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Journal of Philosophy, Inc.

Hegel and Transcendental Philosophy


Author(s): Robert R. Williams
Source: The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 82, No. 11, Eighty-Second Annual Meeting
American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division (Nov., 1985), pp. 595-606
Published by: Journal of Philosophy, Inc.
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THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPhY
VOLUME LXXXII, NO. 12, DECEMBER 1985

*4- o

HEGEL AND TRANSCENDENTAL PHILOSOPHY*

T HE current interest in Kant is in part a discovery of trans-


cendental philosophy and argument. If the critical trans-
cendental turn is taken, can Hegel be far behind? However,
few topics are murkier in understanding Hegel, than the question
concerning transcendental philosophy. Here confusion reigns, par-
ticularly in English-speaking scholarship, concerning Hegel and
concerning transcendental philosophy. Some writers (Robert
Solomon, Charles Taylor) see Hegel as a transcendental philoso-
pher.' Taylor identifies the opening arguments of the Phenomen
ogy as transcendental, and Solomon thinks that Hegel's concept of
Geist is another version of Kant's transcendental ego or transcenden-
tal unity of apperception. On the other hand, from the continental
side, Klaus Hartmann has characterized the Phenomenology not as
transcendental philosophy, but as "one big introductory argument
to transcendental philosophy."2 Ludwig Siep, along with others,
has observed that Hegel's concept of Geist, far from being a species
of transcendental philosophy, is in fact a critique of such and a de-
parture from such.3 Now if Hegel's Phenomenology is an introduc-
tion to transcendental philosophy, it cannot very well already be
transcendental philosophy as Taylor and Solomon contend. And if
Siep is correct, then Geist-surely a central, if not the central con-
cept in Hegel's philosophy-is not a continuation of but a depar-
ture from transcendental philosophy.

*To be presented in an APA symposium on Hegel, December 29, 1985. Merold


Westphal will comment; see this JOURNAL, this issue, 606/7.
'See their essays in the volume Hegel: A Collection of Critical Essays, Alasdair
MacIntyre, ed. (New York: Doubleday, 1972).
2Klaus Hartmann, "On Taking the Transcendental Turn," Review of Metaphysics,
xx.2, 78 (December 1966): 223-249.
'Ludwig Siep, Anerkennung als Prinzip der praktischen Philosophie (Freiburg:
Alber Verlag, 1979).

0022-362X/85/8211/0595$01.10 ? 1985 The Journal of Philosophy, Inc.

595

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596 THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY

Several questions have arisen concerning transcendental philo-


sophy: Does transcendental philosophy require an introduction at
all? Doesn't an introduction imply a contradiction to the whole
transcendental program, which is to provide a ground or foundation
for explaining everything else? This question has certain pre-
suppositions concerning the goal of transcendental philosophy,
namely, that it is to be regarded as an attempt to maintain or
achieve the goal of philosophy as radical inquiry, i.e., freedom
from prejudices and presuppositions. This goal means not merely
that philosophy must offer a transcendental grounding of science
(Kant) but that philosophy must become aware of and justify its
own presuppositions. In short, philosophy must explain itself, i.e.,
be self-justifying. Kant fails to achieve this goal: he can offer an ac-
count of the conditions of possible experience and of possible ob-
jects of experience, but he cannot or does not give an account of his
ability to do so. Kant does not explain how transcendental knowl-
edge itself is possible, much less justify it. But if philosophy were
to accomplish its goal of providing absolute knowledge, then per-
haps the task of an introduction would be superfluous. The pre-
suppositionlessness of philosophy implies absolute autonomous
knowledge, and absolute autonomy rules out any prior or prelimi-
nary justification, i.e., anything prior to the transcendental ground
or principle.
What is interesting about Hegel is that although he tends to
think of transcendental philosophy in the terms outlined above and
is critical of Kant, he nevertheless thinks that it requires an intro-
duction. The Phanomenologie des Geistes is that introduction.4
Yet although it is addressed to the prolegomatic critical-epistemo-
logical problem identified by Kant as the problem requiring the
transcendental turn, it is not a prolegomenon in Kant's sense. The
Phenomenology represents a unique way of taking the transcen-
dental turn; in this we agree with Klaus Hartmann's characteriza-
tion of it (op. cit.) as an extended introduction to transcendental
philosophy. This brings us to the question: Why does transcendental
philosophy require an introduction? How are we to understand the
pre-transcendental level? What motivates the transcendental turn?
Is it a concern for the validity of scientific theory? the need to pro-
vide a ground for the- validity of synthetic judgments a priori?
Awareness of contradictions in ordinary consciousness? Further,
what sort of introduction is required? Is the introduction itself a

