Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

For two hundred years, people have been trying to make sense of Hegel’s so-called “dialectical method”. Helpfully, Hegel frequently compares this method with the idea of life, or the organic (cf., e.g., PhG 2, 34, 56). This comparison has become very popular in the literature (in, e.g., Pippin, Beiser, and Ng). Typically, scholars who invoke the idea of life also note that the comparison has limits and that no organic analogy can completely explain the nature of the dialectical method. To my knowledge, however, no scholar has attempted to explain exactly where or why the organic analogy falls short. In this paper, I propose to remedy this lack by exploring in depth two different organic models. In brief, I argue that both versions of the organic model require an appeal to something external to the organism, and no such appeal can be made sense of within the dialectical method.




Since Hegel first wrote, people have been trying to make sense of his so-called “dialectical method”. This method, everyone acknowledges, is incredibly difficult to understand and Hegel says some very puzzling things about it.


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