Date of Award

Spring 1-9-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Sebastian Rand


In the Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant offers a revolutionary approach to cognition, wherein cognition can be understood as an action carried out by a cognitive agent. But giving the subject such an active role raises questions about Kant’s ability to account for objective cognition. In this paper, I will argue that the cognitive autonomy thesis central to Kant’s model renders it unable to account for the normativity required for objective cognition, and that G.W.F. Hegel makes just this criticism in the Desire section of his Phenomenology of Spirit. Hegel proposes an alternative: some basic intersubjective structure must be built into cognition on a fundamental level. For Hegel, the possibility of disagreement is an a priori requirement for objective cognition in general.