Between Substance and Subject. The Presence of Spinoza in Hegel

October 26, 2023 - October 28, 2023
Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana

Aškerčeva cesta 2

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Ruhr-Universität Bochum

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In the Lectures on the History of Philosophy Hegel notes that Spinoza confronts us with the fundamental alternative: Either Spinozism or no philosophy. In the Science of Logic, he affirms that the only possible refutation of Spinozism consists in first acknowledging its standpoint as essential and necessary and then raising it to a higher level out of its own resources. In philosophy one is accordingly bound to begin as a Spinozist, but it is of equal importance not to remain one. Even Hegel’s programmatic declaration in the Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit that in his view the true must be comprehended not merely as substance but also as subject, may be read in a double reference to Spinoza: on the one hand, Hegel seems to put the task of philosophy in accepting Spinozist metaphysics and nonetheless in preserving the dimensions of freedom, beauty and life that is usually associated with subjectivity, which Spinozism is supposed to lack; according to the methodological reading, on the other hand, Hegel may be said to call for developing a new conceptual regime that would supersede the mechanistic logic of understanding, exemplified by Spinoza’s mos geometricus, into a truly Hegelian logic of reason. Hegel’s entire philosophical system can thus be understood as a prolonged argument with Spinoza that raised to prominence with the Pantheism Controversy. What is more, not only there was a time when Hegel himself defended metaphysics of one substance, it may be argued that he eventually distanced himself from Spinozist metaphysics under the influence of Spinoza’s own political philosophy. The question is, of course, to what extent Hegel’s understanding of Spinoza was correct (for instance, omnis determinatio negatio, the concept of infinity) and to what extent he read it through Jacobi or Schelling. But it is obvious that, in most various forms, Spinoza is present throughout his philosophy, be it as the ideal to match or the adversary to beat. The aim of the conference is to explore this multifaceted presence of Spinoza in Hegel. We welcome papers on any aspect of the topic and stimulate fruitful exchange between established scholars, junior researchers, and PhD students

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#Ljubljana, Hegel, Spinoza, philosophy, conference