Robert B. Pippin

Robert B. Pippin

region = Western Philosophers
era = Contemporary Philosophy
color = #B0C4DE

image_caption = Robert B. Pippin, January 2003
name = Robert B. Pippin
birth = September 14, 1948
school_tradition = Kant, Continental
main_interests = History of Philosophy, Epistemology, Ethics, Aesthetics, Modernity Theory
influences = G. W. F. Hegel, Immanuel Kant, Stanley Rosen, Robert Brandom, Richard Rorty
influenced = | Robert Brandom, John McDowell, Terry Pinkard notable_ideas =

Robert B. Pippin (born 1948) is an American philosopher. He is the Evelyn Stefansson Nef Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago.


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

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.

Academic career

Pippin earned his PhD 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 among his colleagues.

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