Nature, Spirit, and Revolution: Situating Hegel's Philosophy of Nature

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This paper ties together several anthropological and naturphilosophische themes in Hegel in order to re-examine the place of the philosophy of nature in the Encyclopedia. By taking Hegel’s anthropology as a starting point, I argue that his philosophy of nature has for its subject not nature “as such,” but nature as cognized by Geist, so that the identity of these two natures is only constructed by spirit itself retroactively. I trace the origin of this difference to the revolutionary event that institutes Hegel’s anthropology – which is not a transition from nature to spirit, but a pure break or new beginning, culminating in the creation of the conceptual world of nature as “we” know it. As a result, the philosophy of nature does not precede, but follows from, the anthropology and the philosophy of spirit; the natural foundation is retroactively replaced by the philosopher with the anthropological one.
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Archival date: 2020-02-18
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