Date of Award

Summer 2002

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Lawrence Hatab

Committee Member

Dana Heller

Committee Member

Edward Jacobs

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.H85 T37 2002


Our postmodern intellectual climate is characterized by two apparently contradictory impulses. One seeks to undermine, unmask, and deflate the pretenses of philosophy as traditionally conceived. The result is a focus on difference, surfaces, and fragmentation. The competing impulse seeks to reconcile, integrate, and synthesize. The result is a holistic focus on deeper similarities behind surface differences. I argue that these competing impulses can be traced back to Hegel and Nietzsche. Thus, an understanding of the relationship between these two thinkers can illuminate our current postmodern condition. I argue that Nietzsche and Hegel are remarkably similar in their approach to many philosophical problems. Their main disagreement concerns teleology. No thinker in history more completely embraces teleology than Hegel, and no thinker in history more thoroughly denounces it than Nietzsche. This divide remains with us in the form of the apparently contradictory impulses that characterize postmodernity. After briefly examining the western genesis of teleological thinking in the thought of Aristotle I examine Hegel's affirmation and Nietzsche's rejection of teleology. I argue that both Hegel's radical affirmation and Nietzsche's radical rejection are inappropriate and ultimately the result of a model of speculative metaphysical theorizing that should be rejected. I present Ken Wilber's system as an alternative. His system, I argue, avoids the problems that plague both approaches and the warring impulses that spring from them. In this way his thought represents an overcoming of the postmodern teleological impasse.


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