GWF was the man…

If a content is to be discussed philosophically, it will bear only scientific and objective treatment; in the same way, the author will regard any criticism expressed in a form other than scientific discussion of the matter itself merely as a subjective postscript and random assertion, and will treat it with indifference.

GWF Hegel
Foreword to Elements of the Philosophy of Right

An excellent approach, in my view, even though, applied rigorously to blogging, it might cut down a bit on the conversational back and forth.

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Writing since ancient times, blogging, e-commercing, and site installing-designing-maintaining since 2001; WordPress theme and plugin configuring and developing since 2004 or so; a lifelong freelancer, not associated nor to be associated with any company, publication, party, university, church, or other institution. 

17 comments on “GWF was the man…

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  1. I was just thinking about George J. blaming Marx for the atrocities of N Korea,China,Stalin etc,and because Hegel had a huge impact on Marx,should he join the circle of blame? And Kant,taught Hegel.alas the original axis of evil in the Marxist-Islamic alliance.

  2. A couple of centuries of German writers writing what they thought to be philosophy concerning life on this planet led to the senseless slaughter of trees and other living things.

  3. OMG,when will I ever be recognized for being among the first,starting with the 1973 OPEC oil embargo/oil price increase to expostulate what the latest disciple of RCARISM does today. This was the #1 listing in REAL CLEAR WORLD today. Feast oh ye famished Zombies,

    “Of course, many Americans recognize the scale of the country’s debt burden. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and thus America’s highest-ranking military officer, recently said, “The greatest danger to American security comes from the national debt.”
    Four Americans out of 10 agree with him, whereas less than three in 10 deem terrorism or Iran more dangerous.
    America’s Great Power status has always been tied to its level of debt. Indeed, it was the absence of debt that marked the United States’ emergence as a world power between 1914 and 1917. The U.S. went from owing $3 billion (mostly to Great Britain) to being a net creditor for about the same amount, thanks to $6 billion in war credits given to the Western Allies. A further $3 billion in credits for European postwar reconstruction cemented America’s status as the world’s premier creditor nation, with its surplus equal to roughly 8 percent of GDP at the time.
    This shift meant that the U.S. had essentially replaced Britain as the heart of the world’s financial and monetary system. Previously, thanks to the gold standard and Britain’s political stability, the City of London had been the world’s key source of capital and financial guarantees for more than a century.
    The new era began suddenly in January 1915, when, after a few months of deep uncertainty, GOLD started to be shipped to New York in increasing quantities. A few months earlier, the veteran Boston financier Henry Lee Higginson had sketched in a letter to President Woodrow Wilson what America’s new strategy should be. “This is our chance to take first place,” he wrote. America’s financial house had to be put in order, all debts repaid and, as London had done for a long time, confidence had to be maintained, WHICH MEANT GUARENTEEING AMERICA’S CONVERTABILITY INTO GOLD.
    Alone among the world’s great nations, the U.S. did manage to guarantee dollar convertibility throughout the Great War. With peace, the dollar and Wall Street became the dominant force on the world’s financial landscape. The financial- market rules established after 1933 by President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal enabled the dollar to replace the British pound at the center of the international system.
    America’s role as the world’s banker went unchallenged until PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON DECOUPLED THE DOLLAR FROM GOLD. Even without the gold standard, U.S. economic might, together with the recycling of petrodollars, kept the dollar on top.
    Indeed, the U.S. remained the world’s premier creditor nation until 1986-1987, when it became a debtor nation again. In the next two decades, America’s debt usually was around $3 trillion, rising or falling with the exchange rate of the dollar.
    Starting in 1990, the U.S. began to import more and more capital, particularly from Asia. In the 2000s, China became the prime source of debt financing, and Americans were happy, because it enabled the U.S. Federal Reserve to keep interest rates low.
    There were some who foresaw danger. Swedish economist Axel Leijonhufvud foresaw asset-price inflation and a worsening of credit quality. Financial innovation soon made that prediction come true. It is enough to remember that in 2008 there were only 12 public companies in the world with AAA credit ratings, but more than 60,000 — mostly American — triple-A structured financial products. The U.S., the world’s banker, had mutated into the world’s hedge fund.
    With that change, the banker’s traditional imperative to maintain fidelity and trust was forgotten. And it is in America’s public debt that the debris of its financial system’s broken promises are collected, just as Italy’s massive public debt reflects its past national prodigality.
    The figures for the U.S. are staggering. Public debt includes not only the federal government’s current $13.2 trillion, but another $3 trillion owed by America’s states, counties, and cities. In addition, there is the $3.9 trillion in debt owed by America’s government-backed housing- finance agencies (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and others), which currently underwrite more than 90 percent of all U.S. mortgages. As a result, America’s public debt has reached roughly 140 percent of GDP.
    The U.S. Congress is well aware of what these numbers portend, but its members have chosen to avert their eyes. Indeed, the president is no longer required to provide the usual five-year forecast of the country’s fiscal position. A one-year perspective is now deemed sufficient.
    So, where does that leave the world economy? There is no newly emerging Great Power that can assume responsibility for global finance, as there was in 1914. Back then, Wall Street was ready for the job. Someday, Shanghai and Hong Kong might be ready, but that possibility is of little help now”

  4. No Marx missapplied Hegel, so I can’t in god conscience falt him for that, not when their are much more noxious philosophers to follow

    Well the fulcrum was really with Esso spill in 1969, followed in short order by the Libyan nationalization of Hunt and other oil companies,
    this put more and more power into the hands of OPEC

  5. @ Rex Caruthers:
    You probably know that Marx thought he had corrected Hegel by turning him upside down. Hegel viewed himself as absolutely committed to freedom, which he viewed in turn as meaningful only to the extent it was made substantial, necessarily through the “state,” which in Hegel’s philosophy tends to be a much broader concept than in contemporary conventional usages. Marx agreed with the theory, but argued that the logical conclusion was that eliminating slavery (wage slavery, oppression, etc.) meant overturning and re-organizing a state built upon principles that supported, derived from, and inevitably reproduced the conditions of slavery.

