expressly Hegel’s critical target; his section title is: Selbständigkeit und Unselbständigkeit des Selbstbewußtseyns. (PhG GW 9:109)

Literally if not quite fluently translated, his section title is: Self-Sufficiency and Self-Insufficiency of Self-Consciousness.

This significant terminological point is, for the first time, correctly though more fluently rendered by Terry Pinkard in his new translation (PhG–P). The thesis presumed by the individualistic form of consciousness designated ‘Self-Consciousness’ may be stated generally thus:

K. R. Westphal (*)  Department of Philosophy, Boğaziçi Üniversitesi, Istanbul, Turkey

© The Author(s) 2020 M. F. Bykova and K. R. Westphal (eds.), The Palgrave Hegel Handbook, Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism,


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The General Self-Sufficiency Thesis: In being aware of particulars (individualist) SelfConsciousness is only aware of itself; or: Self-conscious awareness of objects is nothing but a mode of (individualist) Self-Consciousness.

Hegel also states his counter-thesis at the outset of “Self-Consciousness,” at the very end of his preliminary discussion of “Life and Desire,” that human subjectivity requires intersubjectivity, specifically, the equality of mutual recognition involved in The I that is we and the we that is I. (PhG GW 9:108.39)

However, Hegel’s justification of this thesis regarding the constitutive necessity of mutual equal recognition is not completed within “Lord and Bondsman,” nor even within “Self-Consciousness.” Hegel’s examination of these issues, and his justification of his thesis, culminate only at the very end of “Spirit,” in “Evil and its Forgiveness.” This is because a host of putative individualisms must be distinguished, identified and critically examined in order properly to formulate and to justify that portentous thesis, on the basis of strictly internal phenomenological critique of all relevant alternative—in this case, individualistic—forms of (humanly possible) consciousness.1 Hegel’s view and analysis have been unnecessarily occluded by the false though ideologically all too useful dichotomy between substantive, “atomistic” individualism and monolithic collectivism, according to which either individuals are fundamental, and social structures, groups, processes or activities are only aggregations of individuals and their actions; or social groups are fundamental, and “individuals” are derivative from and subservient to the social whole to which they belong. Both options are false, and have been known to be false for literally eons. Aristotle is right that we are a zoôn politikon; Kant and Hegel agree, emphatically, for the same reasons (Westphal 2020, §§18–30). Hegel’s alternative social ontology, which I call “Moderate Collectivism,” consists in three theses: mc1.  

Individuals are fundamentally social practitioners. Everything a person does, says, or thinks is formed in the context of social practices which provide material and conceptual resources, objects of desire, skills, procedures, techniques, and occasions and permissions for action, etc.


 hat individuals do depends on their own response to their social and natural W environment.


 here are no individuals, no social practitioners, without social practices, and T vice versa, there are no social practices without social practitioners, without individuals who learn, participate in, perpetuate, and who modify those social practices as needed to meet their changing needs, aims, and circumstances (including procedures and information).

Where others see only an exclusive dichotomy, Hegel identifies a biconditional relation (see Westphal 1989, 169–170, 176; 1994; 2003, §§32–37).2 Hegel’s argument for moderate collectivism, and its capstone, mutual equal recognition as constitutive of our capacities of rational judgement, is so extensive because there has been such pervasive individualistic neglect or rejection of our fundamentally social character as individuals. Here I briefly characterize each of these putative

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forms of (substantive, individualistic) individualism and their key points within Hegel’s over-arching presentation and assessment of them. In his Introduction to the 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel restates the Pyrrhonian Dilemma of the Criterion (PhG GW 9:58; cf. PH 2.4.20, 1.14.116– 117, AL 1.316–317). In posing the key substantive and methodological issue about genuine philosophical knowledge or “science,” its apparent alternatives or counterfeits, untutored common sense and outright skepticism about the very possibility of philosophical knowledge, Hegel points out the futility of offering mere assurances that one has, or that one cannot at all have, knowledge of the truth, thus underscoring a key Pyrrhonian point against any and all merely immediate claims to know (e.g., Jacobi, Schelling, foundationalists, whether empiricist or rationalist), or also denials of knowledge (e.g., Hamann’s or Herder’s self-styled “meta-critiques” of pure reason): One bare assurance is worth as much as another. (PhG GW 9:55; cf. AL 1.315, 2.464)

That is, bare assurances—mere claims to know, or to deny knowledge—are all equally worthless. There is no humanly possible alternative to critical scrutiny and assessment of any and all claims to know or to justify anything. Claiming to know something is a public act. In this regard, Hegel raises an issue central to the entire 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit, which Kant called logical egoism: The logical egoist considers it unnecessary also to test his judgment by the understanding of others; as if he had no need at all for this touchstone. (Anth. §2, Ak 7:128)

Kant then argues, if briefly, for a central tenet of his transcendental Doctrine of Method and of his answer to his titular question, “What is it to Orient Oneself in Thinking?” (1786), namely: our cognizance is finite and fallible so that in principle and in practice we must check whether any judgement we make about any public phenomenon, and our grounds justifying that judgement, are such that they can be communicated to all others, who in turn can understand and assess them, and find them sufficiently accurate and justified, or not. In the 1807 Phenomenology Hegel argues for this very same conclusion, beginning in “Lord and Bondsman” and culminating in “Evil and its Forgiveness”; i.e., through nearly two-thirds of his book! His method of strictly internal phenomenological critique requires him to justify his conclusion by thorough, comprehensive critical assessment of a dense series of individualist views, each of which asserts its individualistic independence from public scrutiny and assessment. This is to say, in various ways these individualistic forms of consciousness are varieties of logical or also moral egoism. Accordingly, the Self-Sufficiency Thesis examined in “Self-Consciousness” is but the first of a series of such theses examined in “Self-Consciousness,” “Reason” and “Spirit” (PhG Parts IV–VI). This series includes the self-sufficiency of rational thought proclaimed as “The Certainty and Truth of Reason” (Ferrini 2009), the three forms of consciousness considered in “The Actualisation of Rational SelfConsciousness through itself” and the three considered in “Individuality which is Real in and for itself” (Pinkard 2009), especially in “The Animal Kingdom of the Spirit.” It includes the dogmatic self-assurance of both Creon and Antigone and


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the presumed normative sufficiency of rule by edict in “True Spirit: Ethical Life,” in “Legal Status” (J. B. Hoy 2009) and in “Absolute Freedom and the Terror” (Stolzenberg 2009, 203–204). It includes Enlightenment individualism and its struggle against Faith examined in “Self-alienated Spirit: Enculturation and its Realm of Actuality” (Stolzenberg 2009), along with the individualistic varieties of morality examined in “Law-Giving Reason,” “Law-Testing Reason” (D. C. Hoy 2009) and “Morality,” especially in “Conscience” (Beiser 2009). These forms of presumed individual rational self-sufficiency have precursors in the problem of petitio principii and the Dilemma of the Criterion in Hegel’s Introduction (Einleitung) and to an extent in the second phase of “Sense Certainty” (Westphal 2009b, §6; de Laurentiis 2009; Bykova 2009). In the following summary, titles of sections of Hegel’s Phenomenology examining these forms of individualistic consciousness are set in small capitals. Preserving Hegel’s complex outline structure would impede reading; outline designations are indicated only if unobtrusive. Those interested in these important structural features of Hegel’s critical examination of these forms of individualism should please consult the concluding chart in Westphal (2009b). In Consciousness, Sense-Certainty in its second phase declares to find its abiding, unmediated simple truth in its own claim first-person to have immediate sense-certain knowledge of any one thing: I, this I see the tree, and maintain the tree as the here; an other I sees instead the house, and maintains, the here is not a tree, but rather a house. Both truths have the same certification, namely the immediacy of seeing, and the security and assurance both have of their knowing; but the one truth vanishes in the other. (PhG GW 9:66)

Naïve realism is too naïve about its own mastery and use of concepts, judgements and implicit spatio-temporal coordinates centered upon any one speaker, all of which are required to make any humanly possible claim first-person, and to distinguish one’s own claim from any- and everyone else’s counterpart claims to sense any specific particular. Skepticism about other minds is irrelevant, because it requires far too much conceptual sophistication to pose, understand or regard as relevant to these naïve realist commonsense cognitive claims. In the first main part of Self-Consciousness (IVA), Self-Sufficiency and SelfInsufficiency of Self-consciousness, Hegel criticizes subjective idealists, in effect, for failing to distinguish two very different phenomenological senses of the constitution of objects. In one sense, to constitute objects of consciousness is to generate those objects, including all their structure and features. In another sense, to constitute objects of consciousness is to constitute them as objects of our awareness. The first sense involves subjective idealism; the second does not. Against the claim that self-consciousness is the paradigm case or model of all human consciousness, including all our apparent consciousness of other individuals, Hegel argues that self-consciousness cannot generate all the objects of which we are aware, because we are aware of other people, who have their own minds and mindedness, and so are self-conscious human beings unto themselves, and so are not merely modes of one’s own self-consciousness. This is one horn of the dilemma leading into battle

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unto death: The arrogant self-consciousness aims to destroy the counter-evidence to his over-blown Thesis of Self-Consciousness (to constitute by generating all of which he is aware) by murdering the counter-examples—other minds. Murdering the counter-evidence (i.e., other minds) impales the victor on the other horn of the original dilemma: Neither his bodily desires nor the distinctive recalcitrance of distinct objects which satisfy those desires are generated at will, nor can they be satisfied merely at will. The purportedly all-constituting generative powers of self-consciousness thus appear to depend both upon his own embodiment and upon the distinct reality of the natural world. To salvage his arrogant thesis, the willingly combative self-consciousness enslaves the next available person. In Lord and Bondsman, Hegel argues that only the bondsman validates the initial thesis of self-consciousness, of being self-conscious in being conscious of objects—though only within a very restricted range: one’s own artefacts. Although Hegel begins Self-Consciousness by stating his own key thesis, the equality of mutual recognition constitutive of individual human rationality, this conclusion is only drawn at the very end of Spirit, in Evil and its Forgiveness, because a host of putative individualisms must be critically examined in order to properly formulate and to justify that portentous thesis. The second part of Reason, on Active or Practical Reason (C (AA) VB), Hegel examines a series of forms of individualism which count as moral egoism, in the sense specified by Kant: The moral egoist limits all ends to himself, sees no use in anything except that which is useful to himself. (Anth. §2, Ak 7:130)

In The Actualization of Rational Self-consciousness through itself, Hegel examines The Law of the Heart and the Insanity of Conceit. This form of consciousness seeks to generate its own necessity, proclaiming that particular acts and aims are required by the universal imperatives it intuits. This is still an ‘immediate’ form of consciousness (PhG GW 9:202.11). The law it seeks to actualize is underived, and its activity is unmediated by others or by the world. To this form of consciousness, the world appears as an inexorable order subjugating the populace (PhG GW 9:202.19–23). The key principle for these self-assured, high-minded reformers is obeying only the heart’s dictates (PhG GW 9:203.23–27). This entails that success is impossible: Either the reformer fails to reform anything, and so fails to get social reality to conform to (allegedly) proper principles, or else the reformer changes social reality, only to find that his principles are no longer his own but are taken over by society. Since his conception of the status of social norms has nothing to do with social institutions, he cannot acknowledge his own effectiveness (PhG GW 9:203.28–204.11). If others take his lead, they will propound their own conflicting imperatives (PhG GW 9:204.12–30). The reformer’s effort to actualize an imperative also reveals that extant ordinances (social practices) aren’t dead obligations in the way he had supposed, for those ordinances are effective only because others find their hearts’ intentions expressed in them (PhG GW 9:204.31–205.10, cf. 206.33–207.11). Successful reform must generate crisis for the romantic


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reformer, because he then finds himself and his reforming activity implicated by a social order that he regards as hostile to the (alleged) true basis of obligation— sincere avowal (PhG GW 9:205.11–206.4). If established as a universal basis of obligation, the law of the heart wouldn’t bear the same content in each case. A “public order” resulting from people’s heart-felt convictions can only be a universal struggle of power politics in which each maneuvers to get whatever presumptively moral predominance one can. This is the ironic yet devastating criticism: “The law of the heart” would at best produce the very “way of the world” it officially opposes (PhG GW 9:207.12–27)! In Virtue and the Way of the World, Hegel scrutinizes a “knight of virtue” (PhG GW 9:210.25), a successor to the forms of consciousness just considered (PhG GW 9:208.3–10). This knight is an improvement: he no longer seeks his own self-satisfaction or to proclaim his own imperatives, and he no longer regards the “the way of the world” as inherently corrupt (PhG GW 9: 208.10–16). He seeks only to restore the inherent worth of social practices, and devotes himself to this service (PhG GW 9:208.22–28, 209.16–19). The problem is that, in abstraction from a determinate, socially constituted concept of virtue (such as in the ancient world), this form of consciousness cannot specify any content to its proclaimed principle, and so can only issue inflated platitudes (PhG GW 9:212.4–6, 212.24–213.11). “The way of the world” is revealed as the joint product of individual activities, where individuals seek to attain what is good for themselves. In achieving their own good they also contribute to the maintenance of social practices (PhG GW 9:213.12–32, 214.1–5). Hegel insists that of course people act on their self-interest, but that this is not all they achieve in so acting. Individual actions inevitably contribute to others as well (PhG GW 9:213.30–34). This claim is crucial to Hegel’s social philosophy; it is the key to integrating classical economic theory into his socially based moral philosophy (Plant 1977a, b, 1980). In Individuality which is Real In and For Itself ((AA) VC), Hegel examines a series of more recognizable forms of moral egoism, which presume that individual rationality suffices to determine what is morally justified. In The Animal Kingdom of the Spirit and Humbug, Hegel develops Kant’s clue in the Transcendental Doctrine of Method (CPR A752/B780), that the only humanly possible alternative to constructive, public, mutual critical assessment is an intellectual counterpart to Hobbes’ state of nature as a war of all upon all. Hegel’s literary counterpart savages the mythology of romantic genius, according to which each romantic genius is naturally inspired to give form and expression to his dazzling insights into what most matters to everyone, and these insights are so supremely important that the creative genius can and does use any- and everyone else’s literary expressions as mere raw materials for his own inspired, ingenious creations. The direct result of this kind of literary-artistic arrogance is that no one can express anything of any importance to anyone. Identifying and expressing what is of supreme importance to everyone requires first considering everyone else too, and assessing one’s own best judgement of what matters to all, oneself included, though not as primus inter pares. The problem with originality, Kant drily observed, is that there is also original nonsense (CJ §46, cf. §50).

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In Legislative or Law-Giving Reason, Hegel examines the typical misunderstanding of Kantian autonomy, according to which to be morally autonomous is to make up one’s own code of conduct. The obvious problem is that we are such dependent and interdependent beings, inhabiting a finite, approximately globular surface (Earth), that we simply must coordinate our behaviors, which is only possible by identifying, justifying and establishing publically identifiable, shared principles to structure our social interactions and institutions, including the moral basics of our common life. Both the means of communication and the requirements of minimum moral decency must be public, and must be publicly identified, scrutinized, assessed, justified, and institutionalized—collectively and individually. In Law-Testing Reason, Hegel examines a common misunderstanding of Kant’s universalization tests, testing given or proposed laws, without regard to the practical anthropology Kant consistently maintains is necessary to apply the principle of the Categorical Imperative to us human beings (Gr Ak 4:388, 412; MM Ak 6:216–217),3 and purports to examine laws for absence of logical contradiction (PhG GW 9:233.3–11). This criterion fails to address the fundamentally social necessities of, and constraints upon, basic legitimate moral (including juridical) principles and their institutionalization—such institutions as rightful acquisition, possession and use—because no moral principle is logically necessary, nor logically self-contradictory. The principle of non-contradiction is merely a necessary, not a sufficient, condition of truth; also in matters moral it can be no more than that (PhG GW 9:234.8–16). This is not to reject the necessity of individuals (moral) law-giving and law testing, but only to reject their (individualistic) self-sufficiency. Instead, individual moral reasoning and assessment can only transpire within a determinate social context (PhG GW 9:234.23–27, 235.13–236.5). Hegel notes that any plausible moral “intuitionism” in fact incorporates communal norms. One can follow one’s dictates of conscience only insofar as those dictates (typically) accord with credible, effective principles of justice or moral law because they are, in fact, socially derived and socially responsive (PhG GW 9: 235.19–37). Moral individualists retort that recourse to social aspects of morality can only lead to conventionalism, relativism or totalitarianism. Hegel knows better, though he develops his moral philosophy only in his Philosophical Outlines of Justice (Westphal 2020). Here in Law Testing Reason Hegel instead cites the firm, fundamental communal trust in the unwritten laws of divine justice to which Antigone appeals (PhG GW 9:236.6–19). Elsewhere Hegel lauds the re-birth of natural law within the greatest system of positive law in history: Roman law, as codified under Justinian. In the first part of Immediate Spirit (C (BB) VI),4 True Spirit: Ethical Life (Sittlichkeit), Hegel examines the normative instability of traditional communal life, epitomized by Sophocles’ Antigone. The instability latent in normative authority within traditional communal life is due to its twin roots: cultural tradition as such, and human law in the form of a leader’s edict. In Antigone, Creon and Antigone disagree diametrically about the justice of last rites for her brother, Polynices. Though plainly one is right whilst the other errs profoundly, both Creon and Antigone are dogmatists: They each proclaim their judgements about what


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justice requires in this most unfortunate case, but neither is able to justify rationally his or her judgement (Westphal 2003, §§3–8). In Legal Status, Hegel points out that the multitude of distinct individuals are, for all their mutual independence, a multitude (PhG GW 9:260.26–29, 261.12–15). These individuals act for their own ends and they act within an expressly ­articulated context of promulgated (Roman) law. However, these allegedly self-sufficient, mutually independent individuals are persons, proprietors, i.e. property holders, only insofar as they are legally recognized to be persons (PhG GW 9:261.12–13). Locke was profoundly mistaken to hold that rightful possession can be defined exhaustively by reference only to some one person, some one thing—and perhaps also the Almighty (Westphal 2016a, §45). Proprietary relations are human interrelations, which can obtain only by means of publicly acknowledged and established institutions and procedures by which any one person can acquire and hold identifiable, recognized title to the use of any one thing, within specified limits of its morally or legally responsible use. Hegel’s examination of Self-Alienated Spirit; Enculturation—the second section of Spirit (VIB)—examines central aspects of the Enlightenment, devout religious faith and the cataclysm of absolute freedom and the Reign of Terror in complex, integrated ways bearing upon various individualistic accounts of our individual human cognizance and agency. These are too intricate—and too important—to be epitomized here. For discussion see Shklar (1976), Stolzenberg (2009); on Hegel’s philosophy of history within the 1807 Phenomenology, see Harris (1997). In the third section of Spirit, Self-Certain Spirit; Morality (VIC), after examining a host of deficiencies in Kant’s theory of moral action (Westphal 1991), in the final (third) subsection Hegel examines the purported moral self-sufficiency of individual conscience. This subsection is difficult, both because it is studded with allusions to Hegel’s romantic contemporaries (Gram 1978) and because, even after those are deciphered, the argument is compressed. Hegel nevertheless gives this section extreme weight and ultimately relates it to issues in epistemology. These facts warrant emphasizing this subsection. Hegel considers individual(istic) conscience as an account of the content and justification of normative principles (PhG GW 9:342.1–3, 347.16–18). The central feature of the romantic form of conscience Hegel examines is conviction (PhG GW 9:346.32–34, 351.34–37, 352.6–7, 352.17–20), where romantic conscience purports to justify an action by reporting its conviction that this act is its duty (PhG GW 9:338.8–10; 351.30–32, 34–37; 424.28–30). This view makes norms dependent upon the individual, rather than obeying independently legitimate norms (PhG GW 9:344.17–18). If Hegel can demonstrate the social bases of normative principles by an internal critique of this extreme individualistic ethical intuitionism, he has a very powerful demonstration indeed. An important part of his demonstration turns on the fact that romantic ­conscience is a normative view, a view concerning the correctness and legitimacy of normative principles and their application to actions. Thus romantic conscience makes claims on its own behalf about what is right to do for anyone in the given

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(type of) situation (PhG GW 9:344.33–35, 345.5–10). Including this tenet may seem to prejudice the issue in Hegel’s favor, yet it does not because such generality is essential to conscience being a view of the legitimacy of principles. If this tenet were dropped, then putative expressions of moral conviction would be empty vocables, devoid of any kind of appropriateness, and so neither offering an assessment of a situation nor itself requiring assessment. It is appropriate for Hegel to assess conscience with regard to action (PhG GW 9:355.9–10), because claims about duties are claims about obligatory actions (or omissions) (PhG GW 9:357.36–37). An action transpires in specific circumstances, the character of which is a function of their antecedents, present relations and consequences (PhG GW 9:346.14–17). Acting embroils conscience in the complexities of that situation (PhG GW 9:346.25–26); these complexities can and often do ground a variety of obligations (PhG GW 9:346.28). Acting conscientiously would appear to require taking these complexities into account (PhG GW 9:346.4–7). However, weighing various considerations would require appeal to independently legitimate principles, whilst conscience claims that there are no such principles because all legitimacy is a function of individual conviction (PhG GW 9:349.7–9; cf. 346.29–30). Accordingly, conscience takes whatever knowledge of the situation it has to be sufficient and decides the case as it sees fit (PhG GW 9:346.7–9, 17–23). Using Kantian terms, Hegel avers that in fact conscience bases its willful decisions upon “natural impulses and inclinations” (PhG GW 9:346.39–347.1, 347.22–23, 349.20). This reveals that conscience, as a self-sufficient account of the validity of norms, is empty, because any action can be declared dutiful with conviction, and on this basis no action is any more appropriate than any other (PhG GW 9:346.34–36, 347.22–23, 352.35–36). Principles of justification are supposed to discriminate between justified and unjustified claims. However, any (supposed) principle of justification which equally well warrants a claim and its negation is no principle of justification at all. This is precisely the fate of purportedly self-sufficient, individualistic conscience as an account of the sole, self-sufficient basis of normative claims (PhG GW 9:347.27–348.7).5 Hegel also criticizes conviction as a principle for assessing actions. He notes that amongst the complexities of any given situation are a variety of grounds of obligation and various ways in which an agent’s interests can be or are served by its action (PhG GW 9:358.7–9). These need not be distinct aspects of the situation. What serves the interests of the individual agent may also serve others; fulfilling an obligation may also serve (legitimate) interests.6 These putative facts about action insure that anyone who assesses an action justified by the agent’s appeal to his conviction of duty can always find grounds for charging that the agent was either evil, for having claimed as dutiful an act contrary to duty, or base, for having advanced private interests under the guise of moral behavior (PhG GW 9:356.4–10, 358.14–16). The issue is: What is the basis and justification of judgements about actions? If assessments are based on nothing more comprehensive than individual conviction, then issuing such judgements, because they are mere assertions, instantiates and licenses petitio principii and indeed grants legitimacy to the very principle of conscientious conviction to which it objects (PhG GW


K. R. Westphal

9:357.9–14). No rationale for assessment can be established, justified, nor even specified in this way. The Beautiful Soul examines self-styled conscientious individuals—moral geniuses (PhG GW 9:352.35–353.2)—who, in order to live morally upright lives, withdraw from society to live in seclusion with a few like-minded souls (PhG GW 9:354.33–34; Beiser 2009), thus presuming to evade the social entanglements plaguing the previous individualistic forms of conscience. However, in its selfstyled moral purity it, too, has no determinate, and certainly no credible, criterion of what is right, wrong or permissible, and it strives to avoid sullying itself by actually acting (PhG GW 9:354.30–33, 355.7–33). However, even in seclusion amongst like-minded moral geniuses, the beautiful soul cannot evade or avoid issues about whether it is virtuous, vicious, self-serving, evil or hypocritical (PhG GW 9:355.34–357.7), whether it judges itself or especially when it is judged by its dear companions (PhG GW 9:357.8–37). These judgements, too, count as actions, with the same risks of sullying the beautiful soul’s own purity by engaging with the complexities of anyone’s acting in any concrete circumstances, no matter how secluded (PhG GW 9:358.1–359.23).7 In these regards, each agent and each observant judge are equally on par, equally compromised and equally suspect (PhG GW 9:359.24–360.16). However, even if one beautiful soul confesses to error (PhG GW 9:359.17–28), the companion’s uncompromising moral purity leads it to be uncompromisingly hard-hearted, indeed treacherous (PhG GW 9:359.3) in condemning he who confessed (PhG GW 9:359.24–360.30). Fixation upon simple, unperturbed moral purity blocks all prospects of any possible human action, even the possibility of judging another’s act (PhG GW 9:360.17–30). Such fixation upon one’s own purported moral purity entails self-exile from any and all human existence, including one’s own daily life—which cannot long persist through studied inaction. (This problem confronted the victor after the Battle unto Death.) The only humanly possible solution for the morally purist, self-appointed judge is to confess likewise his own inextricable engagement with the ineluctable complexities of human action, even those acts of thought by which one judges others. This is the breaking of the hard heart (PhG GW 9:360.31–361.10), which ushers in the culminating sub-section of Spirit. In Evil and its Forgiveness Hegel notes that others’ assessments of an action can themselves be scrutinized for correctness or self-servingness. Agent and judge are in this regard on a par (PhG GW 9:359.9–13, 360.31–34); moreover, neither can substantiate the claims each seeks to make without appealing to shared principles and shared knowledge of the complexities of any given situation and action. The unstated import of Hegel’s examination is three-fold: The factual and moral complexities of any given situation and action must be considered, the parties to the situation (agent and observer) are both in position to assess and correct one another’s misapprehensions, and normative principles are generated and assessed in a temporally extended social setting of mutual assessment. Hegel returns to issues of epistemology at the end of this last subsection of Self-Certain Spirit (PhG GW 9:362.22–25). The position he develops regarding normative principles extends directly to cognitive issues. This extension is

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effected by reading his discussion of claims about duties as a discussion of claims about facts or truths. Indeed, the case of cognitive claims and epistemic principles is simpler, since for many cognitive claims there are many obvious, relevant facts of the matter. Not all cognitive claims are obvious, however; the analog of self-interested action is self-interested or willful belief (or incredulity). All cognitive claims can be assessed in view of their formulation, accuracy, truth, adequacy to the purposes at hand and their justifying grounds, evidence or reasons. The self-critical structure of consciousness (Westphal 2018, §§62–63) is thus augmented by exploiting the distinctions between contexts of assertion, contexts of application, use or action, and contexts of assessment, where these contexts are occupied by different persons or by the same person at different times (or both). When others assess or adopt and use one’s claims, they can generate much important information, whether corrective or corroborating, and by distinguishing, where need be, amongst the various aspects of one’s consciousness of, claims about or actions within and upon the world. In either case, moral or cognitive, action, judgement, rational justification and their assessment are part of one concrete social process transpiring within a natural setting. This Hegel states in these terms: The actualizing self, the form of its act, is only a moment of the whole, and likewise so is the knowledge which by judgement determines and establishes the distinction between the individual and universal aspects of that action. (PhG GW 9:361.1–4)

The process of social assessment and revision of claims and principles supports Hegel’s fallibilism.8 Most important is Hegel’s claim that this social process of mutual assessment is absolute spirit! Each individual who charged the other with subjective caprice (in Evil and its Forgiveness), relinquishes the principle of (self-sufficient, individualistic) conviction and: The word of reconciliation [between them] is the extant spirit, which beholds the pure knowledge of itself as universal essence in its opposite, in the pure knowledge of itself as the absolute individuality existing in itself, – a reciprocal recognition which is absolute spirit. (PhG GW 9:361.22–25)9

The “universal essence” Hegel mentions is the knowledge and principles shared in common amongst the members of a social group. Four points in the final paragraph of this subsection are important here. First, Hegel insists that ‘absolute spirit’ is introduced in principle (for us, his readers) once this collective, social basis of individual thought and action is achieved (PhG GW 9:361.26–27). Second, he claims this is the basis of consciousness (PhG GW 9:362.14–15), that is, of our conscious awareness of worldly objects—including centrally our capacity to examine and assess when, whether or how we are cognizant of public, worldly objects. This is because our being genuinely conscious of worldly states of affairs requires that we can and do discriminate between how these affairs appear to us to be, and how they actually are, and because our effective and reliable discrimination between these is, for us very finite, fallible and interdependent beings, an intersubjective, social activity. Third, this basis


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of consciousness is not yet explicit for this observed form of consciousness (PhG GW 9:362.15–16). Finally, this collective social self is God manifest in the midst of those who know themselves as pure knowledge. (PhG GW 9:362.28–29)10

These last two points introduce the theme for Hegel’s discussion of religion, how religion facilitates the human community’s becoming self-conscious (di Giovanni 2009, 2018; Westphal 2019). In this regard, and in these ways, Hegel has argued against a host of humanly possible forms of rational individualism, demonstrating that they are each untenable forms of what Kant identified as logical or moral egoism, because we very finite cognizant beings constitutively require the publicity—the communicability in principle—of our most considered rational judgments and the actual critical scrutiny and assessment of others, in order to distinguish accurately and reliably, so far as we fallible rational beings can, between: • Grasping a truth, and only thereby (rightly) being convinced one has grasped that truth. • Being convinced one has grasped a truth, and thus alone (falsely) claiming to grasp that alleged truth. Hegel repeatedly points out that all forms of intuitionism fail in principle and in practice to distinguish between these two very different cognitive states or achievements in any principled, practicable or reliable way.11 Due to our fallibility, we must examine which is the case, in each and every case, and in each and everyone’s case. For this reason alone (though not only for this reason), there is no humanly possible “immediate knowledge.” In these regards, Hegel has argued en detail for Kant’s sole alternative to egoism, which is nothing less than Kant’s cosmopolitan analysis of human rationality and rational justification, stated summarily in his Anthropology in these terms: The opposite of egoism can only be pluralism, that is, the way of thinking in which one is not concerned with oneself as the whole world, but rather regards and conducts oneself as a mere citizen of the world. (Anth. §2, Ak 7:130)

The genuine Kantian sense of our rational autonomy is to hold ourselves responsible to the requirements of rational justification, both in cognition and in morals (Westphal 2020, §§18–24). All of these considerations and measures are required, understanding them all is required, and actively using them all is required, in order rationally to judge that “I judge,” and not merely to utter the words “I judge,” thereby merely feigning rationality. The central significance of Hegel’s account of equal mutual recognition (Anerkennung) for rational justification is this: For anyone accurately and justifiably to judge that s/he is a rationally competent judge requires: 1. recognizing one’s own rational fallibility, 2. judging that others are likewise rationally competent judges,

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3. recognizing that we are equally capable of, and responsible for, assessing rationally our own and each other’s judgments, and 4. recognizing that we each require each other’s assessment of our own judgments, in order to scrutinize and thereby maximally to refine and to justify rationally our own judgments. This rich and philosophically crucial form of rational self-consciousness requires our correlative consciousness of others, that we are all mutually interdependent for our capacity of rational judgment, our abilities to judge rationally and our ­exercise of rational judgment. This requirement is transcendental, for unless we recognize our critical interdependence as fallible rational judges, we cannot judge fully rationally, because unless we acknowledge and affirm our judgmental interdependence, we will seriously misunderstand, misuse and over-estimate our own individual rational, though fallible and limited powers of judgment. Therefore, recognizing our own fallibility and our mutual interdependence as rational judges is a key constitutive factor of our being fully rational, fully autonomous rational judges, so far as is humanly or individually possible. Only by recognizing our judgmental interdependence can we each link our human fallibility and ­limited knowledge constructively with our equally human corrigibility, with our ability to learn: especially from informed, constructive criticism. This form of mutual recognition involves mutually achieved recognition of our shared, fallible and also corrigible rational competence. This recognition involves recognizing the crucial roles of charity, tolerance, patience, humility and literal forgiveness in our mutual assessment of our rational judgments and those of others, to acknowledge that oversights, whether our own or others’, are endemic to the human condition, and not as such grounds for blame or condemnation of anyone’s errors. Therefore, fully rational justification requires us to seek out and to actively engage with those who critically assess our judgments. (For full explication and defense, see Westphal 2016b, 2018.) These views—only briefly summarized here—underwrite Hegel’s concluding observation in the Preface (Vorrede) to the 1807 Phenomenology (and to its anticipated second systematic part): Insofar as each calls on feeling, on his inner oracle, he is finished with whoever disagrees; he must declare that he has nothing more to say to him who within himself doesn’t find or feel the same; – in other words, he tramples the roots of humanity under foot. For the nature of humanity is to strive towards agreement with others, and to find its existence only in the achieved community of consciousness. (PhG GW 9:47.34–48.2)

Kant and Hegel are right: The only humanly possible alternative to a Hobbesian state of nature is genuinely cosmopolitan communication, understanding, respect, humility and community. These are neither merely theoretical issues nor empty pious hopes: They are supremely important matters of justice, crucial to our personal and moral integrity.


K. R. Westphal

Notes 1. Even so acute a commentator as Michael Quante (2009) recognizes that Hegel does not justify his positive thesis regarding mutual recognition in “Lord and Bondsman,” but claims Hegel does not justify that thesis at all. Quante neglects how “Lord and Bondsman” is only the first stage of Hegel’s justification, although I pointed this out elsewhere (Westphal 1989, 161–2, 182–183); for full-scale analysis see my (2018), §§71–91. 2. On Hegel’s critique and rejection of alleged psychological determinism (in mc2), see Westphal (2018, §§140–148). 3. See Westphal (2016a, §§18–23). Hegel’s infamous charge of “empty formalism” is not directed at Kant, but at the dozens of pseudo-Kantian natural law theories published between Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (1785) and his own Doctrine of Justice (1797); see Westphal (2020), §48. 4. Only later does Hegel indicate that ‘Spirit’ examines ‘immediate spirit’ (PhG GW 9:240.1– 4, 365.23); properly mediated, self-conscious spirit is achieved only in the final chapter, “Absolute Knowing.” 5. In the conceptual preliminaries (Vorbegriff) to the Encyclopaedia Hegel makes a similar criticism of Jacobi’s doctrine of “immediate” or intuitive knowledge, a view with many parallels to (individualistic) “conscience”; see Westphal (2018, §§92–99). 6. Hegel in fact holds that this is quite commonly the case. This is the key to his appropriation of classical economic theory for his civic republicanism; see Plant (1977a, b, 1980); Westphal (2020). 7. Note that after his shipwreck, Robinson Crusoe can only survive because he has been trained in a host of necessary skills—by other human beings. 8. Hegel’s emphasis on the cognitive importance of socially-based mutual criticism comes very close to the kinds of considerations Tyler Burge (1979, 1989, 2003) has mounted in opposition to individualistic conceptions of the mental. Mutual criticism is productive in cases of partial ignorance, and Burge’s original essay opposing individualism focused on the correlative (perhaps identical) phenomenon of partial understanding. Like Hegel, Burge recognizes that these social dimensions to linguistic usage and social correctives to categories of thought do not entail that society is the ultimate arbiter of the content or the truth of thoughts, that for many cognitive states the natural world is the ultimate determinant of these matters. 9. Hegel states: “Das Wort der Versöhnung ist der daseyende Geist, der das reine Wissen seiner selbst als allgemeinen Wesens in seinem Gegentheile, in dem reinen Wissen seiner als der absolut in sich seyenden Einzelnheit anshaut,—ein gegenseitiges Anerkennen, welches der absolute Geist ist” (PhG GW 9:361). 10. Hegel states: “Das versöhnende ja, worin beyde Ich von ihrem entgegengesetzten Daseyn ablassen, ist das Daseyn des zur Zweyheit ausgedehnten Ichs, das darin sich gleich bleibt, und in seiner vollkommnen Entäusserung und Gegentheile die Gewißheit seiner selbst hat;—es ist der erscheinende Gott mitten unter ihnen, die sich als das reine Wissen wissen” (PhG GW 9:362.25–29). “Es” in the final clause refers back to “das versöhnende ja”; “ist” expresses the identity of this “versöhnende ja” with “Gott.” 11. “Intuitionism” in logic and mathematics is not at issue, as these involve rigorous constructive methods. (Research on this paper was supported in part by the Boğaziçi Üniversitesi Research Fund (BAP), grant codes: 9761, 18B02P3.)

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Bibliography Beiser, Frederick C. 2009. “Morality in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit.” In The Blackwell Guide to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, edited by K. R. Westphal, 209–225. London: Blackwell. Burge, Tyler. 1979. “Individualism and the Mental.” Midwest Studies in Philosophy IV: Studies in Metaphysics 4: 73–121. Reprinted in idem. (2007), 100–150, with Postscript (2006): 151–181. Burge, Tyler. 1989. “Wherein Is Language Social?” In Reflections on Chomsky, edited by A. George, 175–191. Oxford, Blackwell. Reprinted in idem. (2007), 275–290. Burge, Tyler. 2003. “Social Anti-individualism, Objective Reference.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67: 3, 682–690. Reprinted in idem. (2007), 334–343. Burge, Tyler. 2007. Foundations of Mind. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. Bykova, Marina F. 2009. “Spirit and Concrete Subjectivity in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit.” In The Blackwell Guide to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, edited by K. R. Westphal, 265– 295. London: Blackwell. de Laurentiis, Allegra. 2009. “Absolute Knowing.” In The Blackwell Guide to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, edited by K. R. Westphal, 246–264. London: Blackwell. di Giovanni, George. 2009. “Religion, History, and Spirit in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit.” In The Blackwell Guide to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, edited by K. R. Westphal, 226– 245. London: Blackwell. di Giovanni, George. 2018. “Review of R. Williams, Hegel on the Proofs and the Personhood of God: Studies in Hegel’s Logic and Philosophy of Religion (Oxford University Press, 2107).” SGIR Review 1 (1): 8–19. Ferrini, Cinzia. 2009. “The Challenge of Reason: From Certainty to Truth.” In The Blackwell Guide to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, edited by K. R. Westphal, 72–91. London: Blackwell. Gram, Moltke. 1978. “Moral and Literary Ideals in Hegel’s Critique of ‘The Moral WorldView.’” Clio 7 (3): 375–402. Harris, Henry S. 1997. Hegel’s Ladder. 2 vols. Cambridge, MA: Hackett Publishing. Hoy, David C. 2009. “The Ethics of Freedom: Hegel on Reason as Law-Giving and LawTesting.” In The Blackwell Guide to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, edited by K. R. Westphal, 153–171. London: Blackwell. Hoy, Jocelyn B. 2009. “Hegel, Antigone, and Feminist Critique: The Spirit of Ancient Greece.” In The Blackwell Guide to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, edited by K. R. Westphal, 172– 189. London: Blackwell. Pinkard, Terry. 2009. “Shapes of Active Reason: The Law of the Heart, Retrieved Virtue, and What Really Matters.” In The Blackwell Guide to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, edited by K. R. Westphal, 136–152. London: Blackwell. Plant, Raymond. 1977a. “Hegel and Political Economy I.” New Left Review 103: 79–92. Plant, Raymond. 1977b. “Hegel and Political Economy II.” New Left Review 104: 103–113. Plant, Raymond. 1980. “Economic and Social Integration in Hegel’s Political Philosophy.” In Hegel’s Social and Political Thought: The Philosophy of Objective Spirit, edited by D. P. Verene, 59–90. New York: Humanities Press; Charlottesville, VA: Philosophy Documentation Center. Quante, Michael. 2009. “‘Der reine Begriff der Anerkennung.’ Überlegungen zur Grammatik der Anerkennungsrelation in Hegels Phänomenologie des Geistes.” In Anerkennung, edited by H.-C. Schmidt am Busch and C. F. Zurn, 91–106. Berlin: Akademie. Quante, Michael. 2010. “‘The Pure Notion of Recognition’: Reflections on the Grammar of the Recognition Relation in Hegel.” In The Philosophy of Recognition: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, edited by H.-C. Schmidt am Busch and C. F. Zurn, 89–106. Lanham, MA: Lexington Books; Rowman & Littlefield (English translation of previous item).


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Sextus Empiricus. 1912/1954. Sexti Empirici Opera. 3 vols., edited by H. Mutschmann, J. Mau, and K. Janáček. Leipzig: Teubner (Abbreviated in text as Opera). Sextus Empiricus. 1933a. Works. 4 vols. Greek/English, translated by Rev. R. G. Bury. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (Loeb Library) (Abbreviated in text as Works). Sextus Empiricus. 1933b. Outlines of Pyrrhonism. In Works in 4 vols., vol. 1, translated by Rev. R. G. Bury. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (Loeb Library) (Cited as PH by Book. paragraph numbers). Sextus Empiricus. 1933c. Against the Logicians. In Works in 4 vols., vol. 2, translated by Rev. R. G. Bury. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (Loeb Library) (Cited as AL by Book. paragraph numbers). Shklar, Judith. 1976. Freedom and Independence in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Stolzenberg, Jürgen. 2009. “Hegel’s Critique of the Enlightenment in ‘The struggle of the Enlightenment with Superstition.’” In The Blackwell Guide to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, edited by K. R. Westphal, 190–208. London: Blackwell. Westphal, Kenneth R. 1989. Hegel’s Epistemological Realism: A Study of the Aim and Method of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Dordrecht: Kluwer. Westphal, Kenneth R. 1991. “Hegel’s Critique of Kant’s Moral World View.” Philosophical Topics 19 (2): 133–176. Westphal, Kenneth R. 1994. “Community as the Basis of Free Individual Action.” Translation and annotation of excerpts from Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. In Communitarianism, edited by M. Daly, 36–40. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2003. Hegel’s Epistemology: A Philosophical Introduction to the Phenomenology of Spirit. Cambridge, MA: Hackett Publishing. Westphal, Kenneth R. ed. 2009a. The Blackwell Guide to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2009b. “Hegel’s Phenomenological Method and Analysis of Consciousness.” In The Blackwell Guide to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, edited by K. R. Westphal, 1–36. London: Blackwell. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2016a. How Hume and Kant Reconstruct Natural Law: Justifying Strict Objectivity without Debating Moral Realism. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2016b. “Back to the 3 R’s: Rights, Responsibilities and Reasoning.” SATS—Northern European Journal of Philosophy 17 (1): 21–60. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2018. Grounds of Pragmatic Realism: Hegel’s Internal Critique and Transformation of Kant’s Critical Philosophy. Leiden: Brill. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2019. “Hegel’s Critique of Theoretical Spirit: Kant’s Functionalist Cognitive Psychology in Context.” In Hegel’s Philosophy of Spirit: A Critical Guide, edited by M. F. Bykova, 57–80. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2020. Hegel’s Civic Republicanism: Integrating Natural Law with Kant’s Moral Constructivism. New York and London: Routledge.

