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Archive for November 16th, 2007

Little more on Hegel vs. Kant – The Antinomies

Posted by Tanas Gjorgoski on November 16, 2007

I hope I did not bore anyone to death with those posts on German Classical Idealism, and didn’t took primacy as the dullest blog in the world. Anyway, risking to loose my remaining two (or am I too optimistic) readers, here is some more thoughts on the same topic. Please feel free to yell at me in the comments to stop this inexcusable behavior of mine.

In previous posts I compared few things about Kant and Hegel…

1.We can compare Hegel’s hierarchy of categories in Science of Logic to Kant’s pure concepts of understanding (categories) and pure forms of intuition. The similarity between those is that both of them are supposed to be a “diamond-net into which we bring everything in order to make it intelligible”.

2.One difference is that while Hegel’s categories form a hierarchy, with richer categories not being reducible to simpler ones, but yet containing them as moments (e.g. “change” is not reducible to “being” and “not being”, but in a change from X to not X, both being X and not being X are present), Kant’s categories and pure forms of intuition are nonhierarchic, and you get more complex concepts by “putting in those” the content which comes from the senses.

I mentioned one other difference..
While for Kant, categories and forms of intuition are functions of the mind, for Hegel the categories are abstractions from the reality. However in this difference there is again one analogy to point to. Abstraction for Hegel, is something that the mind does,

The thinking activity is Abstraction in so far as intelligence, beginning with concrete intuitions, neglects one of the manifold determinations, selects another, and gives to it the simple form of thought. If I neglect all the determinations of an object, nothing remains. If, on the contrary, I neglect one and select another, the latter is then abstract. – Hegel’s Philosophical Propaedeutics

In both Kant and Hegel, mind will necessarily fall into contradictions when thinking about the reality in terms of those (finite) categories.

In Kant this will be because the categories come from the mind and are hence not applicable to reality (which he goes to show through Antinomies of Pure Reason), and in Hegel because the more abstract categories are abstractions by the mind, and will fail to be applicable to richer categories (the richest of all coinciding with the Reality itself).  So, for example, being X, and not being X, being abstractions from change-from-being-X-to-not-being-X, leave the richer content of the category of change aside, and if we try to understand ‘change’ just in terms of ‘being X’ and ‘not being X’ we will get to contradiction of assigning those both apparently contradictory predicates to change.

In same way, says Hegel, the categories of continuity and discreteness are both abstractions from the category of quantity. And if we want to understand quantity just in terms of being continuous or being discrete, we will similarly end up with applying both apparently contradictory predicates to the quantity. So, the ‘Antinomy of the Indivisibility and the Infinite Divisibility of Time, Space and Matter’, will be simply about the possibility of predicating both more abstract categories (discreteness and continuity) to the richer category – quantity (which per Hegel, is a category under which Time, Space and Matter fall).

The problem that Kant locates then in assigning categories which are functions of mind to problems which go beyond the applicability of those categories, Hegel locates in assigning categories which are abstractions of mind to richer categories which go beyond simple combination of the former – more abstract categories.

However while for Kant this has as a result non-applicability of the categories of understanding outside of the realm of phenomena, for Hegel the source of contradiction is within the reason, which tries to think about a richer category through more abstract ones, and can be solved within the reason by taking the richer category as independent, and more abstract categories as moments of it.

Posted in Hegel, Metaphysics, Philosophy | 3 Comments »