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There appear to be a number of errors in Hegel's philosophical system, but the most basic, from which the majority of others are derived, is the confusion between opposite concepts and distinct concepts. Opposite concepts (i.e., true and false; life and death) seem to exclude one another, whereas distinct concepts (i.e., fancy and intellect) are united with each other and, at the same time, united with the whole (in our example: the concept of mind). The logical category of opposition is one thing, and the logical category of distinction is another. Hegel offered his principle of solution of the problem of opposites, but labored erroneously with the problem of distincts by trying to solve them using the same principle as for the solution of the opposites. Let us take the triad: being, not-being, becoming. Being and not-being, by themselves, are two arbitrary abstractions. They are real and concrete only when connected with each other. Thus, the only concrete concept is their synthesis, becoming. Let us now observe, from psychology, the hegelian triad; theoretical spirit, practical spirit, free spirit. Theoretical spirit and practical spirit can be real outside any synthesis and are not abstractions in the same way as being and not-being, which are true only in becoming. The application of the dialectic of opposites to distinct concepts clearly determined the erroneous characters of the Aesthetics, the Philosophy of History, and the Philosophy of Nature. It also damaged the content of the Science of Logic, although this book is mainly affected by its arbitrariness. In Hegel's logic we are shown that each synthesis becomes, in its turn, the thesis of a new triad. Starting with the barest of the categories, being, the antithesis of which is nothing, we reach the first concrete concept, becoming. Becoming now stands as the thesis in a new triad, and so we progress until we reach the highest triad in which Art is the thesis, Religion its antithesis, and the synthesis of the two is Philosophy. Hegel seemed to imply that in the main stream of the Absolute Idea, Art and Religion are two abstractions, the synthesis of which is Philosophy. Croce's contention against Hegel's aesthetic theory is that Art and Religion are not abstract concepts, that they are not opposites, that Religion is not the negation of Art and that, therefore, the dialectic of opposites cannot be applied. The idea of a Philosophy of History, according to Croce, was the non-recognition of the autonomy of Historiography, to the advantage of abstract philosophy. History is a work of art, although it cannot dispense with scientific accuracy. It can give rise to Philosophy only when we pass from the historical considerations of the particular to the theoretical elements which are at the bottom of those historical considerations. In some sense, all history can be called applied philosophy, but we can never assume, as Hegel did, that the particular historical happening was to be absorbed in that philosophy which was its presupposition and its basis. It is in the Philosophy of Nature where the abuse of the dialectic seems more apparent. But Croce's main argument was that a philosophy of science was a contradiction in terms because it implies philosophical thought of those arbitrary concepts which philosophy does not know and which it cannot affirm or deny.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Donald Clark Lee

Second Committee Member

Howard Nelson Tuttle

Third Committee Member

Carl Russell Stern



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