Part III

Science of Logic and the System of Philosophy

Chapter 8

Method in Hegel’s Dialectic-Speculative Logic Angelica Nuzzo

As puzzling as Hegel’s Logic is often considered by contemporary interpreters when at stake is its status as a logic, Hegel is often explicit in stressing the fact that there is not much new in it at least with regard to its content.1 And yet, much of the most recent debate on this part of Hegel’s system concerns precisely its content. It is the content that raises questions such as, first and foremost, whether this logic is an ontology or more generally a metaphysics, and what kind of metaphysics it may be given its place after Kant’s critique. But in the aftermath of a longstanding debate, Hegel’s logic also raises more specific issues concerning the logical legitimacy of determinations such as “mechanism,” “chemism,” “teleology,” which are often seen as a topic foreign to traditional logic and which instead, as determinations of (logical) “objectivity,” follow, for Hegel, the usual forms of judgment and syllogism that he sees belonging to (logical) “subjectivity.” Hegel’s general suggestion is that whereas with regard to the content his logic is simply taking up—and indeed somehow summing up—what metaphysics, traditional formal logic, and Kant’s transcendental logic have considered the fundamental determinations of thinking (and being), the real novelty of the dialectic-speculative logic is the way of treating, displaying, and presenting this content. In other words, Hegel’s point is that the distinguishing feature of the first part of his philosophical system lies not in the content itself but in the mode of its Behandlung and Darstellung as specifically logical Darstellung. Significantly, this holds true both with regard to what constitutes the novelty of Hegel’s logic in relation to the tradition, and with regard to what justifies the content under consideration to be the peculiar topic of a new logic. Of course, things get immediately more complicated as Hegel also argues that in the framework of his dialectic-speculative logic, logical content and logical Darstellung are not (and are no longer) to be distinguished from each other. This, he submits, is precisely what sets the “logical science” apart from the

A. Nuzzo (*)  Brooklyn College and Graduate Center, CUNY, New York City, USA e-mail: [email protected]

© The Author(s) 2020 M. F. Bykova and K. R. Westphal (eds.), The Palgrave Hegel Handbook, Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism,



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other sciences. For, in the latter, the topic at issue—the Gegenstand or the Sache selbst—and the “scientific method (wissenschaftliche Methode)” are instead separated (MM 5:35).2 Moreover, this claim should be read together with Hegel’s further warning that the peculiarity of philosophy in relation to the other sciences consists in the fact that neither its content nor its method can be assumed as given at the beginning of the investigation (Enz. §1). This is true a fortiori for the logic, which begins, systematically, with no given presupposition.3 Its task is rather to offer the genetic exposition of its content and, with it, of the method of its presentation. On this view, then, the logical science must be such as to be able to generate from and by itself both its content and its method. Ultimately, Hegel’s point is not only that the logical method does not exist in separation from the logical content; but also that the logical method does not exist outside of the method’s actual use. In this framework, then, the central question concerns what is, for Hegel, the new way of handling and presenting the logical material—the Behandlung and Darstellung that constitute the “science of logic” as the dialectic-speculative foundation of the philosophical system. Now, there is an obvious, generic sense in which one can certainly refer to the way of presenting—of arranging and structuring—the science as its “method.” And this seems indeed the sense in which Hegel uses the term when referring to the peculiar identity of content and method proper to the logical science in relation to the other sciences (MM 5:35). However, if one takes up the traditional definition of the logical discipline as the science of the formal laws of thinking as such, independently of the object that is thought, the method seems to refer to the series of rules or prescriptions regarding how to think (correctly, according to truth, and the like)—and this is certainly not the meaning of logical method that Hegel wants to endorse. Indeed, in the Science of Logic, Hegel is not even remotely close to addressing this issue. If anything, this is rather a problem that he considers the task of the 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit to have finally exposed once and for all as being based on a wrong conception of thinking (hence as betraying a wrong conception of both logic and method). And after the crucial critical step of the Phenomenology, it is an issue that may be seen re-emerging, this time, however, fundamentally transformed by the course of the logic, when addressing the specific “method” of the Realphilosophie, namely, the philosophy of nature and spirit. If the logic is indeed concerned—again, with regard to its content—with the determinations of thinking (insofar as this is formal, pure, abstract thinking), it certainly does not set out to prescribe rules on how to think. To this extent, any reference to “method,” viewed as an instrumental and prescriptive set of given rules addressed to a thinking subject, seems to be inappropriate when at stake is the specificity of Hegel’s dialectic-speculative logic. And yet, on the other hand, it does not seem so far-fetched to address as “method” Hegel’s chief concern with finding a new way of treating and presenting the determinations of thinking generally accepted and thematized by traditional and transcendental logic. This back and forth argument clearly—and quite simply—portrays the difficult predicament of the interpreter who sets out to tackle the peculiarity of Hegel’s logic with regard to its content and method, thereby calling for a closer account

8  Method in Hegel’s Dialectic-Speculative Logic


of the problem of method in Hegel’s first systematic division. It seems that the more one refers to traditional positions on the issue and uses of the term, the less one is able to understand the problem at hand, although, on his part, Hegel insists on not discarding those uses and positions outright. Again, while Hegel’s claim seems often to be that there is nothing programmatically and explicitly revolutionary in the contents of his logic, he does strongly advocate the need for a “complete re-working (totale[n] Umarbeitung)” and a radical “Umgestaltung of logic” (MM 5:46). How should these two claims be reconciled? My task in this essay is to shed some light on the issue of “method” in Hegel’s logic as that on which hinges the continuity as well as the discontinuity between the logical tradition and Hegel’s dialectic-speculative reworking of the discipline. I shall pursue this aim by first bringing to the fore the historical and systematic connection that links Hegel’s dialectic-speculative logic both to traditional formal or general logic and metaphysics and to Kant’s transcendental logic and critique of dogmatic metaphysics. I shall then turn to some passages in which Hegel thematically addresses the issue of method in his logic. This will allow me to indirectly shed some light on the longstanding question of the status of “dialectic” in Hegel’s philosophy: what is the connection between dialectic and method? In what sense is dialectic a method or even the method of (logical) thinking; and in what sense is it not? For, as I shall claim in what follows, both propositions may be actually true provided that a fundamental clarification is offered of the new meaning that the “method” assumes in Hegel’s logic.4 Thus, reciprocally, one should also ask in what sense and to what extent the scientific method that Hegel thematizes and also uses in the logic is “dialectical” and in what sense it is (additionally) “speculative.” Indeed, in both regards, Hegel’s position can be usefully understood on the background of his appraisal of traditional formal logic and Kant’s transcendental logic. While this is not directly my topic here, my argument has important and clear implications in this regard.

1 Form and Content of Thinking: Formal, Transcendental, Dialectic-Speculative Logic Hegel’s confrontation with traditional formal or general logic shapes his project of a new, dialectic-speculative “science of logic.” This confrontation, however, is complicated by the presence of Kant’s transcendental logic as a third intermediary term—a third term when considered both historically and systematically. Transcendental logic, in its turn, is the result of Kant’s own assessment of the merits and shortcomings of traditional general logic. In this discussion, formal logic is largely the traditional Aristotelian logic of the modern period up to Leibniz and the Leibnizian scholastic. The felt need of a reform of this logic but also the necessity to build on this foundation is the common root of both Kant’s and Hegel’s logical projects, who


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both take as their springboard the unchanged status of the discipline after Aristotle (CPR Bviii; MM 5:46). The Hegelian notion of Aufhebung should be taken seriously here: as much as the overcoming of formal logic indicates the stance of leaving its abstract formality and formalism behind, it also implies a crucial inheritance that remains at the basis of such new projects. This is a point that will prove useful in order to assess the issue of formal logic’s often underscored “lack of content” and the extent in which Hegel’s logic does or does not itself display content, and may somehow even share the notion of formality with general logic against Kant. My claim is that Hegel’s dialectical-speculative logic is closer to the much-criticized formal logic of the tradition than generally assumed, and that this closeness can be discerned by evaluating Hegel’s assessment of Kant’s own take on formal logic. The understanding of the type of formality characterizing Hegel’s logic, in turn, is crucial to the appraisal of his conception of logical method. It is relevant to this discussion that Hegel’s relation to formal logic sees Kant as an indispensable intermediary. Unlike many contemporary analytic re-appropriations of Hegel that seem to thread a path alternative to the generally accepted Kantian one, Hegel views the line going from traditional formal logic to transcendental logic to dialectic-speculative logic as one progression in which at stake seems to be one and the same fundamental issue. In the introduction to the Science of Logic, Hegel presents the program of this first systematic division of philosophy in a “General Concept of Logic” (MM 5:35–62) in which, from the outset, he engages in a close confrontation with that section of the Critique of Pure Reason in which Kant, in turn, first offered his own “idea of a transcendental logic” by contrasting it to the “general logic” of the tradition (CPR B74–88/A50–64). The confrontation with this section of the first Critique proves so important for Hegel that he comes back to it yet again as he introduces the second main division of the Science of Logic, i.e., the Logic of the Concept raising, as Kant had done before him, Pilatus’ question: “what is truth?” (CPR B82/A58; MM 6:244, 264). By referring back to Kant’s discussion, Hegel places the new logic within the same historical progression in which Kant, following the demands of his transcendental philosophy, had proposed to integrate traditional formal logic with a new transcendental logic.5 Thereby Hegel frames his own logic in terms of an apparently similar problematic as Kant’s. At the center for both Kant and Hegel is the value and function of general logic in relation to the broader demands respectively of transcendental and speculative philosophy. And yet, as Hegel aligns himself with Kant, he seems to distance himself from the logical tradition including the project of transcendental philosophy, stressing the need for a “complete re-working” (MM 5:46) of the logical discipline and the necessity that “the standpoint of this science be conceived as higher so as to receive an entirely new form” (MM 5:36). In other words, historical continuity is emphasized in order to underscore the fundamental discontinuity that Hegel sees inaugurated by his dialectic-speculative logic. It is here that the issue of method becomes relevant.

8  Method in Hegel’s Dialectic-Speculative Logic


Hegel’s remarks on Kant’s discussion of logic in the first Critique and his use of Kant’s own position to assess the merit of formal logic are often glossed over by those many interpretations that privilege the question of how the idea of a “science of logic” obtains from the conclusion of the Phenomenology. Significantly, for Hegel, the appraisal of Kant’s logic and transcendental philosophy more broadly seems often to converge with the latter question, which concerns instead the relation between the Science of Logic and the Phenomenology. This convergence, however, is all but self-explanatory. What is the affinity between the need to correct the shortcomings of Kant’s transcendentalism and the gesture that overcomes the phenomenological “science of the experience of consciousness” in a “science of logic”? On the other hand, on the Kantian front, interpreters generally quote Hegel’s passages of the introduction to the logic only to outright dismiss them as paradigmatic examples of his misunderstanding of Kant (Pinder 1979, 309f.; Baum 1983, 230). To be sure, taken in its own right, the section of the first Critique on the idea of a transcendental logic and its own relation to general logic is far from uncontroversial. And this compounds the difficulty of interpreting Hegel’s own reading of it when at stake is the task of holding Kant’s views up to Hegel’s position. What is, for Kant, the relation between formal logic and transcendental logic and what is the chief question with regard to which the two types of logic are evaluated? Hegel’s part of the question should then be tackled on the basis of the answer offered to this question. Does Hegel discriminate between formal logic and transcendental logic or does he treat them as one and the same, because similarly flawed, forms of “logic of the understanding” (Verstandeslogik)? And most compellingly, does Hegel evaluate merits and shortcomings of formal and transcendental logic according to the same criterion in relation to which Kant had considered them or does the dialectic-speculative framework of his philosophy change the conversation entirely? The answer to these questions provides the historical constellation in which Hegel’s new idea of logical method should be placed if we want to understand the specific novelty of his dialectic-speculative logic. My claim is that some distinctive objectives of the general program of Hegel’s logic as well as some distinctive features of its method arise out of his appropriation and fundamental transformation of formal logic by way of Kant’s transcendental logic. Hegel opens the “General Concept of Logic” turning to Kant’s first Critique. His starting point is a confrontation with the “current concept of logic” or what “is commonly called logic” (MM 5:36, 59). While he presents such a concept paraphrasing the definition of “general logic” that Kant offered in the introduction to Transcendental Logic, Hegel immediately conflates it with the standpoint of transcendental logic itself so that the two seem in the end hardly distinguishable. “When logic is taken as the science of thinking in general, it is understood that this thinking constitutes the mere form of a cognition, that logic abstracts from all content” (MM 5:36). It is striking that Hegel seems to erase the difference between formal and transcendental logic on which instead Kant’s argument so forcefully insisted. Now, if this conflation is not to be simply dismissed as an outright misunderstanding on Hegel’s part, it should be somehow functional to Hegel’s twofold


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claim (i) that the discipline of logic needs to be totally re-worked and re-shaped and brought to a higher standpoint in order to respond to higher philosophical demands, and (ii) that this higher standpoint can be attained only by a dialecticspeculative transformation of the logical discipline. This transformation, I shall argue, is for Hegel a crucial methodological transformation. In other words, it does not consist in the extension or alternatively limitation of its thematic content as a logic. It is rather a transformation that regards the way in which the logical content taken up and presented within the logical form constitutes the logical form itself in its identity with the logical Darstellung. In the passage quoted above, Hegel offers two important insights. On the one hand, he presents a view of formal logic evaluated in relation to the problem of the cognition of objects, that is, in relation to the issue first raised by transcendental logic, an issue that is instead constitutively foreign to formal logic (which programmatically makes abstraction from it). On the other hand, Hegel offers an appraisal of Kant’s transcendental logic as being still a form of general logic— and this despite Kant’s crucial insistence that transcendental logic is instead the logic of a particular (not of the general) use the understanding (CPR B77/A52). It should be noted that for Kant the formality of formal logic, on which Hegel seems to concentrate his dissatisfaction, is not due to its ‘generality’, i.e., to its making abstraction from all content. For, transcendental logic is formal as well. And yet it is undoubtedly a “particular” logic (Pinder 1979, 319). Transcendental logic is a particular logic in two respects: first it is “the logic of the particular use of the understanding” (CPR B77/A52), i.e., of the use of the understanding when the “origin” of cognition is a priori and does not lie in the object (CPR B80/A56); and second, it contains “the rules concerning the correct way of thinking of a particular kind of objects” (CPR B77/A52), i.e., rules of thinking in relation to objects of possible experience. This particular logic is still formal (and because of its formality it is developed on the model of general logic). For, Kant explains, unlike general logic, the pure concepts of transcendental logic contain “the form of thinking of an object in general” (CPR B74f./A50f.)— thinking is thematized therein both in its formality and in its relation to objects. Since both types of logic are formal, the discriminating opposition, for Kant, does not concern form and content. It concerns, instead, the opposition of thinking “in general,”6 with no regard to the determination of objects and their differences7 on the one hand, and thinking of objects on the other hand. The former is the case of general logic, the latter of transcendental logic. Only the latter is a theory of knowledge, for only transcendental logic can give an account (i) of the origin of our representations; (ii) of how our concepts can relate to objects; hence (iii) of the different types of objects to which our concepts refer.8 It is clear that Hegel’s discontent with what he deems the (abstract) formality of logic is truly his concern with the failed relation to the object, which for Kant is not the same as formality (both general and transcendental logic are formal, but only the latter addresses the relation to the object). But since Hegel conflates formality with failed relation to objects he also brings together general and transcendental logic. It is on this point that Hegel’s position differs radically from

8  Method in Hegel’s Dialectic-Speculative Logic


Kant’s. For both Kant and Hegel formal logic does indeed programmatically make abstraction from all content—whereby Kant means both that general logic does not account for the origin of our representations in our cognitive faculties and that it cannot account for the concepts’ relation to objects.9 For Kant transcendental logic does not make abstraction from the content of cognition. And this is the main reason he introduces this logic in the first Critique, given the problem with which transcendental philosophy is concerned, namely, the problem of our a priori cognition of objects.10 Hegel, instead, while upholding the instance to which transcendental logic responds, i.e., the need for thinking to be thinking of objects, considers Kant’s logic to be as general and abstract as formal logic. The point is that the latter is abstract programmatically; the former is abstract (or insufficiently objective) because it rests on Kant’s separation of sensibility and understanding as a separation of content and form. The understanding, which logic considers in its forms, is not able by itself to produce the content for those forms but must instead rely on a separate source, which is intuition. This is, in short, the thesis of transcendental idealism. It is precisely on this issue that hinges both Hegel’s critique of Kant’s logic and the argument in favor of a dialectic-speculative logic uniquely capable of gaining the true relation to objectivity and “real truth” which Kant reclaimed yet failed to guarantee. At stake is the need for a new understanding of logical form. But this is also the point that allows Hegel, on the basis of his critique of Kant, to go back to an idea of formality perhaps closer, again, to formal logic and rejected instead by Kant. In effect, Hegel does take general logic’s programmatic abstraction from all content as equivalent to transcendental logic’s commitment to the thesis of transcendental idealism (i.e., to the recognition that the understanding depends on sensibility for the content of cognition). Hegel’s claim is that insofar as logic as such assumes “thinking in general” or thinking as “mere form of cognition,” “the so-called second element belonging to cognition, namely, its matter, must come from elsewhere; and since this matter is absolutely independent of logic, logic can provide only the formal conditions of true cognition and cannot in itself contain any real truth” (MM 5:36). Herein, the decisive opposition is not the opposition of form and content of thinking—the formal rules of the use of understanding (rules of inferences and predication) do constitute, after all, the content of formal logic— here Kant would agree with Hegel’s point. In transcendental logic at stake is rather the separation between form and matter of cognition. Herein, Hegel takes up Kant’s terminology: the “matter” of cognition is its objective content (CPR B83/ A58f.). Hegel’s point is that although transcendental logic does not make abstraction from the object since for it the “transcendental” source of content is of crucial import, the content as the “matter” of cognition must be provided by a different source than the understanding, hence is “independent” of and remains foreign to logic as such. Ultimately, the point is that if, as Kant insists, (our) understanding is unable to give itself the matter of cognition (i.e., is not intuitive) but must rely on sensibility for the object to be given to it, i.e., in order to think of some object, then logic remains a purely formal and abstract discipline that cannot gain any


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constitutive relation to the object, no matter how much one insists on qualifying its transcendental nature by bringing in an alleged relation to objectivity. Kant famously brings the two elements of cognition back to their source in the human cognitive faculty of which sensibility and understanding are the two distinct “branches” (CPR B30/A15). From this the division of the Critique into a “transcendental aesthetic” and a “transcendental logic” follows—the former being the “science of the rules of sensibility,” the latter being the “science of the rules of understanding” (CPR B77/A52). In the section On Logic in General Kant refers this division to the thesis of transcendental idealism. Since the “spontaneity” of the understanding can give no object to cognition, its activity concerns the application of thinking to objects given by intuition. This “application” of the understanding must fall under rules, and these rules—rules of inference, judgment, syllogism— are the province of logic. Hence Kant’s definition of logic as “science of the rules of understanding in general” (CPR B77/A52). While for Kant this justifies the peculiar character of transcendental logic as a particular logic concerned with the cognition of objects, hence different in its aim from formal logic but also necessarily indebted to it for its formal content, for Hegel the fact that the matter of cognition is “independent” of thinking reveals the insufficiency of transcendental logic in the fulfillment of the conditions of “true knowledge.” In this regard, Hegel detects no difference between general and transcendental logic for both require an additional external element to fulfill the relation to objects that is necessary for truth and yet remains beyond the competence of both (MM 5:36). To this extent, both general and transcendental logic (and not only general logic, as claimed by Kant) offer only a “negative condition” of truth (CPR B84/A59). For Kant as well as for Hegel at stake is “the old and well-known” question— Pilatus’s question: “what is truth?”—which infallibly embarrasses the logician (CPR B82/A57f.; MM 6:244; Baum 1983; Prauss 1969; Wagner 1977). Kant’s point in arguing for the distinction of formal and transcendental logic is that the demand for a universal yet material criterion of truth is contradictory. The universal criterion of truth, making abstraction from all object of cognition, indicates the mere coherence of the understanding with its formal rules, hence is not a criterion for the truth of knowledge (CPR B84/A59). The material criterion of truth, referring to the objects of cognition, offers a condition for the truth of knowledge that only transcendental logic, not formal logic, can address. This, however, is no universal criterion of truth. For Kant, the material condition of truth is the condition of possible experience. Significantly, not only for Kant but also for Hegel at stake in logic is the truth of cognition as implying an account of thinking’s object-relation.11 To this extent, Hegel’s logic is indeed aligned with transcendental logic. And yet, while bringing the necessary moment of object-relation to the fore, transcendental logic must refer to the extra-logical giveness of intuition. For this reason, in Hegel’s view, the novelty of Kant’s idea of truth points at the same time to its insuperable limit—for, “the essential of truth, the content, lies outside of it” as “its other (sein Anderes)” (MM 5:37) and remains utterly foreign to logical thinking.

8  Method in Hegel’s Dialectic-Speculative Logic


Here the task of the new logic consists in reclaiming to logical thinking the objectivity that constitutes merely formal truth into “real truth.” (MM 5:36). Only on this condition can the dependence of logic on the giveness of intuition be eliminated while maintaining the cognitive commitments proper of transcendental logic, and yet taking up, at the same time, an idea of thinking’s formality that lacking the opposition to content first instituted by transcendental idealism is in fact closer to general logic. This is the delicate route that Hegel’s dialectic-­speculative logic attempts to navigate between Kant’s transcendental logic and formal logic. The question, however, is whether the claimed continuity with transcendental logic is, in fact, compatible with the way in which Hegel reclaims objectivity to thinking. Thinking becomes dialectical and speculative; its truth becomes universal and material at the same time. This transformation, which is the specific task of the method of the new logic to achieve, requires the elimination of the thesis of transcendental idealism. Herein Hegel presents this Kantian thesis as the presupposition “that the material of cognition is present on its own account as a readymade world apart from thinking, that thinking in itself is empty and comes as an external form to its matter, fills itself with it, and only thus acquires a content and so becomes real knowledge” (MM 5:36f.). Hegel expresses Kant’s fundamental commitment (i.e., ultimately, the thesis of transcendental idealism which renders the material of cognition “alien” to logic), in terms of the “presupposed separation of truth and certainty” (MM 5:36). This distinction hints at Hegel’s reasons for aligning Kant with the standpoint of consciousness—or more precisely, with the “opposition of consciousness (Gegensatz des Bewusstseins)”—exposed in the Phenomenology. This is the standpoint that opposing subject and object, content and form, needs to be fully and completely overcome in order for the logic to begin (MM 5:43, 45, 60). But that separation (of truth and certainty, form and content, subject and object) also explains why for Hegel the relation of dependence with which Kant connects understanding and sensibility in the cognitive synthesis—but truly sanctions their radical separation—easily translates in the claim that the logical forms have “no application to the thing in itself” (MM 5:37, 40, 60). Unlike Hegel’s rendering, however, Kant’s claim here is a qualified and a conditioned one: such an “application” is impossible only under the material condition of truth provided by transcendental logic. While for Kant this is the case because the thing in itself is not an object of intuition (hence cannot be matter of cognition); for Hegel, the gesture that places the matter of sensibility outside of the concept (as appearance) already limits the real validity of the concept, and is accordingly identical to positing a reality impenetrable to it (the thing in itself). Indeed, what Kant’s Transcendental Dialectic displays is precisely the failed application of the categories when the material condition of truth is disregarded. In contrast to this Kantian position, Hegel does appreciate the notion of formality proper instead to formal logic (and which, importantly, underlies the claims of traditional metaphysics)—a formality that does not discriminate among objects (and does not posit an unreachable thing in itself). Again, the only way to remove the Kantian limitation is to reject the claim that “the material of cognition” lies “as a


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ready-made world outside of thinking,” reclaiming, instead, the pervasive notion of formality proper of general logic but with a fundamental change, namely, by reclaiming the “liberation (Befreiung)” of logical form from the opposition to content (MM 5:43). Accordingly, dialectical opposition is now rendered internal to the logical form itself, and since the logical form is generally extended to all objects (not limited only to objects of experience), dialectic becomes the omnipervasive form of all objectivity. On Hegel’s view, thinking should be rendered capable of giving itself objective content independently of other sources. Thereby we reach Hegel’s thesis of “objective thinking” (MM 5:40, 43; Enz. §§24–25) which replaces not only the forms presented “in common logic” (Enz. §24), but also Kant’s thesis of transcendental idealism thereby becoming the cornerstone of his dialectic-speculative logic. “The expression of objective thinking,” Hegel explains, “indicates truth” as “the absolute object” of philosophy (Enz. §25). Hegel’s notion of “objective thinking” is the framework in which his new conception of logical method is inscribed. In contrast to the Kantian separation of cognitive faculties and their skewed relationship to truth (which replicates the separation of truth and certainty presented in the Phenomenology), in the dialectic-speculative logic “das Logische” is “das Rein-Vernünftige” (MM 5:45)—no longer mere understanding separated from objectivity; no longer thinking affected by the “opposition of consciousness” (MM 5:45, 59) but the sphere of the rational as such. In Kant’s Transcendental Dialectic, “reason” is the faculty of mediated inferences or syllogisms but is also the site of speculative ideas, i.e., of concepts for which no objective reality can be provided. However, Hegel’s speculative reason—and his speculative “concept”—as topic of the dialectic-speculative logic are not dialectical in the same sense. Hegel’s rejection of transcendental idealism leads him to a radical reformulation of the nature of conceptual form and content, of the extent of reason’s province, and of the power of dialectic. Kant’s division of transcendental logic into Analytic and Dialectic—a division inherited by the Aristotelian tradition—can no longer be maintained. For Kant the basis of this division lies in the formality of transcendental logic and in its dependence on the matter given in intuition: the transcendental analytic is a “logic of truth,” the dialectic a “critique of the dialectical appearance” (CPR B87/ A62; B88/A63). The analytic contains the formal principles that no cognition of objects can contradict without losing its relation to objects. But if thinking upholds the understanding’s principles and yet pretends to be independent of intuition, it trespasses the limits of experience and runs the “risk of making … a material use of its pure and merely formal principles” (CPR B88/A63), thereby judging of and inferring to objects that cannot be given in experience. Although the procedures of reason presented in Kant’s Dialectic may bear some resemblance to Hegel’s dialectic, at no point in Kant’s Dialectic is the thesis of transcendental idealism abandoned. For Kant the Dialectic confirms transcendental idealism; for Hegel reason’s dialectic can start only at the condition of abandoning it. The relationship between traditional formal logic, Hegel’s dialectic-speculative logic, and Kant’s transcendental logic can be summed up in Hegel’s claim that the Objective Logic, the first division of the Science of Logic, “would in part

8  Method in Hegel’s Dialectic-Speculative Logic


correspond to what for Kant is transcendental logic” (MM 5:59). It is a qualified “correspondence,” however, that seems connected to the two main differences that Hegel, paraphrasing Kant, detects between formal and transcendental logic, namely, that the latter a. considers concepts that refer a priori to objects, hence do not make abstraction from all content of objective cognition, or, that such logic contains the rules of the pure thinking of an object; and b. regards, at the same time, the origin of our cognition insofar as this cannot be attributed to the objects. (Ibid.)

The first condition is connected to the designation of Kant’s logic as a “particular logic” concerned with the problem of knowledge and with objective truth; the latter addresses the properly transcendental nature of this logic. Hegel’s objective logic endorses the first condition but abandons the second. However, by abandoning the transcendental tenet, which is ultimately responsible for the separation between form and content, truth and appearance, analytic and dialectic, Hegel embraces a notion of formality that is closer to general logic to the extent that the logical form is the form of all thinking as such but also the form of all objectivity (independently of the type of objects being thought). Now, this is the basis on which Hegel develops his new notion of logical method.

2 Method and the Inner Self-Movement of the Content Hegel overcomes the Kantian—and phenomenological—opposition and separation of form and matter, truth and certainty by proposing a new conception of logical form, which, as “absolute” (MM 5:44) or “infinite form” (MM 5:61; 6:550; De Boer 2011, 52) is no longer opposed to its allegedly foreign, extra-logical content—a content consequently always in need to be synthetized and deduced in order to produce meaningful and successful cognition. As the very form of “pure thinking,” which is in itself “objective thinking,” the logical form is instead capable of generating from itself its own content, of producing the “difference” which this content as content upholds against the form in a way that such difference is not “alien” to thinking—is “kein Anderessein”—but rather expresses the very movement of thinking in its formality, i.e., as logical movement (MM 6:550). Now the “method,” which at the final stage of the development of the logic is “absolute method” (MM 5:17; 6:555), is precisely the way in which the generation of content from within the logical form of pure thinking takes place. Method, Hegel explains, is the “Art und Weise” (MM 6:550), the ‘how’ or the modality of the progressive generation of content from the logical form when this generation does not appeal to an external source (an a priori intuition, the material giveness of sensibility, an object standing opposite to consciousness as its Gegen-stand or its “other”) but is rather the immanent, dynamic relation that unifies form and content within the realm of “objective thinking.” Thus, Hegel contends that the “absolute method” of cognition is, at the same time, “the immanent soul of the


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content itself” (MM 5:17)—it is the force that brings the content to life imparting movement to it, that makes the content known as content, and renders it relevant as known. To display the full progression of this movement, i.e., the movement whereby the content becomes alive and consciously known in its form is the task of Hegel’s logic. “Method is the consciousness of the form of the inner self-movement of its content” (MM 5:49; Nuzzo 2011, 116f.; Wolff 2014). The central tenet on which Hegel’s conception of method hinges, then, regards precisely the way in which the logical content is immanently produced from the logical form and in unity with it.12 Right at the beginning of the preface to the 1812 edition of the Science of Logic Hegel remarks that what constitutes the peculiar and indeed “essential viewpoint” of the new discipline is “a new concept of the scientific treatment (Behandlung)” of logical determinations. As I mentioned above, Hegel insists that in the case of the logic the “method” should not be taken from other, subordinate disciplines (such as mathematics, for example) and should not be imposed by an “external reflection” on a material presupposed as given (MM 5:16; Enz. §1). Instead, it must be developed, along with the specific logical content, within the logic itself. Hegel argues that “it can only be the nature of the content which moves itself in scientific knowledge, for it is the content’s own reflection (eigene Reflexion des Inhalts) that first posits and generates the determination (Bestimmung) of such content” (MM 5:16). The outline of Hegel’s new conception of method is already present in this claim. Method is the modality—the Art und Weise—of the discursive unfolding or, rather, of the “movement” of the content which is the movement of the content’s progressive (self-) “determination.” This means that what the logical content properly is, i.e., its proper “determination” as logical content, obtains from the logical movement itself and from this movement only (it can neither be presupposed from other disciplines nor given externally from non-logical sources nor argued for by appealing to “inner intuition” or the like (MM 5:49). This also means that the method is the form that the logic assumes as “science of logic” when the process of determination of its content is at issue. Form and content are here one. In sum, the method is the (conscious) form assumed by the process of self-movement and self-determination of the content. This is also an adequate description of the program of Hegel’s new logic. So conceived, the method ultimately constitutes the logic into a “science” and into the complete “system” of logical determinations or “concepts” (MM 5:49),13 thereby providing that “system of pure reason” that Kant’s Critique had promised but was unable to offer (MM 5:44). The method is the form that only the immanently generated content of pure objective thinking can assume. It is not some extrinsic organization that external presuppositions, aims or interests can impose from without on scientific cognition or on a thinking subject. Content and method are closely connected in Hegel’s view of logical form. Method is the form of the “content’s own reflection” (MM 5:16); it is “the immanent soul of the content itself” (MM 5:17); as such, it is “objective, immanent form” (MM 6:555). Reciprocally, however, the logical content is that which only

8  Method in Hegel’s Dialectic-Speculative Logic


the activity of thinking’s progressive self-determination and self-reflection can generate within itself. Thereby Hegel posits the unity of logical content and logical form in the dynamic of the content-form movement of self-determination. Such movement is the method. “The form,” Hegel argues “when thought out in its purity, will then have within itself the capacity to determine itself, that is, to give itself a content, and to give it as a necessary content—as a system of thoughtdeterminations” (MM 5:61). Thereby Hegel brings together the idea of absolute form, content, and method in the conception of a dialectic-speculative logic that embracing both the pervasive formality of general logic and Kant’s attention to logical content, overcomes the former’s abstractness as well as the latter’s confinement of the content to extra-logical sources. The emphasis on the fact that the self-determination of the form-content unity taking place in the logic is a movement, which is properly the self-movement characterizing all living beings (being the mark of “all natural and spiritual Lebendigkeit” [MM 5:52]) is here crucial. Hegel’s claim is that to the extent that the logic is not viewed and developed as an ongoing discursive process but is instead presented as a static and fragmented “table” of categories or inert, “dead,” and unmoved or “lifeless” determinations (as is the case of Kant’s logic and traditional general logic),14 form and content remain inexorably separate and set in opposition to each other, in need of an external reflection—or indeed of an external, ad hoc method—which alone could bring them extrinsically (and arbitrarily) together in order to confer meaning to them. Ultimately, this is, yet again, the flawed position of both transcendental subjectivity and phenomenological consciousness. On Hegel’s dialectic-speculative view, by contrast, the logical form is able to produce its content from within—immanently, as it were, working as its “immanent soul” (MM 5:17) and “moving principle” (MM 5:52)—and also with necessity, i.e., is able to produce it as a “necessary content” (MM 5:61) only under the condition of considering the logical content as a living, moving process of self-determination. This is the crucial methodological assumption of Hegel’s dialectic-speculative logic. We can now understand how the novelty of the dialecticspeculative method, for Hegel, does not consist in introducing new material in the logical disciple. Rather, it consists in giving life and, by giving life, in conferring new meaning and a new consciousness, to the otherwise “dead” and unmoved contents found in the historical tradition. It is this view of method that places “dialectic”—heretofore considered, even by Kant, only as a “part” of the logic (MM 5:51)—in a thoroughly new perspective and recognizes it a chief function in generating the movement of determination. On Hegel’s view, dialectic is not a part of the logic but its pervasive underlying dynamic structure. Along with the speculative element or moment— “das Spekulative” (MM 5:52)—the negativity characterizing “das Dialektische” (MM 5:51) constitutes the “moving soul, the principle (Prinzip) of all natural and spiritual life” (MM 5:52; Enz. §§79–82). Thus, while the material of the logic can be seen as inherited from the tradition, its formal connection into a dynamic systematic whole is not, so that the new problem that speculative logic,


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and specifically its method, is called in to solve is a problem of dynamic “order,” namely, how to produce the “inner necessary connection” of the systematic whole, how to “immanently generate the differences,” and how to achieve the “transition” among successive determinations and spheres of determination (MM 5:51). This is the methodological problem of the dynamism of the logical progress—the problem that Hegel addresses by conferring to the method a nature that is both dialectic and speculative.15 The method is the “spirit” of the content—its living spirit (MM 5:48). On this view, to follow the adequate hint of a spurious etymology, method is indeed the meta odos of the movement of pure logical thinking. It is the odos or the “path” (Weg) that pure thinking has travelled as it is reconstructed a parte post after the movement that has followed the path has fully taken place, although, in a somewhat circular way, that path has been there all along as the path to be followed. Despite its appearing as an actual path only after one has traveled it, the path one travels has been there all along in order to make travel possible. The “absolute method,” Hegel suggests, is the “self-constituting path (sich selbst konstruierenden Wege)” of thinking which alone can institute philosophy into an “objective demonstrative and demonstrated science” (MM 5:17). Its thematization, however, just as the retrospective glance at the “path” which the movement of thinking has followed (and had to follow in order to immanently and necessarily generate its own content), can take place only after the path has been followed, i.e., at the end of the entire logical development, in its last conclusive chapter.16 Not only is the method not presupposed to science; just as the content, the method is, instead, the very result of its inner movement and development (Nuzzo 2011, 116f.; Nuzzo 2005).

3 Conclusion I shall conclude by briefly summing up the argument presented above. My claim has been that the fundamental novelty and distinctive character of Hegel’s “science of logic” consists not so much in the content it presents—a content that this logic shares with the tradition (with traditional formal logic and metaphysics as well as with Kant’s transcendental logic and critique of metaphysics)—but rather in the “method” according to which such content is immanently generated within the logical presentation. Hegel’s view of method is, most properly, a peculiar conception of the dynamic, unfolding unity of logical form and content, and of the way in which such unity is constituted throughout the living movement of pure thinking’s self-determination. This conception arises from Hegel’s considered confrontation with both general logic and transcendental logic. Kant’s program in his transcendental logic is the introduction of content in the otherwise merely abstract logical forms of general logic, a gesture that turns formal logic into a transcendental theory of cognition of objects. Hegel builds on this view. However, he criticizes Kant’s limited and limiting view of thinking (properly of the understanding or of reason conceived only as understanding, i.e., truly, in a

8  Method in Hegel’s Dialectic-Speculative Logic


non-speculative way). As thinking, for Kant, remains incapable of generating content out of itself, such content, although necessary to cognition, remains foreign to logic, dependent on extra-logical sources (namely, intuition and sensibility more generally). This position goes hand in had with Kant’s limited and limiting view of logical form as applying meaningfully only to objects of possible experience. In contrast to Kant, then, Hegel upholds the more pervasive and comprehensive conception of formality proper to general logic. Logical form, however, is now “absolute” and “infinite” form—form capable of generating content out of itself in the dialectic-speculative movement of logical thinking.

Notes 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16.

See MM 5:19, 58–59; 6:243 for example. For the proximity of Darstellung and Methode see MM 5:53. See MM 5:73. This is the question left open by Michael Wolff (Wolff 2014). To this extent, my task is different, although somehow obviously related to his, as my chief aim is to clarify what is Hegel’s understanding of the logical method, not his conception of dialectic. I use ‘integration’ at this stage in a sort of neutral and uncommitted sense. The relation between the two types of logic is a complex one and the discussion among interpreters is open in this regard: see Pinder (1979), Prauss (1969), Wolff (1984), Paton (1957). For Hegel’s relation to general logic, see Hanna (1986). “Der Inhalt mag sein, welcher er [der Verstand] wolle”: CPR B77/A53. CPR B75/A52: general logic concerns the employment of the understanding “unangesehen der Verschiedenheit der Gegenstände auf welche er gerichtet sein mag.” For example, objects of possible experience, intelligible objects, entia rationis. Ultimately, this is the reason why the synthetic-analytic distinction and the issue of synthetic a priori judgment can only be raised by a logic that is transcendental. CPR B78, 79/A54, 55. Hegel recognizes both points as the main difference between general and transcendental logic (MM 5:59). See the general definition of “transzendental” in relation to cognition in CPR B25/A12, and the corresponding B80/A56 in the discussion of logic. See Wagner (1977, 75) arguing against Prauss (1969). While presently I shall concentrate on one point of this central issue, I have addressed this topic extensively in Nuzzo (2005, 2011). This is indeed clear in the last chapter of the logic, the “Absolute Idea,” see MM 6:567ff. in particular. See the “dead limbs” at MM 5:48, and the analogy with the “lifeless bones of a skeleton” at MM 5:19. This point is extensively discussed in Nuzzo (2005, 2011). See Nuzzo (2014) for the relation of Hegel’s final thematization of method at the end of the Science of Logic to Kant’s similar task at the end of the Critique of Pure Reason.

Bibliography Baum, Manfred. 1983. “Wahrheit bei Kant und Hegel.” In Kant oder Hegel? edited by Dieter Henrich. 230–249. Stuttgart: Frommann-Holzboog.


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De Boer, Karin. 2011. “Transformations of Transcendental Philosophy: Wolff, Kant, and Hegel.” Bulletin of the Hegel Society of Great Britain 32 (1–2): 63–64, 50–79. Hanna, Robert. 1986. “From an Ontological Point of View: Hegel’s Critique of the Common Logic.” The Review of Metaphysics 40: 305–338. Nuzzo, Angelica. 2005. “The End of Hegel’s Logic: Absolute Idea as Absolute Method.” In Hegel’s Theory of the Subject, edited by David G. Carlson, 187–205. London, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. Nuzzo, Angelica. 2011. “Thinking Being: Method in Hegel’s Logic of Being.” In A Companion to Hegel, edited by Stephen Houlgate and Michael Bauer, 111–139. Oxford: Blackwell. Nuzzo, Angelica. 2014. “Transcendental Philosophy, Method, and System in Kant, Fichte, and Hegel.” In Fichte and Transcendental Philosophy, edited by Daniel Breazeale and Tom Rockmore, 58–70. London, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. Paton, Herbert J. 1957. “Formal and Transcendental Logic.” Kant Studien 49: 245–263. Pinder, Tillmann. 1979. “Kants Begriff der Logik.” Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 61: 309–336. Prauss, Gerold. 1969. “Zum Wahrheitsproblem bei Kant.” Kant Studien 60: 166–182. Wagner, Hans. 1977. “Zu Kants Auffassung bezüglich des Verhältnisses zwischen Formal- und Transzendentallogik. Kritik der reinen Vernunft A57-64/B82-88.” Kant Studien 68: 71–76. Wolff, Michael. 1984. “Der Begriff der Widerspruch in der Kritik der reinen Vernunft.” In Probleme der Kritik der reinen Vernunft, edited by Burkhardt Tuschling, 178–226. Berlin: De Gruyter. Wolff, Michael. 2014. “Hegels Dialektik – eine Methode? Zu Hegels Ansichten von der Form einer philosophischen Wissenschaft.” In Hegel – 200 Jahre Wissenschaft der Logik, edited by Anton Friedrich Koch, Friederike Schick, Klaus Vieweg, and Claudia Wiersig, 71–86. Hamburg: Meiner.

Chapter 9

Aufhebung John W. Burbidge

In Hegelian scholarship the German term Aufhebung plays a special role. Hegel himself capitalizes on the fact that, in colloquial German, it can be used to express both “annulling” and “preserving”, as well as “transforming” or “overcoming”. To capture that multiple sense, translators and interpreters have adopted a number of English terms; in addition to those already mentioned, one can list “supersede”, “sublimate”, and the technical term “sublate”. Because of this complex of meanings, the term has become a kind of deus ex machina, used by interpreters to justify any unusual transition in Hegel’s system where one stage suddenly gives way to another at a more complex and higher level. Yet few people have endeavoured to unpack what is involved in the process it is supposed to name, explaining how it performs its magic. Not surprisingly, it has become another bit of evidence, used by his critics, for his mysticism and obscurity. Errol Harris is one of the few who has provided an explanatory model: “It is the immanence of the whole that constitutes the potentiality of the part (or of the lower stage of development) and that accounts for what is preserved in Aufhebung, as well as for what is annulled” (Harris 1993, 52). For Harris there is a kind of teleology whereby the whole draws the dismembered pieces back towards its completeness. It is this pull which transforms them by preserving what is valuable and cancelling their limitations. Harris’s proposal assumes an integrated whole to be present, at least as a possibility, from the beginning. In other words, one understands the dynamic only after the development is complete when we know what the whole is to be. However, in developing his system, Hegel never starts from some assumed totality, which he then breaks up into its component parts in the way Kant in the Critique of Pure Reason assumes that there is knowledge and then breaks up the process by which we acquire knowledge into the passive moment of intuition and the active

J. W. Burbidge (*)  Trent University, Peterborough, ON, Canada

© The Author(s) 2020 M. F. Bykova and K. R. Westphal (eds.), The Palgrave Hegel Handbook, Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism,



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moment of understanding. Instead, he begins from a primitive concept, explores its implications, and suggests that the complexity emerges from its original simplicity. In the Logic the starting point is the pure indeterminacy of the thought of “being”; in the Phenomenology it is the pure passivity of unmediated sensation; in the Philosophy of Right it is the basic structure of an act of will. By restricting his starting points to these abstracted and isolated moments, Hegel has deliberately excluded any larger perspective, any implicit reference to an all-inclusive whole. Given this evident refusal to adopt a teleological strategy from the outset, Hegel does not seem to suggest that the process called Aufhebung achieves its transformation by some kind of magic wand, wielded by a hidden Absolute, that has the power to transform partial pumpkins into complete chariots. He appears to draw on nothing more than the conditions already implicit in the preceding stages of his analysis. If he is unable to explain the mechanics of that transmutation in those a posteriori terms, then his whole systematic project loses its power. The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the nature of this transition by looking for clues within Hegel’s major systematic texts. I shall start from the Anmerkung (Remark) in the Science of Logic where he spells out his delight in finding that Aufhebung integrates the three contrary senses, and explore the context within which it is placed. As the culminating comment on Hegel’s first chapter, it is clearly meant to throw light on the way a simple, indeterminate beginning develops complications. To give flesh to this initial perspective I shall look at several passages where Hegel introduces significant comments and modifications when revising his Logic and Encyclopaedia texts for their second editions, and then turn back to discussions in Kant that could well have been in Hegel’s mind. By combining these two bits of evidence, I shall develop a proposal spelling out in detail how Aufhebung performs its magic. To test the adequacy of this proposal, I shall then look at several significant transitions within Hegel’s system to suggest, not only that it captures the dynamics of his narrative, but also that it provides a more satisfactory explanation for the systematic structure of his philosophy than that found in much of the contemporary literature. Finally, I shall turn to Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature where, having rejected the theory of evolution with its claim that nature has a history, he justifies the move from stage to stage by appealing to conceptual thought. I shall venture to suggest that, once one has recognized that nature has a history in which complexity emerges from simpler components, one may discover in nature processes closely resembling Aufhebung—processes that do not have to rely on the concept to move from a simpler to a more complex stage. I conclude with some implications for our understanding of Hegel’s systematic project.

