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Conferences & lectures

Understanding the Object/Property Structure in Terms of Negation: An Introduction to Hegelian Logic and Metaphysics

Thursday, March 2, 2017
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Robert Brandom (University of Pittsburgh)


This event is free


Ulf Hlobil


Grey Nuns Annex
1211-1215 St-Mathieu St.
Room M100



In this talk, I look in some detail at the fine structure of Hegelian negation—and at its metaphysical consequences—when Hegel first introduces it, in the second chapter of the Phenomenology. These are only the first baby steps—soon to be aufgehoben—in his intricate story. But the structure revealed is both interesting in its own right, and a cautionary tale for any readers tempted by univocal readings of such central Hegelian formulae as "the negation of the negation," and "identity through difference."

I will be particularly concerned with contrasting Hegel’s order of explanation with the extensional semantics that defines the modern logistical tradition, which would not really begin for another 60 years, and which did not achieve equivalent expressive power until 160 years after Hegel wrote the passages I’ll be discussing.

The considerations that drive this narrative of explicitation are, I think, individually all familiar. But the argumentative narrative that they jointly articulate, when suitably recruited and deployed, is a paradigm of Hegelian conceptual emergence. It is also a paradigm of analytic metaphysical argument pursued with Hegelian conceptual raw materials, so taking place in a setting substantially different from the Lewisian possible-worlds framework within which most such metaphysical argumentation and construction is pursued today. This metaconceptual contrast can be illuminating even in the absence of antecedent interest in Hegel’s ideas. 

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