History in freedom : temporality and historicity in Hegel's dialectic of freedom and necessity

Radnik, Oliver (2023) History in freedom : temporality and historicity in Hegel's dialectic of freedom and necessity. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


In this thesis, I argue that temporality is an essential ontological feature in and of Hegel’s conception of the idea of freedom. I argue that the relation between the idea of self-determining freedom and causal necessity in Hegel’s philosophy is self-reflexively historical and temporal as well as logical and ontological. The self-reflexive historicity of the idea of freedom is irreducible, such that it exceeds and goes beyond any particular historical juncture. Hegel’s formulation of freedom, being-with-oneself-in-one’s-other (Beisichselbstsein in einem Anderen), not only expresses the necessary interrelation of collective social freedom by establishing a necessary relation between self-determination and otherness but it also signifies philosophy’s retroactive comprehension of the inner necessity (die innere Notwendigkeit) of freedom’s actualisation in history through philosophy’s elevation into a ‘system of science.’ I demonstrate, first, that Hegel’s idea of freedom is temporal and historical through an examination of his early Jena writings. I show that logical and temporal movements are expressions of the same immanent development of Hegel’s presentation of philosophical ‘science’ that is self-referentially and irreducibly historicist. I further identify two forms of temporality in Hegel’s logic, the temporality of logical time (die logische Zeit) and the logic of retroactive temporality of inner necessity, which illustrates how temporality is an ontological feature of Hegel’s conception of logic. The logical idea of freedom, the absolute idea established in the Science of Logic, designates being-with-oneself-in-one’s-other through the unification of the self-determining concept and objectivity. I then argue that the philosophical importance of Christianity, for Hegel, shows how being-with-oneself-in-one’s-other is a temporal formulation, as well as signifying freedom, insofar as Christianity’s representational form conveys how human freedom sublates the external causal factors that function as its necessary ground. I end the thesis by arguing that Hegel’s political philosophy is self-reflexively and irreducibly temporal and historical. Self-reflexivity and irreducibility constitute a reciprocal relationship immanent to Hegel’s idea of freedom as a social and political actuality and its ongoing process of actualisation in historical time.

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