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Re: [hegel] the identity of the theoretical and the practical in the Absolute

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  • Beat Greuter
    ... Dear Bruce, Fine to hear from you again. I do not understand your mentioned difference between the Larger and the Enc Logic. In both Logics the basic
    Message 1 of 93 , Sep 3, 2010
      Bruce Merrill writes:

      > Hi Robert,
      > Thanks for your salutation and I hope things are well for you.
      > I'll look at Quality, as you suggest.
      > My interest here lies not so much in an ontological notion of
      > goodness, following Plato (or Aristotle, as Kang suggests) but in
      > approaching the absolute via this mirroring of the theoretical and the
      > practical-- wherein the theoretical also discloses its ideality.
      > There are various approaches to the absolute (in its different
      > aspects) at the conclusions to a number Hegel's writings, but only in
      > the larger Logic (as far as I can determine) do we have this parallel
      > development of the idea of the true, and then the idea of the good. I
      > don't find this in the En Logic, for instance. Rather, in the
      > "one-sided" (joke!) manner that you note, there is the transition from
      > "the truth of the good" to the absolute, and the absolute is then
      > identified as the unity of the theoretical and the practical in the
      > #236 Zu, but there is no prior separate consideration of truth /the
      > theoretical (and its ideality) that I can pick out.

      Dear Bruce,

      Fine to hear from you again.

      I do not understand your mentioned difference between the Larger and the
      Enc Logic. In both Logics the basic concept of the idea is life, the
      immediate unity of cognition and volition. The idea is only in itself.
      Then the necessary further development of the concept brings a
      separation of the ideal side (cognition) from the practical side
      (immediate life), that is, the idea only for itself. This implies a
      separation of cognition and volition and therefore a sublation of the
      immediate life. In the absolute idea, now, the two come together again
      as an identity of the activity of the concept and life where the concept
      is neither merely outside nor merely inside - the absolute idea or the
      idea in and for itself. So, the necessary separation (dualism) is
      overcome in a new immediacy which includes now the comprehensive
      mediation of the two sides of life. This is deeply Aristotelian. You can
      find the absolute idea in a man of reason who in his activity can unite
      the universal and the particular beyond principles, or, in a work of
      art, or, in religious contemplation, or, in Hegel's philosophy of the
      movement of the concept.


      > Bruce
      > On 8/30/10, Robert Wallace <bob@...
      > <mailto:bob%40robertmwallace.com>> wrote:
      > > Hi Bruce,
      > >
      > > I hope you're doing well. You ask:
      > >
      > >> My question then is: Are the other texts where we find similar
      > >> synoptic overview of the true and the good, or the theoretical and the
      > >> practical, where Hegel argues for the ideality of the first and the
      > >> reality of the second, and thereby prepares us for their conjunction
      > >> in the Absolute?
      > >
      > >
      > > My answer would be that if I understand your presentation, Hegel in
      > > fact does something very like this in the Quality chapter of the
      > > Science of Logic, in his derivation of true infinity from determinate
      > > being, etc. The "Ought" is of course an important step in the
      > > derivation of true infinity--it leads (initially) from the finite to
      > > the spurious infinity, which Hegel then revises as true infinity. So
      > > we have here a conjunction of the apparently "theoretical" account of
      > > determinate being and the finite, as such, with the apparently
      > > "practical" notion of the Ought. This is also where Hegel introduces
      > > his notion of "ideality" and explains its relation to "reality." So
      > > all of the factors or concepts that you mention seem to be in play
      > > here. Which isn't too surprising, since Hegel elsewhere (in EL) refers
      > > to true infinity as "the fundamental concept of philosophy"! I analyze
      > > all of this in chapter 3 of my book.
      > >
      > > BTW, I'd suggest that in unifying the "theoretical" and the
      > > "practical," in this way, Hegel is preceded by Plato with the
      > > ontological role that he gives to the Form of the Good, in the Republic.
      > >
      > > Best, Bob W.

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    • Alan Ponikvar
      Hi Beat, I will try to keep this brief. 1. That you believe a profound philosophy should be obscure is interesting. Beyond that I don’t know what to
      Message 93 of 93 , Sep 16, 2010
        Hi Beat,

        I will try to keep this brief.

        1. That you believe a profound philosophy should be obscure is
        interesting. Beyond that I don’t know what to say.

