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Volume 31 • Number 4

October 2014



Empiricism without the Dogma: Hegel's Critique of Locke's Simple Ideas

by Jeanne A. Schuler

This article presents Hegel's critique of Locke and considers the implications for reviving the promise of empiricism to know the world. Locke's appeal to simple ideas stems from a mistrust of thinking: simple ideas are objective because they are free of thought. Hegel objects to simple ideas on logical and phenomenological grounds. Hegel's phenomenology of sense-certainty (sensation) shows that the immediate is mediated: thought is the inescapable medium of consciousness. Hegel's phenomenology of perception finds that we perceive things and their properties; simple ideas are bad abstractions from the properties of things. Hegel's phenomenology frees us from the skepticism induced by the empiricist dogma that the mind-independent can be factored out from the mind-dependent.

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ISSN: 2152-1026