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Re: [hegel] Reply to Beat's latest post / further reply.

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  • Beat Greuter
    ... Do you mean that Hegel s philosophy is essentially Platonic since the idea, the universal, is established beyond the finite appearance? In my opinion this
    Message 1 of 5 , Aug 17, 2002
      Norman Siefferman wrote:

      > I addressed my questions to Beat in a private post because I did not
      > want
      > the world to know what a dunderhead I am. But the word is out now, so
      > I
      > must try to defend my inept questions. First of all, Beat, I
      > understood
      > your comments about mediation and so forth. I understand that
      > 'infinity' in
      > Hegel is a logical category. At times, it seems, when a philosopher
      > comes
      > up with a fuzzy concept he or she replies, "Well, you see, that's a
      > limiting concept." But here's a sample of why I connected Hegel to the
      >
      > Platonic tradition. It's from Werner Marx's commentary on Ph.G. (or
      > 'der
      > Geist' if you want the definite article):
      >
      > 'This is enough to make it clear that Hegel's metaphysics is part of
      > the
      > tradition of Logos philosophy, even though it takes over the Logos in
      > its
      > specifically modern version, authoritatively defined by Kant . . . The
      >
      > Logos, by tradition not only signifies the identity of thinking and
      > Being
      > -- or, in modern terms, of subjectivity and objectivity; even for the
      > Greeks it already had the meaning of an order which -- at least
      > potentially
      > -- must be totally obvious and traceable by everyone. The Logos as
      > thought
      > or thinking continues to preserve this translucency. Nous -- "spirit"
      > or
      > "reason" -- is the light-giving principle; and thinking, as noesis, is
      > the
      > possibility granted to man for an intuitive apprehension which brings
      > to
      > light and is never subject to error; the realization of Logos as
      > dianoia --
      > "understanding" -- occurs as a knowing which grasps, judges, infers,
      > induces, and deduces, and is able to give definitions and determine
      > essences." (xxi, Werner Marx)
      >
      > Such observations with regard to Kant, Hegel, et al. in the tradition
      > of
      > German Idealism open the door to the sort of comment I (and Feuerbach,
      > et
      > al.) made connecting Hegel to the Platonic tradition. One wonders: Is
      >
      > Hegel's philosophy in fact theology? Is this not simply the
      > reification of
      > concepts? The Logos tradition may authorize the identity of thinking
      > and
      > Being (a'la Plato, the neoplatonists, what with their 'divine spark'
      > and
      > whatnot), but is that any sort of argument for its Wirklichkeit, its
      > 'reality'? While it may be translucent to some, it hardly "must be
      > totally
      > obvious and traceable by everyone." That's called question-begging.
      > Did not
      > Aristotle have a few words to say about such assertions in his reply
      > to
      > Platonic Forms with the concept of substance (Metaphysics Z 1028b2)?
      > Namely,
      >
      > But Aristotle had already had the basic intuition which was
      > to
      > destroy Platonic transcendence -- the substance of the genus
      > or species is not a different substance of all or any members
      >
      > of the genus or species. In the statement "Socrates is a
      > man," the
      > substantiality of "man" is the substantiality of Socrates and
      > not an
      > independent substantiality [as Plato would have it]. So while
      > "man"
      > stands for an entity, this entity is the subject of which it
      > is
      > predicated
      > and not some other entity. [emphasis mine].
      >
      > The philosophical tradition on which Hegel seems to rely is not the
      > only
      > tradition which bears the mark of 'that just might be possible.' Other
      >
      > stories exist in the history of philosophy that must be brought to
      > bear
      > when questioning and attempting to understand Hegel. The refuge of
      > "Hegel,
      > after all, is very subtle," cannot or should not protect him from
      > possible
      > questions.
      >
      > Just a thought.
      >
      > Norman Siefferman
      > nsieffer@...

