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13 - On Hegel's interpretation of Aristotle's psyche: a qualified defence

Allegra De Laurentiis
Affiliation:
State University of New York
Katerina Deligiorgi
Affiliation:
University of Sussex
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Summary

In the chapter on “Plato and Aristotle” in the Lectures on the History of Philosophy, Hegel praises Aristotle's work for displaying a principle of “pure subjectivity” that, by contrast, he considers largely absent from the Platonic corpus:

In general, Platonic thinking [das Platonische] represents objectivity, but it lacks a principle of life, a principle of subjectivity; and this principle of life, of subjectivity, not in the sense of a contingent, merely particular subjectivity, but in the sense of pure subjectivity, is proper to Aristotle.

(W 19: 153)

Elsewhere and repeatedly, Hegel refers to Aristotelian conceptions of organic life and of thinking – especially from the Metaphysics and the De Anima – as the first speculative insights to be found in the history of (Western) philosophy.

A “speculative insight” in Hegel's sense may be characterized in a general way as grasp of the thinking subject's theoretical and practical relation to itself, that is, as theoretical self-knowing and practical self-will. “Speculative” is any concept that grasps (holds together intelligibly) what other kinds of cognition keep asunder, for example, the subjective and objective dimensions of a phenomenon or a state of affairs. But even independently of a detailed analysis of the meaning of speculative insight or a speculative principle, one is struck by the apparent inconsistency of these claims on Aristotle with Hegel's overall view of the logically necessary stages of philosophical thinking in history.

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Chapter
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Hegel
New Directions
, pp. 227 - 242
Publisher: Acumen Publishing
Print publication year: 2006

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