Hegel, modal logic, and the social nature of mind

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (5):586-606 (2019)
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ABSTRACTHegel's Phenomenology of Spirit provides a fascinating picture of individual minds caught up in “recognitive” relations so as to constitute a realm—“spirit”—which, while necessarily embedded in nature, is not reducible to it. In this essay I suggest a contemporary path for developing Hegel's suggestive ideas in a way that broadly conforms to the demands of his own system, such that one moves from logic to a philosophy of mind. Hence I draw on Hegel's “subjective logic”, understood in the light of modern modal logic, in an attempt to model the way minds might be thought as connected by way of shared intentional contents. Here, we should not be surprised at some of the parallels that emerge between the approaches of Hegel and the modal logician Arthur Prior, as Prior had testified to the influence of his teacher, John N. Findlay, who himself had strong Hegelian leanings. In the final section, Robert Stalnaker's version of possible-world semantics is suggested as a framework within which Hegel's recognitive account of the mind might be understood.

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Paul Redding
University of Sydney


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