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Re: [hegel] madness

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  • Beat Greuter
    ... Thanks for the Zizek quotation [ The Abyss of Freedom , pages 8f]. The following passages from the quotation are certainly remarkable having ... Zizek uses
    Message 1 of 5 , Sep 20, 2009
      John writes:

      > --- In hegel@yahoogroups.com <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>, Beat
      > Greuter <greuterb@..
      >
      > wrote:
      >
      > >
      > in my opinion it is so
      > > important not to exclude the irrational from the rational in Hegel's
      > > philosophy, otherwise you logically cannot speak of an absolute any
      > more.
      > >
      >
      > This reminds me of something I read in Zizek the other day:
      >
      > "When Hegel determines madness as withdrawal from the actual world,
      > the closing of the soul into itself, its 'contraction', the
      > cutting-off of its links with external reality, he all too quickly
      > conceives this withdrawal as a 'regression' to the level of the
      > 'animal soul' still embeded in its natural environs and determined by
      > the rhythm of nature (night and day, etc.). Does this withdrawal, on
      > the contrary, not designate the severing of the links with the Umwelt,
      > the end of the subject's immersion in its immediate natural
      > surroundings, and is it as such not the founding gesture of
      > 'humanization'?
      >
      > "Was this withdrawal into self not accomplished by Descartes in his
      > universal doubt and reduction to cognito, which, as Derrida pointed
      > out in his 'Cogito and the History of Madness', also involves a
      > passage through the moment of radical madness?
      >
      > "Are we thus not back at the well-known passage from the Jenaer
      > Realphilosophie, where Hegel characterizes the experience of pure Self
      > qua 'abstract negativity', the 'eclipse of (constituted) reality', the
      > contraction into self of the subject, as the 'night of the world':
      >
      > "'The human being is this night, this empty nothing, that contains
      > everything in its simplicity--an unending wealth of many
      > representations, images, of which none happens to him--or which are
      > not present. This night, the inner of nature, that exists here--pure
      > self--in phantasmagorical presentations, is night all around it, in
      > which here shoots a bloody head--there another white shape, suddenly
      > here before it, and just so disappears. One catches sight of this
      > night when one looks human beings in the eye--into a night that
      > becomes awful.'
      >
      > "And the symbolic order, the universe of the Word, logos, can only
      > emerge from the experience of this abyss. As Hegel puts it [also from
      > the Jenaer Realphilosophie], this inwardness of the pure self 'must
      > enter also into existence, become an object, oppose itself to this
      > innerness to be external; return to being. This is language as
      > name-giving power...Through the name the object as individual entity
      > is born out of the I.'
      >
      > "What we must be careful not to miss here is how Hegel's break with
      > the Enlightenment tradition can be discerned in the reversal of the
      > very metaphor for the subject: the subject is no longer the Light of
      > Reason opposed to the nontransparent, impenetrable Stuff (of Nature,
      > Tradition...); his very kernel, the gesture that opens up the space
      > for the Light of Logos, is absolute negativity qua 'night of the
      > world', the point of utter madness in which fantasmatic apparitions of
      > 'partial objects' wander around.
      >
      > "Consequently, there is no subjectivity without this gesture of
      > withdrawal, which is why Hegel is fully justified in inverting the
      > standard question of how the fall-regression into madness is possible:
      > the true question is rather how the subject is able to climb out of
      > madness and to reach 'normalcy'.
      >
      > "That is to say, the withdrawal into self, the cutting off of the
      > links to the Umwelt, is followed by the construction of a symbolic
      > universe that the subject projects onto reality as a kind of
      > substitute-formation [virtual reality] destined to recompense us for
      > the loss of the immediate presymbolic real...
      >
      > "In short, the ontological necessity of 'madness' resides in the fact
      > that it is not possible to pass directly from the purely 'animal soul'
      > immersed in its natural life-world to 'normal' subjectivity dwelling
      > in its symbolic universe--the vanishing mediator between the two is
      > the 'mad' gesture of radical withdrawal from reality that opens up the
      > space for its symbolic (re)constitution." ["The Abyss of Freedom",
      > pages 8f]
      >


      Thanks for the Zizek quotation ["The Abyss of Freedom", pages 8f]. The
      following passages from the quotation are certainly remarkable having
      Hegel in mind:

      > "And the symbolic order, the universe of the Word, logos, can only
      > emerge from the experience of this abyss. As Hegel puts it [also from
      > the Jenaer Realphilosophie], this inwardness of the pure self 'must
      > enter also into existence, become an object, oppose itself to this
      > innerness to be external; return to being. This is language as
      > name-giving power...Through the name the object as individual entity
      > is born out of the I.'
      >
      > "What we must be careful not to miss here is how Hegel's break with
      > the Enlightenment tradition can be discerned in the reversal of the
      > very metaphor for the subject: the subject is no longer the Light of
      > Reason opposed to the nontransparent, impenetrable Stuff (of Nature,
      > Tradition...); his very kernel, the gesture that opens up the space
      > for the Light of Logos, is absolute negativity qua 'night of the
      > world', the point of utter madness in which fantasmatic apparitions of
      > 'partial objects' wander around.
      >
      > "Consequently, there is no subjectivity without this gesture of
      > withdrawal, which is why Hegel is fully justified in inverting the
      > standard question of how the fall-regression into madness is possible:
      > the true question is rather how the subject is able to climb out of
      > madness and to reach 'normalcy'.
      >
      > "That is to say, the withdrawal into self, the cutting off of the
      > links to the Umwelt, is followed by the construction of a symbolic
      > universe that the subject projects onto reality as a kind of
      > substitute-formation [virtual reality] destined to recompense us for
      > the loss of the immediate presymbolic real...
      >

      Zizek uses terms as 'abyss' and 'madness'. This seems to originate from
      Lacan's psychology and its hole in the symbolic order. It is true that
      Hegel shows the way from the immediate intuition to the mediating
      activity of representation and thinking. On this way the immediate
      figurative sense [Bedeutung] is gradually sublated by the sense of the
      universal symbolic order. One section on this way Hegel describes in §
      461 of the Encyclopaedia:

      "Under the shape of memory the course of intelligence passes through the
      same inwardizing (recollecting) functions, as regards the intuition of
      the word, as representation in general does in dealing with the first
      immediate intuition (§ 451ff.). - (1) Making its own the synthesis
      achieved in the sign, intelligence, by this inwardizing (memorizing)
      elevates the single synthesis to a universal, i.e. permanent, synthesis,
      in which name and meaning are for it objectively united, and renders the
      intuition (which the name originally is) a representation. Thus the
      import (connotation) and sign, being identified, form one
      representation: the representation in its inwardness is rendered
      concrete and gets existence for its import: all this being the work of
      memory which retains names (retentive Memory)." (translated by William
      Wallace)

      With Hegel it is important to follow this repeating movement from
      inwardness to outwardness and conversely, the subject achieving thereby
      more and more objectivity, that is, universality. With this Hegel
      overcomes Kant's presupposed dichotomy and subjective fundamentalism. It
      seems that Lacan (and Zizek?) emphasize the dichotomy and fundamentalism
      as well though Zizek points to Hegel's "true question ...... how the
      subject is able to climb out of madness and to reach 'normalcy' ", that
      is, to the necessary actualization of reason (intelligence) being at the
      beginning only in itself and therefore as such pure (absolute)
      inwardness not analyzable. However, if this is true it would give a good
      reason for rejecting psychology.

      Best wishes,
      Beat Greuter



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