In Allegra de Laurentiis (ed.), Hegel and Metaphysics: On Logic and Ontology in the System. De Gruyter. pp. 27-42 (2016)

Chong-Fuk Lau
Chinese University of Hong Kong
The paper outlines a deflationary interpretation of Hegel’s metaphysics, as presented in the Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences. It focuses mainly on the Science of Logic as a theory of categories, which explores the movement of the Concept. The major idea is to read Hegel’s identification of logic and metaphysics as a thesis on deflating metaphysics into logic and semantics. Hegel’s metaphysics, which may better be called logico-metaphysics, does not describe the objective world directly. Rather, as a second-order theory, it unfolds and makes transparent the fundamental concepts that are necessary for our understanding of the world and our orientation in it. The paper begins with a brief discussion of Hegel’s idea of philosophy as system. The argument is made that Hegel should be interpreted holistically, in contrast to the popular approach of distinguishing between what is living and what is dead in his philosophy. In the second and third parts of the paper, an analysis is given of Hegel’s criticism of Kant, with an explanation of how Hegel’s Logic further develops Kant’s project of transforming traditional metaphysics. Here, the interesting fact that Hegel’s logical categories are not derived from an absolute first principle is pointed out. Instead, the task of Hegel’s Logic is to comprehend and systematize the concepts that have already been evolved in the history of philosophy. In the last part of the paper, the deflationary approach is extended to Hegel’s Realphilosophie. While Hegel’s Logic takes the place of ontology, his Philosophy of Nature and Spirit offers a comprehensive metaphysica specialis, laying conceptual foundations for understanding various dimensions of reality, from nature through the ethical-political world to different cultural domains. The paper takes Hegel’s Philosophy of Objective Spirit as an example to illustrate how the deflationary interpretation sheds light on Hegel’s “practical” philosophy as a second-order theory that does not aim to uncover first-order normative principles for guiding actions, but rather to develop the concepts necessary for normative judgments.
Keywords Hegel  Metaphysics  Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences
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DOI 10.1515/9783110424447-004
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