Hegel’s Concept of the True Infinite

Robert R. Williams

in Tragedy, Recognition, and the Death of God

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199656059
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744846 | DOI:
Hegel’s Concept of the True Infinite

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The true infinite is the first appearance of the concept of systematic totality in the Science of Logic. It belongs to the speculative nucleus of Hegelianism, anticipating the categories of ground, disjunctive syllogism, absolute idea, and absolute spirit. The true infinite is a criticism of traditional metaphysics and the Kantian concept of theology as a postulate of morality: both are versions of the spurious infinity. The true infinite is one of the very few categories of the Logic directly discussed and reflected in Hegel’s Philosophy of Religion where it structures the concept of religion and Hegel’s recasting of the theological proofs. The true infinite is a post-Kantian critical metaphysical alternative best understood not as pantheism, but as panentheism, a philosophical theology of God as spirit, a unity in difference that constitutes a social infinite. The true infinite has not been well understood in recent scholarship owing to the pervasive influence of the Kantian frame that restricts philosophical interest in religion to the anthropological level and forbids examination of the nature of God as unknowable. In contemporary versions of the Kantian frame, Anglo-American philosophy seeks to domesticate Hegel and German idealism by reading metaphysics out of it. The pervasiveness of the Kantian frame is reflected in the dominant and widespread non-metaphysical interpretations of Hegel. But if religion and theology are as important to Hegel as his philosophy of religion and treatment of the theological proofs demonstrate, non-metaphysical readings are probably untenable.

Keywords: true infinite; spurious infinite; the ought; Kant; Kantian frame; Wallace; Houlgate; traditional metaphysics; critical philosophy; critical metaphysics; panentheism; social infinite

Chapter.  15577 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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