Hegel

hegel

My current research primarily centres on Hegel. I am completing a manuscript tentatively titled Hegel’s Anthropological Conception of Logic. The traditional reading of Hegel’s logic is that it is an account of the rationality of the cosmos. In my book, I demonstrate to the contrary that Hegel develops an original understanding of logic that has been overlooked in the history of philosophy. According to this understanding, logic is not the basis for a novel rationalist metaphysics, but rather an account of the norms of a rationality that is instinctively operative in human experience as its condition of possibility. Hence, Hegel makes logic anthropological in nature.

Beyond this book project, I have also published on Hegel’s logic, Phenomenology of Spirit, and system.

Hegel’s Anthropological Conception of Logic
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The first two chapters of my manuscript argue for my anthropological reading of Hegel’s logic on textual and historical grounds and the second two expound how Hegel rethinks logic as a discipline.

In chapter 1, I ask how Hegel’s Phenomenology, a book that deals with our consciousness of objects, the self-consciousness that motivates our actions, the reason that impels modern science, and the spirit of Western communities, might serve as an introduction to a new conception of logic. I submit that it is an attempt at proving, through an inner exploration of the fundamental dimensions of human experience, that rationality is at its source because it is the instinctive or biological form of human life. In chapter 2, I show how Hegel’s Phenomenology thereby transforms the mission of logic. First, since we have an instinctive need to make our experience intelligible, our experience is structured (1) by the claims we instinctively make, already at the level of our bodies, about whether our perceptions are true or our desires should be acted upon and (2) by the universe of meaning that we thereby instinctively create to explain the world around us and ourselves. Second, since claims can only be adjudicated in the social practice of giving and asking for reasons, we also have an instinctive need to find consensus concerning how we understand the world and act in it, which leads to the experiential emergence of societies whose communal worldviews historically evolve over time. Consequently, the rationality described by logic is the existential matrix of our perceptual, practical, scientific, and sociohistorical experience.

In chapter 3, I reconstruct Hegel’s “Objective Logic.” Following Kant, Hegel here provides a transcendental theory of categories. These categories, which range from “quality” to “actuality,” set the a priori norms that must be satisfied for us to take something as an object of a certain kind, say, as an instantiation of a quality (e.g., red) or a self-actualizing process (e.g., the natural or social world as an unfolding system). In this sense, the categories draw up the blueprints for the universe of meaning that instinctively animates human experience. In chapter 4, I reconstruct Hegel’s “Subjective Logic,” which radically reworks traditional logic into a transcendental theory of the distinctively human space of reasons: the subjective, but rational interests that compel us and the innate, instinctual patterns of behaviour (conceiving, judging, and inferring) through which we pursue them, the a priori norms of this space being that which supports the universe of meaning in which our experience is realized. More precisely, the Subjective Logic describes the process of conceptualization that makes us human, that is, Homo sapiens: living creatures who are not just subjectively interested in survival and reproduction, as other animals are, but who also, and more fundamentally, embark by their very nature in the search for wisdom or truth.

In my book, I draw two main lessons for philosophy today from Hegel’s anthropological conception of logic. First, it furnishes an innovative proof of freedom. Since to be human is to demand and respond to reasons, rationality is the determining factor of our experience: instead of merely reacting to sensory data caused by the external world or mental states caused by biological or psychological processes, we can always deliberate about whether we should view things or act in this or that way. Second, while the deliberative activity of rationality is irreducible to natural causes, nevertheless rationality, as an instinctive or biological form of life, can be naturalistically explained. Hegel thus strikes a balance between naturalism and the irreducible normativity of the logical space of reasons, allowing for the scientific explanation of its natural preconditions while maintaining its sui generis character. In other words, Hegel’s anthropological conception of logic is neither a materialism or a pragmatism, but manages to advocate a position that can do justice to the intuitions of both.

Hegel’s Logic
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Describing the Rationality of Human Experience: The Anthropological Task of Hegel’s Logic.” Idealistic Studies 1 (2017): 79-96.

Hegel on the Universe of Meaning: Logic, Language, and Spirit’s Break from Nature.” In Rethinking German Idealism, edited by S.J. McGrath and Joseph Carew, 163-189. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Hegel’s Phenomenology
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Hegel’s Phenomenology: On the Logical Structure of Human Experience.” In “Experience in a New Key,” edited by Dorthe Jørgensen. Special Issue. Open Philosophy 2 (2019): 462-479.

Reclaiming Rationality Experientially: The New Metaphysics of Human Spirit in Hegel’s Phenomenology.” Online Journal of Hegelian Studies (REH) 13.21 (2016): 55-93.

Hegel’s System
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“The Trembling of the Concept: The Material Genesis of Living Being in Hegel’s Realphilosophie.” In “Life.” Special Issue. Pli: The Warwick Journal of Philosophy 23 (2012). 72-106.