The Owl of Minerva

Volume 34, Issue 1, Fall/Winter 2002

William Maker
Pages 59-75

Idealism and Autonomy

Hegel’s notion of a systematic science requires that his system be autonomous. Any determinative role for extra systemic givens would compromise the system’s autonomy. Nonetheless, the system addresses an extra-systemic given world. It is usually held that the basis for this lies in Hegel’s postulation of a metaphysical idealism that denies the autonomy of that world from conceptual thought. I argue that this interpretation is exactly wrong. Just by beginning in logic as the self-articulation of conceptual autonomy, the system is equipped to conceive of other domains of the real in and as they are thoroughly and radically autonomous from and other than the system itself. A consideration of the end of the logic and the beginning of the philosophy of nature shows how Hegel brings this off and establishes his system as capable of conceptualizing autonomy and otherness because of its thoroughgoing rejection of reductionist metaphysics.