Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.
 

Re: [hegel] Jacques D'Hondt on Hegel

Expand Messages
  • greuterb
    Stephen, Thanks for this interesting comment. I also like Jacques D’Hondt very much. I read several articles from him in German readers. Above all he is
    Message 1 of 5 , Nov 14, 2011
      Stephen,

      Thanks for this interesting comment. I also like Jacques D’Hondt very
      much. I read several articles from him in German readers. Above all he
      is concerned with Hegel's political and social philosophy. He used to
      defend Hegel against severe prejudices as for instance his alleged
      glorification of war. He shows that Hegel's concept of actuality
      requires changes in Germany which according to Hegel cannot be achieved
      without war and revolution. To be against war and revolution is the same
      as to want to avoid any movement. In one of his articles D' Hondt cites
      from a letter Hegel wrote to a former student of him in Jena (1807, my
      translation):

      "It [the French Revolution] weighs heavily on the caginess and apathy of
      those who, finally forced to abandon their lethargy against actuality
      [see SL, second part], to step out into this actuality, and, perhaps,
      while the inwardness preserves itself in the [actual] outwardness, to
      surpass their teachers [the French Revolution]."

      This is a significant text for Hegel and his German Romantic
      contemporaries. The first part of the text shows Hegel's progressiveness
      above many of his contemporaries. The second part, however, suggests
      their common prejudice (so in this Hegel text only as a hope: .....
      perhaps .....): the German inwardness (Goethe, Beethoven, Kant) can
      temper the rupture of this revolution and avoid a mere mechanical state
      and mere pragmatism. Germany and the whole world had to pay for this in
      the first half of the 20th century.

      Regards,
      Beat Greuter



      Am 13.11.2011 15:01, Stephen Cowley writes:

