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Spirit in the Form of Kykeon: Antinomy and Absolute Knowing in Hegel's System


Speaker: Graham Bounds, UNM, Department of Philosophy

When: Apr 27, 2018 - 03:00pm - 05:00pm

Where: Department of Philosophy Library, HUM 519



The matter of Hegel’s view of contradiction, and its role in his philosophy, is a contentious one in the secondary literature. Although many modern defenders of Hegel, in an attempt to insulate him from criticism, argue that in one way or another he is not committed to the existence of real and genuine contradictions, Graham Priest has steadfastly held up Hegel as a paradigmatic example of a thinker anticipating Priest’s own dialetheism. In this paper I contend that Hegel indeed took there to be true contradictions (specifically, one true contradiction, or at least a very closely related set of them) and that this commitment is central to his system. However, I maintain that more important for Hegel than this assertion itself—that there is a true contradiction—is his conviction that the contradiction in question can, and must, be made intelligible—i.e. it must be answered how there could be a true contradiction. Pace Priest’s reconstruction of Hegel’s position, which I argue is overly reliant on the themes of theoretical reason, and therefore by Hegelian lights cannot ultimately make sense of the contradiction at issue, I offer a reading of the Phenomenology of Spirit as seeking to demonstrate by way of the motifs of practical reason not only the truth but the comprehensibility or conceivability of the contradiction—the one which is the theme of Absolute Knowing.