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)
_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.
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)
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)
In the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant refers often and with no apparent hesitation or sense of ambiguity to the mind. He does so not only in his justly famous destruction of rationalist proofs of immaterialism, but throughout his own, positive, ‘transcendental’ account in the Transcendental Aesthetic and Transcendental Analytic. In the first edition of the Critique, he even proposed what he adventurously called a ‘transcendental psychology’ and, although this strange discipline seemed to disappear in the second edition, he left (...) in that edition all his frequent references to forms ‘lying in the mind,’ and to the mind, or the self, or the subject of experience, or the ego, doing this or that. Curiously, though, despite an extensive secondary literature, there is in that literature relatively little discussion of what these expressions, in a proper, strictly Kantian sense, are supposed to refer to. There are two imaginative, extremely suggestive articles by Sellars, some hints at connections with eighteenth century psychology offered by Weldon, a tenebrous book by Heidemann, and some recent attention to the general issue of ‘Kant's theory of mind’ by Ameriks and Kitcher. (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)
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)
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.
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 Significance of Taste: Kant, Aesthetic and Reflective Judgment ROBERT B. PIPPIN 1? THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION of the "Analytic of the Beautiful" in the "Critique of Aesthetic Judgment" is easy enough to identify. On what basis, if any, could one claim some sort of universal a priori validity for judgments of the form, "This is beautiful"? In Kant's well-known analysis of this question, the issue is reformulated as: By what right could one claim that another person ought to feel pleasure (...) in the presence of certain objects? Let us call this the "basic question."' There is controversy enough about what Kant means by this basic question and how a deduction of the validity of such judgments is supposed to work. However, shortly after Kant began serious work on a "Critique of Taste" in ~787, the whole issue became even more complicated when the proposed work became a full-blown Critique of Judgment. The question of aesthetic judg- ment was presented within the new, larger topic of reflective judgment, was presumably thereby linked to the problem of teleological judgments, and so to the great general theme of the whole of the third Critique: the purposiveness I am grateful, for comments and criticisms, to Henry Allison, Volker Gerhardt, Rudolf Makkreel, Miles Rind, and to two anonymous referees for this journal. ' Kant's own formulation: "How is a judgment possible in which the subject, merely on the basis of his own feeling of pleasure in an object,.. (shrink)
As McDowell makes clear in ‘On Pippin’s Postscript’ and in many other works, the interpretive question at issue in this exchange—how to understand the relation between Kant and Hegel, especially as that concerns Kant’s central ‘Deduction’ argument in the Critique of Pure Reason1—brings into the foreground an even larger problem on which all the others depend: the right way to understand at the highest level of generality the relation between active or spontaneous thought and our receptive and corporeal sensibility and (...) bodily embodiment. From Mind and World on, McDowell has indicated that this is in fact a problem so inclusive as to be common to theoretical and practical philosophy; that the issue of how thought informs our sensibility is at bottom the same (raises the same logical or conceptual issue) as the issue of how thought could be said to inform, to be active ‘in’, bodily action; that we can be in the grip of the same bad, misleading picture in accounting for executing an intention as in accounting for acquiring perceptual knowledge.2 I agree with, and follow his lead in, setting the basic framework for the particular issues in just this way. With matters so set out, there are two main areas of disagreement: (i) how to state the role of concepts and especially conceptual activity in the sensible uptake of the world and (ii) what to make of Hegel’s claim for a speculative ‘identity’ between inner and outer in action, or how to state the role of intentions ‘in’ bodily activity. In both cases, McDowell thinks I go too far; too far in terms of what is philosophically correct, and too far in attributing those positions to Hegel. It is the former topic that is in play in this exchange, although elements of the latter arise as well. There is first an issue lingering from the first exchange in Reading McDowell. (shrink)