      > Hi All,
      >
      > I recently came across an interesting book on the French Hegelian
      > Jacques D’Hondt by Italian scholar Fiorinda Li Vigni. The title is
      > ‘Jacques D’Hondt and the Journey of Hegelian Reason’ (Paris:
      > L’Harmattan, 2005) originally published in Italian in 2001, though it
      > also contains an interview with D’Hondt by Li Vigni from 2002 and a
      > complete bibliography of D’Hondt’s writings from the 1960s to 2005.
      > D’Hondt was born in 1920 and I think is still alive. His work has been
      > translated into several languages, but in English only ‘Hegel in his
      > Time: Berlin 1818-1831’ (1968) appeared, translated by John Burbidge
      > (1988) and a short article ‘On Rupture and Destruction in History’ in
      > the Magazine Clio (Indiana, 1986). There are several things worth
      > saying of about equal importance, so in no particular order:
      >
      > Firstly, a lot of Italian work on the history of philosophy has
      > appeared recently, including Andrea Bellantone’s ‘Hegel in France’
      > (2011) and Filoni’s book on Koj
      > ève that I discussed on this list . The Italians seem to train
      > philosophical scholars well in history and languages and support them
      > financially and these books are part of the fruit of it. Their work is
      > more interesting than that of native French scholars to my mind, as
      > the French currently seem to look to analytic philosophy as a model -
      > partly as English is so widely taught and posts in American
      > universities are so well funded I suspect - at the expense of their
      > own traditions. So Italy is a good place to look for a modern example
      > of how to support philosophical work.
      > Turning to D’Hondt, Li Vigni reports that he was born in 1920 and
      > taught in Poitiers in western France, where the main French centre for
      > Hegel studies was based for many years. His interest in Hegel arose
      > from Marxism, but he has long since gone beyond any doctrinaire
      > approach. In the wake of the French ‘Hegel-Renaissance’ of the 1930s
      > (Wahl, Hyppolite, Kojève, Sartre, etc) which drew from existentialist
      > readings, he sought to ‘rehabilitate’ Hegel more fully for a French
      > left wing audience in three ways – his politics, relations to French
      > literature and his religious views. Firstly, he rewrote Hegel’s
      > biography, stressing Hegel’s positive response to the French
      > revolution and liberal views in the Berlin period. This biographical
      > work he characterised as a ‘police investigation’ and included s a
      > study of Hegel’s masonic acquaintances, a version of which I think
      > made its way into English in the work of Glenn Magee.
      > On the political question, Li Vigni draws attention to the subsequent
      > publication of student notes of Hegel’s lectures on the philosophy of
      > right by Karl Heinz Ilting (1973) which confirm to some extent
      > D’Hondt’s views that Hegel was more liberal in his spoken views than
      > in the published Philosophy of Right (1821) which had to pass the
      > Prussian censors. D’Hondt seems to draw on Prussian police records,
      > though these seem to relate more to Hegel’s students than to Hegel
      > himself. Some of these lectures have appeared in English and French
      > since 1973 and they clearly might add something to our understanding
      > of Hegel’s politics. In terms of the accuracy of our ideas of the
      > practical situation in which Hegel taught, this is clearly significant
      > work.
      > D’Hondt also discusses Hegel and the French at some length. Much of
      > this is of purely French interest, but it represents a lot of work
      > that has not made it into English probably for that reason. The
      > highlights are that Hegel’s central view of the parts of culture as
      > interrelated owes something to Montesquieu; the description of ‘the
      > way of the world’ in the Phenomenology can be related to Voltaire’s
      > story ‘Le Monde comme il va’. Hegel was influenced in his descriptions
      > of French courtiers by Marivaux and perhaps Fénélon’s Télémache, as
      > well as by Diderot. D’Hondt follows Kojève in making the French
      > revolution a central reference point, but thinks he can identify the
      > histories of the revolution that Hegel relied on to interpret events
      > in the papers.
      >
      > The last main area of D’Hondt’s interest in Hegel himself is religion.
      > Here he gives some weight to the idea that Hegel concealed his ‘true’
      > unorthodox views, but he is far from reductive and talks of a ‘double
      > language’ which can be taken either as worldly metaphor or as having a
      > sort of intended metaphysical content. (I think this sort of wavers
      > midway between John Bardis/Bob Wallace’s and Alan Ponikvar/Wil’s
      > positions on this list, as far as I can tell – sorry if I bowdlerise
      > here.)
      >
      > Li Vigni then discusses D’Hondt’s work on its own account, as he has
      > also participated in French debates over a period of over 40 years
      > from a broadly Hegelian perspective. She addresses three main aspects
      > of this. Firstly, he has tried to relate Hegel’s concept of dialectic
      > to Bergson’s idea of the temporal standpoint of the agent rather than
      > observer. Personally, I think Bergson’s exposition is ultimately
      > a-conceptual and mystical and thus doesn’t have the potential to add
      > to the sum of human knowledge, such as we find in the dialectical
      > grasp of concrete situations in Hegel. Secondly, she covers D’Hondt’s
      > critique of ‘structuralist’ and ‘post-structuralist’ thinkers
      > particularly Foucault where he argues to some effect that the idea of
      > ‘rupture’ (where one historical epoch or set of ideas succeeds another
      > by force of arms, so to speak, rather than developing as an
