Of course, Hegel saw his own philosophical efforts as elucidating the progression by which the rational becomes real. That is, he conceived history as the process of the Absolute becoming increasingly self-manifest (the Incarnate Logos) through the development toward, and concrete realization in, the human consciousness. This Rorty rejects as a form of pantheistic fantasy that attempts to maintain a “closeness of fit” between word and world by rendering humanity as the mere manifestation of the Divine Mind, and one that is not consistent, ironically, with Hegel’s own anti-representational doctrine of historicism. To address this inconsistency and for a corrective to Hegel’s Absolute Idealism, Rorty turns to Charles Darwin.
These last two points are not really issues that I take up in this paper. In fact, at the time of writing this paper – which was a few years ago now – I think I had a sense of the importance of these two questions without yet being able to articulate it so clearly. I have since written another paper that does engage with these questions, and I believe the second one is a particularly complex issue. Without engaging with these particular questions, however, there is still much of significance that needs to be explored; and much that is very often taken for granted. What is the relation between self-dependence and necessary being? Can contingent existents be self-explanatory? How does fundamentality intersect with modality? What is the modal status of that which is to be explained by the fundamentalia? Although this paper doesn’t answer any of these questions, I believe it draws to our attention how important it is to ask them. And I believe that the literature on cosmological arguments to the existence of God is an invaluable resource to look to try and start our investigation.