4Hegel, Phanomenologie des Geistes, Hrsg. J. Hoffmeister (Hamburg: Meiner Ver-


lag, 1952) Hereafter cited as PhG.

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THE PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL 597

foundation for the transcendental turn and for transcendental


philosophy? Or can the latter be understood only "from within",
i.e., systematically? Finally, what is the telos of the transcendental
turn, or the transcendental region? Is it an absolute ego? or a con-
crete life-world? Or is the transcendental terminology and concep-
tuality simply abandoned in favor of Geist? In what follows we
shall address and hope to clarify at least some of these questions.
I. WHY IS AN INTRODUCTION NECESSARY?

Why does Hegel, despite his rejection of prolegomena and Kant's


formal transcendentalism, nevertheless present an introduction to
his own system of philosophy? Put simply, an introduction is nec-
essary because the transcendental region is itself problematic. The
issues are both epistemological (is the transcendental-critical philo-
sophy itself knowledge?) and ontological (what is the ontological
referent/interpretation of the transcendental ego?). Historically
these issues arose in critical reaction to Kant. Is the critique of
knowledge itself knowledge? It is obviously not knowledge in the
sense that is established by the Critique. What sort of knowledge is
the Critique then, and how is it possible? To take up this question
is to take up a prior question, and so to engage in an "introduction"
to Kant's transcendental program.
The immediate concerns of Kant's transcendental deduction are
to show that the categories of the understanding have objective va-
lidity, i.e., that they are conditions not only of our knowledge but
of the possibility of the objects of experience themselves. The
transcendental unity of apperception is not itself transcendentally
deduced. It is rather introduced as the unifying ground of the
transcendental categories, the "I think" which must accompany all
acts of conception and representation. However, the status of the
transcendental unity is problematic. Is it consciousness? or merely
a structure? Does it exist? or is it merely a postulate of transcenden-
tal deductive procedure? If it does exist, can it be known i.e., unified
and thought via the categories? Kant's dictum that he has sought to
deny knowledge in order to make room for practical faith suggests
that the transcendental ego does "exist," but cannot be known; it
remains an object of faith. There is no cognitive access to it, only
practical access (which is noncognitive).
In his introduction to Wissenschaftslehre5 (6 ff) Johann Fichte
provides additional evidence for the problematic nature of trans-

'Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Science of Knowledge, with first and second introduc-
tions, Peter Heath and John Lachs, ed. & tr. (New York: Appleton Century Crofts,
1972).

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598 THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY

cendental philosophy. He shows that another transcendental pos-


tulate is possible: besides or instead of the transcendental subject or
self-in-itself, the dogmatist can postulate a transcendental object or
thing-in-itself as the ultimate unifying ground. Fichte maintains
that there is no rational way to decide between these transcendental
postulates, since what counts as rationality, evidence, etc., is itself
determined by the postulate. The postulates, as transcendental first
principles, cannot themselves be demonstrated because they are the
prius, the ground of demonstration. Grant the first principle and
then a system can be worked out which explains everything else.
But the choice of the first principle itself depends on nonrational
grounds, namely, the sort of human being one is and the interests
one has. What Fichte thus shows is that the pluralism of transcen-
dental first principles really means that there are no unproblematic
first principles or foundations from which to begin transcendental
deductions. Hence the enterprise of philosophy, especially so-called
"first philosophy," is in crisis, not merely from external attacks,
but from within; for there are at least two candidates for first or
transcendental principles.
Fichte himself seeks to suspend the debate between the idealist
and the dogmatist. Philosophy is no longer possible as substantive
metaphysics, but is possible only as critical idealism. So Fichte de-
velops a third critical alternative, according to which "the ultimate
ground of all consciousness lies in an interaction of the self with it-
self, by way of a not-self which has to be regarded from different
points of view" (248). This alternative, however, is not continuous
with the naivete of the traditional alternatives; Fichte thinks that no
more than a pragmatic justification can be given for transcendental
philosophy, including his Wissenschaftslehre. Consequently, the
Wissenschaftslehre is no longer to be understood as "first philo-
sophy," but rather as a pragmatic history of spirit. Thus for Fichte
there are two crucial points to be noted concerning transcendental
philosophy: (1) There is a plurality of possible transcendental pro-
grams. The choice among them is made not on theoretical but on
pragmatic, practical grounds. Although Fichte speaks of intellectual
intuition as providing access to the transcendental region, this is
something more and other than pure intellectual contemplation. It
includes nonrational elements as well. There is no purely theoretical
way of deciding "first principles." (2) The verification of the choice
of a first principle is to be found in the consequences that follow
from it. But to grasp what follows from the logically and transcen-
dentally prior first principle, transcendental-logical deduction is
insufficient. It is necessary to turn in addition to experience and

