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Germanic Languages & Literatures
Master of Arts (M.A.)
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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.
Burnfin, Daniel A., "Stop Making Sense: Hegel’s Critique of Common Understanding" (2015). Masters Theses. 185.