Hegel's Critique of Kantian Practical Reason

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Canadian Journal of Philosophy/Taylor & Francis


While many philosophers have found Hegel's critique of Kantian ethics to be interesting in certain respects, overall most tend to find it rather shallow and to think that Hegel either misunderstands Kant's thought or has a rather crude understanding of it. For example, in examining the last two sections of Chapter V of the Phenomenology - 'Reason as Lawgiver' and 'Reason as Testing Laws' (where we get an extended critique of the categorical imperative)- Lauer finds Hegel's treatment to be truncated and inadequate.1 The only trouble, though, is that like most other readers of the Phenomenology, Lauer does not recognize that Hegel had been examining and criticizing Kantian ethics throughout a much greater part of-indeed, more than half of-Chapter V. Once we do understand this, I think we must concede that Hegel's treatment is hardly truncated and that it cannot be described as shallow or inadequate. I will try to show that Hegel demonstrates a rather sophisticated understanding of, and gives a serious and thorough critique of, Kantian practical reason.