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THE PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL 599

history. Fichte's transcendental philosophy is no longer an a-his-


torical rationalism, but rather a pragmatic history of spirit (198).6
Fichte's early Wissenschaftslehre (1794, plus the introductions of
1797) set the stage for Hegel's Phenomenology. The problem Hegel
seeks to address in the introduction (not the Preface) is the problem
of how to philosophize in the absence of unproblematic universal
first principles. That is precisely the problem that Fichte had iden-
tified in his introductions to the Wissenschaftslehre. Trans-
cendental philosophy is problematic because the regress to first
principles is problematic. As Hegel says, one barren assurance con-
cerning a transcendental first principle is as good as another (PhG
66). And for Hegel the problem had become if anything more
acute, for he rejects intellectual intuition. That was the way in
which Fichte and Schelling believed they had access to the transcen-
dental region and thus were in a position to resolve the question of
the nature and possibility of transcendental knowledge. In contrast,
Hegel rejects all claims of immediate access to the transcendental
region. On the transcendental level this amounts to a-rejection of
all vestigial traces of Cartesianism, and requires a complete rethink-
ing of the very meaning of the concept of the a priori, e.g., the a
priori conditions of possible knowledge and objects, etc. Further, it
requires a radical revision in the concept of the transcendental re-
gion itself. For, if Cartesianism goes, what goes with it is the trans-
cendental ego and a first-person "subjective" conception of trans-
cendental philosophy.
But if Hegel rejects intellectual intuition, hasn't he given up the
only way in which transcendental knowledge is possible? And
doesn't that mean that he has thereby abandoned transcendental
philosophy in the sense of a regress to the foundations, the con-
ditions of possibility of empirical knowledge? It must be acknowl-
edged that the sense in which Hegel is a transcendental philosopher
is elusive. Yet I believe that Hartmann is correct in characterizing
the Phenomenology as an extended introduction to a transcendental
program. Hegel is still taking up that traditional issue; what is
novel is the way in which he takes it up and pursues it. In denying
immediate access to the transcendental region, Hegel is not denying
all access whatsoever. There is mediated access. But what provides

6 ontological interpretation of the transcendental ego remains open for Fich


It should be noted that his thought underwent considerable change and development
on this question. He published several different versions of his Wissenschaftslehre.
In the 1794 edition he presents a minimal interpretation of the transcendental ego as
little more than a postulate. From 1804 on, however, the transcendental ego is given
an ontological interpretation as being itself, and as God. From our perspective it is
the early Fichte that is important for the development of Hegel.

