Hegel’s Logic of Essence as the Ontology of Power in Capitalism


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation addresses Hegel’s conception of power as a logical category. It has two interrelated goals. The first is to demonstrate that Hegel, in the second part of the “Science of Logic,” the “Logic of Essence,” develops an ontology that is based on power. The second goal is to show that Hegel’s “Logic of Essence” specifically captures the general structure of social domination in capitalism. Mobilizing Marx’s and Adorno’s social theories, this project argues that, for Hegel, the asymmetrical relation of domination obtains not despite the symmetrical relation of equality, but precisely through equality. The most basic form of this relation of domination is the relation of “opposition.” The project elaborates how, for Hegel, the context or the “totality” of relations is coercive upon individuals. Given the all-pervasive relations of power, the dissertation problematizes the possibility of substantive freedom, at both the ontological level and social level in capitalism.