Thinking and the I

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Publication Date
March 2019
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Thinking and the I

Hegel and the Critique of Kant
Alfredo Ferrarin

What is the relation between thinking and the I that thinks? And what is the relation between thought and reality? The ordinary view shared by modern philosophers from Descartes to Kant, as well as by common sense, is that there is only thought when someone thinks something, and thoughts and concepts are mental acts that refer to objects outside us.

In Thinking and the I: Hegel and the Critique of Kant, Alfredo Ferrarin shows that Hegel’s philosophy entails a radical criticism of this ordinary conception of thinking. Breaking with the habitual presuppositions of both modern philosophy and common sense, Ferrarin explains that thought, negation, truth, reflection, and dialectic for Hegel are not properties of an I and cannot be reduced to the subjective activity of a self-conscious subject. Rather, he elucidates, thought is objective for Hegel in different senses. Reality as a whole is animated by a movement of thought and an unconscious logic as a spontaneity that reifies itself in determinate forms. Ferrarin concludes the book with a comprehensive comparison of Hegel’s and Kant’s concepts of reason.

While it mainly focuses on Hegel’s Phenomenology, Science of Logic, and Encyclopaedia, this ambitious book covers all aspects of Hegel’s philosophy. Its originality and strength lie in its recovery of the original core of Hegel’s dialectic over and above its currently predominant transcendental, neopragmatist, or realist appropriations. It will be essential reading for all students of Hegel, Kant, and German idealism in general for years to come.
About the Author

ALFREDO FERRARIN is a professor of philosophy at the University of Pisa. He is the author of seven books, including Hegel and Aristotle and The Powers of Pure Reason: Kant and the Idea of Cosmic Philosophy.
Reviews

"Ferrarin’s book is a clear and persuasive explanation of the meaning of Hegel’s surprising phrase 'objective thought.' Thanks to a comparison of Kant’s and Hegel’s conceptions of thinking and reason, Ferrarin shows that Hegel develops a totally new concept of subjectivity and deconstructs the usual 'logic of the I.'" —Jean-François Kervégan, University Paris 1-Sorbonne

“This book is an original, intelligent and impressively erudite study of Hegel’s conception of thought. Ferrarin argues persuasively that thought, for Hegel, is not just an activity of the I, but is ‘the logic animating the world’ that comes to know itself through the I. He also challenges current orthodoxy by arguing that Hegel’s conception of thought is much closer to Kant’s conception of reason than Hegel recognized. This deeply thought-provoking book is a refreshing and very welcome contribution to the scholarship on Hegel and Kant and to philosophy more broadly.” —Stephen Houlgate, author of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit

“Ferrarin's much discussed book promises to enrich our views on Hegel's concept of thinking and the relationship with Kant in fundamentally new ways." –Angelica Nuzzo, author of Approaching Hegel's Logic, Obliquely. Melville, Molière, Beckett