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Does anyone know anything about Hegel?

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Initial post: 24 Oct 2011 22:00:08 BDT
Less a clash of ideas, an axe to grind or a put down debate.

Trying to work out what Hegel is saying about the world geist, the master slave dialectic and thesis, anithesis and synthesis.

Does anyone know how it fits together from either a left or right perspective?

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Dec 2012 13:42:41 GMT
Last edited by the author on 31 Dec 2012 16:27:55 GMT
Hegel thought that the whole of existence was not a big thing but a vast process. When we have a process it is pertinent to ask 1) what it is that is in movement and 2) what generates this movement.

To the first question Hegel answered that it is Geist. This means quite simply that the world process, the whole of reality, is a manifestation of something spiritual or animate, he was therefore an idealist. The universe is a living spiritual process.

To the second question Hegel answered that it is a dialectical process. The movement of spirit is generated by what Hegel named 'contradiction.' This means that since Spirit is One (Hegel was not only an idealist he was a monist) it is internally divided against itself. It is in fact alienated from its own true nature, which can only emerge in self-knowledge.

Thus the movement of reality is the movement of Geist (which Hegel often identified with God) coming to know itself. It's as if it begins with a sense of itself as Being (thesis), then comes to see that just Being when it is not a something that is, is empty; that is Nothing (antithesis), and thus through this inner tension unites these two conceptual moments in Becoming (synthesis).(see The Science of Logic Section 1). The story gets more and more complicated, and Hegel spends thousands of pages developing it from different perspectives.

The ultimate point at which spirit comes to know itself is in self-consciousness, which is manifest in human culture, (ultimately: art, religion and philosophy. In that order) of which we each constitute a moment or aspect.

The distinction between left and right hegelians (Karl Marx being the most famous left hegelian, though he was a materialist rather than an idealist) is that the left hegelians held that the process needs to be completed by social change because we are (or Geist is) still self-alienated. Whereas the right hegelians (and Francis Fukuyama might be an example of this) believe the process is finished and that we have reached the highest point of Geist's expression.

The master/slave dialectic appears in the Phenomenology of Spirit and is an extremely complex example of the process at work in human culture: Very crudely, to encounter another person for Hegel is to encounter the necessity for recognition by the Other. I desire that they see the world as my world (man is wholly desire, and desire is ultimately this. Sartre had a very similar view). Thus a battle takes place. The master is the one who would rather die than be enslaved, thus he risks death and comes to know death as his: that is he conquers it.

The slave fears death and becomes subordinate to the master. The master forces the slave to work on material reality (which is alienated Geist) and transform it to supply for the masters needs. In doing so the slave comes to know how reality works in the process of transforming it through labour. Hence the importance of labour in Hegel and Marx. The master on the other hand is alienated from this reality and has his desires fulfilled immediately. He therefore thinks it works by magic, like the capitalist who believes his money grows by magic, or that his wealth is due to his abilities rather than the exploitation of the working class. The slave on the other hand has the products of his labour alienated from him.

In this way the slave comes to understand what the master does not. He can exist without the master, whereas the master cannot exist without him. The slave becomes the master and the master the slave. We can see here, I think, how this was so influential on Marx. 'The expropriators are expropriated.'

Sorry for being so long. It hardly does justice to Hegel, and this is why introductions to Hegel tend to be reluctant to be clear. To be clear is, in a way, to falsify Hegel. He was very far from clear, as a glance at the content of any of his works will show. This is all, therefore, a very crude attempt at saying something about his views.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jan 2013 17:02:38 GMT
I hope that was helpful.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jan 2013 10:19:50 GMT
Spin says:
Dr; Hegel's philosophy is the literary equivalent of the music of Bach; rich, complex and based on the idea, common at the time, that all literature and art could be expressed in terms of logic.. But well worth studying and appreciating. I suggest you avoid reading Hegel directly until you tackle the philosophies that preceded him and to which he was responding. Indeed, upon understanding Hegel one can appreciate the deeper meaning and logic of Marxs works.

Posted on 22 Jan 2013 10:22:13 GMT
Does anyone know anything about Hegel?
yeah had a house made of sweets with gretel

Posted on 22 Jan 2013 12:13:51 GMT
Dan Fante says:
She was the fit one in Roswell High.

Posted on 25 Feb 2013 15:10:06 GMT
George Lukacs' book on Hegel is a useful introduction.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Feb 2013 18:59:27 GMT
Last edited by the author on 25 Feb 2013 19:00:16 GMT
Would that be The Young Hegel? I've never read it but I've read some of Lukacs' work and can recommend it. I assume it will be quite Marxist in its interpretation, given that Lukacs was a Marxist.

There is also Charles Taylor's book Hegel. Rather big, but comprehensive and much better for the student who is more comfortable with Anglo-American philosophy (though Taylor is Canadian).

Also there is Alexandre Kojeve's Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the "Phenomenology of Spirit." This will give you a sense of the reception of Hegel in Continental thought. Particularly in such thinkers as J.P.Sartre, Jacques Lacan, Georges Bataille, Maurice Merleau-Ponty. All of whom attended his lectures. He also influenced Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. In other words it is Kojeve's reading that is central to Continental philosophy as a whole.

Posted on 25 Feb 2013 21:06:04 GMT
Kojeve's exceptionaly good on the master/slave.

Posted on 25 Feb 2013 21:14:21 GMT
[Deleted by Amazon on 7 Feb 2015 13:29:30 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Feb 2013 21:52:21 GMT
Above and through humans.

Posted on 25 Feb 2013 23:12:15 GMT
[Deleted by Amazon on 7 Feb 2015 13:29:31 GMT]
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Participants:  6
Total posts:  12
Initial post:  24 Oct 2011
Latest post:  25 Feb 2013

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