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1 Hegel’s Remark on the term Aufhebung primarily focuses on its difference from complete annihilation (WL GW 21:94–95). What has been aufgehoben or sublated does not simply revert to an unmediated nothingness but continues as something mediated, as a result. While its immediacy has been cancelled, it is nonetheless preserved, although in a form that is no longer completely open to external influences. This double sense makes it a peculiarly appropriate term for Hegel’s speculative project. The Remark, however, makes no mention of the process involved—how it performs this transformation. To get some sense of that dynamic we have to turn to the text of the chapter to which it is appended. The basic argument of the chapter is found in five short discussions. The first two detail how an initial focus on pure being discovers that it is thinking nothing, and that an initial focus on a pure nothing comes to the realization that this thought is exactly the same as the thought of pure being (WL GW 21:68–69). The other three sections explore the consequence of this double discovery. Initially, in the third section, it would appear that pure being and pure nothing are simply the same. But when one thinks back on what was described in the first two sections, one realizes that this does not capture what went on. They appear to be the same because each one has passed over to the other. And that passing over presupposes that one is distinguished from the other. So the identity is not undifferentiated. The two terms, “pure being” and “pure nothing” are in fact opposites; and what happens is that each one disappears into what looks like its contradictory. What is significant is the process of disappearing, which we can identify with the term “becoming”, a process in which the two terms are differentiated from each other, yet each immediately dissolves into the other (WL GW 21:69–70). This leads to a fourth moment. For once one unites pure being and pure nothing into this dynamic identity they change their character. They are no longer simple and immediate, but aufgehobene, sublated. They have become differentiated moments, but in their difference each retains a connection or link to the other. For at one moment, pure being is primary and immediate and nothing is the mediated result, and in the other moment pure nothing is primary and immediate while being is the result. So there are two types of becoming: in one nothing becomes being— which can be called “coming to be”—and in the other being becomes nothing—or “passing away”. It is not so much that one brings about the demise of the other, but each one brings about its own transition to the other (WL GW 21:92–93). In the fifth and final section, called “Aufheben of Becoming”, Hegel makes a further move. For when one considers from a unified perspective the two transitions—the coming-to-be and the passing-away—one discovers that each of the two moments, pure being and pure nothing, is continually disappearing and reappearing as its contrary. Pure becoming has this contradictory character in which the differentiation of its moments disappears only to re-emerge as significant. That contradiction cannot maintain itself. So the double dynamic collapses into


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a single complex movement, in which the unceasing transition from one into the other becomes a simple, peaceful result. In other words, because of the contradiction, the mutual disappearance of being and nothing itself disappears into an unmediated unity. The term for an unmediated unity of pure being and pure nothing where each is continually passing over to its opposite is “Dasein”, or “a being”. The “being” that is now the focus of attention is not the abstraction of pure undifferentiated being, but a being whose inherent character is to come to be and pass away (WL GW 21:93–94). In this narrative, Aufhebung has surfaced at two different points. In the first, a simple transition from one thought to another involves the sublating of the primary moment as it passes over to its contrary. In the second, a double movement collapses (or disappears) and is sublated into a simple unmediated unity. Our next task is to explore further the role these two features play. A couple of passages that Hegel added to the second editions of his published works can throw light on this process. Just before he died in 1831, Hegel sent off the final corrections to his revision of the first book of the Science of Logic. At the end of his discussion of magnitude, or quantity, he had previously noted that the discussion of quality in the first section had concluded by passing over to the discussion of quantity; in contrast, the discussion of quantity in the second section culminated in a move whereby its externality became a self-referential determination, or quality. At this point he adds in 1831 the following passage: For totality to be established, it requires the doubled transition, not only of the one determination into its other, but equally the transition of this other – its return – into the first. By means of the first, there is only inherently [an sich] the identity of the two at hand; quality is contained in quantity, but that is only a one-sided determination. But that this latter, in reverse, is equally contained in the former – is equally present only as sublated [aufgehoben] – results from the second transition, the return into the first. This remark concerning the necessity of the double transition is of great significance for the whole of the scientific method. (WL GW 21:320.21–29, my translation; compare WL GW 11:187)

The emphasis Hegel inserts in this passage suggests that it is not the “whole”, central to E. E. Harris’s explanatory picture, that generates the process, but rather the emergence of a double transition—not only the transitions from quality to quantity and from quantity to quality, but also, as we have seen in the primitive stages of the Logic, from being to nothing and from nothing to being. Hegel’s reference to the importance of this pattern for the whole scientific method is made explicit in a second passage. For when, in 1827, he revised the final section of the Encyclopaedia Logic of 1817 on the Absolute Idea, he added a new paragraph and a half to his discussion of the logical method: §241 In the second sphere the concept, which is present at first only implicitly, has come to be shown, and is thus implicitly the Idea. – The development of this sphere becomes the return into the first, just as the development of the first is a transition into the second. Only through this doubled movement does the distinction acquire its just due, in that each of the two differentiated [moments] is considered with respect to itself, completes itself in a totality, and thereby activates itself into a unity with the other. Only the self-sublating [Sichaufheben] of the one-sidedness of both on its own [terms] prevents the unity from being one-sided.

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§242 The second sphere develops the relation between the differentiated into what it is at first, into the contradiction in itself – within an infinite progress – which then [third sphere] dissolves into the end, wherein the differentiated are posited as that which they are in the concept.1 (Enc. GW 19:179.4–17; in third edition—Enc. GW 20:230.11–24, my translation; compare GW 13:109–110)

From this passage we learn further features of the doubled transition. It is a critical stage in the development of conceptual thought, making its inherent dynamic evident, and setting the stage for the complete identification of the differentiated moments. This final move comes about because the inherent contradiction between the two initial transitions or moments generates an infinite progress of one becoming the other, which in turn collapses, or dissolves, into a final conceptual unity. The dissolution of the double transition, Hegel suggests in the Encyclopaedia, in some way involves “the concept”. A passage in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, where he introduces the “pure concepts of the understanding”, provides some background for Hegel’s use of this term. For Kant, intuitions rest on affections, while concepts rest on functions. “By a function … I understand the unity of the action of ordering different representations under a common one” (CPR A68/B93). An initial function involves synthesis, taking a manifold of intuitions in space and time and “comprehending their manifoldness in one cognition” (CPR A77/B103). Kant attributes the synthesising function primarily to the imagination, and points out that it is not sufficient on its own to provide knowledge. For that to happen we need a third step beyond intuition and imagination: “The concepts that give this pure synthesis unity, and that consist solely in the representation of this necessary synthetic unity, are the third thing necessary for cognition of an object that comes before us, and they depend on the understanding” (CPR A79/B104). Kant thus distinguishes between an act that brings a manifold together into a single perspective, which he calls “synthesis”, and a further act which then integrates that synthesis into a unity. This second function—the one that generates the concepts critical for acquiring knowledge—is the work of “understanding”. When we return to the passage cited from the Encyclopaedia, we can see how Hegel has built on Kant’s distinction between synthesis and unity. Within the Logic images and imagination have no role to play, for we have already moved beyond any empirical encounter with the world through sensation or reflection. Pure thoughts are the focus of attention. If, however, such thoughts were brought together by a purely spontaneous act of synthesis, then thought would still be prey to arbitrary whim. Hegel solves this problem by showing how the focus on a particular thought to clarify and determine its precise sense leads over to its opposite or contrary. “Being” turns into “nothing”; “nothing” turns into “being”. The act of synthesis simply looks at the transition as a totality which includes both its initial and its concluding moment, and notices that a sublation (Aufhebung) has occurred. When the result of the first act is submitted to the same examination, a reverse movement occurs. At this point synthesis recurs at a second level in which thought considers the double movement as a whole. And this sets the stage for the unifying function of conceptual thought.


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In the context of the first chapter of the Logic, the first synthetic move happens in the third section discussed above entitled “Unity of Being and Nothing” (WL GW 21:69.23–70.2), where the two transitions from being to nothing and from nothing to being result in the two terms being taken as identical; the second emerges through the fourth section, “Moments of Becoming” (WL GW 21:92. 18–93.17), where those two initial transitions are distinguished in terms of their initial moments, and yet seen as reciprocal. The function Kant calls “unity” then surfaces in the fifth section, “Aufhebung of Becoming”. The understanding takes the total double movement, which involves a continual ongoing circle from one moment to its contrary and back again, and dissolves it into a unity that can be isolated and conceived as a single thought. It retains all the features of the double dynamic, yet integrates them into a new simple concept. “The activity of separating”, Hegel notes in the Phenomenology, “is the force and labour of the understanding, the most astonishing and the greatest of all the powers, or rather, which is the absolute power”. The sentences that follow are also significant for our purposes: “The circle, which, enclosed within itself, is at rest and which, as substance, sustains its moments, is the immediate and is, for that reason, an unsurprising relationship. However, the accidental, separated from its surroundings, attains an isolated freedom and its own proper existence only in its being bound to other actualities and only as existing in their context; as such, it is the tremendous power of the negative; it is the energy of thinking, of the pure I” (PhG GW 9:27.18–25). In other words, the critical second type of Aufhebung, by which the double transition collapses, dissolves, or disappears into a new simple thought, involves the ability of conceptual thought to isolate and focus solely on the unity of the circular movement. The double movement of coming to be and passing away vanishes into the simplicity of Dasein, determinate being. To the question posed earlier about the specific dynamic involved in sublation, then, we have two distinct answers. There is, first, a dynamic inherent in any clearly defined thought to shift its meaning and move over to its contrary or opposite. This happens not only once but twice as that opposite in turn shifts its meaning and moves back to the first. Second, there is understanding’s “power of the negative”, which collapses the double transition with its inherent contradiction and infinite progress into a simple, unified concept.

2 As Hegel moves through the Logic this process becomes more sophisticated as the definitions of the initial concepts become more detailed. To illustrate this developing complexity, I shall, in this section, first consider the next chapter in the Logic, which moves from Dasein or determinate being to infinity and beingon-its-own-account (or Fürsichsein) (WL GW 21:96–143). Then I shall step back from the close detail and consider how the structure of Aufhebung throws

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light on the Science of Logic as a whole. Finally, I shall look at how that pattern finds expression in the real world, as described in the Phenomenology of Spirit and the Philosophy of Right. In the next section, I shall turn to Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature, which adopts a quite different kind of analysis, both to show the way Hegel was able to maintain his systematic project within a static universe and to suggest how that project may need to be adapted once one takes into consideration the current scientific world view, where nature has a history.

2.1 For our purposes, we need not explain in detail all the various moves Hegel makes in the second chapter of his Science of Logic (WL GW 21:96–137). It will be sufficient to indicate not how patterns of double transitions emerge (which depends on the specific significance of the terms being considered), but the way they disappear into new basic terms.2 Hegel starts this chapter with the term that emerged from the Aufhebung of becoming at the end of the previous one: Dasein. This has been translated as “determinate being”, “present being” and “existence”, but all three terms suggest a more explicit thought than Hegel intends. Something of the way it combines an element of determination with a residual indeterminacy can be captured by the expression “a being” or “beings”, as distinct from the purely abstract “being” (or Sein) of the first chapter. To articulate the differentiation between these two related terms we can say that a being is qualified, whereas pure being is not. When we turn to the thought of “quality” that has thus been introduced, we realize that a quality necessarily requires reference to the being it qualifies. This initial double transition between “a being” and “quality” then collapses into the thought of a qualified being, or “something”. “Something” leads to the thought of “something else”, or “something other”; and this “other” similarly leads us back to the thought of “something”. The challenge that arises from this second double transition is to explain the difference that distinguishes each of the terms from its contrary. A “determination” focuses on the way something is distinct on its own; but its differentiation is equally “constituted” by its relation to the other. The double dynamic that moves back and forth between determination and constitution is then captured in the single term “limit” which marks the point at which something passes over into its other. But “limit” also marks the final stage of a logical development that began with the interplay between “something” and “other”; and it makes sense only if it limits “something”, leading us back to the point from which we began. Integrating these two moves—from “something” to “limit” and from “limit” to “something”—gets us to a “limited something”, which is captured by the term “finite”. “Something finite” cannot pass beyond its limits without ceasing to be what it inherently is. In Hegel’s terms, what it “ought to be” confronts a “boundary” even


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as the boundary limits what ought to be. When one combines these two into a single thought we have an “ought to be” that incorporates its boundary and thereby goes beyond it. What is beyond the finite is the “infinite”, a being that is unlimited. In the final section on infinity, particularly in the second edition of the Logic (WL GW 21:124–137), the discussion becomes quite complicated. For the “infinite beyond” is itself limited by the fact that it is not the finite. So it too is confronted with a barrier that prevents it from becoming what it ought to be and hence is finite. There are a number of ways in which the “finite” strives to overcome its limitation and reach the infinite; whereas the infinite in turn regularly finds that it is determinate and limited, and so finite. And those double transitions end up continually reproducing themselves in an infinite progress, which becomes a second sense of the term “infinite”. As Hegel notes in his addition to the second edition of the Encyclopaedia Logic (Enc. GW 19:179; 20:230, §242) an infinite progress provides the key condition which enables the understanding to collapse a cycle of double transitions into a simple concept. In this context, the synthesis of the double transition can be called the “valid infinite” because it describes the dynamic as a whole in which the finite and the infinite continually emerge and disappear. But once that synthesis is unified into a simple concept, the appropriate term is “being-on-its-own-account” or Fürsichsein.3

2.2 In the discussion to this point I have tried to show the role double transitions play as Hegel makes his way from Dasein to Fürsichsein. However, rather like the Mandelbrot set,4 patterns repeat at different levels, ranging from the specific to the comprehensive. I shall suggest some of the forms that development takes within the Science of Logic as a whole. Being-on-its-own-account as a self-contained unity finds itself reciprocally related to other units, leading to the concept of magnitude or quantity—the counterpart or contrary of quality, which is the focus of the previous development. Then the section on quantity concludes by arriving at the concept of quality, setting the scene for Hegel’s addition to the second edition on double transitions cited above. That doubled movement disappears into the dynamic of measuring, in which we integrate quantities with qualities. This time, however, the doubled movement between quality and quantity results not in an integrated unity, but in a fully articulated distinction, much in the way that limit emerged from the reciprocal interaction between something and other. For one arrives at forms of measurement where, on altering quantitative ratios gradually, one generates leaps from one qualitative feature to another. That distinction between the way qualitative being presents itself, and what is going on inherently within the quantitative dynamic sets the stage for the second book of the Logic, where an underlying essence is differentiated from mere being.

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The second book of the Science of Logic (see WL GW 11:233–409) focuses on how essence is related to the show of mere being by tracing the dichotomies that reflection uses to distinguish between them: ground and grounded, essence and existence, inner and outer, actual and possible, substance and accidence, cause and effect. In each of those pairs there is a movement back and forth from one to the other that reaches its most explicit form in the concept of reciprocity. At that point the doubled movement collapses (or disappears) into a single integrated thought, a process which is nothing other than the function of uniting that Kant attributes to the concept in the Critique of Pure Reason. In sum, the two first books as a whole may be read as describing two transitions: one from the indeterminacy of being to the bifurcated duality of the essential and the inessential; the other working out the implications of that doubled movement until it collapses into a new simple unity. The third book, then, explores the way double transitions work within that unity. Conceptual thought or understanding bifurcates into a tension between conceiving abstract universals and referring to brute singulars, although this turns out to be mediated by particulars which are both more determinate than the universals, but more conceptual than pure singulars. The subjectivity of thought ends with a mediated conceptual structure that formally articulates objective necessity. Then the objectivity of pure mechanical externality moves through the intermediate stage of chemical interaction until it reaches the mediated dynamic of teleology, in which the subjectivity of conceptual thought has a key role to play. The integration of that double transition between subjectivity and objectivity leads to the thought of what Hegel calls “the idea”—the union of subjectivity and objectivity. This finds its basic expression in the idea of life, develops its internal bifurcation into the opposing processes of theory, with its idea of the true, and action, with its idea of the good; and culminates in the absolute idea, which turns out to be nothing but a detailed description of the logical method originally introduced as Aufhebung in the first chapter of the Logic.

2.3 Within the Science of Logic sublation can collapse a double transition because in thought the end of the second movement is the same as the concept from which the first movement began. The “being” that emerges from “nothing” is none other than the “being” that led to it in the first place. In the process it may have become more dynamic, but it is none the less a return to the same. When we turn to the real world, however, the situation becomes much more complicated. For time resembles “becoming” in that the non-being of the future becomes the being of the present only to disappear into the non-being of the past; yet the non-being of the past is determinate and cannot be changed while the non-being of the future is indeterminate and flexible. As a result, the Philosophies of Nature and Spirit cannot simply mimic the patterns of the Logic, in which the double movement between


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contraries becomes a circle that can continue into an infinite progress. Aufhebung will have to adopt a different strategy. We can catch a glimpse of what is involved most easily in the philosophy of spirit, for spiritual life involves the interaction between conceptual thought and practical action in the real world of space and time; and conceptual thought, for all of its fallibility when put into practice, is inherently and implicitly logical. In Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, the most familiar example of the way double transitions collapse into a unity is found in his discussion of recognition, where the reciprocal interaction between individuals results in what he calls “spirit”— “the unity of its oppositions in their complete freedom and self-sufficiency, namely, in the oppositions of the various self-consciousnesses existing for themselves: The I that is we and the we that is I” (PhG GW 9:108). What is not often noticed is the role Aufhebung plays in the development of the argument of the work as a whole. In the Introduction to the Phenomenology Hegel refers to “this dialectical movement which consciousness practices in its own self (as well as in its knowing and in its object)” (PhG GW 9:60.15–16). That movement starts when consciousness claims to know how to get at the truth of an object. When, however, one puts that claim into practice one discovers that the object is not what one thought it to be. The world as it is in itself controverts confident expectations, revealing that what was supposed to be the object as it really is is nothing but the creation of consciousness. In other words, the movement of consciousness in putting the claim into practice is countered by a resistance from the very object that one is trying to know—a counter move that demolishes one’s self-confidence and leads to doubt and despair. The “dialectical movement” is thus not simply the action of the agent consciousness but also one’s experience of the reaction of the world as it is in itself; it involves a double transition. Hegel then identifies a move “where the exposition seems not to correspond with what is ordinarily understood by experience” (PhG GW 9:60). This is the shift from one knowledge claim to a succeeding one that has benefited from the moment of despair. The nature of this move can be clarified by drawing on our earlier analysis of Aufhebung. For there, double transitions collapsed or disappeared into a new integrated unity. What happens when perception emerges from the failure of sense certainty, then, is that the double transition between the naive belief in unmediated knowing and a series of experiences that involve an inescapable mediation collapses into a direct knowing that incorporates a basic form of mediation into its understanding of what is going on when we sense the objects of experience, or perception. In other words, the motor that drives the ongoing sequence of stages in the Phenomenology of Spirit is a form of sublation: of double transitions in which consciousness interacts with the world it is trying to know, and of the disappearance of each such interaction into a new, more complex, stage. At the same time, Aufhebung plays a role in the overall structure of the work. Consciousness starts in sense certainty with the claim of unmediated knowledge of the object, only to discover at the end of one’s struggle to understand objects that all attempts produce nothing but the explanatory creations of one’s self-consciousness.

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This poses the need to know the truth about oneself which, in its most primitive form, finds expression in desire. But the discussion of self-consciousness ends with the stage of self-mortification, in which the only way to achieve self-knowledge is to alienate oneself into an objective unchanging other. The two movements, one through consciousness and the other through self-consciousness, run in contrary directions, each resulting in the opposite of what was initially claimed. Trying to know the object ends up with being enmeshed in subjectivity; while the quest for self-knowledge alienates itself into objectivity. Reason, then, collapses that double transition into a new simplicity; and explores what happens when one works with unchanging categories that are common to self and object. Within that unity a doubling emerges because there are different selves whose truth claims stand in polar opposition, producing complicated structures of recognition that Hegel calls “spirit”. Religion represents in a variety of ways how the world of finite spirit understands the spiritual dynamic of the cosmos as a whole. The chapter on absolute knowing, finally, identifies the single dynamic structure that religion in its most comprehensive form shares with the culminating achievements of spiritual action. The task of the Phenomenology of Spirit is to show how we are able to arrive through experience at concepts that capture the way the world actually is—how we acquire knowledge. The Philosophy of Spirit faces a different challenge: to take the dynamic life of spirit as a whole and expose its fundamental rationale. Conceptual thought needs to articulate the network of relationships that make up its complex structure. So it is not surprising that Hegel uses the rational tools he has articulated in the Logic, and starts from the most basic and indeterminate features, before exploring how those features develop reciprocal relations which produce more complex structures that have their own internal dynamic. We can illustrate this strategy in his Philosophy of Right. Will is the primitive function spirits use to make their subjectivity objective. Beginning with the most basic way it does so—by taking possession of things—Hegel ends by showing how the emergence of deception and crime demands reference to subjective motivation. The second stage is to examine the subjective demands of morality, which realizes that the immediate conviction of conscience needs as its counterpart the objectivity of the good it seeks to realize. Ethical life collapses this double transition into institutions which integrate the objectivity of possessions and things with the subjectivity of choice and commitment. The family unites both moments with the bond of feeling; civil society recognizes the differentiation of individuals and the way they nonetheless combine into associations and corporations; the state integrates the individualism of civil society with the bond of patriotic sentiment. But even that is not a final stage, for the state stands in contrast to other states, and the resulting structure of international relations stretches back through the historical past, and looks forward into the indefinite future in a series of cultures and civilizations that emerge into complex interactive forms only to come to grief when counter forces emerge to challenge their limitations. In other words, the conceptual structure of Aufhebung, with its pattern of double transitions that collapse into more complex unities, provides the infrastructure that frames the way the realm of spirit is understood not only philosophically, but also historically.


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3 For all that Hegel, on the title page of his Phenomenology of Spirit of 1807, announced his credentials as an assessor of the Ducal Mineralogical Society of Jena (PhG GW 9:3), the geological expedition he took into the Harz mountains in 1804 did not stimulate any prescience into the fact that nature has a history. For Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology, which first proposed that hypothesis, did not appear until 1830, and even then it took some time before the hypothesis became accepted scientific wisdom. To be sure, Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature considers nature as “a system of stages, one arising necessarily from the other”, but each stage “is not generated naturally out of the other, but only in the inner idea which constitutes the ground of nature”. Unlike the Philosophy of Spirit, then, where the structure of Aufhebung is found already prefigured in the dynamics of experience and human history, the Philosophy of Nature has to base its systematic structure on philosophical grounds alone. “Metamorphosis pertains only to the concept as such, since only its alteration is development” (Enc. §249/GW 20:238–239; Enc. 2, 20 modified). So, when one examines the Philosophy of Nature in detail one is not surprised to discover that, whenever Hegel wants to move from one stage to the next, he makes explicit reference to “the concept”. Conceptual thought establishes the initial parameters, Hegel then explores the natural processes and characteristics that exemplify that framework. This appeal to empirical evidence is structured by the expectations of conceptual thought: what are the significant differences; the processes that move from one characteristic to its contrary or opposite; the moves from the most general to the particular and singular, or vice versa? He then concludes the section by bringing together the evidence just outlined with the initial conceptual framework and integrating them into a new singular concept that sets the parameters for the next stage.5 Double transition finds expression in the move from concept to evidence and back to concept, but Hegel also finds instances of reciprocal processes in the empirical material itself. In chemistry, for example, there are processes that decompose compounds into elements, and processes that combine and recombine elements into compounds; and animal organisms have integrated structures where organs reciprocally interact.6 Nonetheless from the perspective of his times, nature did not furnish any evidence of moves from simpler, more elementary stages to ones that are more complex, which would capture the distinctive feature of Aufhebung. That, he claimed, requires the initiative of conceptual thought, which takes seriously what is given in nature, but nonetheless understands it by relying on its own capacity for explanation. At the same time, the fact that he could show how the evidence provided by natural phenomena does fit into a comprehensive conceptual framework provided support for Hegel’s conclusion that the universe is inherently rational—that nature can be incorporated into what he calls “the idea”, the integration of subjectivity and objectivity.

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Once Lyell and Darwin offered explanatory models in which changed conditions produce transformations in nature, Hegel’s calm assurance that “metamorphosis pertains only to the concept as such” (Enc. GW 20:239.2, §249; Enc. 2, 20) is no longer credible. Not only are rocks metamorphosed when they are subjected to geological stresses and strains, not only are genera and species transformed as environmental changes transmute the forces that decide between survival and extinction, but science is exploring how matter emerged from the pure energy of the “big bang”, how planets form, how plants and animals diverge, and how life itself emerges from potent chemical interactions. This opens the question: could Hegel’s conception of sublation contribute to our understanding of the way natural processes function over time? Developments in particle physics are suggestive. In exploring the structure of the neutrons and protons that make up the nucleus of the atom, the “standard model” distinguishes between particles of mass, called quarks, and particles of energy, called gluons. Quarks are distinguished by several characteristics; one of which is called the direction of spin which gives them their positive or negative charge (“up” or “down”); the other is indicated by using a colour term (“red”, “green”, and “blue”). There are eight types of gluons, which are distinguished by the way they link quarks of opposite charges: a positive red with a negative green; a negative red with a positive green; a positive red with a negative blue; a negative red with a positive blue; a positive green with a negative blue; and a negative green with a positive blue. The final two gluons connect quarks of opposite charge but the same colour. In other words, the units of energy are uniquely distinguished from each other by the character of the quarks they bond together, which suggests, in turn, that both quarks determine the dynamic interaction that develops between them. Two further aspects of this model are significant for our purposes. In the first place, the quarks make up only a small part of the mass of the proton or neutron. The bulk comes from the energy generated by the activity of the gluons. In the second place, this energy generates a force which has a very distinctive character. Whereas gravitation, electro-magnetism, and the “weak nuclear force” (which bonds the neutrons and protons in the nucleus of an atom) become weaker as the units of mass move further apart, the force working inside the protons and neutrons becomes stronger as the distance between the quarks increases. For this reason, it is called the “strong nuclear force”. This implies that, when the doubly determined gluons bind the quarks together, they in effect collapse the whole structure into a strongly integrated unity.7 The standard model of particle physics, then, attributes to basic elements of the natural order a structure that is remarkably close to that captured in Hegel’s term, Aufhebung. Something rather like double transitions collapses into an integrated unity. In the field of biochemistry, scientists have been exploring candidates for a process which produced the first metabolism, the first “network of chemical reactions that [could] harvest energy and combine chemical elements” into the molecular building blocks of life. One possibility, which appears in the earth’s oldest known life forms is the citric acid cycle. “The citric acid cycle uses ten chemical reactions


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to transform one molecule of citric acid … through several intermediates with uncommon names – pyruvate, oxaloacetate, acetate, and others – until it has completed one turn and manufactured another molecule of citric acid” (Wagner 2014, 42, 53). Rather than the two processes of a doubled transition, there is a sequence of processes which none the less ends up where it started, having replicated the original molecule. A complex circular dynamic collapses into a new immediate starting point. Biology offers other examples where two interacting agents generate a more complex, persisting relation. One thinks of the symbiotic interaction between an alga and a fungus that produces a particular species of lichen, or the relationship between parasites and their hosts. Further investigation is needed to determine exactly what processes are involved and how they interact. But problems faced by biologists exploring the relationship between parasites and their hosts suggest that the difficulties involved in documenting such processes should not be underestimated. In several cases, when for purposes of experiment they isolate the parasite to identify the nature of its operations, they found that it does not function in the same way as it appears to do when attached to its host. In other words, the need for rigorously controlled experiments that isolate the objects being investigated from outside influences may systematically frustrate attempts to identify genuine double transitions.

4 Nonetheless, the evidence provided by biology and the standard model of particle physics offers intriguing implications for the contemporary relevance of Hegel’s philosophy. If nature organizes itself using networks of double transitions that are then integrated or emerge into new kinds of entities—and one must admit that this still remains a very big assumption—then we need to reconsider the role spirit and conceptual thought play in generating the process Hegel calls Aufhebung. As we have seen, for Hegel, the collapsing of a double transition into a new integrated unity is the work of conceptual thought, as embodied in finite spirit. In contrast, under this revision, nature is not impotent, but integrated entities emerge within nature from the reciprocal interaction of diverse agents. There is no need to presuppose that the universe is grounded in a rational structure that is prior to, and independent of nature. Rather, the dynamic by which double transitions collapse into integrated unities turns out to be a fundamental feature of the world that has emerged in space and time. On this reading, then, the strictly logical pattern of thought which Hegel calls Aufhebung is not primordial, setting the framework for our understanding of the universe; it has rather emerged as the way we make explicit a dynamic inherent in the cosmos. When it finds expression within a philosophical system, it cannot claim that it has reached some final, absolute truth; rather the logic has emerged

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from disciplined self-conscious thought reflecting on our experience over time, and it is determined by the conditions and circumstances out of which it has developed and the particular cultural context in which such reflective thinkers live. There is no a priori logical structure, but human thought is affected by what it discovers in the changes and transformations of nature. As in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, a doubled dynamic moves from the questions thought asks when trying to discover whether the world confirms or disconfirms its expectations to the evidence provided by rigorously controlled experiments and back to reformulating the questions. The integrated results of that doubled movement continually provide more comprehensive perspectives, not only with regard to the details of natural processes, but also with regard to the logic used to understand them.8 The details of our logical explanations and our scientific understanding would continually be subject to change, but the pattern by which some processes generate reciprocal interactions of double transition and then collapse that complexity into new integrated unities would continually reaffirm its own validity. The pattern of Aufhebung, which Hegel calls the logical method, would persist through all the many variations. So we should not be surprised when Hegel writes: “How would I be able to pretend that the method which I follow in this system of logic – or rather that this system follows on its own – is not capable of yet greater perfection, of a much more thorough working out of details; but at the same time I know that it is the only one that is valid” (WL GW 21:38, compare WL GW 11:25).

Notes 1. This addition suggests that, had Hegel been able to revise the final volume of the Science of Logic, he would have included a more detailed discussion of this double dynamic in his chapter on the absolute idea. 2. An attempt to provide a more fully articulated picture can be found in Burbidge (1981, 46–60). 3. In colloquial German “für sich” is similar to the English use of “of itself” to indicate something considered on its own. It should not be confused with Hegel’s use of “für es” or “for consciousness” which is contrasted with “an sich” or “in itself” in the Phenomenology of Spirit. 4. The Mandelbrot set is a set of complex numbers which, when plotted on Cartesian co-ordinates, reveals patterns that repeat themselves in finer detail at increasing magnifications. 5. Support for this reading of Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature can be found in Burbidge (1996, passim) and Burbidge (2007, Chapters 8 and 9). 6. In the Critique of Judgment, Kant recognized that, in nature, there was a kind of product where “each part is conceived as if it exists only through all the others, thus as if existing for the sake of others and on account of the whole”, and also “as an organ that produces the other parts” (CJ §65:373–374). While he believed that ultimately those phenomena would be explained in a strictly mechanical way, so the pattern of double transitions was simply a convenient way of understanding organisms, his successors, particularly Schelling and Hegel, incorporated organic causality into their philosophies of nature.


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7. This discussion is based on Susskind (2008, 320–327) and Baggott (2012, 136). Much more is involved in the standard model than is suggested here. I have identified those features significant for the present discussion. 8. I develop the metaphysical framework for such an approach in Burbidge (2014, passim).

Bibliography Baggott, Jim. 2012. Higgs: The Invention and Discovery of the “God Particle”. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Burbidge, John W. 1981. On Hegel’s Logic: Fragments of a Commentary. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press. Burbidge, John W. 1996. Real Process: How Logic and Chemistry Combine in Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Burbidge, John W. 2007. Hegel’s Systematic Contingency. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Burbidge, John W. 2014. Cause for Thought: An Essay in Metaphysics. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press. Harris, Errol E. 1993. The Spirit of Hegel. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press. Susskind, Leonard. 2008. The Black Hole War. New York, Boston, and London: Little, Brown & Co. Wagner, Andreas. 2014. Arrival of the Fittest: Solving Evolution’s Greatest Puzzle. New York: Current.

Chapter 10

Freedom as Belonging: A Defense of Hegelian Holism Henry M. Southgate

1 Introduction Hegel has a P.R. problem, and that puts his expositors in a tight spot. For if you are going to explain Hegel, much less defend him, you have to meet your audience where they are, and talk to them in words that they will understand. Hegel does not give us much to work with here. It is one thing to have “common sense” going against you—all philosophers have to contend with that problem. Yet, when you compound this with generations of philosophers either misreading you or never bothering to read you because of those misreadings, and you pile on top of that the primary texts, which are, let us face it, really quite a struggle to read, then you have a real problem. Before you have said three words—and if the word is “sublation,” then you can make it just one—your audience has written you off for talking about something that is not only unintelligible, but also quite stupid. This situation is worth comparing and contrasting with teaching Peter Singer to a room full of undergraduates. When I lecture on “Famine, Affluence, and Morality” (Singer 2014), I know that out of a lecture hall of eighty students, only about two or three will agree with Singer’s extreme utilitarian position. That puts Singer about two votes ahead of Hegel by my count—so, he is right up there with the ontological argument in terms of popularity. Still, the students and I can actually discuss Singer’s arguments, because they are very direct, in language that is simple and unadorned. Moreover, Singer invokes premises that we can all get on board with—like the claim that “suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care are bad” (Singer 2014, 555). By contrast, when I give talks on Hegel to the uninitiated, my audience and I lack any kind of common ground. It is not as if I can point them to some passage from Hegel that we can all readily relate to, because any passage one excerpts

H. M. Southgate (*)  University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI, USA e-mail: [email protected]

© The Author(s) 2020 M. F. Bykova and K. R. Westphal (eds.), The Palgrave Hegel Handbook, Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism,



H. M. Southgate

from Hegel is going to be complicated by systematic qualifications, and those qualifications must be qualified as well. Granted, this is what we should expect from the philosopher who teaches us to be wary of immediacy—who defines his very metaphysics in terms of the idea that “the finite is ideal” (WL GW 21:142). Still, this kind of holism—which I hope to convince you of by the end of this essay—is a tough sell. Because unlike when I teach Singer, when I teach Hegel I cannot say, “let us take a look at this passage and talk about it.” For, in order for us to talk about it, you, my reader, need to be able to understand the sentences you are reading and relate them to the context in which they are uttered, and you also need to be able to relate them to your own life-experience and outlook. What, then, are you going to do when you are dropped in media res into Hegel’s “Doctrine of Essence”—my focal point for today? The sentences in that book of the Science of Logic are, by Hegel’s own admission, some of the most obscure he ever penned,1 which is saying something, considering the general difficulty of his work. Here is a choice example of the writing on offer there (it also happens, by no coincidence, to concern the subject matter of this essay): If, now, the first determinations of reflection, namely, identity, difference, and opposition, have been put in the form of a law, still more should the determination into which they pass as their truth, namely, contradiction, be grasped and enunciated as a law: all things are in themselves contradictory, and in the sense that this law in contrast to the others expresses rather the truth and the essence of things. (WL GW 11:286/HSL 438; translation slightly altered)

Now, let us compare this passage with Singer’s claim that starving to death is bad. I expect you can appreciate the force of Singer’s idea straightaway: you have likely been hungry before, and it was unpleasant; you can also likely extrapolate to some degree from the discomfort of being mildly hungry to the extreme pain of literally starving to death. But I would wager that each line, if not every phrase, in the passage above is confusing, and that the parts that are at least syntactically and linguistically clear—like “all things are in themselves contradictory”—may well strike you as false. You know what these words mean in plain English, and their combination in one sentence produces a thought that verges on absurdity. Contradictory things—square triangles, maximum velocities, and the like—are impossible.2 Now let us say you look up from this text and happen to glance at some of the everyday objects around you: a cup of coffee, a desk, a computer, a chair—all the things that populate an academic’s life. None of them seems impossible—after all, there they are. And they do not appear contradictory either, at least not if that term means anything like what it means when competent speakers use it. In doing this, you begin to appreciate the longstanding opinion that not only is Hegel obscure, but that he uses obscurantism to shield his own imbecility. Now, suppose I tell you that, if only you place this passage in its proper context, it will make sense, and not only that, but that you will see that it expresses something deeply true and important to human existence. Suppose you ask me, Well, what do you mean by “its proper context”? And suppose I tell you, Why, the whole of the Logic, and while you are at it, you might as well read the Phenomenology of Spirit, as well as Hegel’s Encyclopedia and his Philosophy of

10  Freedom as Belonging: A Defense of Hegelian Holism


History, to say nothing of Kant’s Critical philosophy, its German idealist reception, and the German rationalist tradition too. You see the scale of the problem that Hegel’s expositors are facing. They are asking a lot of their audience. Too much, if truth be told. The problem is not simply one of language, or even of the historical distance separating contemporary readers from the nineteenth-century philosophical climate. Germans struggle with Hegel,3 and Hegel’s contemporaries did too.4 No, the problem is one built into the very nature of Hegel’s systematic philosophy as a presuppositionless science. If you embark on the road that begins with the concept of “Being, pure Being” (WL GW 11:43), you will arrive, undoubtedly, at the wondrous and strange declarations of the “Doctrine of Essence.” You will grasp that reality is a dynamic system of finite particulars whose very natures are constituted by the tensions of maintenance and collapse, whose very being is shot through with struggle and opposition. And yet, having arrived at these truths, you will realize you are in the same situation, vis-à-vis non-Hegelians, as any who take the time to study Hegel: the truth you know, you cannot describe, and what you do describe sounds like folly. What, then, do you do? How do you connect with new audiences, who are increasingly removed from the idiom and intellectual climate of nineteenthcentury German idealists? First, you meet them where they are, in terms that pertain to how they live—and you make that very way of living your theme. Truth, after all, as Kierkegaard was fond of saying, exists in the relation to the knower.5 In existential matters, one’s way of life shows up in one’s way of thought, and which philosophy one accepts or rejects often reflects one’s own way of being in the world. I have yet to meet a student from a sheltered, affluent background who is willing to act on Singer’s precepts, and I have yet to meet an academic philosopher who is willing to accede to Hegel’s holism. These two findings have more to do with one another, and with the persons themselves, in their embodied social existences, than we are perhaps willing to admit. In terms of teaching Hegel, meeting audiences where they are means drawing upon examples from common life that bear out Hegel’s theses. I hope to let readers experience for themselves the truth of Hegel’s philosophy, to help them feel it and not just think it. One does not have to be a Hegelian to grasp Hegel’s deepest insights. If your head is turned the right way, and your guide points and tells you, “Now, look there! Up in the cherry tree, third branch to the right. There is the Cedar Waxwing,” then you will see the bird even if you are no birder. Likewise, my hope is that if I say, “Now go for a run, and come back when you are exhausted,” that you will be able to experience the concepts of identity, difference, opposition, contradiction, freedom, and holism that are at issue in my discussion of the “Doctrine of Essence”—even if you are no Hegelian. It is not enough, however, to call upon experience to vindicate Hegel, any more than it suffices for Hegel to rely on his Remarks (Anmerkungen) and students’ Additions (Zusätze) to make good on the claims of both the Science of Logic and Encyclopedia Logic. The logical argument that is at the core of their examples must be given as well. But how to do that? We saw in the sample passage above that the language of the Logic is nigh intractable for those new to Hegel, and it


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really will not do to tell readers to devote a couple years of their lives poring over the requisite reading lists in order to get a foothold. Instead, I propose giving them a foothold by directing their attention to an observation that Hegel makes in the Encyclopedia Logic about the comportment of a free man: We may note in passing how important it is for any man to meet everything that meets him with the spirit of the old proverb, in which it states: each is the smith of his own fortune. In this lies that man in general has only himself to enjoy. The other way would be to lay the blame of whatever we experience upon other men, upon unfavorable circumstances, and the like. And this is a fresh example of the language of unfreedom, and at the same time the spring of discontent. If man saw [anerkannt], on the contrary, that whatever happens to him is only the outcome [die Evolution] of himself, and that he only bears his own guilt, he would stand free, and in everything that came upon him would have the consciousness that he suffered no wrong. (Enc. §147Z/MM 8:292/Enc. 1W, 210)

What insights and what strength of spirit are necessary for us to recognize that whatever befalls us is an “outcome” or “evolution” of ourselves? How might we avoid thinking, as most of us generally do, that what happens to us, happens from without, as a matter of unhappy circumstance? And how might that truth set us free? The answer to these questions, I claim, is given in Hegel’s conception of personal identity as a dynamic, expressive relation between self and world, which can be briefly summarized as follows: I am the world, and the world is me. I am the world in the sense that I am who I am only in relation to the world, to such an extent my very identity includes this relation to the world in every aspect of who I am: there is no “remainder” to myself, which can be abstracted from the rest, and in which my true self resides. So too, the world is me. This reciprocity between self and world underlies Hegel’s intonation that philosophy seek the “inner unity of everything that is” (Enc. §118Z/MM 8:243) and it is the existential implication of his doctrine of identity in difference. By reflecting on the concepts at work in Hegel’s conception of the free man, I mean to answer these questions, and to use these answers to shed light on some of the most difficult but essential concepts in Hegel’s Logic: the concepts of identity, difference, diversity, opposition, and contingency. These concepts are central to Hegel’s notion of freedom as “being at home with oneself in the other” and to his holism that undergirds freedom so conceived. Having provided the reader with the conceptual apparatus necessary to appreciate Hegel’s model of free existence, I conclude with a real-life exercise—longdistance running—in order to enable readers to experience for themselves how Hegel’s concepts are at work in real life.

2 A Tale of Two Stories Let us take stock of where we are: an assurance that, if we begin with one exemplary passage in the Encyclopedia, the knotted problems of Hegel’s Logic will unravel before us. Since I will not assume your familiarity with this corner of

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Hegel’s system, or indeed any familiarity with Hegel at all, let us start with the material we have. Here is a tale of two men: one free, the other unfree. The one sees whatever befalls him as an evolution of himself, whereas the other lays the blame on other men and circumstance. We might begin by asking: Who is right? The tale of the free man has a certain romantic, stoical appeal to it: “Do not demand that things happen as you wish, but wish that they happen as they do happen, and you will go on well” (Epictetus 2009, §8). Yet, once that warm haze has dispersed, we might start thinking of any number of awful things that happen to people and shake our heads: surely, this idea of seeing ourselves in such peaceful unity with the world is but a happy delusion. The “unfree” person sees things more clearly, even if his vision is not a pretty one. We can give a fuller presentation of this skeptical worry by adding to our Tale of Two Men another story, this one from Hegel’s 1817/18 Philosophy of Right (Die Mitschriften Wannemann [Heidelberg 1817–18] und Homeyer [Berlin 1818–19]): A woman who was traveling with her husband and children was surrounded by wolves; confronted with the danger that all would be lost, she threw one child to the wolves, thereby saving herself, her husband, and the other children. One cannot say that she did wrong; but never again was she at peace. (RPh HPR 102)

If there is one thing that is true, it is this: it would be impossible for any mother to think of her child being eaten by wolves as the “outcome” of herself. This wolf-ate-the-baby story would seem to belie Hegel’s claim in the Encyclopedia that a free man can maintain his “harmony of soul” and “peace of mind” in any “unwanted matter” (das Mißliebige) (Enc. §147Z/MM 8:292). No, we want to tell him, sometimes things happen that we simply cannot cope with. There are cases where we just cannot find any reconciliation, much less identification, between our circumstances and ourselves. Not all of us are as lucky as the free man. We might be thus tempted to dismiss Hegel’s tale of the free man as a mere flight of fancy, a pedagogical flourish, were it not for the fact that his Logic entails it and that it is not an isolated expression of Hegel’s belief that equanimity follows from regarding the world as a free person does.6 For Hegel, at any rate, the outlook of the free man is no illusion. That is enough to give anyone reason for pause. You might well think, if the Logic entails the free man’s perspective, then so much the worse for the Logic—I was right not to waste my time reading this book after all.

