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Hegel’s Epistemology

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Part of the Palgrave Handbooks in German Idealism book series (PHGI)

Abstract

In the Introduction and in §1 I give the historical background of Hegel’s battle against the scientistic empiricism of his age, and I present his epistemological theses in the framework of the development of his system up to the Phenomenology. In §2, I also tackle the problem of the “introduction to Science” and discuss the alternative introductions in the system, with respect to the Phenomenology. The meaning of the Science of Logic for Hegel’s epistemology is still too often neglected. Hegel’s two main merits are an early attack on empiricism and the “Myth of the Given”, and an ingenious way of neutralizing the skeptic. I describe Hegel’s basic epistemological ideas in contemporary terms. In §3, I discuss the problem of the criterion in the Phenomenology, in its close connection to the problem of “self-completing skepticism” as method. I analyze the way in which the dilemma of the criterion is solved by the dynamics of consciousness itself. In §4, I discuss dialectical arguments and the structure of the system, describing how Hegel criticizes traditional epistemological views in the Science of Logic and in the Encyclopedia. In §5, I try to describe the function of the Science of Logic as an epistemological treatise. I also discuss the conception of Hegel as a realist in epistemology. I claim that Hegel develops a theory of the “logical element” within language and thought, and that this theory is itself dialectical method and logic, and has the purpose of bridging the gap between the finite subject and the absolute one of Science. In this sense Hegel is a logician. In §6, after confronting four basic ways to understand Hegel’s theory of knowledge, I argue in conclusion that Hegel was an anti-empiricist, anti-representationalist, non-foundationalist epistemologist, and that his theory is a fallibilist, circular and infinitist model of epistemology that can be of great interest even today.

Keywords

Hegel, German idealism Epistemology (Ancient) skepticism Dialectical logic Realism Criterion of truth Philosophy of science 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Translations are all mine, and as literal as possible. I thank Dr. P. Masciarelli for help and suggestions.

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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of SienaSienaItaly

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