Hegel's Essentialism. Natural Kinds and the Metaphysics of Explanation in Hegel's Theory of ‘the Concept’

European Journal of Philosophy 24 (4):760-787 (2016)
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Several recent interpretations see Hegel's theory of the Concept as a form of conceptual realism, according to which finite reality is articulated by objectively existing concepts. More precisely, this theory has been interpreted as a version of natural kind essentialism, and it has been proposed that its function is to account for the possibility of genuine explanations. This suggests a promising way to reconstruct the argument that Hegel's theory of objective concepts is based on—an argument that shows that the possibility of explanation rests on metaphysical preconditions and that natural kind essentialism gives the only adequate account of those preconditions. But in order for such a reconstruction to be successful, one needs to spell out the metaphysical features in virtue of which Hegelian natural kinds can account for the possibility of explanation. The article takes up this challenge. It offers the first detailed analysis of the modal fine-structure of Hegel's natural kind essentialism and shows how Hegel's position, thus understood, provides the details needed to complete the explanation-based argument.



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Franz Knappik
University of Bergen

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