3 “Freedom Is Not Free” However, Hegel himself acknowledges that there are genuine cases of breakdown: “never again was she at peace.” The mother’s inconsolable grief is no mistake. She is right to feel the way she does. And were that tragedy to befall our free man? How might he bear up? I would wager that it would be too much for him as well. He would suffer a breakdown, but precisely for the reasons that Hegel


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would provide: were he a father, there would be no conception of himself he could imagine that could be reconciled with such a horrific loss of his beloved child. So we know this much: Hegel is well aware that there are irreconcilable tragedies, yet he also adheres to this notion of the free individual—and not just as an esoteric philosophical ideal, but as an old folk proverb: “each is the smith of his own fortune.” Our initial question of “Who is right?” between the free man and the unfree man now seems misplaced. Perhaps we would do better by thinking about the notion of freedom differently, by considering it as more of an achievement than a fact: some people manage to live freely, and others, sadly, do not. Before we were asking about whether there was some state of affairs that decided the truth and falsity of the free and the unfree person’s beliefs. One of them, it seemed, was missing some fact of the situation: the unfree person blamed circumstance and others, whereas the free person blamed nothing and no one, and the free person was right to look at things this way. The wolf-ate-the-baby story, however, called into question whether the free person would always be right to look at any circumstance whatsoever as an “outcome of himself”—and it seemed that he would not be. Now, the takeaway lesson here, I think, is not so much that the free person would be wrong to regard this tragedy with perfect equanimity, but rather that he could no longer be a free person in such a circumstance. Indeed, we might well think, with Hegel, that he would never again be at peace. What is this connection between inner peace and freedom? To answer that, we need to know what freedom is, and how we might obtain it—or lose it. The third volume of Hegel’s Encyclopedia, The Philosophy of Spirit, provides an excellent starting point. There, Hegel describes freedom as a kind of perspective on oneself, a self-relation that gives one an independence from other things—he calls it the self’s relating of itself to itself, Sichaufsichselbstbeziehen (Enc. §382Z/MM 10:26). One gains this independence not by severing one’s connection with external things—walling oneself off from their interference, as it were—but by coming to see that those things are not other than, or foreign to, oneself, but that they represent a continuation of oneself. When looked at in this way, the things that are not ourselves can be regarded not as foreign to us, or as potential threats to our independence,7 but as being a part of ourselves. Here is Hegel: Freedom of spirit is not, however, simply an independence from the other achieved [errungene] outside of the other, but rather one achieved in the other, — it does not come through a flight from the other, but rather through its overcoming to actuality. (Enc. §382Z/MM 10:27)

In the Philosophy of Right, Hegel notes that a familiar experience of this kind of freedom of “being with oneself in the other” can be found in relationships of “friendship and love”: Here one is not one-sided in himself, but rather one limits himself gladly in connection [Beziehung] to the other, knows himself however in this limitation as himself. (HPR §7Z/ MM 7:57)8

We do not feel constrained by our relationships with our friends and loved ones; on the contrary, we actually feel most ourselves in their company—hence it is

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perfectly natural to say that they are a part of our lives, that they make us who we are.9 Hegel’s bold idea of freedom, then, is to extend this notion of finding ourselves in others beyond our circle of friends and loved ones to include not only other people, but literally anything we might encounter in this life: “the other [das Andere]” at large. The free person is the one who is able to “achieve” this feat, and only on the condition of achieving it does he realize Hegel’s ideal of spirit, which all persons10 are called to be: And this relation to the other is not only possible for spirit, but necessary, because through the other and the sublation of the same does it [spirit] come to be what it should be according to its concept, namely the ideality of the external, the idea which returns back into itself out of the other, or, more abstractly expressed, the self-differentiating and in its difference universal existing in and for itself. (Enc. §382Z/MM 10:26)

The sine qua non of freedom, as Hegel conceives it, is thus the ability to overcome (or “sublate”) the other’s difference from ourselves through appropriation, where appropriation takes the form of forging an identity between ourselves and what we are not: earth that must be cultivated to sustain us, elements that must be contended with if we are to survive, communities in which we have our dwelling, and hardships that must be surmounted if we are to carry on. Forging a continuity between oneself and what is not oneself, so that the other becomes, in a very real sense, part of one’s self—one’s very “identity,” to use Hegel’s term—is a tall order, to say the least. What if we are not up to the task? Then, according to Hegel, we lose our freedom. We suffer and we die. In the same passage of the Encyclopedia where Hegel lays out his conception of true freedom, he makes it plain that freedom must be won through painful struggle: The other, the negative, the contradiction, the diremption thus belongs to the nature of spirit. In this diremption lies the possibility of pain. Pain thus has not come to spirit from without, as one imagines, when one throws out the question, in which way did pain come into the world …. In this its highest diremption … in this fullest contradiction with itself, does spirit thereby contrarily remain identical with itself and thereby free. (Enc. §382Z/ MM 10:26)

Freedom is not for the fainthearted. Only someone with true grit can manage to reconcile the contradiction of finding herself in what is not herself. Nor is there any guarantee that this reconciliation between self and other, once achieved, will remain in perpetuity. Because “actual freedom,” in Hegel’s understanding, is not just some “immediate” property of spirit, “but rather something to be brought about through its activity” (Enc. §382Z/MM 10:26), it follows that when this activity ceases, so too does that spirit’s freedom. What might cause this activity to cease? In Hegel’s view, the answer is nothing else than the loss of “the force to preserve oneself in contradiction, and consequently in pain” (Enc. §382Z/MM 10:26). Some heartaches are too great to bear, some losses too deep to be overcome, because it is impossible for us to “be at home with oneself in the other” if the other rages against everything we are. In such moments, we can no longer be the people we once were—like the grieving mother, we will never again be at peace.


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The mother’s trauma here, I think, is readily understandable. Still, I suspect that many readers who are new to Hegel may be wondering about some of the jargon that has crept in during the course of this discussion. Heartache, loss, pain—yes, those are plain enough. But “preserving oneself in contradiction” and “remaining identical with itself”? Why think of freedom in those terms? And what do they even mean?

4 Kill, Eat, Be Free Here we come to the conceptual core of the “Doctrine of Essence,” which is the context of Hegel’s comparison between the free and the unfree man. To gain further insight into that comparison, and to further appreciate Hegel’s metaphysical holism that underlies his conception of freedom as being oneself in the other, we need to discuss the logical concepts that are at work therein. Only then can we come to understand Hegel’s holism, and, hopefully, recognize its truth. How, though, to proceed? Because we are working in the midst of Hegel’s system of logic, we could of course begin at the beginning, with the concept of Being, and work our way through all the deductions that lead up to the notions of identity, difference, and contradiction that have arisen in the course of Hegel’s discussion of freedom. Yet, we do not have the time for that. Fortunately, we do not need to take this arduous route. We can make do with what we already have on hand. Let us take this notion of the free person as someone who is able to regard what happens to him as an outcome of himself. He is able to do this because it is recognized that there is a deep continuity between himself and his situation, whatever it may be—well, almost whatever. But skipping this business about heartache and breakdown for a moment, let us dwell on this notion of continuity. It is not as if the free person just finds it there ready-made. Rather, like an artist, the free person has a special talent for seeing everyday things differently than the rest of us. He knows how to make them his own. But how does he pull this off? Hegel has been clear—well, as clear as he knows how—that this is not a mere flight of fantasy. The free person recognizes a deep truth about his situation: that he is at one with the other, that he is the world. This is metaphysical fact. Supposing that is so, we might then approach the free person’s appropriation of his environment from both the subject- and the object-side of the relation, and ask, “What must the object be like, such that it is appropriable by the free person, and what must the free person be like, such that he can appropriate it?” To set up my answer to that question, I am going to make an assumption about you. I think it is safe to say that, sometime in the past few days, you had something to eat and something to drink. Maybe you are eating and drinking right now. And I also think it is a fair bet that you are breathing, and that you just breathed again. Of course, you could think about your food and drink and the air you are breathing and you yourself as a mere congeries.11 You could think that, but you would be wrong. Because the truth of the matter is that you cannot do without any

10  Freedom as Belonging: A Defense of Hegelian Holism


of these things. You “cannot be without air” and you are “always in struggle with it in breathing” (VLog 143), and in your hunger and thirst, you encounter food and drink not as mere objects but as consumables—as things to be literally ingested by and integrated into you (VLog 143). The cup of coffee and slice of toast you had for breakfast are now part of your body, and, unless you are the kind of person who refuses to recognize your body as part of yourself, which I will assume you are not, then they are in a real way part of who you are. They help make up your identity. But how is that relationship between you, on the one hand, and the air and your breakfast, on the other, possible? There are several levels at which we might answer that question, but since our business here is the Logic, let us skip down from the levels of atmospheric science, biology, and physiology and see if we can answer that question in the most fundamental way. Well, certainly the relationship is one between consumer (you) and consumed (air, food, drink). Even deeper than that, we might say, is the relationship between condition and conditioned. The consumer exists on the condition of the consumed, and the consumed conditions the consumer as one dependent on it—the consumer is the conditioned. Moreover, if you think about your food, it is not a stretch to say that, were it not for your eating choices, the source of your food would still exist—certainly vegans like to use that observation as a stick with which to beat omnivores. The pig goes on to wallow another day on the condition that you do not eat it. Both you and the pig are thus “in essential relation to one another,” and each of you only exists insofar as you “exclude the other from [your]self and thereby relate [your]self to the other” (Enc. §119Z1/MM 8:246). Condition and conditioned thus stand in reciprocity to one another. As it turns out, though, we can delve even deeper into the ground of the possibility of this relationship between condition and conditioned.12 How does something first of all come to be a condition? That is, how can something “be the possibility of an other” (Enc. §146Z/MM 8:287) in the first place? Again, let us not get too far out of our depth, but rather return to familiar matters. The wheat that went into your toast—is it still living? Of course not. It died during the harvest. How did it die? The answer to that question depends on the level at which you are asking. Here, in the Logic, we are going to ask the question in a very general metaphysical sense: Why does anything, as a being, cease to be? For Hegel, the answer is this: because it is self-contradictory. Hegel formulates this idea in a remark to the concept of contradiction in the “Doctrine of Essence,” where he describes contradiction as both the root of life and death: Similarly, internal self-movement proper, instinctive urge [Trieb] in general … is nothing else but the fact that something is, in one and the same respect, self-contained and deficient, the negative of itself. Abstract self-identity is not as yet a livingness, but the positive, being in its own self a negativity, goes outside itself and undergoes alteration [setzt sich in Veränderung]. Something is therefore alive only in so far as it contains contradiction within it, and moreover is this power to hold and endure the contradiction within it. But if an existent in its positive determination is a the same time incapable of reaching beyond its negative determination and holding the one firmly in the other, is incapable of


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containing a contradiction within it, then it is not the living unity itself, not ground, but in the contradiction falls to the ground [zugrunde geht]. (WL GW 11:287/HSL 440)

This is bound to be a dizzying passage for those new to Hegel, so let us begin with something in it that we all can relate to: motion. What is motion? A change in place, position, or state. What is a change? An alteration from something to something else, a shift from being this to not being this—to being different: being in this location, and then in another location; being in one state, and then being in a different state. Motion thus involves an alteration between being and nonbeing, identity and difference. Now, if we have only two states or determinations, A and −A, we do not have motion. Motion is about the process or fluidity of change: something moves or changes only insofar as it is at once A and −A, this and not this, identity and difference. There is, then, something paradoxical about motion, as the Eleatics were keen to point out. For Hegel, however, the conclusion to draw from that paradox is not that “there is no motion, but on the contrary, that motion is existent contradiction itself” (WL GW 11:287/HSL 440).13 Now, motion is all around us, but not everything that moves is alive. It is true, as Heraclitus remarked, that you cannot step into the same river twice, but rivers are hardly alive. No, life requires “internal self-movement”—to be alive, something must “place itself in alteration”—setzt sich in Veränderung, as Hegel writes (but which Miller’s translation above obscures). Life is the process of maintaining self-identity, or homeostasis, through change, through difference: it is being what one is through another. Let us go back to your daily habit of eating, drinking, and breathing. You are not a piece of toast, a cup of coffee, or the air you breathe. Yet you could not be what you are—you could not live—without them.14 This is what Hegel means when he says in his Lectures on Logic that man “cannot be without placing the same [i.e., food] identical with himself” (VLog 143). In breathing and ingesting, we living organisms manage to make something other than ourselves part of ourselves—we use the encounter with the other in order to maintain what we are. Thus, Hegel remarks in the Encyclopedia Logic, “The living thing thus associates only with itself in the other” (Enc. §219Z/MM 8:376). By contrast, inorganic matter cannot maintain itself through its encounter with its other, but rather loses itself. Hegel is fond of drawing examples from chemistry: acids and bases resolve themselves upon contact with their opposites (Enc. §§119Z, 219Z/ MM 8:245–247, 375–376), and should the atomic weight of, say, gold, change, it would no longer be gold (Enc. §382Z/MM 10:26). However, contradiction, the very force of life, is also the force of death. When an organism is no longer capable of appropriating the other in itself by resolving the contradiction of forging its identity through difference (Enc. §337Z/MM 9:338), it dies. Hegel observes in the Philosophy of Nature that living things are always in danger of sickness and death—their bodies are always on the cusp of being overtaken by chemical forces of decay and putrefaction15—because the inability to cope with one’s other is always lurking around the corner. When you lose the ability to breathe, you die; when your body begins rejecting food and water, you die; when you are shot and your body cannot handle the physical trauma, you

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die. It is a matter of not having the “right stuff” to deal with the situation. We begin to see, then, what Hegel meant earlier when he claimed, “Pain thus has not come to spirit from without, as one imagines” (Enc. §382Z/MM 10:26). On the contrary, pain issues from within us. Pain is the feeling of one’s own failure—the failure to resolve the contradiction of bearing alterity within one’s self.16 We thus come to understand more deeply the grief of the mother who lost her baby to the wolves. Something has happened to her that she cannot deal with. Unlike the free person, she cannot find peace because she cannot resolve the contradiction of the loss of her child with any conception of herself as a mother: she had a duty to protect this, her beloved baby, and she threw it to the wolves. How could she live with herself after that? But how can we also not see that the mother’s pain issues from her and her alone? We read about the event, and we are disturbed—or, maybe, as when we see the latest atrocities in Syria, we simply say, “Oh, that’s terrible,” and turn our attention elsewhere. She is, however, devastated. And it is her conception of herself as a mother, and her failure to reconcile that with the contradiction of her failure as a mother, that makes the event so awful.17 And yet, there can be salvation from despair—in death, there is life, just as in life, there is death. Let us return to the example of our daily bread. The wheat that went into it is no longer alive: it died during the harvest. Earlier, we asked, “How did it die?” And now we have our answer: it died on its own account. It died because it could not withstand a contradiction to its nature. As an organism, the wheat-plant’s life depended on its positive abilities to photosynthesize, to take in water and nutrients from the soil, and its negative abilities to defend itself against pathogens and herbivory.18 But these abilities only reach so far: the wheat does not have any natural defenses against a combine harvester. There is no way that it can withstand being cut down. And thus we see the applicability of Hegel’s abstract account of death: But if an existent in its positive determination is a the same time incapable of reaching beyond its negative determination and holding the one firmly in the other, is incapable of containing a contradiction within it, then it is not the living unity itself, not ground, but in the contradiction falls to the ground. (WL GW 11:287/HSL 440)

The assault of alterity, the “negative determination”—in this case, the cutting blades of the combine—is simply too great. The wheat can no longer maintain itself against its other; it can no longer withstand its own contradiction. Just as in the case of the mother’s pain, the wheat’s death comes not from without, but from within: “It is a finite actuality with an inherent flaw, and its vocation is to be consumed” (Enc. §146Z/MM 8:287).19 But we are, ourselves, the consumers. It is because wheat is the kind of thing that perishes through self-contradiction that we are able to eat it. And how fortunate that is for us. Because wheat can die, we can live: it becomes, along with the air we breathe and the coffee we drink, one of our conditions (cf. Enc. §147/MM 8:288). I find this a comforting thought, and it is one that leads us right back to the story about the free man with which we began. The bread you eat gives you the

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energy you need to do the things you do each day, the activities that go into making you, you. But you would not have that bread were it not for the wheat, were it not for the farmer, were it not for the sun, the rain, the soil. Each of these, in turn, is related to a host of other things, and is what it is, in relation to those things. We find ourselves not just drawn into this nexus of relations, but drawing ourselves out of them, sustaining and nurturing ourselves in and through and by them. We cannot be what we are independent of the world-system in which we live, and what happens to the world happens to us because there is no firm divide between the world and ourselves, any more than there is between self and other. Rather, if each self-defines itself through its other, then we cannot think of external events as external to us. We come to see what happens as the free man sees them: as an outcome of ourselves. Our ability to recognize of our unity with the world-all is our distinction. The wheat, in itself, partakes of this unity, but it does not know it. We can know this, and in our more exalted moments, we do. We can make that vision our guiding light, our solace. Unlike any other living thing, we humans can bring to consciousness the principle of freedom—that “all are free”20 who are at home with themselves in the other. This capacity for freedom is what gives man his infinite adaptability. It is an adaptability borne not out of wishful thinking or optimism, but out of recognition of our place in the world. Such an outlook as is freedom is a natural outgrowth of the principle of life, of maintaining oneself in what is different—but to man, and man alone, belongs freedom, because out of all creation, he has realized this potential about existence.21

5 An Exercise in Idealism I want you to stop what you are doing now, and go for a run. A long run. Three or four hours should do the job, but ten or twenty hours on your feet would be better. Run until you stop thinking about yourself, until you stop thinking about what you have going on today, and just run. Why running? Because I want you to experience what I am talking about—and not just ruminate about your breakfast. *** Welcome back. Obviously, I cannot say how the run was for you, but I hope it was a good one. The kind of run that reminds you who you are by letting you, no, making you, just be, out there in the world. To those of you who did not lace up your shoes several hours ago, this is going to sound like hippie nonsense. Well, so much the worse for you. There are things that cannot be explained but which must be lived to be known, and what it is like to run for a very long time is one of them. You can either take my word for it, or you can get out there and go see for yourself. ***

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When you are running, several things happen that will allow you to live like a free person. One of them is that your sense of identity changes. Who you are after you have been out for fifty or one hundred miles is not the same as who you were before you began. Your sense of self, your sense of where you begin and the world ends, changes. In certain moments, the separation between yourself and your environment breaks down completely—there is simply a continuum between your thought and body, your body and its needs, and the surroundings that meet or frustrate those needs. You are no longer some disembodied, reflecting Cartesian ego, but rather I-this-runner-in-pain-who-needs-to-eat-that-peanut-butter-sandwichor-I-will-expire-on-this-pile-of-rocks-but-first-I-must-catch-my-breath-or-I-willsurely-die. Now, it just so happens that Hegel said something along these lines in his Lectures on Logic, which I mentioned above: Man is different from [verschieden von] tree, air, but air is also [an] opposed, yes it is even his other, according to a side of his living nature. He cannot be without air and is always in struggle with it in breathing. This is [the] process of living things generally. In hunger man is directed at his other, food is not only other generally, but rather his opposite, he cannot be without placing the same identical with himself. (VLog 143:268–275)

I somewhat doubt that Hegel ran ultramarathons. However, rumor has it that in his younger days he enjoyed strolls out to the Wurmlinger Kapelle from the Tübinger Stift with his pals Schelling and Hölderlin, and perhaps that is all the exercise he needed to work up a hearty appetite. Still, the point holds: when you are active, you realize that who you are includes what you are not, and not in some superficial kind of way (where of course beingthis entails being not-that), but in a deep, embodied sense of your existence in the world. Breathing in, catching your breath, you take in the air of a place. Sometimes it is dusty and hot, sometimes clean and cool; you fill yourself with it, one lungful at a time, sometimes deeply, sometimes shallowly, in, out, in, out, and become attuned to this simple rhythm and exchange of yourself and your surroundings in this act of respiration without which you would be nothing. That act and the continuous ongoing movement, now over rock, now over tree root, up and down, and always onward, outward, fills and consumes you. Yes, you are but one lone runner on the prairie, but you are more than that—you are a-body-in-motion-on-theprairie, taking in the prairie, one footfall at a time. You are the prairie. And this brings us to another thing that “happens to” you when you run that helps you live like a free person. You achieve the “harmony of soul and peace of mind” (Enc. §147Z/MM 8:292) that comes with identifying yourself with a place. When you have come to appreciate that your physical environment makes you who you are, that you stand in a deep unity with your surroundings and are part of the “process of living things generally,” then what happens to you on the trail can be taken in stride. Every happenstance becomes an opportunity for selfexpression, when correctly appreciated. Have you stumbled? Then pick yourself up. Have you been unable to keep anything down for hours? Now you can show true grit. Has a bee flown into your mouth? Well, how funny is that? These events


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are contingent, but as contingent, they become conditions for you to manifest yourself, to show the kind of person you are.22 There is no guarantee, of course, that the good times will continue to roll. You may not always live like a free person—in fact, we can be quite sure of that. You have it built into the logic of your existence, as the kind of being who thrives on the very thing that will be its undoing: contradiction. One day, perhaps, you will return to the prairie where you ran, and discover that a housing development has taken its place. To anyone else, perhaps, this would be matter of indifference, but to you who had identified with this place, it goes to your core. Why do we identify with a place? Why does it sadden us to see the old oak cut down, the prairie razed? Why, if not because we put a part of ourselves there, if not because that is where we belonged. Now, that place is gone, now, that part of ourselves is dead, and we mourn its passing. We are more than our bodies. We are the intimate and fragile natural places to which we belong.

Notes 1. Hegel refers to the “Doctrine of Essence” as “this (the most difficult) part of the logic” (Enc. §114). 2. To which Hegel also agrees: see WL GW 11:382/HSL 543. For discussion of what Hegel means by that, see Southgate (2014–2015, 14–22). 3. When I was a student in Tübingen, the philosophy department put up a placard in the Hegel section of the reading room that read, “Please do not throw Hegel out the window.” 4. Thus we read of Kierkegaard’s sardonic lament in the Introduction to the Concluding Unscientific Postscript, “And, alas! the famous man has it in his power to decide [the youth’s] fate; for if he does not understand him, the youth is rejected, and his one desire must suffer shipwreck. Hence he does not yet dare to confide in anyone else, so as to initiate him into his misfortune, his disgrace, the fact that he cannot understand the famous man” (Kierkegaard 1941, 17). 5. See Kierkegaard (1941, 173–186). 6. See, for instance, just a couple pages earlier in the same Zusatz that frames our story of the free man. 7. Cf. Philosophie der Geschichte (MM 12:30): “Just this is freedom, for when I am dependent, I thus relate myself to an other that I am not; I can not be without an external; I am free, when I am with myself.” 8. For a lucid discussion of this conception of freedom in the Philosophy of Right, see Neuhouser (2000, esp. 18–20). 9. See Barba-Kay (2016) for an excellent presentation of the development of Hegel’s views on love in his Jena writings. 10. See Hegel’s Philosophie der Geschichte (MM 12:31). 11. To borrow a line from Hegel, “One thus says: I am a man, and around me is air, water, animals and other things in general. Everything there falls asunder” (Enc. §119Z1/MM 8:246). 12. Which should come as no surprise, since we are reverse-engineering the results of the Logic. 13. For a penetrating discussion of Hegel’s concept of motion as an “existent contradiction,” see Wolff (1981). 14. OK, fine—yes, you could live without toast, and some people, I’m told, live without coffee, but you get my point: you need food and drink to survive.

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15. See Enc. §337Z/MM 338–339, and also ibid., §219Z/MM 375–376 (from the Encyclopedia Logic). 16. This is why a protracted illness affects us so deeply: we used to be able to do things that we can no longer do—we once were fit and active, and now we are bedridden; we used to be independent, and now we must call for help for nearly everything. In a proto-existentialist moment, Hegel observes in the Encyclopedia Logic that “what the human does, he is” (Enc. §140Z/MM 8:277). In connection to sickness, we can see just how right he is: sickness is devastating because it changes who we are by changing what we can do. 17. One thus sees the Stoic resonance of Hegel’s conception of the free person: “Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things” (Epictetus 2009, §5). 18. Thus, for Hegel, the characteristics of things are not only marks by which we can tell them apart—they are also, and in the first place, that whereby they contradistinguish themselves from their environments: “Not only we differentiate the animal through its claws, rather it differentiates itself essentially thereby, defends itself, preserves itself” (MM 20:241). For further discussion of this passage and its bearing on Hegel’s critique of Leibniz’s Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles, see Southgate (2014). 19. For a much more extensive account of the context of this passage in Hegel’s system, see Southgate (2014–2015). 20. See Lectures on the Philosophy of History (MM 12:31). 21. For a step-by-step progression of the scala natura in Hegel’s estimation, see Enc. §337Z/ MM 9:340–342. 22. See Yeomans (2012) for a brilliant discussion of the relationship between identity and self-expression.

Bibliography Barba-Kay, Antón. 2016. “Why Recognition Is a Struggle: Love and Strife in Hegel’s Early Jena Writings.” Journal of the History of Philosophy 54 (2): 307–332. Epictetus. 2009. The Enchiridion. Translated by Elizabeth Carter. Epictetus/epicench.html. Kierkegaard, Søren. 1941. Concluding Unscientific Postscript. Translated by David F. Swenson and Walter Lowrie. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Neuhouser, Frederick. 2000. Foundations of Hegel’s Social Theory: Actualizing Freedom. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Singer, Peter. 2014. “Famine, Affluence, and Morality.” In Ethics in Practice: An Anthology, edited by Hugh LaFolette, 4th ed. Malden: Wiley Blackwell. Southgate, Henry. 2014. “Hegel and the Identity of Indiscernibles.” Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 96 (1): 71–103. Southgate, Henry. 2014–2015. “The Paradox of Irrationalism: The Logical Foundation of Hegel’s Philosophy of the Absurd.” The Owl of Minerva 46 (1–2): 1–42. Wolff, Michael. 1981. Der Begriff des Widerspruchs: Eine Studie zur Dialektik Kants und Hegels. Königstein: Anton Hain. Yeomans, Christopher. 2012. Freedom and Reflection: Hegel and the Logic of Agency. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Part IV

Philosophy of Nature

Chapter 11

Levels of Reality or Development? Hegel’s Realphilosophie and Philosophy of the Sciences Michael Wolff

The term “Realphilosophie” (philosophia realis: philosophy of the real) sounds to us old fashioned and quaint.1 It was introduced to designate that part of Hegel’s philosophy devoted to existing things, which we or the sciences believe to exist, not merely through reflection, but through disciplined inquiries or experience.2 Why has this term become foreign to us? Perhaps because such extant things have become foreign to us? Hardly. For still today there is philosophy devoted to extant things, especially to those things examined by the sciences, more or less in the form we call “philosophy of science.” Hegel’s Realphilosophie is, centrally, nothing other than a philosophy of the sciences, if not of the kind whose first task—as in contemporary “general theory of science”—concerns general questions of method, but instead concerns the appropriate and comprehensive understanding of specific things and issues which are the objects of the individual sciences. Hegel’s Realphilosophie thus examines themes which today are the concern of the several philosophies of specific or “special” sciences, such as “philosophy of mathematics,” “philosophy of physics,” “philosophy of biology” or also “philosophy of language,” or even “philosophy of the infinite,” etc. These philosophies of special sciences could well be called “Realphilosophien,” though these would rather be plural: “philosophies of the real,” each, that is, pertaining to one of indefinitely many areas of research, rather than one unified account of the totality of the sciences. Today, such a comprehensive Realphilosophie is nowhere in sight; this may be why the term “Realphilosophie” in the singular has fallen into disuse. Today Realphilosophie is thus as divided into distinct domains, as are the sciences themselves, to which it refers. Even the division of these domains, which one might regard as a comprehensive philosophical task, is today almost universally only an administrative point, addressed ad hoc when needed. Thus the division into natural and human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften), which may well (also) trace back to Hegel’s division of Realphilosophie into the philosophy of

M. Wolff (*)  Department of Philosophy, University of Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany e-mail: [email protected]

© The Author(s) 2020 M. F. Bykova and K. R. Westphal (eds.), The Palgrave Hegel Handbook, Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism,



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nature and the philosophy of spirit (des Geistes),3 is held to be appropriate, if one may wish, e.g., to distinguish between more and less expensive forms of research, although in principle this division is an historical relic, as often said, though no one really knows why it is obsolete. Like administrative divisions, so too do philosophical positions regarding scientific issues typically arise ad hoc. They arise as reactions to specific theoretical problems, most of which are raised by specialists in the relevant discipline(s), who feel them to be somehow philosophically significant. Hence it is no more than a phenomenon of the division of labor, so that, rather than scientists themselves, professional philosophers continue discussing these questions and proposing to answer them. This they do in hopes that their proposals may re-enter the domain of interest to the relevant special science(s). This kind of Realphilosophie is related to science like an appendix or footnote to a specialist book containing trans-disciplinary observations. Such remarks typically contain neither an internally organized systematic examination, nor do they relate systematically to neighboring scientific domains. The Owl of Minerva has borne a multitude of descendants, each of which keeps within its own hunting preserve. It would not be appropriate merely to regret this philosophical circumstance, whether because philosophy must altogether renounce engagement with realia, or if it ignores the findings of the special sciences, must thus prove itself incompetent to address those realia, namely actual empirical phenomena or mathematical structures. Nevertheless one may regret that, due to this circumstance and to the increasing self-sufficiency and specialization of the sciences, it is increasingly unclear where to identify any specifically philosophical competence in scientific matters, if indeed there is any such competence: What exactly makes a question which arises within mathematics, physics, law, etc. specifically a philosophical question, a question of Realphilosophie? Posed so generally, the problem easily appears once again to belong to Realphilosophie in the singular. How can one seek to resolve this problem without first having clearly in mind a general, comprehensive structure of the objects of the special sciences? To address this problem, must one not find something common to them all? However this question may be answered, it appears that fundamentally the processes and progress of scientific inquiry tends either to efface Realphilosophie altogether, or to require that Realiphilosophien in the plural and Realphilosophie in the singular mutually support each other. If Realphilosophie in the singular has not long since become a chimera, one might pin on it the hope that its specific task is to provide a determinate, comprehensive set of relations amongst the special sciences, and perhaps even in the sense that Realphilosophie is to address a set of problems common to all special sciences. How can a Realphilosophie do any such thing? Undeniably, Hegel’s Realphilo­ sophie sought to satisfy exactly this expectation, insofar as Realphilosophie constitutes part of a “philosophical encyclopedia” which sets the special sciences into an orderly connection, not merely by recounting their contents, but instead by addressing a common kind of questions. In what consists this alleged type? How can this orderly connection Hegel purports to construct be positively described?

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Upon what fundamental idea is his Encyclopaedia based? How might this idea be justified? In view of these questions it appears at least to be sensible to examine Hegel’s Realphilosophie, not only in regard to his interesting positions on issues which remain today fundamental problems within special sciences, but regarding the prospect that in taking these positions Hegel adheres to a comprehensive, integral conception of Realphilosophie. Such investigation is interesting for three reasons. First, Hegel was of course the last, perhaps indeed even the first, of the great philosophers who, even if only in “outline,” actually executed a systematic Realphilosophie, and indeed, so as to provide through this systematic comprehension of special sciences a criterion for assessing their scope and success. Second, Hegel treats these topics in Realphilosophie almost always on the basis of first-hand, detailed knowledge of what one calls in mathematics or empirical sciences “the state of the art.” Therein lies the quite evident modernity of his Realphilosophie: Hegel uses the results of contemporaneous research as his point of departure and also as his final negative criterion of truth; he doesn’t substitute for them mere armchair inspirations. Third, Hegel’s Realphilosophie is not only distinguished by its encyclopedic scope, but also by its encyclopedic form. This form consists in securing the domains of inquiry of the special sciences, rather than reducing them to one another: the “matter” of Mechanics is not reduced to geometrical extension; Physics is not reduced to Mechanics, and similarly Hegel is convinced that all of the other sciences, from geology to religious studies and historiography of philosophy, each have their specific, irreducible domain of inquiry. Hegel’s anti-reductionism exhibits his rejection of the mechanistic programme of modern philosophy, and also a modern, liberal conception of science, which does not ab initio limit the concept of science to mathematics and mathematical natural science, as for example Kant still thought appropriate, and so regarded contemporaneous chemistry as a mere “technical art” and envisaged a biologist as a “Newton of a blade of grass”; Kant believed he could reduce the “metaphysical first principles” of natural science to mechanics alone. What may appear most unmodern in Hegel’s non-reductionist conception of science is his thesis that there is need for, not only a kind of interdisciplinary research, but indeed an interdisciplinary philosophy, to properly coordinate and integrate the mutually irreducible domains of experience and of the special sciences. Hegel sought to sequence these domains according to a “speculative” system of stages, one which even Hegel’s scholars often suspect of being “speculative” only in the sense of unencumbered fancies imposed from out of the blue. Today the relations among the objects of empirical sciences are mostly presented in an entirely different manner, namely as a huge historical, self-organizing evolutionary process stretching from the Big Bang to the mental structures of homo sapiens sapiens, and from these to modern civilization. Our knowledge of this comprehensive developmental process is of course quite incomplete and gappy; it is regarded—surely rightly—as a task for empirical research, so far as possible, to fill these gaps. Hegel’s system of stages would thus be, not as such empirically refuted, but its previous speculative need could only be satisfied by entirely non-speculative means. Furthermore,


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it appears that Hegel’s attempt to arrange the stages of nature in a non-temporal developmental sequence might anticipate modern evolutionary ideas, though only in inadequate, distorted ways. In this regard philosophers such as Friedrich Engels or R. G. Collingwood have stressed the limits of Hegel’s Realphilosophie, that it neglects the historical dimension and the evolutionary character (the “development”) of nature, and so represents a step backwards from Kant’s (1755) Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens.4 This is indeed correct: Hegel reconstructs the sprouts of the scala naturae—the Great Chain of Being, or series of natural orders—not as a consequence of the natural-historical (chronological) development of matter, but instead as forms of expression of a system of categories which presents the order of nature as a system of levels or stages of reality.5 These are of course the key terms of my title: “stages of reality” and “development.” The manner in which I have here introduced these terms may immediately prompt the question, whether the views they designate—the concepts of “stages” or “development”—are mutually exclusive alternatives. Ultimately, I do not believe they are. (Indeed it appears to me that Hegel valued their compatibility.) The question of course is: If they are compatible, how are these apparent alternatives related to Hegel’s programme in his Realphilosophie? And what exactly is the relevant concept of “stages,” and whence does it derive? In view of these questions, the following divides into two parts. First I begin with a systematic sketch of the fundamental convictions underlying Hegel’s Realphilosophie, which afford a proper understanding of Hegel’s encyclopedic construction of these stages. Granting that Hegel’s use of the phrase “self-­ development” is subject to misunderstanding, the second part defends those fundamental convictions against objections.

1  I begin with the question why, according to Hegel’s view, scientific knowledge not only leaves room for Realphilosophie, but makes it necessary. Hegel answers, that the various sciences are indeed self-sufficient regarding their own theory construction; yet each scientific theory contains in its principles specific basic principles which are fundamental to the rest of the theory, because they inform us first, about the significance of the basic concepts of this theory, and second, about the existence of the objects within that theory’s domain. Hegel calls these basic principles “the beginnings of the special sciences” (Enc. §16). He contends that precisely these beginnings are the object of his philosophical Encylopedia. The term “beginnings” (Anfänge) translates the Greek term “archai.” Aristotle, too, holds that these archai of the special sciences belong to the object of philosophy. Likewise, Aristotle (Met. VI, 1) holds that these archai are principles which answer two kinds of question: first, what are the primary objects of any special science (put otherwise: how are these objects defined); and second, whether and to what extent do these objects exist? Above all, Aristotle has regard to mathematics.

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For example, the geometer first uses definitions, e.g., definitions of the point and the line, and then postulates in his basic principles that these objects—points and lines—exist. However, the geometer, qua geometer, is unable to demonstrate the existence of any point, nor can he specify in what sense it is significant to say that there is any one point; neither can he provide a proper technical definition of the point. For example, if Euclid (I, Df. 1) says, “a point is that which has no parts,” this definition may suffice to distinguish conceptually points from other geometrical objects. However, this definition provides no account of how, exactly, an object without parts must be constituted so as to be a point. Strictly speaking, Euclid provides merely an apparent definition. According to Aristotle, it is not even the task of geometry (nor likewise of any other science), first to define its own basic concepts, nor second to elucidate whether or in what sense the objects so classified exist. This is instead the task of philosophy. Hegel follows Aristotle. Hegel’s “real philosophy” (Realphilosophie, ‘philosophy of the real’) addresses in exactly Aristotle’s sense the principles of geometry and likewise the “beginnings” (archai) of the other special sciences: Philosophy first tells us, what are points, lines, surfaces, etc.; and secondly, whether, why or to what extent existence can be ascribed to these objects. Entirely in accord with this, Hegel likewise treats the principles of mechanics; thus he inquires, e.g. regarding the basic definitions of Newton’s Principia, first, what exactly is mass, and in precisely what does its inertia consist; and second, in this connection he elucidates in what sense there is anything such as the inertia or the mass of the objects of mechanics. The question of the constitution and existence of scientific objects is the lead question of Hegel’s Realphilosophie, also regarding those sciences which, unlike geometry and mechanics, are not developed in axiomatic form, so that it is far from obvious which of its principles are or ought to be characterized as basic principles or fundamental beginnings (archai). Thus, already within mechanics, Galileo’s square law of free-fall (distance ∝ time2) and Kepler’s three laws of planetary orbits are treated as basic assumptions of mechanics, namely, as definitions of (1) uniformly accelerated and of (2) absolute mechanical motion; and as regards the existence of such motions, i.e., of free fall and planetary orbits, Hegel ascribes to them specific, differentiated degrees or levels of reality; neither of them is assigned any “absolute reality.” Hegel undertakes similar examinations in connection with non-mechanical sciences. Here I do not propose to review the series of these sciences, from physical optics (the theory of the motion and material of light) through historiography of religion and philosophy, nor to detail how Hegel answers his key questions regarding the basic principles of each special science. Instead I pose the question, On what basis does Hegel support his view that philosophy can examine and identify the basic constitutive principles of each special science; that is to say, first, what exactly are their objects, and second, whether, why or to what extent these objects exist? I believe one can only understand Hegel’s procedure appropriately if one conceives it as a modification of Kant’s transcendental philosophy. Kant’s ­“revolution in how to think” (Denkungsart; CPR Bxi) consists, inter alia, in providing a new programme for founding the principles of the sciences, specifically


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of mathematics and the natural sciences (since according to Kant, these are the only genuine sciences, properly speaking). Prior to Kant, only empiricist or rationalist programmes for founding science were developed; it was presumed that the basic principles of any science could only be supported either by observations and sensory perception; or they could be derived from evident, universal principles, which themselves neither required nor admitted any proof. In contrast, Kant presumed that it is conceivable that the principles of mathematics and of the natural sciences contain principles which hold a priori, and though not analytically true, can be proven on the assumption that human experience is possible, by demonstrating of those principles that they are conditions of the possibility of experience. This fundamental thought provided Kant’s transcendental method for founding basic principles, which paved the Critical route between the Scylla of empiricism and the Charybdis of rationalism. In connection with Hegel it is worth noting here that Kant always stressed that propositions regarding existence can never be true a priori. Kant held that it follows from this, that propositions regarding existence can only be grounded ­empirically, never transcendentally. I shall henceforth call this Kantian consequence Kant’s “existence-empiricism.” Although ultimately in his Opus Postumum Kant expressly rescinded his existence-empiricism, in his published works he never distanced himself from this thesis (cf. Tuschling 1971, 126ff., 137ff., 151ff.; 1973, 187). Because the existence of objects is only known through experience, Kant believed he could assume that this existence is not an a priori (i.e., not a necessary and universal) condition of possible experience, and so could not be grounded transcendentally. When Kant discusses the conditions of the possibility of experience, he never considers the objective conditions of knowability, but only the subjective presuppositions, i.e., those conditions concerning the capacities required for experiential consciousness, namely, forms of intuition, concepts and (rational) ideas. Consequently, according to Kant there can be no transcendental knowledge of how objects, however they may be, can become objects of our experience. In addition, there are ideas of reason, but these ideas are nothing known; they are mere fictions: According to Kant, we nevertheless are advised to suppose that things exist, which unto themselves (an sich) are constituted in accord with these rational ideas, because without them systematic knowledge based upon experience would not be possible. However, these fictions can be proven neither empirically nor a priori. The supposed “transcendental thing” which corresponds to an idea is no more than a “schema” of a regulative principle, by which “reason, so far as it is able, expands the systematic unity of all experience” (CPR B710). The so-called “object in the idea” is thus merely a creature of thought (Gedankenwesen), which is “to be assumed as objective and hypostatic,” though only insofar as this assumption is merely an instrument by which to achieve systematic unity of the manifold of empirical cognitions as such. For example, the idea of a supreme intelligence is not a concept of any extant, given object, but only the rule by which to consider worldly things “as if they derived their existence from a supreme intelligence.” The theological idea commands so to regard everything that belongs to a possible

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experience, as if they were thoroughly dependent and so within the sensible world constitute a conditional unity, yet also to regard the sensible world itself as having a single supreme ground outside itself, as it were: a self-sufficient creating reason. The cosmological ideas instruct us to research the conditions of natural phenomena as if they were endless, with no first or highest member. Finally, the psychological ideas, according to Kant, provide the rule so to connect all states of consciousness, as if the mind were a simple, persisting, self-identical substance. According to Kant, by using these ideas reason orders the unsystematic contribution of the understanding to experience, and thus reason first makes experience into a systematic cognition, that is, into a science. The chaotic understanding alone is insufficient to produce any science. Its contribution to scientific experience consists in applying categories to perceptions so that these perceptions achieve objectivity. This objectification of perception by categories, that is, through a priori concepts, is however, Kant stressed, no production or generation of objects “as regards their existence,” but only “as regards the form of thinking” (CPR B125ff., 192, 303; cf. A128–30). One cannot judge of existence a priori (CPR B279), for “In the mere concept of a thing”—and one may here add, in the mere concept of an existing thing—“no character of its existence can be found” (CPR B272). That something “exists can only be known through experience” (Refl. 6413, cf. 5231, 5772). Comparing Hegel’s programme in Realphilosophie to Kant’s transcendental counterpart quickly reveals several obvious similarities. First, even a superficial reading of, e.g., the third edition of Hegel’s Encyclopaedia (1830) shows that, like Kant, Hegel rejects both empiricist and rationalist groundings of empirical sciences: Scientific principles cannot be identified by abstracting them from sensory perceptions, nor by deduction from non-empirical universal principles. In opposition to rationalism, Hegel shares Kant’s view that we have no knowledge which is not “in experience” (PhG GW 9:429.20–21). In opposition to empiricism, Hegel shares Kant’s view that the validity of categories, hence of non-empirical concepts, also as they occur within scientific principles, despite their non-empirical character, are provable, namely, insofar as it can be shown that we require these concepts in order to objectify perceptions, or very general contents of consciousness, by referring them to objects. Second, it appears at least at first glance that Hegel’s Realphilosophie is to achieve something like what is provided by Kant’s doctrine of rational ideas (cf. Falkenburg 1987). Very much like Kant’s ideas of reason, Hegel’s Realphilosophie organizes the application of those categories deduced in Hegel’s Logic to the systematic whole of experience. As Kant’s reason organizes the chaotic understanding, Hegel’s Realphilosophie orders the chaos of scientific theories by referring the objects of those sciences to the objective, orderly structures of nature and of spirit. Nature and spirit present themselves here as two such systematically structured orders: Nature is an integrated scale of external objects of experience; spirit is a perduring whole which structures itself and also changes in the form of temporal development. To that extent, nature and spirit correspond to Kant’s so-called “transcendental objects” of the cosmological or (respectively) psychological ideas.