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600 THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY

the mediation? It is ordinary, i.e., nontheoretical or pretheoretical


consciousness itself. Hegel addresses the problem, How to philoso-
phize in the absence of unproblematic philosophical first principles
and criteria?-by turning to consciousness in its natural attitude or
life-world.7 Hegel thus abandons the Cartesian method of ground-
ing philosophy by separating theoretical-transcendental conscious-
ness from ordinary or pretheoretical consciousness. The Cartesian
way of grounding has itself become problematic, ending in formal-
ism or in "knowing before you know." Hegel rejects the transcen-
dental-empirical doublet and its corresponding separation between
transcendental and ordinary consciousness. Ordinary consciousness
itself will not only provide the criteria for its assessment, in the
course of its own experience vis-'a-vis these criteria; it will also test
such criteria. Thus the descriptive phenomenological traversal of
the various Gestalten des Bewusstseins will furnish the phenome-
nological introduction to transcendental philosophy. Hence the
transcendental standpoint will not be imposed on the traversal, but
will rather emerge immanently in the course of it. Thus, despite in-
itial appearances to the contrary, there is a transcendental region
which can be entered. However, it cannot be attained all at once, or
at a single stroke, as Descartes and the early Husserl thought. In-
stead, ordinary consciousness (or consciousness in the natural atti-
tude) must be led to the transcendental region through a series of
mediated steps. In the course of these mediations, the transcendental
standpoint and the standpoint of the natural attitude will be shown
not to be fundamentally different.8 This points to a novel con-
ception of the transcendental which is not separate or separable
from history.
If the transcendental region can be attained only mediately
through the traversal of the Gestalten des Bewusstseins, the meaning
of the transcendental has to undergo a considerable transformation

'Two recent studies of the Phenomenology both make use of this terminology to
expound the argument. See Merold Westphal, History and Truth in Hegel's Phe-
nomenology (New York: Humanities Press, 1980), and Joseph Flay, Hegel's Quest
for Certainty (Albany: SUNY Press 1984).
8 Flay, op. cit., uses the term 'merge' to characterize the relation between the natu-
ral and the speculative consciousness in the Phenomenology. This term is vague,
however, and conceals many important interpretive problems. Flay's discussion of
those problems is quite good. It should be noted that Hegel's rejection of intellectual
intuition is similar to Husserl's self-criticism of the so-called "Cartesian way" of
doing the phenomenological reduction. Common to Hegel and the later Husserl is
the recognition that the transcendental region cannot be attained at a single stroke,
or immediately. This recognition in turn leads to a transformation in the concep-
tion of the transcendental region. Hegel moves to a dialectical holism, and Husserl
discovers that the life-world itself belongs to the transcendental stratum.

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THE PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL 601

and expansion. The experience "made" by ordinary consciousness


is conceived far more broadly by Hegel than by Kant, who restricted
transcendental deduction to justifying a philosophy of nature. The
Phenomenology of Spirit is more than an archeology and genetic
account of consciousness (Bewusstsein), although it includes such.
The work as a whole extends beyond an archeology of the subject
to include culture and history. The bearer of the forms of con-
sciousness is a historical and social self, which Hegel terms Geist.
The Phenomenology is not only a phenomenology of conscious-
ness; it is a Phenomenology of Geist. Geist is not a Gestalt des Be-
wusstseins; it is the Gestalt einer Welt. This means that the tradi-
tional means of attaining the transcendental region-such as the
phenomenological reduction (Husserl)-or the transcendental de-
duction (Kant)-are transformed, if not eclipsed. The sense in
which Hegel is or is not doing transcendental philosophy, or for
that matter phenomenology, is inextricably bound up with the inter-
pretation of Geist. For Geist can be read as a departure from tran-
scendental philosophy in the Kantian sense. But Geist has also
been read as simply another term for Kant's transcendental ego,
i.e., as representing a terminological but not a conceptual change
in a transcendental program. On the former reading Geist is a socio-
cultural-historical concept. On the latter reading Geist is an a-his-
torical transcendental subject. Can it really be both?9
II. HEGEL'S CONCEPT OF GEIST

Since time and space are limited, I shall refer to a fuller discussion
elsewhere'0 and sketch briefly two different concepts of Geist which
are to be found in Hegel. This contrast will allow the fundamental
issues to emerge.
Jurgen Habermas distinguishes two different models of Geist in
Hegel, the so-called "idealist" model and the intersubjective
model." In the idealist model Geist is a living identity which di-
vides itself, opposes itself to itself, and returns to itself out of its
otherness, alienation, division etc. In this model the other is not-
other, or the self-othering of Geist. In the second model, which corre-
sponds to the Phenomenology, Geist is an I which is a We, a social

9This paradox points to highly controversial issues: the relation of the Phenome-
nology to the Logic, and the problem of the unity of the Phenomenology itself. Cf.
Haym's thesis that the PhG splits up into transcendental philosophy and psychology
on the one hand (Bewusstseinlehre), and philosophy of history on the other (Geist).
'0 See my "Hegel's Concept of Geist" which will be published in the forthcoming
volume of the Proceedings of the 1984 Biennial Meeting of the Hegel Society of
America, Hegel's Philosophy of Spirit (Albany, SUNY Press).
" "Arbeit und Interaktion," in Friihe politische Systeme, hrsg. G. Gohler (Fran
furt: Ullstein, 1974).

