Friday Night Live! (Week 2) T&H Hosts Corbett Report Radio / Tonight’s Topic: Hegel


May 25, 2012: Week 2 / We’ll be discussing Brett’s School Sucks Podcast trilogy (episodes 134-136) titled “The American Way”; focusing on hour 3 and the story of Prussian influence on American culture. CLICK HERE to listen to Corbett Report Radio live on RBN weeknights at midnight Eastern.

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Notes from Episode 136: Part 3 of 3 in an expansion of the School Sucks: The American Way You Tube Video.

The American way…
What is this way? Where does it come from? And where does it lead?

In this show: G. W. F. Hegel

Week 2 (05-25-12)


1)     Introduction

  1. a.     5 W’s
    1.                                           i.    Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (Who)
    2.                                          ii.    German Philosopher (What and Where)
    3.                                         iii.    August 27, 1770 – November 14, 1831 (When)
    4.                                         iv.    “I believe that in the course of my own development as a philosopher, I have recapitulated and give expression to the “autobiography” of the Absolute.” (Why)

2)     Historical Context

  1. a.     Timeline of released works:
    1.                                           i.    The Phenomenology of Mind (1807)
    2.                                          ii.    The Science of Logic (1812)
    3.                                         iii.    Philosophy of Right (1821)
    4.                                         iv.    Logic: Part One -Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences(1830)
    5.                                          v.    Philosophy of Nature: Part Two -Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences (1817)
    6.                                         vi.    Philosophy of Mind: Part Three -Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences (1830)
    7.                                        vii.    Lectures on the History of Philosophy (1833) – selections
    8.                                       viii.    The Philosophy of History: Introduction (1837)
    9.                                         ix.    Outlines of the Phenomenology (1840)
    10.                                          x.    Outlines of the Logic(1840)
  2. b.    Sourced:
    1.                                           i.
    2.                                          ii.
    3.                                         iii.

3)     Hegel’s Influences

  1. a.     Friedrich Hölderlin
    1.                                           i.    Idealization of Greeks – Poetry as rift between Religion and Reason
  2. b.    Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling
  3. c.     Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  4. d.    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  5. e.     Friedrich Schiller

4)     French Revolution

5)     Immanuel Kant

  1. a.     Critique of Pure Reason, Practical Reason, and Judgment
    1.                                           i.    Critique of Pure Reason asked posited the questions:
      1. How do we know what we know?
      2. How is knowledge possible?
      3. What can we know?
      4. What can we never expect to know?
  2. b.    Kantian limits to reason and knowledge
    1.                                           i.    Kant believed that he had demonstrated that we can only know the world as it appears to us, and is experienced by us – not as it is “in itself”. Kant had not only provided a foundation for knowledge, he had at the same time also set limits to it. – Source: Introduction Hegel by Lloyd Spencer and Andrzej Krauze
      1. 1.     The Transcendent

6)     Responses to Kant’s Critiques

  1. a.     Johann Gottlieb Fichte
  2. b.    Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling
  3. c.     Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
    1.                                           i.    All sought to rectify subjective vs. objective knowledge

7)     Enlightenment vs. Post Enlightenment Thought

  1. a.     Kant attacked metaphysics and sought to create an inseparable barrier between Faith and Reason.
  2. b.    Schelling and Hegel are Lutherans that ascribed to “inner freedom”. And the French Revolution externalized that “inner freedom”.

