Between Kant and Hegel: Lectures on German Idealism

By Dieter Henrich; David S. Pacini | Go to book overview

7
Jacobi and the
Philosophy of Immediacy

One of the most significant events in the development of early postKantian thought was the controversy Jacobi initiated over Spinoza. But in order to understand its power for the younger generation, we will need to trace some of its antecedent themes in Greek thought. Idealism has roots not only in Kantian thinking, but also in several Greek philosophical traditions that, although suppressed in the eighteenth century, some of the post-Kantian thinkers restored to academic respectability. This was a period of renewed interest in ontological monism, whose roots lie in the conceptual tools and theoretical problems of Plato's philosophy. Throughout northern Europe, Roman neo-Platonism developed and transmitted this tradition in which the concept of The One as subject is fundamental. We may describe this theory of The One as henology, by way of contrast to ontology, which is the theory of Being as Aristotle established it. Although providing conceptual tools for a theory of The One, Platonism is not itself a monism.

The monist doctrine—that there is only a single world and that The One is the organizing principle and is only internal to that world—derives from Stoicism rather than Platonism. Indeed, it was the teachings of the Stoa from which some of the most important neo-Platonic concepts originated. The Stoic concepts of union as unification (henôsis) and self-acquaintance (oikeiôsis), or of that being with self that is complete if all possibility of self-alienation (allotriôsis) is excluded are, obviously, central for Hegel's thinking. We may readily combine these Stoic concepts in a way that differs from the teachings of the Stoa but closely resembles Hegel's system.

Given the speculative problems of neo-Platonism that resisted satisfac-

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