Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 12-21-2018


One-year Embargo

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Jennifer Bates

Committee Member

Jay Lampert

Committee Member

Daniel Selcer

Committee Member

Wolfgang Neuser


idealism, externality, philosophy of nature, space, time, biology, Hegel


The topic of my dissertation is the metaphysics of laws of nature in Hegel’s philosophy of nature. I argue that Hegel differentiates laws of nature from norms of culture through a concept of “externality,” according to which the universals or laws of nature stand outside of, apart from, independent from their particulars. He contrasts this with norms of culture, where the universals are internal to the particulars, such that in culture the particular events or actions shape the norms, whereas in nature, the laws remain the same through their independence from the particular events. I then address the consequences this particular understanding of “externality” has for Hegel’s philosophy of nature, including its rejection of the role of induction in favor of a transcendental arguments for the laws of nature given only the idea that nature is this externalized structure; a metaphysical realist position about the existence of nature as entailed by an idealist epistemology pertaining to the laws and universals of nature; and finally, a defense of specific theories, universals, or laws of nature, which are derived from those a priori transcendental arguments. I conclude that while Hegel’s philosophy of nature is a necessary consequence of his epistemological assumptions, which are plausible and defensible in their own right, these assumptions ultimately commit Hegel to problematic claims regarding the particular structures in nature. In particular, I show how Hegel’s epistemology is fundamentally committed to a specific understanding of life and health that has since been challenged by evolutionary biology.



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