Monday, June 17, 2013

Hegel's naturalism

A new book published on Hegel and naturalism (ndpr link HERE, amazon link HERE) which looks fairly interesting.  I am not really a fan of how Pinkard writes - having read his Legacy of Idealism book - however the ndpr review raves about this, Pinkard's newest, so I thought to give it a try (one should ignore the weird review found on amazon, it doesn't seem legit).

Here is something astounding from the amazon blurb.  Basically we are told that Pinkard pitches Hegel as an "anti-totality" thinker, as someone who dwells in the unresolvability of oppositions.  To each Hegel scholar their own, but I am wondering why Pinkard goes for this specific interpretation yet so far as I can tell Schelling's philosophy, which seems to accomplish this goal already, isn't wrestled with (instead it's Aristotle, which fits considering the theme of the book is naturalism).

Second, here is a juicy introductory quote from the ndpr review:
In just 200 pages of text plus notes, Terry Pinkard's new book is a masterpiece of clear, scrupulous exposition and an exceptionally able defense of Hegel's thought. It is, if anything, more interesting philosophically than the outstandingly accomplished Hegel exegesis that it also is. In taking up the broad theme of culture as second nature, both metaphysically and ethico-politically, Pinkard combines the virtues of McDowell on second nature (but with more historical details and a more developed conception of history than anything on offer in McDowell), Merleau-Ponty on embodiment (but with a greater sense of the role, too, of reason in concept formation and revision, especially in ethics, than in Merleau-Ponty), and Brandom on inferential articulation (but with a greater sense of human embodiment and of the situation of the human subject in the modern world than in Brandom).
A few posts back I mentioned the rise of continental naturalism and I truly believe that Hegel will play a major role in shaping that naturalism, as will Schelling (in a major way Schelling already has through Iain Grant's naturphilosophie), and one must add Brandom and Sellars too the range of influences at play here.

What will differ from Pinkard's book is that the new continental naturalism will be post-intentional and refrain from superimposing an elevated sense of *human* good as a final end of life.  It is true that creatures seek to free themselves from contradiction and tension and that biologically this is what (via practices, conceptual or otherwise) institutes short term teloi.  Thus, I think that there *can be* "final ends" within the new continental naturalism but it will not be so traditionally conceived as Pinkard lays it out.  If anything, a "final end" would simply be the end of all life - thus universal or absolute death would, on a more generalized metaphysical level, take the place of life; one may have something like "void," annihilation, death, or non-being take life's place as transcendental meontology.