      > intelligible response to changing human needs) is inferior to a
      > Hegelian dialectical approach that sees human wishes as giving rise to
      > successive ideologies, which then become ‘set in bronze’ by the
      > ‘understanding’ (Verstand) and hence need to be recast by ‘reason’
      > (Vernuft). I think this is well said and probably deserves to better
      > known as Foucault is better known in Anglophone academia than D’Hondt.
      > Indeed, this was the subject of the D’Hondt article that appeared in
      > English in Clio in 1986. Thirdly, Li Vigni covers D’Hondt’s approach
      > to French Marxism, where he took issue with Althusser’s metaphors of
      > base and superstructure in understanding ideologies. So much for that.
      >
      > D’Hondt and Li Vigni state that D’Hondt’s ‘Hegel – Biographie’ (1998)
      > represents his mature thought and often succeeds his earlier
      > positions. At the end of the interview she asks about the principal
      > changes or breaks in his theoretical views that he has seen or made
      > over his life, particularly recently, on which he has abstained from
      > commenting. He replies:
      >
      > “A prudent abstention is certainly the right word. Taking account of
      > my personal education, the conditions it was carried out in, the
      > situations it led me into, the consequences this destiny had, I almost
      > always had the impression of not being the best placed to propose and
      > expound any conclusions whatever on social and political phenomena and
      > also on the development of philosophical ideas. For a long time I was
      > a provincial, reduced to a modest and precarious university post and I
      > was very impressed by the sometimes serious, but always brilliant,
      > character of the ideological representatives of my time. And so I
      > always had the feeling that I needn’t bother with it, that it wasn’t
      > my field and that I had simply – and this is what I did – to form my
      > opinions for myself, and then, also, carry out my job as a teacher: to
      > comment on the opinions of others, make them more accessible to a
      > wider public and notably to a public of students who need to be taught.
      >
      > Consequently, I consciously and voluntarily practised this abstention
      > through modesty, through lack of character perhaps, through human
      > respect, through consciousness of the fact that others were more able
      > than me to carry out this task and that they were in any case better
      > placed to carry it out effectively. There also I was deceived, because
      > the great intellectuals in whom I placed my trust and whom I thought
      > would succeed in resolving the problems that concerned me, they didn’t
      > resolve them either. I very much hesitated to say it, and I only very
      > partially said it, very moderately and almost confidentially. There
      > was in the contemporary philosophers that I knew a sparkling,
      > brilliant attitude – a Sartre, an Althusser - these were astonishing
      > intelligences, wells of learning. They had read everything; they had
      > notoriety, authority; people listened to them. I expected from them
      > that they would answer my questions, not that I would have an answer
      > to the questions of others. If they had replied well to my questions,
      > I would have commented on their replies, so that everyone would agree
      > to them. That didn’t happen. They developed, by and by, doctrines that
      > I found lacking in relation to what I had expected, and at the same
      > time, I had nothing else to propose. So I contented myself by
      > commenting on the great authors, notably the two great authors to whom
      > I devoted myself – Hegel and Marx – and this didn’t fall badly for me.
      > They were truly inexhaustible authors and you can enrich yourself and
      > others in studying them.
      >
      > In these conditions, theoretical changes are relatively modest. The
      > word “rupture” (break) is not so suitable. There were ruptures at the
      > outset: I broke very young in some way intellectually with my social
      > and cultural surroundings, and then latterly I could break with the
      > narrow character of my first studies. But these are less breaks than
      > extensions. Being who I was, I expanded my activities, I expanded at
      > the end my editorial activity, but these are not really breaks, except
      > then, of course, the final break due to the collapse of “real
      > socialism” [i.e. the Soviet collapse, 1989] and what I had expected
      > from it. There was thus a sort of fortunate enlargement of my way of
      > thinking, of my scholarship, of my activities over a long period, and
      > then at the end a brusque shrinking of all that. There is the state of
      > perplexity. This word is the one I use most of the time to
      > characterise the state I’m in. Not a total perplexity, I still make
      > judgements, here and there, on little things. But I have become even
      > more prudent in what concerns the large problematics.”
      >
      > So all in all, D’Hondt comes across as a modest man whose Hegel
      > scholarship probably deserves to be better known, certainly by anyone
      > concerned with Hegel’s politics or his reception in France. Much of
      > his work though – e.g. on Bergson and Foucault - is of local or
      > passing interest. I would take seriously his and Li Vigni’s view that
      > his ‘Hegel Biographie’ (1998) is the best source of his mature views
      > on Hegel, which are thoroughly grounded in a lifetime’s scholarship
      > and independent of those of Terry Pinkard and Horst Althaus. I also
      > draw the conclusion that we should read Hegel himself, as much
      > secondary literature is written from dogmatic or refuted viewpoints.
      >
      > All the best
      > Stephen Cowley
      >



