Denken, Nachdenken, objektiver Gedanken nella filosofia di Hegel


The theory of ‘objective thought’ can be characterized as an essential core of the Hegelian philosophy and, at the same time, as one of its most indigestible kernels. This theory, at the intersection of foundational and epistemological problems, on the one hand, provides Hegel’s solution to the problem of the relation between being and thought. On the other hand, this theory is the result of a powerful conceptual torsion carried out by Hegel on the notion of thought. This torsion consists, in a first approximation, of a strong enlargement of the scope of such a notion, articulated principally in two steps. In the first step, we have an enlargement within the finite subject, inside the mental realm. Thought (conceived of as Denken) becomes, from a mental faculty or activity separated from the other mental activities, an active element working in an unconscious and instinctual way in the whole of the mental. This step, naturally, requires a redefinition of thought as a faculty or activity, i.e. a redefinition of conscious and reflective thought (conceived of as Nachdenken). In the second step, the scope of the notion of thought is enlarged in order to encompass reality in all of its different spheres, natural and spiritual. Here, thought is conceived as the logic-rational structure of reality. With this further step, thought evades the mental sphere in which it would be enclosed on a merely psychological account. In this paper, I will move from the assumption that the first step, providing a first sense in which objectivity can be attributed to thought, is a necessary, though insufficient, condition for the second step, and then for the further sense of this attribution. Thus, I will attempt to provide a conceptual map of the fundamental distinctions within the notion of thought, particularly regarding the first step of this conceptual torsion.