Monday, December 15, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New German Idealism Book

Nectarios Limnatis just published his book German Idealism and the Problem of Knowledge: Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel with Springer.

Here is the publisher's description:

The problem of knowledge in German Idealism has drawn increasing attention in recent years. This is the first attempt at a systematic critique that covers all four major figures, Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. In examining the evolution of the German idealist discussion with respect to a broad array of concepts (epistemology, metaphysics, logic, dialectic, contradiction, totality, and several others), the author draws from a wide variety of sources in several languages, employs lucid and engaging language, and offers a fresh, incisive and challenging critique.

Limnatis contrasts Kant’s epistemological assertiveness with his ontological scepticism as a critical issue in the development of the discourse in German Idealism, and argues that Fichte’s phenomenological demarche only amplifies the Kantian impasse, but allows him to launch a path-breaking critique of formal logic, and to press forward the dialectic. Schelling’s later restoration of metaphysics aims exactly at overcoming the Fichtean conflict between epistemological monism and ontological dualism. And it is Hegel who synthesizes the preceding discussion and unambiguously addresses the need for a new philosophical logic, the dialectical logic. Limnatis scrutinizes Hegel’s deduction in the Phenomenology, invokes modern genetic epistemology, and advances a non-metaphysical reading of the Science of Logic as a genetic theory of systematic knowledge and as circular epistemology. Emphasizing the unity between the logical and the historical, the distinction between intellectual (verständlich) and rational (vernünftig) explanation, and the cognitive importance of contradiction, the author argues for the prospect of an evolving totality of reflective reason.

This book is published in Springer's series Studies in German Idealism.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Paul Redding's Papers and Hegel Scholarship

I want to point readers to a PhD Hegel Scholarship. The scholarship is to work on a project titled "The God of Hegel's Post-Kantian Idealism", with Paul Redding and Paolo Diego at the University of Sydney. This kind of scholarship is a rare and excellent opportunity. The major limitation is that applicants must be Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents or New Zealand citizens. Here are the details.

I also want to point out that Paul Redding has some very interesting papers posted on his homepage. At the bottom of his page you will see an "online papers" section, which includes a great paper on the "Idealism" of Russell and Moore called "Idealism: a love (of sophia) that dare not speak its name". There are also papers up on Hegel and recognition, Brandom and McDowell, naturalism etc.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Inside/Outside Conference (CFP)

An Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference
hosted by the Humanities Center at the Johns Hopkins University

April 2nd and 3rd, 2009

Keynote Speakers: Espen Hammer (University of Oslo/Essex) and Terry Pinkard (Georgetown University)

Foregrounding the relationship inside/outside, this conference seeks to consider the effects of this pervasive structuring relation across philosophy, literature, the human sciences, politics, and the arts. What work does this distinction do? How do we understand its ubiquity? Furthermore, what is our contemporary relation to this (perceived?) opposition: do we overcome, dissolve, ignore, work through, maintain, or dialectically negotiate this relationship? Papers exploring these and related questions are welcome.

Some suggestions: scheme and content, content and form, mind and world, interiority and exteriority, self and other, inclusion and exclusion, human and inhuman, literary, aesthetic, and political strategies and figures, historical investigations and genealogies, theological figurations and disfigurations, contemporary philosophical approaches ("continental" and "analytic") to this question, etc.

Please send full papers (for a 45 minute presentation), abstract (300 words max.), and contact information (including institutional affiliation) to

Deadline for all submissions is January 15th, 2009.

German Idealism Workshop

For readers in the New York area, the final meeting for the New York German Idealism Workshop will be held on December 12. Terry Godlove (Hofstra) will present a paper on Kant at the Stony Brook, Manhattan Campus.

Here is all the info:

Terry Godlove (Hofstra): "The Objectivity of Regulative Principles in Kant's Appendix to the Dialectic".

Address: Stony Brook University-Manhattan, 401 Park Ave. South, 2nd
Floor (between. 27th and 28th St.) Tel.: 646 472 2025
Time: 4:30
Thomas Teufel (Baruch College) will respond to Terry's paper.

Email me if you plan to come and would like a copy of the paper.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Classic German Journals Online

Following up on my last post, I want to point readers to Perverse Egalitarianism where Mikhail Emelianov has liked to digitized versions of Hegel and Schelling's Kritisches Journal der Philosophie and Der Teutsche Merkur. This online resource is quite a find, and has links to an incredible number of important journals published in Germany roughly between the 1750s-1810, with the bulk appearing around the 1790s. There are links to famous journals edited by Schiller, Herder, Eberhard, and Feder, too much to actually list, so check it out for yourself.

You will see that I have added a link to this page in the sidebar titled "online resources".

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fichte PDFs in Google Books

Perverse Egalitarianism has linked to a PDF of Fichte's Address to the German Nation and an old book on Fichte by William Smith (1841).

Here is also a link to a book on Fichte by Robert Adamson (1881). Here is a link to a PDF of the The Popular Works of Johann Gottlieb Fichte, translated by William Smith. There are 2 volumes of the Popular Works: Vol. 1, Vol. 2. These contain writings on the Wissenschaftslehre, Religion, History and the State. Also, there is a commentary on Fichte's Science of Knowledge by Charles Everett. A very old translation of the System of Ethics.

Fichte's son and early editor, Immanuel Hermann Fichte, wrote a book called Contributions to Mental Philosophy which you can also download as a PDF. This book looks to be a strange one, a mix of "philosophic form" and "scientific outpouring of the heart." Should be interesting. He also wrote an Anthropology which is here in German.

I also found an old translation of Fichte's Vocation of Man which has been translated as The Destination of Man. This edition appeared in a Catholic series of books, and on the title page you will find a portrait of Jesus.

Here is an early translation of Fichte's 1801 Wissenschaftslehre which was translated as New Exposition of the Science of Knowledge.

