Hegel, Idealism, and Robert Pippin

In Hegel’s Idealism, Robert Pippin contends that Hegel develops a more adequate version of Fichte’s idealism, where the key to idealism lies in the general thesis that there are conditions presupposed by self-conscious judgments about objects. Focusing on this thesis led post-Kantian German idealists to dismiss Kant’s doctrine that space and time are a priori forms of intuition and to develop views of the autonomy of human reason in terms of thought’s self-determination. While Pippin and I agree on some fundamentals, we disagree diametrically about the nature of Hegel’s idealism. Four of my main objections are these. (1) The thesis that there are conditions for self-conscious judgments about objects only entails idealism given certain kinds of conditions (such as Kant’s doctrines about space and time). (2) Hegel expressly denies that ‘the autonomy of thought’ primarily concerns the autonomy of human thinking. (3) Pippin’s interpretation of Hegel’s chapter on ‘Force and Understanding’, which is decisive for his interpretation of Hegel’s idealism, is not borne out by the examples Hegel uses to illustrate and defend his view. (4) Hegel’s frequent use in his Logics of categories that plainly derive from contingent features of our world is not, as Pippin would have it, an ironic concession that marks the reductio ad absurdum of Hegel’s view. On the contrary, such categories and their empirical basis is central to Hegel’s idealism, which is deeply naturalistic and expressly based in the empirical sciences. (1,000 word abstract in: Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 65.6 (1992):64–65.)
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  History of Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 0019-0365
DOI 10.5840/ipq199333331
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