Thu Oct 2, 2014
223 Moses Hall, 4–6 PM
Markus Gabriel (University of Bonn)
What kind of an idealist (if any) is Hegel?
In my paper, I will first explore Hegel’s own distinctions between various types of idealism, most of which he explicitly rejects. I will discuss his notions of subjective, transcendental and absolute idealism and present the outlines of his criticisms of the first two as well as the motivation behind his commitment to a version of absolute idealism. In particular, I will argue that the latter does not share the defining features of what is now commonly called “idealism”, as Hegel neither denies the existence of an external world nor even holds that we can only somehow indirectly infer the truth of propositions about the external world from the structure of some given mental material. I will give an account of Hegel’s concept of “the absolute idea”, which lies behind his absolute idealism. In this context, I will argue that it is crucial for our understanding of Hegel and his potential relevance for various branches of contemporary philosophy that the absolute idea is precisely not a mental or “spiritual (geistig)” entity. Rather it amounts to a set of methodological assumptions designed to guarantee the overall intelligibility of what there is, regardless of its actual natural, social or more broadly normative structure.