- Hegel's Realm of Shadows: Logic as Metaphysics in The Science of Logic by Robert Pippin
Since the publication of his Hegel's Idealism thirty years ago, Robert Pippin has offered one of the clearest and most insightful (though always controversial) interpretations of Hegel's [End Page 146] philosophical project, one that places him intelligibly within the post-Kantian context but also gives him a contemporary voice. This book represents Pippin's most sustained engagement with The Science of Logic, a text that has remained at the center of his interpretation from the outset. As Pippin reminds us, the Logic was regarded by Hegel as his most important work, but it has not had the kind of reception it deserves. This book attempts to address an important dimension of the project of the Logic: Hegel's claim in that work that logic "replaces" metaphysics.
Part 1 of the book (chapters 1–4) works out the relevant conceptions of logic and metaphysics in Hegel's Logic. Pippin sets up the basic problem by noting two seemingly incompatible Hegelian commitments. On the one hand, Hegel holds that a priori knowledge of the world is possible. There is pure thought, and it has content. On the other hand, Hegel holds that a priori knowledge is always and only reason's self-knowledge. There is, for example, no intuition of special intelligible objects like God or an immaterial soul. Roughly speaking, the first claim corresponds to Hegel's affirmation of metaphysics in a classical sense; the second claim to his Kantian convictions of the priority of "logic" (including general and transcendental logic) over metaphysical questions. However, Kant's way of conceiving transcendental logic restricts it from being truly general knowledge of what is. How can Hegel's logic achieve this, without returning to a "pre-critical" position? Pippin argues that Hegel's logic is an "account of possible account-givings." Logic/metaphysics in Hegel's sense will simply concern the "metaconcepts" needed for any possible account of what is. For Pippin, no "idealism" in a disreputable sense is needed to make such a project succeed. Yet Hegel goes beyond Kant (and, more contentiously, returns to Aristotle) in rejecting any attempt to account for something outside of possible account-givings, for example, things in themselves.
On Pippin's account, Hegel's project depends on a certain conception of what thinking is in the Logic itself. Hegel's Logic is not an account of thoughts considered in abstraction (Gedanken), but of self-conscious thinking (Denken). Concepts, for Pippin's Hegel, are predicates of possible judgments, as they were for Kant, and judgments are at once act and content, unlike static "propositions." In this point of emphasis, Pippin develops his earlier and influential view that Hegelian conceptuality ("the Concept," der Begriff) is "apperceptive." Roughly, it is in the thinking together of thoughts about a possible object of knowledge that thinking develops the conceptual path recounted in the Logic. This account pays off in Pippin's attempt to explain what "negation" and "contradiction" in Hegel's Logic are (chapter 4). For negation can now be understood, not as a kind of formal operator, but as the exclusive character of acts of self-conscious judgment. Pippin is concerned to avoid any hint of psychologism in his account of judgment and contradiction, but his success in this will surely be debated.
Part 2 (chapters 5–9) more directly engages with issues in the specific books of the Logic, the Doctrines of Being, Essence, and Concept, without [End Page 147] attempting commentary as such. These chapters show something of the way his general conception of the relation of logic and metaphysics can be seen in the texts. Chapter 5 discusses how the Doctrine of Being can be read (in parallel to the "Sense-Certainty" chapter of the Phenomenology) as an attack on the notion of a nonconceptual "given," by showing that any attempt to think the nonconceptual results in "not thinking" at all. Chapter 6 traces (with the...