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Thread: Reading Hegel

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  1. #21
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    To the commentor above, Stalin was actually notorious for being shitty at dialetics. But that isn't the point of this thread.
    And I think most traditional philosophers are "shitty" inasmuch as they accept traditional philosophy. The point is that I can apply the same types arguments about "horrible politics" to dialectics that were leveled at "analytic" philosophy, so making those criticisms really doesn't show us much beyond the fact that a lot of people have bad politics.

    Hegal once said that "To be a philosopher is to be a Spinozian". So personally I would recommend that you read Spizonova's Ethics since he largely invented the scientific method as it is applied to philosophy. Additionally his secular Pantheism can be seen as a precursor to determinism and materialism.
    Thanks, but I have read Spinoza's Ethics, I have a copy sitting on my bookshelf. Unfortunately, it's exactly the sort of a priori nonsense that anti-dialectics opposes.

    I'm not sure what you mean when you say he "invented the scientific method as it is applied to philosophy." Spinoza's method was arch-rationalist. He was operating in an early Enlightenment context where the paradigm of "certain knowledge" was mathematics, this question of "certain knowledge" being one of the prime concerns after Descartes. So he wanted to apply an analogous "geometrical method" to that employed in Euclid's Elements, making his philosophy appear more rigorous than competitors' (such as Descartes, Gassendi, etc.) according to certain standards of the day. That is, he made his work aesthetically and grammatically resemble early modern mathematics. But there is hardly anything scientific about positing axioms and "deriving" their "consequences" through purely conceptual arguments, particularly when these axioms and related claims make substantive claims about how the world is.*

    Inasmuch as there is an inventor of "scientific" methods as applied to philosophy, Hume would be a much better example out of the classic philosophers, as one of his most common forms of argument was to show that we routinely believed things that simply could not be justified by the standards of post-Cartesian (including Spinoza's) philosophy, and that the arguments of such philosophy fall apart under scrutiny anyway. He would then explain our beliefs and practices by turning instead to supposed biological, historical, or psychological facts about humans. Even then, I don't really agree with Hume (another traditional philosopher, in the end), but he's significantly better as an example of philosophers being "scientific" than Spinoza.

    As for "determinism" and "materialism," I have no patience for either inasmuch as they are metaphysical theses. With "materialism" I may have to qualify this as I do not accept materialism as an ontological thesis about the "fundamental nature of reality," because I think trying to posit any such theory is already barking up the wrong tree. I'm still absolutely a historical materialist, which is a historiography and method of social analysis.

    Also if you are looking at a book on Dialectical Materialism then I'd recommend Mao's work On Contradiction, since it is much better written than most dialectical works.
    It's also worse-reasoned than most dialectical works, which is saying something!

    Anyway, you may be interested in this if you want an outline of the general contours of the Wittgensteinian position I'm supporting. It's short and free.

    *As opposed to the more complicated case of purely formal sciences like mathematics, which Spinoza was trying to resemble. You can get an outline of roughly my understanding of formal sciences here: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/wi...n-mathematics/
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    Previously Anarcho-Fox
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  3. #22
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    True, non-continental philosophers may be politically Marxist, I guess that's not my point. My point is more that as a project analytic philosophy (by which I guess I meant any anti-dialectical philosophy I've come across) is not conducive to radicalism, and I guess I don't see how you could get Marxism out of its postulates. Could you recommend me a thoroughly "analytic" or anti-dialectical text that might help? I tried reading some GA Cohen and Robert Brenner, but thought it was pretty bad. In the structure of its categories, to be very broad, it presupposes a stasis. I've read a bit from the anti-dialectics page, and I'd like to have more arguments or debates about it, but maybe here isn't the best place.

    Further, I definitely think that Hegel's Logic is an important philosophy text to read, and there are things to be extracted therefrom. "Dialectics" was propagated by Stalin and whomever else, but in the end they also called the USSR a lot of things it wasn't, or praised what it did badly. And once more, I wouldn't consider myself a "Hegelian", really, and there's an interesting counter-Hegelian tendency coming from Althusser and Spinoza, just as an example. So yeah.