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The complete object of these ideas is shown in Hegel’s exposition, of course, only at the highest level of nature, or (respectively) only at the temporal end of spiritual development: Within the sphere of nature, nature as a whole is the one living organism, manifest as the existing idea; i.e., as one such systematic whole that is to be met with objectively, which is the ground of the order of its parts and members, and which presupposes all other stages or levels of nature in their relative order. Within the sphere of finite spirit, this comprehensive object is scientific knowledge itself, which in its historical phases and forms indeed never can be a closed systematic totality, but yet its systematic character is always more or less differentiated and complete, though always as a subjective idea—a represented totality or Vorstellungsganzes. The concepts of both of these objects appear already at the end of Hegel’s Science of Logic as specific categories, as the category of the idea of life and as the category of the idea of cognition. Here, at the end of the Logic, it is also clear that even the third of Kant’s ideas of reason, the theological idea, plays a role. It appears under the heading of the absolute idea. It is “absolute” because it is neither the concept of an objective systematic whole (like the idea of life), nor the concept of a merely subjective whole (like the idea of knowing). Instead, the “absolute” idea has for its content the correspondence of a subjective to an objective systematic whole. According to Kant we require the theological idea in order even to conceive this very correspondence. We must presume, Kant maintains, that things in themselves are called into existence by a creator, in order to be able to assume that these things as such are appropriate objects to be known through our scientific experience. Hegel too conceives this pre-established harmony in the metaphorical form of the creation myth. The absolute idea is nothing other than the concept of absolute spirit which creates precisely this harmony (and indeed, through the mere activity of thinking), and so cannot be any finite spirit, because it cannot exist merely as something subjective nor as merely objective. (I return to the concept of the absolute idea below.) Finally, a third commonality with Kant is that Hegel too holds that from mere concepts no existential assumptions can be derived. According to Hegel, too, we can know of the existence of objects ultimately only on the basis of experience. Thus the categories examined in the Science of Logic, including the concept of the absolute idea, are as such merely concepts, regarding which, on the basis of their examination in the Logic, we do not yet know whether they are “empty” (Enc. §43+Z), or whether extant objects correspond to them, objects which can be properly comprehended and characterized using these concepts. Whether, to what extent or in what regard(s) there are such objects is exactly the topic of Hegel’s Realphilosophie. Put otherwise: Hegel’s science of logic examines the logical categories only within the form—or, as Hegel says, in the “element” (Enc. §19)—of thinking; i.e., they are examined by Hegel’s logic only in regard to their intensional, intended significance or conceptual content; Hegel’s Realphilosophie examines these same concepts partly “in the element of externality (Äußerlichkeit)” (Enc. §§ 248R, 381Z), i.e. in connection with external objects of thought, and partly “in the element of the concept” (Enc. §384), i.e., as concepts given to us and used in our thinking. Thus to this extent Hegel’s Realphilosophie

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concerns the application of categories and their use as concepts; it is thus also a task of Realphilosophie to provide a critique of the sciences, insofar as they always already, if unwittingly, use or consider categories as pure (non-empirical), but given concepts. Now the differences between Kant’s and Hegel’s views must not be neglected. The most important difference is that Hegel rejects Kant’s existence-empiricism. That may seem paradoxical, since Hegel, as noted, appears to grant that one cannot derive existential assumptions from mere concepts, but only from experience. Hegel’s view on this issue may be understood as follows. Consider first that the expression, “to know on the basis of experience,” is ambiguous. We know on the basis of experience that p, thus from an object, that it exists, when we first meet it, or the state of affairs p, in our experience. Then we know something through experience, or the object is presented to us through experience. This sense of ‘knowing through experience’ underlies what I have called existence-empiricism. In a different sense, however, we know something on the basis of experience when we meet with it, not in, but rather with experience. In this case, the issue is not some specific content of experience, but concerns instead presuppositions which must be satisfied so that experience is possible at all. In this sense Kant also speaks of forms of intuition, categories and ideas as “given” elements of experience. That there are such elements we indeed know through particular experiences; but that there are such is just as much also a condition of the possibility of experience. That is why Kant’s transcendental inquiry concerns these elements. That there are these elements we thus know, according to Kant, strictly speaking, on the basis of dual grounds: First, because without the existence of these elements there would be no knowledge for us at all; second, because we encounter these elements empirically within ourselves. Kant’s transcendental investigation is for this reason on the one hand logical, and on the other (as Hegel calls it) “psychological-historical” (Enc. §4f.). Due to the logical component of his transcendental philosophy, Kant could have had a substantive reason to depart from his existence-empiricism. However, he nevertheless believed that the historical-psychological component somehow has priority. Here we can only ask, whether it is conceivable that—apart from historical-psychological—there be such existence-presuppositions of our knowledge which we encounter, not in ourselves, but instead outside ourselves. That Kant of course would have denied this question, appears obvious to me. However, his arguments for this are anything but clear. Kant seems to have somehow granted priority to the inner presuppositions of experience over the outer, and he appears to have assumed that these outer presuppositions belong to a realm we cannot know: the realm of “things in themselves.” To “things in themselves” categories cannot be applied. The validity of the categories can be justified, though only insofar as we limit their application to experience. We thus know nothing of their absolute validity; we know only their validity for us. We thus do not even know whether it is appropriate to ascribe existence to whatever is not given in experience, since “existence” is itself a category. Thus the category of existence, like all categories, has only a relative validity for us: about its absolute validity (“its


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absolute reality”) we cannot know anything at all, according to Kant. From these grounds, Kant appears to have concluded that we cannot judge anything about objective conditions of experience. Hegel rejects this line of argumentation. Hegel agrees with Kant that the logical categories (including the category of existence) have no unqualified validity for us. It is exactly the aim of Hegel’s proofs in the Science of Logic to explicate, specify and demonstrate the qualified validity of the logical categories. Hegel thus seeks to justify a result which coincides with Kant’s view in this regard, that the logical categories are only valid for the realm of possible experience, hence only for ‘nature’ and for ‘spirit’. However, Hegel intends to demonstrate that the validity of the categories is not merely for us, but also (as Hegel expresses it) “in itself” limited or qualified: In the Science of Logic Hegel seeks to show that, for each category, assuming its absolute validity leads to contradictions, so that its validity must be limited to a specific domain, which must be specified by a new logical category. According to Hegel, these contradictions arise—not as Kant assumed in his doctrine of the Antinomies through a specific “application” of categories to things which are not appearances, and so are not possible objects of experience—but rather out of the intensional significance or content of each category, which is to be analytically explicated. This significance of the categories does not arise, as Kant held, from their application. From this it follows that, due to their intrinsic significance unto themselves (“an sich”), the logical categories have no absolute validity. Accordingly it is incorrect to maintain, as Kant did, that we cannot know whether their validity may extend beyond the domain of validity they have for us. Instead we know positively and absolutely—Hegel calls this absolute knowing “speculative”—that making any individual category absolute is logically illegitimate. Thus it is inadmissible to grant, even problematically (as Kant says), so-called “things in themselves” any existence; there are no such things. Even this judgment is an existential judgment, albeit negative. Hegel derives this result from his logical examination of the category of existence as such. The results of Hegel’s analysis and arguments against Kant can be summarized in this way: None of the logical categories is absolutely valid. However, this very thesis itself—of this merely relative validity—is absolutely valid. The complete development or explication of this thesis is nothing other than the system and method of Hegel’s Science of Logic. The concept of the “absolute idea” is to summarize exactly this thesis. Above we already saw that the absolute idea substitutes for Kant’s theological idea: It is the concept of something which guarantees the correspondence of, or harmony between, our category-bound thinking, on the one hand, and the reality of what we think, on the other. Now another serious difference between Kant and Hegel is apparent: the absolute idea is no mere fiction and no mere object or content of faith; for that of which “the absolute idea” is the concept, is nothing other than our own logical, or more precisely: dialectical thinking—our thinking by which we know the contradictory character of the categories. The logical insight into the necessity of limiting or qualifying the categories is not merely a negative result which would proscribe our application of a category to arbitrary objects; instead, it also has the positive or ‘speculative’ sense, to know

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that there are no objects to which categories cannot be applied. Conversely: all extant objects must be thought in and through categories. Now it is clear why Hegel’s philosophical encyclopedia not only contains a logic (i.e., a presentation of a system of logical categories), but also a system of Realphilosophie. Logic only concerns concepts, which of course have an intensional significance or content, although from this alone it does not follow that there are objects properly classified under these concepts. Obviously, this holds too for the concept of the absolute idea. The object which Hegel designates with the name “absolute idea” is nothing other than logical thinking itself, which is expounded in the Science of Logic. However, that this object exists does not follow directly from the mere concept of thinking, however thoroughly and completely this concept may be explicated. This existence follows only from the actual, discursive execution and consummation of this thinking, and this execution is something within space and time, an historical phenomenon, a phenomenon which we encounter in the form of a philosophical work undertaken between 1812 and 1816 (with substantive revisions to its first book in 1832) by the author G. W. F. Hegel. This phenomenon is thus not a logical, but a real circumstance, which thus cannot be a topic for logic, yet can be one for Realphilosophie. Hegel treats it as the phenomenon of the consummated absolute spirit. The distinction between logic and Realphilosophie consists precisely in this: the latter examines extant, existing objects, from the point of view that there are such objects. From a strictly logical point of view, truth is only the internal consistency of thinking, its correspondence with itself, the sublation of its internal contradictions. From the point of view of Realphilosophie, truth also includes the existence of objects. That in fact there are such objects to which we apply the logical system of categories, is itself neither a topic belonging to logic, nor can it be derived from the propositions of logic. Yet the existence of objects, however they may be more narrowly specified, is factually a presupposition of logical thinking, which itself can be made an object of thinking; Hegel calls this Nachdenken, or reflection. This reflection is the business of Realphilosophie. If thinking becomes Nachdenken, reflection, merely logical thinking, ceases. This self-assigned task Hegel has in mind, at the end of the Science of Logic, when he speaks of the “resolve” of the absolute idea to “freely discharge itself” (der Entschluß … sich zu entlassen). The thought that there are objects, or more precisely: that there is at least one concrete, specific object, indicates according to Hegel and to Kant nothing more than a mere fact. This fact is distinct to other empirical facts, insofar as this mere fact is equally an objective condition for the possibility of truth: If there is to be truth, then there must be objects; at the very least, there must be objects if the verific or affirmative being (discussed at the beginning of Hegel’s Logic) is not as such identical to what is signified by the word “nothing.” Truth presupposes objects; that there is truth is, however, itself a presupposition of Hegel’s Science of Logic. From these considerations derives the following task for Realphilosophie: It must be shown that, to those objects which are inevitably, immediately and


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without proof assumed in the principles of the various special sciences to exist, cannot be ascribed any absolute reality, if it is possible to specify these objects using logical categories. The sole object to be excepted from such a proof is logical thinking itself, the proper concept of which is the “absolute idea”; this is to have been demonstrated by Hegel’s logic. The aim of the Realphilosophie is thus in fact an attempted indirect proof; in this sense it is “the ultimate test” of Hegelian logic, as Friedrich Engels (1842) perceptively remarked (MEW 41:197/MEGA 1,3:291). Initially Hegel proceeds as if the immediate objects of the special sciences count as absolutely real, as if the absolute idea were not what it is; this Hegel expresses as considering the idea “in the form of being other (Andersseins)” (Enc. §247). Hegel then purports to show that speaking of the reality of these objects can only be made consistent, if the existence of these objects is conceived and comprehended as the existence of other, more concrete objects. For example, at the outset of the second part of Hegel’s Encyclopaedia, i.e., at the beginning of his Realphilosophie (Enc. §§253–254), Hegel shows that just the mere, entirely undetermined, unspecified having (possession) of a logical extension (“das Außersichsein der Idee”), due to the intrinsically quantitative structure of extension and due to its qualitative indeterminacy (utter lack of specificity or differentiation), can only be thought as “space,” i.e., as the existence of that which since Christian Wolff has been called “mutual externality” (das Außereinandersein)—familiar to Anglophone readers from the notion of space as partes extra partes; Hegel also speaks of the “existence of pure quantity.” As the existence of pure quantity, however, space is already subject to those antinomies developed in the Logic: Abstract space can only be thought as an internally undifferentiated continuum, and yet it must exhibit internal differentiations or distinctions. That, however, already suffices to demonstrate that there can be no self-sufficient (absolute) existence of (abstract) space as such. Nevertheless, if there can be no space utterly lacking internal (or intrinsic) differentiation, there can be internal, intrinsic spatial differences or distinctions. Even if one thinks of these differences as abstractly as space itself, i.e., only by use of quantitative specifications (Bestimmungen), one has already advanced to the principles of the most abstract of all special sciences: geometrical points, lines and surfaces. Hegel defines these as (simple or double) negations of space and seeks to show that the existence of points requires the existence of quantitatively specified lines, and these in turn require the existence of surfaces, and thus presuppose a specific, determinate dimensionality of space. Hegel’s detailed considerations of space and geometry cannot be pursued further here, nor can I examine why, according to Hegel, geometrically specified spaces are only conceivable as aspects of spatio-temporal structures, which as such are in turn the primitive objects of the specific, less abstract special science of mechanics. Here I can only consider the basic thought by which Hegel attempts to show that the primitive objects of a special science exist as moments (or aspects) of the existence of the primitive objects of some more concrete science. The progress from one form of existence to the next is in Hegel’s Realphilosophie always a progress from higher to lower levels of abstraction. This is a consequence of how this progress always results by showing

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that, and how, the specifications of these primitive objects contain categories which generate antinomies which make it necessary to sublate those objects within the existence of objects which are specified by more concrete categories. This progress from higher to lower levels of abstraction is thus also a progress from lower to higher levels of reality, because from stage to stage this progress appears as a progress from a form of existence lacking self-sufficiency to a form which is (or at least appears comparatively to be) self-sufficient. To my mind this makes apparent that, and why, the concept of levels of reality is fundamental to Hegel’s Realphilosophie, which does not derive more specific forms of existence from less specific forms historically, cosmologically, nor as a matter of natural history (chronology). Such attempts would be utterly senseless, because the various levels of reality are distinct levels of abstraction. There simply can be no historical, nor natural-historical, nor merely temporal (sequential) relation between space and specific spatio-temporal structures, nor between the existence (or the form of existence) of the human species and the occurrence of human mental skills and abilities; hence likewise not between the objects of philosophy of spirit (or the moral sciences, comprehended together) and those of natural science. The relation Hegel assumes between levels of reality is instead similar to that which Aristotle assumed between the existence of accidents and the existence of substances. Hence it is not like the development of species (speciation), as this holds according to natural evolution between simple and complex organisms, nor like the relation which holds, according to thermodynamics, between various forms of energy or between different states of entropy. Now this only affords a vague analogy, by which different degrees of abstraction can also appear to be higher degrees of complexity or degrees of order.

2  It seems to me that Hegel’s critics have exploited this vague analogy when they object that Hegel failed to recognize the historical evolutionary character of nature, because he interpreted differences in complexity of the states of motion or arrangements of matter merely as levels of reality and abstraction, without invoking natural dependencies between them. In fact, all such critics fail to recognize that the concept of levels of reality is not to be confused with nor mistaken for an evolutionary view of nature; they likewise neglect that distinguishing levels of reality does not preclude natural forms of evolution. The preliminaries of natural history (as a chronological process, or processes) proposed by Kant and other authors Hegel expressly acknowledged; he merely regarded them as philosophically irrelevant and poorly supported empirically (Enc. §§268Z, 339Z, 326Z). In Hegel’s day the natural sciences were far from being able to understand thermodynamic, evolutionary or social processes as law-like necessary regularities. There were of course models, that is: analogies, but no scientific theories of such kinds of developmental processes, the basic concepts and existential postulates of


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which Hegel’s Realphilosophie must consider. Hegel’s Realphilosophie is to be based upon empirical sciences, not upon fantasies, suggestions or mere hypotheses. Even if Hegel had such lawfully regular processes to consider, he surely would have rejected the suggestion that they should be understood as evolutionary laws (Entwicklungsgesetze). Consider: What is supposed to develop in such cases? Nature as such does not develop; there are no developments of nature, there are only developments within nature. In Hegel’s lexicon “development” designates a kind of process which only pertains to very few natural objects, namely: those objects which are organisms. Only organisms develop—not kinds or species of organisms (nor in modern terms: populations), and certainly not the objects of inorganic nature, nor their totalities. “Development,” in the strict and proper sense of the term, pertains only to organically differentiated wholes with specific internal capacities and abilities, where changes of states of such a whole organism can only be called “development” insofar as the end state cannot be explained by external, nor by contingently occurring, causes. An organism capable of development is, in this sense, always the individual living creature; only in an extended, imprecise, metaphorical sense, according to Hegel, can such entities as explanatory concepts, consciousness, the nation-state or philosophy itself count as an organism capable of development. (Perhaps Hegel should have allowed that a society’s totality of productive forces, as conceived by Marx, constitutes a kind of organism, of which it is sensible to say that it develops.) It is quite clear that what is called “evolution” within the theory of natural selection is not a “development” as Hegel uses the term. The modern evolutionary image of nature, to the extent it has an empirical scientific basis and is not misunderstood as a theory of “the development of nature,” thus affords no objection to Hegel’s non-evolutionary interpretation of the great chain of being, the scala naturae. Yet there is another ground for this objection, namely, the non-metaphorical interpretation of Hegel’s creation metaphor, which is an utter misunderstanding. Hegel’s concern to discover in the concepts of the absolute idea and of absolute spirit the rational content and the grain of truth within the Christian faith, has been taken as a pretext to ascribe theism to Hegel and—condemned as “panlogism”—to accuse him of a gross logical blunder. Hegel, it is said, derived existential conclusions from mere logical propositions, and sought to support this logically invalid derivation with the creative power of the absolute idea; supposedly, the relation between Hegel’s Logic and Realphilosophie is one of deductive derivation. This is the core of the traditional criticism of Hegel, beginning with Schelling, Schopenhauer, Feuerbach and the young Marx, all the way up through Ernst Bloch and the mass of recent Hegel interpreters. A rare exception among Hegel’s early critics is the young Engels, who in his review of Schelling (1842) hit the interpretive nail squarely on the head by remarking that Hegel’s Realphilosophie doesn’t derive existence, but rather only (relative) necessity of existence, but otherwise grounds existence claims upon experience (MEW 41:189ff./MEGA 1,3:284ff.). Note that the later Engels, and with him also the later Marx, declared Hegel’s creation metaphor to be, not a veil obscuring a logical blunder, but rather a “mystification” surrounding a kernel of

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truth, a “rational core.” An exact description of this core they did not, however, provide. They also did not say, precisely and un-metaphorically, how to extract the kernel of truth in Hegel’s absolute idea, or through what sort of “inversion” (Umstülpung) the “rational core” could be freed from its “mystical husk.”6 This chapter aims to reveal something of the notable core Hegel enclosed in his creation metaphor. The central point of this core appears to me to be Hegel’s critique of existence-empiricism. If one grasps the precise structure of this critique, then it becomes clear that any de-mystification of the absolute idea, if any be required, must involve more than merely removing metaphors. The mere use of the creation metaphor itself constitutes no genuine philosophical problem. Whoever wants to demystify Hegel’s philosophy may perhaps have in mind unjustifiable ideological motives for the obfuscation of its truth. However, then it must also be shown exactly where the truth lies and how one can know this. This is to say, nothing less than identifying a latent, yet soluble problem must be identified. This latency of the problem thus belongs to the (alleged) problem; it is like the obscuring and obliterating which accompanies the image cast in a camera obscura, whether it be upright or inverted—to which Engels and Marx (1845–1846) compared Hegel’s “mystified” dialectic (MEW 3:26/MEGA 1,5:15/CW 5:36). It appears to me that the absolute idea conceived as a self-developing concept contains just such a latent problem, and that its resolution would in any case be possible through a transformation of absolute idealism itself. I now attempt, briefly, to indicate just this problem. I have sought to show that the absoluteness of the absolute idea is a consequence of Hegel’s thesis, that the validity of each single category is relative and that its relativity holds absolutely. I also noted that this thesis contains a presupposition: To demonstrate this relativity Hegel must presume that each individual category itself contains a specific, contentful (i.e., “intensional” or “intended”) significance, which does not first derive—as Kant assumed—from their application to objects of possible experience. The philosophical problem which occurs here, which (so far as I can see) Hegel nowhere addressed, is the semantic question: How do these logical concepts—the categories—have or obtain any such content or significance? Against Kant, Hegel always maintained that the mere application of logical categories cannot be the source or basis of their significance, because utterly empty concepts are, as such, utterly indistinguishable and indeed indistinct, and so cannot be applied at all, in any way, to anything! This is correct, but cannot count as answering the question. If an empiricist theory of categories were possible, one could account for their semantic content as resulting by abstracting from experience. However, since Hume this empiricist strategy is foreclosed. Even Marx and Engels, who with Hegel reject empiricism, cannot have meant this theory of abstraction when they describe the content of Hegel’s logic as a product of abstraction. The categories of Hegel’s logic are, to begin with, “abstract” only in the sense that they are not abstracted out of experience, but instead abstract from experience altogether. The surmise, that Hegel’s absolute idea is no demiurge of actually existing things, but instead—“conversely”—merely abstracts from actual things altogether, thus does indeed point to a latent problem, but does not solve it.


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It appears to me that a distinction may help here, to the importance of which I have already alluded: the disambiguation of the phrase, “to know on the basis of experience.” Kant assumes that categories arise, not from, though always with experience. Of course Hegel did not deny this connection of categories to experience, though he greatly obscured it by giving the impression that his logic not only deduces the validity of logical categories, but also generates their semantic content. Hegel designates this procedure as the “development of the concept” (Entwicklung des Begriffs), or of the logical idea, and so presents this procedure as a process lacking any connection to experience. In fact and by the nature of the case, however, the deduction of the validity of logical categories must be clearly distinguished from the generation of their semantic content or significance. Only if the categories with their content or significance are specified, can Hegel’s method presume to demonstrate that their validity is either necessary or is subject to qualification (or restriction) due to the validity of other categories—hence not merely because there are such further categories. The idea that the semantic content of categories can itself be generated—or can generate itself—out of one another has in fact no basis in Hegel’s theory and is no more than merely suggested by him. Thus the question is: How do these categories have or gain their significance or semantic content? How is the significance or semantic content of categories produced, generated or identified? In this regard, considering again the levels of reality in Hegel’s Realphilosophie can help. That there are such and so specific things, which we encounter at a specific level of reality, we know experientially, i.e., in part from and in part with experience. Accordingly, each level of reality concerns a specific range of categories (cf. Henrich 1971, 139–140+n. 11; Hegel 1969, 21f.). This is because those specifics of things pertaining to what we experience at some one level of reality, also provide us categories, and indeed, not all, but at most some categories. From this it follows that it is at the very least misleading to say that “experience” as such, all at once, provides the totality of categories. Instead, experience comprehends many experiences, each of which can be defined by a specific context of extant objects, which in fact usually coincides with the experiential context of some special science. Experience in general makes known to us that there are objects at all, or that to our judgments some “being” corresponds, namely, some “being without further specification” (Sein – ohne alle weitere Bestimmung). This reflection at most leads us to the beginning of Hegel’s logic, though not a single step further. First experiences in the plural—experiences with more narrowly specified objects within more narrowly specified contexts—provide us familiarity with higher categories. Each single experience contains a certain combination of individual intuitions, sensations or perceptions, and each of these combinations is based on the use of a certain category. For categories are concepts that are given with experience just because every experience is based on some specific combination of intuitions, sensations, perceptions, or experiences, and this combination (insofar as it has objective validity) consists in the use of a certain category (or categories). This particular use constitutes the particular meaning of a category.

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Since Hegel’s Realphilosophie is where the categories of his Logic are applied, it is also the systematic place in which to show how categories obtain their particular meaning insofar as this meaning consists in combining matters of thinking which belong, not to Logic, but to Realphilosophie. Hegel’s statement, that in his logic a self-development of the absolute idea occurs, mystifies this fact. For it can be construed as meaning that this idea is produced by itself, without depending upon the use made of categories in bringing about experience, which use constitutes their semantic content. This understanding is obviously a misunderstanding. The concluding four paragraphs in Hegel’s Encyclopaedia (third edition, 1830) point out, clearly enough, that there is by no means only a unilateral dependence between the subject matter of his Logic (dem Logischen, i.e., the logical categories) and the subject matters of the two parts of his Realphilosophie, nature and human spirit. Translated by Kenneth R. Westphal

Notes 1. Originally published as: “Realitätsstufen oder Entwicklung? Hegels ‘Realphilosophie’ und die Philosophie der Wissenschaften,” Hegel-Jahrbuch, hg. v. H. Kimmerle, W. Lefèvre, R. W. Meyer, Bochum 1989, 397–415. Revised by the author and, in consultation with him, translated for the Palgrave Hegel Handbook by K. R. Westphal. The term “Realphilosophie” is henceforth retained; it is obviously cognate, its sense is explicated in the following. 2. Hegel himself does not use the term “Realphilosophie,” though he divides philosophy into logic and “the two real sciences (die beyden realen Wissenschaften) of philosophy, the Philosophy of Nature and the Philosophy of Spirit” (WL GW 21:9). Compare Kant’s analogous division into logic and two real philosophical sciences, each restricted to its specific “object of the understanding” (Gr Ak 4:387–388). 3. Another background consideration regarding the division into natural and human sciences (Natur- und Geisteswissenschaften) is discussed by Köhnke (1986, 86). 4. See Engels (1873–1882, MEW 20:504/MEGA 26:108/CW 25:517), and Engels (1894, MEW 20:12/MEGA 27:495/CW 25:11–2); Collingwood (1945, 131). 5. The English designation, “natural history” has a peculiar ambiguity due to the natural history of its use. Originally, the term “history” designated empirical experience or inquiry, in contrast to “reason,” but lacking any chronological sense. Herodotus is credited with founding “historical studies” by writing important historical chronicles. Nevertheless, “natural history” remained in use to designate empirical inquiry, without chronological connotations, though with emphasis upon observation and classification (rather than experiment), until it was largely superseded during (roughly) the nineteenth century (C.E.) by “natural science.” Locke’s “plain, historical method” in his Essay is empirical, not chronological. (Translator’s note.) 6. According to Engels (1873–1882), Hegel’s mistake consists in choosing a wrong “starting point: that spirit, thought, the idea, is the original and that the real world is only a copy of the idea” (MEW 20:33/MEGA 26:34/CW 25:34). “This itself [is] mystical on Hegel’s part, because the categories appear as pre-existing and the dialectic of the real world as their mere reflection (Abglanz)” (MEW 20:475/MEGA 26:346/CW 25:485—tr. rev.).


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Bibliography Collingwood, George Robin. 1945. The Idea of Nature. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. Engels, Friedrich. 1842. Schelling und die Offenbarung. Kritik des neuesten Reaktionsversuchs gegen die freie Philosophie. Leipzig: Binder (Rpt. in: MEW 41:173–221; MEGA 1,3:265– 314) (untranslated). Engels, Friedrich. 1873–1882. Dialektik der Natur. In MEW 20:311–455; MEGA 26; in English: Dialectics of Nature, CW 25:313–588. Engels, Friedrich. 1894. Herrn Eugen Dühring’s Umwälzung der Wissenschaft, 3. durchgesehene und vermehrte Auflage. Stuttgart: Dietz (Rpt. in MEW 20:1–303; MEGA 27; in English: AntiDühring, CW 25:5–310). Falkenburg, Brigitte. 1987. Die Form der Materie. Zur Metaphysik der Natur bei Kant und Hegel. Frankfurt am Main: Athenäum. Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. 1969. “Unveröffentlichte Diktate aus einer EnzyklopädieVorlesung Hegels,” edited by F. Nicolin. Hegel-Studien 5: 9–29. Henrich, Dieter. 1971. Hegel im Kontext. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Köhnke, Karl Christian. 1986. Entstehung und Aufsteig des Neu-Kantianismus. Die deutsche Universitätsphilosophie zwischen Idealismus und Positivismus. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. 1845–1846. Die deutsche Ideologie. In MEW 3:9–530; MEGA 1,5; in English: The German Ideology, CW 5:19–581. Marx, Karl, und Friedrich Engels. 1967. Werke. 43 vols. + indexes. Berlin: Dietz. Cited as ‘MEW,’ by volume:page numbers. Marx, Karl, und Friedrich Engels. 1975–. Gesamtausgabe. 65 vols. (to date). Berlin: Dietz, Now: de Gruyter. Cited as ‘MEGA,’ by division,volume:page numbers (all references herein are to the first division or Abteilung). Marx, Karl, und Friedrich Engels. 1987–. Collected Works. 50 vols. Moscow: Progress Publishers; New York: International Publishers. Cited as ‘CW,’ by volume:page numbers. Tuschling, Burkhard. 1971. Metaphysische und transzendentale Dynamik in Kants opus postumum. Berlin: de Gruyter. Tuschling, Burkhard. 1973. “Kant’s Metaphysische Anfangsgründe der Naturwissenschaft und das Opus Postumum.” In Kant. Zur Deutung seiner Theorie vom Erkennen und Handeln, edited by G. Prauss, 175–191. Köln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch.

Chapter 12

Causality, Natural Systems, and Hegel’s Organicism Kenneth R. Westphal

1 Introduction Famously, Kant granted constitutive status only to mechanical, efficient causation and relegated all teleological principles in biology to mere heuristic status. Schelling declared that the teleology apparent in biological organisms is not merely apparent: it is a real feature of natural biological organisms; this gave enormous impetus to the development of scientific biology (Richards 2010). However inspiring, Schelling’s own philosophy is unscientific, in part because it lacks epistemological discipline (cf. Schulze 1803). Far too often Hegel has been likened to Schelling in these regards, yet those myths are as superficial and ignorant as the views they ascribe to Hegel (Stewart 1996). Hegel’s philosophy of nature is a work of philosophy, not natural science. Nevertheless, Hegel’s careful scrutiny, explication and systematic integration of fundamental scientific concepts and principles is by design relevant to natural sciences and to our proper understanding of them. One key reason for this is how Hegel’s explication and integration of those concepts and principles show that the ‘metaphysical’ questions expressly set aside by (e.g.) Galileo, but taken up by (e.g.) Descartes and Kant, are not genuine questions at all but rather mistakenly reify mis-understood abstractions. This essay cannot assay the details of Hegel’s examination of biological topics; thankfully, others have done so admirably (Ferrini 2009c, 2011, 2020). Instead, I highlight core features of Hegel’s accounts of causality and of complex systems to show how Hegel anticipates fundamentals of subsequent ‘organicism’ in biology (Nicholson 2014; Nicholson and Gawne 2015), contemporary work in systems biology (cf. Boogerd et al. 2007), the new approaches to explanatory mechanisms within biology (Glennan 2002, 2010; Huneman 2013; Craver and Tabery 2017) and the sophisticated account of ‘emergence’ developed by William Wimsatt (2007, 2013).

K. R. Westphal (*)  Department of Philosophy, Boğaziçi Üniversitesi, Istanbul, Turkey

© The Author(s) 2020 M. F. Bykova and K. R. Westphal (eds.), The Palgrave Hegel Handbook, Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism,



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2 Conceptual Analysis and Philosophical Naturalism Hegel’s philosophy of nature is non-reductive and anti-reductionist, yet Hegel’s standard strategy of strictly internal critique underscores this simple though decisive methodological point: Identifying which systems are complex, and in what regards they and their behaviour are systematically complex—i.e., non-aggregative—requires attempting to explain them reductively, so as to specify as precisely as possible the limitations of such reductive accounts, and thereby to identify their specifically systemic features and behaviours. In this regard Kant is right that we must attempt so far as possible to explain natural phenomena merely mechanically (CJ §70) by aggregating system-independent efficient causality amongst separate components or elements, and their assembly into more complex components. This is a scientific, not a philosophical, task. Yet as Wimsatt rightly stresses, any and all functionality is systemic and ‘emergent’ rather than aggregative. LaPlace titled his second major work in astronomy L’exposition du système du monde (1796). Despite his early work on cosmogony, Kant did not understand the ‘systematic’ character of Newton’s and more broadly of Newtonian mechanics: Newton demonstrated that our solar system is a system because it is a complex mechanical oscillator. There are systematic reasons for Kant’s systematic scientific blind spot, to which Hegel was shrewdly sensitive. I elucidate these by indicating what Hegel learned from, and what he corrected in, Kant’s Critical philosophy—in part by studying empirical natural sciences far more carefully than had Kant.1 Appeal to relevant natural sciences bears stress, because the relevant kind of ‘emergent’, non-aggregative behaviour of systems is not illuminated, but rather is obscured by philosophical notions of ‘supervenience’, ‘supervenience emergentism’ (O’Connor and Wong 2015, §3.1) or ‘metaphysical grounding’ (Bliss and Trogdon 2016). ‘Supervenience’ amounts to no more than stipulated ­co-instantiation of whatever properties philosophers find indispensable to understand mind, thought or language along with those physical properties or entities which alone they officially admit into their ‘naturalist’ ontologies. The vacuity of such accounts finally led one of its key exponents, Jagewon Kim (1999), to rehabilitate emergentism, with a correlative if belated rehabilitation of some of its later Nineteenth- and early Twentieth-Century proponents. ‘Supervenient emergentism’ is merely a terminological recasting of supervenience; ‘metaphysical grounding’ is no better. The ‘emergent’, non-aggregative behavior of complex systems must be identified and analyzed exactly, which cannot be done a priori in a philosopher’s armchair. No philosopher understood nor acted upon this better than Hegel— although rigorous study of many striking correspondences between the tables of contents to Hegel’s Science of Logic and to Whewell’s (1847) Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences is much needed. The next section (§3) identifies two reasons, stemming directly from Kant’s philosophy, to rescind Kant’s ‘top down’ deductivist model of a proper science (scientia) and correlative philosophical dreams of pure conceptual analysis.

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3 Hegel’s Lessons from and Corrections to Kant’s Critical Philosophy I begin with a widely neglected though decisive lesson Hegel learned from Kant. 3.1 Singular Cognitive Reference. The joint implication of Kant’s analyses of space, time and our capacity to individuate particulars in the ‘Transcendental Aesthetic’ and in the ‘Paralogisms of Pure Reason’ is that the classificatory content, intension or meaning of our concepts, principles, thoughts or claims is necessary though not sufficient for specifically cognitive reference to particulars. Specifically cognitive reference requires not merely grammatically predicative forms of thought, but ascriptive acts of predication of what is thought to one or more particulars Someone has (putatively) localized within space and time. Within all non-formal domains, ascribing characteristics to some localized particular(s) is necessary for a thought, judgment, statement or utterance to have any truthvalue or value as an approximation. It is also necessary for anyone to assess that truth-value or accuracy, and to assess any cognitive justification for that thought, statement, judgment or claim. According to what I call Kant’s “Thesis of Singular Cognitive Reference,” terms or phrases have meaning, and conceptions have classificatory content (intension), as predicates of possible judgments, although in non-formal, substantive domains no statement has specifically cognitive significance unless and until it is incorporated into a candidate cognitive judgment which is referred to some actual particular(s) localized (at least putatively) by the presumptive judge (a cognizant subject, S) within space and time. Cognitive significance, so defined, is required for cognitive status (even as merely putative knowledge) in any non-formal, substantive domain. Kant left this decisive epistemological thesis for readers to rediscover as the conjoint implication of two disparate chapters of his Critique of Pure Reason, yet it is fundamental to his account of ‘objective validity’ and to the ‘realization’ of concepts. Kant’s use of the verb ‘to realize’ in regard to concepts and principles he learned from Tetens, according to whom to ‘realize’ a concept or principle is to demonstrate or indicate an actual particular which properly instantiates or exemplifies that concept or principle. Kant realized that this task is crucial to establish which a priori concepts or principles have genuine, legitimate cognitive use, and to distinguish these from other a priori concepts or principles which we cannot realize in this sense. Hegel recognized the cardinal importance of Kant’s Thesis of Singular Cognitive Reference, and demonstrated it by strictly internal critique of both knowledge by aconceptual acquaintance and knowledge by mere descriptive phrases in ‘Sense Certainty’, the first chapter of his 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit (Westphal 2002, 2002/2003).2 Hegel also recognized that this Thesis altogether undermines experience-transcendent metaphysics—without recourse to transcendental idealism (nor to any such metaphysical view). Hegel further recognized that this semantic-cognitive thesis refutes infallibilism about cognitive justification in all non-formal domains. Strict deduction suffices for justification within purely


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formal domains because within such domains it constitutes justification, and constitutes those domains as purely formal. However, all non-formal domains require semantic and existence postulates the adequacy and use of which must be assessed and justified, though these cannot be assessed or justified by formal means alone (Wolff 2009). 3.2 Matter and Dynamism. To counter corpuscular and Cartesian concepts of matter, Kant advocated a dynamic theory of matter, according to which matter is constituted by two counter-balancing forces of attraction and repulsion. Kant’s method of metaphysically constructing this Critical concept of matter requires that there can be only two fundamental forces: one attractive, the other repulsive. Though the first reviewer (Anon 1786) found Kant’s theory of matter in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science hopelessly inadequate, as did LeSage,3 it took Kant a decade finally to recognise its failure. At this point, Critical philosophy faces a decisive fork in the philosophical road (Westphal 2004, §59): either to maintain Kant’s deductivist, top-down model of scientia at the cost of ever more ambitious, ever less plausible claims on behalf of transcendental idealism; or to rescind that top-down model of scientia, together with transcendental idealism, and to make the most of Kant’s own account of conceptual explication, in contrast to conceptual analysis (CPR A727–30/B755–758). In his late manuscripts, Kant doggedly pursued the first option; through his internal critique of Kant’s transcendental idealism, by 1802 Hegel knew to take up the latter option. Matter is constituted by forces, but which forces these are only natural sciences can identify. Kant’s dynamic account of matter founders on the fact that gravity cannot account both for attractive forces between material particulars, and also serve as the fundamental attractive force said to be constitutive of matter, counter-balanced by one basic repulsive force; i.e., Kant cannot avoid appeal to two distinct, fundamental attractive forces. Perhaps broadly speaking there are two kinds of forces: attractive and repulsive, but philosophical analysis, reflection or ‘metaphysical’ construction as Kant (or later Shelling) understood it cannot specify which species of attractive or repulsive forces are active within nature. This may be a point on which Hegel’s role as assayer in the Herzoglichen Societät für die gesammte Mineralogie zu Jena (Lenz 1804, 7; cf. Ziche 2000; Ferrini 2009b) bolstered his greater confidence in empirical natural sciences to determine which forces are indeed natural, and which are constitutive of what kinds of matter. 3.3 Deductive Scientia and Conceptual Analysis. Kant recognized that at most we can claim to explicate our key concepts, sufficiently to address some important issue, yet we cannot claim to completely analyse and define any non-formal or non-stipulative concept. However, he never realised that this is sufficient reason to rescind the deductivist model of a proper science, generally known as ‘scientia’. The infallibilist thesis that knowledge requires eliminating every logically possible alternative to what is (claimed to be) known was raised to canonical status, not by Descartes, but by Étienne Tempier, acting upon authority of the Roman Pope, as Bishop of Paris, who in March 1277 condemned two hundred twenty neo-Aristotelian theses in natural philosophy as heresies (Boulter 2011; Piché 1999). Then and there Aristotle’s avowedly flexible model of a science, likened to Euclidean

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geometry, yet tailored to the precision afforded by any domain of phenomena, was transfixed into the strict infallibilist deductivism bequeathed to mainstream epistemology by Cartesians unpersuaded by Descartes’ reckoning with his methodological mauvais genie.4 That same deductivism is constitutive of conceptual analysis, understood to provide necessary and sufficient conditions for the proper use, meaning or truth conditions of a philosophically puzzling concept or principle. In that strict form, conceptual analysis is confounded by the Paradox of Analysis. The only tenable responses to that paradox rescind conceptual analysis by adopting conceptual explication—if perhaps not so named (e.g., Hare 1960). Adopting conceptual explication requires rescinding the a priori aspirations of Cartesian philosophy— also in its empiricist, Humean strains. The same fate awaits most if not all of contemporary “analytic metaphysics.”5 Very shrewdly, Hegel realized that this key shift away from infallibilist scientia and towards a renewal of philosophical explication based upon the results of inquiries into nature—as was Aristotle’s approach, and had been the philosophical sense of the title given to his justly famous books: metà tà physikà (cf. McKeon 1994)6—does not require simply telling sceptics to get lost (Rorty 1986; Davidson 1987/2001, 154), because in three central cases Kant’s transcendental reflections upon the constitutive conditions of human experience provide the materials and most of the argument for three transcendental proofs of (not from) mental content externalism. These proofs are genuinely transcendental, and yet they undermine Kant’s own core arguments for transcendental idealism. Hegel exploits these key methodological and substantive findings brilliantly in the 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit to demonstrate that, and how, transcendental reflection and proof can be used effectively—without any transcendental idealism, nor any similar view—(Westphal 2009b, 2018), and promptly uses them to begin re-considering nature philosophically, especially as it is investigated and manifested by natural sciences (Ferrini 2009a, b). 3.4 Transeunt Causality. Kant analyzed and justified a transeunt account of causality, according to which something within one particular ‘goes out beyond’ that particular to effect a change in another particular. This is central to Kant’s response to Hume’s regularity account of causality. Kant’s achievement in this regard is very important, yet Kant neglected an important underlying issue. Hegel identified a key equivocation in the traditional concept of substance which bears directly on our understanding—or misunderstanding—of causality. This equivocation concerns a very basic feature of the traditional concept of substance which remained unchallenged (because unnoticed) from the Greeks up through Kant and the British Idealists into contemporary ‘analytic metaphysics’. The equivocation concerns two distinct senses of the term ‘intrinsic’ when used in connection with the characteristics or properties of individual substances. One use of the term ‘intrinsic’ in this context is to designate a characteristic which is essential to a substance, so that the substance would not be what it is without that characteristic. A second use of the term ‘intrinsic’ in this connection contrasts with ‘extrinsic’ in the sense of ‘relational’. In view of this contrast, an ‘intrinsic’ characteristic is contained solely within the one individual substance; it is


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non-relational. These two senses of ‘intrinsic’ have been conflated throughout the history of Occidental philosophy; conflating them generates the standard assumption that relational properties cannot be essential to (nor constitutive of) individual substances. Against this presumption, Hegel argues that Newtonian gravitational theory ultimately shows that gravity is constitutive of matter and that material particulars are inherently interrelated gravitationally. The term ‘inner’ or ‘internal’ have been used in the same equivocal way, where to say that a characteristic is ‘inner’ or ‘internal’ either can mean that it is essential to or constitutive of something, or can mean that the characteristic is solely contained within some one thing. Of course, either term can be used to connote either of these concepts; the questionable assumption—or the unwitting conflation or equivocation—is that either term univocally or indifferently connotes both concepts. Put semantically, the questionable assumption is that relations are expressed only by polyadic predicates, whereas only monadic predicates can express essential or constitutive characteristics of any one individual substance—whence the (broadly) ‘atomistic’ orientation of Occidental philosophy, that individuals are ontologically basic, whilst relations are derivative, ideal or irreal because they depend upon individuals, whereas individuals do not depend upon their relations for their existence or their constitutive (or essential) characteristics (cf. Collins 1990). By exposing this equivocation, Hegel exposes an unfounded presumption underlying reductionist thought, that only particular individuals can be fundamental; whilst ‘systematic’ behaviors can only be aggregate behaviors of particular individuals. I surmise that Kant was misled by this presumption. 3.5 Metrics for Natural Phenomena? One result Kant claimed from transcendental idealism is an account of why and how natural phenomena can be quantified, so that they are measurable. I do not believe Kant’s claim can be justified even within the terms of his own idealism, but once his transcendental idealism is rescinded, the question recurs: How are natural metrics possible? This is central to Hegel’s logical examinations of quantity and of measure (Maß), which are fundamental to his subsequent logical examinations of appearance and of actuality—including, centrally, causal relations (Moretto 2004). Hegel’s concerted attention to fundamental issues of appropriate metrics for natural phenomena is central to the massive revisions he made to the second edition of his Doctrine of Being (Ferrini 1988, 1991/1992, 2020); it is also central to Hegel’s penetrating critical analysis of Cauchy’s ‘first reform’ of (mathematical) analysis (Wolff 1986). (Many of the closest parallels between Hegel’s Science of Logic and Whewell’s Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences concern these issues about proper quantification and measurement of natural phenomena.) 3.6 Functional Explanation. Despite his profoundly functionalist cognitive psychology in the Critique of Pure Reason (Brook 1994, 2016),7 Kant insisted upon a dualistic account of life (Ak. 4:544.7–19), and granted a constitutive role only to

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mechanical causes, not to teleological principles (CJ §71–75), which are merely heuristic—though with some later reconsiderations about self-organizing matter, e.g. crystallisation and chemical bonding (Ferrini 2004). Hegel’s critique of teleology considers how sub-systems can subserve systematic functions required for the existence, maintenance or functioning of the particular system to which they belong as components or organs (de Vries 1991). Such functionality and functionalism is fundamental to the anthropological and psychological bases of our embodied form of semi-rational cognisance and agency (de Vries 1988). Conscious purposes—which Kant took to be paradigmatic for, and indeed constitutive of teleology (CJ §10)—are one very sophisticated kind of functionality, Hegel recognized. 3.7 Reductionism and Complex Systems. Kant’s regulative maxims of theoretical reason (CPR B670–96; CJ, Einl. §V), to search for unity of genus where there is variety of species, and conversely to search for variety of species where there is unity of genus, are an important indicator of the distinction between the integration and the reduction of laws of nature. Famously, Newtonian mechanics integrates both Galilean terrestrial and Keplerian celestial kinematics within a common, more fundamental dynamic explanation. Hegel recognized that Newton’s success in this regard consists in integration, rather than theoretical reduction. Natural laws are fundamental, though insufficient to any causal explanation; explaining any event, structure or kind of behaviour causally requires specifying the relevant system of individuals or components and their initial conditions (PhG GW 9:92.10–19, 91.31–37). These specifications further require specifying how these specific elements or components properly instantiate the terms of the fundamental laws used to explain their intra-systematic behavior. This basic point, now well-established and familiar, may seem far from biology, but it is not. I surmise that, due to his focus on causal interaction between individual particulars, and to his top-down model of scientia, Kant failed to appreciate a fundamental fact about our solar system, and a fundamental fact about Newton’s dynamic explanation of the behaviour of our solar system, namely, it is a system: our solar system is a mechanical oscillator, or rather, it is an integrated system of mechanical oscillators. Mechanical oscillators are functionally organized systems of integral components; their behavior is not merely an aggregate result of the respective properties of their individual components. Hegel recognized from the start that the celestial mechanics of our solar system exhibits systematic interdependencies between all the orbiting bodies—planets, comets and the Sun—and kinds of systematic interdependencies which provide for sufficient environmental homeostasis on Earth for organic life to be possible. The organic functions most obviously manifest in biological organisms are only possible within the implicitly ‘organic’ or systematic functions of the structure of our solar system (JS I, Frag. 1–3; JS II, zur Naturphilosophie; Enc. GW 20 §§274–286).


