ABOUT THOMAS WHALING
I received my PhD in May of 2018 at Temple University after having completed a Masters and Bachelors in Philosophy and a Bachelors in Theology at Loyola Marymount University. My efforts are now focused on continuing the research of my dissertation on the ontological status of the content of thought in Hegel's philosophy and truthmaker theory generally.
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AOS: Epistemology, Hegel, German Idealism
AOC: Metaphysics, Philosophy of Religion, Postmodernism, Philosophical Hermeneutics
Temple University – PhD in Philosophy, May 10th, 2018.
Dissertation: “Being Thought and Thinking Being in Hegel’s Science of Logic.”
Dissertation Committee Chair: Espen Hammer
Committee Members: Aryeh Botwinick, Joseph Margolis, Espen Hammer
Outside Reader: James C. Hebbeler
ABSTRACT: My aim in this dissertation is to demonstrate Hegel’s rejection of Kant’s transcendental program to explain Hegel’s motivation for, and the doctrine of, the identity of the identity and difference of thought and being. This doctrine maintains that while thought and being are different as determinate concepts, their nature is identical. This identity is used to explain Hegel’s claim that what is real is rational and what is rational is real, as all determinate being is constituted by the same rationality as determinate thought. The aim of this dissertation is placed within ontology as my interest is in the structure of being as opposed to its metaphysical contents. I argue that within this structure Hegel shows us the method of understanding the intelligible manner (or method of becoming) by which coming to be and ceasing to be is a rational process of being, which, while being’s contents are forever changing, these contents do so from the same unchanging identity of thought and being and are themselves imbued with rationality.
Loyola Marymount University – MA in Philosophy, May 7th, 2007.
– BA in Philosophy, Magna Cum Laude, May 15th, 2004.
– BA in Theology, Magna Cum Laude, May 15th, 2004.
PHILOS 0839 – Philosophy of the Human (Lecturer): Fall 2012.
PHILOS 2144 – Philosophy of Mind (Graduate Assistant): Spring 2012.
PHILOS 2172 – History of Philosophy: Modern (Graduate Assistant): Spring 2012.
PHILOS 0284 – Landscape of American Thought (Lecturer): Fall 2011.
Loyola Marymount University
PHIL 180 – Introduction to Human Nature (Lecturer): Fall 2008.
PHIL 210 – Critical Thinking (Lecturer): Fall 2006, Spring 2007.
Selected Graduate Coursework
Philosophy of Mind, Vision, Spring 2012.
History of Aesthetics (Kant’s Kritik der Urteilskraft), Gjesdal, Spring 2011.
Seminar in Metaphysics, Vision, Fall 2011.
19th Century Philosophy (Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre), Gjesdal, Fall 2010.
Loyola Marymount University
Hegel, Morelli, Spring 2007.
Kierkegaard, Murray, Spring 2006.
Kant, Wilson, Spring 2006.
Metaphysics, Synder, Fall 2005.
Phenomenology, Treanor, Spring 2007.
Heidegger, Stone, Spring 2006.
Contemporary French Philosophy (Derrida), Treanor, Fall 2005.
Gadamer, Cameron, Summer 2005.
Extracategorial Ideality in Hegel’s Category Theory. Article ms.
Motivating Kant’s Account of Purposiveness as Transcendental. Article ms.
Hölderlin’s Conditions for Self-Appropriation in Urtheil und Seyn. Article ms.
Divine Self-Awareness in Christ: Lonergan and Low Christologies. Article ms.
March 2010. “Divine Self-Awareness In Christ: Lonergan and Low Christologies.” Paper presented at the West Coast Methods Institute. Los Angeles, CA.
April 2005. “Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here? The Need for Dialogue Between
Deconstructionist and Critical Realists.” Paper presented at the West Coast Methods Institute. Los Angeles, CA.
May 2004. “Performative Contradiction in Derrida’s Khora.” LMU Philosophy Honors Thesis
Conference. Los Angeles, CA.
May 2003. “Catholic Divorce and Informed Consent.” Presented at Loyola Marymount University’s Theta Alpha Kappa Annual Meeting. Los Angeles, CA.