      Do you mean that Hegel's philosophy is essentially Platonic since the
      idea, the universal, is established beyond the finite appearance? In my
      opinion this is a misunderstanding. Quite the reverse, Hegel's
      philosophy is deeply Aristotelian and not Platonic, and rather we would
      have to call Kant's philosophy of subjectivity modern Platonic thought
      which set the truth - the thing-in-itself - beyond what we can know. The
      Aristotelian background can also be shown in the PhdG where the two
      supersensible worlds are sublated within self-consciousness
      (Understanding Chapter III). With this I do not deny that Hegel is
      partially deeply influenced by the Platonic objective philosophy,
      especially with respect to dialectic thought (Phaidon, Timaios).

      On the other side, Hegel's philosophy is indeed in the tradition of the
      ontological philosophy from Aristotle to Leibniz. This was obvious for a
      philosophy which intended to sublate the one-sidedness of Kant's
      epistemology. Avicenna, the great Persian ontologist and Aristotelian,
      wrote:

      essentia actus est in res
      essentia actus est in intellectus
      essentia actus est per sé

      This could be call the programme of Hegel's philosphy. It is always the
      same 'essentia'. As a result of Kantian subjective philosophy of
      consciousness Hegel had first to show the essence of the interaction
      between res and intellectus (PhdG) and then to derive the involved pure
      logical categories there (WdL) - essentia actus est per sé. Also, if you
      compare Aristotle's and Hegel's concept of 'Being' you will come to the
      same result: For both, 'Being' expresses the heterogeneous, the
      indeterminate, as starting point of each development, and not an eternal
      universal beyond its particularities.

      Best wishes,

      Beat Greuter


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Norman Siefferman
      ... No, Beat. In fact I think it is undeniable that between the two Greeks, Aristotle s influence is the stronger in Hegel s work. I do think, however, that
      Message 2 of 5 , Aug 17, 2002
        >
        >Do you mean that Hegel's philosophy is essentially Platonic since the
        >idea, the universal, is established beyond the finite appearance? In my
        >opinion this is a misunderstanding. Quite the reverse,

        No, Beat. In fact I think it is undeniable that between the two Greeks,
        Aristotle's influence is the stronger in Hegel's work. I do think, however,
        that Logos philosophy (Plato and the neoplatonists) had an important
        influence on Hegel, and that we should be aware of that. Perhaps no other
        philosopher in the Western tradition had less use for the 'jenseitig' (the
        beyond, the transcendent ,in the usual religious and dualistic sense) than
        Hegel. Perhaps no other philosopher in the Western tradition was more
        'this-worldly' than Hegel, and perhaps no other philosopher in the Western
        tradition built fewer metaphysical cloud castles than Hegel. However, there
        are all sorts of opportunities to read into Hegel those very un-Hegelian
        interpretations, and part of that is Hegel's own doing. Being aware of all
        that came before Hegel and bringing all that information to bear on our
        reading of Hegel is in fact (or should be) important for avoiding the usual
        misreadings of Hegel.


        >Hegel's
        >philosophy is deeply Aristotelian and not Platonic, and rather we would
        >have to call Kant's philosophy of subjectivity modern Platonic thought
        >which set the truth - the thing-in-itself - beyond what we can know. The
        >Aristotelian background can also be shown in the PhdG where the two
        >supersensible worlds are sublated within self-consciousness
        >(Understanding Chapter III). With this I do not deny that Hegel is
        >partially deeply influenced by the Platonic objective philosophy,
        >especially with respect to dialectic thought (Phaidon, Timaios).
        >
        >On the other side, Hegel's philosophy is indeed in the tradition of the
        >ontological philosophy from Aristotle to Leibniz. This was obvious for a
        >philosophy which intended to sublate the one-sidedness of Kant's
        >epistemology. Avicenna, the great Persian ontologist and Aristotelian,
        >wrote:

        I very much agree with these comments.

        >essentia actus est in res
        >essentia actus est in intellectus
        >essentia actus est per sé
        >
        >This could be call the programme of Hegel's philosphy. It is always the
        >same 'essentia'. As a result of Kantian subjective philosophy of
        >consciousness Hegel had first to show the essence of the interaction
        >between res and intellectus (PhdG) and then to derive the involved pure
        >logical categories there (WdL) - essentia actus est per sé. Also, if you
        >compare Aristotle's and Hegel's concept of 'Being' you will come to the
        >same result: For both, 'Being' expresses the heterogeneous, the
        >indeterminate, as starting point of each development, and not an eternal
        >universal beyond its particularities.

