When Love of Knowing Becomes Actual Knowing: Heidegger and Gadamer on Hegel’s die Sache Selbst

The Owl of Minerva 17 (2):153-164 (1986)
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The purpose of Plato’s investigation of justice in the ideal polis of the Republic is neither to formulate an abstract conception of justice in itself nor to work out a blueprint for the perfectly just state. Rather, through the contemplation of an ideal social/political order where justice might be found “writ large,” Plato intends to bring about the actualization of justice in the “polity” of the individual soul. It must be kept in mind, of course, that, while possessing a notion of the individual, the Greeks lacked our modern, Cartesian conception of subjectivity, burdened as it is with the existential task of creating and sustaining a meaningful cosmos. But precisely for this reason the ancients had a clearer perspective of the synergistic and mutually determinative dialectic that conjoins the individual and the state, a conjunction grounded in the ethical. This can be seen, Hegel suggests, in terms of the “unwritten and infallible law” that Antigone takes to be the “law of the gods” which “is right because it is what is right,” placing the individual “within the ethical substance; and this substance is thus the essence of self-consciousness.”



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Robert D. Walsh
University of Montana

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