A Hegelian philosophy of reality?
If philosophy is not to be a self-indulgent occupation with mere thoughts, it has to deal with reality. According to an opinion established far beyond the philosophical discipline, reality forms in its diversity the actual Object, the scope of application and the touchstone of philosophy. In this respect, it would not seem odd to articulate a 'philosophy of reality' – on the contrary: the philosophy of reality always hits the nerve of philosophy in general and its success is crucial for the meaning and credibility of philosophising.
This could not have been otherwise in the case of perhaps the most detailed systematic philosopher of modern times, G. W. F. Hegel. Already in the introduction to the Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences, Hegel speaks of the necessity of "accord (of philosophy) with actuality and experience". He then meticulously sets out numerous concepts that are closely related to reality: Being, existence, world, reality, objectivity, nature, spirit – to name just a few. But unlike those terms, Hegel does not devote a separate chapter to reality and, although much attention was paid to Hegel's so-called Realphilosophie, the mature Hegel himself did not use this designation at all. To all appearances, a specifically formulated philosophy of reality does not appear in Hegel's work. At the same time, the speculative philosophy is full of key passages that philosophically praise Idea, Ideality and Idealism. As it is well known, according to Hegel, not only his philosophy but "every philosophy" in general has idealism "as its principle". So does Hegel's philosophy, despite its exhaustiveness, ultimately systematically ignore reality?
If we look at the history of the reception of Hegel's philosophy, the label 'absolute idealism' seems to have always been accepted as incontestable, regardless of what one thinks of it in terms of content and system. Since the 80’s of the last century there has even been a firm reliance on 'idealism' in contrast to the concept of reality, and Hegelian philosophy is once again experiencing a renaissance in large parts of the world, this time precisely because it is idealism. Realism, on the other hand, has been increasingly mentioned in this context only in the last few years. But even then, one seems to be prompted to do so rather by other philosophical discourses, so that the genuinely Hegelian conceptual development is only relevant to a limited extent, and finally it remains ambiguous whether the introduction of 'realism' into the Hegelian scholarship is a paradigm shift or merely a question of nomenclature. The careful reconstruction of Hegel's philosophy of reality, and thus its in-depth evaluation in the context of other philosophies and sciences, is still pending. Such a reconstruction would face the double task of problematising individual realities, such as the reality of being, actuality, objectivity, nature and spirit, each according to their reality (in the Hegelian sense of the word to be elaborated) and then bringing them together into a systematic unity.
The conference addresses the question of reality in relation to the entire scope of Hegel's mature philosophy and attempts to bring to light the peculiarity and systematic connection of the central determinations of reality. The aim is to make an important contribution to contemporary, not only Hegel-specific philosophical research into reality by carefully working through a neglected aspect of Hegel's speculative philosophy.
Organisation: Dr. Ermylos Plevrakis (University of Heidelberg), for the International Network Hegel’s Relevance