This fresh and original book argues that the central questions in Hegel's practical philosophy are the central questions in modern accounts of freedom: What is freedom, or what would it be to act freely? Is it possible so to act? And how important is leading a free life? Robert Pippin argues that the core of Hegel's answers is a social theory of agency, the view that agency is not exclusively a matter of the self-relation and self-determination of an individual but (...) requires the right sort of engagement with and recognition by others. Using a detailed analysis of key Hegelian texts, he develops this interpretation to reveal the bearing of Hegel's claims on many contemporary issues, including much-discussed core problems in the liberal democratic tradition. His important study will be valuable for all readers who are interested in Hegel's philosophy and in the modern problems of agency and freedom. (shrink)
This is the most important book on Hegel to have appeared in the past ten years. Robert Pippin offers a completely new interpretation of Hegel's idealism, which focuses on Hegel's appropriation and development of kant's theoretical project. Hegel is presented neither as a precritical metaphysician nor as a social theorist, but as a critical philosopher whose disagreements with Kant, especially on the issue of intuitions, enrich the idealist arguments against empiricism, realism and naturalism. In the face of the dismissal of (...) absolute idealism as either unintelligible or implausible, Pippin explains and defends an original account of the philosophical basis for Hegel's claims about the historical and social nature of selfconsciousness, and so of knowledge itself. (shrink)
In the most influential chapter of his most important philosophical work, the Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel makes the central and disarming assertions that "self-consciousness is desire itself" and that it attains its "satisfaction" only in another self-consciousness. Hegel on Self-Consciousness presents a groundbreaking new interpretation of these revolutionary claims, tracing their roots to Kant's philosophy and demonstrating their continued relevance for contemporary thought. As Robert Pippin shows, Hegel argues that we must understand Kant's account of the self-conscious nature of consciousness (...) as a claim in practical philosophy, and that therefore we need radically different views of human sentience, the conditions of our knowledge of the world, and the social nature of subjectivity and normativity. Pippin explains why this chapter of Hegel's Phenomenology should be seen as the basis of much later continental philosophy and the Marxist, neo-Marxist, and critical-theory traditions. He also contrasts his own interpretation of Hegel's assertions with influential interpretations of the chapter put forward by philosophers John McDowell and Robert Brandom. (shrink)
'Modernity' has come to refer both to a contested historical category and to an even more contested philosophical and civilisational ideal. In this important collection of essays Robert Pippin takes issue with some prominent assessments of what is or is not philosophically at stake in the idea of a modern revolution in Western civilisation, and presents an alternative view. Professor Pippin disputes many traditional characterisations of the distinctiveness of modern philosophy. In their place he defends claims about agency, freedom, ethical (...) life and modernity itself, all of which are central to the German idealist philosophical tradition, and in particular, to the writings of Hegel. Having considered the Hegelian version of these issues the author explores other accounts as found in Habermas, Strauss, Blumenberg, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. (shrink)
Hegel frequently claimed that the heart of his entire system was a book widely regarded as among the most difficult in the history of philosophy, The Science of Logic. This is the book that presents his metaphysics, an enterprise that he insists can only be properly understood as a “logic,” or a “science of pure thinking.” Since he also wrote that the proper object of any such logic is pure thinking itself, it has always been unclear in just what sense (...) such a science could be a “metaphysics.” -/- Robert B. Pippin offers here a bold, original interpretation of Hegel’s claim that only now, after Kant’s critical breakthrough in philosophy, can we understand how logic can be a metaphysics. Pippin addresses Hegel’s