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This book reconstructs Hegel's objection to Kant's Critical Philosophy, according to which Kant's way of meeting the epistemological demand of philosophical critique presupposes subjectivism, that is, presupposes the restriction of our knowledge to things as they are merely for us.

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Whereas Hegel in his early Jena writings rejects Kant's critical project altogether on this basis, he comes to see that the epistemological demand expressed in Kant's project must be met. This book argues that Hegel's method in the Phenomenology of Spirit takes shape as his attempt to meet the epistemological demand of Kantian critique without presupposing subjectivism.


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The key to Hegel's transformation of Kant's critical procedure, by virtue of which subjectivism is to be avoided, is precisely the existential or self-transformational dimension of Hegel's criticism, the openness of the criticizing subject to being transformed through the epistemological procedure. Keywords: Phenomenology of Spirit , existentialism , Kant , Critique of Pure Reason , rational knowledge , subjectivism , Kantian critique , epistemological procedure. William F.

From Kant to Hegel

Forgot password? Don't have an account? All Rights Reserved. OSO version 0. University Press Scholarship Online. Criticism is reconciled once more with the incapacity [of the cultured public] which could see nothing in the original verdict [of the philosophical critic] but self-satisfied personal bias and caprice.

On the other hand, where the Idea of philosophy is actually present, there it is the concern of criticism to interpret the way and the degree in which it emerges free and clear, and the range within which it has been elaborated into a scientific system of philosophy.

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As for this last point, if the pure Idea of philosophy is expressed with spirit, but naively and without scientific range — if it does not arrive at the objectivity of a systematic consciousness — we must still greet it with joy and delight; it is the mark of a beautiful soul, whose inertia guards it against falling into the original sin of thinking, but which also lacks the courage to hurl itself into that sin and to follow the path of its guilt, till the guilt is dissolved — and so it has not arrived at the intuition of itself in an objective whole of science.

The empty form of such spirits, however — those who aim to give the heart and essence of philosophy in short formulas without [living] spirit — this form has no scientific significance, and has no other interest either. But when the Idea of philosophy becomes more scientific it must be carefully distinguished from the individuality which will express its character without harm to the identity of the Idea of philosophy or to the purely objective exposition of it — the subjectivity or limitedness, that gets mingled in the exposition of the Idea of philosophy.

Criticism has to apply itself especially to the way that philosophy looks when masked by this subjectivity — it must tear the mask off. When it is shown to be the case that the Idea of philosophy is actually before the mind, then criticism can cleave to the requirement and to the need that is expressed, to the objective factor in which the need seeks its satisfaction, and can lay aside the limitedness of the shape through its own genuine tendency toward perfect objectivity.


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  5. But in this connection two cases are possible. In the first case consciousness has not properly developed beyond subjectivity. Idea of philosophy has not risen to the clarity of free intuition, but stays hidden in a dark background, partly, perhaps, because some forms in which it finds itself largely expressed, forms which possess great authority, still hinder the breakthrough to pure formlessness, or to be the highest form which is the same thing. Even when criticism cannot allow the work and the deed to be valid as a shape of the idea, it will not ignore the striving [toward that]; the genuinely scientific concern here is to peel off the shell that keeps the inner aspiration from seeing daylight; it is important to be aware of the manifoldness of the reflections of the spirit, each of which must have its place in philosophy, as well as being aware of their subordinate status and their defects.

    In the second case it is evident that the Idea of philosophy has been more clearly cognized, but that subjectivity has striven to ward off philosophy in so far as this is necessary for its own preservation:. But there is still another way of proceeding upon which criticism must especially fasten; the one that gives itself out to be in possession of philosophy, which uses the forms and vocabulary in which great philosophical systems are expressed, goes in for lengthy debates, but is at bottom only an empty fog of words without inner content.

    This sort of chatter, though lacking the Idea of philosophy, gains for itself a kind of authority through its very prolixity and arrogance. Partly this is because it seems almost incredible that such a big shell should be without a kernel, and partly because the emptiness is in its way universally understandable. Since there is nothing more sickening than this transformation of the seriousness of philosophy into platitude, criticism must summon up all its forces to ward off this disaster.