        2. Beiser’s quote does not give the reason for why Hegel writes as he
        does. Is it because Hegel is a poor writer or is it because he is a precise

        3. The indirection of Hegel’s philosophy is due to the fact that the
        truth is exhibited inadvertently in the activity of thinking rather than in
        the thought before thought.

        4. The two ways of reading the text is a constant. A simple example:
        self-consciousness can refer either to self-awareness or to thought that
        returns out of otherness. The first reading is naïve while the second
        requires appreciation of what is speculative. You can provide dual meanings
        for pretty much every term used by Hegel. So, a concept can be abstract or
        concrete depending upon one’s way of reading or point of view.

        5. The task of interpretation is to get the reader to challenge his
        preconceptions that block his access to speculative thought. It is not to
        allow him to remain satisfied with these preconceptions so that he can use
        them to evaluate what Hegel has to say. This is the turning of the soul that
        Kang has brought up with respect to Plato which I also believe is true of

        6. You can slot skepticism if you like within the Phenomenology. But
        it is clear from the Introduction that the skeptical critique of knowing
        motivates what Hegel has to say when he speaks about the method of inquiry.
        This is yet another place where Hegel can be read naively as being in fear
        of the skeptic or speculatively as providing an implicit alternative –
        absolute knowing – to what the skeptic has to say.

        7. Representation ultimately is a mode of thinking enfolded within the
        absolute. It is not merely a heuristic even if it is at time used this way.
        It is an essential moment of speculative thinking.

        8. The dialectic is the point in an Hegelian account where there can
        be two possible readings: the negative skeptical or the positive
        speculative. The naïve reader finds the first reading more natural and does
        not know what to make of the second reading. As a result, much Hegelian
        scholarship involves the effort of avoiding the speculative altogether.

        9. As for god thinking unrestrictedly in pure thought, that is obscure
        but alas not very profound.

        Regards, Alan

        From: hegel@yahoogroups.com [mailto:hegel@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Beat
        Sent: Thursday, September 16, 2010 3:34 PM
        To: hegel@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: Re: [hegel] Re: the identity of the theoretical and the practical
        in the Absolute

        Alan Ponikvar writes:

        > Hi Beat,
        > No one should start out with the presumption that to be profound a
        > philosophy has to be opaque.
        Yes, SHOULD!

        > That Hegel is difficult to read I would think
        > is about the most noncontroversial thing that can be said about his texts.
        At least in this point you seem to be in line with the mainstream of the
        Hegel scholars. This is delightful to hear. I, unfortunately, do not agree.

        > The reason why Hegel is difficult to read is something people can disagree
        > about.
        The reasons are mostly always the same. As an example I can present you
        the following passage from Frederick Beiser's book "Hegel" (2005), first
        section of the Introduction as usual:

        "Why read Hegel? It is a good question, one no Hegel scholar should
        shirk. After all, the burden of proof lies heavily on his or her
        shoulders. For Hegel's texts are not exactly exciting or enticing.
        Notoriously, they are written in some of the worst prose in the history
        of philosophy. Their language is dense, obscure and impenetrable.
        Reading Hegel is often a trying and exhausting experience, the
        intellectual equivalent of chewing gravel. 'And for what?' a prospective
        student might well ask. To avoid such an ordeal, he or she will be
        tempted to invoke the maxim of one of Hegel's old enemies whenever he
        lost patience with a tiresome book: 'Life is short!' " (p. 1)

        > I get the impression that you believe that if a reader has faith that
        > Hegel
        > means in his texts to give a direct account of his philosophy - a
        > philosophy
        > that works by means of indirection - then all that is required is the
        > honest
        > effort of thoughtful attention.
        Your impression is correct! However, if you mean with this that with
        your perception of "a philosophy that works by means of indirection" you
        can explain the 'fact' or even necessity that and why Hegel's "texts
        appear opaque" then you are on the wrong track, or as you say, on the
        (opaque) detour track.

        > In contrast, I believe that the way Hegel writes is faithful not to a
        > trusting reader but to the philosophy he wishes to present.
        I hope so!

        > Almost everything said in the various texts can be read either
        > speculatively
        > or naively. Moreover, it serves Hegel's purposes to use words and phrases
        > that easily lend themselves to multiple meanings.
        That's at least dangerous. Aristotle would say that with this manner of
        speaking you would be similar to a plant since you would not be able to
        justify yourself in mutual speech (Metaphysics IV, Chapter 4 a).