    Edit: Okay, I'm going to write up my thoughts about the article on your position and post them when I'm done.
    Last edited by $lim_$weezy; 5th March 2013 at 21:04.
  4. #23
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    Anyway, you may be interested in this if you want an outline of the general contours of the Wittgensteinian position I'm supporting. It's short and free.
    Rosa....
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    I would like to preface my response by saying that I'm not a dogmatic “dialectical materialist”. I don't posit a dialectic of nature, which seems to be what Rosa is critiquing. And as far as I know, no modern dialectical philosophers hold that either, although I can't speak for most people on the Left.

    First, the article's position simultaneously upholds logic and its own viewpoint unquestioningly/a priori and denounces every other a priori as illegitimate. It is a typical preference of identity over difference, the problematic "this and no other!". Since the author can't believe her theories are true, what does she believe about them? Convenient fictions to convince others of her viewpoint? And why this logic--why this a priori set of A=A and so on? Are the rules of logic a priori, or are they empirical?

    Second, the truth-statuses of M1-type propositions are said to depend only on all or some of three things:
    (1) The meaning of the words contained therein
    (2) certain definitions
    (3) A series of supporting arguments or 'thought experiments'
    In contrast, M2-type propositions' truth-statuses are said to depend on their “experimental or factual confirmation”, or on “the way the world happens to be”.

    "The way the world happens to be" is exactly what we're trying to decide, so opting into that is problematic. I don't see why there can't be contingent "a priori" truths, in the sense that "a priori" is a problematic concept. Thought doesn't sit still, outside the world and think about it and make propositions that don't affect it. Rather, things I think and don't go "verify" may still refer to the way the world is, outside a narrowly scientific context.

    Third, to understand any proposition relies on its truth or falsity, not just M1-type propositions. Only the generic, outside-the-world, "purely logical" self can believe otherwise. It is further clear that this supposition is untrue and also unprovable.

    Fourth, basically the only thing that you can point to is science as your model, meaning it becomes a purely utilitarian argument. Without anything you say about this theory being true or false, and furthermore confronting it from a non-dialectical standpoint, how can it ever be convincing? You take anti-dialectics as your framework (yes it's a framework, just like any other, admit it or not) and attempt to refute dialectics from outside (at least in the article).

    This is my first stab at it, but I don't feel like I've really expressed myself well enough... there are far more assumptions in the position that I'll keep thinking about.
    I hope we can keep this discussion more civil than the tone of these articles.
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    There have been many leftist or left-leaning "analytic" philosophers.
    But this is because we use outrageously different standards for those people than we use for Marxists. All those guys were "leftists" more or less in the sence that Kautsky or Bernstein were leftists. They certainly had no coherent critique of capitalism, did not understand the ideas of capital or value, and had no scientific theory of exploitation.

    All things that would get us all screaming in unison, "reformism! reformism!" if they were the case with Marxists.

    Luís Henrique
    Last edited by Luís Henrique; 8th March 2013 at 22:48.
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    Anyway, you may be interested in this if you want an outline of the general contours of the Wittgensteinian position I'm supporting. It's short and free.
    Short, free, sophistic and sophomoric...

    Luís Henrique
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  10. #27
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    And that's leaving aside Wittgenstein himself (whom I like to distinguish from his OLP "offspring"), who spoke favorably of Lenin's politics, supported the communist student organizations at Cambridge, was friends with prominent socialists (like friggin' Piero Sraffa), and was invited to teach at Kazan University in the USSR, Lenin's old university. That a Cambridge philosopher would be invited to the early USSR speaks volumes.
    But it wasn't the "early" USSR. It was 1935 USSR, at the height of Stalinist persecution of communists, and at a time when "Diamat" was the official philosophy of the State.

