College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

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nihilism, Jacobi, Hegel, immediacy, Science of Logic


This dissertation offers a careful reconstruction of Friedrich Henrich Jacobi's philosophical commitments around the problem of nihilism, a threat he first pronounced in 1799 That is, I sketch out what Jacobi's non-nihilistic metaphysics, might be by reading his scatter-shot work through the unifying lens of the threat of nihilism. I then use that as a lens through which to interpret G.W.F. Hegel's Science of Logic. This deepens our understanding of Hegel's inheritance Jacobi's though and produces a compelling and different reading of the Logic than what we've seen in the scholarship over the past several decades of the so-called Hegel Renaissance. Not only do I think my post-Jacobian, non-nihilistic metaphysical reading yields an accurate interpretation of the Logic from a historical perspective, I think it draws out a highly philosophically productive interpretation with meaningful systematic consequence in contemporary metaphysical debates.

The dissertation unfolds in 6 chapters: chapter 1 focuses on Jacobi's Spinoza Critique and chapter 2 unpacks the Nihilism Letter, which chapter 3 functions as an intermezzo between Jacobi and Hegel. While the young Hegel is no doubt a serious critic of Jacobi, by the time of Hegel's mature metaphysics he also credits Jacobi, in a less frequently read or cited work from 1816, with having "put an end to the metaphysics of the old school and thus to have established the necessity of a complete revision of logic." On my view, this completely revised logic, which Jacobi's work necessitated, is the Science of Logic, and I offer a detailed commentary on the Logic to this end in the big second half of the dissertation, chapters 4, 5, and 6. In my reading of the Logic, I go into exhaustive detail sketching the Logic as a non-nihilistic metaphysics. I develop a reading of both the whole of the "Objective Logic" (this is chapter 4) and the whole of the "Subjective Logic" (this is chapter 5), as well as indicating (in chapter 6) the unique character of the conclusion to the Logic and the transition to the work that makes up the rest of Hegel's philosophical system, i.e. the Realphilosophie.

What I try to offer in the dissertation, then, is something like a Jacobian translation manual for interpreting Hegel's Logic, to establish a reciprocally illuminating reading of Jacobi and Hegel, rather than to rad Jacobi as a second-rate way station between Kant and Hegel; rather than reading the Logic as a post-Kantian test, which I think has unduly restricted the meaning and power of this book.

Available for download on Friday, July 09, 2032