May 2001. “Disembodied Subjectivity in Descartes’ Second Meditation.” Presented at El Camino College’s Department of Social Sciences Student Symposium. El Camino Village, CA.
Awards and Other Distinctions
Department of Philosophy (Temple University), Teaching Fellow, 2011-2013
Department of Philosophy (Loyola Marymount University), Teaching Fellow, 2006-2007
Bradley Graduate Fellowship in Philosophy, 2006-2007
Philosophy Department Grant (Loyola Marymount University), 2005-2007
Loyola Marymount University Grant, 2002-2004; 2005-2007
Loyola Marymount Achievement Award, 2004
Phi Sigma Tau – National Honors Society for Philosophy, 2004
Theta Alpha Kappa – National Honors Society for Theological Studies, 2004
• Certified Teaching Practicum in pedagogy, student resource assessment and facilitation, and diversity sensitivity
• Creation of course content by theme and historical survey
• Creation of syllabi and exams
• Reading Proficiency in German and Spanish
• Knowledgeable in online course management systems
Espen Hammer, Professor of Philosophy, Temple University, 728 Anderson Hall, 1114 Polett Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19122. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark D. Morelli, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Loyola Marymount University, 1 LMU Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90045. email@example.com.
Jeffrey Wilson, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Loyola Marymount University, 1 LMU Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90045. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brian Treanor, Professor of Philosophy, Charles S. Casassa Chair, Loyola Marymount University, 1 LMU Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90045. email@example.com.
Gadamer, Cameron, Summer 2005.
As an educator in philosophy, my task is to bring out and polish the inner philosopher in each student through interaction with the course material and to have the student understand they are always operating as a philosopher in their daily lives through ethical, epistemological, and metaphysical commitments. I try to make the course material relevant to them by in class discussion and exercises which relate the material to their personal experience and assessment of current events. My classes consist of 70-80% lecture, allowing for questions, and using the remaining 20-30% of class time exploring the students’ response. For example, in an introductory course where Hobbes and Rousseau were assigned to discuss social contract theory, the students broke into groups to assess both views of the state of nature, and with these groups as a microcosmic society, they had to come to some agreement on what that state is and the transition into a social contract. In discussing marginalization through consensus, they saw their majority turn into another minority when each of the groups had to form a social contract among all the groups. Throughout the three-day experiment, the students found themselves articulating their views of what our nature is apart from civilization, how we struggle to find representation within that civilization, and how that struggle can powerfully displace the struggle of others when united in a contract that protects selective needs. Our mid-term then moved beyond this experiment to their own political and ethical views after introducing Mill’s utilitarianism and asking the students how we should balance the needs of the many versus the few considering our experiment’s challenges.
Apart from in-class teaching, office hours and email are critical to me. While I spend most of the time with my work, there have been several occasions where a shier student who does not participate in class will seek help privately during office hours. My time in the office is also an excellent time to assist students with special needs. Many freshman ESL students struggle to find the right language to capture their thoughts. These students show measurable improvement when taking advantage of on-campus services to help with their writing, where my shortcomings cannot assist them. Email is also a great way to assist the students, and I encourage them to write often with whatever they may think of outside of class. It is a wonderful opportunity to have a written response that they can take their time with and return to if class and office hours did not clear up particular matters or if work or other commitments require a more irregular schedule. While teaching at Temple University, many of the students had jobs following their classes that made office hours difficult. The ability for them to send late night answers with morning responses proved to help them.
Lastly, I stress to my students that there is the ethical component that is necessary to any such endeavors, particularly in the company of others with differing viewpoints. I emphasize mutual respect and require civility at a minimum. Many of the subjects in my courses touch on sensitive matters (euthanasia, right to privacy, the existence of a god) that can quickly turn into a personal battle between students over something they hold dear put in question. I try to balance the idea that students should be able to challenge ideas, within the spirit of civil and earnest inquiry, while students should feel free from aggressive behavior.
