In order to understand Hegel’s form of philosophical reflection in general, we must read his ‘speculative’ sentences about spirit and nature, rationality and reason, the mind and its embodiment as general remarks about conceptual topics in topographical overviews about our ways of talking about ourselves in the world. The resulting attitude to traditional metaphysics gets ambivalent in view of the insight that Aristotle’s prima philosophia is knowledge of human knowledge, developed in meta-scientific reflections on notions like ‘nature’ and ‘essence’, ‘reality’ (or ‘being’) and ‘truth’, about ‘powers’ and ‘faculties’ – and does not lead by itself to an object-level theory about spiritual things like the soul. We therefore cannot just replace critical metaphysics of the human mind by empirical investigation of human behaviour as empiricist approaches to human cognition in naturalized epistemologies do and neuro-physiological explanations propose. Making transcendental forms and material presuppositions of conceptually informed perception and experience explicit needs some understanding of figurative forms of speech in our logical reflections and leads to other forms of knowledge than empirical observation and theory formation.
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