Idealism and the metaphysics of individuality

Philosophy and Social Criticism 43 (2):208-229 (2017)
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What is arguably the central criticism of Hegel’s philosophical system by the Continental tradition, a criticism which represents a unifying thread in the diverse work of Schelling, Feuerbach, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Adorno, is that Hegel fails to adequately do justice to the notion of individuality. My aim in this paper is to counter the claim that Hegel’s idea of the concrete universal fails to properly explain the real uniqueness of individuals. In what follows, I argue that whilst the Continental critique (as it is particularly expressed by Adorno) is prima facie attractive, it is ultimately misguided. This is because the critics of Hegel fail to correctly understand (i) his principal argument in Sense-Certainty; (ii) crucial features of his logico-metaphysics; and (iii) his notion of wholeness. I contend that carefully explicating these important parts of the Hegelian system not only shows that Hegel’s metaphysical commitments are not those which do not leave meaningful room for or make adequate sense of individuality, but that they also reveal a sophisticated treatment of the interdependency between the categories of individuality, particularity and universality in a way which conceives of individuality robustly.



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Paul Giladi
School of Oriental and African Studies

Citations of this work

Reclaiming the Power of Thought.Jörg Volbers - 2018 - European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy 10 (2):2-19.
Schelling on Individuation.Daniel Whistler - 2016 - Comparative and Continental Philosophy 8 (3):329-344.

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References found in this work

Negative dialectics.Theodor W. Adorno - 1973 - New York: Continuum.
Elements of the philosophy of right.Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel - 1991 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Allen W. Wood & Hugh Barr Nisbet.
Treatise of Human Nature.L. A. Selby-Bigge (ed.) - 1739 - Oxford University Press.
The identity of indiscernibles.Max Black - 1952 - Mind 61 (242):153-164.
Phenomenology of Spirit.G. W. F. Hegel & A. V. Miller - 1977 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 10 (4):268-271.

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