Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts


Theory and Criticism


Tilottama Rajan


This thesis analyzes the structural position of matter within the philosophical system of nineteenth century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Concentrating on the Philosophy of Nature, it reads Hegel’s treatment of matter psychoanalytically and semiotically as the unconscious to his anthropological (spiritual) and logical philosophy, which otherwise constitutes the majority of his writings. To do so, this thesis explores a proliferation of figurative language throughout Hegel’s text, specifically in his writing on mechanics, light, the elements, and organic life. In this investigation, Hegel’s work is considered alongside the work of Julia Kristeva, Georges Bataille, Gaston Bachelard, and Rodolphe Gasché, among others, in order to more fully explore how matter might act as a conceptual repository for what is repressed in the construction of philosophical systems. Implicitly, this thesis also attempts to provide a critique of the ideological appropriation of the philosophical category of reality.