The Imagination in Reason: Reframing the Systematic Core of Idealism in Kant and Hegel

In this dissertation, the author argues that the point of transition between Kant and the Idealists is most aptly identified and comprehended when we bring into view a careful understanding of Kant’s principle of the free lawfulness of the Imagination. The author argues that for Hegel, it was this principle that constituted Kant’s “greatest service to philosophy.”

The author contends that we are right to agree with Hegel that this principle is fundamental to Kant’s critical Idealism and is an important theoretical principle in its own right. More than this, though, Hegel adopts, modifies, and expands this notion and thereby turns it into the bedrock of his own system program. In defense of this thesis, the author shows that Hegel employs Kant’s principle of the free lawfulness of the imagination explicitly and implicitly as the bedrock of the method of reason developed most clearly in The Science of Logic, Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences, as well as in his Berlin lectures on Aesthetics and Philosophy of Right.

The result is that the author defends a theoretical notion of reason in Hegel that brings him interpretively much closer to Kant’s critical Idealism than is typically held, and more originally still, he defends an interpretation of Kant that not only solves many of the interpretive challenges of the third Critique’s unity and significance but also shows that Kant’s critical philosophy is more suggestive of central developments in Hegel’s absolute idealism than many Kantians may be comfortable admitting.

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