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Reportage: Convegno “Ripensare il sistema: per il bicentenario dell’Enciclopedia delle scienze filosofiche” – “Reconsidering the System: On the Occasion of the Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences’ Bicentenary” (Padova, 11 e 12 Dicembre – Padua, December 11th and 12th).

As a Christmas present, hpd launches its first reportage series.
We are constantly trying to enrich our websites with new contents in order to satisfy our readers’ curiosity and needs.
The reportages we propose focus on three international workshops and congresses we hosted at Padua University in December 2017: “Ripensare il sistema: per il bicentenario dell’Enciclopedia delle scienze filosofiche”; “Philosophy as/and/of Literature: On the Cognitive Value of Literature” and “Nature in Question: Between Classical German Philosophy and Contemporary Thought”.
Due to the importance and exceptionality of the occasion, the reportage dedicated to the conference “Ripensare il sistema: per il bicentenario dell’Enciclopedia delle scienze filosofiche” will be longer and more detailed than the other two.

The series has been coordinated and realized by Eleonora Cugini, Giovanna Luciano, Giovanna Miolli and Elena Tripaldi.


On December 11th and 12th a conference dedicated to Hegel’s Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences was held in Padua, on the occasion of the Encyclopedia’s bicentenary in 2017.

The conference was entitled “Ripensare il sistema: per il bicentenario dell’Enciclopedia delle scienze filosofiche” (Reconsidering the system: on the occasion of the Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences’ bicentenary) and was organized by the two research groups on German classical philosophy of the University of Padua and the University of Eastern Piedmont, coordinating the blogs hegelpd and hegeLab respectively, under the scientific supervision of Professor Luca Illetterati and Professor Maurizio Pagano, as well as thanks to Luca Corti’s chairing of the organization.
A special graphic project for flyers and posters (which you can see or download at this link) was realized by Francesco Campana for the occasion.

The event was meant as both a meeting of two long-running research traditions, as well as a chance to thoroughly rethink the legacy of Hegel’s system beyond its traditional and stereotypical image, with an eye to the present time.

The event consisted of four panels: the first dedicated to the general concept of the system, and the latter three dedicated to the three parts of the system, that is, Logic, Nature and Spirit (you can see the program at this link).

The main themes discussed were: the general notion of system with reference to ancient, modern German and contemporary interpretations, the differences between the 1817 and the 1830 edition of the Encyclopedia, the continuity between the encyclopaedic concept of philosophy and the one of the Jena years, the relevance of language in the Hegelian system and beyond its psychological and phenomenological use, the peculiarity of Hegel’s understanding of the interaction between thought and reality, the relationship between Hegel and Aristotle in his understanding of the interplay between metaphysics and logic, the problematic passage of Absolute Idea into Nature and the meta-ethical implications of Hegel’s treatment of the Idea. Furthermore, the relevance of Hegel’s philosophy of nature in advocating Hegel’s realism, the interest in reconstructing Hegel’s theory of visibility, the relevance of Hegel’s notion of teleology for contemporary biology, the possibility of applying a “transformative” model of subjectivity to Hegel, the evolution of Hegel’s philosophy of art, the relationship between the individual and spirit, as well as the one between spirit and absolute spirit.

You can find a full reportage with a brief abstract for each talk below, followed by a photogallery of the event.
The reportage has been written and curated by Elena Tripaldi, while the photogallery has been curated by Eleonora Cugini and pictures were taken by Guglielmo Califano, Giovanna Luciano and Giovanna Miolli.


In the first panel, the general idea of system was discussed.
Gianluca Garelli’s talk introduced the issue through a critique of Heidegger’s diagnosis of the inutility and outdatedness of all systems after nihilism, in which Heidegger identified the idea of the system with the illusions of the modern epoch. On the one hand, Professor Garelli analyzed several pre-modern occurrences of “system”, which possibly influenced Hegel’s notion of it; while on the other he demonstrated that, through Kant’s mediation, the notion of “system” in Hegel was enriched by the notion of “encyclopedia”, in a peculiar mixture of the German metaphysical tradition, which thought of system as a system of reality, and of the ancient tradition, which considered “encyclopedia” as a Bildung, as a form of education.

In the discussion the relevance of the notion of teleology in Hegel’s idea of system was brought up, as well as the Hegelian use of the Kantian distinction between mathematical and historical knowledge and the necessity and possibility of an “education” to the system, or to systematical thinking, nowadays.

In his talk, Roberto Morani pinpointed four major points of distance between the first and the last edition of the Encyclopedia, with the aim of warning scholars from flattening the last edition on the first, on the basis of the general enthusiasm with which Hegel’s immediate successors (i.e. Rosenkrantz and Croce) welcomed it. Namely, in the 1830 edition the relationship between representation and concept, the Vorbegriff, the structure of the third book of the Logic, as well as the dialectic of spirit change and become more complex.

