Hegel’s Logic of Actuality

Review of Metaphysics 63 (1):139-172 (2009)
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Against the standard interpretation that Hegel's idealism, in particular speculative logic, should be understood as an extension of Kant's transcendental idealism, I argue that Hegel's Logic should be understood as a logic of actuality (Wirklichkeit). Rather than seeking to determine the necessary and merely formal conditions and categories for the knowledge of any possible object, speculative logic is the immanent and active process of determining the truth of actual objects and actuality itself. Through a discussion of the status of the transition between the Phenomenology and the Logic, as well as a detailed reading of Hegel’s treatment of the modal categories in the Doctrine of Essence, I seek to show how speculative logic offers a way to think the unity of a thing and its conditions without reverting to pre-critical metaphysics. By breaking down the traditional distinctions between actuality, possibility, necessity, and contingency, as well as demonstrating the necessity of contingency in the activity of thinking, I suggest that Hegel provides us with the categories necessary for a new understanding of the relation between thought and reality beyond the Kantian frame



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