deep, constant reliance on Aristotle’s conception of metaphysics, the difference between Hegel’s project and modern rationalist metaphysics, and the links between the “logic as metaphysics” claim and modern developments in the philosophy of logic. Pippin goes on to explore many other facets of Hegel’s thought, including the significance for a philosophical logic of the self-conscious character of thought, the dynamism of reason in Kant and Hegel, life as a logical category, and what Hegel might mean by the unity of the idea of the true and the idea of the good in the “Absolute Idea.” The culmination of Pippin’s work on Hegel and German idealism, no Hegel scholar or historian of philosophy will want to miss this book. (shrink)
The project from which this essay is drawn is a philosophical engagement with the tradition of anti-Hegelianism in modern European philosophy, a critique that I want to show amounts to an attack on Hegel's version of idealism and ultimately on philosophy as traditionally understood. Idealism, in this tradition, should not be understood as a claim about the mind-dependence of the world, or about a mind-imposed structure in experience, or as a so-called objective idealism, but first and foremost as an objection (...) to empiricism, the claim that all knowledge is or must be based on empirical experience. By contrast, idealism in Kant, Fichte... (shrink)
The Persistence of Subjectivity examines several approaches to, and critiques of, the core notion in the self-understanding and legitimation of the modern, 'bourgeois' form of life: the free, reflective, self-determining subject. Since it is a relatively recent historical development that human beings think of themselves as individual centers of agency, and that one's entitlement to such a self-determining life is absolutely valuable, the issue at stake also involves the question of the historical location of philosophy. What might it mean to (...) take seriously Hegel's claim that philosophical reflection is always reflection on the historical 'actuality' of its own age? Discussing Heidegger, Gadamer, Adorno, Leo Strauss, Manfred Frank, and John McDowell, Robert Pippin attempts to understand how subjectivity arises in contemporary institutional practices such as medicine, as well as in other contexts such as modernism in the visual arts and in the novels of Marcel Proust. (shrink)
In Natural Right and History Leo Strauss argues for the continuing “relevance” of the classical understanding of natural right. Since this relevance is not a matter of a direct return, or a renewed appreciation that a neglected doctrine is simply true, the meaning of this claim is some- what elusive. But it is clear enough that the core of Strauss’s argument for that relevance is a claim about the relation between human experience and philosophy. Strauss argues that the classical understanding (...) articulates and is continuous with the “lived experience” of engaged participants in political life, the ordinary, and he argues (in a way quite similar to claims in Heidegger) that such an ordinary or everyday point of view has been “lost.” The author presents here an interpretation and critique of such a claim. (shrink)
My topic is authenticity in or perhaps as painting, not the authenticity of paintings; I know next to nothing about the problem of verifying claims of authorship. I am interested in another kind of genuineness and fraudulence, the kind at issue when we say of a person that he or she is false, not genuine, inauthentic, lacks integrity, and, especially when we say he or she is playing to the crowd, playing for eﬀect, or is a poseur. These are not (...) quite moral distinctions (no one has a duty to be authentic), but they are robustly normative appraisals, applicable even when such falseness is not a case of straight hypocrisy but of lack of self-knowledge or of self-deceit. (A person can be quite sincere and not realize the extent of her submission to the other’s expectations and demands.) This sort of appraisal also has a long history in post-Rousseauist reﬂections on the dangers of uniquely modern forms of social dependence, and they are prominent worries in the modern novel. (shrink)
_Modernism as a Philosophical Problem, 2e_ presents a new interpretation of the negative and critical self-understanding characteristic of much European high culture since romanticism and especially since Nietzsche, and answers the question of why the issue of modernity became a philosophical problem in European tradition.
