Hegel's Epistemology: A Philosophical Introduction to the Phenomenology of Spirit

Hegel's Epistemology: A Philosophical Introduction to the Phenomenology of Spirit

Hegel's Epistemology: A Philosophical Introduction to the Phenomenology of Spirit

Hegel's Epistemology: A Philosophical Introduction to the Phenomenology of Spirit

Synopsis

Provides a succinct philosophical introduction to Hegel's PHENOMENOLOGY OF SPIRIT for non-specialists and students, focusing on Hegel's unique and insightful theory of knowledge and its relations to 20th-century epistemology.

Excerpt

Hegel's Phenomenology is notoriously challenging, in form and structure as well as in content. His apparent ambitions in the Phenomenology and his highly unusual presentation have often made it difficult to relate it to more familiar philosophical views and issues. Hegel demands much of his readers. At the beginning of a chapter or subsection, for example, Hegel states a philosophical view often to argue (by indirect proof or reductio ad absurdum) against that view, though sometimes only to argue against a defective account or justification of that view. Precisely what view he criticizes can at times be difficult to determine, often because he states some essential points of an historical philosopher's view without mentioning whose view it is. Hegel unfortunately tends to refer to passages from the history of philosophy the way Medieval philosophers referred to Aristotle. They would write “the philosopher says …,” expecting, and knowing they could expect, the reader to know exactly which passage from which work of Aristotle's was being quoted or paraphrased. Hegel, however, only rarely mentions his frequent paraphrasing or quotation— though his use of such references should not have misfired nearly so often as it has.

Three examples illustrate these points nicely. Russell famously complains that Hegel fails to distinguish “the ‘is’ of identity” from “the ‘is’ of predication.” However, Russell didn't recognize that Hegel conflated them only as an assumed first premise of a reductio ad absurdum argument to show that identity is distinct from predication! A second example comes from the critical German edition of Hegel's works, which has performed an enormous service in tracking down a plethora of possible and definite references or allusions that Hegel makes to other philosophers. However, Hegel's second chapter, “Perception,” defied those efforts; the critical apparatus contains only eight references for it, all of them merely cross-references within Hegel's text (GW 9:495). In fact, “Perception” is all about Hume's epistemology in the Treatise of Human Nature, specifically, in “Of Scepticism with regard to the senses” (I.iv §2).

. Russell (1914), 48–9 note; CP 6:365.

. Westphal (1998a), §7.

. Ibid., passim.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.