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At the limit of the concept: logic and history in Hegel, Schelling, and Adorno

Lumsden, John M (2016) At the limit of the concept: logic and history in Hegel, Schelling, and Adorno. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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In this thesis I show how the challenges of producing a philosophy of history responsive to the negativity of the world benefits from working through the difficulties of G. W. F. Hegel’s systematic philosophy. By revealing the powerful and intricate ways that Hegel gives an illegitimate primacy to thought (or the concept) we can better appreciate the obstacles that face a philosophy which places new emphasis on the nonconceptual whilst recognising the genuine role of the concept. In the first half of this thesis I reconstruct the important criticisms levelled at Hegel by F. W. J. Schelling and Theodor W. Adorno. I argue that both their criticisms illuminate our understanding of the metaphysical status of Hegel’s thought and expose the surreptitious means by which Hegel overextends the concept. The value of Adorno’s and Schelling’s reading of Hegel is also due to the fact that they do not cast aside Hegel’s ambitions as mere fantasy. Rather, they provide important insight into the goals philosophy should be striving towards—even if we cannot be as confident as Hegel in their imminent achievement. In the second half I reconstruct Schelling’s and Adorno’s philosophies of history in light of their criticisms of Hegel. The core problem addressed is how unwarranted optimism – entailed by the idealistic operation in Hegel’s theoretical philosophy – is to be eschewed whilst also avoiding a lapse into unwarranted pessimism. I argue that, while both Schelling and Adorno make important advances in this direction, Adorno’s philosophy of history is better able to make sense of both the prevalence of unfreedom in history and the ways in which we can respond to this situation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BD Speculative Philosophy
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Philosophy and Art History, School of
Depositing User: John Lumsden
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2016 12:34
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2016 12:34

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