        I speak as one who has returned to Hegel after a long absence, so perhaps
        it is that absence that has made me aware of how easily Hegel can be
        misinterpreted. His writing can be so very obscure, so labyrinthine
        -- and it need not have been so. Sometimes I think must have been in a
        terrible hurry and did not take the time to be clear when he could have
        been, given a bit more effort. In my current reading of Hegel I find
        complex ideas put in a way that is very clear. A good example of Hegel as a
        clear writer is in his discussion of Kant in Glauben und Wissen; is very
        clear though not at all simple. Hegel did know how to write clearly. I do
        not believe Hegel is impenetrable as some readers say, but I do think he
        takes effort and above all time to read with understanding. Too often,
        Hegel does not help his readers as he should have. Given time and effort, I
        think Hegel is available to most readers accustomed to philosophical texts.
        I think there is too much talk of his being, somehow, super difficult or
        far too subtle for many readers. Hegel was a great philosopher, but his
        writings are not a great mystery. Time and effort is required, however.

        Norman Siefferman

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Thomas McDonald
        I am curious if anyone knows of a comparitive historical-philosophical study between German Idealism (or Kant-Hegel specifically) and Buddhism. Buddhism seems
        Message 3 of 5 , Aug 17, 2002
          I am curious if anyone knows of a comparitive
          historical-philosophical study between German Idealism (or Kant-Hegel
          specifically) and Buddhism. Buddhism seems to represent a similar
          (though obviously not parallel) stage in the evolution of Eastern
          thought as that of German Idealism in the West. My interest comes
          from the fact that at present, while so much popular Christianity
          remains and resistant to wholism and modernization, and most academic
          philosophy remains 'ivory tower' remote from mainstream
          consciousness, it seems Buddhism is becoming a popular way for many
          seeking to overcome the mythical stages of thought dialectically,
          without rejecting all metaphysics or adopting a vulgar, skeptical
          materialism. This phenomenon seems also to reflect the ongoing
          (increasingly?) 'globalized' dialectic in general.

          Buddhism was in it's very beginning and often in later times and
          places a de-mystification, an overcoming of traditional Hinduism's
          mythical orientation in favor of a more abstract, psychological
          approach to dis-covering one's genuine existential situation, which I
          see as resembling the tension between Kantian critical metaphysics
          and traditional Christianity. The Buddhist emphasis on the negative
          power, abstract unity and 'the emptiness of (immediate) self' is also
          strikingly similar to Kant's transcendental unity of apperception
          (what I understand as the non-perceivable synthetic connecting of
          thought-objects). This focus on the essential emptiness of pure being
          in-itself seems also to have functioned, as it did for Hegel
          following Kant, as an 'absolute negator' of external, mythical
          authority and hence a stimulus (to becoming out of posited being and
          negating action) toward a genuine process of reflection,
          self-overcoming and enlightenment.

          I'd like to share this curiously Hegel-esque passage from Chogyam
          Trungpa, a contemporary (though recently deceased) Tibetan monk who
          came to the U.S. in the 1950's, writing in a chapter titled
          "Totality" from one of his many books [bracketed comments are mine]:

          "The samsaric mandala [or surrounding pattern of one's immediate,
          sensuous perceptions] provides energy beyond the samsaric [sensuous]
          level. When we say "beyond," the idea is not of getting out of
          samsara, or even, for that matter, of transcending it in the ordinary
          sense. We are talking about getting to the source of the samsaric
          mandala, to the background [i.e.; the developmental origin] of it. We
          are talking about a way in more than a way out. This is because the
          nature of samsaric mandala contains within it nonduality [i.e.;
          identification of being in-itself with being for-another], absence of
          confusion, and freedom. In other words, being able to see the source,
          or background [i.e.; development], of the samsaric mandala is . . .
          freedom."

