Hegel’s Critique of Kant

The Owl of Minerva 38 (1-2):9-34 (2006)
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Abstract

This essay examines Hegel’s critique of Kant’s concept of critical philosophy, set forth principally in his Phenomenology of Spirit and Encyclopedia. In the former Hegel presents a hermeneutical critique of Kant, to wit, the concept of critique presupposes a concept of knowledge construed as an instrument. On this assumption the “instrument” of knowledge is supposed to be examined apart from and in advance of its application. But Hegel objects that the underlying conception of knowledge as an instrument undermines the cognitive project because it separates the knower from the known; it is self-defeating because it cuts us off from what we seek to know. Further, Hegel asks, what is the status of the critique? Is it knowledge? In order to determine the boundaries of cognition, Kant is forced repeatedly to transgress those very boundaries. Hegel’s objection does not signal a repudiation of critique. Rather Hegel demands that critique not be separated from actual cognition, and that it constitute an integral moment of speculative philosophy. The exploration of this requirement takes us into an examination of Hegel’s account of phenomenological critique, his account of Kant’s paralogisms, his analysis of the spurious infinite and its overcoming in the genuine infinite.

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