Robert B. Pippin

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Robert B. Pippin
Born (1948-09-14) September 14, 1948 (age 73)
Portsmouth, Virginia[1]
Era Contemporary philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Analytic
Main interests
History of philosophy, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, modernity
Notable ideas
criticism of structuralism

Robert Buford Pippin (born September 14, 1948) is an American philosopher. He is the Evelyn Stefansson Nef Distinguished Service Professor in the John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought, the Department of Philosophy, and the College at the University of Chicago.


Pippin earned his BA in English from Trinity College in Hartford CT. and his Ph.D. in philosophy from Penn State under the direction of Stanley Rosen. Before moving to Chicago, he taught for a number of years in the department of philosophy at UCSD, where he counted Henry Allison and Herbert Marcuse among his colleagues. In 2009 he held the Spinoza Chair of Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam.[2] Since 2014 he is PhD honoris causa at Uppsala University, Sweden.[3] He currently resides in Chicago with his wife Joan.

Academic work

Pippin is best known for his work on Hegel, although has also published articles and books on Kant, Nietzsche, Proust, Hannah Arendt, Leo Strauss and Henry James.

His 1989 book Hegel's Idealism: The Satisfactions of Self-Consciousness was a major contribution to Hegel studies. In it Pippin portrays Hegel as a thinker with fewer metaphysical commitments than are traditionally attributed. Hegel's claims about the "Absolute" and "Spirit" are interpreted in a vein more epistemological than ontological. Much of Hegel's project, in Pippin's reading, is a continuation rather than a reversal of the Kantian critique of dogmatic metaphysics.

Such a revisionist reading of Hegel has gained a following recently, inspiring important works by Terry Pinkard, Paul Redding and others, as well as influencing less historically-oriented philosophers of mind such as John McDowell and Robert Brandom. A similar movement to interpret Hegel as a "category-theorist" has been inspired in Germany by Klaus Hartmann.

In Pippin's 1991 Modernism as a Philosophical Problem: On the Dissatisfactions of European High Culture, he develops what he calls a socio-cultural corollary to his 1989 work. He enters the debate on the legitimacy of the modernist project and the possibility of post-modernity. Still claiming to be interpreting Hegel, Pippin tries to defend modern, prosaic bourgeois society. Nonetheless he admits that, and attempts to explore why, the dominant high culture of that society has been one of what might be termed self-hatred: he ranges from Flaubert and later modernist avant-gardes to the intellectual trends of New Historicism and Derridean deconstructive thought. Generally speaking, Pippin's argument is that modernity is "never-ending", that it is an attempt to bring greater rational transparency to all of our social practices and that much of the self-hatred of modern high culture is motivated by attempts to bring such transparency to areas where it had previously not existed. This process may never be completed but once it is begun, it cannot be stopped.


  • Kant's Theory of Form: An Essay on the 'Critique of Pure Reason' (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982).
  • Marcuse: Critical Theory and The Promise of Utopia, eds. R. Pippin, A. Feenberg, C. Webel. MacMillan (Great Britain), Bergin and Garvey (USA), 1988.
  • Hegel's Idealism: The Satisfactions of Self-Consciousness. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.)
  • Modernism as a Philosophical Problem: On the Dissatisfactions of European High Culture (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1991).
  • Idealism as Modernism: Hegelian Variations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).
  • Henry James and Modern Moral Life (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).
  • Hegel on Ethics and Politics, eds. Robert Pippin and Otfried Höffe, Translated by Nicholas Walker, Introduction by Robert Pippin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004)
  • Die Verwirklichung der Freiheit, forward by Axel Honneth and Hans Joas (Frankfurt a.M.: Campus Verlag, 2005)
  • The Persistence of Subjectivity: On the Kantian Aftermath (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2005).
  • Nietzsche, moraliste français: La conception nietzschéenne d'une psychologie philosophique (Paris: Odile Jacob, 2005)
  • "Introduction" to Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and edited with Adrian del Caro (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006)
  • Hegel’s Practical Philosophy: Rational Agency as Ethical Life (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008)
  • Nietzsche, Psychology, and First Philosophy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010)
  • Hollywood Westerns and American Myth: The Importance of Howard Hawks and John Ford for Political Philosophy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010)
  • Hegel on Self-Consciousness: Desire and Death in the Phenomenology of Spirit (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011)
  • After the Beautiful: Hegel and the Philosophy of Pictorial Modernism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014)
  • Interanimations: Receiving Modern German Philosophy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015)

See also


External links