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Hegel: Ein Rationalist?

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

  • Dietmar H. Heidemann


It is almost beyond doubt that Hegel’s thought bears rationalist traits. The question of whether Hegel can count as a rationalist, however, is controversial. This contribution argues that although Hegel is a rationalist in the wide, systematic sense, he is not a rationalist in the narrow historical sense. This is not a trivial observation. In numerous passages of his works it seems that Hegel implicitly endorses the central rationalist thesis, according to which the principles of thought are the principles of the possibility of things themselves. But Hegel’s idealism of absolute rationality claims to have overcome by rationalist means, this thesis and therefore also rationalism in the narrow historical sense. The paper examines and critically assesses this claim with respect to the Phenomenology of Spirit and the Science of Logic.

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