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602 THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY

self which is attained only through and as a result of intersubjective


interaction. The two different models are not to be distinguished
genetically, for both conceptions are found within the Phenome-
nology itself. Yet each points to a different ontology of the transcen-
dental region and so to a different sense of transcendental
philosophy.
When the concept of Geist is first introduced in the Phenome-
nology, it appears as a result of the struggle for recognition. In the
course of the discussion of recognition, Hegel makes the point that
self-consciousness cannot be fully attained simply through reflection
and contemplation alone; it requires intersubjective mediation.
The full sense of self-consciousness is that of an I which is also a
We, and this is the initial formulation of the concept of Geist.
Geist therefore designates an intersubjectively mediated social self,
a concrete infinite or universal. It finds institutionalization in mar-
riage and family as natural communities, and is extended to cover
also the communal life of a people, i.e., shared language, customs,
land (property), and religion. T-his concept of Geist is set forth as
emerging from the transition from consciousness to self-conscious-
ness, and so is Geist considered from the perspective of Bewusstsein-
lehre or Geist in its appearance.
If this is to be regarded as a transcendental philosophical program
and not as an introduction to such, then the question concerning
the ontological interpretation of Geist is answered by saying that
the transcendental subject is a social subject or an I which is a We
(see Westphal, op. cit.). Hegel would not then intend to speak of an
a-historical transcendental subject, but would rather seek the tran-
scendental as incarnated in human history in the form of a com-
munity. However, this is not to "romanticize" Hegel; for what is
meant by 'community' is a distinctive level of being. Community
has an irreducible triadic structure, which prevents it from being
reduced to a dyadic subject-object scheme such as that found in
transcendental philosophy, e.g., the distinction between the found-
ing stratum and the founded stratum. It represents a unique and
distinctive level of being, namely, a structured plurality. Its unity is
not simply the unity of a concept, or a logical unity. It is a unity
brought about through reciprocity; i.e., as Hegel says, each recog-
nizes the other as recognizing it. On the other hand, this does not
mean that community as a structured plurality cannot be conceived
at all or that it is simply an irrational surd. It is a unique whole
made up of parts.
The second concept of Geist is formulated in the Preface, which
reflects the completion of the argument of the Phenomenology.

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THE PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL 603

Here Geist is considered not from the perspective of consciousness,


but from the final perspective in which the standpoint of conscious-
ness has been transcended. The difficult question is, In what sense
is consciousness transcended? One way to understand the contrast
between Geist and Bewusstsein is to note the different meanings of
objectivity on each level. For consciousness, what is objective is
alien, other, transcendent. Hence all philosophies that adopt the
standpoint of consciousness remain haunted by subjectivism, even
on the transcendental level, as Husserl has pointed out. 12 For Geist,
however, objectivity is no longer alien, because it has been compre-
hended in the course of the traversal of the various Gestalten des
Bewusstseins. To put the point somewhat too simply, when the
whole of experience has been comprehended (which is what the
Phenomenology claims to have done, at least in principle-this is
why it has to be regarded as a transcendental argument), there is
nothing in principle alien left to understand or comprehend. Ob-
jectivity thus comprehended is no longer alien, other. It is recol-
lected not as absolutely alien and transcendent, but as not-other.
Thus Hegel writes concerning Geist:

But Geist becomes object, for it is just this process of becoming other
it itself (i.e., making itself an object for itself) and of overcoming this
otherness (und dieses Anderssein aufzuheben) (PhG 32).

