The One and the Concept: On Hegel’s Reading of Plato’s Parmenides

  • Allegra de Laurentiis


Hegel’s interpretation of Plato’s Parmenides during the early Jena period focuses largely on its methodological value as a radical exercise in negative skepticism, and, as such, as introduction to proper philosophizing. In his Relation of Skepticism to Philosophy, for example, Hegel characterizes Plato’s dialogue as exhibiting ‘the negative side of the knowledge of the absolute’ (die negative Seite der Erkenntnis des Absoluten).1 According to this interpretation, the dialogue’s role in the history of philosophy is twofold. On the one hand, the negative dialectic of ideas that constitutes its backbone would exhibit the inadequacy of the understanding to provide true cognition. By showing that concepts (here understood as ‘determinations of the understanding [Verstandesbestimmungen]’) like similar and dissimilar, older and younger, continuous and discrete, or, more crucially, same and other, are intimately connected with their respective contradictory, Plato would demonstrate that to deny or attribute these opposites simultaneously to ‘finite’ or ‘badly infinite,’ that is, non-self-reflexive,2 objects of thinking leads to utter unintelligibility. On the other hand, Hegel believes also that the dialogue works as indirect proof of the validity of a different cognitive mode – namely, reason – that Plato intends to display and account for in a separate trilogy: the Sophistes, the Politicos, and, in definitive form, the Philosophos.


Subject Matter Supra Note Possessive Pronoun Greek Text Traditional Reading 
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© Allegra de Laurentiis 2005

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  • Allegra de Laurentiis

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