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I plan to post some of my writings about Kant's and Hegel's ethics and metaphysics (including theology), and the corresponding texts by Kant and Hegel for discussion. I think we cannot understand Hegel's theology or metaphysics without first understanding Kant's ethical theory--his notion of the "Categorical Imperative," the authority of ethics, which Hegel refers to as the "ought" (das Sollen). Hegel criticizes Kant's ethical theory as being "empty" (etc.)--but he criticizes it in order to reformulate so as to avoid the notorious metaphysical problems that it gets Kant into (dualism of "things-in-themselves" and phenomena, etc.). The aspect of Kant's ethical theory and his conception of freedom that Hegel wants to preserve is the idea that freedom involves somehow going beyond the "finite." It is reasonable to read Hegel's entire philosophical system as directed at carrying out this reformulation. So we need to understand why Hegel thinks it's worth reformulating and thus preserving. Required reading is Kant's short book, the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, plus his Critique of Practical Reason on the "postulates" (of God, freedom, and immortality). Then we'll look at the "Quality" chapter of Hegel's Science of Logic, where he explains systematically how and why we can have God and freedom and the only kind of immortality that makes sense, and why these ideas don't conflict with, but rather consummate, what we know about nature. This explanation in the Logic is what Hegel relies on throughout his Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, and elsewhere, but the Science of Logic is the only place where he lays it out in enough detail to enable us to grasp what it's all about. If there's interest we'll go on to the later parts of the Science of Logic--the Doctrine of Essence and Doctrine of the Concept--and the Phil of Nature and Phil of Spirit, in which Hegel elaborates on the fundamental ideas that he introduces in "Quality." --Bob Wallace
- Nov 30, 2000
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