My essential problem with Hegel is simple: It’s not a matter of being wrong.

I must admit my Wittgensteinian inclinations make me wonder if Hegel’s so elastic because it causes most of the problems, we have to reconcile even when answering other real problems in Kant (such as the subject, object distinction). Hegel seems to be a set of nearly infinite coherent readings that are mutually contradictory, and that is a problem. Emerson’s Transcendentalism is Hegelian. Spengler’s deterministic history is Hegelian. Engel’s and Lenin’s are Hegelian while denouncing him. Giovanni Gentile is Hegelian. Many of the early structuralists are Hegelian. The Young Hegelians are obviously. The Right Hegelians are consistent with Hegel and the philosophy of the right. So one is left with so many coherent readings that a mutually exclusive, one cannot feel that what is going is trying to reconcile a system that has fundamental ambiguities which remain answered only in light of their own assumptions and lead to many incoherent answers when taken together.

Does that mean that Hegel is wrong? No, but it seems almost impossible to tell which reading to privilege and how not to hide heuristic biases in the readings. In many ways, many of the problems here don’t necessarily seem solvable and the politics implied in Hegel range dramatically as well. I will give Hegel a break, but I am not sure that this is something one can easily reconcile. Is Wittgenstein right that is essentially a language problem? Or in the elasticity of family resemblances within that thought? I don’t know.

I do know that I have less answers on Hegel the more I read him and then read how others have read him. If he is a total system, the central mystification is if the form and content of the system must be assumed for it work, then how do so many people come to so many conclusions? It is clear though, Hegel thought his own work was a total system.

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About El Mono Liso

Por una civilizaciĆ³n de la pobreza.

Posted on July 17, 2012, in Philosophy and Politics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. You’re right about the range of philosophical and political causes to which Hegel’s ideas can be enlisted. This was clear as early as the split between the Right Hegelians and the Left Hegelians.

    But the same thing can be said of (some of) Wittgenstein’s works, especially the unfinished ones in which he left a number of cryptic remarks and pregnant suggestions. I know that while reading his Philosophical Investigations, I was told that there were at least five fully worked-out and self-coherent “readings” of the work, each of which claimed orthodoxy.

    Incidentally, however, there are some points on which Adorno and Wittgenstein clearly agreed. Both men despised Popper. Adorno had a long and sustained public debate with Popper. Famously, Wittgenstein attacked Popper with a fire-poker after the latter invaded one of his classes, trying to disrupt the lecture.

    Adorno found Wittgenstein to be one of the most sympathetic and sophisticated of the Austrian logicians, though he was really only familiar with the Tractatus. Practically all of his references to Wittgenstein center around that text, both critically and in terms of endorsement. Of course, Wittgenstein himself came to be extremely dissatisfied with that work, and especially the mischief to which philistines like Russell were trying to put it.

  2. The same things can also be said of Marx. Could you come up with more divergent development of his ideas than those presented by Louis Althusser and Raya Dunayevskaya? Incidentally, I’ve started the latter’s Philosophy of Revolution (1973), and have found her first chapter on “Why Hegel? Why now?” helpful.

    Unfortunately that first chapter is not available here, but others are. I can scan it and send to you if interested.

  3. The Wittgenstein problem is a problem, and an equal one to Hegel in regards to philosophy, but not in regards to religion and politics, which frankly are completely bracketed out in a way not done in Hegel, whose philosophy necessitates them.

  4. I am interested, I have always been somewhat struck by the the fact that Althusser has to carve up Marxists ourve to make his structuralization of the Marx actually work. My email address is available on this page I believe.

  5. The ability to be susceptible to numerous interpretations is defenitely a virtue for literature. Is it so for Philosophy?; I am not sure.

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