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The Owl of Minerva

Volume 46, Issue 1/2, 2014/2015

Henry Southgate
Pages 1-42
DOI: 10.5840/owl20156111

The Paradox of Irrationalism
The Logical Foundation of Hegel’s Philosophy of the Absurd

I resolve a tension in Hegel’s views, which I call the “paradox of irrationalism,” in order to lay the logical foundation of Hegel’s philosophy of the absurd. The paradox is that Hegel both affirms and denies that the world is rational. While critics maintain that this presents a genuine problem for Hegel, I argue Hegel resolves this paradox by showing that reason constitutes itself through the irrational element that it itself grounds. I make my case by investigating the categories of diversity and contingency, which are central to the paradox of irrationalism and Hegel’s account of human agency.