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  • Hegel's Realm of Shadows: Logic as Metaphysics in The Science of Logic by Robert B. Pippin
  • Stephen Houlgate
Robert B. Pippin. Hegel's Realm of Shadows: Logic as Metaphysics in The Science of Logic. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2019. Pp. viii + 339. Cloth, $45.

Robert Pippin's impressive new book examines Hegel's claim in his Science of Logic that "logic coincides with metaphysics" (39). Part 1 contains chapters on logic and metaphysics, self-consciousness in the Logic, and negation, and part 2 then considers what Pippin takes to be the central topics of the three books of the Logic (on being, essence and the "concept"). Throughout, there are also important discussions of Aristotle, Kant, and Brandom. Pippin's [End Page 765] book is well-written and immensely thought-provoking, and will be essential reading for anyone studying Hegel's Logic (or, indeed, interested more generally in metaphysics).

In Pippin's view, Hegel follows Kant in claiming that concepts determine what counts as an "object." Yet Hegel rejects the restrictions imposed on thought by Kant and takes concepts to determine, not just objects of possible experience, but what it is to be an intelligible object at all. Thought understands objects to exist independently (57), but it also understands them—as objects—to exhibit the "intelligibility" that thought shows to be necessary (16, 40). Thought thus determines the form of "any possible object of pure thinking" (48), and in this respect Hegel's logic, which is the study of pure thinking, is a metaphysics (of a kind similar to Aristotle's).

Like Kant, however, Pippin's Hegel understands judgment to be the "basic unit" of thought and takes judgment to be self-conscious or "apperceptive" (268). This is to say, not that self-consciousness is always explicit, but that in judging I must implicitly take myself to be judging, and to do so for a reason (and so must be "potentially responsive to the question of 'Why?'") (113). Pippin's Hegel claims further that it is in judging (and inferring) that we discover the implications and exclusions that form the content of concepts (137), including empirical concepts and those that determine what it is to be an object at all. The intelligibility of objects thus has its ground in what is required for apperceptive thought and judgment about objects (278).

On Pippin's reading, therefore, Hegel's Logic determines the conceptual conditions of intelligible objects by examining pure thinking or judging as such and establishing the "necessary elements" in the latter (151). The Logic shows first (in the logic of being) that determinate thought about objects requires qualitative and quantitative "contrasts," and then (in the logic of essence) that such thought also requires a thing to show itself in its "appearances" (144–45). It then concludes by demonstrating that the thought of objects presupposes self-conscious thought or what Hegel calls the "concept" (257).

Pippin's interpretation of Hegel's Logic is powerful, but, in my view, problematic in several ways. First, the sharp distinction Pippin draws between Hegel's post-Kantian metaphysics and previous rationalist metaphysics makes it hard to see how Hegel is indebted, as he claims, to Spinoza as well as to Kant. Second, the method of the Logic, as Pippin conceives it, strikes me as "transcendental," rather than strictly immanent, in that categories are conceived as conditions without which their predecessors "would not be possible" (211), rather than simply as making explicit what is implicit in categories that are quite intelligible in themselves. Third, Pippin seems to me mistaken in his claim that "the Concept just is thought's self-consciousness of itself in thinking" (106). Hegel claims only that the "concept" is pure self-consciousness "when it has progressed to a concrete existence" (104), which occurs in Hegel's Philosophy of Spirit, not in the Logic. In the latter (book 3), the "concept" is simply self-determining (rather than immediate or mediated) being, and as such neither is, nor is related to, self-conscious thought. Fourth, Pippin's Hegel appears to presuppose that thought is apperceptive at the start of his demonstration of that idea. This is evident in Pippin...


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