Dissertation: Hegel's Speculative Method

Empirical knowledge has an ineliminable aspect of receptivity: we do not create the trees that we see or the molecules that we study under a microscope. According to the tradition of thought growing out of Kant, empirical knowledge also involves fundamental concepts (like cause) that do not have their source in the objects that exist independently of us. And yet we use such concepts to describe exactly those objects. With what right? In my dissertation, I offer an interpretation and defense of the method of Hegel’s Logic as a response to this question. In particular, I argue that Hegel’s solution to this problem is superior to Kant’s: Kant’s attempt to solve the problem is hampered by his account of the emptiness of thought taken by itself. This emptiness makes it impossible to legitimately dismiss the threat of parochialism: the threat that we think as we do only because of something parochial to us and not because of the way the empirical world actually is. The method of Hegel’s Logic, I argue, is better equipped to respond to this threat because it reveals the threat to be literally unthinkable from within the vantage point of the Logic.

(A longer abstract can be downloaded here.)