Thought and Experience: Robust Conceptions of Phenomenology


  • Paul Giladi


ABSTRACT: In this paper, I argue that Hegel’s critique of Kant’s theory of experience aims at defending a thick (or robust) account of experience: whilst both Kant and Hegel oppose the Myth of the Given and a non-conceptualist understanding of the content of experience, Hegel’s disagreement with Kant is centred on the fact that Kant only provides this conceptualist account of experience on the basis of transcendental (and hence subjective) idealism. The paper begins with a discussion of Hegel’s charge that Kant has a ‘thin’ conception of experience, and what this means. I then move on to discuss a Kantian rebuttal of Hegel’s criticisms, one which I ultimately conclude does not adequately overturn the Hegelian critique. Having discussed the interpretive dimensions of Hegel’s charge of ‘thinness,’ the paper turns to the Hegelian critique in relation to the contemporary debate between conceptualists and non-conceptualists in analytic philosophy of mind in an effort to explicate its enduring philosophical importance and relevance. I argue that one can interpret Hegel’s critique of Kant as a proto-McDowellian critique of modern philosophy. For, like John McDowell, Hegel is concerned with providing a robust conception of phenomenology, one which sees both our environment and our experience of our environment as conceptually articulated in and of itself.


KEYWORDS: Kant; Hegel; empiricism; experience; idealism.