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Rather than simply rejecting Kant's dualism of freedom versus nature, Hegel aims to subsume it within "true infinity", the "Concept" or "Notion": Begriff , "Spirit" and "ethical life" in such a way that the Kantian duality is rendered intelligible, rather than remaining a brute "given". The reason why this subsumption takes place in a series of concepts is that Hegel's method in his Science of Logic and his Encyclopedia is to begin with basic concepts like "Being" and "Nothing" and to develop these through a long sequence of elaborations, including those already mentioned.

In this manner, a solution that is reached in principle in the account of "true infinity" in the Science of Logic' s chapter on "Quality" is repeated in new guises at later stages, all the way to "Spirit" and "ethical life" in the third volume of the Encyclopedia.

In this way, Hegel intends to defend the germ of truth in Kantian dualism against reductive or eliminative programs like those of materialism and empiricism. Like Plato, with his dualism of soul versus bodily appetites, Kant pursues the mind's ability to question its felt inclinations or appetites and to come up with a standard of "duty" or, in Plato's case, "good" which transcends bodily restrictiveness.

Hegel preserves this essential Platonic and Kantian concern in the form of infinity going beyond the finite a process that Hegel in fact relates to "freedom" and the "ought" , [60] : —, the universal going beyond the particular in the Concept and Spirit going beyond Nature.

Hegel renders these dualities intelligible by ultimately his argument in the "Quality" chapter of the "Science of Logic". The finite has to become infinite in order to achieve reality. The idea of the absolute excludes multiplicity so the subjective and objective must achieve synthesis to become whole. This is because as Hegel suggests by his introduction of the concept of "reality", [60] : what determines itself—rather than depending on its relations to other things for its essential character—is more fully "real" following the Latin etymology of "real", more "thing-like" than what does not.

Finite things do not determine themselves because as "finite" things their essential character is determined by their boundaries over against other finite things, so in order to become "real" they must go beyond their finitude "finitude is only as a transcending of itself". The result of this argument is that finite and infinite—and by extension, particular and universal, nature and freedom—do not face one another as two independent realities, but instead the latter in each case is the self-transcending of the former. This evolution was itself the result of God's desire for complete self-awareness.

1. Hegel’s description of his dialectical method

Modern philosophy, culture and society seemed to Hegel fraught with contradictions and tensions, such as those between the subject and object of knowledge, mind and nature, self and Other , freedom and authority, knowledge and faith, or the Enlightenment and Romanticism.

Hegel's main philosophical project was to take these contradictions and tensions and interpret them as part of a comprehensive, evolving, rational unity that in different contexts he called "the absolute Idea" Science of Logic , sections — or "absolute knowledge" Phenomenology of Spirit , " DD Absolute Knowledge".

According to Hegel, the main characteristic of this unity was that it evolved through and manifested itself in contradiction and negation. Contradiction and negation have a dynamic quality that at every point in each domain of reality — consciousness , history, philosophy, art, nature and society—leads to further development until a rational unity is reached that preserves the contradictions as phases and sub-parts by lifting them up Aufhebung to a higher unity. This whole is mental because it is mind that can comprehend all of these phases and sub-parts as steps in its own process of comprehension.

PHILOSOPHY: IDEALISM, KANT and HEGEL

It is rational because the same, underlying, logical , developmental order underlies every domain of reality and is ultimately the order of self-conscious rational thought, although only in the later stages of development does it come to full self-consciousness. The rational, self-conscious whole is not a thing or being that lies outside of other existing things or minds.

Rather, it comes to completion only in the philosophical comprehension of individual existing human minds who through their own understanding bring this developmental process to an understanding of itself. Hegel's thought is revolutionary to the extent that it is a philosophy of absolute negation—as long as absolute negation is at the center, systematization remains open, and makes it possible for human beings to become subjects. Some [ who? Geist combines the meaning of spirit—as in god, ghost, or mind—with an intentional force.

In Hegel's early philosophy of nature draft manuscripts written during his time at the University of Jena , Hegel's notion of "Geist" was tightly bound to the notion of " Aether ", from which Hegel also derived the concepts of space and time , but in his later works after Jena he did not explicitly use his old notion of "Aether" anymore.

