Dissertation: Hegel's Speculative Method

With what right do we believe that our thoughts can be objectively valid, can determine how things are and not merely how things seem to us? On prevailing views, Hegel answers this Kantian question by rejecting some part of Kant’s account of ordinary, truth-tracking knowledge. In contrast, I argue that Hegel defends Kant’s account of such knowledge, and that he distinguishes, within it, between analytic and synthetic judgments. He departs from Kant in offering a new account of philosophical knowledge, in which the two forms of judgment, analytic and synthetic, are united. Philosophical knowledge analyzes what is contained in the mere concept of the world. The result of this analysis is a synthesis by which we advance to another concept. The advance yields the laws that determine what we think, and it enables us to grasp those laws as constituting the nature of the world, thereby ensuring their objective validity. I thereby show how Hegel thinks philosophy can explain the possibility of ordinary knowledge.

(A longer abstract can be downloaded here.)