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Re: [hegel] "What is rational is actual..."

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  • Beat Greuter
    Dear Bruce, ... Thanks for your answer! I only know Pinkard s Hegel biography and Hegel s Phenomenology, The Sociality of Reason , CUP, 1996. What he writes
    Message 1 of 130 , Dec 13, 2010
      Dear Bruce,

      You write:

      > Beat,
      > Thanks for your comment, as always.
      > It's hard for me to get into this topic properly, because I still
      > cannot locate Pinkard's passage.
      > What struck me as so odd /unorthodox about it was that he was relying
      > (so it appeared to me) upon the movement of "correspondence... with
      > a given outer reality (fact)." The kind of correspondence which is
      > advocated. e.g. in Locke's identification of "things as they are in
      > themselves" as a proper target for empirical knowledge. And not the
      > correspondence that you cite in connection with "a philosophical
      > activity for demonstrating the reconciliation processes of
      > consciousness in an arising new actuality or objectivity."
      > It struck me as so unorthodox (and Pinkard is a loyal Hegelian) that
      > I'm afraid that I'd mis-read it. Projected my own fondness for Lockean
      > realism upon it? Which I why I really wish I could find it, again, in
      > its context. I think it's in his book _Hegel's Dialectic_ but I've
      > poked through my copy 3 times, and still haven't found it.... Zut
      > alors!
      > Bruce

      Thanks for your answer!

      I only know Pinkard's 'Hegel' biography and "Hegel's Phenomenology, The
      Sociality of Reason", CUP, 1996. What he writes in the latter
      publication seems to sustain partly my view of the dictum "the actual is
      rational, and the rational is actual". Me too, cannot imagine that
      Hegel's philosophy sustains Lockean realism though Hegel's concept of
      experience is also a kind of empirism which, however, is not meant as an
      immediate conceptional (logical) relation to the real but consciousness
      in its enrichment of world relationship.

      In the following I quote a passage from Pinkard's "Hegel's
      Phenomenology, The Sociality of Reason" referring to the dictum "the
      actual is rational, and the rational is actual" (p. 295-296):

      "Part of what distinguishes this modern type of ethical life from
      morality is that ethical life presents the agent with certain
      determinate ends that a se1f-determining agent is required to will in
      order to affirm for himself that he is indeed a self-determining agent,
      and toward which that agent is required to have certain types of
      motives. These determinate ends count as genuine ethical ends, as
      signifying a set of authoritative, common projects for participants in a
      form of Sittlichkeit, ethical life. By remaining only with the
      self-understanding present in "morality," the agent can have no
      consistent self-understanding, since that understanding is caught in the
      contradiction between the objectivity of the rights he claims as a
      modern free individual and the subjectivity of the moral claims he makes
      as a modern autonomous individual. If ethical life is to fulfill its
      promise, it must resolve that contradiction. Moreover, the resolution
      cannot be "merely" philosophical but must be a resolution for the agents
      from within their point of view.49 For this conception of ethical life
      to work, the agents must be able to affirm the ethical ends as
      adequately resolving this contradiction. (To use the language of the
      Phenomenology of Spirit again, the solution must be "for them," not
      merely "for us.") Finally, they must specify and inform activities with
      which the subject can identify himself, or, as Hegel puts it, in which
      he can find himself be fully "present" - that is, activities in which
      the subject can find that his actions and desires, even his emotional
      life, accord with his sense of who he is. To be in such a position is to
      realize the norm of freedom: to be engaged in activities that are
      intentional (the agent must know what he is doing), reflective (he knows
      why he is doing it), and with which the agent rationally identifies
      himself. To the extent that the agent cannot rationally identify himself
      with achieving these ends, he will be alienated from them (they will not
      be his ends), and they will not therefore be sufficiently motivating. If
      these modern ethical ends are to constitute a genuine form of
      Sittlichkeit, it must be case that the individual experiences them as
      both "the way things are done" and as being harmonious with his own
      sense of who he is such that he will not be alienated from the social
      life around him.