THE IDEA OF A "PHILOSOPHICAL SCIENCE," something of a Fata Morgana in the West for several centuries, underwent a well-known revolutionary change when Kant argued that in all philosophical speculation about the nature of things, reason is really "occupied only with itself." Indeed, Kant argued convincingly that the possibility of any cognitive relation to objects presupposed an original and constitutive "relation to self." Thereafter, instead of an a priori science of substance, a science of "how the world must be", a (...) putative philosophical science was directed to the topic of how any subject must "for itself" take or construe or judge the world to be. The nature and forms of such a self-conscious or even self-determining activity assumed center stage in later German philosophy, and, as many commentators have noted, was the decisive presupposition for Hegel's central, deeply obscure position on "the Absolute" as some sort of complete "self-consciousness.". (shrink)
Hegel, in a chapter called “Absolute Knowing,” end his most exciting and original work, the Jena Phenomenology of Spirit, with a quotation, or rather a significant misquotation, of a poet? The poet is Schiller and the poem is his 1782 “Freundschaft” (Friendship). This immediately turns into two questions: Why are the last words not Hegel’s own, and why are they rather a poet’s? I will turn to the details in a moment but, as noted, such an inquiry may not be (...) worth the trouble. Authors, even philosophers (who, with only a few exceptions, are not known for their literary style) like to cite poets.. (shrink)
In his inaugural lecture at Cambridge as Regius Professor of Modern History in 1895, Lord Acton urged that the historian deliver moral judgments on the figures of his research. Acton declaimed: I exhort you never to debase the moral currency or to lower the standard of rectitude, but to try others by the final maxim that governs your own lives and to suffer no man and no cause to escape the undying penalty which history has the power to inflict on (...) wrong.1 In 1902, the year after Acton died, the president of the American Historical Association, Henry Lea, in dubious celebration of his British colleague, responded to the exordium with a contrary claim about the historian’s obligation, namely to render the facts of history objectively without subjective moralizing. Referring to Acton’s lecture, Lea declared: I must confess that to me all this seems to be based on false premises and to lead to unfortunate conclusions as to the objects and purposes of history, however much it may serve to give point and piquancy to a narrative, to stimulate the interests of the casual reader by heightening lights and deepening shadows, and to subserve the purpose of propagating the opinions of the writer.2 As our colleague Peter Novick has detailed in his great account of the American historical profession, by the turn of the century historians in the United States had begun their quest for scientific status, which for most seemed to preclude the leakage of moral opinion into the objective recovery of the past—at least in an overt way. Peter also catalogues the stumbling failures of this noble dream, when political partisanship and rampant nationalism sullied the ideal.3 Historians in our own time continue to be wary of rendering explicit moral pronouncements, thinking it a derogation of their obligations. On occasion, some historians have been moved to embrace the opposite attitude, especially when considering the horrendous events of the twentieth century—the Holocaust, for instance.. (shrink)
Characterizing Hegel’s complex assessment of modernity has always depended on which texts one looks at, and how one understands the “modernity problem.” It is obvious enough that Hegel’s pre-Jena and early Jena writings do indeed partly reflect what Nietzsche called a kind of German “homesickness,” a distaste with Enlightenment “positivity,” and an appeal to the models of the Greek polis and the early Christian communities as ways of understanding, by contrast, the limitations of modern philosophic, religious and political life. In (...) these texts, the Enlightenment victory over religion is portrayed as Pyrrhic, as the idealization of a calculating, fragmenting model of rationality, all in a way that merely transferred an oppressive, alien law-giver from without to within. This Enlightenment is a “hubbub of vanity without a firm core,” a purely “negative” reaction to custom and religion that tries to “turn this nothingness into a system.” On such a familiar view, Hegel represents, together with Schiller, Schelling and others, a “romantic reaction” to modernity continuous with Rouseau’s Second Discourse, united in various attempts to reject the abstract, materialist, “dehumanizing” nature of modern institutions, without a regression into premodern forms of thought. (shrink)
So much philosophy is so unavoidably guided by intuitions, and such intuitions are so formed by examples, and such examples must of necessity present so cropped and abstract a picture of an instance or event or decision, that, left to its traditional methods, philosophy might be ill-equipped on its own to answer a question about the true content of an historical ideal like ``autonomy'', or authenticity or ``leading a free life''. One needs to bring so many factors into play at (...) once that one non-traditional but more promising path might be through reflection on the modern novel—or modern drama or poetry or film or even modern painting. (shrink)