        > The tradition of Hegelian
        > scholarship is to miss this basic point. Thus there is the persistent
        > comic
        > attempt to make Hegel's discourse appear reasonable to a sober-minded
        > trusting reader.
        I think this is the task of each serious Hegel scholar.

        > Hegel understands that what he has to say challenges the conventions about
        > reasonable discourse. What is most distinctive about Hegel's
        > unconventional
        > take on reason is that the true emerges as an alternative perspective on
        > what a skeptically inclined reader views as the point of breakdown for
        > reason. In effect, dialectics is a site shared by both the skeptical and
        > speculative philosopher.
        This is well said and true!

        > For the skeptic dialectic is what happens at the
        > limits of reason where reason runs away from itself in the form of a
        > regress
        > or a vicious circle. For the speculatively oriented thinker, this is the
        > site of the absolute since it is reason as self-conditioning. In
        > short, the
        > same content can be viewed as either a skeptical problem or a speculative
        > solution.
        I don't think so. Skepticism is a constitutive moment within Hegel's
        dialectical or speculative thinking: the negative.

        > The skeptic is the gadfly of representational thinking. Representational
        > thinking is the dominant mode of thinking about anything whatsoever.
        > But as
        > the skeptic is quick to point out, this mode of thinking has its limits.
        > Most readers are brought up short by these limits as they have no
        > reason to
        > be oriented to thought in any way other than by means of
        > representation. So
        > when a philosopher such as Hegel suggests that at these limits reason
        > manifests itself differently - absolutely - he is going to be met with
        > resistance.
        All Hegel scholars know this and Hegel repeats it again and again.
        Nevertheless, picture thinking is an important human trait and Hegel
        shows this in the PhdG. Only God alone can think unrestrictly in pure
        thought. Therefore, also Hegel uses the representation for helping his
        readers. Though these helping passages in his text have to be weighed
        carefully they are necessary parts of his philosophy for discussing its
        intentions. Moreover, representation is an important (dialectical)
        moment of thinking itself (see ENC, part III).

        > This resistance is compounded by the fact that speculative
        > reason can only defend itself by means of speculative reason - a
        > reason that
        > arises inadvertent to the conventional attempt to nail things down at its
        > own limits usually by some appeal to what is self-evident.
        I agree. The second part of your phrase is important.

        > Thus as
        > frustrating as it might be, Hegel presents his thought by means of
        > indirection.
        > At least that is how I try to explain why the texts appear opaque.
        > Regards, Alan
        For my reply see above.