Finally, here is a commentary by Ellen Talbot on Fichte. I'm sure there is more. Thanks Google Books! All of these links take you to pages where you can download the books as PDFs.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Schelling and Hegel Bibliographies

Below are some links to bibliographies which are fairly extensive:



Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit (Wiki)

The bibliography for the Phenomenology is a wiki page, so you can add things that might be missing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kant Yearbook 2010 (CFP)

The Kant Yearbook is now accepting submissions for its second issue in 2010. The Kant Yearbook is an international journal that publishes articles on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. It is the Kant Yearbook's goal to intensify innovative research on Kant on the international scale. For that reason, the Kant Yearbook prefers to publish articles in English, however articles in German will also be accepted. Each issue will be dedicated to a specific topic.The second issue's topic is Metaphysics, and the deadline for submissions is May 10, 2009.

The Kant Yearbook practices double-blind review; i.e. the reviewers are not aware of the identity of a manuscript's author, and the author is not aware of the reviewer's identity. Submitted manuscripts must be anonymous. That is, the authors' names and references to their work capable of identifying them are not to appear in the manuscript.

Dietmar H. Heidemann (Hofstra University)

Editorial Board:
Henry E. Allison (University of California at Davis)
Karl Ameriks (Notre Dame)
Gordon Brittan (Montana State University)
Klaus Düsing (University of Cologne)
Daniel O. Dahlstrom (Boston University)
Kristina Engelhard (University of Cologne)
Brigitte Falkenburg (University of Dortmund)
Hannah Ginsborg (University of California at Berkeley)
Michelle Grier (University of San Diego)
Thomas Grundmann (University of Cologne)
Paul Guyer (University of Pennsylvania)
Robert Hanna (University of Colorado at Boulder)
Georg Mohr (University of Bremen)
Angelica Nuzzo (CUNY)
Robert Stern (Sheffield University)
Dieter Sturma (University of Bonn)
Ken Westphal (University of Kent)
Markus Willaschek (University of Frankfurt)

More info here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fichte-Kongress 2009

Below is some info about the Fichte-Kongress 2009 (site in German).The Internationalen Fichte-Gesellschaft and Internationalen Schelling-Gesellschaft are co-hosting a conference on "Fichte and Schelling: Idealism in Discussion" October 7-9, 2009 in Belgium at Académie Royale des sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles. The conference is in German, English, and French, but written contributions can also be in Italian and Spanish.

If you want to participate you must register and submit the title of your presentation by May 15, 2009. Texts for contributions must be received by 30 June 2009 at the latest. Conference email:

Here are the workshop themes and topics:

1) The Concept of Philosophy (i.e. transcendental philosophy, system, identity etc.).
2) Naturphilosophie (teleology, imagination, life-force, Spinozism)
3) Aesthetics
4) Philosophy of Religion
5) Late Philosophy in Comparison
6) Experience of the Groundless and the Irrational
7) Political and Social Conceptions
8) Freedom in Philosophy
9) Fichte and Schelling and Contemporary Philosophy
(a. The Romantics, b. 20th century philosophy, e.g. Husserl and Heidegger)

You will of course find more details at this website about possible topics and how to register and submit. Thanks to David Wood for the heads up.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hegel, Religion, Mysticism

For those of you interested in Hegel, Religion and Mysticism, Robert Wallace, author of Hegel's Philosophy of Reality, Freedom and God (Cambridge, 2005), has a website dedicated to these issues. There you will find pages dedicated to internet resources on mysticism, and also some of his writings on Hegel. Enjoy!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Review of Wood's Kantian Ethics

A critical review of Allen Wood's Kantian Ethics (Cambridge, 2007) appeared in the Time Literary Supplement. The review is by Michael Rosen (Harvard). Here is an excerpt to entice you:
Kantian Ethics is an important and challenging book. The position that it presents is original and its argument is supported by an exceptional knowledge of Kant’s thought, of the Kantian literature and of ethical theory more broadly. It is not, however, a particularly attractive one to read. The tone in which Wood criticizes those with whom he disagrees is hectoring and dyspeptic. They show “a deplorable tendency to think in terms of entrenched prejudices”; they commit “whoppers”, have a “tin ear” for Kant, say things that are “strangely arbitrary and nonsensically extreme”, and so on. Philosophical texts are exceedingly complex, and to enter into their world is not easy. When someone feels that they have grasped what others have missed it is perhaps understandable that they should come to think that, as Wood puts it, “what Kant is trying to say is not making it past the censorship of their philosophical prejudices”. I can appreciate this, not least because I found myself thinking similarly about Wood himself. It seemed to me that his grave-robber’s passion for using Kant to support his own moral convictions had sometimes led him to overlook dimensions of Kant’s theory to which, as an archaeologist, he should have given greater weight. But this thought does not diminish the admiration I feel for the seriousness and erudition with which he sets about his task.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

New Kant Book on Embodiment

Angelica Nuzzo (Brooklyn College/CUNY Graduate Center) has published a new work titled Ideal Embodiment: Kant's Theory of Sensibility (Indiana University Press, 2008). Here is the publisher's description:
Angelica Nuzzo offers a comprehensive reconstruction of Kant's theory of sensibility in his three Critiques. By introducing the notion of "transcendental embodiment," Nuzzo proposes a new understanding of Kant's views on science, nature, morality, and art. She shows that the issue of human embodiment is coherently addressed and key to comprehending vexing issues in Kant's work as a whole. In this penetrating book, Nuzzo enters new terrain and takes on questions Kant struggled with: How does a body that feels pleasure and pain, desire, anger, and fear understand and experience reason and strive toward knowledge? What grounds the body's experience of art and beauty? What kind of feeling is the feeling of being alive? As she comes to grips with answers, Nuzzo goes beyond Kant to revise our view of embodiment and the essential conditions that make human experience possible.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Terry Pinkard's Papers

Terry Pinkard (Georgetown) has posted a number of his recent papers on his site. There are some interesting papers on Hegel and spirit and Sellars and Post-Kantianism. He has also posted a draft of his new translation of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, which will be published by Cambridge. It is about time a new translation of the Phenomenology appear, and as I have mentioned before, the translation of Fichte's Science of Knowledge, published many years ago by Cambridge, is due for a major revision.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fichte's Proof that p

Fichte: P self-posits itself as p, therefore p.

