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The Owl of Minerva

Volume 38, Issue 1/2, Fall/Spring 2006/2007

Brian O’Connor
Pages 127-143

Hegel’s Phenomenology and the Question of Semantic Pragmatism

This paper criticizes the assumptions behind Robert Brandom’s reading of Hegel’s Phenomenology, contending that Hegel’s concern with the rational structure of experience, his valorization of reflection over ordinary experience and his idea of the necessit y of progress in knowledge cannot be accommodated within the framework of semantic pragmatism. The central contentions are that Brandom’s pragmatism never comes to terms with Hegel’s idea of truth as a result, leading to a historicist distortion, and also that Brandom’s failure to deal with Hegel’s distinction between natural consciousness and the phenomenological observer collapses Hegel’s phenomenology into a philosophy restricted to the level of natural consciousness.

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