      49. This is the point of Hegel's often misunderstood dictum that "The
      actual is the rational, and the rational is the actual." Rather than
      being a call to quietism or just a philosophically decorated form of
      smug conservatism, it is the claim that if there is to be a fully
      rational form of self-understanding, then it must be one that is
      anchored in actual social institutions which provide the agent with a
      non-contradictory form of self-understanding. A philosophical theory of
      ethical ends cannot therefore appeal to institutions that do not or
      cannot exist, nor can it appeal to an idealized self-understanding that
      has no institutional support. Purely "moral" theories typically appeal
      to something like that, but such theories only end up as exhortations to
      people to become what they ought to be, generally without any concrete
      prescription for how they are to do that and which are often at odds
      with the prevailing real possibilities for people."


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Alan Ponikvar
      Hi John, There is a sense that what Randall and I are speaking about is our own private concern. Actually, we are speaking around a certain reading of Hegel of
      Message 130 of 130 , Jan 31 7:04 PM
        Hi John,

        There is a sense that what Randall and I are speaking about is our own
        private concern. Actually, we are speaking around a certain reading of Hegel
        of which we both are familiar. Randall embraces this reading while I reject
        it. We are thrashing out some of the issues of this reading that has its
        source primarily in the writings of Winfield, Maker, and Houlgate. So I can
        appreciate how much of this might not be all that helpful for others.

        The discussion about skepticism though is a more widely recognized concern
        as Pippin, Pinkard, Westfhal, and Forster to name some of the more prominent
        English language interpreters read the Phenomenology as a skeptical account
        about the failures of natural consciousness. In fact, as far as I can tell,
        this is the majority view as to how to read the Phenomenology. The
        skepticism is carried over as the preferred way to read "With What Must the
        Science Begin" in the Logic.

        You are right to point out that we have really not really gotten started
        with a reading of the Logic. Last year, I wrote extensively on this site
        about my reading of the beginning. At some point I will revisit those posts
        and see if I want to change or add anything to what I have already said. But
        somehow I have managed to deflect Randall from getting on with his way of
        reading the text. If I remember, he wants to put a particular emphasis on
        understanding what Hegel means by determinate negation. This is fine with
        me. It sounds like a good way to focus the discussion.

        As for your final comment about the coming together of form and content I
        stand by what I have already said on this.

        Regards, Alan

        From: john <jgbardis@...>
        Reply-To: <hegel@yahoogroups.com>
        Date: Tue, 01 Feb 2011 02:34:43 -0000
        To: <hegel@yahoogroups.com>
        Subject: [hegel] Re: the silent fourth

        Dear Alan,

        Randall had been talking about form and content--and I didn't have a clue
        why he brought that into it at this point.

        But I guess what he meant was that the form of the SL is the manner of
        thinking that is going on there, while the content is what is being thought
        about, i.e., Being.

        I believe Randall was suggesting that there ought to be some relation
        between the two.

        I also didn't understand where skepticism came into it. So I quess
        skepticism is just the reason for starting with Being. If you start with,
        say, Something, then the skeptic will complain. And, so then, I quess, at
        every step of the way you can't be too overtly "creative" or, again, the
        skeptic will complain.

        So, then, Alan, I more or less understand what you are saying below about
        the manner of thinking. But you don't relate this at all to starting with

        Of course, as Hegel says, the starting place is _just_ a starting place. I
        suppose it could be dictated more or less externally by skepticism. That's
        as good a way to start as any.

        As I said in my last post, I don't believe the form and content, the manner
        of thinking and the matter thought, really come together until the Doctrine
        of Essence. Everything up to that point is pretty much just an exercise in
        futility--except for the fact that it establishes Essence. So instead of
        just making the distinction, as Heidegger does, between being and be-ing (or
        bying, or something like that, in other translations), and saying one is
        just abstract generality and the other is the real deal--instead of that,
        you actually go through all the mediation required to arrive at an immediate
        Essence in contrast to being.

