College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

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Hegel, German idealism, skepticism, metaphysics, logic


The dissertation investigates Hegel’s account of the nature of concepts, judgments, and syllogisms given his claim to have established a presuppositionless science in the face of Pyrrhonian skepticism. It argues that his account of the topics of traditional logic in the Science of Logic justifies Pyrrhonism because his account is impervious to Pyrrhonism. The first chapter explicates Hegel’s essay “On the Relationship between Skepticism and Philosophy,” detailing his early concern with the challenge of Pyrrhonism. It shows that Pyrrhonism relies upon the dogmatism of “the understanding,” according to which concepts are exclusive or “finite”: a determination either appears true or false. The second chapter illustrates Kant and Jacobi’s influence on Hegel’s response to Pyrrhonian skepticism, and how, on the basis of a presuppositionless beginning, Hegel demonstrates that concepts are not fixed and exclusive, but rather self-determining. The chapter argues that the very concept of self-determination must likewise determine itself, and, in doing so, it necessitates fundamental, finite concepts (“universality,” “particularity,” and “singularity”), thereby justifying the grounding assumption of dogmatism and Pyrrhonism that concepts are finite. The third chapter shows that judgment initially structures the relation between the fundamental, finite concept-determinations, distinguishing Hegel’s account of judgment from formal logic, transcendental logic, and everyday propositions. The chapter establishes that the different kinds of judgments, which are based upon the nature and relation between the fundamental concept-determinations, ultimately presuppose the “judgment of the concept,” in which the terms of judgment are not finite and exclusive, but rather determine themselves by generating and revealing themselves in and through the other. The fourth chapter argues that judgment, consequently, presupposes a middle term—a syllogism—responsible for exhibiting the necessary relation between the subject and predicate. Like judgment, the syllogism initially appears according to the terms of the understanding, but ultimately presupposes the dynamic of self-determination, expressed in the disjunctive syllogism. The dissertation concludes by noting that Hegel offers an account of concept, judgment, and syllogism that is not based upon the fundamental presupposition of Pyrrhonism (i.e., concepts are finite), yet simultaneously shows the necessity of that presupposition within specific domains of thinking and being.

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