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2775Re: [neoplatonism] Hermetic Hegel Question for Bob

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  • Thomas Mether
    Oct 23, 2009
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      Hello Bob,
      I'm halfway through the book. I agree with you that there is a mistaken notion that hermeticism has to do with power. He may be getting that from Voegelin. I'd say Hermeticism has more to do with illumination  -- power is a secondary expression of that and its "first" form would be self-mastery (power over oneself).
      As an aside, I'm reminded of a line of reflection vis a vis Boehme and Hegel that I dropped and never really came back to. I think Hegel misunderstands the status and function of imagery. Boehme, I would argue, would argue that sensuous imagery is itself intelligible and rational -- but it is multi-media, sort of the full aesthetics of being and/or sensuous dimension of the "absolute". If it needs creation and manifestation to realize itself, then concrete imagery is not as secondary as Hegel seems to regard it. Corbin's work on the imaginal realm in Muslim theosophical-thought and the theory of imagery in Tantric Buddhism also come to mind here. Another aspect of this is that for Boehme, imagery is also something like an alchemical ferment, an arcanum, that has, even if mometary in duration, a transformative psychological impact. It changes how the "energies" of the psyche flow. It is not just an imagistic representation of a nonimagistic idea.
      You mention the interaction and mutual involvement of philosophy and magic in the ancient world but there was a lot of that in the modern era also. Magee's chapter on Swabia (that is where my family is from and they were Boehmists -- so that chapter reminds me of the intellectual atmosphere of our family)  points that out. Leibnitz comes to mind as does, well, Royce, James, and Peirce with their interests in magic and the occult. Then there is Newton and alchemy. Anyway, it always seemed natural that Hegel was working with Boehmist themes as well as Schelling (although he, rather than either Hegel as Magee avers or Boehme as I would claim, would be the "irrationalist" in my book like Schopenhauer).
      I'll probably have some more thoughts on Magee later.
      --- On Sat, 10/10/09, Robert Wallace <bob@...> wrote:

      From: Robert Wallace <bob@...>
      Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Hermetic Hegel Question for Bob
      To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Saturday, October 10, 2009, 2:48 PM


      Hi Thomas,

      Yes, it's a provocative book. I wrote a fairly detailed critique of it
      in section 3.18 (chapter 3) of my book. It's great, of course, that
      Magee explores Hegel's interest in Jakob Böhme and so forth, which
      most historians of philosophy regard as pretty much off limits. Why
      does Hegel write as much about Böhme in the history of philosophy
      lectures as he writes (probably) about Aristotle? However, Magee makes
      assumptions that drastically limit what he can accomplish. He assumes
      that the goal of the hermetic tradition, which he identifies as
      "power," is completely different from the goal of "philosophy" or of
      "rationalism. " So that if Hegel has an affinity for hermetic thinkers,
      this shows that he isn't really a philosopher at all (pp. 8, 120).
      Magee assumes that a theology for which "God requires creation in
      order to be God," or "God is in some sense completed or has a need
      fulfilled through man's contemplation of Him" (p. 13), can't be called
      "rationalist" --thus ignoring Hegel's whole (I would say, highly
      "rational") argument against spuriously-infinite theologies.

      What's more, Magee doesn't consider ways in which Hegel's project is
      anticipated by Plato and the Neoplatonists (who presumably would
      qualify as "philosophers" ). His focus on the "Hermetic tradition"
      doesn't allow him to explore the overlap between "occultism" and
      philosophy in the ancient and late-antique worlds. Why does Plato say
      in the Phaedrus that the best things come through "madness"? How could
      the original so-called "rationalist" say such a thing? Could it be
      that our contemporary conception of "rationality" is anemic, in
      comparison to Plato's?

      I hope that there will be more discussion of the issues that Magee
      raises. Similar issues arise, of course, in considering Iamblichus and
      so forth. Maybe the ISNS has dealt with them, to some extent. A
      conference devoted to "madness, magic, transcendence and reason" from
      Plato through Hegel might be very rewarding.

      Best, Bob

      On Oct 8, 2009, at 11:09 AM, Thomas Mether wrote:

      > ...or anyone who wants to comment, Bob, after having it sit on my
      > "to read" pile for a couple of years, I'm finally getting around to
      > reading Magee's Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition. Do you know that
      > book? Comments? Thanks, Thomas
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

      Robert Wallace
      website: www.robertmwallace. com (Philosophical Mysticism; The God of
      email: bob@robertmwallace. com
      phone: 414-617-3914

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

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