        At any rate, that's as much as I've understood about all this--insofar as
        I've understood any of it at all.


        --- In hegel@yahoogroups.com <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com> , Alan
        Ponikvar <ponikvaraj@...> wrote:
        > Hi Randall,
        > I think we are both interested in the result that begins in the Logic as
        > pure being. And we both acknowledge that it stands unrelated to that from
        > which might be the mediated result. But this is to raise a problem. What
        > gives either of us the right to ignore the mediation that provides pure
        > being as the first thought? As I understand your approach, a meditation on
        > what might avoid skeptical criticism is the proper mediation. We cannot
        > begin with any determinate content has this would beg the question as to its
        > right to be the first thought. So we begin with an empty thought. But, as I
        > have mentioned already, this makes the Phenomenology irrelevant and it
        > privileges the skeptic as the proper arbiter of all possible beginnings.
        > In contrast, to a skeptically induced abstraction as the mediating entry
        > into the Logic I propose an absolute entry related to a shift of perspective
        > with respect to absolute knowing as achieved in the Phenomenology. What is
        > interesting about these types of mediating moves is that they are immanent
        > to absolute knowing, involving no more than a shift of focus upon what is in
        > view while your approach is entirely external and unrelated to the thinking
        > that has preceded.
        > Another point of interest is that speculative transitions that shift from
        > one to the other moment of an absolute content carry over as implicit
        > thought what is left behind. In the present case, what is carried over is
        > the education of the Phenomenology that teaches the reader that what he
        > observes as the truth of each consciousness is posited in turn as the object
        > of interest. What is carried over is the relevance of the absolute to what
        > we are to think, or the activity of thought is an essential moment of
        > thought content. The lesson is pay attention to what thought does as thought
        > thinks itself.
        > Finally, to answer my own question, an absolute mediation posits the
        > recollected view as equally absolute. It can only be the comprehensive view
        > of absolute knowing if it stands as an absolute or unconditioned view. As I
        > mentioned in another post you can see this same move within the Logic with
        > the move from being for self to the one.
        > Thus the advantages of my view are:
        > 1. It is immanent.
        > 2. It speaks to the absolute sense of thought that acts to constitute
        > itself.
        > 3. It explains how an absolute mediation still appears as a shear immediacy.
        > 4. It avoids an external reflection guided by the skeptic.
        > You mention the refer to the 'self-consumating' or as Miller puts it
        > 'thoroughgoing' skepticism. But this needs to be interpreted. One might read
        > it as you do as indicating the systematic completeness of the skeptical
        > survey. I to read it as referencing Hegel's remark that we should not let
        > the skeptical result be the end of the matter. We have to also see this very
        > same result as positive. Now to your credit you speak to this when you say:
        > "The positive result is "the liberation from the opposition of
        > consciousness"." But that is equivalent to saying the positive result of
        > each refutation of a mode of knowing is the liberation of the consciousness
        > from the mistaken view that its mode is true knowing. In other words, it
        > still really is a negative view. The question still remains: is the
        > skepticism merely negative ¡© a liberation from the opposition of
        > consciousness - or does it mean to offer an alternative way to think as it
        > does within the Phenomenology by providing consciousness with a new object.
        > What I am suggesting is that what is analogous to the new object for us is
        > an appreciation of the essential role of the activity of thinking when
        > thought is absolute in the Hegelian sense. That is, unlike those naturally
        > guided, the absolute does not stand apart from our unessential thinking. It
        > is not there as something indifferent to our attention. It is nothing more
        > that what happens when thought attends to itself. So, it is this
        > repositioning of the absolute and what happens to thought as a result that
        > is what we are meant to learn.
        > If the result is merely negative then when the reader turns to the Logic he
        > still is burdened by what comes naturally as is demonstrated when one
        > attempts to use skepticism to mediate our way to pure being. I have been
        > listening to some of Winfield's class on the Phenomenology. He once again
