Thursday Night Philosophy Workshop: James Kreines on “Spinoza’s God and a Defense of Hegel’s Criticism: The Shapeless Abyss"
Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Wolff Conference Room, Albert and Vera List Academic Center 6 East 16th Street, New York, NY 10003, Room D1103
James Kreines is Professor of Philosophy at Claremont McKenna College, in Claremont, California. He publishes work on Kant, Hegel, and German idealism, and the history of metaphysics, and metaphilosophy. His monograph on Hegel and his response to Kant—Reason in the World: Hegel’s Metaphysics and its Philosophical Appeal—was published in 2015 by Oxford University Press. Current projects include the relation between Kant, Hegel and Spinoza; the topic of biological teleology in Kant and Hegel, in comparison to previous views of the is topic and more recent debates; and Kant’s position on reason, critique, and things in themselves.
Hegel famously charges that Spinoza’s monism involves an unacceptable elimination of all finitude and all determinacy, leaving Spinoza’s God a “shapeless abyss”. I argue that the criticism is not best understood as claiming that Spinoza specifically denies finitude and determinacy. Nor as uncharitably importing Hegel’s own view of determinacy as negation. The criticism rather rests on an interpretation of Spinoza as arguing from the principle that everything must be explicable. I defend Hegel’s interpretation, or the need of Spinoza’s case for monism for this principle. Hegel’s critical point is then that precisely this principle, used in just the ways required by the proof of monism, should also force Spinoza to eliminate all determinacy and finitude. I defend the criticism, and draw out some implications about Hegel’s own project.
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