Cracking Open the Inverted World: Teleology Without End

Dissertation, State University of New York at Stony Brook (1993)
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The "inverted world" and "dialectic of life" sections of G. W. F. Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit are analyzed in terms of Immanuel Kant's theory of teleological judgment as set forth in his Critique of Judgment. ;It is argued that the "inverted world" is an appropriation of Kant's speculations in the third Critique concerning the teleological unification of the laws of nature. The resultant concept of "infinity" is then analyzed as it develops in the "dialectic of life" as an appropriation of Kant's teleological judgment of living organisms. From this analysis, a general dialectical logic of parts and wholes is developed in which Hegel is seen to advance this logic beyond Kant's description of it. ;The dialectical logic of life thus developed is then reflected back upon the Kantian system and its project of systematic unity, which for Kant is cast in explicitly organic terms. A review of the history of eighteenth century embryology reveals the extent to which Kant was engaged in the problems of organic form and how it influenced his systematic thinking. It is argued that Hegel's subsequent appropriation of this organic form, albeit modified, nevertheless leads Hegel to a metaphysical position concerning the closure and unity of his system. ;Kant's theory of aesthetic judgment is then analyzed and seen to instantiate a similar logic of parts and wholes, and it is argued that because aesthetic judgment is by definition indeterminate and nonpurposive, that it presents a model of a nonteleological dialectics of parts and wholes. ;The possibility of such an aesthetic dialectic is then explored in the domain of contemporary biology, where it is found that the problems of self-organization, emergence and nonlinearity, while intractible from a formal axiomatics point of view, are quite amenable to a dialectical logic of parts and wholes. ;Such a logic is vital to understanding the relations between higher levels of organization as they emerge from and effect and are effected by the lower levels of organization. Only a dialectical logic is capable of grasping the relations of culture to biology, and within culture, the relations of its various institutions or parts



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