More here, here, and here.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

New Hegel Book (Book Review)

At NDPR there is a positive review of Nathan Ross's book, On Mechanism in Hegel's Social and Political Philosophy (Routledge, 2008).

Here is a description from the publisher:

On Mechanism in Hegel's Social and Political Philosophy examines the role of the concept of mechanism in Hegel’s thinking about political and social institutions. It counters as overly simplistic the notion that Hegel has an ‘organic concept of society’. It examines the thought of Hegel’s peers and predecessors who critique modern political intuitions as ‘machine-like’, focusing on J.G. Herder, Friedrich Schlegel and Novalis. From here it examines the early writings of Hegel, in which Hegel makes a break with the Romantic way of thinking about ethical community. Ross argues that in this period, Hegel devises a new way of thinking about the integration of mechanistic and organic features within an organizational whole. This allows Hegel to offer an innovative theory of modern civil society as a component in ethical life. The second half of the book examines how Hegel develops this thought in his later works. It offers an in depth commentary on the chapter on mechanism in the Science of Logic, and it demonstrates the role of these thoughts in Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. On Mechanism in Hegel's Social and Political Philosophy offers a critical response to debates over communitarianism by arguing against one of the central figures used by scholars to associate Hegel with communitarian thought, namely the notion that society is organic. In addition, it argues that Hegel political theory is deeply informed by his formal ontology, as developed in the Science of Logic.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

New Pippin Book on Hegel

A new Robert Pippin book is coming out on November 30. The book is called: Hegel's Practical Philosophy: Rational Agency as Ethical Life.

Book description:
This fresh and original book argues that the central questions in Hegel's practical philosophy are the central questions in modern accounts of freedom: What is freedom, or what would it be to act freely? Is it possible so to act? And how important is leading a free life? Robert Pippin argues that the core of Hegel's answers is a social theory of agency, the view that agency is not exclusively a matter of the self-relation and self-determination of an individual but requires the right sort of engagement with and recognition by others. Using a detailed analysis of key Hegelian texts, he develops this interpretation to reveal the bearing of Hegel's claims on many contemporary issues, including much-discussed core problems in the liberal democratic tradition. His important study will be valuable for all readers who are interested in Hegel's philosophy and in the modern problems of agency and freedom.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What the Fi@#te? (Part 3)

In his "Some Lectures concerning the Scholar's Vocation", Fichte writes:
You can see how important it is not to confuse society as such with that particular, empirically conditioned type of society which we call 'the state.' Desire what a very great man has said [Kant], life in the state is not one of man's absolute aims. The state is, instead, only a means for establishing a perfect society, a means which exists only under specific circumstances. Like all those human institutions which are mere means, the state aims at abolishing itself. The goal of all government is to make government superfluous. Though the time has certainly not yet come, nor do I know how many myriads or myriads of myriads of years it may take...there will certainly be a point in the a priori foreordained career of the human species when all civic bonds will become superfluous. This is hat point when reason, rather than strength or cunning, will be universally recognized as the highest court of appeal. I say "be recognized" because even then men will still make mistakes and injure their fellowmen thereby. All they will then require is the goodwill to allow themselves to be convinced that they erred and, when they are convinced of this, to recant their errors and make amends for the damages. Until we have reached this point we are, speaking quite generally, not even true men [1].
Is Fichte an anarchist? He got into a bit of trouble for saying these things, in part because some conservatives in his audience claimed he was asserting "in ten or twenty years there will be no more kings or princes" [2]. Commentators on Fichte often take these conservative interpretations to be misrepresentations. Breazeale writes, for instance, "though this rumor was obviously designed to undermine Fichte's position with the court, he in fact enjoyed the firm support of the duke and his advisers, who regarded the rumor as a transparent piece of malicious slander" [3]. Goethe quickly caught wind of these rumors and in response Fichte sent him the manuscript of his lectures and published them so as to counter once and for all the claim he was denouncing kings and princes.

But it seems to me the claim is much stronger than most have taken it, though this might be the result of some distance from a certain contexts. Fichte says there will one day be no civic bonds, government will not be needed, and since the state only plays a functional role, its function ought to be geared toward undermining its own necessity. Marx thought something like his. I guess it's not really a form of anarchism insofar as Fichte does designate some role for the state, but it sure sounds like the form of life he has in mind is some kind of anarchism.

Slight change of subjects now: I, like most of you, have been spending too much time following the present political and financial crisis in the US. I have nothing interesting to say about it, and there are plenty of good blogs covering the issue, but this Thomas Friedman line in a recent column at The New York Times did make me laugh:
I've always believed that America's government was a unique political system--one designed by geniuses so that it could be run by idiots. I was wrong. No system can be smart enough to survive this level of incompetence and recklessness by the people charged to run it.
[1] Fichte, "Some Lectures concerning the Scholar's Vocation" in Fichte Early Philosophical Writings, trans. and ed. Daniel Brezeale (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1988) pp. 156-7.

[2] ibid., 139.

[3] ibid.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Brandom on Hegel

Thanks to SOH-Dan for posting about Brandom's current work on Hegel. I remembering hearing maybe five or so years ago Brandom was writing a book on Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. It was believable since he had already published some articles on Hegel and sections of the Tales of the Mighty Dead dealt directly with Hegel.

