Kant considered the forms of thought as some ready-made object, an uncritical classification of existing notions about thought.
In contrast, Hegel did not accept a single determination on faith. There had to be a criticism of the thought-forms known to cultivated thinking, i.e. self-criticism.
Hegel therefore began to consider all the categories (of quality, quantity, measure, causality, probability, necessity, the general and the particular, and so on and so forth) in quite a new way.
They were not given in intuition, contemplation or direct experience to each individual, not transcendental schemas inborn in each individual consciousness (as Kant, Fichte, and Schelling had in fact treated them).
Categories were only manifested through the historically developing scientific, technical, and moral ‘perfecting’ of the human race, because only in such things, and not in the experience of the isolated individual, did thought become ‘for itself’ what it had been ‘in itself’.
Categories are universal forms in individual consciousness of those objects that have been created by the collective efforts of past generations, by the power of their combined impersonal thought (‘universal spirit’).
All individuals throughout history have contributed to this collective effort through co-operative activity. However, the individual today feels increasingly powerless before the impersonal thought of globalised capitalism, which has raised levels of co-operation to unprecedented levels.
© John Dunn.