The Speculative Remark

Nancy, Jean-Luc




This work, by one of the most innovative and challenging of contemporary thinkers, pivots on a "Remark" added by Hegel in 1831 to the second edition of his "Science of Logic." As a model of close reading applied both to philosophical texts and the making of philosophical systems, "The Speculative Remark" played a significant role in transforming the practice of philosophy away from system building to analysis of specific linguistic detail, with meticulous attention to etymological, philological, and rhetorical nuance. Nancy uses his extended examination of the "Remark" to delineate certain overall strategies in several Hegelian texts that militate for language-oriented readings of Hegel, as shown in Nancy's redefinition of such key terms as "Aufhebung," "mediation," and "speculation." Nancy's reading progresses from speculative words and propositions to registering the speculative itself. While he avoids analyzing Hegel's system as such, Nancy reconstructs the Hegelian trajectory on a basis of tropes, building from propositions rather than structures, elements, and cycles. The overview that emerges in the final chapter and epilogue constitutes a broad statement about Hegel's practice and significance, one nuanced by close attention to his deployment of rhetoric and linguistic play. "The Speculative Remark" thus furnishes a model for a theoretically aware approach to all systematic philosophy, while providing a significant historical contribution to the evolution of contemporary critical theory.