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 James Kreines

 

 

 

jkreines@cmc.edu

Department of Philosophy,
Claremont McKenna College

850 Columbia Ave
Claremont, CA 91711
Office: Roberts North 211
(909) 607-6845

 

 

REASON IN THE WORLD
HEGEL’S METAPHYSICS AND ITS PHILOSOPHICAL APPEAL

This book defends a new interpretation of Hegel’s theoretical philosophy, according to which Hegel’s project has a single organizing focus, giving philosophical force to his arguments and undercutting the most prominent worries about them. The organizing focus is provided by reasons for taking metaphysics, rather than any epistemological problem, as most fundamental to philosophy. Hegel pursues the metaphysics of reason, concerned with grounds, reasons, or conditions in terms of which things can be explained – and ultimately with the possibility of complete reasons. There is no threat to such metaphysics in epistemological or skeptical worries, such as those concerning the possibility of certainty of final conclusions. The real threat is Kant’s Transcendental Dialectic case that metaphysics comes into conflict with itself. But Hegel, despite familiar worries, has a powerful case that Kant’s own insights in the Dialectic can be turned to more metaphysical purposes. And we can understand in these terms the unified focus of the seemingly disparate discussions at the conclusion of Hegel’s Science of Logic. Hegel defends, first, his general claim that the reasons which explain things are always found in immanent concepts, universals or kinds. And he will argue from here to conclusions which are distinctive in being metaphysically ambitious yet surprisingly distant from any form of metaphysical foundationalism, whether scientistic, theological, or otherwise: what depends on nothing—primitive, lawful reality—is the least complete form of reason; and the most complete form of reason—the “absolute idea”, realized as “spirit”—is also dependent. Hegel’s project, then, turns out neither Kantian nor Spinozist, but more distinctively his own. Finally, we can still learn a great deal from Hegel about the underlying philosophical terrain which we are still navigating today: about how best to understand what metaphysics is, why all sides should agree on its fundamental interest within philosophy, and what the central challenges and prospects are both for those who would still follow Kant in critiquing metaphysics, and those who would follow Hegel in defending it.

CONTENTS

-0- Introduction ................................................................................................ 1

0.1. Metaphilosophy from the Perspective of a Kantian Epistemology ................................... 8
0.2. Metaphilosophy from the Perspective of the Dialectic, and What Metaphysics Is ......... 10
0.3. An Opening for Hegel and the Persistence of the Dialectic Problem .............................. 14
0.4. In Hegel’s Metaphysics, The End is First ......................................................................... 16
0.5. Texts and Interpretive Charity ......................................................................................... 21

-I- PRIMITIVE AND MEDIATE REASONS: IMMANENT CONCEPTS FROM MECHANISM TO TELEOLOGY .................................................. 26

-1- The Dialectic of Mechanism ...................................................................... 29

1.1. Why Mechanism Seems to Threaten Immanent Concepts ............................................... 31
1.2. The Difficulty for Hegel, and the Initial Regress Argument............................................ 36
1.3. Matter and Mechanism’s Fundamentalist Fantasy ......................................................... 40
1.4. Against External Forces and Laws ....................................................................................45
1.5. Analysis in Terms of an Objective Account of Explanation............................................. 50
1.6. Reasonable Mechanism and Immanent Concepts ...........................................................54
1.7. Objection, Reply, and Conclusion .................................................................................... 58

-2- Critique of Empiricist Accounts of Nature and Laws ................................ 62

2.1. The Empiricist Account of the Laws of Nature................................................................ 63
2.2. Hegel’s Rejoinders to Epistemological Arguments ......................................................... 68
2.3. Charges of Objectionable Metaphysics and Incoherent Notions .....................................73
2.4. Breaking the Stalemate: Explanation............................................................................... 77
2.5. Hegel’s Own Account, and Conclusion............................................................................. 81

-3- Kant’s Challenge and Hegel’s Defense of Natural Teleology .................... 85

