Hegelian theory thesis antithesis synthesis

Perhaps Hoffman has not fully appreciated this aspect of the Hegelian dialectic. Hegel has benefited from having quite a few superb expositors and interpreters; for example, from the contemporary literature, books on Hegel by Quentin Lauer, Charles Taylor, and Walter Kaufmann. In the conclusion of this review, I will make some further remarks on this point.

The best way to characterize The Unconscious Abyss is by discussing the meaning of the phrase itself, as Mills understands it. Most important is a point Mills reiterates throughout his study: following Hegel, Mills insists not only that the ego the ego in the psychoanalytic and Hegelian senses originates in the unconscious; in addition and most importantly, he insists that the unconscious ontologically, logically, and developmentally precedes consciousness and self-consciousness and is the dynamic root of human psychic and psychosocial development.

It follows from this that failing to appreciate this relation between consciousness and the unconscious amounts to abandoning psychoanalysis. Defense of the unconscious has come from a variety of sources, including some theorists who proclaim that Freud was a physicalist reductionist and that the unconscious consists primarily of drives that originate biologically, i.

The problem with this perspective is that it inevitably culminates either in an untenable pure materialism that denies freedom or in some form or other of psychophysical dualism, for example epiphenomenalism, which Freud at times espoused.

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This is one of the crucial points that Mills believes is resolved by the Hegelian perspective. The issue to be resolved is this: how do we understand both that drives originate in the biological body and at the same time that this is not a reductionist claim? The solution lies in the rejection of mind-body dualism. The Hegelian philosophy is entirely monistic, and its method is dialectic. In this perspective, subjectivity and substance nature, materiality are dialectically interpenetrated such that the progress of Spirit Mind towards freedom is a progress from substance to subject.

In other words, when subject recognizes nature as its own externalized self, spirit will have returned to its beginning prior to its own self-diremption splitting into Nature and Mind. There is no dualism, then, because subject and nature are ontologically the same.

Marxist Philosophy and Dialectical Materialism

Thus, physicalist reductionism or positivism , the view that there is a nature that exists entirely independently of subjectivity, is untenable within the Hegelian monistic perspective. What follows is an example of the method of explication that Mills uses in his frequent, extended, detailed readings of Hegel and Freud. What is the unconscious abyss? A grasp of this phenomenon can be developed through consideration of some of its characteristics. First, the abyssal character of the unconscious means that the unconscious, which is always individuated, is ungrounded, i.

Secondly, the unconscious abyss is the repository of all presentations—i. Thus, the unconscious abyss is a singularity, i. As noted above, Mills does not expect, nor does he think it desirable, that psychoanalysis embrace Hegelianism tout court. However, I ask, does this conceptual state of affairs go far enough? In order to grapple with this, it is necessary to revisit Mills assumption that Freud was not a physicalist reductionist and some of the implications of that claim. As mentioned above, it is quite plausible to infer that Freud, or much of his work, reflects the disclaimer.

On the other hand, Freud declared himself to be a Darwinian and, as far as I am aware, this aspect of his thinking has not been controversial, even though Freud at the same time indicated adherence to aspects of Lamarckism. No doubt Freud was an intelligent Darwinian, and, as a scientist, did not have a simplistic understanding of the theory of evolution. We can picture Realized Purpose this way:. Instead of trying to squeeze the stages into a triadic form cf. This sort of process might reveal a kind of argument that, as Hegel had promised, might produce a comprehensive and exhaustive exploration of every concept, form or determination in each subject matter, as well as raise dialectics above a haphazard analysis of various philosophical views to the level of a genuine science.

These interpreters reject the idea that there is any logical necessity to the moves from stage to stage. Solomon writes, for instance,. The connections are anything but entailments, and the Phenomenology could always take another route and other starting points. Solomon A transcendental argument begins with uncontroversial facts of experience and tries to show that other conditions must be present—or are necessary—for those facts to be possible.

Taylor 97, —7; for a critique of this view, see Pinkard 7, In his examination of the epistemological theory of the Phenomenology , for instance, Kenneth R. Ermanno Bencivenga offers an interpretation that combines a narrative approach with a concept of necessity.

