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Despite Hegel’s candidly admitted preference for the concrete over the abstract, abstraction is not of mere secondary importance in his philosophy: on the one hand, ‘real concreteness’ includes abstraction as one of its necessary components; on the other hand, as we shall see, abstraction, so to speak, becomes concrete in modern society. Moreover, that a stubborn and acute upholder of the concept should express such a manifest inclination for concreteness may appear somewhat surprising. In a short essay that speculates on Hegel’s famous reproach to Kant for having displayed in his antinomies too much ‘tenderness for the things of the world’, 13 Remo Bodei provocatively raises the question of why the ‘starry heavens’ and the ‘moral law’ – so important to the philosopher of Königsberg – do not seem to interest Hegel, or perhaps even disappoint him. 14 Bodei convincingly interprets Hegel’s lack of interest as the propensity to concentrate the efforts of reason on the sublunary world and its terrestrial matters, with respect to which the sky and the interiority of the moral commandment represent merely two lines of flight. To this extent, Hegel’s critique of abstraction can be considered as one of the primary means by which he seeks to channel philosophical reason into the world. 15
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