    Now that I think about it, I don't remember Wittgenstein ever making any criticism of "Diamat". Perhaps he wasn't so much anti-dialectical as you fantasise...

    ... or, more probably, nothing of this "speaks volumes", except to say that Wittgenstein was an odd guy who did odd things more out of psychological unstability than out of politico-philosophical coherence.

    Luís Henrique
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    First, the article's position simultaneously upholds logic and its own viewpoint unquestioningly/a priori and denounces every other a priori as illegitimate. It is a typical preference of identity over difference, the problematic "this and no other!". Since the author can't believe her theories are true, what does she believe about them? Convenient fictions to convince others of her viewpoint? And why this logic--why this a priori set of A=A and so on? Are the rules of logic a priori, or are they empirical?
    And, if they are empirical, with what mental apparatus do we decipher the empiric evidence? How do we think about the empiric evidence, if what is under scrutiny are exactly the laws of thought?

    But, if the rules of logic are a priori - then how are they not the M1 kind of proposition, ie, metaphysic propositions?

    The only way out of this conundrum is to declare that they are not propositions at all - but this hardly saves the day, for, even if they are not propositions, propositions can be made about them:

    1: The law of non-contradiction is self-evident.

    And we are back with the problem of deciding whether 1. is a metaphysical proposition or an empiric one. Further, we can easily see that "empiric propositions" about the rules of logic don't tell us anything about such rules:

    2: Aristotle made ample use of the principle of non-contradiction.

    It is, unhappily, only the metaphysical propositions, like 1, that actually say anything about such rules.

    In contrast, M2-type propositions' truth-statuses are said to depend on their “experimental or factual confirmation”, or on “the way the world happens to be”.
    And this is trivialised to the extreme. The archetypal "empiric proposition", "Tony Blair owns a copy of Das Kapital" - from now on referred to as M2 - can be, it is claimed, understood it even though one hasn't a clue whether or not it is true. Indeed, as long as one knows the English language, it is possible to understand it without knowing its truth value. But knowing the English language is far from trivial. One does not know what "own" or "copy" mean, except by knowing, in a looser or firmer way, how those words relate to the whole system of the English language. It implies the knowledge and understanding of ownership relations and of the complex idea of "copy".

    Third, to understand any proposition relies on its truth or falsity, not just M1-type propositions. Only the generic, outside-the-world, "purely logical" self can believe otherwise. It is further clear that this supposition is untrue and also unprovable.
    It depends, of course, of what we mean by "understand". Concerning M2, we figure that either Mr. Blair has a copy of Das Kapital that belongs to him (ie, it wasn't lent to him by Mr. Cameron, nor it belongs to Mrs. Blair), or that he doesn't. We don't necessarily understand what such ownership entails (for instance, Ms. Lichtenstein makes a great deal of a comment by Marx that he had fortuitously acquired a copy of Hegel's works, as a gift from Freiligrath - which would indicate that Marx was so uninterested in Hegel that he wouldn't even own a copy if not for Freiligrath's kindness).

    (And consequently, we see that a very ordinary empiric proposition such as

    3: Karl Marx owned a copy of Hegel's works

    can be "understood" in several different ways and levels, varying from a simple confirmation that the books were effectively in his shelves to an in-depth discussion of what kind of influence they had in Marx's thought.)

    Further, there is a problem with meta-propositions. Consider:

    M2': M2 is an empirical proposition.

    Is M2' an empirical proposition? If so, what kind of experimental or factual confirmation would show us that it is so? Or what about,

    M2'': M2' is an empirical proposition.

    Or,

    M2''': M2'' is an empirical proposition.

    Or M2 followed by n apostrophes, stating that M2 followed by n-1 apostrophes is an empirical proposition?

    Luís Henrique
  12. #29
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    Default Re: Reading Hegel

    Take Hegel with a grain of salt. He's semi-useful but do not identify him with Marxism, know that Marx's theoretical basis was a response to Hegel's logic, not a manifestation of it.

