Hegel's Philosophy of Subjective Spirit

Dissertation, The Claremont Graduate University (1990)

Authors
Darrel Frank Moellendorf
Goethe University Frankfurt
Abstract
This critical commentary on the three sections of the philosophy of subjective spirit as it appears in Hegel's final Berlin Encyclopedia uses them to come to a better understanding and evaluation of his general philosophical perspective. This is in contrast to two sorts of dangers which Hegel scholarship faces. One is getting so caught up in summarizing and interpreting the troublesome texts that no evaluation is provided. The other is to view Hegel unsympathetically through the criteria of contemporary Anglo-America philosophy, so that very little is learned from him except that on most counts he falls short of the standards that this philosophy sets for itself. ;Contrary to these methods I present and evaluate the philosophy of subjective spirit in terms of its fulfillment of the aims of Hegel's system, and in terms of the questions that he suggests it is adequate to answer. There are three such questions. These concern the nature of the relationship between the mind and the body, the compatibility of free human will and natural determination, and the unity of the mind in light of its many activities. ;I also frequently compare Hegel to Kant for two reasons. One is pedagogical, the other intimately related to Hegel's project. We can gain greater understanding of Hegel by illuminating his departures from Kant, about whom much is known. What is more important philosophically, however, is Hegel's criticism of the limits which Kant's transcendental idealism places upon knowledge. The origins of these limits lie in Kant's view of the human mind, the forms of intuition and the spontaneity of understanding. However, if Hegel is to overcome the limits which Kant places upon knowledge, he must provide an account of the mind which circumvents what he considers to be the problems that arise out of Kant's account. ;On most of these counts Hegel's philosophy of subjective spirit is a failure, even if his vision is a captivating one. This analysis, however, does reveal certain advantages that Hegel's conception of freedom has over Kant's
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