To Suspend Finitude Itself: Hegel’s Reaction to Kant’s First Antinomy

Hegel Bulletin 37 (1):81-103 (2016)
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Hegel famously criticizes Kant’s resolution of the antinomies. According to Sedgwick, Hegel primarily chastises Kant’s resolution for presupposing that concepts are ‘one-sided’, rather than identical to their opposites. If Kant had accepted the dialectical nature of concepts, then (according to Sedgwick) Kant would not have needed to resolve the antinomies. However, as Ameriks has noted, any such interpretation faces a serious challenge. Namely, Kant’s first antinomy concerns the universe’s physical dimensions. Even if we grant that the concept of the finite is necessarily related to that of the infinite, the physical universe cannot both have and lack a temporal beginning. I argue that Hegel neither adopts Sedgwick’s view that Kant’s antinomies require no resolution nor absurdly accepts that the physical universe both has and lacks a temporal beginning. Instead, Hegel proposes a sophisticated resolution of Kant’s first antinomy (including its physical aspect) that depends on Hegel’s theory of the Absolute.
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