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Stephen Cowley
      Beat, Thanks for this. I’m not at all sure about the relationships between Hegel and the later political projects of Prussia. I feel that DHondt – who
      Message 2 of 5 , Nov 21, 2011
        Beat,

        Thanks for this. I’m not at all sure about the relationships between Hegel and the later political projects of Prussia. I feel that DHondt – who was a French communist party member until 1968 - is himself indebted in his interpretations of Hegel to a vision of the European Left – he says as much in his interview with Li Vigni. I think we need to review also themes from the political right in Hegel, whose political ideas are richer than a sort of barren radical egalitarianism. There has been some effort in this direction by people like Sylvie Hurstel and Jean-Francois Kervegan, but again from a republican perspective.

        Stephen Cowley

        From: greuterb
        Sent: Monday, November 14, 2011 11:00 AM
        To: hegel@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: Re: [hegel] Jacques D'Hondt on Hegel


        Stephen,

        Thanks for this interesting comment. I also like Jacques D’Hondt very
        much. I read several articles from him in German readers. Above all he
        is concerned with Hegel's political and social philosophy. He used to
        defend Hegel against severe prejudices as for instance his alleged
        glorification of war. He shows that Hegel's concept of actuality
        requires changes in Germany which according to Hegel cannot be achieved
        without war and revolution. To be against war and revolution is the same
        as to want to avoid any movement. In one of his articles D' Hondt cites
        from a letter Hegel wrote to a former student of him in Jena (1807, my
        translation):

        "It [the French Revolution] weighs heavily on the caginess and apathy of
        those who, finally forced to abandon their lethargy against actuality
        [see SL, second part], to step out into this actuality, and, perhaps,
        while the inwardness preserves itself in the [actual] outwardness, to
        surpass their teachers [the French Revolution]."

        This is a significant text for Hegel and his German Romantic
        contemporaries. The first part of the text shows Hegel's progressiveness
        above many of his contemporaries. The second part, however, suggests
        their common prejudice (so in this Hegel text only as a hope: .....
        perhaps .....): the German inwardness (Goethe, Beethoven, Kant) can
        temper the rupture of this revolution and avoid a mere mechanical state
        and mere pragmatism. Germany and the whole world had to pay for this in
        the first half of the 20th century.

        Regards,
        Beat Greuter

        Am 13.11.2011 15:01, Stephen Cowley writes:

