Paul Cobben

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Paul Gulian Cobben (born 5 June 1951 in Amersfoort) is a Dutch philosopher.[1] His main contribution to philosophy is that he has given an immanent critique of G.W.F. Hegel's philosophy. His research specializes in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), Science of Logic (1812) and Philosophy of Right (1821).

Hegel's philosophy

In the Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel shows us, "phenomenological consciousness", how "natural consciousness" develops itself into "philosophical consciousness". Taking this result as point of departure for the Science of Logic, Hegel subsequently develops the "absolute idea". In the Philosophy of Right finally, Hegel develops the institutional realization of this idea as "objective spirit".

On first sight, the Phenomenology of Spirit, the Science of Logic and the Philosophy of Right are organized by the same logical structure. There are, however, structural differences to notice. The Science of Logic differs structurally from the Phenomenology of Spirit, and because Hegel wrote the Philosophy of Right with the Science of Logic in the back of his mind, these structural differences reappear in the Philosophy of Right.

Cobben's project

Because of its internal consistency, Cobben functionalises the Phenomenology of Spirit as a criterion of truth for correcting the logical structure of the Science of Logic and Philosophy of Right. In this way, he criticizes Hegel's philosophy immanently.

In addition to this immanent critique of Hegel's philosophy, Cobben contributed to philosophy in another, more practical, way, namely by actualising the Philosophy of Right. Its actualisation is required because many of the institutions that Hegel developed in the Philosophy of Right as the realization of freedom are restricted to a particular time and place. Cobben substitutes these institutions for other ones that do realize freedom. This, and the aforementioned critique, constitute Cobben's "post-dialectical" version of the Philosophy of Right as it is laid down in his Das Gesetz der multikulturellen Gesellschaft: eine Aktualisierung von Hegels 'Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts' (2002).


  1. "Gehandicapte kent veel voldoening". Reformatorisch Dagblad (in Dutch). February 18, 2005. Retrieved 17 July 2011.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>