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Kant, Hegel, and the Transcendental Unity of Apperception

  • Author(s): Alizadeh, Kourosh
  • Advisor(s): Schafer, Karl
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-SA' version 4.0 license
Abstract

This dissertation focuses on the transcendental unity of apperception in the work of two major German philosophers: Kant and Hegel. The transcendental unity of apperception was first described by Kant in the Critique of Pure Reason, where he gave it pride of place in his system of transcendental idealism. There, it was posited as a condition on the subject’s representations, such that they must form a necessary unity in order to constitute experience of an object. While Hegel does not make the phrase ‘transcendental unity of apperception’ a central one his work, he and other post-Kantian German idealists can be read as transforming this central Kantian insight. Specifically, as I argue in my second chapter, Hegel criticizes Kant’s construal of the unity of apperception as a condition among representations alone, and several commonly distinguished Hegelian criticisms of Kant can be understood as consequences of this central objection. Hegel’s criticism of Kant on this point also creates a valuable point of entry into his own sometimes-obscure positive philosophical claims. In the third chapter, I make use of this by identifying Hegel’s conception of Thought as the successor concept to the transcendental unity of apperception in Kant. By reading Thought as a transformation of the unity of apperception - a transformation that takes it from a condition on representations to a condition on reality as a whole - I am able to provide a reading of Hegel that does justice to his more metaphysically-loaded texts as well as to his claims to be doing properly post-Kantian metaphysics.

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