Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Jay R. Lampert




This thesis answers a complex of problems concerning historical individuality by relating the concepts of historical individual that underlie Hegel's Philosophy of History to the middle section of Hegel's Science of Logic. These problems are: 1) How does intelligible structure relate to the contingency of historical events? 2) How do individual persons and collectives relate to totalities? These questions are answered by means of the concept of the spirit of the world, illuminated by the concept of reciprocity. These concepts provide a theoretical basis for understanding the place of individuals in the totality of history that allows for plurality and contingency while ensuring that history remains comprehensible. I argue that, contrary to a widespread view, Hegel's philosophical history does not expound a progressive, linear succession of nations. Instead, it subordinated the nation in a reciprocal, simultaneous global totality. This thesis provides an original and detailed reading of the logic of essence from Hegel's Science of Logic that brings out its structure as an ontology of historicity and its applicability to history. Furthermore, this thesis sets out and examines for the first time the various forms of individuality found in the widely neglected Lectures on the Philosophy of History. My reading is distinctive in part because it emphasizes the lectures themselves over the often-quoted introduction.

McMaster University Library

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."

Included in

Philosophy Commons