At the level of Geist, objectivity is no longer given a realistic, but


rather a transcendental and dialectical interpretation. If Geist has its
heritage in the transcendental ego, it is a heritage appropriated and
modified by Hegel's dialectical interpretation of the ego as positing
itself, the not-self, and the unity of these two. Does this involve an
illegitimate identification of the ideal and real ground, as Thomas
Seebohm contends?"3 This is an extraordinarily difficult and sub
issue. Everything depends on Hegel's distinctive formulation of
identity as an identity of identity and nonidentity. It would seem
that Seebohm grants only partial expression to Hegel's fundamental
idea of identity as a coincidence of opposites. Seebohm's charge
that there is an identification of ideal and real ground is truer of
Schelling's early system of identity as indifference, which Hegel at-
tacked as a "night in which all cows are black." In contrast, Heg-
el's concept of Geist is a dynamic coincidence of opposites which

12 See Hegel, Faith and Knowledge, Walter Cerf and H. S. Harris, trans. (Albany:
SUNY Press, 1977). See also Edmund Husserl, Formal and Transcendental Logic,
D. Cairns, trans. (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1969), pp. 232 ff.
" "Schelling's 'Kantian' Critique of Hegel's Deduction of Categories," Clio, VIII
(1979): 239 ff.

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604 THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY

both reconciles and preserves the opposites. Geist is the Idea in its
concrete universal process of negating itself and negating its nega-
tion and so returning to itself. That is what Hegel claims to have
demonstrated in the long argument of the Phenomenology wherein
substance becomes subject. Geist is the vision of itself in and
through its other. 14 Hence Geist and its other do not simply collapse
into undifferentiated identity.
The question remains whether the two concepts of Geist -the in-
tersubjective and idealist-are compatible, exclusive, or reciprocal
concepts. Here it would seem that although due allowances must
be made for the different categorial levels of the Phenomenology
and its preface, much will depend on the adequacy and admissibility
of Hegel's dialectical interpretation of the other in terms of nega-
tion. The question is whether the interpretation/reconstruction of
other as negation, is an adequate account of the social-intersub-
jective sense of other. For Seebohm is right: If the real ground is
identified with the ideal ground, the result is not a real other but
an ideal other. The dialectical other, qua negation, belongs to the
same continuum as the original subject (Seebohm 250 ff). But if
that were so, then such a Geist would not be intersubjectively con-
stituted or mediated.
Is the triadic structure for which Hegel is so notorious to be under-
stood as a communal model, an intersubjective I which is also a
We, as spirit in its community? or rather in terms of the dyadic
model of absolute Geist, of substance become subject? Is the unity
that is claimed for the categories adequate to account for or to ex-
plain the social unity of communities, institutions, and the like?
Even so dedicated a defender of the logical Hegel as Klaus Hart-
mann acknowledges a problem here. Hartmann maintains that the
unity of categories is unable to do justice to the relation of recipro-
cal co-existence constitutive of communities (247 f). As a concrete
living whole of parts, the unity of a community is not reducible to
or explicable in bipolar categorial unities of thought and being.
Does this mean, as Hartmann claims, that there is simply nothing
to be understood here? i.e., no theoretical-cognitive problem? Or
does it mean rather, as Josiah Royce would claim, that inter-
subjective community is a distinctive irreducible mode of being?
I believe that Hegel is closer to Royce than to Hartmann or See-
bohm. Hegel's concrete identity, first formulated in the Diffe-
renzschrift (1801), does not simply identify the real with the ideal
ground. Since Hartmann knows this as well as anyone, it is sur-

14Enzyklopadie der philosophischen Wissenschaften (1830), hrsg. F. Nicolin and


0. Poeggeler (Hamburg: Meiner, 1969), 214.

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THE PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL 605

