Mechanical Memory and the Speculative Sentence

Southwest Philosophy Review 34 (1):181-188 (2018)
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In this paper examine the relation between the account of mechanical memory in Hegel’s Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences and the speculative sentence in his Phenomenology of Spirit. Both accounts involve a transition to speculative thinking, a kind of thinking that is free from given images and representations. By discussing them together I hope to illuminate how speculative thinking functions for Hegel and why it is important. Specifically, I try to show how what Hegel calls mechanical memory can shed light on Hegel’s more familiar notion of the speculative sentence. I also draw out implications of language and mechanical memory for what Hegel calls speculative thinking. First, I examine Hegel’s account of language acquisition in the Encyclopedia, which involves an account of mechanical memory, to show how Hegel thinks the mind can produce a vehicle for thinking that it has produced both in form and content. Second, I show how this vehicle of language works in the speculative sentence in the Phenomenology.



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Peter Nennig
University of Georgia

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