Publications and Works in Progress
My current research continues the work in my dissertation of setting Hegel’s philosophic method apart from Kant’s transcendental approach to metaphysics and cognition. After writing my dissertation intending to publish its five chapters separately, Chapter Three’s paper, “Extracategorial Ideality in Hegel's Category Theory” is currently in circulation to be published. I am beginning two other papers – “Pros Hen Equivocity: From Kant’s Phenomena to Hegel’s Noumena” and “Undecidability and Hypocrisy: Exploiting the Subjective Impotence of Reason.” I explain these essays in the timeline below.
Once these papers circulate, I will begin a book-length project on contemporary discussion of truthmaker theory as it pertains to Hegel’s logic (Truthmaking in Hegel’s Logic). Apart from my research in German Idealism, I studied the works of truthmaker theorists for the last six years including two graduate courses for formal study. I find it has much to offer Hegel’s theory of cognition regarding judgments of fact. Hegel also has something to offer the field by explaining why such things as states of affairs or facts carry the possibility to be truth-necessitators for truthmaking.
My research interests developed from the explanatory power Hegel’s Science offers as a starting point to describe why the reality we encounter is itself capable of being understood. I find Hegel counters much modern epistemology which adopts some variation of Kant’s transcendental method and thereby creates an unwarranted methodological embargo into investigating the knowledge conditions beyond our acts of understanding. Hegel shows that examining the performance of the thinking subject tempts treating the affects for cognition as separate metaphysical or ontological investigations. My research leads me to believe that epistemology (as a theory of cognition) collapses into self-contradiction when the explanation of the condition for the possibility of the affect is restricted to the cognition of the subject. We are better off to follow Hegel’s examination of thought as such to understand cognition apart from the customary first-person perspective in the transcendental preoccupation with human experience as it is experienced by the subject. Hegel’s onto-logic is not without severe difficulties, but its strongest merit is the ability to explain this affectivity through his notion of the identity of thought and being, whereby determinations are known to be potentially intelligible and elicit cognitive affectivity as they possess an inherent rationality that we mediate in our cognition of them.
However, as Kierkegaard remarks, it seems that Hegel builds a palace to live beside it in the guardhouse. Hegel’s system stands outside our world as its grand narrative of generalities misses explaining all the particulars becoming philosophically frictionless and unfalsifiable. This sentiment deserves serious attention on the part of the Hegel scholar and continues to a large degree today in Anglophonic literature. What lurks beneath the varying manifestations of this accusation of frictionless circularity is a demand for a correspondence theory on Hegel’s part. Hegel treats the notion of adequation as a staple of his process, but what is missing in his method is a truthmaking theory that is convincingly asymmetrical in focus and not merely one of coherence. To the degree that Hegel’s work fails to provide a surviving truthmaker theory, his cognitional theory is incomplete, and the modern reader will not find Hegel’s onto-logic compelling. However, if somewhere inside his method Hegel has a viable truthmaker theory, the gap between the palace and the guardhouse is not merely bridged, it is non-existent. My long-term research goal is to take the implicit truthmaker theory I find in Hegel’s logic and make it explicit through contemporary terminology and debate.
A timeline of estimated completion of these tasks is provided below with a short abstract on each project.
Extracategorial Ideality in Hegel’s Category Theory
This essay examines the ontological scope of Hegel’s category theory and argues that Hegel’s categories exhibit an extracategorial ideality (Idealität) that is irreducible to the categories and our use of them. This ideality is the intelligibility of the categories in themselves as a prior ontological condition for any category or act of categorization. Hegel argues that we know this ideality has an ontological scope beyond the understanding and its categories in his discussion of the bad infinite (die schlechte Unendlichkeit). There we attempt to grasp the infinite in terms of the finite, which exposes the artifactual nature of the infinite as the undetermined infinite that emerges as a determination within the finite. The etiological (or artifactual) nature of infinitude within the finite exhibits an ontological condition (ideality in itself) that must exist for there to be such finite determinations. Knowledge of this ideality reveals that while categorization conditions human cognition, the context of our cognition is known to us to transcend the subjective act of categorization. The importance of this insight is in discerning a method to transcend the subject-object dichotomy by showing us that thought and being are not as alienated as the difficulties suggested by the Kantian tradition.