I've wondered what form Brandom's book would take. Many works on Hegel's Phenomenology are fairly straight forward commentaries. H. S. Harris's Hegel's Ladder goes far beyond any of the many commentaries in terms of its detail and comprehensiveness. Pinkard's is an interesting Sellarsian take (with some serious Barndomian influences). But I could not imagine Brandom taking the time or interest in this kind of scholarly and reconstructive work. Now after seeing what he's done with Kant and Hegel in his Woodbridge Lectures, it became clearer there was no chance of this. But how does one write on Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit without getting caught in commentary mode. One option is the general Heideggerian approach: by writing about a historical figure you write a commentary on yourself. Well, after a brief perusal through Chapter 8 of Brandom's A Spirit of Trust, the title of what apparently is the long-awaited Hegel book, it seems to be somewhere between the traditional commentary and the Heideggerian approach (though this is a fairly speculative comment). There are lots of long quotations interpreted through Brandom's philosophical framework.

The chapter is itself long (256 pages in Word), so, as SOH-Dan points out, this will likely rival Maxing it Explicit in size, but I wonder to what extent it will influence how people understand Hegel. My bet is that Brandom's own philosophical work on inferentialism, semantics and normativity will have a greater influence on Idealism studies than his own commentaries on Hegel or Kant. There is some historical precedence for this. Look at the influence Sellars has had on Kant studies or even McDowell. Strawson's work on Kant might be an exception but the debate over transcendental arguments, one of his greatest legacies, stems originally from Individuals and not the Bounds of Sense. But maybe I'm overstating things in the case of Strawson, he did after all make it permissible, along with Bennett, for Anglo-American philosophers to take Kant seriously. Anyway, these are just some cursory half-thoughts.

You should checkout Brandom's very funny "Untimely Review of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit." Brandom's so-called review can be found here on his webpage, and his chapter along with other Hegel papers here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hegel and German Idealism (CFP)



Graduate Student Conference
University of Notre Dame
March 6-8, 2009

Deadline for Submission: December 15, 2008

Robert Brandom, University of Pittsburgh
Paul Franks, University of Toronto

Graduate students of the Notre Dame philosophy department invite papers relating to the philosophy of Hegel and the tradition of German Idealism. This conference, sponsored by the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, is designed to provide graduate students in philosophy and all areas of the humanities the opportunity to present research on issues related to the philosophical and historical roots, development, and impact of Hegel's philosophy and German Idealism.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

• The philosophical origins of German Idealism (in Kant, the post-Kantians, the Romantics, etc…).
• 19th century critiques of Hegel and German Idealism.
• Influence of Hegel/ German Idealism on 19th and/or 20th century political developments.
• The impact of Hegel/ German Idealism on contemporary philosophy.
• The revival of interest in Hegel and German Idealism in contemporary analytic philosophy.

Papers should be suitable for 20-minute presentation (10-12 pages) and should be submitted in blind review format. Deadline for submission is
December 15, 2008. Please include author's name, title, and institutional affiliation in email. Notifications will be made no later than February 1, 2009. Selected presenters will be provided with meals and campus hotel accommodations for the conference. Submissions and questions should be emailed to

Please see website for more details:

Sponsored by the Nanovic Institute for European Studies and the University of Notre Dame Graduate School.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rousseau, Self-Love and Recognition

Frederick Neuhouser, who is well-known for his work on Fichte and Hegel, published this week Rousseau's Theodicy of Self-Love: Evil, Rationality, and the Drive for Recognition. I expect that the many of us who work on Fichte and Hegel's theory of recognition will find much of interest in this work. Here is the publisher's book description:
This book is the first comprehensive study of Rousseau's rich and complex theory of the type of self-love (amour proper ) that, for him, marks the central difference between humans and the beasts. Amour proper is the passion that drives human individuals to seek the esteem, approval, admiration, or love--the recognition --of their fellow beings. Neuhouser reconstructs Rousseau's understanding of what the drive for recognition is, why it is so problematic, and how its presence opens up far-reaching developmental possibilities for creatures that possess it. One of Rousseau's central theses is that amour proper in its corrupted, manifestations--pride or vanity--is the principal source of an array of evils so widespread that they can easily appear to be necessary features of the human condition: enslavement, conflict, vice, misery, and self-estrangement. Yet Rousseau also argues that solving these problems depends not on suppressing or overcoming the drive for recognition but on cultivating it so that it contributes positively to the achievement of freedom, peace, virtue, happiness, and unalienated selfhood. Indeed, Rousseau goes so far as to claim that, despite its many dangers, the need for recognition is a condition of nearly everything that makes human life valuable and that elevates it above mere animal existence: rationality, morality, freedom--subjectivity itself--would be impossible for humans if it were not for amour properand the relations to others it impels us to establish.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Some Kant Links

Here are a few Kant links:

James Conant on on "John McDowell's Kant", a recording of a lecture given at the University of Bergen.

A new Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on "Kant's Account of Reason."

A review of Paul Guyer's new book Knowledge, Reason, and Taste: Kant's Response to Hume.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

German Idealism Workshop

For those of you in the New York area, we are holding the first German Idealism Workshop on September 19 at the New School.

Kristina Engelhard (University of Cologne) will deliver a paper titled “Hegel on/in Contradiction” and Angelica Nuzzo (Brooklyn College) will respond.

The workshop will be at the New School for Social Research, 65 5th Ave, Machinist Conference Room (Mezzanine level), 4:30 pm. Please email me if you plan to attend and would like a copy of the paper.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Novalis Review

An interesting review appeared today in NDPR by Jane Kneller. She is reviewing the new translation by David Wood of Novalis's Notes for a Romantic Encyclopaedia: Das Allgemeine Brouillon. Her review is very positive, but what I find interesting is that she sets up Wood's translation and introduction as a challenge to the work of Manfred Frank. Frank has defended the thesis that Novalis's Fichte-Studies are his most important and philosophical work, and against Dieter Henrich, Frank has claimed that the Fichte-Studies are also the most thorough critique of Fichte's foundationalism presented in the 1790s. What is interesting about the Fichte-Studies is that as Novalis moves away from Fichte, he appears to become more Kantian.