        > refers to what he calls the 'short argument' to the Logic. That is, he asks
        > himself why his formal meditation on the failings of oppositional thinking
        > are not sufficient. In fact, both he and Maker believe that the short
        > argument really is sufficient. They do not see the relevance of coming to
        > know knowledge as absolute as meaning anything more than a systematic
        > skepticism.
        > But Forster in his book on the Phenomenology I believe does a good job of
        > showing how a systematic skepticism does not defeat the skeptic. It begs the
        > question of how do we show that what is systematic is nothing more than an
        > elaborate solipsism that is unable to prove that there might not be other
        > ways of knowing outside the systematic account that might accomplish true
        > knowing. Moreover, Forster wants to know where is the justification for the
        > original standpoint that has the reader free to observe and isolated from
        > criticism as to this observational point of view. Does not the reader have
        > to be accounted for?
        > Finally, you note: "I think that the basic reason why you take my
        > interpretation (also Winfield's) as "purely negative" is that you would
        > ultimately like to "preserve" the opposition of consciousness."
        > I am trying to the best of my ability to show that it is you and Winfield
        > who preserve the opposition while I have moved on. In fact, I believe that
        > until one recognizes that the opposition as commonly conceived is a canard
        > one cannot really appreciate the point of the Phenomenology. There is no
        > opposition between knowledge and the absolute but there is an opposition
        > between how things first appear and how they subsequently appear in their
        > truth. This is why Hegel chooses to give a presentation of appearing
        > knowing. It is not because it is mere appearance apart from the truth. It is
        > because appearing knowledge is the site for the shift of perspective ¡© the
        > shift from viewing the knowing of each natural consciousness as a failure to
        > viewing this as the truth with a positive result, the new object. This is
        > Hegel's innovation: to not let the negative result be the last word but to
        > recollect what appears speculatively which means to appreciate the absolute
        > achievement in full view but which goes unnoticed when natural consciousness
        > ¡© and most readers ¡© see matters in purely a negative light. Appearance is
        > where the action is. It is not as ordinary knowing would have it as merely
        > the inessential pole of the knowing relation.
        > So, to overcome the opposition of consciousness really means to overcome an
        > opposition that most readers do not even recognize: it is first to posit the
        > opposition between speculative and ordinary thinking and then to show that
        > this is a difference that ultimately is resolved. So first you get as Hegel
        > tells us (PhS, 75) the absolute alone as the true ¡© this establishes the
        > opposition between the speculative and ordinary ¡© and then you get the true
        > alone ¡© the speculative achievements ¡© as in turn absolutely gathered as
        > spiritual truths. The shift in the Phenomenology from consciousness to
        > spirit also marks the conjunction of ordinary and speculative thinking in
        > that spirit appears as conscious modes of knowing.
        > The teaching then is that knowing in its two guises ¡© as ordinary and as
        > speculative ¡© are mutually implicating moments of the ultimate absolute
        > knowledge that is the terminus. We have not eliminated oppositional thinking
        > in its ordinary sense. We have folded it in to speculative thinking such
        > that what is first taken as an external opposition between knowledge and the
        > absolute comes to be reconceived as the inner difference of absolute
        > knowledge. It is this inner opposition that is overcome in the Hegelian
        > sense by being preserved and one might say re-purposed.
        > As re-purposed ordinary thinking or the understanding does not mark an
        > external perspective as it does for consciousness. It merely marks
        > unconditioned thinking that would be immediate, such as the first thought of
        > the Logic. One might say that when the understanding appears in the Logic
        > that it is not your father's understanding. It is not understanding as it
        > functions in the ordinary opposition for which the absolute stands apart. It
        > is understanding as it speaks to one view of the absolute, the abstract and
        > one-sided view. The mediation that follows comes by attending to thought as
        > absolute or thought as active as it attends to being.
        > I better stop here.
        > Regards, Alan

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