Central to Hegel's conception of knowledge and mind and therefore also of reality was the notion of identity in difference —that is, that mind externalizes itself in various forms and objects that stand outside of it or opposed to it; and that through recognizing itself in them, is "with itself" in these external manifestations so that they are at one and the same time mind and other-than-mind.


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This notion of identity in difference, which is intimately bound up with his conception of contradiction and negativity, is a principal feature differentiating Hegel's thought from that of other philosophers. Hegel made the distinction between civil society and state in his Elements of the Philosophy of Right. On the left, it became the foundation for Karl Marx 's civil society as an economic base ; [66] to the right, it became a description for all non-state and the state is the peak of the objective spirit aspects of society, including culture, society and politics.

This liberal distinction between political society and civil society was followed by Alexis de Tocqueville. For example, while it seems to be the case that he felt that a civil society such as the German society in which he lived was an inevitable movement of the dialectic, he made way for the crushing of other types of "lesser" and not fully realized types of civil society as these societies were not fully conscious or aware—as it were—as to the lack of progress in their societies.

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Thus, it was perfectly legitimate in the eyes of Hegel for a conqueror such as Napoleon to come along and destroy that which was not fully realized. Hegel's State is the final culmination of the embodiment of freedom or right Rechte in the Elements of the Philosophy of Right. The State subsumes family and civil society and fulfills them. All three together are called "ethical life" Sittlichkeit.

The State involves three " moments ". In a Hegelian State, citizens both know their place and choose their place.

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy

They both know their obligations and choose to fulfill their obligations. An individual's "supreme duty is to be a member of the state" Elements of the Philosophy of Right , section The individual has "substantial freedom in the state". The State is "objective spirit" so "it is only through being a member of the state that the individual himself has objectivity, truth, and ethical life" section Furthermore, every member both loves the State with genuine patriotism, but has transcended mere "team spirit" by reflectively endorsing their citizenship.

Members of a Hegelian State are happy even to sacrifice their lives for the State. According to Hegel, " Heraclitus is the one who first declared the nature of the infinite and first grasped nature as in itself infinite, that is, its essence as process. The origin of philosophy is to be dated from Heraclitus. His is the persistent Idea that is the same in all philosophers up to the present day, as it was the Idea of Plato and Aristotle".

According to Hegel, Heraclitus's "obscurity" comes from his being a true in Hegel's terms "speculative" philosopher who grasped the ultimate philosophical truth and therefore expressed himself in a way that goes beyond the abstract and limited nature of common sense and is difficult to grasp by those who operate within common sense. Hegel asserted that in Heraclitus he had an antecedent for his logic: "[ Hegel cites a number of fragments of Heraclitus in his Lectures on the History of Philosophy.

Heraclitus does not form any abstract nouns from his ordinary use of "to be" and "to become" and in that fragment seems to be opposing any identity A to any other identity B, C and so on, which is not-A. However, Hegel interprets not-A as not existing at all, not nothing at all, which cannot be conceived, but indeterminate or "pure" being without particularity or specificity.

This interpretation of Heraclitus cannot be ruled out, but even if present is not the main gist of his thought. For Hegel, the inner movement of reality is the process of God thinking as manifested in the evolution of the universe of nature and thought; that is, Hegel argued that when fully and properly understood, reality is being thought by God as manifested in a person's comprehension of this process in and through philosophy. Since human thought is the image and fulfillment of God's thought, God is not ineffable so incomprehensible as to be unutterable , but can be understood by an analysis of thought and reality.

Just as humans continually correct their concepts of reality through a dialectical process , so God himself becomes more fully manifested through the dialectical process of becoming.

Philosophical Mysticism in Plato, Hegel, and the Present: Robert Wallace: Bloomsbury Academic

For his god, Hegel does not take the logos of Heraclitus but refers rather to the nous of Anaxagoras , although he may well have regarded them the same as he continues to refer to god's plan, which is identical to God. Whatever the nous thinks at any time is actual substance and is identical to limited being, but more remains to be thought in the substrate of non-being, which is identical to pure or unlimited thought. The universe as becoming is therefore a combination of being and non-being.

