Naturalism and Normativity in Hegel’s Philosophy
The aim of this special issue is to tackle Hegel’s approach to the constitution of the normative on the basis of natural premises and to investigate his original version of naturalism. In the ambit of the American analytical philosophy, scholars like Sellars, Brandom and McDowell have already pointed out that Hegel’s thought is based on the inferential analysis of the logical and pragmatic elements constituting the mind, reason, self-consciousness and the normative. More recently authors like Terry Pinkard, Michael Thompson and Robert Pippin have highlighted that the Hegelian philosophy leads to the investigation about the natural requisites and premises of the cognitive and intentional stances, pinpointing that a naturalistic method of scrutiny is in play. Hegel’s naturalism is therefore a novel version of naturalism enhancing our understanding of the cognitive, intentional and social human dispositions by addressing their dependence on natural elements like life, desires, instincts and perception. As a naturalist Hegel claims that philosophy deals with natural entities and that the occurrence in human life of non-observational entities like mind, cognition, self-consciousness, etc. has to be explained as emerging from and depending on natural requisites that the empirical sciences can directly observe like organic and biological properties. The domain of the normative is, following Hegel, constituted by means of the self-conscious life, namely the capacity to articulate concepts and to constitute a social dimension based on norms and interpersonal interaction. Self-conscious life and the normative, namely the domain of freedom and autonomy, are not explained in his thought as irreducible to and independent from nature understood as the domain of causality, but rather as elements proper of a natural substratum with which they establish a mutual dependence. Briefly illustrated, his naturalism consists in keeping the difference between the normative and nature and, nonetheless, avoiding any sort of dualism or unsolvable contrast between them. The advantage of this approach is explaining these two ambits as reciprocally dependent: self-conscious life does not originate by the separation from nature, but rather by establishing and understanding its own bonds and dependence to nature. In contrast to other more naive versions of naturalism, which separate mind from nature by underlining the former’s emergent character, Hegel’s one maintains that the relation nature-mind is based on the mutual dependence between these two ontogenetic factors of human life and that the cognitive and social dispositions originate from the naturalization of logical and inferential categories of thinking. Consequently, understanding the normative requires a naturalized approach to the cognitive and social aspects constituting what Hegel calls Geist, namely the normative substance subjected to a historic evolution and deployed for explaining the logical structure of human civilization. Finally, this special issue intends to account for the naturalistic premises of normativity in order to extend our understanding of the philosophical category of naturalism and to enhance the comprehension of normativity from a naturalized perspective.