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Idealistic Studies

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published on January 16, 2020

S. F. Kislev

The Individual as System
British Hegelianism and the Theory of Concrete Universality

In British Hegelianism we find, forgotten, a weighty theory of individuality. This theory remains one of the most sustained attempts in the history of philosophy to analyze the individual, not in the social or psychological sense, but as a logical-metaphysical category. The Idealist conceptualization of the individual is bound with their unconventional theory of universals, for they argued that any individual is a “concrete universal,” and vice versa. This article reconstructs the British Idealist theory of individuality, highlighting its key insights: (a) the individual is not a simple unit, but a small system with interrelated parts; (b) the individual is not simply given, but is mediated by thought; (c) the individual is the conceptual glue holding the parts together and assigning them their respective places; (d) the conceptualization of the individual lies at the intersection of logic, aesthetics and systems theory.

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