Kant and Hegel on Teleology and Life from the Perspective of Debates about Free Will

In Thomas Khurana (ed.), THE FREEDOM OF LIFE. Hegelian Perspectives. Walther König (forthcoming)
Abstract
Kant’s treatment of teleology and life in the Critique of the Power of Judgment is complicated and difficult to interpret; Hegel’s response adds considerable complexity. I propose a new way of understanding the underlying philosophical issues in this debate, allowing a better understanding of the underlying structure of the arguments in Kant and Hegel. My new way is unusual: I use for an interpretive lens some structural features of familiar debates about freedom of the will. These debates, I argue, allow us to see more clearly the underlying structure of a great many philosophical issues. Aside from some suggested avenues of approach, however, I do not aim to interpret what Kant or Hegel has to say about freedom of the will. The idea is to use this interpretive lens to better understand the philosophical issues at stake in their disagreement concerning teleology and life. This will clarify the precise philosophical burden that must be met by Kant’s argument in defense of his skepticism, and why his case has considerable philosophical force. But it will also explain why Kant’s argument itself inevitably provides the opening for Hegel’s reply, and sets a standard that Hegel will meet in a surprising way. Finally, this approach will explain why we can learn a great deal from the philosophical arguments in Kant and Hegel about this topic, despite the intervening years of such great progress in the biological sciences: by looking to Kant and Hegel we can better understand the structure of underlying philosophical terrain of the issues concerning teleology and life—terrain we are still fighting over today.
Keywords Kant  Hegel  teleology  life  freedom of the will  Science of Logic  purposiveness  Critique of the Power of Judgment
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