While some of the moves from stage to stage are driven by syntactic necessity, other moves are driven by the meanings of the concepts in play. A logic that deals only with the forms of logical arguments and not the meanings of the concepts used in those argument forms will do no better in terms of preserving truth than the old joke about computer programs suggests: garbage in, garbage out. But if you plug in something for those terms that is untrue or meaningless garbage in , then the syntax of formal logic will lead to an untrue or meaningless conclusion garbage out.

Against these logics, Hegel wanted to develop a logic that not only preserved truth, but also determined how to construct truthful claims in the first place.

The problem of definitions, part 2

A logic that defines concepts semantics as well as their relationships with one another syntax will show, Hegel thought, how concepts can be combined into meaningful forms. Maybee xvii—xx. In the Phenomenology , for instance, the moves are driven by syntax, semantics, and by phenomenological factors. Sometimes a move from one stage to the next is driven by a syntactic need—the need to stop an endless, back-and-forth process, for instance, or to take a new path after all the current options have been exhausted cf.

And sometimes a move is driven by a phenomenological need or necessity—by requirements of consciousness , or by the fact that the Phenomenology is about a consciousness that claims to be aware of or to know something. The logic of the Phenomenology is thus a phenomeno -logic, or a logic driven by logic—syntax and semantics—and by phenomenological considerations.

Still, interpreters such as Quentin Lauer have suggested that, for Hegel,.

2. Applying Hegel’s dialectical method to his arguments

Lauer 3. Other scholars who also believe there is a logical necessity to the dialectics of the Phenomenology include Hyppolite 78—9 and H. Harris xii. Even in these logics, there can often be more than one path from some premises to the same conclusion, logical operators can be dealt with in different orders, and different sets of operations can be used to reach the same conclusions. We can begin to see why Hegel was motivated to use a dialectical method by examining the project he set for himself, particularly in relation to the work of David Hume and Immanuel Kant see entries on Hume and Kant.

Although we may have to use careful observations and do experiments, our knowledge of the world is basically a mirror or copy of what the world is like.


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Take the scientific concept of cause, for instance. According to that concept of cause, to say that one event causes another is to say that there is a necessary connection between the first event the cause and the second event the effect , such that, when the first event happens, the second event must also happen. It follows that the necessary, causal connection between the two events must itself be out there in the world.

There is nothing in the world itself that our idea of cause mirrors or copies. Nicholas Copernicus was the Polish astronomer who said that the earth revolves around the sun, rather than the other way around. We can reestablish a connection between reason and knowledge, however, Kant suggested, if we say—not that knowledge revolves around what the world is like—but that knowledge revolves around what we are like. For the purposes of our knowledge, Kant said, we do not revolve around the world—the world revolves around us.

Because we are rational creatures, we share a cognitive structure with one another that regularizes our experiences of the world. This intersubjectively shared structure of rationality—and not the world itself—grounds our knowledge. While the intersubjectively shared structure of our reason might allow us to have knowledge of the world from our perspective, so to speak, we cannot get outside of our mental, rational structures to see what the world might be like in itself.

How, for Hegel, can we get out of our heads to see the world as it is in itself?


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Plato argued that we have knowledge of the world only through the Forms. The Forms are perfectly universal, rational concepts or ideas. Because the world is imperfect, however, Plato exiled the Forms to their own realm. Although things in the world get their definitions by participating in the Forms, those things are, at best, imperfect copies of the universal Forms see, e. The Forms are therefore not in this world, but in a separate realm of their own.

Aristotle argued, however, that the world is knowable not because things in the world are imperfect copies of the Forms, but because the Forms are in things themselves as the defining essences of those things see, e.

Thesis - Antithesis - Synthesis - ClickZ

As Hegel apparently put it in a lecture, the opposition or antithesis between the subjective and objective disappears by saying, as the Ancients did,. If we were to deprive a dog of its animality we could not say what it is. We can use our reason to have knowledge of the world because the very same reason that is in us, is in the world itself as it own defining principle.

The rationality or reason in the world makes reality understandable, and that is why we can have knowledge of, or can understand, reality with our rationality. But why does Hegel come to define reason in terms of dialectics, and hence adopt a dialectical method?

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