Novalis's Romantic Encyclopaedia is much more than a critique of Fichte or an investigation of the Critical Philosophy--it is in the words of Kneller "an important set of short essays, aphorisms, fragments and musings on the sciences and the nature of systematic knowledge. In true early romantic fashion it is wide-ranging in content and style, touching on topics from art to experimental method in the sciences, from philosophy and religion to butter softening, colic, gout, fever and the symbolism of human dress."

Both of these works are significant and essential to understanding Novalis's thought. Frank spends little time writing about Novalis's more poetic and wide ranging fragments like those found in the Encyclopaedia, which is unfortunate and to some extent might limit his understanding of the Fichte-Studies. As far as I can tell, the two projects continue a similar like of investigation that is focused on understanding the limits of science and systematization. Maybe they should be even read together, as a single project. In that case, the question of which is more important or more mature looses some of its allure.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Hamann Conference (CFP)

Below is a call for papers for what looks to be an exciting conference on Hamann. The conference is being organized by Lisa Marie Anderson who, I should point out, recently published Hegel on Hamann, a translation of Hegel's review of Hamman's writings and life.


“Hamann and the Tradition”

An International Conference

to be held at Hunter College (CUNY)

New York, NY

March 20-21, 2009

Recent years have witnessed a resurgence of scholarly interest in the work of Johann Georg Hamann, an interest which is spreading among scholars of world literature, European history, philosophy, theology, and religious studies. New translations of work by and about Hamann are appearing, as are a number of books and articles on Hamann’s aesthetics, theories of language and sexuality, and unique place in Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment thought. As such, the time has come to reexamine, in light of recent work, the legacy of Hamann’s writings, which have influenced such diverse thinkers as J.G. von Herder, F.H. Jacobi, J.W. von Goethe, G.W.F. Hegel, Søren Kierkegaard, and Walter Benjamin, to name only an obvious few.

We invite papers which investigate or problematize in new ways any underappreciated aspect of Hamann’s impact across the centuries, be it upon a thinker or work, a historical tradition, or even an entire branch of knowledge. Especially welcome are papers which promote dialogue among the diverse disciplines to which Hamann’s work speaks. All conference papers should be delivered in English.

Please send a one-page abstract by October 1, 2008 to the conference organizer:

Lisa Marie Anderson, Assistant Professor

Department of German, Hunter College

Keynote Speaker

Oswald Bayer, Systematic Theology, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

Author of Vernunft ist Sprache: Hamanns Metakritik Kants; Johann Georg Hamann: Der hellste Kopf seiner Zeit; Zeitgenosse im Widerspruch: Johann Georg Hamann als Radikaler Aufklärer

Confirmed Speakers

John Betz, After Enlightenment: The Post-Secular Vision of J.G. Hamann

Gwen Griffith-Dickson, Johann Georg Hamann’s Relational Metacriticism

Kenneth Haynes, Hamann: Writings on Philosophy and Language

Manfred Kuehn, Immanuel Kant: A Biography; Scottish Common Sense in Germany 1768-1800

Johannes von Lüpke, Director, Internationales Hamann-Kolloquium

Katie Terezakis, The Immanent Word: The Turn to Language in German Philosophy 1759-1801

We gratefully acknowledge the support of:

The Office of the Dean of Arts & Sciences, Hunter College (CUNY)

The Max Kade Foundation

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New Hegel Books

In addition to the Hamann review I posted about a few days ago, NDPR has published two interesting reviews of some new books on Hegel. One review, by Paul Franks, is a very positive review of William F. Bristow, Hegel and the Transformation of Philosophical Critique. The second review is of Allen Speight's The Philosophy of Hegel. Both reviews are positive, and though I have not had a chance to look at these works, from the reviews, they appear to be nice contributions to the ever growing Hegel literature.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hamann's Writings Online (in German)

Following up on yesterday's post, I thought I would point interested readers to this online resource where one can find Hamann's writings in German, and a number of other important texts relating to Hamann's work. For example, there are important excerpts on Hamann from the writings of Goethe, Schlegel, Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Dilthey. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hamann review

So, it has been too long since my last post. I'm still in Berlin, but soon I will return to New York where I plan to begin posting regularly again. For now I want to draw your attention to a review of Kenneth Haynes translation of Hamann. As the reviewer Ted Kinnaman points out, Haynes translates the two "dedications" that appear at the beginning of Hamann's most famous work, Socratic Memorabilia, but not the book itself. This short work is in need of either a new translation or a new printing of James O'Flaherty's translation.

For those of you not familiar with Hamann and his reputation should check out this SEP article by Gwen Griffith-Dickson, who also has written an excellent commentary on the Socratic Memorabilia called Johann Georg Hamann's Relational Metacriticism (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1995). I'm not sure what the best general introduction is to Hamman's work, but Isaiah Berlin's The Magus of the North. J. G. Hamann and the Origins of Modern Irrationalism (London: John Murray) is probably the most famous, although I think considering Hamann an irrationalist is quite contentious. Frederick Beiser's essay in his well know book The Fate of Reason is a very good and fair introduction to Hamann's thought and life.

Hamann I think played an important role in the emergence of German Idealism. Here are some reason that come immediately to mind: 1) he had a significant influence on Jacobi; 2) Hamann continually stressed the importance of Hume's skepticism; 3) he also stressed the importance of language in understanding the nature of reason and culture; 4) Hamann developed what is perhaps the first critique of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, which circled amongst his friends, and was carefully studied by Herder. As the story goes, Hamann was friends with the publisher of the Critique and he had access to it as the pages were rolling of the press. 5) Hegel was familiar with Hamann, and even wrote a lengthy review on his thought. The extent to which Schelling and Fichte were interested in Hamann is not clear to me, though I suspect Fichte had read or was at least familar with Hamann's thoughts on language when he worte his essay "On the Linguistic Capacity and the Origin of Language" in 1795.