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4 Hegel and Scientific Biology 4.1 Geosphere, Biosphere and Environment. In examining organic life Hegel ­highlights the reciprocal interdependencies between an organism and its environment. Due to its structure, composition and functional needs, only some aspects of an organism’s surroundings are relevant to it. Hegel presciently distinguished the organism’s environment from its general surroundings, in a way precisely ­anticipating recent conceptions of habitat and ecological niche (Ferrini 2009c, 2010, 2011). 4.2 Causal powers vs causal activities? Recent discussions of mechanical explanations in biology have debated which is more important, causal powers or causal activities? Hegel’s answer is: neither, because both are equally fundamental to causal processes, whether these processes involve stasis or change. Some causal processes are (relatively) simple aggregate phenomena, as in marbles games or rudimentary billiards. (Serious billiards play is systematic!) We are now familiar with such biological functions as the citric acid (Krebs) cycle. Diagrammed in the standard way,8 we have a flow chart of the stages of chemical transformations involved in this organically vital cycle. We have an account of a regular sequence of events, which occur due to the active causal powers—dispositions—of the relevant biochemicals and their proper sequencing within a healthy cell. Yet we only have a causal explanation of the Krebs cycle when we have the relevant sub-cellular anatomy of the relevant organelles: mitochondria, together with bio-chemical accounts of the structure, components and functioning of each associated organelle, and of their integrated functions and functioning within the cell. When these explanatory components are properly integrated, then—but only then—have we a causal explanation of this complex vital process; and likewise for each vital process. Such functional biochemical structure is today most familiar from the DNA double helix9; yet DNA only functions within a much more complex system of cellular control, which selects specific segments of any one DNA strand to use (in effect) as templates for synthesis of specific proteins (Nobel 2008, 2016). Understanding and explaining causal processes requires both an account of the relevant causal powers of the individual molecules involved—which are functions of their component atoms within their structural arrangement which is that molecule—and an account of how these molecules are structured within an organelle so that some molecules can be—and are—metabolized by other molecules. Causal processes involve both stasis and change. For any structure to function requires the causal integrity of that structure. Its causal integrity is a function of the sufficiently robust stability of the causal powers of its individual components: molecules of organelles, atoms of molecules, and if needed we can pursue sub-atomic structures of atoms, though that is rarely relevant to biology—until we investigate toxicology. Having sketched these framework considerations of Hegel’s nascent philosophy of biology, I now turn to some structural details regarding his analysis of causality.

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5 Hegel’s Central Theses in “Force and Understanding” 5.1 In chapter three of his 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit Hegel argues for these central theses10: (1) Distance forces are constitutive of matter, and so of individual physical substances. (2) Distance forces are constitutive interrelations amongst (i) the constituents of any individual physical substance, and amongst (ii) interacting individual physical substances. (3) (1) and (2.ii) are proven empirically by Newtonian theory of universal gravitation. (4) The traditional ontological presumption that relational characteristics cannot be constitutive of individual substances makes it impossible to understand the causal necessity involved in distance forces, because it makes (1) and (2) inconsistent. (5) The causal necessity of distance forces can be understood properly only if the traditional conflation of the two senses of ‘intrinsic’ (etc.) is rejected, so that we can recognise that relational characteristics can be (and indeed some are) constitutive of individual substances. (6) (1) and (2) can be demonstrated philosophically, in ways attempted in “Force and Understanding” (and detailed in Hegel’s mature systematic philosophy). 5.2 Hegel’s argument against the traditional concept of substance (expressed in (4) above) may be summarized thus: (1) Spatio-temporal material objects (hereafter ‘particulars’) are fundamentally constituted by distance forces. Hence (2): The central identity conditions of particulars can be specified only in terms of their constitutive forces (from (1)). (3) Distance forces exist only in and through their manifestations, that is, in and through causal interactions amongst the material constituents of any particular and between particulars. Hence (4): Any causal action over a distance is causal inter–action (from (1)–(3)). (5) Gravitational force is inherent in matter (because it is constitutive of matter) and generates causal interactions between particulars. Hence (6): Spatio-temporal particulars are fundamentally interrelated (at least gravitationally) by their causal characteristics and interactions (from (2), (4), (5)). (7) We know spatio-temporal particulars through their causal effects upon each other as well as upon us as perceivers (from Newton’s Principia and from Hegel’s analysis of causal judgments). Hence (8): We can and do (at least to some extent) know spatio-temporal particulars as what they are (from (6), (7)). Hence (9): The traditional metaphysical presumptions that (i) no individual can consist merely of relations, or that (ii) relational characteristics cannot be essential to individual substances, are false (from (1)–(8)). Hence (10): The traditional conception of substance as something constituted solely by intrinsic, non-relational properties is irrelevant to understanding spatio-temporal particulars and events (from (1)–(9)). (11) These traditional conceptions and principles (9.i, 9.ii) distort (or even thwart) our understanding of causality. (12) These traditional conceptions and principles (9.i, 9.ii) provide spurious premisses for sceptical arguments against empirical knowledge. Hence (13): These traditional conceptions and principles (9.i, 9.ii) must be rejected as both false and seriously misleading (from (1)– (12)). (14) Something which does not contain the ground of its own existence is ‘ideal’, ‘appearance’ (Westphal 1989, 140–148). Hence (15): Spatio-temporal


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particulars are not merely appearances to us (à la Kant), they themselves are as such appearances, insofar as they are causally (inter)dependent beings (from (1)– (14)). Hegel’s causal realism about causal dispositions, causal interactions and causal laws is directly relevant, not only to physics, chemistry and geology, but also to biology.

6 Hegel’s Semantics: Conceptual Explication and ‘the Necessity of the Concept’ 6.1 Already in the 1807 Phenomenology Hegel developed the view stated in his Philosophy of Nature: “not only must philosophy accord with the experience nature gives rise to; in its formation and in its development, philosophic science presupposes and is conditioned by empirical physics” (Enc. GW 20 §246 R). This is an important, distinctive, defensible, generous and deeply anti-Cartesian sense of naturalized epistemology. Hegel’s point is: Any tenable philosophical theory of knowledge must take the natural sciences into very close consideration. This rejects the anti-naturalism of traditional Cartesian (including Humean) epistemology, which dominated analytical epistemology up to Gettier (1963), according to which epistemology must be a priori because it must first establish the possibility—one hopes also the reality—of empirical knowledge in order to justify empirical knowledge. Such views proscribe any epistemological appeal to empirical knowledge. Note further that Hegel’s holistic ontology is based on an analysis of causal forces which is both philosophical and natural-scientific (Ferrini 2007, 2009b). Hence Hegel’s ontology is not based merely upon conceptual analysis. Hence it is not based simply on the conceptual considerations which drove the theories of internal relations developed by the British Idealists. Third, in this important regard Hegel’s epistemology is realist about the objects of human knowledge, including the objects of much of natural scientific ­knowledge, specifically: interactive distance forces. Hegel rejected prior asymmetrical concepts of force. However, he understood gravity as a causal power of attraction producing gravitational forces between material particulars, which forces exhibit the physical law of gravity. The interpretive point regarding Hegel’s realism about such forces turns not on Hegel’s terminology, but rather how he understands gravity and the law of gravity in his extensive discussions of these concepts and the natural phenomena they comprehend in the Science of Logic and in his Philosophy of Nature, as well as in “Force and Understanding” and in “Reason Observing Nature.” The remark quoted above (Enc. GW 20 §246 R), made very early in Hegel’s Introduction to the Philosophy of Nature, concerns not only the second part of his Encyclopaedia. Nor does it concern only the development of spirit out of nature in part three. It also and fundamentally concerns Hegel’s Logic. Above is quoted the

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second sentence of Hegel’s Remark; the first sentence refers to Hegel’s discussion of the relation between philosophy and the empirical sciences in the Introduction to the Encyclopaedia as a whole. There Hegel states directly that philosophy is stimulated by and grows out of experience, including natural-scientific experience, and that the natural sciences develop conceptual determinations in the form of generalizations, laws and classifications which must be reconsidered philosophically (Enc. GW 20 §12). Thus Hegel insists that his Logic cannot be properly understood apart from his Philosophy of Nature, nor can his philosophy of nature be understood apart from Hegel’s knowledge and understanding of the methods and content of the natural sciences. Hegel’s examination, assessment and use of those materials can only be properly understood within the context provided by the proper philosophical introduction to his philosophical system, which alone justifies his starting point of the Logics: Hegel’s 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit (Fulda 1975; Westphal 1989, 2009b, 2018; Collins 2013). Hegel’s Logic examines the ontological and cognitive roles of ontological categories (e.g., being, existence, quantity, essence, appearance, relation, thing, cause) and principles of logic (e.g., identity, excluded middle, non-contradiction). His Logic also analyses syllogism, judgment and principles of scientific explanation (force, matter, measure, cognition; mechanical, chemical, organic and teleological functions), by using which we are able to know the world. This brief list suffices to undermine the prevalent notion that Hegel’s Logic must be purely a priori, because Hegel’s work involves too many quite specific concepts and principles, many of which obviously derive from historical science (e.g., ‘chemism’). Accordingly, much less can Hegel in his Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences attempt purely a priori to show that and how these concepts and principles are specified and exhibited—i.e.: realised (per Tetens and Kant)—in nature and in human life.11 Indeed, such mis-interpretations are ruled out ab initio by Hegel’s defense and use of Kant’s Thesis of Singular Cognitive Reference (above, §3.1). Yet the fact that Hegel expressly avows the empirical and scientific sources of many of the key concepts and principles analysed in his Logic and especially in his Philosophy of Nature does not make his philosophical project merely empirical nor merely explicative. In the Remark just quoted Hegel distinguishes sharply between the basis and development of his philosophy out of reconsideration of the natural sciences and his philosophical science proper, for which the natural sciences are not foundational. Instead, the foundation or basis of Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature he calls ‘the necessity of the concept’ (Enc. GW 20 §246+R), which philosophy elucidates in part with some of its own conceptual resources (Enc. GW 20 §9). In what can this conceptual necessity consist, if it cannot be pure a priori and if many of the concepts and principles it involves derive from natural science? Calling the relevant necessity ‘metaphysical’ tells us nothing, until we recall Hegel’s observation that metaphysics is nothing other than ‘the full range (Umfang) of universal determinations of thought (Denkbestimmungen); as it were, the diamond net in which we bring everything and thus first make it intelligible’ (Enc. GW 20 §246Z). Hegel’s concern is that basic concepts and principles used in


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natural science are either assumed to be familiar—as Newton assumed our familiarity with space and time—or they are introduced independently of one another in ways which obscure their conceptual significance, which in part is a function of how each concept is both distinguished from and also integrated with other concepts in its domain and their proper ontological interpretation (Enc. GW 20 §246Z). Hegel advocated moderate holism about conceptual content or meaning: concepts can only be properly defined and understood by integrating them with their proper counterparts within any specific domain, and likewise integrating specific domains under higher-order concepts or principles, while also integrating specific concepts with their instances. Hegel’s moderate semantic holism rests on what may be called his ‘co-determination thesis’. 6.2 Hegel’s Co-determination Thesis. Hegel’s co-determination thesis is an important semantic and cognitive insight, which Hegel gained by reconsidering Kant’s theory of cognitive judgment and what it reveals about the interdependence of categorical, hypothetical and disjunctive judgments. Hegel regarded Kant’s account of the Table of Judgments as inadequate, though extremely instructive (Enc. GW 20 §171Z). Kant noted that a proper disjunctive judgment divides up the whole of a specific range (‘sphere’) of predicates relevant to a particular possible cognition (CPR A73–4/B98–9; Wolff 2017). Denying one predicate of the relevant kind of subject entails that another predicate within that range must be true of that subject. Conversely, affirming a predicate of a relevant subject is tantamount to denying of that subject the other predicates within that range. Hegel recognized that singular categorical judgments and hypothetical judgments both presuppose disjunctive judgments. Hypothetical judgments require disjunctive judgments because establishing any judgment of the form, ‘If A then B’, requires judging that no relevant alternative to B either follows or results from A. Such conjoined hypothetical and disjunctive judgments are central to Kant’s Analogies of Experience, because causal judgments are discriminatory: Identifying any one causal relation requires distinguishing it from its causally possible alternatives (Westphal 2004, §36). Hence the categorical judgments required to identify objects or events in synthetic judgments a priori about them—judgments required for us to be at all self-conscious—also require disjunctive judgments whereby we discriminate any one object from other objects and other kinds of objects. Because such disjunctive judgments require a grasp of the whole of the relevant range of alternatives within a class or ‘sphere’, singular cognitive judgments about objects are possible only on the basis of (locally, moderately) holistic judgments about the relevant class of objects and predicates, that is, about the causally relevant natural alternatives. This requires (within any ‘sphere’) a complete set of mutually exclusive categories, at least some of which are in fact instantiated. Such a set of categories differs significantly from a complete set of logically possible categories, such as the traditional ‘sum of all possibility’, or taken as instantiated, the traditional ens realisimum— the topics of Kant’s Ideal of Pure Reason (CPR A571/B599f.). (Is it logically possible that we could perceive more colours than are found in the standard spectrum of visible light? Who would “we” be if we could? What genuine sense could an answer to either question have?) The point of Hegel’s “Co-Determination Thesis”

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is threefold: Hypothetical and categorical judgments are co-determined, they can be co-determined only within a complete set or ‘sphere’ of contrasting predicates (requiring disjunctive judgments) and they can be co-determined only in connection with extant things and events. This Co-Determination is the joint consequence of Kant’s analysis of our fundamental forms of judgment (in his Table of Judgments) and his demonstration of the discriminatory character of the causal judgments by which alone we can identify and individuate spatio-temporal particulars (in the Analogies of Experience). These grounds for the Co-Determination Thesis, for which Hegel argues in “Sense Certainty” and “Perception” (in the Phenomenology of Spirit) and in his account of perceptual judgments in his Logics, are altogether independent of intellectual intuition, and indicate how Hegel can and did retain this view in his mature philosophy without relying on any kind of intuitionism (Westphal 2018, §§37–46, 92–99). 6.3 Conceptual Explication. If ‘semantics’ is philosophical theory of conceptual content and cognitive or linguistic reference, then ‘metaphysics’, as the study of our ‘diamond [conceptual] net’ with which Hegel identifies his Logic, is fundamentally semantic. Hegel’s philosophical analyses of issues in philosophy of nature exhibit great sensitivity to the ontological implications of conceptual content and to the importance of the ontological interpretation of metaphysical and scientific principles. This may sound anachronistic, but is not: Kant’s semantics are far richer and more sophisticated than has generally been recognised (Melnick 1989; Hanna 2001; Westphal 2004); wisely, Hegel adopted and independently justified the core points of Kant’s semantics. Thus I agree with Pirmin Stekeler that Hegel’s Logic is fundamentally a critical theory of meaning.12 If this is surprising, this is only due to the pre-Kantian, Cartesian character of so much recent philosophy—and the neglect of semantics, epistemology and natural science by most of Hegel’s expositors.13 Kant was the first great anti-Cartesian in philosophy (Westphal 2007); Hegel learned Kant’s lessons well. The Denkbestimmungen analysed in Hegel’s Logic and Philosophy of Nature are, Hegel argues, fundamental structures of the extant world itself (Denkbestimmungen des Seins).14 One of the most important Denkbestimmungen, Hegel argues, is ‘force’, especially as introduced, measured and justified by Newton. Hegel already understood the central role of natural scientific investigation, on the one hand, and conceptual and semantic analysis on the other, for determining whether and to what extent alleged Denkbestimmungen are indeed genuine structures of nature. Hegel’s cognitive semantics is equally fundamental both to his Logic and to his Philosophy of Nature. Only by pursuing both of these investigations together can we identify Denkbestimmungen that are indeed basic structures of what is (des Seins) and in particular those of nature.15 One key feature of conceptual explication is that it requires semantic externalism—the thesis that some aspects of semantic content or meaning are a function of the extra-linguistic context of use. Conceptual explications lack necessary and sufficient conditions, and always admit of alternatives. The character and adequacy of any conceptual explication can only be assessed within actual contexts of its


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possible use, not in merely possible contexts of its imaginary use. For these reasons, Hegel is decidedly a post-Kantian yet altogether Critical philosopher, not a mad a priori rationalist.16

7 One Central Aim of Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature One central aim of Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature is to systematically order our most basic ontological and natural-scientific concepts and principles (Enc. GW 20 §§246Z, 247Z, 249+Z), beginning with the most abstract, undifferentiated and universal (space and time, Enc. GW 20 §§254–257), and working through a finely-grained series of steps (Enc. GW 20 §249) towards the most complex, the organic life of animal species (Enc. GW 20 §§367–376). The third part of Hegel’s Encyclopaedia then continues this series of levels, no longer merely in nature, but in the human or moral sciences (“spirit” (Geist); Enc. GW 20 §§377–387), from anthropology (§388) through cognition, action and freedom at the individual level (Enc. GW 20 §§445–482) and then through social, moral, political and legal philosophy (Enc. GW 20 §§483–552)—treated with much greater detail and sophistication in Hegel’s Philosophical Outlines of Justice (1821, RPh)—up to a brief sketch of ‘absolute spirit’ in its three forms, art, manifest religion and philosophy (Enc. GW 20 §§553–577), topics treated in extenso in Hegel’s Berlin lectures. Why does Hegel undertake this ambitious project? Hegel’s question can be put in a Kantian formula: All of these natural and social phenomena are actual. How are they possible and how is our knowledge of them possible? Hegel’s philosophical contribution to answering this broad question is to identify, clarify, specify, differentiate and integrate, as accurately and thoroughly as possible, the specific concepts and principles required at each level and at each relevant sub-level, in order to understand each kind of phenomenon and its proper species. This involves identifying both the preconditions of each kind of phenomenon and identifying what is unique and new to it vis à vis preceding, subordinate levels. For each basis level, Hegel seeks to determine why it alone affords the necessary basis for its emergent successor level. For each emergent level, Hegel seeks to determine what is unique in it, and through a similar analysis of a series of sub-levels within that new level, how it provides the necessary basis for enabling in turn the emergence of its successor (Enc. GW 20 §252Z). Hegel insists that this conceptual sequence of stages and sub-stages does not concern the natural development (historical genesis) of ever more sophisticated organizational complexity (Enc. GW 20 §249). What kind of ‘necessity of the concept’ (Enc. GW 20 §246+R, cf. §249) guides this development? Hegel’s phrase may appear to mean either of two things, both misleading. It may seem that the relevant necessity lies in a preordained rationalist telos of a completely self-developing and self-explicating system. Hegel does have some such telos in view, but the notion that it is in anyway preordained relies on transferring conscious purposes from their proper domain (human behaviour) to a transcendent, theistic domain which in principle can be no more than cognitively

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transcendent idle speculation.17 If there is a first rule of Hegel’s metaphysics, it is: Posit no transcendent entities! The other notion stems from purely a priori interpretations of Hegel’s Logic and Encyclopaedia, which require that Hegel’s logic uses some special successor notion to formal-logical deduction.18 It must be a successor notion, because formal-logical deduction does not permit inferring the more specific from the more general. Despite long favour amongst Hegel’s expositors, I confess that I do not yet understand what any such successor notion could be, despite many attempts in the literature. Fortunately, there is another alternative.19 Kant understood the ‘deduction’ of a concept or principle in a legal sense, of showing that we are entitled to use it in genuine, justifiable, accurate judgments, whether cognitive or practical (CPR B117). Though Hegel’s strategy for justifying concepts and principles in his Philosophy of Nature is not transcendental, it does share this general Kantian sense of ‘deduction’ (Enc. GW 20 §88). Hegel seeks to determine the extent to which, and the ways in which, we are justified in using various concepts and principles in genuine cognition of natural phenomena. This is built into his emergentist agenda of showing why nothing less than a specific set of concepts and principles suffices to comprehend natural phenomena of a specific level of systematic complexity, together with how these concepts and principles provide the necessary basis for understanding the successor level. The upper end-point or telos of this series of levels is provided, not by antecedent divine preordination, but by the facts of human cognition and action, on the one hand, and their—that is, our—remarkable productions in the natural and social sciences and more generally in society, history, art, religion and philosophy on the other. Carefully demarcating in the Philosophy of Nature the natural preconditions of these human phenomena shows in broad outline how nature makes our human forms of mindedness possible, both by providing for (potentially) humanly-minded individuals—i.e.: infants—and by providing for humanly comprehensible objects of knowledge (taken as a whole, nature) and a humanly manipulable context of action (nature). This is Hegel’s emergentist strategy for avoiding both (Cartesian) substance dualism and eliminative materialism. Obviously, there is a rich historical and metaphysical background to Hegel’s emergentist and (moderately) holistic worldview. It is important both to recognize and yet not to over-estimate the significance of that background. Hegel certainly does seek to identify and defend a richly systematic orderliness in nature, and indeed in all phenomena. In this context, it is important to recall Hegel’s standard approach to the grand aspirations of theology. Hegel consistently argues that the theistic and metaphysical ascription of such aspirations to a transcendent creator who tends to them (God) is in every case a human projection of human needs onto the fabric of the universe. Yet unlike Feuerbach, Marx or Freud, Hegel interprets such projections as reflecting, if figuratively, genuine and legitimate human aspirations.20 Hegel seeks to show the ways in which and the extent to which the actual world (natural, social and historical) in fact satisfies these aspirations, to a much greater extent than is typically appreciated (Westphal 1991, §4; 2019). This is part of Hegel’s on-going effort to overcome our modern alienation from the world, including our epistemological alienation wrought


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by Descartes’ mechanical and eliminativist account of the body (cf. Enc. GW 20 §246Z). In the present case, Hegel thinks that the pre-Modern ‘great chain of being’ expressed, however metaphorically and inadequately, a legitimate aspiration and anticipated, however obliquely, a correct idea: Nature does form a systematically ordered hierarchy (Enc. GW 20 §246Z) within which human beings have a particular and quite special place: Through our knowledge of the world-whole, the world-whole gains knowledge of itself. In performing this role within the worldwhole, we determine (i.e., specify) through a properly conceived and executed philosophy of nature—despite modern forms of alienation, including the cognitive alienation wrought by Gallileo’s distinction between primary and secondary qualities and by Descartes’ dualism—that nature is our proper environment, both as cognitive and as active agents.21

Notes 1. My suggestions that Hegel espouses emergentism, in ways relevant to biology, are not novel (Wolff 1989; Ziemke 1992), but I believe the facets highlighted here augment their findings. 2. If this may sound anachronistic, it is not; the issue of singular demonstrative reference is explicit in Tetens, whom Kant expressly and consistently follows in this terminological and also substantive regard (Westphal 2004; cf. Melnick 1989). Moreover, what philosophers of language call ‘demonstrative’ reference to particular individuals is known in other fields as ‘deixis’ (Bohnemeyer 2015), the transliteration of the Attic Greek term, deixiς, central to Stoic accounts of indexical or demonstrative reference (Mates 1961, 30, 96; Barnes 1997, 98, 101–102, 137–138). Like later scholars, Hegel knew these Stoic views from Sextus Empiricus. (I am most grateful to Mauro Nasti de Vincentis [2018] for directing my attention to Stoic deixis, and for sharing his research with me prior to publication.) 3. In his introduction to von Pfleiderer (1804), Ziche (1994, 12) notes that Pfleiderer translated and summarized passages from Kant’s Metaphysical Foundations for the physicist GeorgeLouis LeSage; these convinced LeSage that Kant’s dynamic account of matter was scientifically worthless. 4. In his lectures on history of philosophy (Werke 19:561n.), Hegel refers to Tempier’s previous condemnation in 1270, citing Tennemann (1811, 8, 2:460–461), who quotes from that edict and some related papal bulls. Tennemann cites Tempier’s second censure of heretical theses (1277) on pp. 459n., 462n. (I have not located any reference by Hegel to the Paris condemnation of 1277 in the recently published manuscripts.) 5. Quine preached ‘naturalized epistemology’, but never practiced it (Westphal 2015b), cf. Westphal (2016). 6. However coincidental and fortuitous may have been their naming, according to his own methods, Aristotle’s books on physics properly precede those which became known as ‘metaphysics’. 7. Cf. Westphal (2020), with a concluding chart of Kant’s cognitive architecture. 8. E.g., Lodish et al. (2013), Figure 12-10; (6th ed., Figure 12-8, online: http://www.allometric. com/tom/courses/protected/MCB6/ch12/12-08.jpg). 9. E.g., Lodish et al. (2013), Figure 4-3 (an alternate figure online: book/biochemistry/chapt12/bio3.htm). 10. This section of the chapter draws upon my (2015a). 11. Regarding Hegel’s treatment of chemistry, see von Engelhardt (1976, 1984), Burbidge (1996) and especially Renault (2002).

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12. Stekeler-Weithofer’s (1992) semantic interpretation of Hegel’s Logic dove-tails perfectly with Hegel’s transcendental-pragmatic epistemology (Westphal 2018). This is a strong consideration in favour of Stekeler-Weithofer’s interpretation. The excellent conspectus of Hegel’s Logic by Burbidge (2004) also corroborates these points. 13. The misfortune here lies in failing to appreciate that semantic and epistemological considerations can be put to sound hermeneutical use in understanding Hegel’s philosophy, especially in view of his explicit epistemological and also semantic concerns. 14. Enc. GW 20 §24Z; Phil. Prop. §164/158. 15. WL GW 21:11–12, SL 153.584–593, 155.644–659. 16. Not Hegel, but rather his critics and rather too many of his expositors have limited themselves to a pre-Critical philosophical taxonomy consisting of empiricism, rationalism, relativism, scepticism or transcendental idealism—lumping historicism and pragmatism in with relativism. Hegel instead is the fountainhead of robustly realist pragmatism (Westphal 2018). Unlike Hegel, too many of his expositors labour under the division noted by C.P. Snow (1964) between two cultures: one literary, the other scientific. 17. Note that I say any telos would be, in such a context, idle speculation. On Hegel’s integrating philosophy of nature with philosophy of religion, see Westphal (2019a). 18. An excellent, highly informative presentation of this kind of interpretation is Houlgate (2005), 106–180. I am indebted to Stephen for many years of discussion of these and related issues, despite our divergence on this central point (cf. Ferrini 2020). 19. Another problem with the “top down” approach, beginning with Hegel’s Logic and examining its instantiation in nature (in Enc. II), is that this approach cannot avoid the charge Hegel hurled at Schelling of “schematizing formalism.” Hegel avoids the methodological sin of schematizing formalism by showing, on the basis of an internal, critical examination of natural phenomena for their own sake, that those phenomena exhibit the kinds of conceptual structures and principles articulated in Hegel’s Logic. 20. Westphal (1989, 163–164; 2019a), Harris (1997, 1:64 112, 192–193, 409–410, 417–418; 2:125–130, 252–253, 344–346, 367, 448, 533–534, 537–540, 678, 681–682, 691, 738, 746), Chiereghin (2009), di Giovanni (2009). 21. Research on this paper was supported in part by the Boğaziçi Üniversitesi Research Fund (BAP), grant codes: 9761, 18B02P3.

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Ferrini, Cinzia. 2020. “Hegel’s Revisions of the Logic of Being: A Controversial Issue.” Rivista di Storia della Filosofia 1.2. Fulda, Hans-Friedrich. 1975. Das Problem einer Einleitung in Hegels Wissenschaft der Logik. 2nd rev. ed. Frankfurt am Main, Klostermann. Gettier, Edmund. 1963. “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?” Analysis 23 (6): 121–123. Glennan, Stuart. 2002. “Rethinking Mechanistic Explanation.” Philosophy of Science 69 (S3): S342–S353. Glennan, Stuart. 2010. “Mechanisms, Causes, and the Layered Model of the World.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (2): s362–381. Hanna, Robert. 2001. Kant and the Foundations of Analytic Philosophy. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. Hare, R. M. 1960. “Philosophical Discoveries.” Mind 69 (274): 145–162. Harris, Henry S. 1997. Hegel’s Ladder. 2 vols. Cambridge, MA: Hackett Publishing. Houlgate, Stephen. 2005. An Introduction to Hegel: Freedom, Truth and History. 2nd rev. ed. London: Blackwell. Huneman, Philippe, ed. 2013. Functions: Selection and Mechanisms. Dordrecht: Springer. Kim, Jagewon, 1999. “Making Sense of Emergence.” Philosophical Studies 95: 3–36. LaPlace, Pierre Simon de. 1796. L’exposition du système du monde. 2 vols. Paris, Cercle-Social; 6th rev. ed.: Bruxelles: H. Remy, 1829; Paris: Bachelier, 1836; reprinted in idem. Œuvres de LaPlace (Paris: Impr. Royale, 1846), vol. 6. Lenz, Johann Georg, ed. 1804. Schriften der Herzoglichen Societät für die gesammte Mineralogie zu Jena. Jena: Göpferdt. Lodish, Harvey, Arnold Berk, Chris Kaiser, Monty Krieger, Anthony Bretscher, Hidde Ploegh, Angelika Amon, and Matthew Scott. 2013. Molecular Cell Biology. 7th ed. New York: W.H. Freeman & Co. Mates, Benson. 1961. Stoic Logic. 2nd rev. ed. Berkeley: University of California Press. McKeon, Richard. 1994. On Knowing: The Natural Sciences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Melnick, Arthur. 1989. Space, Time and Thought in Kant. Dordrecht: Kluwer. Moretto, Antonio. 2004. Filosofia della Matematica e della Meccanica del sistema Hegeliano. 2nd rev. ed. Padova: Il Poligrafo. Nasti de Vincentis, Mauro. 2018. “‘Chrysippus’ Counterargument Against the Master Argument: A Reappraisal.” SATS—Northern European Journal of Philosophy 19 (2): 139–159. Nicholson, Daniel. 2014. “The Return of the Organism as a Fundamental Explanatory Concept in Biology.” Philosophy Compass 9 (5): 347–359. Nicholson, Daniel, and Richard Gawne. 2015. “Neither Logical Empiricism nor Vitalism, but Organicism: What the Philosophy of Biology Was.” History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 37 (4): 345–381. Nobel, Denis. 2008. The Music of Life: Biology Beyond Genes. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Nobel, Denis. 2016. Dance to the Tune of Life: Biological Relativity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. O’Connor, Timothy, and Hong Yu Wong. 2015. “Emergent Properties.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited in E. N. Zalta. sum2015/entries/properties-emergent/. Piché, David. 1999. La condamnation parisienne de 1277. Paris: Vrin. Renault, Emmanuel. 2002. Philosophie chimique. Hegel et la science dynamiste de son temps. Bordeaux: Presses Universitaires de Bordeaux. Richards, Robert. 2010. The Romantic Conception of Life: Science and Philosophy in the Age of Goethe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Rorty, Richard. 1986. “Pragmatism, Davidson and Truth.” In Truth and Interpretation, edited by E. Lepore, 333–355. Oxford: Blackwell. Schulze, G. E. [Anon. 1803]. 2020. “Aphorisms on the Absolute.” Translated by K. R. Westphal, James Sares, and Caleb Faul. The Owl of Minerva 51 (at press).


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Stekeler-Weithofer, Pirmin. 1992. Hegels Analytische Philosophie. Die Wissenschaft der Logik als kritische Theorie der Bedeutung. Paderborn: Schöningh. Stewart, Jon, ed. 1996. The Hegel Myths and Legends. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. Snow, C. P. 1964. The Two Cultures, 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tennemann, Wilhelm Gottlieb. 1811. Geschichte der Philosophie, achter Band, zweite Hälfte. Leipzig: J.A. Barth. von Engelhardt, Dietrich. 1976. Hegel und die Chemie. Studie zur Philosophie und Wissenschaft der Natur um 1800. Wiesbaden: Guido Pressler. von Engelhardt, Dietrich. 1984. “The Chemical System of Substances, Forces and Processes in Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature and in the Sciences of the Time.” In Hegel and the Sciences, edited by R. S. Cohen and M. Wartofsky, 41–54. Dordrecht: Riedel. von Pfleiderer, Christoph Friedrich. 1804. Physik. Naturlehre nach Klügel. Nachschrift einer Tübinger Vorlesung von 1804, edited by P. Ziche. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: FrommannHolzboog, 1994. Westphal, Kenneth R. 1989. Hegel’s Epistemological Realism: A Study of the Aim and Method of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Dordrecht: Kluwer. Westphal, Kenneth R. 1991. “Hegel’s Critique of Kant’s Moral World View.” Philosophical Topics 19 (2): 133–176. Westphal, Kenneth R. 1998. Hegel, Hume und die Identität wahrnehmbarer Dinge. Historischkritische Analyse zum Kapitel „Wahrnehmung“ in der Phänomenologie von 1807. Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2002. “Hegel’s Internal Critique of Naïve Realism.” Journal of Philosophical Research 25: 173–229. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2002/2003. “Analytischer Gehalt und zeitgenössische Bedeutung von Hegels Kritik des unmittelbaren Wissens.” Jahrbuch für Hegel-Forschungen 8/9: 129–143. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2004. Kant’s Transcendental Proof of Realism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2007. “Consciousness and Its Transcendental Conditions: Kant’s AntiCartesian Revolt.” In Consciousness: From Perception to Reflection in the History of Philosophy, edited by S. Heinämaa, V. Lähteenmäki, and P. Remes, 223–243. Dordrecht: Springer. Westphal, Kenneth R., ed. 2009a. The Blackwell Guide to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2009b. “Hegel’s Phenomenological Method & Analysis of Consciousness.” In The Blackwell Guide to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, edited by K. R. Westphal, 1–36. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2015a. “Causal Realism & the Limits of Empiricism: Some Unexpected Insights from Hegel.” HOPOS: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 5 (2): 281–317. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2015b. “Conventionalism & the Impoverishment of the Space of Reasons: Carnap, Quine.” Journal for the History of Analytic Philosophy 3 (8): 1–66. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2016. “Mind, Language & Behaviour: Kant’s Critical Cautions contra Contemporary Internalism & Causal Naturalism.” In Felsefede Yöntem/Method in Philosophy, special issue of Yeditepe’de Felsefe/Philosophy at Yeditepe 10, edited by S. Babür, 102–149. İstanbul: Yeditepe Üniversitesi Press. Westphal, Kenneth R. 2018. Grounds of Pragmatic Realism: Hegel’s Internal Critique & Transformation of Kant’s Critical Philosophy. Leiden: Brill (series: Critical Studies in German Idealism, edited by Paul Cobben). Westphal, Kenneth R. 2019. “Hegel’s Critique of Theoretical Spirit: Kant’s Functionalist Cognitive Psychology in Context.” In Hegel’s Philosophy of Spirit: A Critical Guide, edited by M. F. Bykova, 57–80. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Westphal, Kenneth R. 2020. “Kant’s Analytic of Principle.” In Kant, edited by M. Timmons & S. Baiasu, Chapter 8. London: Routledge. Whewell, William. 1847. The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, Founded upon Their History. 2 vols., 2nd rev. ed. London: J.W. Parker. Wimsatt, William. 2007. Re-engineering Philosophy for Limited Beings: Piecewise Approximations to Reality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Wimsatt, William. 2013. “Evolution and the Stability of Functional Architecture.” In Functions: Selection and Mechanisms, edited by P. Huneman, 19–41. Dordrecht: Springer. Wolff, Michael. 1986. “Hegel und Cauchy. Eine Untersuchung zur Philosophie und Geschichte der Mathematik.” In Hegel und die Naturwissenschaften, edited by R.-P. Horstmann, 197– 263. Stuttgart and Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog. Wolff, Michael. 1989. „Realitätsstufen oder Entwicklung? Hegels ,Realphilosophie‘ und die Philosophie der Wissenschaften.” Hegel-Jahrbuch: 397–415. Wolff, Michael. 2009. Abhandlungen über die Prinzipien der Logik. 2nd rev. ed. Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann. Wolff, Michael. 2017. “How Precise is Kant’s Table of Judgments?” Translated by K. R. Westphal. In Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason: A Critical Guide, edited by J. O’Shea, 83–105. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wolff, Michael. 2020. “Levels of Reality or Development? Hegel’s “Realphilosophie” and Philosophy of the Sciences.” Translated by K. R. Westphal. In The Palgrave Hegel Handbook, edited by M. F. Bykova and K. R. Westphal, 201–217. London: Palgrave; translation of Wolff (1989). Ziche, Paul. 2000. “Die Jenaer Naturforschende Gesellschaft und ihre Bedeutung für die Naturforschung in Jena.” In Gelehrte Gesellschaften im mitteldeutschen Raum (1650–1820), edited by D. Döring and K. Nowak, 107–131. Leipzig: Verlag der Sächsischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig. Ziemke, Axel. 1992. System und Subjekt. Biosystemforschung und radikaler Konstruktivismus im Lichte der hegelschen Logik. Wiesbaden: Vieweg.

Chapter 13

Hegel’s Philosophy of Natural and Human Spaces Cinzia Ferrini

1 Introduction Recent scholarship on nature and spirit shows renewed interest in the ­systematic form of Hegel’s philosophy, both within each sphere of the whole of the Science of the Idea and among these spheres. Hegel’s speculative aim is to grasp the unfolding and necessary concrete actuality of the universality of thought as a syllogistic movement of division and reintegration into unity, expressing the constitutive integration of the particular, individual instance with its universal characteristics. The first logical or ideal stage, achieved by modernity (VGPh 9:188/LHPBrown 3:271–272), is to comprehend the concrete, absolute idea as spirit, knowing itself in its objective and subjective conceptual forms, by recognizing that the particulars of sensory intuition are thought-determined, and thus individualized, through their constitutive conceptual constitution. Appreciating this ontological as well as epistemological principle of the integral conceptual unity within every real determination, both natural and spiritual, aids our comprehending the place and role of Hegel’s philosophy of external nature in respect to its relatively “other” sphere of spirit, along a path that goes from the sheer externality of space to subjective inwardness, and back from subjectivity to objectification. The two main sections of this chapter retrace and highlight the basic “transitional” features of Hegel’s philosophy of natural and spiritual spaces against the background of their systematic unity. Part I elucidates the significance of the immediate determination of space as the indifferent extension that characterizes the systematic definition of nature’s self-external being (§1), and examines the transition from space as simple juxtaposition (§2), to space in individualized matter (§3). Part II follows the progressive subordination and declining significance of mechanical relations within space

C. Ferrini (*)  Department of Humanities, University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy e-mail: [email protected]

© The Author(s) 2020 M. F. Bykova and K. R. Westphal (eds.), The Palgrave Hegel Handbook, Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism,



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and time for philosophical comprehension of natural life’s externality and finitude, focusing first on space as spontaneous determination of an animal’s own place (§4), and then on the immediate relation between terrestrial geology and biological individuals (§5): the determinate place inhabited by organisms is no longer an ‘external’ place, for distinctive of living individuality is to adapt and appropriate its habitat, to make its own space and its own time. By highlighting the identity and the differences between physical geography and the geographical basis of world history, I claim that Hegel is able to show that for self-conscious concrete spirit there is neither spiritual significance nor power in the abstract determinations of space and time constitutive of the mechanism of nature, and that Hegel paves the way for a philosophy of environmental spaces informed by the influences of basic natural configurations of space upon our soul and activities. Finally, Part III focuses on space in the phenomenality of spirit, against the background of the transition from the natural life of the human soul described in the Anthropology to the “I” that opens the encyclopaedic Phenomenology, examining the analogy Hegel draws between the abstract universality of the “I” and the spatial unity of light (§6).

2 Space from Mechanics to Physics 2.1 Nature as the Idea in the Form of Being-Other The opening §254 of the first part of the Philosophy of Nature in the 1830 Encyclopaedia, Mechanics, introduces space as follows: “The initial or immediate determination of nature is the abstract universality of its being self-external — its unmediated indifference, i.e. space” (Enc. §254).1 Hegel states that what appears in space as externality is in general the externality of nature; consider in this connection Hegel’s famous definitions of Enc. §§18 and 247, according to which nature is the absolute idea in the shape of otherness, or the form of being-other (Anderssein). Hegel introduces nature as the idea-foritself2 that “is” (Enc. §244Z). To present nature as the being of the idea that is manifest to itself, that knows itself, sounds awkward. Yet Hegel claims that at the end of the Logic, the idea’s self-knowledge in the essential objectivity of the world now collects itself in the immediacy of being, intuiting its own differentiations (the objective categories of the Logic of Being and Essence, the subjective forms of reflection of the Logic of Concept) in the real sphere of external existence. Indeed, in the Science of Logic, Hegel introduces the section on the absolute idea by stating that now the concept is “for itself universality and knowledge” (für sich Allgemenheit und Erkennen), which, “in its other has its own objectivity as object” (WL GW 12:236.16–17). Systematically speaking, nature is nothing but the idea, positing itself as the absolute unity of the pure concept and its reality, as totality in the form of simple being (WL GW 12:253.11–13). The starting point of this philosophical and speculative conception of nature was, at the beginning

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of the Logic, the abstract, immediate universal form of Being and the externality of the category of Quantity: space as the immediate existence of Quantity (Enc. §257Z). These summary statements require and deserve elucidation in four steps. First, by “form of Anderssein”, as explained in his 1825/26 Lectures on the Philosophy of Nature, Hegel means the basic form of natural, individually qualified existences according to which they appear as immediate, without relation among themselves, as mutually external and extrinsic, facing each other indifferently, in mere juxtaposition.3 The key word here is immediacy (Unmittelbarkeit), because this is both the simple mode or manner in which initially4 natural things appear and the way in which we “found” or “posit” them5; this is also the source of our practical and theoretical attitude to nature. This is in contraposition6 to spirit’s self-reflection in itself,7 that is, this immediacy contrasts to what we are: human self-mediated thinking subjects,8 or “self-interpreting animals.”9 Second, by universality (Allgemenheit), Hegel apparently means something fully traditional: the unity of different determinations. In the Logic, these thought-determinations have no empirical origin; they belong to the thinking subject, but are interwoven with sensory objects. In his 1830 Lectures on the Science of Logic, Hegel uses the example of a very simple sensory judgment (“the rose is red”) remarking that: (i) what appears to be totally sensory contains the copula, which is non-sensory; (ii) the division between subject and predicate contrasts the undifferentiated sensory apprehension of a red-rose; and (iii) what is more, when I say “red” for the singular red that I have before me, the predicate linguistically expresses a universal characteristic that at once belongs both to blood, wine etc. and to me. Otherwise stated, this determinate objective quality that I immediately perceive is an intuited singularity that has the form of a generality which also belongs to the universality of my thought, which also belongs to me.10 The concrete universal is the same as the rightly conceived individual, insofar as individuals are the self-expression of the universal (Haldar 1932, 521–522). As Haldar remarks, Hegel holds that “thought must have its counterpart in perception, and perception its sustaining principle in thought.”11 This universality can be thought at first “verständig,” as a categorial generalization from isolated particulars (the theoretical attitude of the understanding at work in the natural sciences),12 or “vernünftig” (the speculative-rational approach of philosophical thought). The former is an abstraction resulting from disregarding specific qualities of particulars while retaining only those common to them and the bestowing of the form of universality on this fixed content, which counts for the understanding as one that subsists on its own account and is held onto in firm opposition to the particulars (Enc. §80 and §80Z). Note that this common reflective knowledge of the sciences already grasps the singular within the universal, by changing “this red of this rose” into a general property and turning a pure sensory singularity into a predicate (see UVNat, 2). Accordingly, this unitary relation is grasped as a compound of self-standing, independent, mutually external parts. By contrast, the latter consider things as they are in and for themselves, highlighting from within the finitude and one-sidedness of the determinations of the understanding. This is the speculative “living” activity (Enc. §251/GW 20:241.14) of the


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universal concretely determining or particularizing itself, and differentiating itself so that differences produced by the universal hang immediately together and are comprehended—by spirit13—in their original unity (systematically and syllogistically) (see VNat2, 7.146–152).14 In Enc. §81Z1, Hegel praises Plato’s Parmenides for deducing the Many from its opposite in terms of thought as understanding, i.e. the One, showing however how the nature of the Many is simply to determine itself as its contrary, the One. This latter self-determining, concrete, infinite thinking unity, which negates the former abstract universality, Hegel calls the philosophical “concept” (Begriff).15 In this regard, the well-known Hegelian formula that the concept is the unity of universal and particular acquires the significance of the eternal restitution of identity from difference, and bears on the intrinsic contradiction within the logical determination of finitude, which we see in nature as the contradiction within appearance (see UVNat, 17). According to Hegel, Plato in the Sophist highlighted how any finite individual is equally something and its other: each involves the other; and in the Timaeus he wrote that God made the world from the nature of the One and the Other (Enc. §92Z). Put otherwise, Plato has already exhibited the interweaving network of forms which defines the sameness and difference constituting any determinate individual. Moreover, that something becomes an other, but the other, as itself a something, likewise becomes an other, thus constitutes the model of the bad or negative infinite progression (Enc. §94/GW 20:130.22–23) that keeps continually going beyond any fixed limit, as is ordinarily the case with both space in astronomy and time (Enc. §94Z). Hegel writes that this kind of “bad” (schlechte) infinite progress expresses nothing but the contradiction (Widerspruch) that the finite (das Endliche) contains: it is just as much something as its other (daß es sowohl Etwas ist als sein Anderes).16 Note that Hegel’s use of the term “contradiction” (Widerspruch) is not to be charged with “logical illiteracy” (Wolff 1999, 1), violating the Aristotelian law of thought according to which it is impossible for the same predicate both to belong and not to belong to something at the same time and in the same regard. Rather, in Hegel’s view only finite or reflective notions imply contradiction, insofar as they are taken in abstract isolation by our thinking as understanding. As remarked above, Hegel generally characterizes this logical activity as imposing the form of universality on its content, which is held in firm and fixed opposition to the particular. Hence the understanding behaves towards its objects stopping short at their substantive distinctions contra other determinacies (Enc. §80Z). By contrast, rational thought has no contraposition but embraces within itself both the finite terms of which one is the opposite of the other (Skept. GW 4:220), for human reason has an impulse or instinct (Trieb) to overcome the unsatisfactory contradictions of the finite, being restlessly impelled by its own speculative nature to raise its alleged meant, perceived and understood certainties to the true knowing of things themselves.17 Third, the philosophy of nature has therefore the speculative task to know that the being-other of nature is not an absolute, independent negation, but a relative negation: its Anderssein is a sein for and in respect to spirit.18 Otherwise stated, philosophy of nature will know in nature nothing but the concept (UVNat, 10). It aims to grasp the truth of apparently separated universal representations

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(forces, laws, genera) and determined content (electric force, law of falling bodies etc.), which we perceive in nature according to these abstract forms of the understanding, by reworking them conceptually from within (Enc. §246/GW 20:236.8–11). This “path of return” from nature to spirit (Enc. §247Z) determines the increasing degrees of self-determination (subjectivity) and the decreasing degrees of contingency (separation, isolation, mutual externality) from Mechanics to Physics and Organics; in Organics, material parts exist only as members whose own independence has been negated and brought under control of the organism’s centre of unity. Fourth, in his 1825/26 Lectures Hegel clarifies the relationship between abstract and concrete universality in respect to our philosophical knowledge of natural beings by saying that the abstract universality of the reflective understanding is empty: it does not find the particular within itself, and must turn to experience to fill itself with an external content: how any force of nature is qualified is not “given through” a self-determining and self-differentiating universality (VNat2, 18.501–505). Thus, to determine what nature is, is a problem to solve. Hegel says that the concept is the substance, the essence of nature, and that “I am the concept” (VNat2, 14.555–558). My task as free spiritual subject, the task of speculative thought, is to negate the initial appearance that the truth of the natural being is to be per se a self-standing independent objectivity, irrespective of thought’s activity, by showing that this Auseinander of nature is merely a semblance (Schein; see Enc. §248/GW 20:237.9–10). For example, from the philosophical standpoint of the activity of concrete universality (the idea), the fundamental determination of matter as “otherness,” as externality, is a one-sided form, a semblance. By contrast, its alleged immediacy and self-subsistence is only as relation to another; matter is an sich also the concept, but lacks the concept posited in itself, therefore it only “searches” for unity (gravity: see VNat2, 19.810–815). The (philosophical) truth of matter is to be known as a difference of the idea itself, its self-expression, manifesting its inner concept. Indeed, in each material part there is not only its own being but equally the being of the other to which any part relates immediately19: this is the movement of nature itself towards the sublation of its own extrinsicality.20 Thus, a philosophical approach to natural forms and content must begin with the presence of the idea in the immediate element of nature as an aconceptual, purely subjective presence, where the concept’s activity can only count as a virtual inwardness without existence.21 Now the idea as identity of its reality and its concept is manifest only in freedom (UVNat, 16); hence the immanent movement of nature towards the concept as its central point or Zentrum, the knot of a web of differences, will also signify the appropriation of externality, a self-liberation from alien conditioning. The need to overcome this contradiction prompts the necessity of showing that the concept (Begriff) is in fact the master that keeps together particulars which prima facie appear simply separated, dispersed, and unrelated (Enc. §250/GW 20:239.19–240.1).22 This immanently dialectical path begins with the mechanical conception of composite material bodies as mere quantities of matter, consisting of discrete parts which all tend towards a central point—initially,


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their center of gravity: philosophy must recognize that nature strives after unity and deduce its progressive achieving of degrees of unity as a “system” of stages (Mechanics, Physics, Organic Physics: Enc. §249/GW 20:238.29–239.1), identifying the pure, abstract determinations of thought, which were its object in the Logic, within the conformations of mind-independent natural beings (Enc. §24Z2).