          [Chogyam Trungpa, _Orderly Chaos: The Mandala Principle_, "Totality",
          p. 61, (Shambhala London, 1991)]

          Even more curiously, the flag of Tibet presents symbolism I find
          richly suggestive of Hegelian dialectic (have fun deconstructing!
          ..comments on this especially welcome..):

          http://people.colgate.edu/vmansfield/gif/TIBET-FLAG.gif

          Any comments, dialogue or references to work citing such comparisons
          between German Idealism, Hegel and Buddhism, etc. would be
          appreciated.

          -Tom
        • Stephen Cowley
          Tom, On your question below, you might find the Gifford Lectures by the Glasgow Idealist Edward Caird, entitled The Evolution of Religion (1894) of interest,
          Message 4 of 5 , Aug 18, 2002
            Tom,

            On your question below, you might find the Gifford Lectures by the Glasgow
            Idealist Edward Caird, entitled The Evolution of Religion (1894) of
            interest, though no doubt outdated. Lectures 10 & 13 deal with Vedic
            Religion and Buddhism.
            Religion in Scotland certainly seemed to fare better in the 19th
            C under the influence of the Idealists than it has since under the dreary
            flags of Karl Barth and ultramontanism!

            All the best
            Stephen Cowley

            > I am curious if anyone knows of a comparitive
            > historical-philosophical study between German Idealism (or Kant-Hegel
            > specifically) and Buddhism. Buddhism seems to represent a similar
            > (though obviously not parallel) stage in the evolution of Eastern
            > thought as that of German Idealism in the West. My interest comes
            > from the fact that at present, while so much popular Christianity
            > remains and resistant to wholism and modernization, and most academic
            > philosophy remains 'ivory tower' remote from mainstream
            > consciousness, it seems Buddhism is becoming a popular way for many
            > seeking to overcome the mythical stages of thought dialectically,
            > without rejecting all metaphysics or adopting a vulgar, skeptical
            > materialism. This phenomenon seems also to reflect the ongoing
            > (increasingly?) 'globalized' dialectic in general.
            [Remainder of original omitted]
          • nemonemini@aol.com
            In a message dated 8/18/2002 3:13:43 AM Eastern Daylight Time, ... There is a lot to comment on in your post. Let me call your attention to a thread on
            Message 5 of 5 , Aug 19, 2002
              In a message dated 8/18/2002 3:13:43 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
              omhats@... writes:


              > I am curious if anyone knows of a comparitive
              > historical-philosophical study between German Idealism (or Kant-Hegel
              > specifically) and Buddhism. Buddhism seems to represent a similar
              > (though obviously not parallel) stage in the evolution of Eastern
              > thought as that of German Idealism in the West. My interest comes
              > from the fact that at present, while so much popular Christianity
              > remains and resistant to wholism and modernization, and most academic
              > philosophy remains 'ivory tower' remote from mainstream
              > consciousness, it seems Buddhism is becoming a popular way for many
              > seeking to overcome the mythical stages of thought dialectically,
              > without rejecting all metaphysics or adopting a vulgar, skeptical
              > materialism. This phenomenon seems also to reflect the ongoing
              > (increasingly?) 'globalized' dialectic in general.
              >
              >

              There is a lot to comment on in your post. Let me call your attention to a
              thread on 'Samkhya and Triads' in the archives for this list.
              They concern a generalized question of the lore of triadic thinking,
              dialectic (starting with Heraclitus), the three gunas in the original
              Samkhya, and the influence of Indian and Buddhist traditions on Western
              thought, beginning in the exact generation of Hegel. (if not in the
              Hellenistic or before!)
              The Samkhya is a confused subject now, and appears embroidered in various
              Hindu transformations, e.g. the Gita, and was also the object of attack by
              the classic Hindu idealists such as Shankara.
              In its original form Samkhya was a version of the broad Upanishadic spectrum,
              yet was aggressively 'materialist' in outlook. I would say 'material
              phenomenology' rather than 'materialism'. The point is that anything
              'samsaric' is a material phenomenology, including the 'spirit' of man.
              Liberation is beyond spirit, depending on what one means by the words.
              Of course this 'materialism' is ambiguous now, and not the same as
              scientific materialism,which is reductionist. You can see Gautama, no
              philosopher, indicating as much with the term 'samsara'. The 'material
              factor' was constructed from a 'dialectical' triad of gunas, or a 'completed'
              dialectic as a triad, the tamas, rajas, sattwas. Etc. The 'pseudo-spiritual'
              sattwas is the real bondage of man, not the tamas, whose implications are
              obvious. All man's spiritual pretensions are 'sattwic'.