8)     German Idealism post Kant and the Enlightenment

  1. a.     Meaning of IdealismThe word “idealism” has more than one meaning. The philosophical meaning of idealism here is that the properties we discover in objects depend on the way that those objects appear to us as perceiving subjects, and not something they possess “in themselves,” apart from our experience of them. The very notion of a “thing in itself” should be understood as an option of a set of functions for an operating mind, such that we consider something that appears without respect to the specific manner in which it appears. The question of what properties a thing might have “independently of the mind” is thus incoherent for Idealism[citation needed][clarification needed].
  2. b.    Central theme – the universe as a coherent whole and the role freedom plays in that conception
  3. c.     Differences in formulating an underlying principle to Kant’s work
    1.                                           i.    Spinoza – Sought to show mind and matter as the same basic substance
    2.                                          ii.    Schelling – The absolute as a “neutral identity” that underlies both the subject and the object
    3.                                         iii.    Fichte – Philosophical system needs to be based on a single underlying principle – Absolute Subjectivity – i.e. All reality is a subjective (mind) whole
  4. d.    Hegel – The Phenomenology of Spirit
    1.                                           i.    Absolute Idealism – “Hegel. It is Hegel’s account of how being is ultimately comprehensible as an all-inclusive whole. Hegel asserted that in order for the thinking subject (human reason or consciousness) to be able to know its object (the world) at all, there must be in some sense an identity of thought and being. Otherwise, the subject would never have access to the object and we would have no certainty about any of our knowledge of the world. To account for the differences between thought and being, however, as well as the richness and diversity of each, the unity of thought and being cannot be expressed as the abstract identity “A=A“. Absolute idealism is the attempt to demonstrate this unity using a new “speculative” philosophical method, which requires new concepts and rules of logic. According to Hegel, the absolute ground of being is essentially a dynamic, historical process of necessity that unfolds by itself in the form of increasingly complex forms of being and of consciousness, ultimately giving rise to all the diversity in the world and in the concepts with which we think and make sense of the world.
    2.                                          ii.    Master-slave dialecticThe passage describes, in narrative form, the development of self-consciousness as such in an encounter between what are thereby (i.e., emerging only from this encounter) two distinct, self-conscious beings; the essence of the dialectic is the movement or motion of recognizing, in which the two self-consciousnesses are constituted each in being recognized as self-conscious by the other. This movement, inexorably taken to its extreme, takes the form of a “struggle to the death” in which one masters the other, only to find that such lordship makes the very recognition he had sought impossible, since the bondsman, in this state, is not free to offer it.It is a story or myth created by Hegel in order to explain his idea of how self-consciousness dialectically sublates into what he variously refers to as Absolute Knowledge, Spirit, and Science. As a work the Phenomenology may be considered both as an independent work, apparently considered by Hegel to be an a priori for understanding the Science of Logic, and as a part of the Science of Logic, where absolute knowledge is explained.
    3.                                         iii.    History as Self-Realization – Patterns where the parts fit the whole, a fractal
      1. 1.     A pattern of subjective awareness of the pattern towards freedom, both intrinsically and extrinsically.