2.2 The Quantitative Beginning of the Philosophy of Nature: Indifferent Spatial Externality in Mechanics Bearing these elucidations in mind, if we reconsider our opening quotation, we can see how Hegel’s stress on the first (erste) or immediate (unmittelbar) determination of nature disputes the apparent truth of sense perception and of those intellectual categories which determine nature as outwardness as such. Indeed, by contrast, Hegel states that nature “is” as the other of the idea, and so related to the idea.23 The key point here, as emphasized in the Encyclopaedia (Enc. §247/GW 20:237.3–7), is Hegel characterizing nature as external to itself: for instance matter does not appear as a relation; its alleged self-subsistence and exclusive resistance apparently negates relatedness (VNat2, 13). According to Hegel, the mere “self-externality” (Außersichsein) that defines space, as the first and immediate determination of nature—the “heres” which are side by side and mutually indifferent, not yet regarded as (determinate and relative) “places” (Enc. §254Z)—contains this contradiction: Space is defined as a quiescent absence of specific, determined difference. As Anderssein as such, space is totally abstract and formal. Space does not “become another”; it is absolute, uninterrupted, indeterminate continuity (Enc. §254/GW 20:243.15–19). Nevertheless, space requires tri-dimensionality: the spatial indifference of continuous externality differentiates itself through the generation of forms and relations constituted by point(s), line(s), surface(s), volume(s) (Enc. §§255–256/GW 20:244–7)—the “given” presuppositions of geometry (see VNat2 35; see also Enc. §258/GW 20:247–8).24 In regard to the conceptual genesis of space, however, the dimensional self-negation of space’s immediacy is a movement contradicting our first understanding of space as the initial or immediate determination of nature: the abstract universality of its self-external being, the continuity of its simple extension. The negativity of this self-differentiation of space is only logical, because point, line, surface, volume and body are mere “moments”: their spatial difference is only a mere possibility, differentiability.25 For instance the spatial point has not the independent existence of the real dividing punctual one of the “now” (das Jetzt) which bridges past and future, assuring the continuous passing of time. As Hegel put it already in his 1801 Dissertatio philosophica de orbitis planetarum, reflective understanding, that in mathematics abstracts from things themselves claiming to compare only their numbers, measurements, through calculus and geometry, cannot conceive of a reciprocal transition between two incommensurables such as space and time

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(Diss. 27–28). Hegel however claims that transition to time is within space, pertaining to the self-sublation of its finite, reflective notion, because the determination of the mutually external being (Aussereinandersein) contains both the self-subsistence of mutually external differences and their contrary, i.e. their lack of differentiation, insofar as they are posited in absolute continuity. Hegel shows that when the continuity of simple extension which immediately defines space is negated through moments such as point, line, surface etc., which in turn are posited not as qualitative and real differences but within the continuity of extension, space in fact becomes a sort of “being together with not being”, because space is space only in this contraposition between the simple extension that passes into differentiability and the momentary discreteness that passes into quantitative continuity. The result of Hegel’s rational examination is that space is an sich time: “what it is, it is not, what it is not, it is” (VNat2, 40). Through positing a self-negation of externality, which is nothing but the “inwardness” of space itself, the principle of self-differentiation thus becomes time, i.e. a qualitative difference. As mentioned above, the singular present “now” is a universal, dividing one, which conjoins past and future, exclusive of other moments and yet in continuity with them (Enc. §259/GW 20:249.5–8). Time exhibits tri-dimensionality in the independent, differentiated aspects of present, future and past existence. These aspects are the becoming of externality as such, its resolution into the differences of being as transitioning into nothing, and nothing as transitioning into being (Enc. §259/GW 20:249.8–9). By entering this outward domain of the self-negation and self-contradiction of indifferent externality, we enter (ideally) the domain of the processes of real things. This initial point, however, is still abstract.26 The unity of space with time is only as a movement, the transition of the one into the other. We have the first concrete, posited identity of space and time in “place” (Ort), as a “now” located as a “here”, which is also a point of duration (Enc. §§260–261/GW 20:251–3). Place is a “spatial now” (Enc. §261/GW 20:252.5), though only as a moment within a process, which comes to be and passes away: “this” place becomes “another place”. Hence place is also the posited contradiction which space and time implicitly are27: place is also a multiplicity of mutually indifferent singular places. In contrast to any merely spatial “here”, however, the localized spatiality of any “place” is immediately posited as temporal: this becoming is nothing but motion (Bewegung). In this way, the ideality implicit within the representations of space and time becomes manifest to itself, it is now explicitly for itself. Motion (recall Zeno’s paradox) makes explicit the contradiction between continuity and difference within the abstract negative (space) and positive (time) characterizations of externality and within the process of localization. There is an interesting passage in Hegel’s 1801 Dissertatio regarding the necessity of motion and our true comprehension of it in respect to the reflective representation of matter as filling space: this apparently dynamical notion (implying resistance to the intrusion of other matter and repulsive force, as in Kant’s Monadologia physica) is in fact a purely negative and empty notion. Matter is conceived of as dense and quiescent once space is filled, and thus requires an extraneous principle of change


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(Diss. 26.27–27.2). The same charge against the non-dialectical, abstract reason of subjective, transcendental idealism returns in the 1807 phenomenological Chapter on Reason, where Hegel writes that such empty idealism is bound to be at the same time “absolute empiricism” in order to get hold of difference (PhG GW 9:136.15–23). Space and time pertain to things themselves and their objectivity; it is not confined to the human phenomenal reality: in 1801 Hegel writes that to conceive of matter as being filled space means to have an abstract notion of what is objective contra what is subjective, which lacks form and deletes, once space is filled, any inner principle of change and resistance, which is to be sought elsewhere (a conception that falls into an “absolute empiricism” for its emptiness). In order to comprehend (intelligere) matter as it really and physically is, one must add to the abstract concept of space the contrary form of subjectivity: which Hegel calls “mind” referring to Latin (mens), and “point” in respect of space. Hegel writes that it is in this way that the point, which under the form proper to self-differentiation is time, and space, constitute the elements of matter, which is their principle, and that the necessity of motion becomes intelligible through this internality, for mutability is nothing other than the eternal restitution of identity from difference, the new production of difference, contraction and expansion (Diss. 27.2–15).28 In Finite Mechanics, the reality of space-filling matter is deduced philosophically in contrast to this empty abstraction, in terms of the product of the process of any motion: the immediately identical and concretely existing unity of space and time (Enc. §261/GW 20:252.10–12). Both in the 1817 Encyclopaedia and in the 1827/1830 editions the transition between space and time seems to be always a matter of Vertauschbarkeit (interchangeability): one element passes into the other and then the second passes back into the first, so that only at the end of these two distinct moments the result is the inner identity of these two terms. However, I have shown elsewhere that terminological changes between the 1812 and 1832 Doctrine of Being in the Science of Logic, as well as between the 1817 and 1827– 1830 editions of the Encyclopaedia, point to an important, yet neglected conceptual revision depending upon Hegel’s revised dialectical model for transition (übergehen) in the Logic of Being.29 In 1817 the twofold transition between space and time that gives rise to motion and to matter is defined in accord with the immediate or external form of transition (Übergehen), as the “passing away” (Vergehen) and the “re-production” (Wiedererzeugen) of space in time and of time in space. In 1827 and 1830 the first division of the sphere of the Philosophy of Nature is no longer Mathematics but Mechanics, that is, matter and motion. This means that space and time are from the outset treated in terms of their inter-relation, and their dialectic is placed within a different context than abstract mathematics, i.e. within the frame and under the conceptual umbrella of the existing immediate unity of the objectivity of space and the pure subjectivity of time. Although both the 1817 and the 1827/1830 editions begin with pure space and the text of Enz. 1817 §197 nearly coincides with Enz. 1830 §254, the significance of the two versions appears distinctive in so far as pure space is no longer viewed against the background of space and

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time considered as such, in their abstract difference as the principles of the two branches of geometry and arithmetic. Note that in the chapter concerning the inner division of the first part of the Philosophy of Nature in the lectures of 1819/1820, we read: “Mechanik, nicht bloss Mathematik.”30 The short 1817 text presented the following movement: “This passing away and reproduction of space in time and time in space is motion; a becoming which, however, is itself equally well immediately the identical existing unity of both of them, matter” (my trans.). By contrast, the 1827 and 1830 parallel text reads (with changes emphasized): “This passing away and self-reproduction of space in time and time in space, that time is spatially self-posited as place, while this indifferent spatiality is likewise immediately temporally posited, is motion.”31 Thereafter, the 1827 text follows word by word the 1817 edition. As I have shown elsewhere, this revision appears to point to the immanent (self-)reflection of the logical forms of Being for themselves: it is time itself and its opposite, space itself, each of which mutually sich gesetzt wird as their other, respectively in place and motion, and matter is their extant unity. The notion of Übergang involved here is no longer a simple passing away and then a reproduction of space within time and vice versa, because the one is mediated by the other.32 In Enc. 1830 §261, a new clause implying immanence (absent in 1827) is added to qualify exactly this revised form of becoming, that is now said to be: “in itself the falling together of its contradictions.” This integrated anticipation of modes of essential reflection within the immediacy of Being points to a form of relation in which determining remains inherent in the unity of the terms; regarding space and time, this logical innovation also opens a new perspective into the philosophy of spirit. In Enc. 1817 §448 (Philosophy of Spirit), Hegel writes that the spiritual particularity of a certain Volksgeist cannot be conceived only in terms of its freedom as nature, because spirit is “also” in time. This presents the dimension of time as a conceptually necessary addition to the reality and specific individuality of the soul of any (limited) regional spirit. This is consistent with the 1820 Outlines of Philosophy of Right §346, where Hegel writes that history (Geschichte) is the shaping of spirit in the form of immediate natural actuality; therefore the stages of development are as immediate natural principles. Since these principles are natural, they are as a mutually external plurality (sind als eine Vielheit außer einander, somit ferner so: GPR, GW 14, 1:275.28–33), each belonging to one people; this is the meaning of the “geographical and anthropological existence” of each Volk. By contrast, in Enc. 1830 §548, Hegel writes that the moment (Moment) of the geographic and climatic determinateness (Bestimmtheit) is the natural aspect of the spirit of a people, which is in time and has within itself a history (eine Geschichte innerhalb seiner: Enc. §548/GW 20:523.23–24, my emphasis), that is, a development of the consciousness of itself in time according to its particular principle. Treating spatial existence as the moment of an environmental determination and using the phrase ‘within itself’ appear to indicate, once again, a movement of self-reflection within the relation (Beziehung) of space and time, which maintains them both as re-differentiated and mutually self-mediating within their unity; it implies that the form of relation is both inherent and immanent in space and time together,


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thus opening into considering the geographical (spatial) basis of the history (in time) of spirit, which was largely absent from Hegel’s considerations both in the 1817 Encyclopaedia and the 1820 Outlines of Philosophy of Right. From 1822/23 to 1830/31, Hegel lectured five times on the philosophy of history stressing this doubled dimension, both geographical and historical, of the development of the world spirit. However, this essential form of relation between spatial and temporal aspects becomes fully explicit only in §548 of the 1827 and 1830 Philosophy of Spirit in the Encyclopaedia, in accord with the parallel changes introduced into the Logic of Being and Hegel’s reconfiguration of the first division of the Philosophy of Nature.33 I take §261 and §548 of the 1827 and 1830 Encyclopaedia as indicating a movement that occurs within the interrelationship of space and time and on the basis of their unity, which no longer results from the addition of two distinct mutual passings away; rather, in my view it implies that the moment of relation is both inherent and immanent in space and time taken together.34 In the section on Mechanics Hegel discusses three kinds of movement: uniform motion resulting from external thrust (impact), which is expressed by the simple relation of space to time; relatively free motion, in which motion accelerates uniformly due to gravity; and absolutely free motion, the movement of planets orbiting in the solar system—a stable mechanical occilator. These three stages of Mechanics show how a relatively homogeneous matter passes from passivity to activity, from being set in motion by external thrust to having the principle of motion within itself. The speculative debt to the sublated inherence of relations between the abstract self-indifference of continuity (space) and the dividing punctuality of discreteness (points or moments: time), is made apparent when Hegel defines matter as essentially composite, consisting entirely of discrete parts all of which tend toward a center. He says that matter is always divisible though not divided (immer teilbar aber nicht geteilt), that matter allows self-differentiation only as a possibility, because division (Trennung) by empty space is impossible: what is concrete is the different masses within the universality of gravity: their mutual gravitational attraction (VNat2, 59). Matter is still characterized above all by “essential externality,” governed by gravity: it has thus not yet become properly self-determining (Enc. §272Z). Note that gravity is a qualitative determination in which quantitative difference as such is now insignificant, because what becomes manifest is comparative: the relative masses of various, distinct bodies.35 Examining the law of falling bodies, determined according to the moments contained in nature, the formula of accelerated motion (T2:S=t2:s) is deduced only in so far as it is a determination, a relation between time and space, by which this relationship has to be determined through itself (Dies Verhältnis soll durch sich selbst bestimmt sein: VNat2, 63). This stress on deduction is not to be taken as charging Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature with an apriorism replacing empirical inquiry or a rationalism irrespective of the findings of natural sciences. Simply put, what is at stake is the philosophical foundation of the content that the theoretical activity of the understanding at work in the empirical sciences have provided without demonstrating its truth. In Enc. §246R (GW 20:236) Hegel makes clear that according to this foundational

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role it has to be demonstrated that the empirical appearance actually accords with the conceptual determination (and not vice versa); this task falls neither to experience, with its endless variation, nor to immediate intuition, but to the rational diamond or conceptual net of laws. This is why, at the end of the first chapter of Measure (Specific Quantity) in the Science of Logic, in a Remark commenting on Galileo’s law of falling bodies and Kepler’s laws of the planetary motion, Hegel praises their measuring the qualities of space and time as ratios, discovering a universal form for numbers of nature. However, he adds that: “these men have proven the laws they have discovered by showing that the full compass of the singular things of perception conform to them. But a still higher proof of these laws must be demanded — nothing less, namely, than of knowing their quantitative determinations from the qualities or determinate concepts connected in them (such as space and time)” (SL, 297–8/WL GW 21:340). Otherwise stated, philosophy of nature has the task to unfold logical determinations, not as a series of categories and concepts in pure thought as the Science of Logic, but as universals immanently related within the self-externality of nature, and then to show how the phenomenal laws in accord with observation and perception in turn can be derived from these determinate concepts: an indirect way to prove the necessity of scientific empirical knowledge.

2.3 The Significance of Space in the Physics of Individualized Matter In the section on Mechanics Hegel made clear that matter has no unity for itself insofar as purely mechanical bodies are understood as consisting entirely of discrete, separate, independent parts (quantities of matter) which stay together merely by contact. However, all mechanical bodies have not only mass but also weight, because all heavy bodies tend towards a central point. In the 1827/28 Lectures on the Philosophy of Spirit Hegel clarifies that the “philosophy” of nature presents the concept as a centre rising to the surface, sublating the mutual externality of its components (Aussereinandersein), or conversely Nature (the Idea in the form of its being other) as returning into itself in order to achieve unity with itself, by overcoming its mutual spatial externality. This is why, from a speculative rational standpoint, gravity constitutes the fundamental determination of matter, in which all mutual externality of material particulars is sublated. Hegel contends that if matter, which strives towards a centre of unity, were to succeed, it would cease to exist as matter, because it is defined as ideal insofar as it constitutively (in its substance or concept) relates to what is external to itself. Compared to Mechanics, nature attains a higher form of unity with physical and qualitative particularization: matter “develops,” as its “self-form” determines it to an increasing degree and becomes more explicitly the point unifying all the material components of a body. The highest point achieved in this process is the fully individual matter, that is, the individual material totality of the single, independent body.


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This is why in Physics Hegel reappraises the solar system, which in Mechanics is treated according to its free movement and material self-determination, but not yet as manifesting the unity of substance. Although in the sphere of Mechanics the organism “does not allow itself to occur,” the structural form of the organism already begins to appear in the “ideal” point of unity that governs the movement of free independent material parts within the solar system: the sun in relation to orbiting planets which carry the principle of motion within themselves. However, because it is limited to governing only the motion of parts (the planets) which remain external to their center (the sun), the solar system is merely the “first organism,” that is, merely “the organism of mechanism” (Enc. §337Z). By contrast, in organic nature, an individual is determined as “this particular” in relation to a centre of unity; this point of natural unity functionally unites its parts with the form of the self, of the subject (Enc. §337/GW 20:344.4–9). In the Lectures on the Philosophy of Nature of 1825/26 this feature is highlighted because it marks the difference between physical and organic individualization (VNat2, 169.11–14). What is organic is no longer merely an Individuum, composed by differentiated parts in which the form exhibits itself, but which can fall apart indifferently because they are mutually external, according to the determination of space: they are contiguous but not conjoined. In the organic realm we conceive the body as determining itself essentially on its own and no longer in relation to another, as we still do even in the chemical process, the last stage of “Physics” which deals with real, determined, formed, qualified and therefore “individualized” matter. In his 1821/22 Lectures on the Philosophy of Nature Hegel makes explicit that life is to be individuality as “the process of leading the members back to identity” (VNat1, 168). Through this syllogistic process of reintegration, the individual living organism acquires and preserves the form of a self. In Enc. §350Z Hegel says the mutual relation of the heavenly bodies in the solar system does not accord with their physical nature, but only accords with the nature of space and time. By contrast, the “sun” or the truly ideal subsistent centre of the animal organism is the concept as “living universality” (lebendige Allgemeinheit), which passes syllogistically through its three determinations of shape as self-relation (Gestalt): assimilation as opposition and relation to otherness, and finally genus as self-relation within the other (Enc. §352/GW 20:353). The reference to sun and sunlight in dealing with living organisms is not surprising, since light is implicitly “self-determining”, thus anticipating an aspect characteristic of the concept of “life”. In the Philosophy of Nature of 1805/06 (GW 8 108.5–8) we find a clear assessment of how and why with the physical dimension of light we reach the universal form of “life”: the key notion is the thorough co-penetration of all the parts of a transparent body (i.e. a glass, a crystal) by a unity of presence and actuality. The unity of light, however, is devoid of the form of the self; this marks the difference between merely physical and organic relations to space. On the one side, Hegel underscores (Enc. §320/GW 20:316.8–19) that light as “elementary matter” is an original unity capable of division into luminosity and darkness. On the other side, light is still a unity of space, externality and generality, which thoroughly co-penetrates all parts

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of a transparent body (i.e. a prism) in an external, simple way. In the Science of Logic, Hegel’s originally colorless light is a determinate example of pure indifferent (abstract) sameness in spatial extension, that is, of pure quantity (WL GW 21:178.23–24). Hence, its condition of unity is not yet that of “the singular [einzelne] self,” as is the case with organic nature or the self-conscious “I” at the higher level of the philosophy of spirit.36 Between the two extremes of mechanical matter and spirit, the organism is a subject with a self-developed form, since the material “parts” (Teile) exist only as members (Glieder) whose own independence has been negated and brought under the control of the living being’s identity or centre of unity. Externally, the organism merely aims to maintain its self-unity, alive within the multiplicity of the material mutual externality of nature. This prepares the conceptual basis required to explicate the living subject’s action of governing and assimilating externality, mastering the abstraction of relations of space and time.

3 Space in the Experience of Inhabiting the Earth 3.1 Animal Life and Its Space In the 1825/26 Lectures Hegel stresses that self-motion (Selbstbewegung) is the key to reassessing the significance of indifferent spatial externality within animal life, for self-motion is a singular Mittelpunkt, free from gravity. This feature belongs to the “in sich” of the animal, for the animal spontaneously determines its place (Ort). In Enc. §351 Hegel highlights that the significance of moving at “will” is to have a time freed from real externality; animals move at their own initiative, not merely in reaction to external impact.37 Together with possessing voice, which allows expressing oneself as the self-motion of vocal cords which freely vibrate from within, the animal can exhibit mastery (Hegel uses the noun Herrschaft) over the abstract ideality of space and time. In this way, systematic Nature reaches its highest point, as well as the boundary of its proper sphere. At the same time, however, in so far as Life exists only as natural Idea, throughout its existence, the individual vitality is entangled (befangen) with what is external to it as an alien singularity, and “consigned” (hingeben) to “the unreason of externality” (Enc. §248R/GW 20:238.4–6). The living being confronts an inorganic nature to which it relates as the power (Macht) over it, which it assimilates, though it may disrupt the life of the organism. Hegel conceives the process of nutrition (assimilation) to be a continuing struggle of a subjective individual to preserve itself by first mechanically taking away elements of its environment which it subjectively needs; and second, by chemically digesting and assimilating its external objectivity, positing its immediate self-identity and reproducing itself in this self-preservation (Enc. §363/GW 20:362–3). In this way, the animal is a living point of unity that, in positing itself in determinate opposition to a material nature which externally conditions its life, acquires feeling and


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sentience of itself: the sense of being an exclusive singularity in tension with an inorganic nature which stands over against it (Enc. §357/GW 20:357.4–6). Significantly, at the level of the real life of corporeal individuality in the Philosophy of Nature, the “irresistible” power of the living body’s übergreifen über sein Anderes in respect to its own inorganic nature, stated at a logical level (Enc. §219Z), does not mark the internal liberation of the organic from the inorganic, as if the power over the latter could produce a negation which fully eliminates its presence. In my view, within the real context of the philosophy of nature and spirit, the concrete significance of the Aufhebung (sublation) of the abstract negative and positive externality of space and time and of mechanical relations of juxtaposition and succession is their subordinated co-presence within determinations of higher conceptual order which can endure bearing an other within itself. The Addition to §337 shows how the inorganic and mechanical remain within the organic as its own contradiction and constitutive basis, which the living body bears within itself. This contradiction is represented by the centre of unity and its material constituents, which as such tend to revert to mechanical-chemical processes (Enc. §337Z). Note, however, that the animal organism is the “truth” of organic nature because it satisfies all the logical determinations of the Idea of Life. In §§359 and 365 of the Philosophy of Nature Hegel explains why he characterizes the animal organism in terms of “ideality” and why the enduring action of life is “absolute idealism”: in the nutritive process the organism overcomes its state of tension with its opposed external nature (appetite), negating externality and making it identical with itself. Hegel thus rejects the conception of an organism’s boundary as a closed envelope, showing it to be an open system which exchanges substances with its surroundings. From the standpoint of spatial externality, the animal stage of life presupposes, includes and integrates into a unity both the existence of an external world, the relation to another (the moment of life as external to itself, as “geological nature”), and a developed internal self-unity (an organism’s self-relation, the moment of life as internal to itself). Therefore this self-unity can be conceived as capable of preserving and maintaining itself in what it makes to be its own externality. In this way externality and self-externality are transformed into something “merely transparent, ideal and non-objective” (schlechthin durchsichtig, ideell und ungegenständlich) for the corporeality belonging to the subject (Enc. §365Z). In §368 Hegel explicitly endorses Cuvier’s view (in 1812) that not only the class finds expression in the form of each corporeal part (i.e. intestines, jaws, claws, teeth, predatory instincts for carnivorous), but also the order, the genus, the species and even the habitat (séjour) (Cuvier 1997, 217–218). Hegel comments that in this way one cognizes the significance of the intermixture (Vermischung) of organs and functions and of the singular forms of habit (Gebilden der Habitus) as the construction (Construction) of the determinate coherence (Zusammenhang) of every part of the animal type, so that the animal has been raised above and out of its particularity into its universality (in seine Allgemenheit; see Enc. §368R/GW 20:368.19–21).

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3.2 Geognosy, Physical Geography and World History: Hegel’s Speculative Deduction of Natural Spaces As remarked above, with the progessive determination of self-sufficient “parts” (Teilen) to members of an organism (Glieder), in Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature the first immediate determination of Life is the determination of its own relative and specific otherness. Otherness ceases to have the significance of an alien conditioning externality, for externality is now specified as that means through which life determines and sustains itself. Externality falls under the power of life, as the inorganic, geological nature necessary to its organic processes. Indeed, life is essentially purposive, self-mediating, self-grounding activity as subject and process that establishes its own presupposition in order to be what it is. This is why geology and physical geography, rock formations, seas and landmasses, are not considered under the heading of Physics but rather as the first moment of the Organics. Hegel thus rejects attempts to explain what he regards as a “geological organism” on the basis of mechanical relations, for these have been proven conceptually to be abstract, ideal, quantitative differences of time and space properly explicated only within finite mechanics. In the additions to §§339 and 340, Hegel praises Werner’s physical and chemical theory of the deposition of strata, according to which their origin and sequence are determined by the law of internal differentiation of essential determinations of those rock strata. Hegel dismisses as “external” any geological explanation which aims only to determine the temporal succession of the order of stratification, with primitive granite rock as the deepest strata, followed by sandstone and limestone. The order of stratification certainly allows a purely temporal, mechanical explanation, starting as it does with the conception of a series of parts existing outside and independent of one another, merey regarding their aspect as “product”. If this were the whole truth, however, the external system of the Earth in the first part of “Organics” would not be a “terrestrial organism”, but a mere aggregate of parts. On Hegel’s view, any such approach would neglect the deep meaning and spirit of the sequence (its Sinn und Geist) as an internal “organic”, conceptual bond, the inner coherence or necessary relation between these inorganic formations (Enc. §339Z). This internal connection must depend upon the Beschaffenheit, the constitutive qualitative character of these formations themselves, which governs their occurrence in time. An explanation based merely on a chronology of their production merely transforms their spatial juxtaposition into temporal succession, of no philosophical significance or interest. The particular shape and formations of the self-subsisting parts of the Earth, separated in sea and land, continents and islands, valleys and mountains, according to Hegel, belong to the Earth’s purely mechanical formation, which at first appears merely contingent and accidental and thus seems to baffle any attempt to exhibit its conceptual necessity. According to Hegel, however, there is room for a rational comprehension of the Earth’s configuration as a whole insofar as one can retrace the origin of the formations of solid landmasses and their west-to-east


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orientation from the continuous rotatory movement of ocean currents, insofar as this would afford cognizance of the division of the world into continents as the essential differentiation of a totality expressing the free rotatory movement of the Earth an ihr selbst, i.e. around its axes (Enc. §339Z). Hegel says that in general the land divides into two parts, the Old and the New Worlds. In the former, mountains are ranged west-east or south-west to north-east; by contrast, in America they run south-north, presenting an undeveloped duality38 which can be traced back to the essential feature of the poles of the magnet. This is Hegel’s philosophical background against which to deduce, according to the moments of the concept’s self-determination—simple unity, outward determination as relation to otherness, and self-reaction within the other—the immanent and necessary connection among the three great continental masses of the Old World,39 which exhibit the following full-developed diremption: 1. the undifferentiated rigidly uniform unity of the solid mass of the African uplands; 2. the breaking of that universal compact mass into the opposite Asiatic unbalanced, formless generative profusion of great valleys crossed by ample rivers, and 3. the sublation of this form of juxtaposition, into the balanced compenetration of mountains, rivers, valleys, and plains in Europe (Enc. §339Z).40 This threefold spatial division is accompanied by a corresponding local typology of human beings: Africans are torpid, their spirit is not yet awakened to consciousness; Europeans inhabit the rational or conscious region of the Earth and Asiatics are unable to master their center, living in the wild middle. What Hegel says about physical geography in the sphere of the philosophy of nature constitutes material for his inquiry into the geographical basis of world history, where he represents the idea of spirit at the stage of self-consciousness (the existing spirit of a people) as it exhibits itself in actuality (Wirlichkeit), as a series of external shapes (äusserliche Gestaltungen), generally falling in time and space into modes of natural existence: indeed, when spirit enters Dasein, it acquires the mode of finitude and hence of naturality (VPhWIntro 187). In Enc. §386, speaking of the finite subjective and objective forms of the development of Spirit (relation to itself and reality), Hegel writes that finitude means to spirit, which is the infinite idea, the “disproportion” between concept and reality, with the determination that this Unangemessenheit is its semblance within itself (das Scheinen innerhalb seiner ist). Spirit posits this inwardly, as a limit (Schranke) to itself (Enc. §386/GW 20:383.23–27). To sublate this limit is to make the concept of spirit conform to reality in the knowledge and possession of freedom. The determination of finite spirit is to linger over the various stages of this activity as semblance and to traverse them: to “found” (Vorfinden) a world as a presupposed given, and to “produce” (Erzeugen) it as one posited by spirit; this is tantamount to liberation from and within this world (Enz. §386/GW 20:383.24–384.6). Accordingly, in the spiritual sphere of world history Hegel inquires into the significance that the persistence of abstract, indifferent self-externality of space can assume within the qualitative,

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structured context of the finitude and naturality of spirit. The particular shapes of national spirits fallen auseinander, fall outside one another, since the form of naturality is the abstract determination of the Aussereinander, that is, a purely external relation that should be out of place against the background of the spiritual sphere: the universality of the ethical whole and its own individual agents. Hegel’s justification for this is that the natural context is the ground (als der Boden) on which the spirit moves (bewegt). This is why the geography of natural spaces is an essential and necessary basis (Grundlage) for the spirit of a people (VPhWIntro 187). From 1822/23 to 1830/31, Hegel lectured five times on the philosophy of history; it is worth noting the double dimension, both geographical and historical, of the development of the world spirit. As remarked earlier, the climatic and geographical aspects become fully explicit only in §548 the 1827 and 1830 Encyclopaedia, and this change has been referred to Hegel’s reading (likely in 1819) of Karl Ritter’s Die Erdkunde im Verhältnis zur Natur und zur Geschichte des Menschen, oder allgemeine, vergleichende Geographie (1817).41 This new context introduces differences in the deduction of spatial natural differences in respect to the differentiation of the continental masses of the Old World in physical geography. What appears (erscheint) in spirit as a particular stage dispalys itself also as a natural particular shape (Gestalt) that exists for itself, as a separate unit excluding others. The natural characteristics of every people which, as a nation, represents a particular stage in the development of spirit then corresponds (entspricht) to the spiritual principle in the series of spiritual shapes (VPhWIntro 188). This correspondence enriches the determinate reality of a national spirit with a double component: its subjective way of being or natural will on the one hand, and the specific external nature of its locality on the other. Philosophical cognition, however, is not concerned with the contingent and unessential features of territories, but only with the Naturtypus der Lokalität. Following the moments of the concept’s activity, in respect to land, Hegel recognizes three fundamental conceptual distinctions in the real configurations of any natural inhabited space (wherein spirit dwells) which, insofar as they are traversed by human activities, do not coincide with the speculative deduction of the continents in physical geography. They are: 1. the undifferentiated element of the uplands which are primarily the abode of nomads (great steppes and plains: Central Asia, deserts of Arabia, Paraguay, examined from the standpoint of the mechanical, restless impulses they furnish to a people’s activity); 2. the differentiated element of valley formations watered by rivers where water shapes the soil and makes it fertile, where establishing agriculture gives rise to the first centres of civilisation and internal independence (Hegel refers here to Eastern countries such as China, India and to Egypt); 3. the coastal countries, which exhibit the universal relation of land and sea within the sphere of natural determinate space and where people have developed this relation, stimulating investments, assuming risks in their ways of earning their living etc. (references are to European countries characterized by the link between river and sea: Holland, Poland, Spain, and the Rhine valley in Germany).42


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For our purpose, note that in the inhabited Earth, the natural determination of space, no longer has the significance of an extrinsic juxtaposition of parts, but it now means an environment that has an essential influence on the life of nations, giving rise to particular ways of life, of needs, of cultivation and possession of goods, stimulating courage or inducing mental narrowness, enhancing or dissolving ties with the localities where people’s lives, producing impressions on people’s temperament and natural soul. For instance, in the second moment of the transitional regions, the fertility of the soil brings the development of agriculture and thus the assessment of a cycle of satisfaction of primary needs according to the timing of the seasonal cycles; settlements and prolonged cultivation and possession give rise to social rights (property, justice, classes): these are collective relations which unify forms of human existence, replacing previous nomadic or individual forms of living. In the third division, the indeterminate element of the sea produces on us a spatial impression of limitlessness and infinity, lifting our soul beyond the narrow horizon and the settled routine induced by activity in broad river valleys, shaking any stability and exposing us to the risk of loss in earning life by maritime trades; in contrast, land binds man to the soil. The sheer quantitative alien externality of space has thus became subordinated to more complex vital relations integrated with a territory, in a philosophy of human spaces that recognizes the economic, social and political conditioning of nature upon the historical life of an organized community.

4 Space in Spirit 4.1 Space from the Natural Soul to the Phenomenality of Spirit As remarked above, when dealing with both physical geography and world history, Hegel stresses the influence of natural context on human temperaments and attitudes, pointing to relations within ourselves between the natural and the spiritual, as our immediate and mediated internal features. In the Anthropology (Enc. §406Z) the soul is defined as the wholly universal that includes differences and yet is this individual, specifically determined soul bearing within itself various determinations (which for themselves are merely general). On this account, Hegel claims that my actuality consists in all the universal determinations of the soul live and individualized within me. The Logic offers resources to fill the apparent gap between the immediate and mediated determinations of individuals. At the core of the dialectic of qualitative determinateness lies the difference between something’s own character and whatever proper “other” to which it always relates, which allows for contingency affecting any individual’s determinate being. Hegel writes: “constituted in this or that way, the something is caught up in external influences and external relationships. This external connection on which the constitution depends, and the being determined through an

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other, appear as something accidental. But it is the quality of the something to be given over to this externality and to have a constitution (Beschaffenheit).”43 In §145 of the Logic of Essence in the 1830 Encyclopaedia, dealing with “Actuality” (Wirklichkeit), Hegel considers how the exterior way in which something that has an essential, actual being first appears to consciousness is mediated through the moments of an outward contingency and an inward possibility, for: “Actuality is not just an immediate being (ein unmittelbar Seiendes); but, as the essential being (das wesentliche Sein), it is the sublation of its own immediacy, and in this way it mediates itself with itself” (Enc. §146Z). Therefore, contingent features are not nullified by an alleged reduction of the otherness involved in natural and spiritual processes to a reflex of logical necessity. Rather, Hegel claims that the contingent aspects of my being must be considered as expressions of a specific individuality (Besonderheit). Indeed, for Hegel, what truly I am comes through my inner universality or concept (essence or prius: my human rational thought), that specifies itself and immanently reveals itself in the element of my singularity (Einzelnheit). Incidentally, this same point Hegel defends in the 1807 Chapter on Reason in the Phenomenology, when examining Lavater’s physiognomy, stressing that the genuine being and essence of human inner spiritual individuality rests on his actual voluntary intentions and conduct, that is, in the nature of his free activity and not in his bodily shape. In the Anthropology this is exactly the aim of Hegel’s reappraisal of the prima facie natural characteristics differentiating human beings among themselves: difference of temperament, character, inclination, gender, race, habits are conceived in terms of different degrees and ways to signify spirit, as qualities exhibiting spirituality within the individual subject, not as features of an abstract inwardness (the “soul”), but as affecting external existence as a “second nature,” being part of the actual individual active being (Enc. §410R/GW 20:416.21–26). Similarly, Hegel introduces the Logic of Essence by noting that we often say that the main thing about people is their essence, and not what they do or how they behave or act. According to Hegel, what is right in this view is that what someone does has to be considered not in its immediacy but only as mediated “through and as manifestation of its inwardness” (durch sein Inneres und als Manifestation seines Innern: Enc. §112Z). In the section on Anthropology Hegel treats the unity of material and immaterial within the natural soul in terms of qualitative characteristics (sensation, feelings and self-feelings) which for us are bodily (natural) phenomena signifying a spiritual reality, with “habit” as a turning point enabling the individual self to forego merely immediate reactions and responses to the surrounding world. A case in point are differences among human races, which Hegel regards not as differences in our human rational essence, nor in the possibility of equal rights for all types of humans. A racial difference for him is still a “natural” difference, that is, a difference that primarily relates to the natural soul, that as such is linked to geographical differences between inhabited landmasses (Enc. §393Z). In the shape of the natural soul, spirit is still unaware of itself and unknown to itself, being immersed in natural physicality. Hegel claims that the


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physical-geographical character of the African natural space as a compact undifferentiated mass of uplands which closes its inhabitants off from the coasts returns at the anthropological level with the significance of countering the awakening of its inhabitants’ spirituality, hindering historical progress, movement or development. All the usual charges against Hegel’s racism and Eurocentrism, however, neglect how an unhistorical, undeveloped spirit, still involved in the condition of “mere nature”, highlights a contradiction within itself, according to Hegel’s philosophy, insofar as it indicates a state in which the human being’s existence does not conform its concept, as expressly stated at the outset of §57 of the Philosophy of Right (RPh GW 14.1:64.17–21). Moreover, the African peasant’s “natural” dullness of spirit is neither a biological nor a heritable feature: it leaves intact the essential possibility of foregoing merely immediate reaction and response to the surrounding world. Hegel also maintains that no one can deny to African people the aptitude to cultural emancipation: in this anthropological context he praises Haiti’s revolution (1791–1804) lead by the former Niger slave Toussaint L’Ouverture for having established a constitutional state based on Christian principles, that is, for conquering freedom after having being exposed (out of Africa) to the feeling of human’s personality and spiritual equality. At the end of the Anthropology, the self-development of the natural soul has indeed entered and passed through many different qualities: bodily, sensory, habitual, linguistic, which had demonstrably not exhausted this shape of the self, whereas the soul is in all of them. From the soul determined wholly qualitatively, in the first part of the Anthropology (where the spirit is still unfree, the soul being bound to its determinations in nature, as for racial differences), to the sentient soul which returns to itself and becomes for itself in positing ideally its determinateness of the second part of the Anthropology (through the soul’s conflict with corporeality and its victory over it, by reducing this corporeity to a sign for its expression and representation), the soul does not cease to be a human soul, present everywhere, exerting a formative action (Hineinbildung) within its corporeality (Leiblichkeit: Enc. §412Z), which is unable completely to sublate the difference between soul and body, res cogitans and res extensa. There is an irreducible, purely organic side of the body which resists the moulding power of the soul and constitutes the limit to the soul’s Hineinbildung. Hegel cautions that the soul does not “assume”, nor does it “have”, simple natural differences: rather the soul differentiates itself within itself (Enc. §402Z); it proves itself to remain the same within its qualitative alterations, not consisting in any of them: hence, they signify nothing but predicates of a subject within its judgment. The organic aspect of corporeality is expelled as something external and alien by the soul which feels this limitation to its formative power and reflects itself into itself. Through this self-differentiation, the soul separates its substantial totality and individual world from itself. The soul starts freely to exist-for-itself; it is for itself in the two sides (repulsion and attraction) of this process. As mediated by the totality of these two moments, the soul posits itself as the subjective over against its individual world (Enc. §402Z). This being-for-self of free universality is the “higher awakening” of the soul as “I” or abstract universality

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(Enc. §412/GW 20:421.5–7). As Hegel puts it: “through this reflection-in-itself (in-sich) spirit completes its liberation (Befreiung) from the form of being, gives itself that of essence, and becomes “I”” (Enc. §412Z). Through sentience, feeling, self-feeling, and habits, the natural soul takes hold and becomes aware of its own spatial extension or corporeality; it is able to distinguish, separate and distance what is bodily from itself, making it an object for a subject, a conscious “I,” thus determining itself through an activity of self-differentiation. This activity of repulsion within attraction manifests the natural soul to itself as a negative unity: both subject and object have only the appearance of being mutually independent as external beings, whereas, in ideality, each cannot be thought without the other. Therefore, in the Philosophy of Spirit’s passage from Anthropology to Phenomenology, the “I” has proven to be the primary and simplest determination of spirit which begins to be aware of itself. In the Encyclopaedia Logic Hegel presents the “I” as “the most familiar example of being-for-itself, a determinate being who exists as distinct from other determinate beings and yet related to them” (Enc. §96Z). When we say “I”, this expresses the infinite self-relation which is also negative and exclusive. Therefore, the logical or formal structure of the “I” is not the distinctive identity which merely individuates any unique thing from all others, unto itself, regardless of any relations to others. The “I” is the most familiar example of that immediate (qualitative) relation to itself merely by excluding the other from itself. In the 1831 Science of Logic, Hegel also presents the “I” as an example of Quantity: “for the ‘I’ is an absolute becoming-other, an infinite distancing or all-round repulsion that makes for the negative freedom of the being-for-itself which, however, remains absolutely simple continuity—the continuity of universality, of self-abiding-being interrupted by infinitely manifold limits, by the content of sensations, of intuition, and so forth” (SL 156–157/WL GW 21:179). To clarify the significance of space against the background of this formal qualitative (discrete, repulsive)–quantitative (continuous, attractive) structure of the “I” and within the context of the development of the natural soul to the “I”, consider the transition from the qualitative dialectic of what exists as individually determined in relation of otherness (Fürsichsein versus Sein-für-Anderes, attraction versus repulsion) to the quantitative dialectic of what exists as indifferent to determinacy. Above (§1.3) we considered the unity of presence and actuality of light as reaching the universal form of “life”, though devoid of the form of the self. A comparison with light can clarify why the “I” appears as the subjective consciousness of an independent object which stands over against it, thus constituting the phenomenon of spirit in the opening paragraph of Phenomenology in the Philosophy of Spirit (Enc. §413/GW 20:421.21–422.4). Hegel compares the “I” to light because, in order that something may become visible and appear, light manifests another (the opacity of corporeal individualization) as well as itself, and can only reveal itself by revealing that other, since nothing would be seen in total brightness (Enc. §§276–278/GW 20:277–282). However, in the addition to §381, Hegel claims that spirit does not resemble “light.” Indeed, light, as well as the “I” at the beginning of the encyclopedic


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Phenomenology, is simple, mere relationless self-identity. The “I” appears as an abstract “I”, whereas the “I”, according to its concept or in itself, is at once simple self-relation as well as unconditional relation to another (schlechtin Beziehung auf Anderes; Enc. §143Z). Both light and “I”, however, exhibit distinction or other-relatedness within themselves as sublated: in the 1823/24 philosophy of nature, Hegel remarks that “blue and green,” because they are diverse, seem to exist independently of one another, yet they cannot be divided, like acid and base: each of them does not possess merely its own being, but, at the same time, also the being of the other (GVNat, 90). To sum up: at the outset of the Encyclopaedia Phenomenology, the “I” is posited contrary to its concept, that of being the unity of the continuum and the discrete, which in turn integrates, respectively, the attraction and repulsion of Quality and the negation and reality of the Determinate Being (contained in the beginning of thought with Pure Being as equally and at the same time Nothing). Therefore it is logically necessary that the human “I” does not remain within the immediacy of what is natural, and attains its proper being-for-self in relation to what constitutes its inward and outward limits; for it is constitutively always beyond its finitude, unlike inorganic natural things which reveal themselves only to another, and attain nothing but a being-for-other, demonstrating no independence in respect to space. The crucial phenomenological passage from “meinen”, opinion, about what is in “my” inward being in Sense Certainty and the appropriation of my inward and outer being (Sein) in the sphere of Reason, through the essential mediation of the free self-consciousness, is a passage where the “I” subjectively “infects” (vergiftet) and “transforms” (verklärt) reality in thinking. However, it does not identify immediately with all reality: this would mean to annihilate the limit to its spiritual determined identity constituted by otherness and externality. To “pass through”, hindurchziehen, is different from occupying the space of immediate externality in order to refer to oneself the phenomenal manifestations of other determinate beings. Rather, the subject acquires objectivity by freely making itself into what it is according to its logical concept, while the object in space acquires subjectivity insofar as its own intrinsic universality is recognized and posited by the intellective and rational consciousness in our scientific approach to nature. Objectivity is spiritualized when the external objects have their externality posited ideally in human knowing, so that we can be freely at home in their own determinate existence (as their Bestehen: subsistence or persistence, what is thought as permanent in their transitoriness). We can be really with ourselves in another when we establish in thought a relation between the concrete subsistence of natural things (the positive side stated in “Consciousness”) and the negation of it (stated in “Self-Consciousness”). As Hegel says in Enc. §408Z: When I have raised myself to rational thinking, I am not only a subjective identity of the subjective and the objective in that I am to myself as my confronting object (mir gegenstandlich), but I have also disengaged from this identity by setting it over against myself as an actual objectivity.

