The Project Of Speculative Thinking In Hegel'S Philosophy

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This dissertation makes a contribution towards understanding Hegel's enigmatic conception of philosophy as system in which form and content are one and thinking rises to the divine perspective. I argue for the following interpretive view. We can understand an important part of what motivates Hegel's conception of philosophy by attending to a project in Plato's middle dialogues which demands that philosophy be a science of the Good (understood as the principle of all things). The Meno, Phaedo, Republic, and Parmenides develop a conception of philosophy as the journey towards a knowledge that is absolute and comprehensive, rational and teleological. (Such a knowledge cannot be construed as a species of belief.) Hegel transforms this Platonic project into a demand for a fully 'concrete' thinking. The least inadequate expression of what this is, outside of philosophy in its true form (which Hegel calls 'speculative'), demands the categories of religious representation in which the truth is thought of as a divine going forth and return to self, an activity of self-determining and knowing which has the structure of self-consciousness. The dialectic is best understood as a journey which ends in the (self-)discovery that in true philosophy we are this divine return - a kind of recollection which completes Plato's project of a science of the Good. The system, if complete, will just be our thinking in which we are no longer only referring to the content which is the truth, but are simply that content thinking itself. This is what concrete thinking is. In the Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit Hegel invites us to enter into a process which will reveal itself to be this concrete thinking that the Platonic project, as transformed by Hegel, has demanded. We are presented with two related aims of speculative thinking: to be free of anything that is prephilosophical and to be complete by being self-justifying. Paralleling Descartes, the invitation takes the form of developing a deep enough skepticism about more ordinary forms of argument that we are open to discovering what the dialectic will reveal. Hegel's argument that the family is an ethical institution is one moment in that dialectic. I interpret this as presenting us with a compelling view of love which could not be adequately expressed if we were to re-construct it in such a way as to avoid Hegel's conception of philosophy.
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Hegel; Plato; Speculative
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Chignell, Andrew
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Kosch, Michelle Ann
Brennan, Theodore R.
Neuhouser, Frederick W.
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Ph. D., Philosophy
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Government Document
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dissertation or thesis
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