The particular is never complete in itself, but to find completion is continually transformed into more comprehensive, complex, self-relating particulars. The essential nature of being-for-itself is that it is free "in itself;" that is, it does not depend on anything else such as matter for its being. The limitations represent fetters, which it must constantly be casting off as it becomes freer and more self-determining.

Although Hegel began his philosophizing with commentary on the Christian religion and often expresses the view that he is a Christian, his ideas of God are not acceptable to some Christians even though he has had a major influence on 19th- and 20th-century theology. As a graduate of a Protestant seminary, Hegel's theological concerns were reflected in many of his writings and lectures. In his posthumously published Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion , Part 3 , Hegel is shown as being particularly interested with the demonstrations of God's existence and the ontological proof.

This means that Jesus as the Son of God is posited by God over against himself as other. Hegel sees both a relational unity and a metaphysical unity between Jesus and God the Father. To Hegel, Jesus is both divine and human. Hegel further attests that God as Jesus not only died, but "[ God rises again to life, and thus things are reversed". The philosopher Walter Kaufmann has argued that there was great stress on the sharp criticisms of traditional Christianity appearing in Hegel's so-called early theological writings.

Kaufmann admits that Hegel treated many distinctively Christian themes and "sometimes could not resist equating" his conception of spirit Geist "with God, instead of saying clearly: in God I do not believe; spirit suffices me". Kaufmann goes on:. So he, too, sometimes spoke of God and, more often, of the divine; and because he occasionally took pleasure in insisting that he was really closer to this or that Christian tradition than some of the theologians of his time, he has sometimes been understood to have been a Christian.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

According to Hegel himself, his philosophy was consistent with Christianity. Hegel seemed to have an ambivalent relationship with magic , myth and Paganism. He formulates an early philosophical example of a disenchantment narrative, arguing that Judaism was responsible both for realizing the existence of Geist and, by extension, for separating nature from ideas of spiritual and magical forces and challenging polytheism. Hegel continued to develop his thoughts on religion both in terms of how it was to be given a 'wissenschaftlich', or "theoretically rigorous," account in the context of his own "system," and, most importantly, with how a fully modern religion could be understood.

Hegel published four works during his lifetime: 1 The Phenomenology of Spirit or The Phenomenology of Mind , his account of the evolution of consciousness from sense-perception to absolute knowledge, published in During the last ten years of his life, Hegel did not publish another book, but thoroughly revised the Encyclopedia second edition, ; third, He also published some articles early in his career and during his Berlin period. A number of other works on the philosophy of history , religion , aesthetics and the history of philosophy [84] were compiled from the lecture notes of his students and published posthumously.

There are views of Hegel's thought as a representation of the summit of early 19th-century Germany's movement of philosophical idealism. It would come to have a profound impact on many future philosophical schools, including schools that opposed Hegel's specific dialectical idealism , such as existentialism , the historical materialism of Marx, historism and British Idealism.

Hegel's influence was immense both within philosophy and in the other sciences. The more recent movement of communitarianism has a strong Hegelian influence. Some of Hegel's writing was intended for those with advanced knowledge of philosophy, although his Encyclopedia was intended as a textbook in a university course. Nevertheless, Hegel assumes that his readers are well-versed in Western philosophy. Those without this background would be well-advised to begin with one of the many general introductions to his thought.

As is always the case, difficulties are magnified for those reading him in translation.

1. Problems Raised by the Objective Notion of Explanation in Kant and Hegel

In fact, Hegel himself argues in his Science of Logic that the German language was particularly conducive to philosophical thought. According to Walter Kaufmann, the basic idea of Hegel's works, especially the Phenomenology of Spirit , is that a philosopher should not "confine him or herself to views that have been held but penetrate these to the human reality they reflect".

In other words, it is not enough to consider propositions, or even the content of consciousness; "it is worthwhile to ask in every instance what kind of spirit would entertain such propositions, hold such views, and have such a consciousness. Every outlook in other words, is to be studied not merely as an academic possibility but as an existential reality". Some historians have spoken of Hegel's influence as represented by two opposing camps.