Hegel’s Transcendental Induction [Book Review]

The Owl of Minerva 32 (2):190-195 (2001)
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Simpson’s book provides a provocative and interesting reading of several important sections of the Phenomenology of Spirit. It treats this text as a whole as a study in the logic of induction, the logic of what it is to learn from experience. Simpson does not, therefore, consider Hegel’s work as “inductive” in the modern sense of adding facts upon facts in order to arrive at general conclusions. Rather, linking his employment of the term “induction” back to Aristotelian epistemology, he argues that Hegel’s text develops as we learn from experience what is involved in learning from experience. In other words, he aims to read the Phenomenology in such a way that the concept of induction itself can be seen to develop inductively. The author presents his study as an elucidation of the sense in which the Phenomenology is rightly described by Hegel as presenting the “process of origination” of science as such or of knowledge. At the conclusion of his book, Simpson indicates briefly the way in which the “inductive” argument traced throughout Hegel’s “science of the experience of consciousness” both supports and coincides with the “deductive” side of Hegel’s argument that appears more often to be the focus of commentaries. Simpson’s thesis—that Hegel’s text traces a pathway whereby the capacity for conscious experiencing is shown to develop in response to progressively more sophisticated attempts to articulate and unify experience—seems quite plausible, and receives a capable and insightful defense here.



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Nathan Andersen
Eckerd College

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