prising to see him in effect concede the point that Seebohm raises
against Hegel by acknowledging the inadequacy of the categories
to account conceptually for intersubjective community. However,
Hartmann also maintains that categories are reconstructions in
thought of what is. This is an important qualification of the above
negation; for the point is not really that categories identify ideal
and real ground and so are inadequate to intersubjectivity, but
rather that, qua reconstructions of what is, they are on a different
ontological level, even a realm of shadows, as Hegel says. As Rein-
hold Aschenberg has persuasively argued, the Logic, as categorial
ontology, presupposes a pre-categorial ontology of the Gestalten
des Bewusstseins and the Gestalten des Geistes."5 Since the logical
categories are reconstructions of the pre-categorial realities of expe-
rience, they presuppose the latter. The Phenomenology functions
as a hermeneutical existential ontological introduction to the Logic.
Hence it is not a mere ladder to the absolute standpoint which can
be laid aside when the latter is attained. Nor is the Phenomenology,
as Hartmann suggests (p. 237), merely a source book of illustrative
material for the so-called "deep structure" or the logical categories.
The uniqueness of the Phenomenology among Hegel's works is
that it presents a concept of Geist as historical and intersubjective.
For this reason the Phenomenology and the ordinary intersubjective
consciousness whose experience it describes are not displaced when
the absolute standpoint is finally attained. The Phenomenology is
not simply displaced by the Logic, or subordinate to it, but, as Jo-
hannes Heinrichs claims"6, is equiprimordial with it. How could it
be otherwise if Hegel's goal is not to effect a Cartesian-Platonic
separation of transcendental consciousness from ordinary conscious-
ness, but rather to show their mutual coinherence? The central
problem in deciphering Hegel is to understand such equiprimor-
diality and coinherence of the descriptive pre-categorial ontology
of the Phenomenology, with the categorial ontology of the Logic.
The Logic can treat the problem of the other in terms of negation
precisely because it is a reconstruction that presupposes experience,
and not a total framework displacement of experience-whatever
that would be. If we think through such equiprimordiality, we find
that transcendental philosophy is no longer the formal indetermi-
nate transcendental of Kant, but has become nonformal and deter-
minate. This is more than a synthesis of Kant and Aristotle; for the

5 See Rudolf Aschenberg, "Der Wahrheitsbegriff in Hegel's 'Phanomenologie des


Geistes,'" in Die ontologische Option, hrsg. Klaus Hartmann (Berlin: Walter de
Gruyter, 1976).
16See Johannes Heinrichs, Die Logik der Phanomenologie des Geistes (Bonn:
Bouvier, 1974), p. 73.

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606 THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY

transcendental subject is metamorphosed into Geist, and Geist re-


quires time and history to become self-conscious. Geist, as the form
of a world, is historical and has a history.
ROBERT R. WILLIAMS

Hiram College

HEGEL'S PHENOMENOLOGY AS
TRANSCENDENTAL PHILOSOPHY*

Like Fichte and Schelling, Hegel agrees with Kant that philosophy
must be scientific and that it must be transcendental if it is to be
scientific. Hegel also agrees with Fichte and Schelling that Kant
was unsuccessfully transcendental and therefore unsuccessfully
scientific. Williams poses a crucial question in this regard. What
bearing does this have on our interpretation of that massively mys-
tifying introduction to Hegel's system, the Phenomenology of
Spirit? Is it an instance of transcendental philosophy? an introduc-
tion to transcendental philosophy? a critique and revision of tran-
scendental philosophy?
Williams wants to say yes to the last two options while denying
the first. If we remove an ambiguity in the concept of an introduc-
tion to transcendental philosophy, it will become possible to say
yes to all three questions. Perhaps this will give us a better fix on
the Phenomenology.
Williams is right in stressing Hegel's denial of any immediate
access to "the transcendental region," and in pointing to the Phe-
nomenology as providing the consequently necessary introduction
to transcendental philosophy. But it is misleading to talk as if the
whole of the Phenomenology were this introduction. The whole is
indeed an introduction to something, but this is best identified as
the scientific standpoint or absolutes Wissen. The Logic as a tran-
scendental ontology cannot begin until this standpoint is reached,
and since there is no immediate access to this standpoint, a me-
diated transition is required, the Phenomenology as such.
However, the absolutes Wissen which is declared at the end of
the long phenomenological journey needs to be distinguished from
"the transcendental region," into which we find ourselves thrust

* Abstract of a paper to be presented at an APA symposium on Hegel, December


29, 1985, in response to Robert Williams, "Hegel and Transcendental Philosophy,"
this JOUJRNAL, this issue, 595-606.

0022-362X/85/8210/0606$00.50 ? 1985 The Journal of Philosophy, Inc.

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