Hegel's Aufhebung

Aldouri, Hammam (2015) Hegel's Aufhebung. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


This thesis explicates what I term the ‘productive disunity’ of Hegel’s philosophy: the dialectical permeation of the ‘dialectical movement’ of aufheben and the ‘speculative self-movement’ of sichaufheben. It begins by examining the abstract positing of the ‘task of philosophy’ as it emerges in Hegel’s early Jena writings via an analysis of the development of the concept of aufheben in a constellation of texts from the years 1795-7. Special attention will be paid to Friedrich Schiller’s On the Aesthetic Education of Man (1795) and Novalis’ Fichte Studies (1795-6). I argue that through Schiller’s conception of aufheben, Hegel grasps an initial ‘model’ of aufheben as the internal structure of the speculative whole, a whole that is, in the early Jena writings, comprehended within the strict coordinates of epistemological opposition in terms of the unity of subject and object. From this, I provide an exposition of the two central philosophical forms of conceptual movement in Hegel’s philosophy: first, the phenomenological form – through a detailed explication of the concept of experience as it unfolds in the Phenomenology of Spirit; and second, the logical form – through an explication of the movement of speculative thinking in the Science of Logic. It is through an exposition of the logical movement of speculative thinking that the delicate conceptual distinction between aufheben and sichaufheben is retroactively determined and comprehended. In the final chapter, this distinction is complicated through an examination of the temporal forms that articulate spirit in its self-comprehended, absolute form: the form of the perfect present (spirit qua ‘always already’ actual) and the form of the future anterior (spirit qua ‘not yet but will have been’ actualized) as expressed in the relation between the movement of philosophy, ‘time’ and history. It is through the dialectical reflection of the inter-relation of the two temporal forms of spirit that the third form of speculative temporalization of philosophical reconstruction is yielded. The delicate distinction between dialectical aufheben and speculative sichaufheben of spirit provides the basis for a transformation of Hegel’s philosophical enterprise and its relation to the philosophical problem of the comprehension of the speculative whole of the present.

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