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    Her critique of Hegel is closely tied with her critique of dialectics. She rejects dialectical materialism as well.
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    trust me, I know. I argued with her on this forum before she got banned, I was a noob who didn't know of what they were talking about at the time so she handed my ass to me.
    fka xx1994xx
  16. #32
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    Short, free, sophistic and sophomoric...

    Luís Henrique
    some1 opened your old wounds....

    how is it "sophistics"? "sophism" is more or less defined as masking bullshit as something profound with a lot of difficult words. that article is pretty clear...
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    how is it "sophistics"? "sophism" is more or less defined as masking bullshit as something profound with a lot of difficult words.
    No, it is not. It is defined as an invalid reasoning:

    Originally Posted by Merriam-Webster
    an argument apparently correct in form but actually invalid; especially : such an argument used to deceive
    Sophisms may very well be phrased in very day-to-day verbiage:

    - Is Rex a dog?
    - Well, yes, as you can see.
    - And is he yours?
    - Yeah, I take a lot of pride on that.
    - And has he yet fathered puppies?
    - Sure, my neighbours and friends who have *****es frequently borrow Rex to impregnate their pets.
    - So Rex is yours, and Rex is a dog?
    - Yes, I have just said that.
    - And if he yours, and he is a dog, does it necessarily follow that he is your dog?
    - Of course, I can't see how it wouldn't.
    - But you have also just told me that Rex is yours, and that Rex is a father, isn't it?
    - I guess I did.
    - And so, if Rex is yours, and Rex is a father, we might conclude that Rex is your father, might we not?
    - Er... seems logical, though it still sounds somehow weird.
    Classical sophism, no difficult words at all, no real (or apparent, or fake) depth either.

    Luís Henrique

    ETA: How am I supposed to refer to the females of the Canis domesticus species in English, without being politically incorrect? Doguesses, perhaps?
    Last edited by Luís Henrique; 22nd April 2013 at 13:58.
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    Rosa Lichtenstein has posted a response to both Luis and Slim in this link:
    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Dialectical_confusion.htm

    EDIT:
    Rosa Lichtenstein has further replied to Luis' comment in response to the link:http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Dialect..._The_Irascible
    Last edited by Captain Ahab; 1st May 2013 at 12:14.
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    Rosa Lichtenstein has posted a response to both Luis and Slim in this link:
    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Dialectical_confusion.htm
    Reading Ms. Lichtenstein's drivel isn't one of my predilect ways of wasting time, but I can't help but noticing this glaring sophism:

    Originally Posted by Ms. Lichtenstein
    [FONT=Verdana]In comparison with the rest of Soviet history, 1935 (not 18 years after the revolution) is indeed part of its early history. The Soviet state lasted until 1991 -- approximately 74 years. 18 years represents approximately 24.3% of its history; less than a quarter. If this isn't part of its early history, what is?[/FONT]
    So, according to Ms. Lichtenstein, history divides itself mathematically. The sheer fact that the Soviet Union had gone from a dictatorship of the proletariat into a dictatorship against the proletariat means nothing: if an event is in the first half (or perhaps the first third, perhaps we have an "early", a "middle" and a "later" Soviet Union...) it belongs to "early Soviet Union". We see how mistaken are the pre-historians who divide pre-history into "Paleolithic", "Mesolithic", and "Neolithic", where the former lasted hundreds of thousand years, and the latter barely ten thousand.

    Luís Henrique
    Last edited by Luís Henrique; 1st May 2013 at 13:18.
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    I've not made it to Hegel yet, so I honestly have no answer. But I highly recommend Spinoza regardless because he's awesome and will change your life.
    I second this. Spinoza can be tough to read (at least, working through the entire Ethics is definitely a chore) but he beats the shit out of Hegel on the accessibility front. I recommend reading Hegel's "Philosophy of History" in that it is relatively less opaque (after the introduction) and has a subject that is more concrete and less abstract. I agree that his Idealism and teleological outlook is naïve and hard to take, but for all that he has some ideas that will change the way you look at the world. Only the aforementioned Spinoza, Nietzsche, and Marx himself (in progress) has done that for me. Kojeve is the first commentator most people look to, but I have never read him so I've got nothing (I'm sure he's good and challenging).