Among Kant's innovations in the understanding of logic (‘general logic’) were his claims that logic had no content of its own, but was the form of the thought of any possible content, and that the unit of meaning, the truth-bearer, judgement, was essentially apperceptive. Judging was implicitly the consciousness of judging. This was for Kant a logical truth. This article traces the influence of the latter claim on Fichte, and, for most of the discussion, on Hegel. The aim is to (...) understand the relations among self-consciousness, reason and freedom in the idealist tradition. (shrink)
The following is a chapter of a book and I should say something at the outset about the content of the book. The topic is Hegel’s “social theory of agency,” and that topic, given how the problem of agency is usually understood, raises the immediate question of why anyone would think that “sociality” would have anything at all to do with the “problem of agency.” That problem is understood in a number of ways; most generally – what distinguishes naturally occurring (...) events from actions (if anything)? (Sometimes the question is: what, if anything, distinguishes responsible human doings from what animals do?) The most prominent approach has it that actions are things done intentionally by individuals, purposely, for a purpose. This is sometimes said to mean: acting from or on or because of an intention, although as we shall see this nominalization can be quite misleading. Or, of the many possible descriptions of some occurrence, it is an action is there is a true description which is intentional. This is often taken to mean simply that if you ask a person why he is doing something he can express this intention to explain himself, most often in the form of a reason. He does not (except in extraordinary circumstances) describe why he is acting in the way he might describe what caused his.. (shrink)
In his Berlin lectures on fine art, Hegel argued that art involves a unique form of aesthetic intelligibility—the expression of a distinct collective self-understanding that develops through historical time. Hegel’s approach to art has been influential in a number of different contexts, but in a twist of historical irony Hegel would die just before the most radical artistic revolution in history: modernism. In _After the Beautiful_, Robert B. Pippin, looking at modernist paintings by artists such as Édouard Manet and Paul (...) Cézanne through Hegel’s lens, does what Hegel never had the chance to do. While Hegel could never engage modernist painting, he did have an understanding of modernity, and in it, art—he famously asserted—was “a thing of the past,” no longer an important vehicle of self-understanding and no longer an indispensable expression of human meaning. Pippin offers a sophisticated exploration of Hegel’s position and its implications. He also shows that had Hegel known how the social institutions of his day would ultimately fail to achieve his own version of genuine equality, a mutuality of recognition, he would have had to explore a different, new role for art in modernity. After laying this groundwork, Pippin goes on to illuminate the dimensions of Hegel’s aesthetic approach in the path-breaking works of Manet, the “grandfather of modernism,” drawing on art historians T. J. Clark and Michael Fried to do so. He concludes with a look at Cézanne, the “father of modernism,” this time as his works illuminate the relationship between Hegel and the philosopher who would challenge Hegel’s account of both modernity and art—Martin Heidegger. Elegantly inter-weaving philosophy and art history, _After the Beautiful_ is a stunning reassessment of the modernist project. It gets at the core of the significance of modernism itself and what it means in general for art to have a history. Ultimately, it is a testament, via Hegel, to the distinctive philosophical achievements of modernist art in the unsettled, tumultuous era we have inherited. (shrink)
Robert Pippin reviews Slavoj Žižek’s Less than Nothing, a serious attempt to re-actualize Hegel in the light of Lacanian metapsychology. But does Žižek’s attempt to think Hegel with Lacan produce, as Žižek hopes, a political figuration adequate to the present? Or does it land us rather in the Hegelian zoo, along with such well-known specimens as the Beautiful Soul, the Unhappy Consciousness, and The Knight of Virtue?
Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the most elusive thinkers in the philosophical tradition. His highly unusual style and insistence on what remains hidden or unsaid in his writing make pinning him to a particular position tricky. Nonetheless, certain readings of his work have become standard and influential. In this major new interpretation of Nietzsche’s work, Robert B. Pippin challenges various traditional views of Nietzsche, taking him at his word when he says that his writing can best be understood as a (...) kind of psychology. Pippin traces this idea of Nietzsche as a psychologist to his admiration for the French moralists: La Rochefoucauld, Pascal, Stendhal, and especially Montaigne. In distinction from philosophers, Pippin shows, these writers avoided grand metaphysical theories in favor of reflections on life as lived and experienced. Aligning himself with this project, Nietzsche sought to make psychology “the queen of the sciences” and the “path to the fundamental problems.” Pippin contends that Nietzsche’s singular prose was an essential part of this goal, and so he organizes the book around four of Nietzsche’s most important images and metaphors: that truth could be a woman, that a science could be gay, that God could have died, and that an agent is as much one with his act as lightning is with its flash. Expanded from a series of lectures Pippin delivered at the Collège de France, _Nietzsche, Psychology, and First Philosophy_ offers a brilliant, novel, and accessible reading of this seminal thinker. (shrink)
