The Owl of Minerva 42 (1/2):137-152 (2010)

Hegel’s True Infinite is “well known” but there is little consensus concerning its meaning. The true infinite is introduced in Hegel’s deconstruction of traditional conceptions of quality, determinacy and reality as wholly positive and from which negation, limitation and determinacy are excluded. Everything is other than and unrelated to everything else. These assumptions yield the stubborn category of finitude as an absolute limit, and of God as abstract unknowable Beyond. But Hegel claims that every attempt to separate the infinite from the finite makes the infinite itself finite—the spurious infinite, the “ought.” The true infinite is the negation/correction of the spurious infinite; it reinstates the relations suppressed by the understanding. The true infinite is an ontotheological conception of a social infinite: it is both absolute—in and for itself—and related—being for an other—to wit, an articulated, inclusive whole. It is not an acosmic pantheism like Spinoza’s that defrauds difference and finitude of their due. The true infinite presupposes as its corollary the idealit y of the finite. The latter articulates the ontological status of the finite as sublated in the true infinite, i.e. as a member both distinct from and related to the true infinite. The true infinite is the whole present in its members. The true infinite is neither traditional theism, nor atheism nor pantheism, nor a projection of finitude. It is best understood as panentheism.
Keywords Major Philosophers
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Reprint years 2011
ISBN(s) 0030-7580
DOI owl2010/2011421/27
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