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Hegel's Doppelsatz: a neutral reading\ud

By R. Stern


This paper offers a distinctive interpretation of Hegel's Doppelsatz from the Preface to the Philosophy of Right: 'What is rational is actual; and what is actual is rational'. This has usually been interpreted either conservatively (as claiming that everything that is, is right or good) or progressively (that if the world were actual, it would be right or good, but that there is a distinction that can be drawn between existence and actuality). My aim in this paper is to argue against both interpretations, so that the position I offer is neutral between the two. My claim is that when Hegel identifies what is actual with what is rational in the Doppelsatz, his intention is not to offer a normative assessment of what is actual; rather, it is to suggest that genuine philosophy must be committed to reason in its methods of inquiry, if it is to properly undertake an investigation into the "spiritual universe" as well as the "natural" one. The Doppelsatz is thus a defence of philosophical rationalism, rather than a normative claim about "was ist wirklich"

Publisher: John Hopkins University Press
Year: 2006
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