Mediation, reality and reason: an examination of Hegel's phenomenology of spirit
Thomas, John Carter
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This thesis examines Hegel's attempt to mediate the opposition of subect and object. It is an explication and an interpretation of "Consciousness", "Self-Consciousness" and "Reason". Hegel attempted to develop a system of philosophy whose conclusion was demonstrated to be true and one in which all that falls within experience became rationally comprehended. Since, according to Hegel, consciousness contains within it the two elements "subject" and "object" he analyzed the experience of consciousness in its relation to these modes. The procedure of the Phenomenology is to examine the claims of objectivity and those of subjectivity to be the essence of the true. Hegel shows that complete philosophical knowledge requires both sides to be equally essential. Part II discusses the unification of subject and object through the examination of knowledge and shows that this examination must also be of the object which is known. Therefore, in Hegel's theory, a true epistemology must also be an ontology. His conclusion is that non-sceptical knowledge is possible and that it is co-extensive with the actual. Part III shows that Hegel's conclusion is possible because Reason is what is real. So his rationalism is a metaphysical claim. This distinguishes it from other forms of rationalism and it is therefore immune to usual criticisms. However, his position requires a rational necessity in the world and, since contingency is an element of experience, he failed to give the complete account of experience he himself demanded.