        > Hi All,
        >
        > I recently came across an interesting book on the French Hegelian
        > Jacques D’Hondt by Italian scholar Fiorinda Li Vigni. The title is
        > ‘Jacques D’Hondt and the Journey of Hegelian Reason’ (Paris:
        > L’Harmattan, 2005) originally published in Italian in 2001, though it
        > also contains an interview with D’Hondt by Li Vigni from 2002 and a
        > complete bibliography of D’Hondt’s writings from the 1960s to 2005.
        > D’Hondt was born in 1920 and I think is still alive. His work has been
        > translated into several languages, but in English only ‘Hegel in his
        > Time: Berlin 1818-1831’ (1968) appeared, translated by John Burbidge
        > (1988) and a short article ‘On Rupture and Destruction in History’ in
        > the Magazine Clio (Indiana, 1986). There are several things worth
        > saying of about equal importance, so in no particular order:
        >
        > Firstly, a lot of Italian work on the history of philosophy has
        > appeared recently, including Andrea Bellantone’s ‘Hegel in France’
        > (2011) and Filoni’s book on Koj
        > ève that I discussed on this list . The Italians seem to train
        > philosophical scholars well in history and languages and support them
        > financially and these books are part of the fruit of it. Their work is
        > more interesting than that of native French scholars to my mind, as
        > the French currently seem to look to analytic philosophy as a model -
        > partly as English is so widely taught and posts in American
        > universities are so well funded I suspect - at the expense of their
        > own traditions. So Italy is a good place to look for a modern example
        > of how to support philosophical work.
        > Turning to D’Hondt, Li Vigni reports that he was born in 1920 and
        > taught in Poitiers in western France, where the main French centre for
        > Hegel studies was based for many years. His interest in Hegel arose
        > from Marxism, but he has long since gone beyond any doctrinaire
        > approach. In the wake of the French ‘Hegel-Renaissance’ of the 1930s
        > (Wahl, Hyppolite, Kojève, Sartre, etc) which drew from existentialist
        > readings, he sought to ‘rehabilitate’ Hegel more fully for a French
        > left wing audience in three ways – his politics, relations to French
        > literature and his religious views. Firstly, he rewrote Hegel’s
        > biography, stressing Hegel’s positive response to the French
        > revolution and liberal views in the Berlin period. This biographical
        > work he characterised as a ‘police investigation’ and included s a
        > study of Hegel’s masonic acquaintances, a version of which I think
        > made its way into English in the work of Glenn Magee.
        > On the political question, Li Vigni draws attention to the subsequent
        > publication of student notes of Hegel’s lectures on the philosophy of
        > right by Karl Heinz Ilting (1973) which confirm to some extent
        > D’Hondt’s views that Hegel was more liberal in his spoken views than
        > in the published Philosophy of Right (1821) which had to pass the
        > Prussian censors. D’Hondt seems to draw on Prussian police records,
        > though these seem to relate more to Hegel’s students than to Hegel
        > himself. Some of these lectures have appeared in English and French
        > since 1973 and they clearly might add something to our understanding
        > of Hegel’s politics. In terms of the accuracy of our ideas of the
        > practical situation in which Hegel taught, this is clearly significant
        > work.
        > D’Hondt also discusses Hegel and the French at some length. Much of
        > this is of purely French interest, but it represents a lot of work
        > that has not made it into English probably for that reason. The
        > highlights are that Hegel’s central view of the parts of culture as
        > interrelated owes something to Montesquieu; the description of ‘the
        > way of the world’ in the Phenomenology can be related to Voltaire’s
        > story ‘Le Monde comme il va’. Hegel was influenced in his descriptions
        > of French courtiers by Marivaux and perhaps Fénélon’s Télémache, as
        > well as by Diderot. D’Hondt follows Kojève in making the French
        > revolution a central reference point, but thinks he can identify the
        > histories of the revolution that Hegel relied on to interpret events
        > in the papers.
        >
        > The last main area of D’Hondt’s interest in Hegel himself is religion.
        > Here he gives some weight to the idea that Hegel concealed his ‘true’
        > unorthodox views, but he is far from reductive and talks of a ‘double
        > language’ which can be taken either as worldly metaphor or as having a
        > sort of intended metaphysical content. (I think this sort of wavers
        > midway between John Bardis/Bob Wallace’s and Alan Ponikvar/Wil’s
        > positions on this list, as far as I can tell – sorry if I bowdlerise
        > here.)
        >
        > Li Vigni then discusses D’Hondt’s work on its own account, as he has
        > also participated in French debates over a period of over 40 years
        > from a broadly Hegelian perspective. She addresses three main aspects
        > of this. Firstly, he has tried to relate Hegel’s concept of dialectic
        > to Bergson’s idea of the temporal standpoint of the agent rather than
        > observer. Personally, I think Bergson’s exposition is ultimately
        > a-conceptual and mystical and thus doesn’t have the potential to add
        > to the sum of human knowledge, such as we find in the dialectical
        > grasp of concrete situations in Hegel. Secondly, she covers D’Hondt’s
        > critique of ‘structuralist’ and ‘post-structuralist’ thinkers
        > particularly Foucault where he argues to some effect that the idea of
        > ‘rupture’ (where one historical epoch or set of ideas succeeds another
        > by force of arms, so to speak, rather than developing as an