Friday, June 27, 2008


It's been too long since I last posted. I've been traveling some. A few days in Madison, Wisconsin, and a few with the family in Houston. I'm now in Berlin where I will actually be for the next two months. I'm here on a DAAD stipend which allows me to work on my German. Currently, I'm working on a paper on Fichte, pre-reflective awareness, and the body. The paper is called "Fichte and the Possibility of Mindedness." It takes up some issues developed in the Dreyfus/McDowell debate and Fichte's Foundations of Natural Right. I will be presenting a version of it on July 17 at the Philosophisches Kolloquium at the University of Cologne. Besides that, I will be in Berlin working on the dissertation and my German. I do plan to keep up with the blog while in Germany, so keep an eye out. For those of you looking for some idealism related posts, check out SOH-Dan here and here on Hegel.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Novalis and Lanugage

Here you will find an essay on Novalis and language by Katie Terezakis (Rochester Institute of Technology) published in the new edition of Janus Head. Janus Head is an online interdisciplinary journal that publishes philosophical essays, art and poetry. This issue has some essays on technology, Goethe, and poetry by Paul Celan.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Kant, Hume, Causality

Over at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, a new entry on "Kant and Hume on Causality" was just posted. It is written by Graciela De Pierris and Michael Friedman, who is well known for his work on Kant and the sciences.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Embodied Cognition in Boston Globe

I came across this article in The Boston Globe from January on embodied cognition. I have a broad interest in this topic in part because I want to get clear about how Fichte held an embodied view of the mind, something I mention here. Granted he was doing a kind of speculative philosophy of mind, but I do think he hit upon some ideas that are detailed in the work of some contemporary figures.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008

What the Fi@#te? (Part 2)

From his Foundations of Natural Right:
The character of rationality consists in the fact that that which act and that which is acted upon are one and the same; and with this description, the sphere of reason as such is exhausted. -For those who are capable of grasping it (i.e. for those who are capable of abstracting from their own I), linguistic usage has come to denote this exalted concept by the word: I; thus reason has been characterized as "I-hood" [p. 3].
I keep trying to abstract from my I, but Memorial Day sun and fun is holding me back. When reading and writing about Fichte sometimes I feel like his students who are described by Henrik Steffens, an actual student of Fichte:
[Fichte] made every effort to provide proofs for everything he said; but his speech still seemed commanding, as if he wanted to dispel any possible doubts by means of an unconditional order. 'Gentlemen,' he would say, 'collect your thoughts and enter into yourselves. We are not at all concerned now with anything external, but only with ourselves.' And, just as he requested, his listeners really seemed to be concentrating upon themselves. Some of them shifted their position and sat up straight, while others slumped with downcast eyes. But it was obvious that they were all waiting with great suspense for what was supposed to come next. Then Fichte would continue: 'Gentlemen, think about the wall.' And as I saw, they really did think about the wall, and everyone seemed able to do so with success. 'Have you thought about the wall?' Fichte would ask. 'Now, gentlemen, think about whoever it was that thought about the wall.' The obvious confusion and embarrassment provoked by this request was extraordinary. [Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo, trans. Daniel Breazeale, Ithaca: Cornell, 1992, p. 111, n. 11.]
Such is life.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Free Issue of EJP

DuckRabbit pointed out the European Journal of Philosophy has made available online the April 2008 issue, which includes what looks to be an interesting article by Beatrice Longuenesse titled "Self-Consciousness and Self-Reference: Sartre and Wittgenstein." In addition to articles on Hume and McDowell, there is an article by Wayne Martin titled "Transcendetal Philosophy and Atheism" which discusses Fichte's work surrounding his atheism controversy.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fichte and the Not-I

In celebration of Fichte's birthday (May 19, 1762), I thought it might be nice to try to reconstruct some of Fichte's arguments from his Foundations of Natural Right (FNR). In his attempts to develop a theory of self-consciousness by showing what conditions are necessary for its possibility in general and its actualization in finite subjects, Fichte sets down the not-I as a necessary condition of self-consciousness. Below is a reconstruction of two arguments for the not-I. I have developed them from the "First Theorem" of the FNR, and I've attempted to formulate them as transcendental arguments that begin from an accepted premise and argue for conditions necessary for that premise.

(Part 1)
Argument for I/not-I distinction:
AP: I am a self-conscious individual.
NC1: A necessary condition of self-consciousness is that the I is self-active.
NC2: A necessary condition of being a self-conscious individual is finite activity.
NC3: A necessary condition of being a finite being is that one can only know, reflect upon, and be aware of something limited.
NC4: A necessary condition of being finite is that there is something opposed to you.
NC5: A necessary condition of being finite is that what is intuited is something beyond one’s own self-activity.
C1: What is beyond self-activity is not-I.
C2: A necessary condition of self-consciousness is an I (self-activity)/not-I distinction

The pure I is the self-positing I that we assert as involved in all acts of judging or thinking. The pure I is the form of I that Kant does not deduce, but which the Wissenschaftslehre deduces, though it is assumed by Kant. As I see it, the pure I is a description of self-consciousness as an ideal structure. An abstract not-I must oppose the pure I in order doe the pure I to be determined as an I. The I/not-I relation specifies a feature that pertains to the structure of the pure I.

I think it is fair to compare how Fichte conceives of the pure I to how Husserl thinks of the ideal structure of intentionality as an act/object structure. When describing the necessary role of the object in intentionality, we do not need to specify any determinate object. We can say the same thing about the I/not-I structure. When describing the role of the not-I when we are reflecting on the structural components of the pure I, we do not need to specify the not-I as a determinate not-I. That means we are not required to say the not-I is a general object, a determinate object like a table, or a rational being.