The discussion was dedicated to the problem of translation with reference to the representation-to-concept relationship, the role of the transcendental standpoint in the Introduction of the Encyclopedia, the relationship between being and concept the 1817 edition as well as the lengthening of the “Introduction” to the Spirit section in the 1830 edition.

In her talk, Giovanna Luciano reconstructed a line of continuity between the encyclopedic system and Hegel’s Jena early writings, in order to clarify Hegel’s notion of thought and its relationship to freedom in the introduction of the 1817 edition. There is in fact a significant link between the encyclopedic notion of “thought” and the Jena concepts of “reason” and autonomy, and this very point also allows evaluating Hegel’s indebtedness to, and distancing from, Kant on the one hand, and spinozism on the other.

The discussion mainly focused on the difference between Kant’s and Hegel’s notion of autonomy, and on the change of paragraph 5 in the 1830 edition, where the explicit relationship between thought and freedom used to be stated.

In her talk, Eleonora Caramelli argued for the relevance of focusing on the problem of language in the Encyclopedia, starting from Hegel’s claim connecting the absence of presupposition in Philosophy to a matter of names, and opening a perspective, which could tie together the first doctrine of the Logic, the Phenomenology and its encyclopedic treatment, as well as the consideration of sign, memory and thought in the Subjective Spirit section. In this perspective, the problem of the determination of essence could be read in terms of predication.

The discussion concentrated on the possibility of considering sign, memory and thought as they are presented in Subjective Spirit as verbal forms, as well as on the role of language in clarifying the relationship between concept and representation.

The second session was dedicated to Logic in the system.
Paolo Giuspoli’s talk considered the relationship between what Hegel calls “das Logische”, and reality, or “Wirklichkeit”, with an eye to recent readings of Hegel as a direct realist (as for example in Putnam). Hegel’s position would exceed the options of contemporary realism: on the one hand, Hegel’s consideration of philosophy’s knowledge as “logic” overcomes the perspectivism of consciousness; on the other hand, Hegel’s peculiar notion of Wirklichkeit does not identify a limited domain, an object, within reality, but is an all-encompassing, dynamic notion for the whole of it. It is exactly and only a “logical” consideration what allows this very consideration of reality.

The discussion concentrated on the relationship between the logical point of view and the notion of “totality” (criticized and overcome in the Logic), the notion of “independence” with reference to reality and with relation to contemporary understandings of it, as well as on many translations of terms suggested in the talk.

Alessandro de Cesaris’ talk focused on the relationship between logic and metaphysic in the Heidelberg period, suggesting that the two are aspects of the same thing in Hegel. With special reference to Hegel’s lectures, as well as to the first edition of the Encyclopedia, the talk highlighted both Hegel’s indebtedness to Aristotle with reference to his idea of a “speculative metaphysics”, as well as the “deflationary”, “non-emphatic” character of said metaphysics as a logic: Hegel’s “first philosophy” does not consist of positive assertions referred to the world, but just of a process of self-awareness of rationality with reference to its forms.

The discussion concentrated on the ambiguous role of metaphysics in Hegel, and on its apparent radical change of meaning in the mature Hegel, in which metaphysics is designated as a “mere” position of thought with relation to reality.

In her talk, Arianna Longo challenged the long-established commonplace considering the Entäußerung of the Absolute Idea into Nature as radically arbitrary. She suggested that the passage of the Absolute Idea into Nature is necessary as the first moment of the second reflection of the Absolute Idea as method: after formally determining itself as method in the last chapter of the Logic, the Idea determines and reflects itself as method in terms of content as well, becoming and reflecting itself in the actual system. The passage of Absolute Idea into Nature is therefore free not as arbitrary, but only as self-determined.

In the discussion, the risks of using the same “personalizing” expressions, which Hegel uses with reference to Absolute Idea, were brought up, as well as the controversial relationship between Idea and system with reference to a possible “completion” of the system itself. Comments were made on the correspondence between moments of the Logic and of the Philosophy of Nature, on Schelling’s relationship to Hegel and on Bodei’s reading of the three syllogism in the Encyclopedia.

In his talk, Armando Manchisi offered an analysis of Hegel’s Idea as the union of Idea of the true and Idea of the good, with reference to problems connected to the contemporary notion of “direction of fit”. The latter sharply distinguishes between practical and theoretical approaches to the world, and uses this distinction to support a form of ethical non-cognitivism. Hegel’s overcoming of the idea of the good and the idea of the true in the absolute idea shows the self-contradictory character of such a contemporary understanding, and suggests how both the practical and the theoretical approach are actually manifestations of the same fundamental structure.

In the discussion, the Aristotelian distinction between praxis and poiesis, and its role in Hegel was discussed, as well as on the difference between the chapter on teleology and the idea of the good in the Science of Logic, and on the applicability of Hume’s law with relation to Hegel.

