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A Spirit of Trust: A Reading of Hegel's Phenomenology

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Forty years in the making, this long-awaited reinterpretation of Hegel’s The Phenomenology of Spirit is a landmark contribution to philosophy by one of the world’s best-known and most influential philosophers.

In this much-anticipated work, Robert Brandom presents a completely new retelling of the romantic rationalist adventure of ideas that is Hegel’s classic The Phenomenology of Spirit. Connecting analytic, Continental, and historical traditions, Brandom shows how dominant modes of thought in contemporary philosophy are challenged by Hegel.

A Spirit of Trust is about the massive historical shift in the life of humankind that constitutes the advent of modernity. In his Critiques, Kant talks about the distinction between what things are in themselves and how they appear to us; Hegel sees Kant’s distinction as making explicit what separates the ancient and modern worlds. In the ancient world, normative statuses—judgments of what ought to be—were taken to state objective facts. In the modern world, these judgments are taken to be determined by attitudes—subjective stances. Hegel supports a view combining both of those approaches, which Brandom calls “objective idealism”: there is an objective reality, but we cannot make sense of it without first making sense of how we think about it.

According to Hegel’s approach, we become agents only when taken as such by other agents. This means that normative statuses such as commitment, responsibility, and authority are instituted by social practices of reciprocal recognition. Brandom argues that when our self-conscious recognitive attitudes take the radical form of magnanimity and trust that Hegel describes, we can overcome a troubled modernity and enter a new age of spirit.

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Brandom Robert
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Robert B. Brandom is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh and a Fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the British Academy. He delivered the John Locke Lectures at the University of Oxford and the Woodbridge Lectures at Columbia University. Brandom is the author of many books, including Making It Explicit, Reason in Philosophy, and From Empiricism to Expressivism.

