Volume 16, 2008
Hegel and Locke on the Thing of Perception
Hegel’s critique of traditional metaphysics is well-known. The first half of the Phenomenology, in particular, attempts to expose the faults underlying the metaphysics of the thing, and the subject-object dualism that arises out of it. This section in the Phenomenology aligns Hegel with Modern Philosophy, thematizing the tensions between thing-in-itself and appearance, the one and its properties, and substance and accidents. For Hegel, the thing is exposed as Spirit, albeit Spirit frozen and isolated from itself. By bringing up Locke in this context, I show how Locke’s own conclusions confirm Hegel’s. A close reading of Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding shows that Hegel’s conclusions about the thing is immanent to the empiricist’s very own formulations of the problem. The theme of the presentation is both an apology for Hegel and a critique of Locke.