Knowledge, freedom and willing: Hegel on subjective spirit

Inquiry 52 (1):26 – 52 (2009)
Abstract
This paper argues that Hegel's depiction of knowledge, as presented in the Encyclopaedia philosophy of subjective Spirit, is founded on what he deems to be the practical interests of self-consciousness. More specifically, it highlights the significance of the will in Hegel's understanding of the cognitive process. I begin with a survey of the relation between category-formation and the notion of self-determining freedom in the Logic , and therewith draw attention to the unity of thinking and willing in the Concept. I then indicate how Hegel's philosophy of subjective Spirit should be read as the applied logic of the Concept, according to which the socially constituted self-conscious I seeks to realise its claims to freedom through its theoretical cognitions of objects. As part of what could be called Hegel's integrative theory of the faculties, I finally argue that the will underscores both the determinate character of our theoretical cognitions and the reflexivity of knowledge in general. On this score, I maintain that Hegel, whose relation to Kant and Fichte I also consider, is of the view that it is with reference to willing that we can account for the self-referential nature of reason in toto as the actualised unity of theoretical-practical subjectivity.
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