In a review of several recent works on Hegel, Robert Pippin suggests that “the greatest Hegelian promise is a way of understanding what have seemed intractable dualisms and antinomies in modern thought and in modern life, while still doing justice to the claims of both sides of the dualism: claims we find difficult to reject and impossible to reconcile. Much of Hegel’s idealism, and his emphasis on his ‘logic,’ could be summarized as the claim that we seem stuck with such dualisms because of the way we think about them. If we could figure out how to think them through properly, the tension in the dualisms could be alleviated and a ‘reconciled’ position would be possible. Second, Hegel promises to help us think about a feature of modern self-understanding that seems impossible to reject, but also seems to lead to unacceptable implications: our awareness that we are profoundly historical beings.” In a broader sense, he aimed to reconcile the tension “between nature on the one hand, and humanmindedness in thought and action on the other (what he called Geist: spirit).”

He also points to the links between Hegel’s theory of action and his teleological understanding of meaning and being: “Hegel has an ‘expressivist’ theory of action: one wherein motivations and intentions are understood as expressed in, or realized by, bodily movements, rather than being the causes of those movements. This means that for Hegel, the content of the action and the proper determination of intention are only accessible interpretively after the fact.”

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Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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