Philosophy Talk: Jacob M. McNulty (Dartmouth)


Location: 140 DeBartolo Hall

Jacob McNulty will be giving a talk titled "Hegel's Methodological Monism" on Friday, April 1, at 3:00 in DeBartolo Hall, Room 140.

For more information on Prof. McNulty, please visit his website.

Jacob Mcnulty

Though interpretations of Hegel as a monist were once common, and remain so in Germany, they have fallen on hard times in the recent Anglophone literature. They are rejected as unduly extravagant by members of both the two dominant camps of interpreters in this literature, "Kantian-idealist" and "neo-metaphysical." In this workshop, I argue that Hegel was a monist, though I try to avoid just re-asserting orthodoxy by presenting a new argument for this interpretation. My argument is that monism is effectively entailed by Hegel's method of deriving the categories (which is independently justified). Hegel's monism derives initial support from the method of thinking without presuppositions, which excludes the pluralistic perspective of sense-experience [Vorstellung or Representation]. It derives further support from his procedure for deriving the categories, which, in order to avoid "wanting to swim before getting wet," brings together criticism and use in each individual case. This implies that "category" is a less apt designation for Hegel's subject matter than "definition of the Absolute (God)" -- whereas the former is one over many, the latter is one over one. Third, the course the derivation follows also implies monist sympathies: the self-contradictions in the two subordinate category-types (Being and Essence) are essentially products of pluralistic and dualistic outlooks; and they can only be resolved by a monist one. Finally, monism provides the best prospect for resolving the incompleteness of Aristotle and Kant's tables of categories: the only provably complete number of categories is one (the Absolute Idea). In a concluding section, I look ahead to Hegel's Realphilosophie (Natur, Geist). In both cases, I argue Hegel takes a monist approach, focusing primarily on the natural and spiritual worlds in their entirety and only secondarily on the entities making them up.