If the pure I is a description of self-consciousness then what is it conscious of? As a self-conscious I, the pure I is conscious of its own activity. We might say that its consciousness of its own activity is an empty form of consciousness, since the activity is not instantiated in any particular I. The self-activity is not a determinate self-activity that belongs to an actual subject. Instead, the self-activity at the level of the pure I is merely a necessary structural feature designated in our descriptions. As I understand it, the pure I is an ideal description of the structural features of the I of the individual. We as philosophers gain access to the pure I through reflecting on the necessary actions of the I. Each necessary action of the I (e.g. making the I/not-I distinction and self-reverting) becomes designated, or even posited, in our descriptions. When we show that these features are necessary conditions of the I, we have deduced them. What we are interested in doing in the FNR is deducing the necessary conditions of the finite individual I. In doing so, we are now operating at a different level of analysis. We might say that we are in some way filling in the content of the I. Where at the level of the pure I we need not specify the content of the not-I, at the level of the individual I, the content of the not-I becomes determinate; that is, the not-I is both the sensible world and other self-conscious individual Is or, more simply, rational beings. We are now, as I understand it, licensed to posit a concrete I/not-I distinction as necessary for individual self-consciousness.

(Part 2)
Argument for the concrete I/not-I distinction:

AP: I am a self-conscious individual.
NC1: A necessary condition of self-consciousness is that the I is self-active.

NC2: A necessary condition of self-activity is the I/not-I distinction (C1 of Part 1).

P1: The I/not-I distinction can be either abstract or concrete.

P2: An abstract I/not-I distinction is formal and empty.

P3: One cannot determine individuality with an empty opposition.

C1: The I/not-I distinction must be concrete.

NC3: A necessary condition of the I/not-I distinction being concrete is that the not-I is sensible/material world.
C2: We must posit a sensible and material world.

The argument for the concrete I/not-I distinction does not distinguish between the sensible world qua nature and the sensible world qua rational human subjects. The next step in the argument is to show why the concrete I/not-I distinction involves designating or positing a rational being as a necessary condition of self-consciousness, if what is individuated and determined is individual self-consciousness. I'll try to do that in the next few days.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New McDowell Books!!!

Ok. Calm down. They're not out yet. I just came across them at the Harvard University Press website. In January 2009, McDowell's Engaged Intellect: Philosophical Esays and Having the World in View: Essays on Kant, Hegel, and Sellars hit the streets. The first book is a collection of essays on assorted topics like Davidson, Wittgenstein, and Ancient Philosophy. Having the World in View extends McDowell's "Woodbridge Lectures" to include a number of essays on Hegel. Many of these essays are available already in various journals, but it will be nice to have them in book form. The table of contents are here and here respectively.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Hobbes blog

I just came across this new Hobbes blog. I don't myself work much on Hobbes, but I will be teaching some Hobbes in the Fall, which I'm really looking forward to. This week I plan to start posting more than I have in the recent weeks, and I plan to put up some of Fichte's arguments on individuality and self-consciousness (as found in his Foundations of Natural Right) as well as a version of his argument for other minds. I figure if I mention this "publicly", then I will be more likely to follow through.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

First Edition of Hegel's Phenomenology

This is a steal! Only $15,000 for a first edition of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. I wonder if they will let me put it on layaway. Apparently there were only 750 copies originally published, so these are hard to come by. Act now!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Novalis Reviews

Here at the Times Literary Supplement is a nice review of some recent Novalis translations. Reviewed are David Wood's translation of Notes for a Romantic Encyclopaedia: Das Allgemeine Bruillon and Bruce Donehower's translation of Novalis's letters and journal in The Birth of Novalis.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Philosophers' Carnival

A new and interesting Philosophers' Carnival on Idealism is here.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Heinrich Heine (book review)

At NDPR there is a review of an edited volume of Heinrich Heine's writings, On the History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany and Other Writings, published by Cambridge and edited by Terry Pinkard. This book should be of interest to those of us interested in the reception of Early German Romanticism and German Idealism (esp. Hegel).

Saturday, March 29, 2008

What the Fi@#te? (Part 1)

Inspired by Grundlegung's Kantian Gloom-Watch and Hegelian Glee-Watch, I thought I would start a "What the Fi@#te?" series tracking some of the more absurd, baffling, and often amusing things Fichte says. Here is Fichte on the effect attacks have on him and his drive for truth:
Whatever my views may be, whether true philosophy or enthusiasim and nonsense, it affects me personally not at all, if I have honestly sought the truth. I should no more think my personal merits enhanced by the luck of having discovered the true philosophy than I should consider them diminished by the misfortune of having piled new errors on the errors of the past. For my personal position I have no regard whatever: but I am hot for truth [für die Wahrheit bin ich entflammt], and whatever I think true, I shall continue to proclaim with all the force and decision at my command (emphasis mine, Science of Knowledge [Cambridge, 1982] p. 90).
I am hot for Fichte.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Self-Knowing Agents (Book Review)

Lucy O'Brien's Self-Knowing Agents (Oxford, 2007) was just reviewed at NDPR. This book should be of interest to people working on self-consciousness and self-reference in general, and might be of interest to people working on these issues in Kant and Fichte.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

UK Kant Society Graduate Conference (CFP)

10-11 July 2008
University of Manchester
Call for papers
Deadline for submission of papers: May 10th 2008.
The 5th UK Kant Society Graduate Conference will take place on Thursday 10th and Friday 11th July 2008 at The University of Manchester.

We are pleased to announce that our guest speakers this year are Professor Robert Pippin (University of Chicago) and Dr Jens Timmermann (University of St. Andrews).

We invite papers from postgraduate students and from those who have recently completed their PhD to be considered for presentation at the 2008 UK Kant Society Graduate Conference. The conference will consider papers related to any aspect of Immanuel Kant’s philosophy from 1781 onwards.

Please submit papers of no more than 5000 words that are suitable for a presentation of around 35 minutes, allowing 20 minutes for discussion. All papers should be suitable for blind review. Please include a cover page consisting of the paper’s title and abstract, as well as personal contact details including an email address.

