Hegelian Metaphysics

Hegelian Metaphysics

Robert Stern

Language: English

Pages: 408

ISBN: 0199640114

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The great German idealist philosopher G. W. F. Hegel has exerted an immense influence on the development of philosophy from the early 19th century to the present. But the metaphysical aspects of his thought are still under-appreciated. In a series of essays Robert Stern traces the development of a distinctively Hegelian approach to metaphysics and certain central metaphysical issues. The book begins with an introduction that considers this theme as a whole, followed by a section of essays on Hegel himself. Stern then focuses on the way in which certain key metaphysical ideas in Hegel's system, such as his doctrine of the 'concrete universal' and his conception of truth, relate to the thinking of the British Idealists on the one hand, and the American Pragmatists on the other. The volume concludes by examining a critique of Hegel's metaphysical position from the perspective of the 'continental' tradition, and in particular Gilles Deleuze.

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406–7]: ‘The state is the actuality of concrete freedom. But concrete freedom requires that personal individuality and its particular interests should reach their full development and gain recognition of their right for itself (within the system of the family and of civil society), and that they should, on the one hand, pass over of their own accord into the interest of the universal, and on the other, knowingly and willingly acknowledge this universal interest even as their own substantial

particular is ‘‘unreachable’’ ’. ¹⁰⁷ EP I, 232 ( CP 8.41). ¹⁰⁸ Cf. Hegel, EL, § 24Z, 57–8 [ Werke, VIII: 83]: ‘Thus man is always thinking, even when he simply intuits; if he considers something or other he always considers it as something universal, he fixes on something singular, and makes it stand out, thus withdrawing his attention from something else, and he takes it as something abstract and universal, even though it is universal in a merely formal way’. ¹⁰⁹ It might be said, however,

taken as given, therefore, the battle against idealist rationalism will be lost: The great obstacle to radical empiricism in the contemporary mind is the rooted rationalist belief that experience as immediately given is all disjunction and no conjunction, and that to make one world out of this separateness, a higher unifying agency must be there. In the prevalent idealism this agency is represented as the absolute all-witness which ‘relates’ things together by throwing ‘categories’ over

famous ‘master–slave’ dialectic, Hegel presents a fundamental difficulty we face in our social interaction as the clash between realizing that we are one amongst others who in some sense are the same as us, with the feeling that we are also unique and so fundamentally distinct: In this determination lies the tremendous contradiction that, on the one hand, the ‘I’ is wholly universal, absolutely pervasive, and interrupted by no limit, a universal essence common to all men, the two mutually

‘appearance’ is not. Hegel therefore suggests that as long as the religious person thinks that behind the world there is a divine order, or the philosopher accepts that there is more to the world than transient phenomena, he or she should find nothing outrageous in the ‘simple propositions’ of the Doppelsatz; but this is not because these propositions are in fact meant progressively rather than conservatively, but because they summarize a basic metaphysical assumption common to all

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