3.1. Natural Teleology and the Structure Of Philosophical Debates .......................................87
3.2. Kant’s Analysis and Teleology’s Explanatory Implications ............................................ 90
3.3. Completing Kant’s Argument for Inflationary Pessimism ...............................................95
3.4. Approaching Hegel’s Argument Strategy .......................................................................103
3.5. How Hegel’s Analysis of Life Resolves Kant’s Problem ................................................. 105
3.6. The Concept as Species or Kind, and Anti-Immediacy .................................................. 110
3.7. Metaphysically Robust Compatibilism........................................................................... 113
3.8. Summary; Interpretive and Philosophical Objections and Replies............................... 115

-II- THE INESCAPABLE PROBLEM OF COMPLETE REASONS: KANT’S DIALECTIC CRITIQUE OF METAPHYSICS ......................................... 123

-4- Kant’s Dialectic Critique and Restriction of Knowledge ........................ 124

5.1. Rationalist Affirmation is Either Self-Contradictory or Dogmatic................................. 126
4.2. The Inescapability of the Problem of the Unconditioned, and the Threat of Skeptical
Hopelessness ......................................................................................................................... 134
4.3. Kant’s Radical Resolution: Epistemic Restriction ......................................................... 145

-5- The Opening For Hegel’s Response to Kant’s Dialectic ............................ 153

5.1. Hegel on the Importance of the Dialectic Critique of Metaphysics................................ 154
5.2. Hegel’s Dismissal of Kantian Epistemology-First Critique............................................ 156
5.3. Why the Basic Problem of the Dialectic Remains Inescapable ...................................... 162
5.4. The Idea and the Rational, and the Opening for Hegel’s Rejoinder to Kant ................. 165

-III- COMPLETE REASONS: FROM THE IDEA TO THE ABSOLUTE IDEA

........................................................................................................... 169

-6- Against the Metaphysics of the Understanding and the Final Subject or

Substratum................................................................................................... 172

6.1. The Indifference of the Bare Substratum or Substance as Subject ................................ 173
6.2. Kant: The Final Subject as a Form of Reason’s Ideas of the Unconditioned................. 178
6.3. The More General Criticism of the Metaphysics of the Understanding ........................ 182
6.4. Early Modern Metaphysics of the Understanding, Especially Spinoza .........................190

-7- The Insubstantial Holism and the Real Contradiction of the Lawful: Chemism ....................................................................................................... 197

7.1. The Being of One is the Being of Another .......................................................................198
7.2. The Antinomy of the Lawful and the Unnecessary Substrate ....................................... 203
7.3. The Real Contradiction of the Lawful............................................................................ 209

-8- The Idea................................................................................................... 215

8.1. The Explanatory Independence of Life........................................................................... 216
8.2. The General Account of the Idea .................................................................................... 218
8.3. Complete Explainers must Depend on the Incompletely Explicable ........................... 222
8.3. Substance: Preliminary Account of the Metaphysics of the Idea ................................. 226
8.4. Substance and Idea as One Guiding Thread Throughout the Logic .............................. 231

-9- The Absolute Idea and Spirit: Free Kind for Itself ................................... 235

9.1. Freedom: Subjective Spirit .............................................................................................237
9.2. Freedom: Objective and Absolute Spirit ....................................................................... 240
9.3. From Concepts to the Concept, and the Metaphysical Priority of the Absolute Idea and
Spirit in the Logic ................................................................................................................. 248
9.4. Fitting Together Metaphysical and Epistemological Idealism, and the Rationality of the
Actual .....................................................................................................................................253
9.5. Conclusions..................................................................................................................... 261

-10- The Logic Argument for the Absolute Idea: Dialectic, Contradiction, and

Absolute Knowledge .....................................................................................263

10.1. Method and the Problem of the Beginning .................................................................. 264
10.2. Resolving Problems about Hegel on Contradiction ..................................................... 271
10.3. The Idea as the Truth of Everything, Even what is Not the Idea .................................279
10.4. The Absolute Idea Chapter: Method, Necessity, and Absolute Knowledge ................ 280
10.5. Interpretive Summary by Comparison to Rationalist Monism on God ...................... 285
10.6. Interpretive Summary by Comparison to Kantian Interpretations ............................ 293
10.7. Philosophical Conclusions ............................................................................................297

Works Cited ................................................................................................. 300

Primary Texts ....................................................................................................................... 300
Other Works ..........................................................................................................................301