Hegel claims that nothing truly great in history has ever been accomplished without passion. In my talk I explain what he means by passion and why he holds it in such high esteem, even though he thinks that its great contribution is limited to historical processes. First, I consider the place of passion in Hegel’s philosophy of history, specifically its role in his doctrine of the “cunning of reason”, arguing that passion is best understood as an expression of reason. Second, I suggest that passion reveals something about the structure of motivation more generally, namely, that what moves individuals to act is the matter-at-hand (die Sache) and that this is true even in everyday contexts. Last, I return to Hegel’s reasons for restricting the term “passion” to historical processes. I argue that passionate actions differ with respect to their purpose, which tends to be more abstract than those we pursue in everyday contexts, and that passionate actions actually aim a state of affairs in which passion will no longer be needed.
Post-Kantian European Philosophy Seminar Convenors: Dr Joseph Schear, Dr Manuel Dries, and Prof Mark Wrathall