Hegelian Pros Hen Equivocity: From Kant’s Phenomena to Hegel’s Noumena
This essay uses Aristotle’s notion of pros hen equivocity to explain Hegel’s alternative to Kant’s phenomenal/noumenal distinction. I use Aristotle’s concept to assist in terminology for what Hegel leaves conceptually scattered in his chapter, “Concrete Existence” in the Science. I first examine Aristotle’s notion of pros hen equivocity as the unity of being discerned in the equivocal nature of beings – the unity of being that grounds its diverse existents. I then show that this equivocity is the heart of what Hegel is after in “Concrete Existence” in the Science and apply the Hegelian notion of pros hen equivocity to Hegel’s critique of Kant’s phenomena/noumena relationship.
Undecidability and Hypocrisy: Exploiting the Subjective Impotence of Reason
In the third essay, I argue that Hegel’s notion of the subjective impotence of reason, the dialectical quagmire of mutually exclusive claims where both appear to be true, poses a problem to faith in reason in the manner of misology and hypocrisy. Derrida’s notion of undecidability is introduced, but, under Hegelian diagnostics, is treated as a product of the subjective impotence of reason and not possible-impossible aporias – inherent and intellectually insurmountable paradoxes in the concepts themselves. The reason we should take Derrida’s account seriously is its exemplary nature in dismissing, inadvertently or otherwise, moral accountability in decision-making. Undecidability itself is not hypocrisy, but Derrida’s analysis lends itself to the dissolution of the notion of hypocrisy as every act is either a (1) forgivable choice from the arbitrary nature of judgment or (2) a blameless choice as the concept of blame itself has no ground. There are forgivable and blameless circumstances, but we understand these circumstances better as results from missing information and not the concept of undecidability and its implications for cognition. Hegel allows us to see that we are left with neither (1) or (2) from the nature of undecidability (or the subjective impotence of reason) once we discern the nature of hypocrisy within the notion of undecidability – that conviction is absolute when it is mine. Further, Hegel’s notion of hypocrisy allows us to assess the argumentative integrity of an appeal to undecidability. I conclude that in Derrida’s notion of undecidability, he fails to maintain that integrity and the appeal to undecidability to lessen the burden to do so merely perpetuates hypocrisy that can no longer be claimed to fall under choices (1) or (2).
Truthmaking in Hegel’s System
The project begins by discussing why Hegel’s ontology has left an unsatisfactory feeling among its readers over the last century from its seemingly overcomplicated and convoluted procedure and terminology. I aim to convince the reader that such frustrations should be endured so that we retain Hegel’s ontology as an identity of thought and being or, as Hegel summarizes this ontology, to explain that for that which is rational, it actually is; and for that which actually is, it is rational. I argue that Hegel’s ultimate ambition is to explain how we can understand what exists because what exists is intelligible, and the mechanism by which this happens is the shared identity of thought and being.
However, the identity of thought and being, in a concession to many critics, has little application to individual items of experience, except in explaining their general ontological structure, which is the same for all things. Such is a long-standing dissatisfaction with Hegel’s idealism in general, but I argue this is not the fault of Hegel’s ontology but rather the proper consequence of its limited aim.
Because of this limited aim, the system in the Science never undertook a proper account of truthmaking. I argue that while the ontological foundation of Hegel’s system remains, we see in its transition into the philosophy of nature that the system presupposes a correspondence theory that fails to be satisfactorily explicit. Hegel’s ontology needs its implicit truthmaking theory laid bare to successfully demonstrate that it explains how our judgments of nature correspond to the identity of thought and being. I next turn to modern truthmaker scholarship to establish which truthmaking theory is implied by the method of Hegel’s science, and address several contenders (Frege, Russell, Moore, Meinong, Davidson, Schaffer, Cameron, and Vision) in historical sequence to show the evolution of the debate from Hegel’s time to present. I consider the strengths and weaknesses of these truthmaker theories in themselves and then in their relation to Hegel’s project. In this respect I find the sort of correspondence theory laid out by Gerald Vision as not merely compatible, but, I argue, necessitated by Hegel’s logic. The truthmaker theory argues for an asymmetrical relation between facts and states of affairs, which comes closest to Hegel’s notion of objective ideas and empirical events and objects.