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The Owl of Minerva

Volume 40, Issue 1, Fall/Winter 2008/2009

Chong-Fuk Lau
Pages 77-114

The Aristotelian-Kantian and Hegelian Approaches to Categories

This paper analyzes and compares the doctrines of categories of Aristotle, Kant and Hegel, each of which is first discussed separately. The paper explains the essential double perspective of the problem, showing how a logico-linguistic analysis of the form of rational discourse serves for them as an important clue to ontological problems. Although Aristotle and Kant’s doctrines differ significantly, they both endorse a kind of isomorphism between language/thought and reality. By contrast, Hegel, who takes a critical attitude toward the capability of human language and discursive thinking, rejects the possibility of deriving the structure of reality from the forms of predication or judgment. Nevertheless, the forms of judgment do play an equally crucial role in Hegel’s doctrine, though in a very different way from his predecessors. It is the structural “deficiency” of the judgmental form that turns out to be the driving force for the dialectical movement of the Concept. By shifting the primary concern from the categories themselves to the transitions between them, Hegel opens up the possibility of a dynamic system of categories.

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