Submissions should be sent by email no later than 10th May 2008 to marking the subject line ‘2008 UKKS Graduate Conference Submission’. Further details will be publicised nearer the date of the conference.

More information about the UK Kant Society can be found at:

Paula Satne Jones (conference organiser)
Arthur Lewis Building
The University of Manchester
M13 9PL
Email: satnejones@AOL.COM

Thursday, March 20, 2008

On Reason

In his new book Kantian Ethics (Cambridge, 2008), Allen Wood points out that Vernunft, the word Kant uses for 'reason', derives from the German word 'to hear' (vernehmen). Wood writes, "A rational (or reasonable) person is above all someone who 'listens to reason,' who is capable of hearing and understanding others when they offer reasons" (p. 18). Wood thinks that on etymological grounds we see that (this is not a philosophical argument), "Reasons..are essentially to be shared between people--they are never only the private possession of those for whom they are reasons" (19). On this view, when one acts according to reasons, one acts on reasons that are intersubjectively grounded. I think this is a view worked out in some detail in Fichte's Foundations of Natural Right and also in Darwall's The Second-Person Standpoint, a book I hope to start posting on soon.

I found the etymological point interesting, especially since I don't remember coming across it before. After a quick glance at Caygill's entry on 'reason' in the Kant Dictionary I found no mention of this point. I thought I would check the OED for any similar connections in English. Granted, the phrases we use like 'He just doesn't listen to reason' make a similar point. This phrase appears to go as far back as 1225, "I heard nu reisuns" and in 1440 we have "new resones speke." Reasons are also seen: 1740 J. Clarke, "I never yet saw believe."

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Embodiment in Fichte’s Theory of Self-Consciousness

Here is an abstract for a paper I want to write. I just sent it off to a conference on intersubjectivity and the body.

Subtle Bodies: Embodiment in Fichte’s Theory of Self-Consciousness

The work of Johann Gottlieb Fichte is widely recognized as attempting to develop a theory of self-consciousness that grounds in a first principle Kant’s theory of knowledge and cognition. Fichte’s work is often taken to focus on issues in practical philosophy and issues in epistemology. In my work on Fichte I have been developing a mind reading that shows that Fichte has an intersubjective theory of the mind that is conditional for his moral and epistemological principles. In this paper I will argue that Fichte’s theory of the mind articulates a view of the mind as embodied.

In his Foundations of Natural Right, Fichte develops a transcendental argument or deduction that shows how we must conceive of the body as a necessary condition of self-conscious agency. The body, insofar as it is a necessary condition of self-consciousness, must be more than just a material body. For Fichte, while the body is a material body [Körper], it is also a human body [Lieb]. What is the difference between a material body and a human body? The first important difference is that the human body is the embodiment of the will or the ability to form concepts of an end and bring to fruition the end according to a particular conceptualization. However, this kind of concept formation and action is not reflective, but a conceptual pre-reflective activity. A second difference, which follows from the first, is that the human body is subtle or non-objective in that it is saturated with social commitments and is that locus of intentional expressions. In other words, the body as a human body is expressive of rational contents and plays an essential role in the education of the subject into the stance rational self-conscious agents must take.

My reading of Fichte on the body attempts to show that the body is a minded body that is intersubjectively constituted. I also argue that the body is expressive. Its expressivity plays a necessary role in the education of self-consciousness and the constitution of a rational social order.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Fichte and the Mind

Lately, I've been working to reduce the first chapter of my dissertation to the size of a journal article. One thing I'm doing in the article is attempting to make a distinction between two kinds of readings of Fichte, one which is primarily epistemological in nature and one that considers Fichte as concerned with the mind and mental action. I'm attempting to show the merits of the mind reading.

One idea I have is that on the mind reading what Fichte has to say about intersubjectivity bears not only on how we should think of self-knowledge, but also on how we should think about the mind and its conditions of possibility. I think, and this is where Fichte scholars will most likely get upset, commentators have mostly advanced epistemological readings that elaborate on Fichte's Kantian influences, his epistemic "foundationalism" (I put that in quotes since it's not clear, at least not to me, whether he is a foundationalist of some sort), the role self-positing plays in terms of establishing a theory of knowledge. Beisier's work, Wayne Martin's and even Paul Frank's challenging work seem to take such a line of thinking for granted. How to characterize Neuhouser's book in terms of this epistemology/mind distinction is more difficult.

I think scholars have failed to adequately understand the role of intersubjectivity in Fichte’s theory of self-consciousness because they have predominantly approached Fichte as concerned with how knowledge is possible. When these scholars move from a concern with how knowledge is possible to a concern with the role of intersubjective relations in Fichte’s thought, they analyze intersubjectivity at the level of knowledge. The result is that intersubjective relations become conditional for how one conceives oneself in terms of personal identity, political identity, or social identity. In other words, intersubjective relations are necessary for self-knowledge or forming a self-conception. But, any self-conception already presupposes that a subject is a self-conscious agent that references itself as an I.

If we can make a distinction between self-conceiving agents and self-conscious agents, I think we can understand the role of intersubjectivity differently. This distinction is important because it demarcates two levels of self-consciousness, one level in which self-conscious agents are conscious of themselves as an I, and one level in which agents are conscious of their unique social identities and commitments. I think this distinction maps on to a distinction between self-consciousness and self-knowledge respectively. With such a distinction operative, I think it is possible to locate the level at which intersubjectivity enters (e.g., Is it at the level of self-knowledge or self-consciousness?), and what implications this has for a theory of the mind and self-consciousness. The upshot is obvious for a theory of mind. If intersubjectivity enters at the level in which we are specifying the conditions necessary for having mental life, the the mind is intersubjectively constituted. I think there might be other implications too that have to do with externalism about the mind or mental content as well. I also think such a reading, call it the mind reading of Fichte, involves showing that the mind is mental activity, but not merely a kind of mental activity internal to the skull, but an embodied activity.