‘Force, Understanding and Ontology’.

This paper examines Hegel’s ontological revolution in ‘Force and Understanding’. I argue that understanding Hegel’s critical engagement with natural science is important for understanding Hegel’s 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit as well as his mature philosophy as a whole. Already in this chapter Hegel argues that philosophical theory of knowledge must take the natural sciences into close consideration. Hegel disambiguates the standard concept of substance in order to show that relational properties can be essential to particular individuals. He further argues that Newtonian gravitational theory suffices to show that gravitational force is essential to matter. These are important tenets of Hegel’s moderately holistic ontology, according to which individuals and their relations are mutually interdependent for their existence and characteristics. These tenets enable Hegel to expose a number of misconceptions about causal forces central to empiricist causal scepticism, to illuminate the causal realism involved in and justified by Newtonian gravitational theory (once it is recast by Bernoulli on the basis of mathematical analysis), the explanatory power provided by theoretical integration of special theories within more general theories and also the crucial semantic role played by special theories for the general theory which subsumes them.
Keywords causal laws  scientific realism  causal explanation
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