The third session, the first of the second day of the congress, was dedicated to Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature.
Luca Illetterati’s talk tackled the topic of Hegel’s overcoming of Kant’s “subjectivism” through a consideration of Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature in the Encyclopedia. The latter expresses at best Hegel’s non-subjectivism and peculiar realism insofar as it shows how, even in the case of nature, the most “mind-independent” portion of reality, philosophical understanding does not mean for Hegel imposing entirely subjective structures on reality, but rather allowing its intrinsic and specific rationality to emerge.

The discussion concentrated on the difference between thought and rationality in Hegel and their respective relationship to nature, on McDowell’s reading of Hegel with reference to natural sciences as well as on Descartes’ role in the production of the very subjectivism Hegel attempts to overcome.

In his talk, Hans Papoulias reconstructed a Hegelian theory of visibility, as a peculiar combination of optical theory and Farbenlehre in a theory of light, despite its not being explicitly exposed in Hegel, and advocated for its relevance to an understanding of central themes in Hegel’s philosophy. While in Hegel a strong link could be found between the natural aspect of sight and its spiritual, almost metaphorical meaning with relation to Spirit, an even stronger connection is seen between light and concept: Hegel’s treatment of the ideality of light is proof of the relationship between Nature and the Idea.

In the debate, Lugarini’s suggestion that in Hegel sight is both criticized and preserved as a fundamental element was discussed, as well as the potential relevance of Hegel’s consideration of light and color with reference to contemporary division between cultural studies and scientific understanding of the perception of color (as in the Danto/Carroll debate).

Andrea Gambarotto’s talk focused on Hegel’s peculiar notion of teleology, both with relation to Hegel’s predecessors and to contemporary considerations of it.
After distinguishing between constitutive (in Aristotle and Hegel), metaphysical or intentional (among others, in Leibniz and Wolff) and euristic or regulative (in Kant) notions of teleology, the talk suggested that the only accepted perspective today is the latter one. Hegel’s criticism of Kant’s euristic notion of telelology could therefore be used to reintroduce constitutive telelology in the contemporary debate.

The discussion focused on the importance of internal teleology in Kant as well, with relation to the isomorphism between reason and nature, as well as on Kant’s and Hegel’s position on preformism and on their epigenetic perspective, and on the differences between the Hegelian and the Aristotelian understanding of teleology.

Luca Corti’s talk addressed the “mystery” of the double treatment of the soul in the Encyclopedia (in the Philosophy of Nature and in the Philosophy of Subjective Spirit), suggesting that a better understanding of it could also provide useful insights in the contemporary debate between additive and transformative models of subjectivity, insofar as considering Hegel’s consideration of subjectivity as transformative would allow the distinction between two souls, the animal and the human.

The discussion focused on the peculiar parallelism between the contemporary debated and the Scheler-Gehlen-Heidegger debate, as well as on the hypothetic applicability of the additive model to Hegel.

The fourth and last panel of the congress was dedicated to Spirit.
In his talk, Mario Farina offered an analysis of Hegel’s theory of art according to its systematic foundation. By comparing the 1817 and the 1830 edition of the Encyclopedia and by referring to the Lectures on Aesthetic, he addressed three problems: i) the Hegelian classicism in the Encyclopedia; ii) the crucial relationship between art and religion; iii) the peculiar dialectical development of the Kunstformen in the lectures. It is only from a systematic perspective that the Hegelian classicism, which shows the essential bond between artistic form and religious content, can be considered in its historical becoming and overcome on an aesthetic level.

The discussion concentrated of the interaction and on the specific character of the three disciplines of Absolute Spirit, Art, Religion and Philosophy, and on the strong bond between Religion and Art since Hegel’s early writings.

Diego Bubbio’s talk offered a neo-pragmatist reading of the relationship between I and Spirit, suggesting that a peculiar circularity connects the individual I with Spirit: through recognition, we learn both that the I is actually always already preceded by the inter-subjective dimension, and that Spirit is nothing but the objectification of the claims determining this dimension at one given time in a culture. This objectification is overcome in the Spirit’s becoming-absolute, which consists in the collection of all cultural beliefs and norms reconsidered as simple point-of-views.

The discussion concentrated on the difference between the Phenomenology and the Encyclopedia, between Absolute Knowledge and Absolute Spirit and between Objective and Absolute Spirit, as well as on the clarification of the notion of Absolute Spirit as a collection of all points of view, and on the problematic apparent antecedence of the I, or the soul, to Spirit and on the interaction of this notion with pluralism.

In his talk, Maurizio Pagano offered a far-reaching and rich assessment to the notion of Spirit, both as a fundamental notion in the Western tradition and from an inter-cultural perspective. The talk suggested that Hegel’s notion of spirit, meant broadly as the dimension of experience, is an attempt to bridge the dualistic tension intrinsic in the Jewish and the Greek definition of spirit, as both rational and material. The talk then traced the continuity between Hegel’s early notion of Spirit and the late notion of Absolute Spirit, despite the many changes made to the section in the different editions of the Encyclopedia.

In the discussion, the possible interactions and links between Hegel and hermeneutics was discussed, as well as the problem of pluralism and the specific changes introduced in the Spirit section in the 1830 Encyclopedia.

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