Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Eric Sanday


This dissertation, Being and Historical Change in Hegel’s Science of Logic, examines the immanent relationship between metaphysics and history, specifically historical change, through an examination of Hegel’s Science of Logic. It seems to me that this relationship has been under-explored both in metaphysics broadly and Hegel scholarship specifically. For instance, many authors have discussed the role of history in Hegel’s philosophy and many others have focused on his metaphysics. But only a few have discussed how these two aspects immanently intersect with one another; specifically, what the examination of metaphysics can teach us about interpreting history and historical change.

My motivation for the project is therefore rooted in answering two basic, interrelated questions: What kind of metaphysics must we articulate that accounts for historical change, where historical change is understood through the lens of contingent ‘ruptures’ with the past such as social/political revolutions or seemingly violent fractures in nature? And second, what must ‘being’ be like, or what primary metaphysical principle, helps us understand such changes? These are the questions that drew me to Hegel’s metaphysics in the Science of Logic. Specifically, I am interested in how Hegel conceives of the structured, intelligible reality of our lived experience not in terms of unity, at least not in the first place, but rather as the historical product of a dynamic tension that is inherent to reality itself. Accordingly, my thesis and contribution is that Hegel posits an element of difference and not identity/unity as the most basic metaphysical element which I further argue opens a space to interpret the conceptual structures that we use to make sense of the world as historically generated and thus open to being undermined, dissolved, and reconstituted. While many authors acknowledge a dynamic element to Hegel’s metaphysics few articulate it in terms of a principle of difference and even fewer in a way that accommodates historical change.

Many authors have sought to reconcile such an antagonistic view of reality by arguing that Hegel’s metaphysics contains an implicitly presupposed foundational principle of identity that continuously reasserts itself through the apparent dynamism. This typically gets expressed via Hegel’s most famous category: the Concept. Examples of this include teleological accounts in which being unfolds conceptually through greater complexity in the world. Others take a more epistemic view, emphasizing a goal of developing through dialectic all the conceptual conditions regarding the unity and structure of objects in the world. My contribution is to turn this on its head, so to speak, by showing the inherent antagonism that forms the beginning not only remains throughout the account of the Logic, but that the Concept is in fact the most articulate expression of this principle of difference. The Concept therefore becomes our best category for understanding history as open to radical change in ways that teleological descriptions of history do not.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)