Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
As Hegel notes in his long Introduction to the Lectures on the History of Philosophy, the problem of the multiplicity of conflicting philosophies presents a particularly urgent problem to the very discipline of philosophy itself. For, from the viewpoint of what Hegel would refer to as “ordinary consciousness”, the fact that there are so many different philosophies which seem constantly to disagree can only lead to one conclusion: philosophy itself is a futile enterprise. Hegel, perhaps more than any previous philosopher, was sensitive to this charge of futility levelled against philosophy. In response, he provided an explanatory account of the multiplicity of philosophies. This dissertation seeks to explicate Hegel’s effort in this regard. Hegel’s basic argument is that the multiplicity of philosophies is to be explained as expressions of the dialectical and polymorphic development of the mind. The mind advances through stages, each one of which is capable of expressing itself in some determinate philosophy. Insofar as this is the case, however, philosophy can be shown to be not merely a haphazard succession of conflicting viewpoints but rather the manifestation of the mind in its historical development. The chapters of this dissertation each examine crucial elements to Hegel’s overall theory of the development of the mind. They also demonstrate how Hegel thereby explains the very emergence of, and intelligible correlations among, the various philosophies.