The Province of Conceptual Reason: Hegel's Post-Kantian Rationalism


In this dissertation, I seek to explain G.W.F. Hegel’s view that human accessible conceptual content can provide knowledge about the nature or essence of things. I call this view “Conceptual Transparency.” It finds its historical antecedent in the views of eighteenth century German rationalists, which were strongly criticized by Immanuel Kant. I argue that Hegel explains Conceptual Transparency in such a way that preserves many implications of German rationalism, but in a form that is largely compatible with Kant’s criticisms of the original rationalist version. After providing background on Hegel’s relationship to the traditional rationalist theory of concepts and Kant’s challenge to it, I claim that Hegel’s central task is to provide a theory of conceptual content that allows a relationship to the objective world without being dependent on the specifically sensory aspect of the world, which Kant’s theory of concepts required. Since many interpreters deny that Hegel’s use of the term “concept” is comparable to other historical philosophers (or our own), I first show that Hegel’s critique of standard conceptions of concepts presupposes an agreement of subject matter. I then show how Hegel’s account of the “formal concept” provides the skeleton for a view of conceptual content that relies on negative relations between terms, rather than a relation to sensibility, to provide content. Hegel’s account of conceptual content is completed when he shows how a universal term is further specified so that it can determine singular objects. This occurs in its adequate form in a teleological process. I argue that Hegel’s account of teleology in the Science of Logic is an attempt to explain how and where Conceptual Transparency obtains. A teleological process is one in which a concept constitutes an object, and this means that a concept is perfectly adequate to express that thing’s nature and not merely to represent it. However, in the final chapter, I show that Hegel’s concept of teleology is meant paradigmatically to illuminate how human purposive processes have constituted a social world that is conceptually accessible to us. In this way, the primary “province” of Hegel’s rationalism is the human constructed world.



External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

  • Only published works are available at libraries.

Similar books and articles

Rethinking Hegel's Conceptual Realism.W. Clark Wolf - 2018 - Review of Metaphysics 72 (2):331-70.
Hegel's Idealism.Robert Stern - 2008 - In Frederick C. Beiser (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Hegel and Nineteenth-Century Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. pp. 137--74.
I—Hegel's Critique of Kant.Stephen Houlgate - 2015 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 89 (1):21-41.
Übergang. [REVIEW]Kenneth R. Westphal - 1993 - The Owl of Minerva 24 (2):235-242.
Übergang. [REVIEW]Kenneth R. Westphal - 1993 - The Owl of Minerva 24 (2):235-242.
Between Kant and Hegel.Garth W. Green - 2005 - Review of Metaphysics 59 (2):423-425.
Hegel and the Metaphysics of Absolute Negativity.Brady Bowman - 2013 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
The Metaphysical Foundations of Hegel's Aesthetics.Robert Lawrence Wicks - 1986 - Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison
Historical Objectivity and Conceptual Frameworks: A Critical Study of Kant and Hegel.Kenneth Alfred Lambert - 1984 - Dissertation, Rutgers the State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick


Added to PP

89 (#156,452)

6 months
34 (#61,707)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

W. Clark Wolf
Marquette University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Intention.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1957 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Two Dogmas of Empiricism.Willard V. O. Quine - 1951 - Philosophical Review 60 (1):20–43.
Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics.Peter Strawson - 1959 - London, England: Routledge. Edited by Wenfang Wang.

View all 267 references / Add more references