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Hegel, Analytic Philosophy’s Pharmakon

Giladi, P (2017) Hegel, Analytic Philosophy’s Pharmakon. European Legacy, 22 (2). pp. 185-198. ISSN 1084-8770


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© 2017 International Society for the Study of European Ideas. In this article I argue that Hegel has become analytic philosophy’s “pharmakon”—both its “poison” and its “cure.” Traditionally, Hegel’s philosophy has been attacked by Anglo-American analytical philosophers for its alleged charlatanism and irrelevance. Yet starting from the 1970s there has been a revival of interest in Hegel’s philosophical work, which, I suggest, may be explained by three developments: (1) the revival of interest in Aristotelianism following Saul Kripke’s and Hilary Putnam’s work on natural kinds, and Elizabeth Anscombe’s, Philippa Foot’s, and Putnam’s opposition to the fact-value distinction; (2) the rehabilitation of Hegel’s theories by various philosophers, including Robert Pippin, Terry Pinkard, Fred Beiser, Robert Stern, and Stephen Houlgate; and (3) the Sellars-inspired philosophy of mind of John McDowell and of Robert Brandom. The first and third of these reasons, I argue, have led several analytic theorists to cast Hegel in a more positive light as the “cure” for analytic philosophy. The combined outcome of these changes, both ironic and fitting, is that the Hegelian principle of internal critique has played a significant role not only in analytic philosophy’s rapprochement with Hegel’s philosophy but also in overcoming the Analytic-Continental philosophical divide.

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