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Hegel, Spinoza, and McTaggart on the Reality of Time

From the book 14/2016 Der deutsche Idealismus und die Rationalisten / German Idealism and the Rationalists

  • Yitzhak Y. Melamed


In this paper, I study one aspect of the philosophical encounter between Spinoza and Hegel: the question of the reality of time. The precise reconstruction of the debate will require a close examination of Spinoza’s concept of tempus (time) and duratio (duration), and Hegel’s understanding of these notions. Following a presentation of Hegel’s perception of Spinoza as a modern Eleatic, who denies the reality of time, change and plurality, I turn, in the second part, to look closely at Spinoza’s text and show that Hegel was wrong in reading Spinoza as denying the reality of duration and change. Ironically, Hegel’s misreading of Spinoza as denying the reality of duration and change has been compensated for by a reading of Hegel as denying the reality of time by one of Hegel’s most prominent followers, John Ellis McTaggart. I discuss McTaggart’s reading of Hegel’s Logic in the final part of the paper.

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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