Rival Versions of Objective Spirit

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To assert the primacy of objective spirit is to claim that certain distinctively human capacities, such as thinking and acting, are not capacities we have as individuals considered singly but are in some way dependent on shared public norms or social institutions. In this essay, I provide a brief history of arguments for the primacy of objective spirit from Hegel to the present, identifying three distinct strategies for defending this thesis: the teleological argument, the sociological argument and the quasi-transcendental argument. Although it has now become quite common to read Hegel as advancing a quasi-transcendental argument, one similar to the argument found in Wittgenstein’s famous remarks about ‘rule-following’, I show that Hegel’s most interesting claims about the social dimensions of human mindedness are incompatible with this strategy and can only be vindicated if he is read as offering a teleological argument.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-231
Number of pages23
JournalHegel Bulletin
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2016


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