[SydPhil] WSU Philosophy Seminar: Redding

PhilosophyatWesternSydney philosophy at westernsydney.edu.au
Mon Aug 8 12:54:02 AEST 2016

Philosophy at Western Sydney University
Research Seminar

Date and Time: Wednesday, 17 August, 2016. 3:30pm — 5:00pm
Location: Bankstown Campus, Building 3, Meeting Room 3.G.54

Hegel’s actualist metaphysics as a framework for understanding his recognition-based account of Christianity

Speaker Paul Redding


Despite the fact that Hegel’s theory of recognition is standardly discussed in relation to his social and political philosophy, the most developed account of recognition to be found in his Phenomenology of Spirit occurs in the discussion of a form of religious inter-subjectivity based on the dynamics of confession and forgiveness.

In this paper I argue that the recognitive relation is at the heart of Hegel’s account of modern Christianity, the theology of which in turn has to be understood in relation to a metaphysical position that, while critical of the idea of any transcendent realm beyond the actual world, is also critical of Spinoza’s then popular naturalist and pantheist version of actuality. We might better understand Hegel’s alternative to Spinoza, I argue, by comparing his metaphysical account of modality to varieties of “actualism” that have recently emerged in reaction to David Lewis’s doctrine of “modal realism”. Thus to counter Spinoza’s necessitarianism, and yet avoid any realm beyond the actual, Hegel aligns with those critics of Lewis’s account of a plurality of “possible worlds”. On this “actualist” alternative to Lewis’s possibilism, possibilities should not be conceived as alternate “worlds” that are like the actual world, but as unrealized properties of the actual world itself. But such possibilities are abstracta (for example, sets of consistent propositions), and locating them within the actual, I suggest, requires one to recognize other minds as the irreducible loci of such abstract entities. Understood in this way, Hegel’s fundamentally “recognitive” understanding of mind (spirit) complements his “this-worldly” metaphysics, and underpins his distinctive Trinitarian conception of the nature of modern Christianity.

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