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    These distinct forms [of philosophy and unphilosophy] are in general more or less dominant in the German philosophy of the present time to which this Critical Journal is addressed. But they [the forms] have the further peculiarity that every philosophical enterprise takes on the aspect of a science and the dimensions of a system, or at the very least takes its stand as the absolute principle of philosophy as a whole.

    Through the work of Kant, and still more through that of Fichte, the Idea of a science, and particularly of philosophy as a science, has been established. Philosophizing piecemeal [ das einzelne Philosophieren ] has lost all credit, and the possibility of counting for something as a philosopher through a variety of philosophical thoughts upon this or that topic, published perhaps in scholastic treatises, no longer exists.

    As a result a multitude of systems and principles is arising which gives that part of the public which does philosophy a certain outward similarity to the state of philosophy in Greece, where every prominent philosophical mind elaborated the Idea of philosophy in his own individual way. When the inner life of philosophy comes to birth in an outward shape, it necessarily endows that shape with something of the form of its own peculiar organization; by so much is the original aspect of genius distinct from the particularity which takes itself for, and gives itself out to be, originality.

    For this particularity, upon closer examination, really keeps firmly to the common highway of culture, and can never boast of having arrived at the pure Idea of philosophy by leaving it; for if it had grasped this Idea, it would know [ erkennen ] it again in other philosophical systems, and ipso facto it would then be unable to label itself with the name of a personal philosophy, even though it must of course, preserve its own living form.

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    What the particular originality has created of its own upon that highway, is a particular form of reflection, seized upon from some singular, and hence subordinate, standpoint. This is easy enough to do in an era that has cultivated the understanding in so many aspects, and has, in particular, fashioned it into philosophy in so many ways. Either they are for ever bound to their own limited position; or they must seize on one position after another, marvelling unstintedly at them all, and casting one after the other away. As for the labour of enlarging a particularity of this kind into a system, and setting it forth as the whole, this is a hard labour in good sooth, and the particular originality must surely come to grief over it, for how could what is limited be capable of extending itself into a whole, without ipso facto flying to pieces itself?

    It seems, of course, that this is a lower task altogether; to give to the basic principle its objective scientific range. In this respect the Critical Philosophy has performed an exceptionally important service. To wit, it has been proved therein — to express the matter in its own words — that the concepts of the Understanding only have their application in experience, that Reason as cognitive through its theoretical Ideas only involves itself in contradictions, and that its object must be given to knowledge generally by sensibility.

    All this is useful for getting us to renounce Reason in [philosophic] science, and give ourselves over to the most crass empiricism. Apart from the fact that unphilosophy and anti-science [ Unwissenschaftlichkeit ], which philosophy used to regard with easy contempt, have taken on a philosophical form for their justification, the Critical Philosophy has in this way brought about even greater benefits; to wit, it has reconciled healthy common sense, and every limited consciousness, with philosophy — along with their finest blooms, which are at times called the highest moral interests of humanity.

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    But if subjectivity, without regard for the further difficulty which it faces in setting itself forth as a system, because the Critical Philosophy has now made at least one great range of finite forms suspect or unusable, — if it is afflicted with insight into its limitedness, and by a kind of bad conscience, and is ashamed to set itself up as absolute, how can it be preserved and made valid in spite of its own better knowledge and the Idea of Philosophy that floats before its mind? In the first place, we must start with a form that is recognized as finite.

    It must represent nothing but what is, to all appearances, an arbitrary starting point, worth nothing indeed upon its own account, but it has to be granted for the moment because its utility will become evident soon enough. It is granted for the time being, on request, in a provisory, problematic hypothetical way, without any special pretensions; it will soon legitimate itself later on. Google Books no proxy Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server Configure custom proxy use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy.

    Configure custom resolver. Kant on Animal Consciousness. Colin McLear - - Philosophers' Imprint Perspectives on the Transcendental Deduction. London: Palgrave.

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