              There is an immense amount of confusion on this score, and most accounts are
              so degenerated it is hard to make any sense of it at first. A man like
              Gautama might have snorted at the time wasted on Samkhya, though I feel sure
              its essence influenced him in some form.

              But if we wonder at the different character of Gautama, it is because of this
              wide spectrum of views at the time he lived, and it seems a very early
              version of Samkhya may well have influenced his teaching (the classic myths
              about his 'teachers'). Cf. the book Classical Samkhya, by Gerald Larsen. He
              must have profitted greatly from from some version of it or something like
              it, to liberate himself from Hindu transmogrifications. This was still the
              age of the warrior yogis, before the Brahmins.

              Samkhya is often taken as dualistic, prakriti versus purusha, but that
              dualism, to me, is a sign of the later codification of those who didn't
              really understand it, or else become obsessed with dualisms philosophically.
              No doubt the dualism is real enough, but the issue isn't a philosophic
              dualism.
              I doubt if someone like Buddha took it, then, in anything like the form we
              now see in the classic sutras, which do a good job of making the subject
              completely hopeless. In the final analysis, Buddha's version is clearer! But
              I mention this because it hints at the answer to your question about
              dialectic.

              I say this also because Indian thought often is taken as an idealism, when in
              fact a close look shows the same opposition of material and idealistic
              philosophies in the Upanishadic rainbow.
              And there the 'metaphysics' of the self is the great obstacle.
              Note the ambiguity of the transition Kant-Fichte-Hegel-Schopenhauer on these
              issues of the Western 'Upanishadic' resurfacing.

              The interest of the Samkya gunas lies in the element of 'sattwa', about which
              so much nonsense has been written. But the point basically is that the
              'spiritual' component of man will still prove 'material', or
              phenomenological, samsaric. That is the trap that delays a thousand buddhas.
              The 'purusha' is beyond anything that passes in the religion or the market of
              the 'spiritual'.

              It is remarkable, though confusing, that a dialectic should resurface in the
              west in Hegel. But, of course, the relationship is difficult to make clear.
              However, looking at the very much denounced Fichte, as this runs into Hegel,
              will show the clear connection, whatever one's views here. Kant stands like a
              dragon at the gate of the temple.

              I should think Kant must be included in your query, along with Schopenhauer.
              Especially Schopenhauer might help a buddhist. So much Buddhist thinking is
              in a muddle over the 'self' or the 'no-self', although we can see Gautama
              struggling to clarify for his followers the exact issues of Kant and
              Schopenhauer.
              To look at Schopenhauer's struggle with such issues could certainly help
              beginners (advanced Buddhist need no help from these philosophies) not get
              into a muddle over myths of the self, as either 'existing' or ' not
              existing'. Much more could be said.
              But German philosophy comes as a completion, so to speak of the limited
              Western Enlightenment, and as an equalizer for the powerful Eastern
              traditions whose resurgence is positive on one level and yet oftern
              retrograde in its actual consequences (witness the New Age confusion).
              The wheel turns. A new age was predicted, and a new age dawned. The acorn is
              resown in German philosophy, and note that it is philosophy, not a means of
              liberation.
              The fate of Buddhism, and the fate of the 'essence' of Buddhism are not the
              same.
              Perhaps the future will clarify the gremlin of German Philosophy in relation
              to the ancient traditions of the East.

              Your post raises a host of issues which I haven't really addressed. The
              relation of dialectic to the tradition of Greek philosophy, and the clear but
              different parallels in such as the Indian Samkhya are a tale never told, and
              hard to tell.

              John Landon
              Website on the eonic effect
              http://eonix.8m.com
              nemonemini@...


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