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Living method From the regulative to the constitutive idea in Hegel's Logic

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Description: The present study ventures into the too rarely frequented territory of Hegel's Idea. The Idea is the final stage of the Concept considered in the Science of Logic. I claim that Hegel's Logic effects a transition from the Kantian regulative Idea to a new conception of the constitutive Idea that avoids the problems of transcendental realism that Kant critiqued in the constitutive absolutes of dogmatic rationalists. Hegel's absolute Idea is method; Idea itself is the activity (or negativity) responsible for totality or wholeness. As activity, Hegel's Idea avoids the confusion that attends the so-called rationalist's attempt to predicate qualities (which must be determinate) of an unconditioned absolute, e.g. substance, soul, God, cosmos, etc. Since Kant saw this reification of the unconditioned absolute was mistaken, he rightly critiqued the practice of predicating absolutes. Hegel, however, resists the skeptical limitation of reason that Kant invokes to avoid the problems of dogmatism. Hegel outlines a new way to approach the absolute in thinking and knowing. The Idea is neither a sum of all possible categories nor a bigger category that embraces all others, it is the activity of thinking itself made explicit in the necessary moments of inquiry. This method of thinking can be called logically absolute because its rhythm creates and dissolves all possible logical moments or categories. Hegel presents that which embraces all the possibilities of logic and it is not a substance or a thing or a mind or a person. It is a method. The key focus in this study, however, is not what separates Hegel from the rationalists, but rather what separates Hegel's absolute idealism from Kant's transcendental idealism. This is the more pressing question because at present much American Hegel scholarship locates Hegel too closely to Kant. I argue that a transcendental emphasis distorts Hegel's speculative project. A central claim of this dissertation is that the end of Hegel's Logic critically situates the subjective Kantian philosophy, represented by the Idea of cognition, between its true ground, the Idea of life, and its genuine result, the Idea of immanent method. Once we see the limits of the regulative use of reason as belonging to Kant's thought rather than thought as such, a resolution is not just possible, but already assured. The separation of being and thought in cognition was a temporary illusion and as such needs no complex solution but demands only our recognition. As Hegel notes, every human action already presumes the overcoming of the Cartesian-Kantian divide between thought and being, "Therefore the presupposition of the unity of thought and being is the foundation of all our action." 1 The three Idea chapters finalize the project of the Logic at large, presuppositionlessness, by articulating the fundamental blind spot of transcendental idealism: life. A proper consideration of life and cognition as two sides of the Idea reveals the true path forward for idealism: immanent dialectical-speculative method that can equally comprehend the immediacy of living and the mediacy of knowing. Ending logic with immanent method as the absolute Idea shows that there is no ultimate logical object and that the search for such is a sign of an immature conception of the work of thinking. The proper understanding of method collapses thought's desire for an ultimate thinkable and returns thought to itself. The search for the perfect category of thought follows the story of Attar's famous poem "The Parliament of Birds." In the end the thirty birds searching for the Simurgh (thirty-bird) realize they are the Simurgh they seek. The opening demand for presuppositionlessness produces the immanent method articulated at the end of the Logic. Still, this circular result, immanent, self-producing, self-referring, living method, answers both the dogmatism of early modern rationalism and the skepticism of transcendental idealism in a single blow. It is well worth our consideration. 1 "Dennoch liegt allem unserem Tun die Voraussetzung der Einheit des Denkens und des Seins zugrunde." Werke 10:284.
Language: English
Format: Degree Work