On the word BUT and its function: An investigation, using algorithms, into Hegel’s method of paragraph composition


At what “resolution” does Hegel’s dialectic operate? Does it dictate the transition between arguments in a chapter, or the transition between chapters in a book, or the transition between books in the system? This paper suggests that Hegel’s method can be seen to work at the level of paragraph composition. It proposes that Hegel’s use of a certain form of paragraph is consistent with his account of his method. This use reflects how Hegel conceptualizes thought processes; and it is frequent, employed semi-systematically throughout Hegel’s major works. The proposal is substantiated both through a close reading of Hegel’s description of his method, and through a quantitative investigation (or “distant reading”) of Hegel’s works. The paper further suggests, and demonstrates, that Hegel’s writings can be made more legible if the dialectical structure of his paragraphs is made conspicuous. Moreover, this paper lives at the shadowy fringes between design, the digital humanities, and the history of philosophy. It investigates the ways algorithms and design principles can be used to investigate Hegel’s philosophy.

Read Article On Muse