David Kolb

Understanding Hegel

Hegel and Religion: Avoiding Double Truth, Twice

Hegel seems to say that philosophy supersedes religion, bringing out the rational truth hidden in religious myths. Yet both are final expressions of absolute spirit. I compare him to the medieval “double truth” dispute (Aquinas versus the Paris Averroists) on whether both religion and science could be true even when science contradicted religious dogmas. Hegel’s views turn out to be unexpectedly subtle.

The Logic of the Critical Process

Hegel said that his Philosophy of Right “Philosophy always comes on the scene too late to [give instruction as to what the world ought to be].” (PR Preface). On the other hand, from his early discussions of his home city’s government, and throughout his career, to his late essay on the English reform bill, Hegel makes normative statements and critical judgments about current events and political structures

What is Open and What is Closed in the Philosophy of Hegel?

This essay studies the ways in which Hegel’s thought demands “closure,” critiques various proposals for an “open Hegelianism,” and concludes that Hegel cannot achieve the closure he seeks, and that “open Hegelianisms” are not Hegelian because of their separations of form from content. Nonetheless, the essay argues that Hegel can play an important role in the analyses of thought and culture today, in part as a corrective to excessive claims of openness and indeterminacy.