        > intelligible response to changing human needs) is inferior to a
        > Hegelian dialectical approach that sees human wishes as giving rise to
        > successive ideologies, which then become ‘set in bronze’ by the
        > ‘understanding’ (Verstand) and hence need to be recast by ‘reason’
        > (Vernuft). I think this is well said and probably deserves to better
        > known as Foucault is better known in Anglophone academia than D’Hondt.
        > Indeed, this was the subject of the D’Hondt article that appeared in
        > English in Clio in 1986. Thirdly, Li Vigni covers D’Hondt’s approach
        > to French Marxism, where he took issue with Althusser’s metaphors of
        > base and superstructure in understanding ideologies. So much for that.
        >
        > D’Hondt and Li Vigni state that D’Hondt’s ‘Hegel – Biographie’ (1998)
        > represents his mature thought and often succeeds his earlier
        > positions. At the end of the interview she asks about the principal
        > changes or breaks in his theoretical views that he has seen or made
        > over his life, particularly recently, on which he has abstained from
        > commenting. He replies:
        >
        > “A prudent abstention is certainly the right word. Taking account of
        > my personal education, the conditions it was carried out in, the
        > situations it led me into, the consequences this destiny had, I almost
        > always had the impression of not being the best placed to propose and
        > expound any conclusions whatever on social and political phenomena and
        > also on the development of philosophical ideas. For a long time I was
        > a provincial, reduced to a modest and precarious university post and I
        > was very impressed by the sometimes serious, but always brilliant,
        > character of the ideological representatives of my time. And so I
        > always had the feeling that I needn’t bother with it, that it wasn’t
        > my field and that I had simply – and this is what I did – to form my
        > opinions for myself, and then, also, carry out my job as a teacher: to
        > comment on the opinions of others, make them more accessible to a
        > wider public and notably to a public of students who need to be taught.
        >
        > Consequently, I consciously and voluntarily practised this abstention
        > through modesty, through lack of character perhaps, through human
        > respect, through consciousness of the fact that others were more able
        > than me to carry out this task and that they were in any case better
        > placed to carry it out effectively. There also I was deceived, because
        > the great intellectuals in whom I placed my trust and whom I thought
        > would succeed in resolving the problems that concerned me, they didn’t
        > resolve them either. I very much hesitated to say it, and I only very
        > partially said it, very moderately and almost confidentially. There
        > was in the contemporary philosophers that I knew a sparkling,
        > brilliant attitude – a Sartre, an Althusser - these were astonishing
        > intelligences, wells of learning. They had read everything; they had
        > notoriety, authority; people listened to them. I expected from them
        > that they would answer my questions, not that I would have an answer
        > to the questions of others. If they had replied well to my questions,
        > I would have commented on their replies, so that everyone would agree
        > to them. That didn’t happen. They developed, by and by, doctrines that
        > I found lacking in relation to what I had expected, and at the same
        > time, I had nothing else to propose. So I contented myself by
        > commenting on the great authors, notably the two great authors to whom
        > I devoted myself – Hegel and Marx – and this didn’t fall badly for me.
        > They were truly inexhaustible authors and you can enrich yourself and
        > others in studying them.
        >
        > In these conditions, theoretical changes are relatively modest. The
        > word “rupture” (break) is not so suitable. There were ruptures at the
        > outset: I broke very young in some way intellectually with my social
        > and cultural surroundings, and then latterly I could break with the
        > narrow character of my first studies. But these are less breaks than
        > extensions. Being who I was, I expanded my activities, I expanded at
        > the end my editorial activity, but these are not really breaks, except
        > then, of course, the final break due to the collapse of “real
        > socialism” [i.e. the Soviet collapse, 1989] and what I had expected
        > from it. There was thus a sort of fortunate enlargement of my way of
        > thinking, of my scholarship, of my activities over a long period, and
        > then at the end a brusque shrinking of all that. There is the state of
        > perplexity. This word is the one I use most of the time to
        > characterise the state I’m in. Not a total perplexity, I still make
        > judgements, here and there, on little things. But I have become even
        > more prudent in what concerns the large problematics.”
        >
        > So all in all, D’Hondt comes across as a modest man whose Hegel
        > scholarship probably deserves to be better known, certainly by anyone
        > concerned with Hegel’s politics or his reception in France. Much of
        > his work though – e.g. on Bergson and Foucault - is of local or
        > passing interest. I would take seriously his and Li Vigni’s view that
        > his ‘Hegel Biographie’ (1998) is the best source of his mature views
        > on Hegel, which are thoroughly grounded in a lifetime’s scholarship
        > and independent of those of Terry Pinkard and Horst Althaus. I also
        > draw the conclusion that we should read Hegel himself, as much
        > secondary literature is written from dogmatic or refuted viewpoints.
        >
        > All the best
        > Stephen Cowley
        >

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.