Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pinkard, Terry. Review of Beatrice Longuenesse's HEGEL'S CRITIQUE OF METAPHYSICS. NDPR (April 2009).

Longuenesse, Béatrice. Hegel's Critique of Metaphysics. Cambridge: CUP, 2007. One of the issues facing any study of Hegel's Logic has to do with one of the most contested themes in the current Hegel revival: Just what is Hegel's philosophical relation to Kant (and by implication Hegelianism's relation to the great Kant revival itself of the last several years)? It is a big, almost unmanageable question, but it is a good sign that one of the most influential people in Kant-studies has now finally published in English her study of Hegel's Logic. Those who have admired Béatrice Longuenesse's book on Kant will find equally as much to admire here; along with her usual insight and close attention to detail, there is also her ability to write and think clearly on demandingly abstruse topics in a highly readable way. As always, there is also much more to a book like this than a reviewer can even suggest. I will have to confine myself to a few of the highlights. Although at first glance Longuenesse's book might look like only a limited study of a limited part of only one section of Hegel's system (the doctrine of reflection in the section of Hegel's Logic called "Essence"), she in fact has much larger goals in its sight. Longuenesse begins with a focus on Hegel's well known claim in the Phenomenology that the task of Hegel's philosophy is to show how "substance" must become "subject." There is a traditional reading of this claim which holds that this means that we must conceive of the underlying "substance" of the world as something more like a kind of monist holism that sees reality as a whole (a totality), which is itself to be conceived as something along the lines of a cosmic mind developing itself (and is thus usually identified with God). Very sophisticated versions of this more traditional view have recently appeared from Frederick Beiser and Paul Franks. This traditional reading has been subjected to quite a bit of criticism from what is called the "post-Kantian" interpretation (or sometimes, somewhat misleadingly, the "non-metaphysical" interpretation) of Hegel. Longuenesse's interpretation belongs mostly to the latter camp, but her post-Kantian Hegel is post-Kantian with a difference. . . . Read the whole review here:

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