Peter Kalkavage on Hegel’s Anti-Aristotelian Account of Desire

I remember the amazement I had when, reading through the modern philosophers in college for the first time, I realized how all the societal disasters I had grown up with were presaged and, I thought, provoked by their writings. Ideas have consequences.


Hegel has sometimes been called an “Aristotelian” It is indeed undeniable that he was heavily influenced by Aristotle’s hylomorphism, the theory of nous, and so on. But there is a great gulf between Hegel and Aristotle. It is the abyss between the ancients and the moderns. One way of understanding that abyss is in terms of the account of the good and its relation to desire. Marcus Berquist once wrote that since the good is the cause of causes, the first principle, it is disagreement about the good that “defines modern philosophy, as it separates itself from the tradition of Plato and Aristotle, and the teachings of the Catholic Church.” To the moderns the good is good because it is desired, while to Plato, Aristotle, and the Catholic tradition it is desired because it is good. The following passage from Peter Kalkavage’s brilliant book on Hegel shows very clearly how central…

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About Andrew Seeley

Executive Director, Institute for Catholic Liberal Education Tutor, Thomas Aquinas College
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