        Beat Greuter

        > From: hegel@yahoogroups.com <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
        > [mailto:hegel@yahoogroups.com <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
        <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>] On
        > Behalf Of Beat
        > Greuter
        > Sent: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 6:15 AM
        > To: hegel@yahoogroups.com <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
        > Subject: Re: [hegel] Re: the identity of the theoretical and the practical
        > in the Absolute
        > Alan Ponikvar writes:
        > >
        > >
        > > Hi Kang,
        > >
        > > I do not like labeling philosophic positions in part because I rarely am
        > > sure what exactly is being claimed. As I understand the non-metaphysical
        > > reading of Hegel there is a focus on the self-determination and
        > systematic
        > > ordering of concepts. This sound innocent enough, but the
        > non-metaphysical
        > > crowd also seems to avoid discussion of dialectics and are
        > embarrassed by
        > > talk of the absolute. Since I read Hegel as providing a dialectic in
        > light
        > > of his original take on the absolute I guess then that I am not a
        > > member of
        > > this group. If I were to generalize about Hegel - put a label on his
        > > philosophy - I would say that his is the first nontheological
        > metaphysics
        > > since Plato. My discussion of Hegel's absolute as pure difference is
        > > one way
        > > I try to make this point. With Gertrude Stein in mind we can say
        > that for
        > > Hegel's absolute there is no ultimate there there to grasp when we
        > > consider
        > > the absolute apart from its finite manifestations, god being the most
        > > grand
        > > of these finititudes.
        > >
        > > It is certainly true that Plato can be read with pleasure with no
        > > philosophic preparation whereas Hegel cannot.
        > >
        > This is not true. A SPIEGEL discussion on the occasion of the second
        > centenary of the PhdG with the title "Hegel has won" begins with the
        > following answer by Prof. Liessmann
        > (http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-51074774.html):
        > "SPIEGEL: Professor Liessmann, was geht uns die "Phänomenologie des
        > Geistes", die vor 200 Jahren erschien, heute an?
        > Liessmann: Sie ist ein Sprachkunstwerk und gerade im Jahr der
        > Geisteswissenschaften eine positive Provokation, weil Geist hier noch in
        > seiner umfassenden Pracht begriffen wird, Wissenschaft, Kultur,
        > Religion, alles einbeziehend. Die von Hegel formulierte Dialektik ist
        > eine Bewegung voller Übergänge und Vorläufigkeiten. Hegel ist der
        > einzige Philosoph, der das getan hat, was wir so gern proklamieren: Er
        > hat tatsächlich vernetzt, rekursiv und dynamisch gedacht. Ohne
        > Hegel-Lektüre bleiben diese modischen Begriffe leere Worthülsen."
        > This text demonstrates very well that Hegel's linguistic masterpiece is
        > intelligible for everybody who likes and is willing to think about the
        > whole of science, culture, religion etc. and their dynamic
        > interconnections. The only thing we have to avoid is to make Hegel's
        > writings sophistic and thereby opaque.
        > Regards,
        > Beat Greuter
        > > But in my view - which is not
        > > the common view - if we were to divide Plato's and Hegel's readers
        > between
        > > those who approach the philosophy in the proper spirit and those who
        > > are not
        > > able to I believe the divide would roughly split humanity into the
        > > same two
        > > groups. This is because I believe that Plato is as poorly understood as
        > > Hegel. In particular, I do not believe that Plato's philosophy is
        > the same
        > > as what has come to be identified as Platonic doctrine by the
        > tradition of
        > > Platonic scholarship. This is what happens when one has studied
        > Plato with
        > > Seth Benardette who once said: "I hear all this talk about Platonic
        > forms.
        > > But I have yet to come across one."
        > >
        > > As to why philosophy, I can do no better than point to Aristotle's
        > > reference
        > > to wonder. I often am puzzled when I hear that someone has decided
        > that he
        > > should read Plato or Hegel for instance just because this is what
        > students
        > > of philosophy do. In my view, until there is a motivating reason to
        > > read one
        > > should resist the urge. In fact, I usually reread a text only when I
        > > have a
        > > question to orient my reading.
        > >
        > > Regards, Alan
        > >
        > > From: hegel@yahoogroups.com <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
        > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
        > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
        > > [mailto:hegel@yahoogroups.com <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
        > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
        > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>] On
        > > Behalf Of
        > > kchen28
        > > Sent: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 2:51 PM
        > > To: hegel@yahoogroups.com <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
        > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
        > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
        > > Subject: [hegel] Re: the identity of the theoretical and the
        > practical in
        > > the Absolute
        > >
        > > Hi Alan:
        > >
        > > My reply must be briefer than I like, as work compels my attention.
        > >
        > > That is an interesting take on Hegel; "only with a different eye"; that
        > > sounds very similar to the various "two-worlds" interpretations of
        > > Kant. It
        > > also sounds, programatically if not substantively, like Klaus Hartmann's
        > > non-metaphysical interpretation of Hegel. Do you in fact view Hegel as
        > > "non-metaphysical"?
        > >
        > > I did not say that Plato's work is only a summons to philosophy; I
        > merely
        > > say that Plato's work is also a summons to philosophy whereas Hegel's is
        > > not. The Phenomenology does not summon anyone to philosophy; it will not
        > > turn nonphilosophers to philosophers; it only shows philosophers or
        > > would-be
        > > philosophers how to actualize their intentions (bring philosophy
        > from love
        > > of wisdom to wisdom). The Phenomenology is not a book for
        > nonphilosophers
        > > the way, say, Plato's Apology is a work for nonphilosophers. Those
        > without
        > > some pretty serious interest in philosophy can hardly be expected to
        > wade
        > > through the whole of the Phenomenology.
        > >
        > > Having said all that, I do think it probably true that whereas Plato
        > seems
        > > to believe in a hierarchy of souls, Hegel seems not to. This means that
        > > Hegel's understanding of the difference between philosophers and
        > > nonphilosophers cannot be the same as Plato's, but it bears noting
        > > that for
        > > Hegel that distinction nevertheless remains of some importance, as he
        > > suggests in one of the prefaces to the Science of Logic.
        > >
        > > The philosophers and nonphilosophers do, to a certain extent, share a
        > > common
        > > interest in this question: why philosophy? That Q, of course, cannot be
        > > answered except in light of an understanding of human being.
        > >
        > > Best,
        > > Kang

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