How to Actualize the Whole Possibility: The Necessity-Contingency Dialectic in Hegel's Science of Logic

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Brown, Nahum

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University of Guelph


Do unactualized possibilities exist in any significant way? Do they contribute to the basic constitution of reality? My work explores Hegel’s answer to these questions by offering a close textual analysis of the “Actuality” chapter in the Science of Logic. By presenting his argument as a series of twenty-seven premises, I attempt to persuade my reader that Hegel’s modal ontology requires i) that unactualized possibilities really do exist, ii) that when a possibility remains unactualized, this status propels it towards actualization, iii) that an actuality can have higher or lower concentrations of possibility within it, and iv) that reality always tends towards the greatest expression of possibility in one actuality. The final chapter of my dissertation develops these conclusions of Hegel’s thesis by situating his modal theory within a debate that Deleuze attributes to Leibniz over the nature of compossibilities, incompossibilities, and the problem of how to actualize the best of all possible worlds.



Continental Philosophy, Hegel, Possibility, Necessity, the Science of Logic