13 September 2012 at Pembroke College, Oxford (Mary Hyde Eccles Room)



Although Hegel’s "Science of Logic" constitutes the underpinning of his entire philosophical system, it has long suffered from surprising scholarly neglect. While his ideas on natural philosophy, political and practical philosophy, and epistemology have been tremendously influential in 19th and 20th century philosophy, they have been, and still are, often treated in isolation from the Logic, which is frequently disavowed as too 'speculative'. This workshop proposes to question such a disjunction, and to examine what light the Logic is apt to throw on the various fields over which Hegel’s thought has ranged.

The aim of our workshops is to present, in an informal yet public setting, various works in progress to an audience interested in debates revolving around German Idealism and adjacent topics, such as Kant and post-Kantian philosophy in general. If successful, the workshop may conceivably be developed into an annual event that would provide a forum for philosophical explorations into the thought of Hegel.

Papers to be given will be circulated one week before the workshop and should be read in advance. Speakers will only provide a brief introduction to their papers, thus freeing up valuable time for discussion.

For further enquiries regarding the workshop 'Exploring Hegel's Logic', please contact

Workshop programme

scroll down for abstracts

9.00 Welcome 9.15 - 10.15 Dr. Lucia Ziglioli (Pavia, Italy) "The Time of the Idea. An Inquiry into Hegel’s Notion of Time" 10.30 - 11.30 Dr. Lee Watkins (Warwick) "Hegel's Syllogism and the Logic of Mechanism" Lunch (self-organized) 1.30 - 2.30 Dr. David C. Merrill (Oxford) "Logic and Economic Ethics" 2.45 - 3.45 Dr. des. Sebastian Stein (Oxford) "Rational Action and Speculation – Hegel's Methodological Critique of Kantian Morality" Coffee Break 4.30 - 5.30 Susanne Herrmann-Sinai, M.A. (Erfurt, Germany / Oxford) "Who Syllogizes Practically?"

Lucia Ziglioli "The Time of the Idea. An Inquiry into Hegel’s Notion of Time"

In this inquiry we will investigate one of the most discussed aspect of Hegel’s philosophy: Hegel’s Notion of time. The peculiarity of Hegel’s conception of time is that time is not a determinate natural being alongside others, neither is it a form of subjective intuition; time is rather the mode through which the Idea manifests itself as existence. The purpose of this inquiry is to make explicit what it means for the Idea give to itself as temporal, investigating the intrinsic relation, but also the irreducibility, of the speculative becoming of the Idea to the temporal becoming of its existence.

The analysis will firstly deal with the passage between "Science of Logic" and "Philosophy of Nature", explaining the systematic function of Nature as being of the Idea, and of space and time as first determinations of this being. We will then investigate the logical essence of time, freeing the understanding of the Notion of time from the inadequate common representation of it. This will allow us to understand the truth of time as external being of the Idea, and to overcome the false opposition between a natural temporality and a logical eternity. We will see therefore, how Hegel’s notion of time responds to his ambition to avoid any kind of dualism or transcendence in his system.


After the master in Philosophy at University of Pavia, Lucia Ziglioli won a Research Fellowship at the Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Storici in Naples (2007/2008), and completed a Ph.D. (University of Pavia) about the function of language in Hegel's Psychology. Her current research interests concern the philosophy of language developed by German Idealism, and the contemporary debate about philosophy of perception.

Lee Watkins "Hegel's Syllogism and the Logic of Mechanism"


In my paper I examine the relationship between the "syllogism" and "objectivity" in Hegel's "Science of Logic". I first examine Hegel's discussion of the syllogism in order to show why the syllogism develops into objectivity in the "Science of Logic"; after that I look at the way in which the syllogism reappears in Hegel's discussion of "mechanism" (which makes up the first part of the discussion of objectivity in the "Science of Logic").

By looking at the relationship between mechanism and the syllogism I will offer some explanation of Hegel's claim that "the syllogism is what is rational, and ... is everything that is rational"; we will see why the rationality of mechanism must have a syllogistic structure, for Hegel.

I conclude by looking briefly at Hegel's Philosophy of Nature, in order to show in what way the syllogism reappears in Hegel's descriptions of the concrete mechanical processes that occur in nature.

Lee Watkins recently completed a PhD thesis on Hegel, Deleuze and Guattari at the University of Warwick. (His thesis can be found here). He hopes to work next in the area of Hegel and international relations. He is also interested in Hegel's logic of the Concept, the philosophy of science and the political philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari.

David C. Merrill "Logic and Economic Ethics"

In cognition, both theoretical and practical, the subjective seeks an accord with an objectivity that is both external and given. Cognition always starts from a point where this accord is not in place and aspires to another point where the two are in conformity. If conformity is already secured then there is no call for the exercise of cognition. Cognition concerns the process of bringing the two together. Cognition is always about the coming together of subjectivity and objectivity because it never can establish their unity. This is always something beyond its grasp though it will approach the point of unity.

Cognition is thus like the situation of Kantian ethics. Here one is only able to be moral so long as the good has yet to be realised. If the good is realised then there is nothing to be done. Moral action only applies to situations where morality does not rule. This is not though the situation of a proper ethics. For there the normative state is not something still to be established but pre-exists. It is objective. But subjective too for the justice of ethics requires its continual renewal like a living thing. Its end which the subjective takes up is what it already is. The need for subjective activity is due to the life like character of ethical entities.

This distinction between cognition on the one hand and life and even perhaps the absolute idea, where the unity of subjective and objective is fully realized, on the other, can be brought to bear on the normative issues surrounding the economy. The social scientific literature and policy debates calls out for a new economic structure, more in accord with justice. However the answer to the quest of the just economy cannot be provided by a normative philosophy operating within the logic of cognition. For such an ethics can only propose routes by which a bad situation can be remedied through, for example, distributional justice or procedural ethics. Whereas clearly what is called for is an ethics that sets out what the just order should be, which will have to be an ethics that partakes of the logic of life and perhaps the absolute idea. The further exploration of this thesis will be matter of the paper I propose to give.


David C. Merrill. B.A. University of Pennsylvania in Sociology. M.A. Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research in Economics. Ph.D. University of Southampton in Political Theory. Tutor for visiting students programmes in Oxford. Essay, ‘The Great Fiscal Crisis and its Ethical Rejoinder’ forthcoming in the Bulletin of the Hegel Society of Great Britain.

Sebastian Stein "Rational Action and Speculation – Hegel's Methodological Critique of Kantian Morality"


According to both Kant and Hegel, rational action must be explained in terms of self-determination. Both claim that by expressing our rational nature in the actions we perform, we acquire true ownership of our ends and articulate our specifically human freedom. However, it remains unclear how ends can qualify as rational. Hegel thus argues that Kant's Categorical Imperative fails to identify any end as rational because Kant is committed to a juxtaposition of self-determination (subject) and determinateness (end) that falls short of providing the kind of overarching conceptual unity that only Hegel's notion of rational action as singularity can guarantee. According to Hegel, the strict separation of subject and end results from Kant's methodological commitment to 'understanding', which stands in contrast to Hegel's own 'speculation'. In order to evaluate Hegel's critique of Kant's notion of rational action, one thus has to consider these remarks about methodological difference and the systematic consequences they yield.

Sebastian Stein, B.A. Victoria University of Manchester, M.A. Universität Heidelberg, D.Phil candidate in political theory University of Oxford. Tutor in political theory and philosophy.

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