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CFA: Hegel’s Doppelsatz: Rationality and Actuality (Cambridge, 28 March, 2020)

We are glad to announce that a call for abstracts is now open for the one-day conference Hegel’s Doppelsatz: Rationality and Actuality, which will take place in Cambridge at Clare College on March 28th 2020.

The deadline for abstract submission is on January 31st, 2020.

Please find below more information on the themes of the conference and the instructions for the abstract submission.


If there is a single formula which succeeds in being a concise and accurate summary of the whole of Hegel’s system, it is surely the famed Doppelsatz from the Preface to the Philosophy of Right. The formula reads:

Was vernünftig ist, das is wirklich und was wirklich ist, das ist vernünftig. (PR 20/14.14)
What is rational is actual; and what is actual is rational.

There is good reason to be cautious when interpreting these lines. The words ‘actual’ and ‘rational’, are very precise technical terms, which should be clearly distinguished from related terms such as ‘determinate’, ‘existent’, ‘contingent’, ‘conceptual’, or ‘idea’. Yet the underlying notion is very simple: Hegel tells us that the world of concrete things, in all of its contingency, finitude, and fragility, shows itself to be the conceptually intelligible, and in the end to be so conceptually rich as to be justly called divine. The converse is also true: the highest thought and the richest concept is nothing at all until it tears itself apart and becomes a world of fragility and limitation. The seemingly eternal cycle of these two motions structures the entire system. For Hegel, the world is nothing but rational, intelligible conceptual processes, and is at the same time a world of fragility, constantly open to the possibility of failure; for Hegel, there is no need of a second world of concepts that infuses this world with meaning – because for Hegel, the conceptuality and meaning of this world is just the same thing as the most surface level appearances in each time and place.

These themes – and especially the relationship between conceptuality and actuality – will be the focus of an upcoming one-day conference, to be held at Clare College, Cambridge, on Saturday 28th March 2020.

The conference has a number of slots for short (20 minute) papers, and is inviting submissions of abstracts of up to 500 words. Accepted papers will be invited to speak at the conference. Travel expenses within the UK will be covered, and the conference organisers will try to assist with travel from further afield and overnight accommodation where possible.

Abstracts should be sent to before the 31st January 2020.

Abstracts should be fully anonymised, and accompanied by a separate document including contact details and institutional affiliation.

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