Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Howard Kainz

Second Advisor

Marc F. Griesbach

Third Advisor

Michael G. Vater


Every philosophical account of reality has a basic condition or fundamental principle. This condition or principle determines the procedure and the method of the philosophical account, it specifies the problems and the importance of this or that interference: it orders the steps of the reasoning process that constitutes the philosophical system. Above all, that condition determines the aim of the philosophy as a whole and it prepares the way for achieving that aim. Knowledge of that condition would certainly be invaluable, even indispensable, for understanding the philosophy. With that knowledge, a unified view would be available and the various positions within that philosophy would be clearly exposed; the aim of the philosophy would be fully understood. Unfortunately, the identification and articulation of the fundamental principle of a philosophy is a difficult and laborious undertaking.

The goal of this dissertation is to isolate and critically to evaluate that basic condition or principle which underlies Hegel's philosophical enterprise in the Phenomenology of Spirit . This condition is particularly difficult to identify because Hegel's philosophical subject matter seems to be nothing but "knowledge," "forms of thought," "philosophies," or "stages or levels of consciousness." This subject matter makes Hegel's Philosophical enterprise exclusively a knowledge of knowledge, where knowledge ultimately uncovers nothing but itself. Due to the subject matter, Hegel's philosophy does not merely have in some incidental way a view on forms of thought, but it is such a view; hence, the fundamental Hegelian condition constitutes and orders not only Hegel 's own philosophy but determines philosophies, forms of thought, and stages of consciousness in general. "The philosophy of Hegel claims to comprehend all philosophies ... it is a system whose claims exceed all previous philosophical systems not only in degree but also in principle."




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