Post-Kantian European Philosophy Seminar (Week 8, HT18)
There is a famous criticism of Hegel’s theory of time by Martin Heidegger, according to which it represents the apotheosis of our everyday, unthinking conception of time as being essentially like space, i.e., a series of nows one right after the other in the same way that space represents a series of points simply next to each other (SZ §82). As a result, Heidegger thinks, the only connection between concepts, time, and history is the abstract formal structure of double negation (see Kaufer 2012). This seems to doom any Hegelian attempt to do justice to the nature of human experience and furthermore to reveal Hegel’s entire encyclopedic structure as unmotivated. Many Hegel scholars have attempted to defend him from this charge, though I think that Heidegger’s characterization of Hegel’s theory of time in the Philosophy of Nature is largely correct. Like those scholars, I see the burden of a response to lie in the need to reconstruct the relation between concepts, time, and history, but I remain unconvinced by the extant reconstructions. In this short paper I offer my own, in which the connection turns on the way that historical experience consists of the interaction of multiple temporal perspectives, each manifesting a distinctive kind of logical perspective. The best way to see this is actually to look at the relation between the three parts of Hegel’s encyclopedic system. Briefly put, Hegel’s logic develops a theory of perspective, his philosophy of nature a projective geometry, and his theory of history a conception of temporal strata or Zeitschichten.