9)     The Hegelian Dialectic

  1. a.     Attempted to create a new system of logic that would supplant Aristotle’s deduction syllogism
  2. b.    Dialectical Thinking – Hegelian dialectic
    1.                                           i.    The concept of dialectics was given new life by Hegel (following Fichte), whose dialectically dynamic model of nature and of history made it, as it were, a fundamental aspect of the nature of reality (instead of regarding the contradictions into which dialectics leads as a sign of the sterility of the dialectical method, as Kant tended to do in his Critique of Pure Reason).[26][27] In the mid-19th century, the concept of “dialectic” was appropriated by Marx (see, for example, Das Kapital, published in 1867) and Engels and retooled in a non-idealist manner, becoming a crucial notion in their philosophy of dialectical materialism. Thus this concept has played a prominent role on the world stage and in world history. In contemporary polemics, “dialectics” may also refer to an understanding of how we can or should perceive the world (epistemology); an assertion that the nature of the world outside one’s perception is interconnected, contradictory, and dynamic (ontology); or it can refer to a method of presentation of ideas and conclusions (discourse).
    2.                                          ii.    According to Hegel, “dialectic” is the method by which human history unfolds; that is to say, history progresses as a dialectical process. Hegelian dialectic, usually presented in a threefold manner, was stated by Heinrich Moritz Chalybäus as comprising three dialectical stages of development: a thesis, giving rise to its reaction, an antithesis, which contradicts or negates the thesis, and the tension between the two being resolved by means of a synthesis. Although this model is often named after Hegel, he himself never used that specific formulation. Hegel ascribed that terminology to Kant.[28] Carrying on Kant’s work, Fichte greatly elaborated on the synthesis model, and popularized it. On the other hand, Hegel did use a three-valued logical model that is very similar to the antithesis model, but Hegel’s most usual terms were: Abstract-Negative-Concrete. Hegel used this writing model as a backbone to accompany his points in many of his works. The formula, Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis, does not explain why the Thesis requires an Antithesis. However, the formula, Abstract-Negative-Concrete, suggests a flaw in any initial thesis—it is too abstract and lacks the negative of trial, error and experience. For Hegel, the Concrete, the Synthesis, the Absolute, must always pass through the phase of the Negative, that is, Mediation. This is the actual essence of what is popularly called Hegelian Dialectics. To describe the activity of overcoming the negative, Hegel also often used the term Aufhebung, variously translated into English as “sublation” or “overcoming,” to conceive of the working of the dialectic. Roughly, the term indicates preserving the useful portion of an idea, thing, society, etc., while moving beyond its limitations. (Jacques Derrida’s preferred French translation of the term was relever).[29] In the Logic, for instance, Hegel describes a dialectic of existence: first, existence must be posited as pure Being (Sein); but pure Being, upon examination, is found to be indistinguishable from Nothing (Nichts). When it is realized that what is coming into being is, at the same time, also returning to nothing (in life, for example, one’s living is also a dying), both Being and Nothing are united as Becoming.[30] As in the Socratic dialectic, Hegel claimed to proceed by making implicit contradictions explicit: each stage of the process is the product of contradictions inherent or implicit in the preceding stage.
    3.                                         iii.    For Hegel, the whole of history is one tremendous dialectic, major stages of which chart a progression from self-alienation as slavery to self-unification and realization as the rational, constitutional state of free and equal citizens. The Hegelian dialectic cannot be mechanically applied for any chosen thesis. Critics argue that the selection of any antithesis, other than the logical negation of the thesis, is subjective. Then, if the logical negation is used as the antithesis, there is no rigorous way to derive a synthesis. In practice, when an antithesis is selected to suit the user’s subjective purpose, the resulting “contradictions” are rhetorical, not logical, and the resulting synthesis is not rigorously defensible against a multitude of other possible syntheses. The problem with the Fichtean “Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis” model is that it implies that contradictions or negations come from outside of things. Hegel’s point is that they are inherent in and internal to things. This conception of dialectics derives ultimately from Heraclitus.Hegel has outlined that the purpose of dialectics is “to study things in their own being and movement and thus to demonstrate the finitude of the partial categories of understanding”[31]
  3. c.     Sublation – Aristotle’s law of identity, particular self-identities in deductive patterns – Hegel sought to dissolve the static view in favor of a movement towards the whole
    1.                                           i.    The whole is fractal in nature; i.e. it preserves what it overcomes.  Therefore, it preserves contradictions as a movement towards a synthesis.
    2.                                          ii.    Quantum Theory, Postmodern Cosmology, Chaos Theory, Computer Interfacing, and Ecology, as well as Cybernetics, ascribe to parts fitting into a whole.
    3.                                         iii.    Sublation is the term that signifies the contradiction of overcoming and at the same time preserving that which it overcomes.
  4. d.    Negation – Hegel calls this dynamic aspect of his thinking the power of “negation”. It is by means of this “negativity” of thought that the static (or habitual) becomes discarded or dissolved, made fluid and adaptable, and recovers its eagerness to push on towards “the whole”. Source: Introduction Hegel by Lloyd Spencer and Andrzej Krauze
