The understanding of Hegel's metaphysics that is here argued for—that it is a metaphysics of the actual world—may sound trivial or empty. To counter this, in part one the actualist reading of Hegel's idealism is opposed to two other currently popular interpretations, those of the naturalist and the conceptual realist respectively. While actualism shares motivations with each of these positions, it is argued that it is better equipped to capture what both aim to bring out in Hegel's metaphysics, but also better able to resist criticisms of each of these opposed positions made from the viewpoint of the other.
Like the conceptual realist, the actualist wants to affirm the objectivity of concepts in the world—an idea that can seem antithetical to the naturalist. While the position of “liberal naturalism” makes concessions to such a position, this feature is more easily accommodated by the actualist. However, like the liberal naturalist, the actualist is also suspicious of an implicit “supernaturalist” dimension of conceptual realism and, by weakening the scope of realism to the actual world, is better able to avoid it.
The second and third parts of the paper attempt to show how the actualist position is reflected in Hegel's account of judgments and syllogisms in The Science of Logic. His account of judgments provides an irreducible place for judgments that are object-presupposing on the one hand and subject-locating on the other. Because such judgments are the components of syllogisms, these syllogisms have objectivity, but this is a type of objectivity within which we, as subjects, are by necessity located. The actual world has a conceptual structure because we conceptualizing beings belong to it.