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Hegel accords great philosophical importance to Kant’s discussions of teleology and biology in the Critique of the Power of Judgment, and yet also disagrees with Kant’s central conclusions there. More specifically, Kant argues for a generally skeptical view of teleological explanation of living beings; Hegel responds that Kant should instead defend such explanation—and that the defense of teleology should lead Kant to different conclusions throughout his theoretical philosophy.

I aim to avoid the sort of interpretive charity that would begin with a currently popular philosophical view and then seek to find that view in historical texts. This approach would tend to obscure differences between what is popular now and the views of historical figures, as well as differences between different historical figures. And it would foreclose the possibility that studying history might reveal surprising philosophical advantages of views which are not popular today. I think that Kant and Hegel both provide compelling philosophical arguments for positions on natural teleology that are different from currently popular views, and different from one another. I do not make any attempt here at a final resolution of the issues at stake between Kant and Hegel, but aim rather to uncover and explain the strengths of the arguments on both sides. I begin with a brief look at Kant’s case for his more skeptical conclusions, and then consider at greater length Hegel’s response. I close with a brief discussion of the importance of this topic within Hegel’s broader metaphysics.

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© 2008 Cambridge University Press

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