Hegel's conception of immanent critique : its sources, extent, and limit

In Ruth Sonderegger & Karin de Boer (eds.), Conceptions of Critique in Modern and Contemporary Philosophy. Palgrave-Macmillan (2011)
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Abstract

This chapter examines Hegel’s conception of philosophical critique in order to shed light on the force and limits of the method that has become known as immanent critique. At least in modern philosophy, it was Kant who first conceived of critique as a form of reflection that draws its criterion from reason itself. As I argue, Hegel is deeply indebted to Kant in this respect. The chapter begins with an analysis of Hegel's seminal essay ‘On the Essence of Philosophical Criticism Generally, and its Relationship to the Present State of Philosophy in Particular’, published in 1802. After a brief discussion of the Phenomenology, I turn to his Philosophy of Right. These texts make clear, I argue, that the criterion from which immanent critique takes its bearings is necessarily tainted with a particularity that it cannot affirm without losing its force. According to this account, immanent critique comes to refer to a form of reflection that is more complicated and more precarious than Kant and Hegel seem to have assumed.

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