    1.                                           i.    Dialectical thinking derives its dynamic of negation from its ability to reveal “contradictions” within almost any category or identity.
    2.                                          ii.    Hegel’s “contradiction” does not simply mean a mechanical denial or opposition. Indeed, he challenges the classical notion of static self-identity, A = A, or A not= non-A.
    3.                                         iii.    By negation or contradiction, Hegel means a wide variety of relations difference, opposition, reflection or relation. It can indicate the mere insufficiency of a category or its incoherence. Most dramatically, categories are sometimes shown to be self-contradictory.
      1. Three Kinds of Contradiction
        1. Being – Nothing / Quantity – Quality
        2. Essence – Inner and Outer, Intrinsic and Extrinsic, Implicit and Explicit
        3. Concept – Particularity and Universality, out of which, abstractly, we see the opposed principles produces a synthesis called Individuality
  5. e.     Thesis – Antithesis – Synthesis
    1.                                           i.    Thesis – A thought affirmed which on reflection proves itself unsatisfactory, incomplete or contradictory…
    2.                                          ii.    Antithesis – Which propels the affirmation of its negation, the anti-thesis, which also on reflection proves inadequate…
    3.                                         iii.    Synthesis – and so is again negated
  6. f.      Kant’s Dialectic vs. Hegel’s Dialectic
    1.                                           i.    Kant’s dialectic logic of transcendent noumena “things in themselves”, which operates independently of experience
    2.                                          ii.    Hegel’s view contrary to Kant’s transcendent is that of reality as a totality which gives true knowledge
  7. g.    Absolute Knowledge – Knowing, for Hegel, is something you do. It is an act. But it is also presence of mind. Hegel seems to hold out the vision, even the experience, of thinking as self-presence. Of being present to, or with, oneself of being fully self-possessed, self-aware. Of self-consciousness as a huge cosmic accomplishment. Source: Introduction Hegel by Lloyd Spencer and Andrzej Krauze
    1.                                           i.    Reading Hegel gives one a sense that the movement of thought will coincide with a vision of harmony that awaits us at the end of the whole process. Every serious reader of Hegel can bear witness to the intoxication of such moments.
    2.                                          ii.    Absolute Knowledge, in the form of the complete self-consciousness and self-possession of spirit, is only available at the end-point of the think process. But there is no distinction possible between the driving energy of thought and this sense of harmony and fulfilment in the whole. It is ultimately the universal which has the upper hand. As Hegel’s Logic puts it …
    3.                                         iii.    Everything depends on the “identity of identity and non-identity”.
    4.                                         iv.    In philosophy, the latest birth of time is the result of all the systems that have preceded it, and must include their principles: and so, if, on other grounds, it deserves the title of philosophy, it will be the fullest, most comprehensive, and most adequate system of all.
  8. h.    Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Outline
    1.                                           i.    Logic
    2.                                          ii.    Philosophy of Nature
    3.                                         iii.    Philosophy of Mind
  9. i.      Philosophy of Right
    1.                                           i.    Moral Subjectivism
    2.                                          ii.    Lectures on the Philosophy of World History
    3.                                         iii.    Lectures on Aesthetics (or the Philosophy of Art)
    4.                                         iv.    Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion
    5.                                          v.    Lectures on the History of Philosophy
  10. j.      According to Hegel, the will is essentially free. This distinguishes us from the animals: having purposes and striving deliberately to achieve them. To possess a will means wanting to be free and therefore, to some extene, already being so, But only abstractly. The realization of freedom – its becoming actual – is as much social as personal. Source: Introduction Hegel by Lloyd Spencer and Andrzej Krauze
  11. k.     The Philosophy of History – Source: Introduction Hegel by Lloyd Spencer and Andrzej Krauze
    1.                                           i.    History as showing a pattern, the logic conveys an idea, and that idea for Hegel is freedom.
    2.                                          ii.    “So progress in the unfolding of spirit toward freedom is progress in liberation from subjection to nature”. – Hegel
    3.                                         iii.    The unfolding of spirit, or freedom, in stages.
    4.                                         iv.    The Three Stages of Freedom – Source: Introduction Hegel by Lloyd Spencer and Andrzej Krauze
      1. Stage One – the ancient Orient – only one (the ruler) is free.
      2. Stage Two – classical Antiquity – some (but not slaves) are free.
      3. Stage Three – the Christian-Germanic epoch – begins with the realization that all should be free, or, as Hegel puts it, that “man as man is free.”
      4. Arriving at the French Revolution and the Enlightenment (Illuminati?)
  12. l.      Philosophies Post Hegel
    1.                                           i.    Positivism
    2.                                          ii.    Existentialism
    3.                                         iii.    Nihilism
    4.                                         iv.    Marxism – Property is not something natural for Hegel, but founded on convention. This outlined Marx’s justifications for the inequitable distribution of wealth.
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