The Genesis of Hegel’s Concept of Life: A Translation of the 1803 and 1805 Jena Lectures on the Organic with an Historical Introduction and Commentary

To understand the genesis of Hegel’s concept of organic life is to grasp how this concept integrates the most central themes of modern philosophy into a single principle which animates the whole of his philosophical system. This study proposes to introduce Hegel’s Jena 1803 and 1805 Philosophy of Organic Nature by examining how the concept of organic life emerges out of the rationalist tradition in modern philosophy and incorporates its principal themes.

In the first chapter Hegel’s relation to the rationalist tradition is briefly sketched, in order to suggest how his concept of life weaves pre- and post Kantian elements into a systematic whole.

The second chapter examines how Kant already prepared the ground for this integration by conceiving of the Critique of Teleological Judgment as a reconciliation of the conflicting doctrines of Spinoza and Leibniz. The Critique of Judgment uses the ascesis of Spinoza’s critique of final causality as a critical tool by which Kant corrects Leibniz’ metaphysics in order to bring it into line with his critical project.

The third chapter turns to Schelling’s appropriation of Spinoza and Leibniz in Dogmatism and Criticism and Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature, and shows how Schelling unites Spinoza’s notion of intellectual intuition with Leibniz’ notion of a substantial union in order to envision the project of a philosophy of nature which articulates the connection between the subjective intuition of the supersensible ground of nature and our phenomenal experience. On the basis of this examination of Schelling’s appropriation of Leibniz and Spinoza, Hegel’s appropriation of Leibniz’ concept of organic life permits him to overcome Schelling’s Spinozism and to claim to have fully realized what Schelling leaves as a practical task.

Chapter four examines Schelling’s concept of organic life in The System of Transcendental Idealism and shows how Schelling’s Potenzenlehre constitutes the point of departure for Hegel’s treatment of the organic.

Table of Contents

1. Hegel’s Integration of Modern Philosophy
A. Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz
B. Kant’s Copernican Revolution and the Subjectivization of Reason
C. The Repetition of Early Modem Metaphysics in Fichte, Schelling and Leibniz

2. Kant’s Staging of the Conflict between Leibniz and Spinoza
A. Genoan Idealism as a Whole as an Expression of this Conflict
B. Kant’s Appropriation of Leibniz and Spinoza in The Critique of Judgment
C. The Modem Origins of the Problem in Hobbes and Leibniz

3. Schelling’s Appropriation of Leibniz and Spinoza
A. Philosophical Letters on Dogmatism and Criticism
B. Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature
C. The System of Transcendental Idealism
D. 1803 Supplemental Introduction to Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature and The Exposition of my System

4. The Organic in Schelling’s System of Transcendental Idealism
A. Overview
B. Deduction and Middle Terms of the Absolute Synthesis in Self-Consciousness
C. The First and Second Epochs of the History of Self-Consciousness
D. Deduction of the Organic and the relevance for Hegel’s Conception of Organic Life

Translation of the 1803 and 1805 Lectures on Organic Nature

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