Skip to main content Accessibility help

‘Determination is negation’: The Adventures of a Doctrine from Spinoza to Hegel to the British Idealists

  • Robert Stern (a1)


This article is a discussion of Hegel’s conception of the principle ‘omnis determinatio est negatio’, which he attributes to Spinoza. It is argued, however, that Spinoza understood this principle in a very different way from Hegel, which then sets up an interpretative puzzle: if this is so, why did he credit Spinoza with formulating it? This puzzle is resolved by paying attention to the context in which those attributions are made, while it is also shown that the British Idealists (unlike many contemporary commentators) were aware of the complexities in the Spinoza–Hegel relation on this issue. The paper also addresses some of the philosophical debates raised by this question, and the light it sheds on Hegel’s critique of Spinoza as a monist.



Hide All
Bienenstock, M. (2007), ‘Selbstbestimmung bei Hegel’, in R. Bubner and G. Hindrichs (eds.), Von der Logik zur Sprache. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta.
Brandom, R. B. (2002), Tales of the Mighty Dead: Historical Essays in the Metaphysics of Intentionality. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.
Caird, E. (1889), The Critical Philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Glasgow: James Maclehose.
Caird, J. (1888), Spinoza. Edinburgh: William Blackwood.
Duffy, S. (2006), The Logic of Expression: Quality, Quantity and Intensity in Spinoza, Hegel and Deleuze. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Descartes, R. (1964–76), Oeuvres de Descartes, ed. C. Adam and P. Tannery, revised edition. Paris: Vrin/CNRS.
Houlgate, S. (2006), The Opening of Hegel’s Logic: From Being to Infinity. West Lafayette: Purdue University Press.
Inwood, M. (1992), A Hegel Dictionary. Oxford: Blackwell.
Jacobi, F. H. (1785), Ueber die Lehre des Spinoza in Briefen an den Herrn Moses Mendelssohn. Breslau: Löwe.
Jacobi, F. H. (1994), ‘Concerning the Doctrine of Spinoza in Letters to Herr Moses Mendelssohn’, trans. G. di Giovanni in The Main Philosophical Writings and the Novel ‘Allwill’. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
Joachim, H. H. (1901), A Study of the Ethics of Spinoza. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Macherey, P. (1979), Hegel ou Spinoza. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Macherey, P. (2011), Hegel or Spinoza, trans. S. M. Ruddick. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Mander, W. J. (2011), British Idealism: A History. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Melamed, Y. Y. (2010), ‘Acosmism or Weak Individuals? Hegel, Spinoza, and the Reality of the Finite’, Journal of the History of Philosophy 48: 7792.
Melamed, Y. Y. (2012a), ‘“Omnis determinatio est negatio”: Determination, Negation and Self-Negation in Spinoza, Kant, and Hegel’, in E. Förster and Y. Y. Melamed (eds.), Spinoza and German Idealism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Melamed, Y. Y. (2012b), ‘Why Spinoza is not an Eleatic Monist. Or Why Diversity Exists’, in P. Goff (ed.), Spinoza on Monism. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Melamed, Y. Y. (2014), ‘Hasdai Crescas and Spinoza on Actual Infinity and the Infinity of God’s Attributes’, in S. Nadler (ed.), Spinoza and Medieval Jewish Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Moore, A. W. (2012), The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics: Making Sense of Things. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Moyar, D. (2011), Hegel’s Conscience. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Newlands, S. (2011), ‘Hegel’s Idealist Reading of Spinoza’, Philosophy Compass 6: 100108.
Parkinson, G. H. R. (1993), ‘Spinoza and British Idealism: The Case of H. H. Joachim’, British Journal for the History of Philosophy 1: 109123.
Pringle-Pattison, A. S. (1897), ‘A New Theory of the Absolute’, reprinted in his Man’s Place in the Cosmos and Other Essays. Edinburgh: William Blackwood, 129225.
Schelling, F. (1856–61), Sämmtliche Werke, ed. K. F. A. Schelling. J. G. Cotta: Stuttgart.
Schelling, F. (2006), Philosophical Investigations into the Essence of Human Freedom, trans. J. Love and J. Schmidt. Albany: SUNY Press.
Sigwart, C. (1895), Logic, trans. H. Dendy, 2nd edn.London: Swan Sonnenschein.
Spinoza, B. (1925), Opera, ed. C. Gebhardt. Heidelberg: Carl Winter.
Taylor, C. (1975), Hegel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

‘Determination is negation’: The Adventures of a Doctrine from Spinoza to Hegel to the British Idealists

  • Robert Stern (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.