Idealism and Abstract Idealism
Part of the Martinus Nijhoff Philosophy Library book series (MNPL, volume 1)
One of the major transitions in the Phenomenology of Mind is Hegel’s move from Self-Consciousness to the standpoint of Reason. This enables Hegel to contrast his concept of idealism with that of his contemporaries and predecessors. Before approaching the standpoint of Reason, the dialectic of the Phenomenology focused on an empiricist consciousness in which the emphasis of certainty had been placed on the object rather than the knowing subject. The stages of consciousness organised under the heading of Reason, however, mark a change of direction. The development of consciousness is depicted with the emphasis placed on an active subject. Gone is the attempt to account for foundational truth in terms of sense-awareness, and with it the belief in a realm of theory-neutral data, or qualities received by a passive consciousness. Reason is the category employed, and this means that the philosophical expressions of the absolute will be idealist in form; that is to say, the philosophical propositions considered here will be those which occur within a definite body of knowledge. For this reason, Hegel wrote in The Science of Logic that:
Essentially every philosophy is an idealism, or at least has idealism as its principle, and the question then is only how far it is actually carried through. (L.I.MM.173/JS.168)
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© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers bv, The Hague 1980