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History of Philosophy Group Talk (Clinton Tolley, UCSD)

Friday November 3, 2017, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm


Clinton Tolley is Associate Professor in the University of California San Diego Department of Philosophy. His research interests focus on modern European philosophy, aesthetics, and philosophy of culture.

The University of Toronto has a long tradition of excellence in the history of philosophy, both with respect to research and teaching. One of five departmental Research Interest Groups, the History of Philosophy Group explores topics in ancient and/or medieval philosophy, the period from Descartes to Kant, and Jewish philosophy from the medieval period to the 20th century.

The History of Philosophy Group is pleased to welcome Dr. Tolley.

Talk Title

‘Hegel’s account of thinking in his Logics’


Largely thanks to interpretive efforts by Robert Pippin, Terry Pinkard, and others, there has recently been a resurgence of interest in Hegel’s views on logic among those trained in the logico-analytical tradition. Most of these commentators, however, have ignored or at least dramatically downplayed the presence, let alone systematic importance, of the theological terminology that Hegel uses to characterize the subject-matter of logic, choosing to focus instead on Hegel’s characterizations of logic as about thinking, reason, the concept, the idea—i.e., his willingness to use terms that have a recognizably modern or even Kantian lineage—in no small part because they seem to be more easily brought into line with the more familiar Kantian project of setting out ‘transcendental’ conditions of individual human psychology and discursive social practice.

Against this trend, I will argue that what Hegel means by ‘thinking’ and ‘reason’ is itself cashed out by Hegel in explicitly theological, rather than Kantian-transcendental, terms, such that the appeal to thinking offers no real escape from confrontation with Hegel’s theologization of logic. I will draw out Hegel’s own argument for the necessity of taking this theological turn by looking to Hegel’s own critical exposition of the development of the history of philosophy of logic qua science of thinking from Anaxagoras to Jacobi, as it is found in the introductory sections of his 1817/1830 Encyclopedia Logic, bringing in remarks from his larger 1812-16/1832 Science of Logic to fill out the case for the theologized reading.

I will conclude with a critical assessment and partial defense of Hegel’s theologized conception of logic.



Friday November 3, 2017
10:00 am - 12:00 pm
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History of Philosophy Research Interest Group
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Jackman Humanities Building, Room 418
170 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5R 2M8 Canada
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