    In general, when I read Hegel, I imagine myself confronting a man whose insights are fierce and unrelenting, but who has absolutely no poetic sensibility and therefore tries to explain the counter-intuitive in the most literal and excruciating way imaginable. Not fun, but definitely worth the nub-ground teetch.
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    Hegel does indeed assume that the reader is well versed in philosophy, and he is definitely not a quick read. He is, however, definitely worth it. To understand Hegel you really must first read Fichte, to whom Hegel was responding. You really should acquaint yourself with Kant as well, since Hegel was also responding to him. I recommend that you read the terrific section on Kant in the Encylopedia of Philosophy; that will give you a good idea at least of what he was about and why Hegel responded to him as he did. With Fichte and Hegel be prepared for one paragraph going on for pages and for one sentence consisting of half a page or more. Their styles are extremely complex, typical of the German idealists of the nineteenth century. But, as I said, if you can tough it out, Hegel will enrich your life.
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    I was told to read in order Kant, Fichte then hegel to get the context of german idealism. I was also told that Fichte made the best case for Idealism. I picked up Hegels, Phenomenology of spirit and his Philosophy of Right I intend to read it beginning tonight but i know its going to be a hard read.
    Classical economy never arrived at a consciousness of the results of its own analysis; it accepted uncritically the categories "value of labour," "natural price of labour," &c., as final and as adequate expressions for the value-relation under consideration, and was thus led, as will be seen later, into inextricable confusion and contradiction, while it offered to the vulgar economists a secure basis of operations for their shallowness, which on principle worships appearances only-Karl Marx
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    Thanks, but I have read Spinoza's Ethics, I have a copy sitting on my bookshelf. Unfortunately, it's exactly the sort of a priori nonsense that anti-dialectics opposes.

    I'm not sure what you mean when you say he "invented the scientific method as it is applied to philosophy." Spinoza's method was arch-rationalist. He was operating in an early Enlightenment context where the paradigm of "certain knowledge" was mathematics, this question of "certain knowledge" being one of the prime concerns after Descartes. So he wanted to apply an analogous "geometrical method" to that employed in Euclid's Elements, making his philosophy appear more rigorous than competitors' (such as Descartes, Gassendi, etc.) according to certain standards of the day. That is, he made his work aesthetically and grammatically resemble early modern mathematics. But there is hardly anything scientific about positing axioms and "deriving" their "consequences" through purely conceptual arguments, particularly when these axioms and related claims make substantive claims about how the world is.*
    What you say about Spinoza isn't true at all. Spinoza's Ethics does not in fact rely on any a priori assumptions about metaphysics. Spinoza rejects all the trappings of metaphysical transcendence of Descartes. Instead of being the arch-rationalist, Spinoza reduces reason to the plane of the immanent - to the plane of power, rather than deifying it as Descartes does. Spinoza's language is a product of his time, but his ideas put him far closer to Nietzsche than to Descartes. You should read Antonio Negri's "The Savage Anomaly" (which is where my username comes from), which offers a reading of Spinoza's TTP and Ethics that reveals him as very unique among his contemporaries for his total rejection of transcendence, his nondialectical approach to social organization, and his amazingly modern union of metaphysics and politics. This is not the same metaphysical straw-man Spinoza that Hegel (mis)read- in fact, another excellent book, Pierre Macherey's "Hegel or Spinoza" is all about Hegel's misreading of the "indigestible" kernel of truth in the Ethics that Hegel was unable to understand because of his own biases. Hope you find these as interesting as I did! If you give him time and a lot of thought, you'll really realize how astonishingly modern Spinoza is - but you'll also be frustrated by how badly he's been misread for centuries.
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