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Notes 1. “Die erste oder unmittelbare Bestimmung der Natur ist die abstracte Allgemenheit ihres Aussersichseyns, ––dessen vermittungslose Gleichgültigkeit, der Raum” (Enc. GW 20:243.15–17). All English translations are mine, unless otherwise stated. 2. By the expression, “the idea-for-itself,” Hegel means that at the end of the Science of Logic the idea is manifest to itself, knows itself, as the form-unity of the objective and subjective thought-determinations. 3. “Die Natur Existenzen oder individuelle Existenzen als Qualität haben die Grundform der Selbstständigkeit, der Ausserlichkeit, des Auseinanderseins, der Gleichgültigkeit gegen einander. Pflanze, Blaum, Planet und Sonne bestehen nebeneinander” (GVNat, 90). 4. “Die Natur hat zunächst das Aussehen, gegenüber zu sein dem Geist” (VNat 2, 22). 5. “Das Sein der Natur ist nur abstrakt … es ist nur ein Gesetztes, diess ist die Unmittelbarkeit …. Das Unmittelbare hat nicht das Konkrete in sich, es is nur die abstrakte Beziehung auf sich und diess ist das Sein” (GVNat 88). 6. In 1823/24 Hegel characterizes this initial determination we have of nature as an objective world firmly standing in perennial contrast to us, against which we fight; see GVNat 69: “Die erste Bestimmung die wir hatten war die, die Natur sei ein Anderes gegen uns, ein Jenseits, ein Festes, Absolutes perennirend gegen uns, wir seien im Kampf mit der objektiven Welt”. 7. In Enc. §381Z Hegel defines the basic element of spirit’s conscious activity as “pure self-knowledge (Selbsterkennen) in absolute being-other (Anderssein)”, or as the movement of leading back or negating that which is (merely) external into a simple self-relation. Spirit truly actualizes itself by constituting the essence or substantial basis of my existing singularity as universal individuality. In the spiritual element, contrary to the natural element, the concept has a free existence. 8. Ibidem: “Zur Vermittelung gehört ein Verdoppeltes, Zweiheit und Rückkehr daraus in sich … Man muss aber nicht glauben dass der Begriff nur Vermittelung sei, er ist ebenso auch Aufhebung der Vermittelung”. 9. See Pinkard (2012, 23). 10. “[W]as ich vor mir habe, ist nur das einzelne Rot, dieses Bestimmte, das aber auch [die] Form der Allgemenheit hat, diese gehört auch mir an” (VL 4.54–56). 11. Haldar argues that Hegel’s approach is based on Kant’s following insight: “If, then, the representation of objects in time and space, as Kant shows, is possible only through the synthetic act of putting them and their parts together, perception and conception, time and space and the categories must be viewed as the correlatives of and inseparable from each other” (Haldar 1932, 522). Dahlstrom stresses Hegel’s ontological and critical reassessment of Kant’s distinction in the third Critique between the “analytic-universal” of the finite discursive human intellect and the “spontaneous intuition” of the divine intellect, grasping the whole in which all the parts are contained. For Hegel, the reality of reason is the identity of the universal of the intellect and the particular of intuition in terms of an “unfolding, necessary concretization,” as instantiated by organic entities in themselves (Dahlstrom 1998, 172–177). 12. See VNat2 12–13, where Hegel mentions force, light and matter as categories or thought determinations of the understanding (Verstand) which represent their objects as compounds of self-standing parts, subject to analytical division. 13. “[N]ur der Geist denkt den Begriff” (UVNat 19). 14. For a clear assessment of what does it mean to claim that spirit thinks life rationally, that rational thinking is a living activity, and that life is immediate reason, see VNat1 7–8. See also: “Das sich in sich Zusammenfassende, sich in sich Schliessende ist die Vernunft und das Leben” (ibid., 7). 15. “Begriff is also diese reine unendliche Tätigkeit, das Pulsieren des Allgemeinen, welches diese abstrakte Allgemeinheit negiert und sich-bestimmt” (UVNat 10).


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16. See the extensive account of Hegel’s logical constitution of the category of “something” and the derivation of “otherness” in Houlgate (2006, 312–330). 17. See the phenomenological characterization of the certainty and truth of reason observing nature in PhG GW 9:136.30–137.17. According to Wolff (1999, 19), for Hegel “all individual things, due to their determinateness against each other, relate negatively to themselves. Negativity as self-relation both constitutes and dissolves contradiction”. 18. “Die Natur ist das Anderssein. Anderes ist eine Negation, die relativ ist, das Andere des Geistes. Diese Relativität selbst macht aber die Bestimmtheit aus, die ihr zukommt; was sie für den Geist ist, das ist sie” (VNat2 25). See also a parallel text in UVNat 16. 19. See VNat2 18.493–494: “Das spekulative Denken erkennt in einem sein Anderes”. 20. Note that Hegel presents the “I” as the most familiar example of being manifest to oneself (Enc. §96Z), by saying that “we know ourselves as determinate beings who are there (daseiend), both distinct from other determinate beings and yet related (bezogen) to them”. See also UVNat 14. 21. This feature explains some theological expressions such as the definition of nature as the Abfall of the idea, with references to Jacob Böhme and Luciferus; see GVNat 85 and 87. 22. On the concept as master (Meister) see GVNat 90. 23. “Die Natur ist das Andere der Idee, nicht das relativ Andere, sondern an sich selbst das Andere, Aeusserliche. Die Idee ist in der Natur als begrifflose, als subjektlose, als Sein überhaupt” (GVNat 87). 24. De Vries notes that “Hegel seems to take the truths of geometry to be conceptual truths that unpack assumptions made at the beginning of the inquiry, so he does not explain the apriority of mathematical knowledge by reference to the special role of intuition in the constitution of mathematics. It is the unfolding of a specific form of self-externality that applies universally to finite things” (de Vries 2016, 217–218). 25. “Der Unterschied ist nur als Unterscheidbarkeit” (VNat2 36). 26. “Die Zeit ist die Negativität des Aussersichseins; die Negation dieser Negation ist aber noch ganz das Abstrakte, dies Ideelle, Abstraktion des Sinnlichen, wie es in der Form des Seins der Raum, in der Form des Nichtseins die Zeit [ist]” (VNat2 42). 27. According to Michael Wolff, the “scandal” of Hegel’s philosophy is the view that genuine contradictory judgments need not to be false (Wolff 1999, 19), for they designate something objective, as in the example of motion as “extant contradiction” (ibid., 6). 28. It is worth recalling that in §135 of his 1754 De continuitatis lege, Roger Joseph Boscovich names the fundamental constituents of matter with six interchangeable terms: punctum, punctum materiae, particula, particula materiae, prima particulum materiae, elementum simplex (Ullmaier 2005, 49).  In section 9 of the second edition (1763) of his Theoria philosophiae naturalis redacta ad unicam legem virium in natura existentium, he states that any two points of matter are determined (bina quaecunque materiae puncta determinari) to approach one another at some distance (attractive force) and in an equal degree recede from one another at other distances (repulsive force). Boscovich explains that he uses the term “force” to express ipsam determinationem and not the mode of action of the points (Jammer 1957, 177). 29. See Ferrini (1998). 30. Gies (1982, 11–12). 31. Enz. 1827 and Enz. 1830 §261: “Dies Vergehen und Sich-Wiedererzeugen des Raums in Zeit und der Zeit in Raum, dass die Zeit sich Räumlich als Ort, aber diese gleichgültige räumlichkeit ebenso unmittelbar zeitlich gesetzt wird – ist die Bewegung.” 32. See Ferrini (2020, forthcoming). 33. See Rossi (1992, 178–186). According to Rossi, only in the Berlin period does Hegel fully acknowledge the internal link between historical events and their geographical setting, recognizing that the external character of the historical process must be defined not only temporally but also spatially. Rossi contends that this acknowledgment is prompted by Hegel’s reading (likely in 1819) of Karl Ritter’s Die Erdkunde im Verhältnis zur Natur und zur Geschichte des Menschen, oder allgemeine, vergleichende Geographie (1817).

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34. See Ferrini (1998, 286–294). 35. VNat2 61: “Die Schwere ist eine qualitative Bestimmung, wo dieser quantitative Unterschied keinen Sinn mehr hat, der nur eintritt bei der Vergleichung verschiedener Körper”. 36. However, since the spectrum of colors that light displays results from its inner principle of differentiating itself when it thoroughly permeates the material structure of the body it illuminates (i.e. the prism; see Gies 1982, 11–12), light, though simple, is no longer the kind of unity that governs the motion of parts that remain external to their center, as in Mechanics of parts which remain to their center, as in Mechanics. 37. See de Vries (2016, 223–224): “Animals orient themselves in a spatio-temporal environment; they find food, shelter and mates, often evade predators, and they have some sense of the boundaries between themselves and the world around them […]. In intuitions humans confront the world via a determinate, even if abstract, form of sensibility, one that enables them to measure space and time and recognize in them the highly determinate forms of geometry and chronometry. The forms in which space and time are available to animals, we have to think, are less determinate: near and far, big and small, just happened and something back, mere directionality. These are the kinds of relations available to an animal. They are tied closely to the practical process of irritability”. 38. Note that in Hegel’s view, this speculative characteristic makes America a land to be developed, the land of becoming and future: “So ist dieses Land jetzt ein Land des Werdens, der Zukunft; das uns daher noch nicht angeht” (VPhW 96.552–553). 39. “Diese Unterschiede sind notwendig, da sie dem Begriff des Gedanken entsprechen. Diese drei Teile sind also in wesentlichem Verhältnis und machen eine verständige Totalität aus” (VPhW 96.557–560). 40. See also the account of this further threefold differentiation in VPhW 97.587–609. 41. See Rossi (1992, 186–194), and above, note 33. 42. See VPhWIntro 192–197; LPWHIntro 156–161. 43. SL, 6. See the entry “Beschaffenheit” in Hegel’s Encyclopedia Logic, “Notes to the Glossary,” 348: “Beshaffenheit means the state or condition of a thing, its disposition or nature, but also the constitution—of a body, for example. It expresses the fact of being determined, not just in-itself, but also outwardly. Nevertheless, this outward determination is itself a part of a thing’s own, immanent determination. The word ‘constitution’ best expresses this complex notion.”

Bibliography Cuvier, George. 1997. “Preliminary Discourse.” In Fossil, Bones and Geological Catastrophes. New Translations & Interpretations of the Primary Texts by Martin J. S. Rudwick. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. Dahlstrom, Daniel O. 1998. “Hegel’s Appropriation of Kant’s Account of Teleology in Nature.” In Hegel and the Philosophy of Nature, edited by S. Houlgate, 167–188. Albany: State University of New York Press. de Vries, Willem A. 2016. “Hegel’s Account of Space and Time.” In Hegel’s Philosophical Psychology, edited by S. Herrmann-Sinai and L. Ziglioli, 214–227. New York and London: Routledge. Ferrini, Cinzia. 1998. “Framing Hypotheses: Numbers in nature and the Logic of Measure in the Development of Hegel’s System.” In Hegel and the Philosophy of Nature, edited by S. Houlgate, 283–310. Albany: State University of New York Press. Ferrini, Cinzia. 2020. “Hegel’s Revisions of the Logic of Being: A Controversial Issue.” Rivista di Storia della Filosofia 1.2.


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Gies, Manfred. 1982. G.W.F. Hegel, Naturphilosophie. Die Vorlesung von 1819/20 [Manuscript Berhardy], edited by M. Gies. Napoli: Bibliopolis. Haldar, Hiralal. 1932. “Space and Time in Hegel’s Philosophy.” The Monist XLII: 520–532. Houlgate, Stephen. 2006. The Opening of Hegel’s Logic: From Being to Infinity. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press. Jammer, Max. 1957. Concepts of Force: A Study in the Foundations of Dynamics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Pinkard, Terry. 2012. Hegel’s Naturalism: Mind, Nature, and the Final Ends of Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Rossi, Pietro. 1992. “La storia universale e il suo quadro geografico.” In Hegel. Guida storica e critica, edited by P. Rossi, 169–206. Roma-Bari: Laterza. Ullmaier, Hans. 2005. Puncta, particulae et phaenomena. Roger Joseph Boscovich und seine Naturphilosophie. Hannover-Laatzen: Wehrhahn Verlag. Wolff, Michael. 1999. “On Hegel’s Doctrine of Contradiction.” The Owl of Minerva 31 (1): 1–22.

Part V

Philosophy of Spirit

Chapter 14

Embodied Cognition, Habit, and Natural Agency in Hegel’s Anthropology Italo Testa

This chapter discusses the central role of the notion of “habit” (Gewohnheit) in Hegel’s theory of “embodiment” (Verleiblichung). The aim is to show that the philosophical outcome of the Anthropology is that habit, understood as a sensorimotor life form, is not only an enabling condition for there to be mindedness, but is more strongly an ontological constitutive condition of all its levels of manifestation. Moreover, I will argue that Hegel’s approach somehow makes a model of embodied cognition available, which offers a unified account of the three main senses of embodiment understood as both a physiological, a functional, and a phenomenological process. In this sense, Hegel’s approach to habit can make a useful contribution to the contemporary debate on embodiment in philosophy of mind, the cognitive sciences, and action theory. In fact, for a long time “habit” in twentieth century philosophy and science has been mostly read in a negative way and identified with mechanical and repetitive routine (see Camic 1986). With the advent of informational and computational theory, which emerged as a reaction to behaviorism, the notion of “mental representation” became the fundamental theoretical concept in the approach to mindedness and informed the model of classical cognitive science. The criticism of the internalist, mentalist and representationalist presuppositions of classical cognitive science by the 4E (embodied, embedded, extended, and enactive) cognition paradigm (Menary 2010), has given rise to a reappraisal of the notion of habit as an alternative, fundamental theoretical concept in the approach to mindedness (Barandiaran and Di Paolo 2014). The reconstruction of Hegel’s approach is particularly relevant here and can fruitfully contribute to this discussion. It offers a model that not only assigns to habit a positive constitutive role in the formation of embodied human mindedness but which also overcomes the dualism between habitual motor routine and intentional activities—the dualism that is currently prevalent in cognitive sciences and in action theory—and allows for some sense of natural agency as belonging to

I. Testa (*)  University of Parma, Parma, Italy e-mail: [email protected]

© The Author(s) 2020 M. F. Bykova and K. R. Westphal (eds.), The Palgrave Hegel Handbook, Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism,



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animal life. Furthermore, Hegel’s approach cuts across the great divide between associationist and holistic approaches to habit that has for a long time dominated the philosophical debate on habit and still shapes the current opposition between classical cognitive science and embodied cognitive science.

1 Ontology of Living Activity The key question of Hegel’s Anthropology, which since the 1817 edition of the Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences constitutes the first subsection of his Philosophy of Subjective Spirit, is the relation between mindedness and embodiment.1 In his approach to embodied mind Hegel develops a style of interdisciplinary research, at the crossroads between animal and human physiology, empirical psychology, psychopathology, ethnography, neurosciences, and philosophy of mind. “Spirit” (Geist), the encompassing notion that Hegel in his system uses to indicate mindedness and its manifestation in natural and cultural phenomena at the individual, collective, and institutional level, is analyzed here as “soul or natural mind” (Enc. §387/GW 20), that is, as it emerges from and is manifested in the natural life of organic living beings. More specifically, Hegel’s Anthropology expounds the ontological structure of those beings that can manifest some form of natural mindedness, and analyzes the embodied cognitive processes that occur within it. Notwithstanding its title, Hegel’s Anthropology does not only concern human life, but encompasses forms of embodied activity shared with non-human animal life, and presupposed by minded activities of human infants, impaired adults, as well as mature and fully competent rational beings. In his Anthropology, Hegel frames minded activity within an ontological account of animal life as an individuated phenomenon that manifests an (a) embodied, (b) self-organized, and (c) interactive activity. Let us consider each of these three separately

1.1 Embodiment Organic bodiliness (Leiblichkeit) is connected with the idea that the body “constitutes my individual life” (Enc. §410Z/GW 20/Enc. 3, 135), that is, it is connected to the individuated character of natural living beings. Bodiliness is not only a necessary condition for the individuation of animal living beings to occur but, as Hegel makes it clear in the 1822 Summer Semester’s Lectures on the Philosophy of Subjective Spirit recorded by Heinrich Gustav Hotho, is a part of what individuated minded activity is (“Spirit as individual is bodily [leiblich],” VPhSG GW 25.1:86). Bodiliness is a “necessary condition” that is constitutive of Spirit as such (including, then, its supra individual manifestations).2 The corporeal constitution of living beings is deployed in the Anthropology as a dynamic process: a “system of embodiment” (Enc. §401/GW 20/Enc. 3, 73) that

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encompasses both localized anatomical parts and physiological processes of the body, and the body as an integrated whole. The organic individual body in this sense is presupposed by embodiment (Enc. § 401Z/GW 20/Enc. 3, 78) but not identical with it, since the embodiment process, as we shall see, is a dynamic coupling between organisms and their environment. It can result in forms of incorporation that objectify themselves beyond the limits of the individual corporeal body (for instance, in features of the natural and social environment, in other physical and individual bodies).

1.2 Self-Organization Life’s activity is modeled by Hegel as a self-organizing process, a dialectical relation of identity and difference to their environment. Natural living beings maintain themselves through an inner-outer distinction (Pinkard 2012, 26–28): they relate themselves to an external world they stand in opposition to, but which, through their own activity, can come to be part of their autotelic process of maintenance, reproduction, and growth. Such a homeostatic dynamic coupling between organisms and their environment is analyzed by Hegel as a dialectical relation between the intertwined processes of inwardization and externalization, which are in their turn analyzed as two correlated aspects of the process of embodiment (Enc. §401/GW 20). External “sensation [Empfindung]” is meant here to express the inward direction of the process of embodiment where aspects of the physical world, and of their contact with the sensory organs, modify the individual’s organic body’s internal physiological processes and come to be incorporated in its material and formal constitution. Whereas internal sensation (which Hegel will also call “feeling [Gefühl]”) describes the outward process of embodiment in so far as it results from the individual body’s spontaneous activity and is incorporated in its external manifestation as well as in modifications of the physical and organic environment it interacts with. What we may label as “inwardizing” and “externalizing embodiment” are dialectically intertwined: they do not stand in a zero sum relation but rather are mutually constitutive in the self-organizing process of living beings. As such corporeal living beings instantiate a natural form of the ontological structure of subjectivity (“through this immediate reflectedness into itself and out of its externality, the animal is subjectivity that is for itself and has sensations,” Enc. §381Z/Enc. 3, 11), understood as a self-regulatory process which maintains itself through an ­inner-outer distinction. It is worth noticing that embodying inwardization corresponds to that appropriative moment of “assimilation” or integration of the external that Hegel also calls “idealization” or “ideality of mind,” and which is said to be a property of natural beings (Enc. §381Z/Enc. 3, 12). Idealization, then, when read in the course of embodiment, and in its dialectical relation with externalization, rather than expressing spirit’s departure from nature, as some interpreters have argued (see McCumber 1990; Ferrarin 2001, 237–238), manifests rather the plasticity of embodied living beings, that is their malleability by and adaptability to the environment which surrounds them. And if, on the other hand, we understand externalizing embodiment in its dialectical relation with the moment of


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inwardization, we can realize that here we find the first natural root and manifestation of that process of objectification which plays a constitutive role for Hegel’s understanding of the social and historical world. In this sense Hegel, as we shall see, interprets habit as a homeostatic appropriative moment: habit is a detached form of embodiment, which consists of a re-externalization of embodiment and thus manifests an objectifying character.3 This makes it clear why habit is a turning point of the Anthropology: the ontological process of embodying objectification is exactly that which connects subjective and objective spirit and allows for habit to play a crucial role in both domains.4

1.3 Interaction Life’s activity is a relational process not only because it involves a dynamic coupling with its environment, but more specifically because it is always the manifestation of a natural genus or species (Gattung), which we could here translate with the term “life form.” Individual life activities are in this sense always actualizations of a natural life form and of its potentialities and can be understood in their determinacy and meaning only in this wider context. For instance, the way an individual living being breathes, moves, and mates cannot be understood apart from the way such activities are typically realized in its life form (see Thompson 2008). The ontological relational character of life’s activity is more extended than that in the Anthropology and is specifically connected with the role that embodied reciprocal interaction between members of the same life form plays for their individuation. Hegel first underlines that individual activities always instantiate a life form in an embodied individual manner. The way they realize the universal life form is somehow mediated by their individual self-organizing process, i.e. by their subjectivity and the forms of self-relation it implements (ranging from a lower degree of individuated realization to be found in pre-reflectively self-aware non-human life forms to a higher degree in human life forms mediated by reflective consciousness, language and cultural institutions). Secondly, in the Anthropology Hegel devotes specific attention to forms of embodied interaction that in the course of the ages of life (Enc. §§396–397/GW 20) play a decisive role in the process of organic growth, maintenance, and reproduction of living organisms. Instances of these processes of embodied interaction are the mother-child primary interaction in the mother’s womb and in the early years (see also §405); the imitative character of the learning process of Bildung that leads to habit formation understood as a process that already happens at the animal level (see Enc. §396R/Enc. 3, 53–54); immediate communicative interaction between animals and humans and their pathological forms (what Hegel calls “magical relationship” and “animal magnetism,” cf. Enc. §§405–406). A further instance of these processes of embodied interaction is sexual reproduction understood as the “highest point of living nature” (Enc. §381Z/Enc. 3, 11; see also §397). For living animals, even though they are not yet aware of it in a conscious manner, already have a pre-reflective sentient (self-)relation to the interactive recognitive structure of their form of life.

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2 Embodied Cognition While analyzing the ontological structure of animal living beings, Hegel’s Anthropology develops an account of those forms of natural mindedness that can be exhibited by it. The first section of the Anthropology, “The Natural Soul” (§§391–402), treats the notion of soul, understood in Aristotelian terms as formed life’s activity, and is subdivided into the analysis of “Natural qualities” (§§392–395), “Natural alterations” (§§396–398), and “Sensation” (§§399–402). Natural qualities are those determinations of life’s activity that are related to aspects of planetary life such as climates, seasons, geographies, races and how they are embodied in the corporeal structure and modes of life of different people, and individuated in the determinacy of different individual subjects that manifest varying physiognomy, temperament, dispositions and idiosyncrasies. Natural alternations are those ­psycho-physical changes (such as birth, growth, sexual reproduction, and death) that occur within the individual cycle of life in the course of ages, and those alternating states (such as awakening and sleep) that occur in the course of the day. Finally, in the analysis of “sensation [Empfindung]” individual living beings are considered as sentient self-organizing beings, that is, as self-organizing individual beings, the inner-outer distinction through which they maintain themselves is mediated by their sensory organs and embodied in their psycho-physical states. As one can see, while considering minded activity as an actualization of a life form, Hegel first adopts in the “Natural Soul” section a broad notion of minded or ensouled activity, which encompasses a vast horizon of not specifically cognitive psychophysical natural activities of living beings. Still, the dialectical exposition, culminating in the analysis of sensation, and leading to the next section (§§403–410), whose subject is “Feeling [Gefühl],” understood as the integrated character of sensations in an individual living whole, progressively focuses on those aspects of mindedness that have to do with what we might call the lower threshold of cognition. The latter concerns bodily processes that—such as sensation and feeling—have a cognitive aspect, which manifests itself in an unconscious or preconscious manner, not yet involving explicit consciousness and will. In this sense one can say that since the analysis of sensation and of feeling plays such a central role in the conceptual structure of the Anthropology, the latter can be understood as being fundamentally concerned with what is called today “embodied cognition” (Shapiro 2014). Contrary to classical cognitive sciences and its internalist, representational, and mental approach to cognition, the embodied cognition paradigm assumes that “cognition depends upon the kinds of experience that come from having a body with various sensorimotor capacities, and … that these individual sensorimotor capacities are themselves embedded in a more encompassing biological, psychological, and cultural context” (Varela et al. 1992, 173). And in fact Hegel first develops an embodied approach to cognition in the Anthropology while analyzing ensouled bodily activity as sensation and feeling,


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and later thematizes (in the Phenomenology and in the Psychology) its embeddedness in psychological and cultural contexts. Let us now have a closer look at the thesis that Hegel’s Anthropology is connected with cognition. It is true that at first sight sensations, if taken alone, are presented as physiological states of the body that are connected with the apprehension of singular elements and that as such seem rather like precognitive states, not being characterized as having a determinate cognitive content (Enc. §400/GW 20). Still, Hegel’s approach here is a dynamic one, and is focused not on representational contentful states (and the justificatory role they may play) but rather on processes, and namely on the way sensations are a part of a dynamic system of inward-outward embodiment (§401). One can say that Hegel is primarily concerned here with cognitive activities as episodes of embodied processes rather than with cognitive states as episodes that play a justificatory role. Besides, feeling or emotional feeling, the next determination in Hegel’s dialectical analysis, is first introduced as expressing the functional integration of single sensations in a “totality of sensations” (Enc. §402/GW 20, see on this de Vries 1988, 72–73). Feelings are thus sensations considered for the role they play in the architecture of a living cognitive system. Once we understand that Hegel’s Anthropology is connected with the analysis of cognitive processes, then which are the structural features of the latter to be explained? Here the ontological account of individuated animal life can offer us a guiding thread, since minded activity as cognition is an instantiation of life’s activity. Hence, cognition will have to be treated as being (a) embodied, (b) ­self-organizing, and (c) interactive.5 More generally, in the analysis of cognition, we will have to consider it as an activity (Tätikgkeit), understood as a developing process of organism/environment interaction within a life form. This should not be misinterpreted as meaning that cognition is always active: life’s dynamic activity cuts across the opposition between passive and active, and for instance “feeling,” when first introduced, is initially characterized as an episode of “passive” organization, of passive synthesis of the manifold of sensations (Enc. §405/GW 20). We have already seen how sensation is deployed by Hegel as a bodily determination that results from the intertwinement of inwardizing and externalizing embodiment. Embodied sensory cognition is then understood as an enactive process that arises out of a dynamic interaction between the acting organism and its environment. Rather than consisting in a merely passive representational process whereby information is received and a pre-given world is represented by a pregiven mind—the prevalent model in the representationalist tradition and in classical cognitive sciences—cognition would be a process of enactment of a world and a mind together on the basis of the history of their interdependence.6 This would be a transformational process, where mind and world are modified (enacted) by their dynamic interaction—by the inwardizing and externalizing process—rather than a mere informational process where a given world is represented by an already constituted mind. The enactive process of sensation expresses the structure of animal subjectivity as a cognitive system (“sensation is just the omnipresence

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of the unity of the animal in all its members,” Enc. §381Z/GW 20/Enc. 3, 11), an autopoietic process that is “its cause and effect.” It is important here to realize that the deployment of the integration of the different senses in the living whole of the individual body is analyzed by Hegel as a process of sensorimotor coordination. The integration of sensations into feeling results in the formation of bodily schemas of motor action, understood as consolidated patterned structures of sensations. This is exactly the role that habit as an embodied sensorimotor life form plays within the “Feeling Soul” section of the Anthropology. Before coming to the crucial point of habit formation, let us concentrate on some other important features of the analysis of embodied cognitive processes that Hegel offers us. First, Hegel’s Anthropology, and in particular his analysis of feeling as an integrated system of sensations, deals with minded phenomena that can be labeled as unconscious or subconscious—dream and magnetic somnambulism (Enc. §406)—and as pathological disintegration of conscious activity— derangement (Enc. §408). When it analyzes healthy, non-pathological processes, it also addresses cognitive activities that may happen (even if not necessarily, because in some cases they can be consciously recovered) below the level of reflective conscious activity and voluntary control (“Sensation is the form in which the mind weaves its somber web in its unconscious and unintellectual activity” Enc. §400/Enc. 3, 69). Those are the kind of activities that nowadays could be called the “cognitive unconscious” (see Lakoff and Johnson 1999, 9). Secondly, the embodied cognitive processes analyzed in the Anthropology are fundamentally pre-representational (and pre-linguistic) ones (see de Vries 1988, 81; Ikäheimo 2000, 29), since here (Enc. §404/GW 20) the inner-outer distinction is not yet demarcated as the differentiation of a subject from an object within consciousness that will first be introduced in the Phenomenology subsection of Subjective Spirit. Hence, representations, which will be analyzed as contentful states in the Psychology subsection of Subjective Spirit that follow the Phenomenology, do not play a cognitive role in mediating the enactive interaction between living individuals and their environment. And thirdly, the sort of preconscious cognitive minded activity analyzed in feeling as a system of sensation realizes a form of organized structure, some sort of sensory synthesis of the manifold, which is not yet or not essentially mediated by upper level conceptual categories.

3 Habit as Sensorimotor Life Form The second section of the Anthropology, “The feeling soul,” is articulated in the 1830 edition of the Encyclopaedia in three parts, “The Feeling Soul in its Immediacy” (§§403–406), “Self-Feeling” (§§407–408), and “Habit” (§§409–410), and followed by the section on the “Actual Soul” (§§411–412), where the structures analyzed in the Anthropology are deployed in their more accomplished concrete actualization. Once functionally integrated in a living unity, sensations don’t just affect the physical body in its single parts, but are rather sensed as affecting


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the totality of the living individual. This “appropriation” or “idealization” manifests the subjectivity of sensation and corresponds to the notion of “feeling” (§403), which expresses the way in which sensations are not just registered in discrete bodily states, but are felt as affecting the whole individual. Feeling is then analyzed as a qualitative emotional or proto-emotional state (Howard 2013) of the embodied living being rather than as a form of intentional conscious awareness of something (Enc. §404/GW 20). This does not mean that feelings are not capable of eventually bearing explicit cognitive content. But rather than their aboutness, what is relevant here is that sensations as feelings realize some form of bodily ­self-relation (“what is differentiated from it is not yet an external object, as in consciousness, but only the determinations of its sentient totality,” Enc. §404/Enc. 3, 88) that in animal life is first instantiated in a passive way (Enc.§405). That is why the subsequent moment in its conceptual development is “self-feeling [Selbstgefühl].” The system of sensations is an expression of animal subjectivity that actualizes some form of sensory mediated self-relation. The self-­regulatory ontological structure of subjectivity is then manifested here as an embodied cognitive process that results in some form of proprioception, of non-objective awareness. It is worth noticing that, as is nowadays very often the case in cognitive sciences and philosophy of mind, the modeling of proprioceptive self-awareness is backed by an analysis of its pathological manifestations (such as somnambulism, and forms of derangement). Besides, the notion of embodied self-feeling further contributes to the analysis of the ontological individuation of living beings, since it accounts not only for the fact that the Gattung is necessarily actualized by a multiplicity of individuals (the individual bearers of that form of life), but also for the fact that these individuals actualize their Gattung in an individualized manner. Such an individualized manner of the actualization of Gattung in a multiplicity of individuals is expressed by the fact that the dynamic self-organization of living individuals inevitably involves implicit self-awareness of their individuality. In this sense, Hegel in the 1827–1828 winter semester’s lectures on the Philosophy of Subjective Spirit recorded by Johann Eduard Erdmann, said that “feeling is the most particularized uniqueness of the subject” (VGeist 69–70/LPS 112). Here it must be added that the individuating role of feeling self-relation is not disjointed from its interactive character. Hegel first introduces self-feeling (Enc. §405R/GW 20) as passively instantiated within the context of the child-mother interaction in the womb and in the early years, and within the context of other forms of normal and abnormal communicative interaction between non human and human animals. Moreover, self-feeling is considered as something that can be trained and thus modified through our formative interaction with other living beings. Selffeeling must then be understood as taking place within a process of habit formation. It is in this sense that Hegel frames habit as a “mechanism of self-feeling” (Enc. §410R). According to Hegel, habit formation reshapes the self-referential structure already implicit in particular feelings and gives to it a higher degree of universality, where such a self-relation is exhibited as a “simple relation of ideality to

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itself” or “a universality that is for itself” (Enc. §409). Compared with the singular character of simple sensation, and the particular character of feelings in which the living being is immersed, habit exhibits an organization which has a form of generality, since habits are not single acts but rather dispositions to act in certain ways given certain conditions.7 This is the expression of the process of s­ elf-organization of subjective living beings, and in this sense habits are self-referential general structures insofar as they are organized, standing dispositions for the ­self-development of living beings. The self-referential structure of habits is itself a form of bodily self-relation, the “abstract being-for-self of the soul in its bodiliness” (Enc. §409/GW 20). Yet what is relevant here is that with habit, embodiment takes a universal form. Habit can be qualified as a form of detached embodiment, insofar as on the one hand in habitual behavior we keep a distance from the immediacy of singular sensations and particular feelings and the forms of embodiment connected with them. As Hegel writes, “this particular being of the soul is the moment of its bodiliness: here it breaks with this bodiliness, distinguishing it from itself as its simple being and becomes the ideal, subjective substantiality of its bodiliness” (§409). Habit then “breaks with this bodiliness” insofar as it overcomes the particularity of the embodiment of sensitive feeling. But on the other hand, habit is itself a form of embodiment (“the subjective substantiality of its bodiliness”) which now expresses itself in a bodily capacity of detachment,8 of keeping a distance, which has a general form, since through habitual dispositions we can react in similar ways to different singular sensory inputs. In this sense habit “liberates us from sensations” (Enc. §410R/Enc. 3, 131) and feelings not because by becoming habituated we cease to be sentient beings, but rather because the form of habit expresses the integration of particular clusters of sensations into self-organized general patterns. The kind of self-relation manifested in habits is moreover understood as some form of pre-reflective bodily awareness, which is “unconscious but the foundation [Grundlage] of consciousness” (Enc. §409R/Enc. 3, 130–131). Here Hegel restates again the idea that there is a form of proprioception that precedes the intentional structure of objective consciousness and is the basis on which the latter can be posited. But what does this mean? In which sense does Hegel’s analysis of habit give us a clue on how to interpret this? Once intentional consciousness and reflective awareness are achieved, this does not mean that forms of pre-reflective awareness cease to be there. This is the case not only because we continue to be embodied sentient beings, but also because even reflective consciousness can take a habitual form. Hegel frequently refers to intellectual habits, for instance to the habit of “thinking” (Enc. §410R), and in this sense, it can be legitimate to use here Dewey’s notion of “reflective habits” (Dewey 1983, 145; also see Testa 2017). Moreover, reflective habits, in order to be put in place and to function, must recruit pre-reflective bodily mechanisms and become somehow automatic. In this sense, even higher forms of intelligent behavior do not simply overcome, but rather reshape into new forms pre-reflective sensorimotor patterns: one could speak of “post-reflective” habits.


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Besides, in the Anthropology, Hegel considers a basic level of habit formation where habitual patterns are not structured by conceptual categories, but rather by embodied schemes of sensorimotor action. The generality of habits is, in this sense, qualified by Hegel in the 1827–1828 Lectures on the Philosophy of Subjective Spirit recorded by Stolzenberg, as a “universal mode of acting [allgemeine Weise meines Thuns]” (VPhG GW 25:2, 727; Enc. §410Z/GW 20/Enc. 3, 134). This is a mode of doing whose generality does not depend on the determinate content it takes but rather on its motor form. The universality or generality of habit, as Hegel explains, for instance on the habit of walking—consists in the possibility of accomplishing a multiplicity of particular acts of walking, that is, in its capacity of being instantiated in a variety of particular acts, independently from the particular form and content of those acts (see also VGeist 124/LPS 153). This does not exclude that at higher levels the form of habit can take as its content beliefs, desires and more generally intentional states that are conceptually structured. Hegel’s idea is that more complex forms of habits, such as for instance writing, in order to be put in motion, have to recruit and reshape lower forms of sensorimotor coordination. “Habit,” as he writes in the remark to §410 of the Encyclopaedia, “is a form that embraces all kinds and stages of mind’s activity,” since no matter what their form and content is, minded activities have to take the form of habit in order to be enacted in living individuals (Enc. §410R/GW 20/ Enc. 3, 132).

3.1 Bodily Memory and Imagination Habitual patterns are connected in Hegel’s analysis with some form of bodily memory. “Habit is recollection [Erinnerung],” as Hegel says in his 1822 lessons (VPhSG GW 25.1:89). The instance of memory connected with habit formation and analyzed in the Anthropology is to be distinguished from the form of representational memory that Hegel analyzes in the Psychology (on the latter see Magrì 2016). Whereas the latter is qualified as a “mechanism of intelligence,” the sort of memory that is instantiated by habit is rather to do with the “mechanism of self-feeling” (Enc. §410R/GW 20/Enc. 3, 131). This form of non representational bodily memory is understood by Hegel as recollected feeling or repeated recollection. “The individual activities of man,” as Hegel writes, “acquire by repeated practice the character of habit, the form of something received into recollection, into the universality of the mental interior” (Enc. §410Z/GW 20/Enc. 3, 136). What is here referred to with the term “recollection” (see also Enc. §412 & Z) is then some form of memory incorporated in bodily schemes of self-feeling that are formed through repetition of doings. The idea is that through the practice of repetition some bodily patterns are formed which incorporate past occurrences of singular sensed doings and feelings—recollect them—in the universality of our motor schemes, that is in habitual patterns that put at our disposal a

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general mode of doings that can occur in a variety of individual occasions. What we have here is not a representational content actualized in the absence of past intuitions—as would happen in representational memory—but rather an embodied disposition, which takes the generalized form of the anticipatory schemes of habitual patterns. It is not fortuitous that Hegel often connects in the Encyclopaedia and in the Lessons “repetition” and “recollection” with “production” and “reproduction [Reproduktion]” (VGeist 156/LPS 129; VPhG GW 25.2:734). The term “production” alludes to the role that productive or transcendental imagination plays in the schematization of experience in Kant’s Transcendental Deduction and Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre. By Hegel this is connected with a non representational instance of imagination, since its productive activity is not connected with the formation of mental representations of what is not present, but rather with the structure of habits as “possibility [Möglichkeit]” “capacity or resource [Vermögen]” (VGeist 156/LPS 128; VPhG GW 25.2:734) of doing and acting. Habitual dispositions are then to be understood as bodily schemes which anticipate possibilities of action in a variety of individual situations. In this sense habitual motor patterns, by implicitly recollecting our reactions to past occurrences of sensation and feelings, allow us to take a step back from what is currently present in our sensory experience, and as such anticipate possible courses of action (see Enc. §410Z/GW 20/Enc. 3, 134). This is an embodied form of minded anticipation of experience. The connection between habit and imagination through embodiment is also stated in the 1827 Encyclopaedia, where Hegel concisely defines habit as “Einund Durchbildung der Leiblichkeit” (Enc. §410, 313/GW 20). It is worth noticing that Hegel employs here the term “Einbildung,” which means literally “imagining,” and in its root is directly related to “Einbildungskraft,” that is, the term used in Kant’s Critique of Judgement to refer to the capacity of imagination. The formative activity of habit (“Durchbildung” means “education,” “formation”), in this sense, shapes the body according to imaginative anticipatory motor schemes (“Einbildung”). For the same reasons, in §410R of the 1830 edition of the Encyclopaedia, while analyzing “dexterity” as a form of habit formation where subjective purposes are embodied in the immediate bodiliness as a “particular possibility,” this form of “embodiment [Verleiblichung]” is also described as a process of “Einbilden” of such a purpose in the body (see also Forman 2010, 343–344). Here the verb “Einbilden” again expresses the idea that inhabited formation of the body is shaped by patterns that play a productive imaginative role in that they anticipate particular instances of action (Enc. §410R, 417–418 GW 20). In this sense, the notion of habit can be also read as an ontological answer to the Kantian epistemological question of the unification of the sensible manifold, since here the unifying activity of synthesis is instantiated as the mode of being which results from the embodied process of habit formation rather than as the result of a presupposed transcendental activity.


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3.2 The Integration of Holism and Associationism in Habit Formation Even though the notion of “repetition [Wiederholung]” plays an important role in Hegel’s explanation of habit, this should not lead us to think that he identifies the essence of habit with repetition. In Hegel’s analysis repetition plays a crucial role as for the acquisition of habits: it is connected with the “production [Erzeugung]” of habits through exercise or “practice [Übung]” (Enc. §410/GW 20): a practice that Hegel again qualifies as a process of “sich-einbilden,” of imaginative formation. Still, the fact that habits are so acquired—and here Hegel may be wrong, since as Aristotle already noted, there can be theoretical habits, such as some mathematical skills, that just need comprehension and do not necessarily require repetition in order to be acquired—does not mean that repetition and habit are identical. As we have seen, habits are rather understood by Hegel as ­self-organizing, self-referred universal modes of doing. It is then this kind of “universality [Allgemeinheit]” or “generality [Allheit]” (VGeist 124–125/LPS 153) which seems to