Particularity as Paradigm: A Wittgensteinian Reading of Hegel’s Subjective Logic



Year of publication 2019
Type Chapter of a book
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

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Description I provide a distinctively Wittgensteinian interpretation of Hegel’s Subjective Logic, including the parts on the concept, the judgement and the syllogism. I argue that Wittgenstein implicitly recognised the moments of universality, particularity and individuality; moreover, he was sensitive to Hegel’s crucial distinction between abstract and concrete universals. More specifically, for Wittgenstein the moment of particularity has the status of a paradigmatic sample which mediates between a universal concept and its individual instances. Thus, a concrete universal is a universal that includes every individual via its paradigmatic sample. Next, I provide a generic account of the emergence of concrete universals through a series of negations that follows the basic structure of Hegel’s judgement—“the individual is the universal”—and the syllogism—“the individual is the universal mediated by the particular”. This development is illustrated with examples from Hegel (a plant, Socrates, Caesar, a Stoic sage, Jesus) as well as from Wittgenstein (colour samples, the standard metre, works of art). I take Wittgenstein’s argument against private language as implying that we cannot do without paradigms in our epistemic practices. If the conclusion of the section “Subjectivity” in Hegel’s Science of Logic is that the moment of particularity cannot be ignored or dispensed with, then it would mean that we cannot do without paradigms in our epistemic practices: that is, that private rules are impossible.
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