One of the most discussed and disputed claims in John McDowell’s Mind and World is the claim that we should not think that in experience, “conceptual capacities are exercised on non-conceptual deliverances of sensibility.” Rather, “Conceptual capacities are already operative in the deliverances of sensibility themselves.” Such capacities are said to be operative, but not in the same way they are operative when the faculty of assertoric judgment is explicitly exercised. This position preserves the passivity and receptivity necessary for McDowell (...) to defend a picture of our thought as constrained by the world. (“The constraints come from outside thinking, but not from outside what is thinkable.”) And it maintains his Sellarsean criticism of the “Myth of the Given,” such that when we trace justification back we do not reach something that, because non-conceptual, could not play any role in such justification. The fact that the deliverances of sensibility are conceptually shaped (I will take this mean “have a conceptual form”) insures that sensibility can indeed play such a justificatory role in perceptual beliefs. (shrink)
In this paper I express enthusiastic solidarity with Axel Honneth's inheritance and transformation of several core Hegelian ideas, and express one major disagreement. The disagreement is not so much with anything he says, as it is with what he doesn't say. It concerns his rejection of Hegel's theoretical philosophy, and so his attempt to reconstruct Hegel's practical philosophy without reliance on that theoretical philosophy. This attitude towards Hegel's Science of Logic – that it involves a “mystification” of essentially practical notions (...) - has been typical of the Critical Theory tradition since Marx, and is disputed here. It also helps to raise the large issue of the proper understanding of the relation between theoretical and practical philosophy. The implications of ignoring the Hegelian understanding of this dependence of the latter on the former are further developed. (shrink)
Kant on Freedom, Law, and Happiness. BY PAUL GUYER. (Cambridge UP, 2000. Pp. xii + 440. Price £12.95 or $19.95.) At the beginning of his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant claims that an ordinary view of morality would have it that moral experience is essentially the experience of obligation. There are clearly occasions, he notes, when our own and others’ interests would be greatly damaged were we to do what is morally required, and when no gain in satisfaction, (...) happiness, well-being or ﬂourishing can be imagined a consequence of the act, yet we understand that we are obliged anyway, unconditionally. We also reserve our highest approval for agents who do what is required just because it is required, who act ‘from duty alone’. (shrink)
Any interpretation of Hegel which stresses both his deep dependence on and radical revision of Kant must account for the nature of the difference between what Hegel calls a merely finite idealism and a so-called ’Absolute Idealism’. Such a clarification in turn depends on understanding Hegel’s claim to have preserved the distinguishability of intuition and concept, but to have insisted on their inseparability, or, to have defended their ’organic’ rather than ’mechanical’ relation. This is the main issue in this chapter, (...) which invokes John McDowell’s notion of ’the unboundedness of the conceptual’ to clarify the issue, as well as noting a number of similar claims in Wittgenstein. The implications of Hegel’s view for the issues of metaphysics generally is explored. (shrink)
The emergence of abstract art, first in the early part of the century with Kandinsky, Malevich, and Mondrian, and then in the much more celebrated case of America in the fifties (Rothko, Pollock, and others) remains puzzling. Such a great shift in aesthetic standards and taste is not only unprecedented in its radicality. The fact that nonfigurative art, without identifiable content in any traditional sense, was produced, appreciated, and, finally, eagerly bought and, even, finally, triumphantly hung in the lobbies of (...) banks and insurance companies, provokes understandable questions about both social and cultural history, as well as about the history of art. The endlessly disputed category of modernism itself and its eventual fate seems at issue. (shrink)
In this astonishingly rich volume, experts in ethics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, political theory, aesthetics, history, critical theory, and hermeneutics bring to light the best philosophical scholarship on what is arguably Nietzsche's most rewarding but most challenging text. Including essays that were commissioned specifically for the volume as well as essays revised and edited by their authors, this collection showcases definitive works that have shaped Nietzsche studies alongside new works of interest to students and experts alike. A lengthy introduction, annotated (...) bibliography, and index make this an extremely useful guide for the classroom and advanced research. (shrink)
Introduction -- Trapped by oneself in Jacques Tourneur's Out of the past -- "A deliberate, intentional fool" in Orson Welles's The lady from Shanghai -- Sexual agency in Fritz Lang's Scarlet Street -- "Why didn't you shoot again, baby?": concluding remarks.
The problem of freedom in modern philosophy has three basic components: (i) what is freedom, or what would it be to act freely? (ii) Is it possible so to act? (iii) And how important is leading a free life?1 Hegel proposed unprecedented and highly controversial answers to these questions.