Hegel, Harris, and Sextus Empiricus

The Owl of Minerva 31 (2):155-172 (2000)
Abstract
I argue that Henry Harris’s magnificent commentary, Hegel’s Ladder, so focuses on the cultural significance of Hegel’s Phenomenology that it neglects Hegel’s concerns with philosophical issues in the history of philosophy. In particular, it neglects issues central to Hegel’s phenomenological method about the assessment and internal criticism of alternative philosophical views, which are central to Hegel’s method for justifying his own view by ‘determinate negation’ of those alternatives. This neglect is manifest in three important regards: (1) Harris disregards a plethora of specific references Hegel makes to Pyrrhonian skepticism by paraphrasing from, or making clear thematic allusions to, Sextus Empiricus’s Outlines of Pyrrhonism; (2) Harris’s solution to the problem of assessing our standards of knowledge is literally superficial; (3) Harris fails to address or resolve some ambiguities between what we recollect and what we imagine that are crucial for Hegel’s aim to provide a science of the experience of consciousness, and not simply another Gnostic fantasy
Keywords Pyrrhonian scepticism  Internal critique  determinate negation
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