Document Type

Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Embargo Period

6-24-2015

Degree Program

Germanic Languages & Literatures

Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded

2015

Month Degree Awarded

May

Advisor Name

Jonathan

Advisor Last Name

Skolnik

Co-advisor Name

Robert

Co-advisor Middle Initial

G.

Co-advisor Last Name

Sullivan

Abstract

This thesis presents Hegel’s account of abstract ‘understanding’ (Verstand) and asserts that his thought is to be read as primarily presenting a critique of abstract understanding. Verstand involves the methodological supposition of a self-subsistent fundament of what it speaks of, and hence the critique of understanding is the critique of the supposition of self-subsistent fundaments. Grasping his account and reading him in its critical light yields a very different image of Hegel than the caricature of ‘totalizing systems’. The dimension of the Verstandeskritik has been relatively neglected in Hegel-reception and misunderstandings result from trying to ‘understand’ Hegel, by overlooking the topic of ‘understanding’ in his work as critique. Many caricatures result from understanding Hegel as a proponent of what he actually critiques (‘absolute knowing’ is often understood as a mega-understanding). The thesis then addresses the historically influential criticisms raised by his contemporary, F.J.W. Schelling, to give a voice to a Hegel that has been hitherto drowned out by caricatures that began with Schelling.

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