  • Reference Abbreviations
    • Introduction: A Pragmatist Semantic Reading of Hegel’s Phenomenology
      • I. The Focal Topic: The Content and Use of Concepts
      • II. The Strategy of Semantic Descent
      • III. The Social Dimension of Discursiveness: Normativity and Recognition
      • IV. The Historical Dimension of Discursiveness: Recollective Rationality
      • V. Cognition, Recognition, and Recollection: Semantics and Epistemology, Normative Pragmatics, and the Historicity of Geist
  • Part One. Semantics and Epistemology: Knowing and Representing the Objective World
    • 1. Conceptual Realism and the Semantic Possibility of Knowledge
      • I. Classical Representational Epistemology
      • II. Genuine Knowledge and Rational Constraint
      • III. A Nonpsychological Conception of the Conceptual
      • IV. Alethic Modal and Deontic Normative Material Incompatibility
    • 2. Representation and the Experience of Error: A Functionalist Approach to the Distinction between Appearance and Reality
      • I. Introduction
      • II. Two Dimensions of Intentionality and Two Orders of Explanation
      • III. Two Kantian Ideas
      • IV. Hegel’s Pragmatist Functionalist Idea
      • V. The Mode of Presentation Condition
      • VI. The Experience of Error
      • VII. The Two Sides of Conceptual Content Are Representationally Related
      • VIII. Conclusion
    • 3. Following the Path of Despair to a Bacchanalian Revel: The Emergence of the New, True Object
      • I. The Emergence of the Second Object
      • II. From Skepticism to Truth through Determinate Negation
      • III. Recollection and the Science of the Experience of Consciousness
    • 4. Immediacy, Generality, and Recollection: First Lessons on the Structure of Epistemic Authority
      • I. Sense Certainty Introduced
      • II. Two Senses of “Immediacy”
      • III. A Bad Argument
      • IV. First Good Argument: Classification
      • V. Second Good Argument: Anaphoric Recollection
    • 5. Understanding the Object/Property Structure in Terms of Negation: An Introduction to Hegelian Logic and Metaphysics in the Perception Chapter
      • I. The Lessons of Sense Certainty
      • II. Determinateness and Exclusive Negation
      • III. Formal Negation and Two Orders of Explanation
      • IV. Properties and Objects
      • V. Two Metaphysical Roles of Objects
      • VI. Ten Kinds of Metaphysical Differences
      • VII. From Perception to Understanding
    • 6. “Force” and Understanding—From Object to Concept: The Ontological Status of Theoretical Entities and the Laws That Implicitly Define Them
      • I. Forces as Allegorical for Theoretical Entities
      • II. Invidious Eddingtonian Theoretical Realism
      • III. Holism and the “Play of Forces”
      • IV. From Forces to Laws as Superfacts
      • V. The “Inverted World” and Possible-World Semantics
    • 7. Objective Idealism and Modal Expressivism
      • I. Explanation and the Expression of Implicit Laws
      • II. Objective Idealism
      • III. “Infinity” as Holism
      • IV. Expressivism, Objective Idealism, and Normative Self-Consciousness
  • Part Two. Normative Pragmatics: Recognition and the Expressive Metaphysics of Agency
    • 8. The Structure of Desire and Recognition: Self-Consciousness and Self-Constitution
      • I. The Historicity of Essentially Self-Conscious Creatures
      • II. Identification, Risk, and Sacrifice
      • III. Creatures Things Can Be Something For: Desire and the Triadic Structure of Orectic Awareness
      • IV. From Desire to Recognition: Two Interpretive Challenges
      • V. Simple Recognition: Being Something Things Can Be Something for Is Something Things Can Be for One
      • VI. Robust Recognition: Specific Recognition of Another as a Recognizer
      • VII. Self-Consciousness
      • VIII. Conclusion
    • 9. The Fine Structure of Autonomy and Recognition: The Institution of Normative Statuses by Normative Attitudes
      • I. Normative Statuses and Normative Attitudes: A Regimented Idiom
      • II. The Kantian Autonomy Model of the Institution of Normative Statuses by Normative Attitudes
      • III. A Model of General Recognition
      • IV. A Model of Specific Recognition
      • V. The Recognitive Institution of Statuses, Subjects, and Communities
      • VI. The Status-Dependence of Attitudes
      • VII. Conclusion
    • 10. Allegories of Mastery: The Pragmatic and Semantic Basis of the Metaphysical Incoherence of Authority without Responsibility
      • I. Introduction: Asymmetrical, Defective Structures of Recognition
      • II. The Subordination–Obedience Model
      • III. Identification
      • IV. The Practical Conception of Pure Independence
      • V. The Struggle
      • VI. The Significance of Victory
      • VII. The Master–Servant Relationship
      • VIII. The Metaphysical Irony at the Heart of Mastery
      • IX. From Subjects to Objects
      • X. Recognition and Cognition
      • XI. The Semantic Failures of Stoicism and Skepticism
    • 11. Hegel’s Expressive Metaphysics of Agency: The Determination, Identity, and Development of What Is Done
      • I. Looking Ahead: From Conceptual Realism and Objective Idealism to Conceptual Idealism
      • II. Two Sides of the Concept of Action: The Unity and Disparity That Action Involves
      • III. Two Models of the Unity and Disparity That Action Essentially Involves
      • IV. Intentional and Consequential Specifications of Actions
      • V. Practical Success and Failure in the Vulgar Sense: The Vorsatz/Absicht Distinction
      • VI. Identity of Content of Deed and Intention
      • VII. Further Structure of the Expressive Process by Which the Intention Develops into the Deed
    • 12. Recollection, Representation, and Agency
      • I. Hegelian vs. Fregean Understandings of Sense and Reference
      • II. Retrospective and Prospective Perspectives on the Development of Conceptual Contents
      • III. Intentional Agency as a Model for the Development of Senses
      • IV. Contraction and Expansion Strategies
  • Part Three. Recollecting the Ages of Spirit: From Irony to Trust
    • 13. The History of Normative Structures: On Beyond Immediate Sittlichkeit
      • I. Epochs of Geist
      • II. Immediate Sittlichkeit
      • III. The Rise of Subjectivity
      • IV. Alienation and Culture
    • 14. Alienation and Language
      • I. Introduction: Modernity, Legitimation, and Language
      • II. Actual and Pure Consciousness
      • III. Recognition in Language
      • IV. Authority and Responsibility in Language as a Model of Freedom
      • V. Pure Consciousness: Alienation as a Disparity between Cognition and Recognition
      • VI. Faith and Trust
      • VII. Morality and Conscience
    • 15. Edelmütigkeit and Niederträchtigkeit: The Kammerdiener
      • I. Two Meta-attitudes
      • II. The Kammerdiener
      • III. The Authority of Normative Attitudes and Statuses
      • IV. Naturalism and Genealogy
      • V. Four Meta-meta-attitudes
      • VI. Looking Forward to Magnanimity
    • 16. Confession and Forgiveness, Recollection and Trust
      • I. Neiderträchtig Assessment
      • II. Confession
      • III. Forgiveness
      • IV. Recollection
      • V. The Conditions of Determinate Contentfulness
      • VI. Trust and Magnanimous Agency
      • VII. Hegel’s Recollective Project
    • Conclusion: Semantics with an Edifying Intent: Recognition and Recollection on the Way to the Age of Trust
      • I. Edifying Semantics
      • II. Geist, Modernity, and Alienation
      • III. Some Contemporary Expressions of Alienation in Philosophical Theories
      • IV. Three Stages in the Articulation of Idealism
      • V. Recollection: How the Process of Experience Determines Conceptual Contents and Semantic Relations
      • VI. From Verstand to Vernunft: Truth and the Determinateness of Conceptual Content
      • VII. Normativity and Recognition
      • VIII. Dimensions of Holism: Identity through Difference
      • IX. Truth as Subject, Geist as Self-Conscious
      • X. The Age of Trust: Reachieving Heroic Agency
      • XI. Forgiveness: Recognition as Recollection
  • Afterword: To the Best of My Recollection
  • Notes
  • Index
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