    Though Hegel praised the French Revolution – and drank a toast to it every Bastille Day – he was highly critical of it in many ways. He maintained that the most advanced form of government was constitutional monarchy, and did not believe that the nation state could be superseded. He believed that the state through civil society owed all citizens a livelihood, but he did not seem to believe that elimination of all contradictions, such as poverty and violence including war, was attainable. Hegel did not in his lifetime experience full-blown industrial capitalism, though he observed its beginnings in Britain and criticized aspects of it.

    Given the historical rebuff to “real existing Marxism/socialism” and the unlikelihood of reviving aspects of “Marxism” under the name even if doing so seemed desirable in the abstract, and having finished Tony Judt’s book (see sidebar – in effect his last testament), what I’m thinking about now is to what extent a recuperation of Hegel’s evolutionary conservatism is worth examining, and perhaps aligning with Judt’s explicitly Burkean defense of social democracy, something similar to what I found myself attempting earlier this year in the defense of progressivism, and which pre-figured my personal break with and re-consideration of American conservatism.

  6. Rex Caruthers wrote:

    FDRism,then,was a continuation/expansion of Hegelian evolutionary Conservatism:

    Arguably. The anti-Wilson mob tied progressivism via Wilson – pre-figuring the horrors of Roosevelt – to the evil influence of Hegel on Wilson. One of the main reasons I decided to bite the Hegel bullet.

  7. Did I get this right?

    All ojects are emeshed in a infinite matrix of relationships. As such they are non-existent as objects. Consciouness apprehending them rescues them from the determinate matrix and establishes them in their true existence.

    Consciouness apprehending a future ideal of human relations rescuses humanity from the non-existence of the infinite matrix of relatations that would otherwise negate it.

  8. @ Rex Caruthers:

    CKM: your #5 summary is spot on. I wish others would stop trying to translate the whole cloth of Hegel’s thought into limited (and limiting) isms. When one can think Hegel’s thought in Hegel’s terms, without recourse to other, one-dimensional similes (e.g., FDR), one truly understands him.

  9. @ bob:
    I think that those two statements are suggestive of Hegelianism, but rely on different terminology in a way that might lead to distortion or distorted understanding. For Hegel, consciousness in apprehending the determinacy of its object determines itself. “Existence” (Existenz) tends to be the name, along with “nature,” for not yet particularized particularity or not yet determined potential determinacy prior to or apart from its apprehension by human consciousness.

    Your second statement makes me think of that same discussion in Kojève’s introduction to Hegel that I mentioned on the Wall, in which Kojève resorts to a series of schematic diagrams to explain the difference between Hegel and prior philosophers. Though your language is neither Kojève’s nor Hegel’s (or their translators’), if I understand you correctly it strikes me as one way of framing the related fundamental idea of the identity of “concept” and “time” – but with a potentially important exception that I’ll get to.

    You’ve inspired me to go back and re-skim that chapter looking for a choice definition that compares to yours. I’m reminded that Kojève claims Hegel’s discovery of the identity of the concept and time as what makes Hegel a “great philosopher… on the order of Plato, Aristotle, and Kant.” Ah – here it is:

    In the Time that pre-Hegelian Philosophy considered, the movement went from the Past toward the Future, by way of the Present. In the Time of which Hegel speaks, on the other hand, the movement is engendered in the Future and goes toward the Present by way of the Past: Future -> Past -> Present (-> Future). And this is indeed the specific structure of properly human – that is, historical – Time.

    Must of the rest of Kojève’s treatment of Hegel in this chapter consists of eliminating competing perspectives as either tautological and uninformative or absurd and inherently meaningless, or both.

    What would be “wrong” in your framework, or anyway non-Hegelian, would, I believe, be the separation of “consciousness” and “humanity” into different terms. What you describe as a “rescuing” process is what makes the human human. What is human about human beings as opposed to what is animal or un-self-conscious about us, for Hegel, is that we realize the potential of the world spirit to come to self-consciousness. The world spirit coming to (greater, richer, fuller, maybe Mr. Hickey can help me out here!) self-consciousness through human, historical action would be that (possible) future engendering the movement of the past toward the present.

    So, as Kojève points out, when Hegel says, “”Time is the empirically existing concept itself,” humanity is included by reference: Humanity (human beings as human being, the human essence of humanity, humanity in and for itself rather than as a mere “aspect” of “people”) is itself interchangeable, as the same process viewed from a different perspective, with “the empirically existing concept.” So you could say, further, that “time” (historical time, the only kind of time that matters) is (also) humanity, humanity being another name for human beings being/becoming human in the world.

    I put possible in parentheses in that sentence about the world spirit coming to self-consciousness because Kojève insists that the possibility of the failure of the “project” is essential to it – as mortality is essential to freedom, death to meaning, etc. Hegel himself, on the other hand, at least in his discussions of world history and the philosophy of Right, sometimes writes as though certain that a hand of providence is guiding history – that “the world spirit knows how to get done what it needs to get done.” As I’ve noted before, Kojève seems to believe that the implications of Hegel’s philosophy are atheistic. Hegel himself seems to say something very different in his later writings. (There has been speculation that he was worried about being declared dangerous.)

    I still have to read and re-read much of this material to feel confident I’m getting them right, without losing some all-important nuance or committing some other sin of interpretation or imposition or interpolation. Also, I’ve saved the Phenomenology for last this Summer. Haven’t more than glanced at it – other than in secondary literature – in a very, very long time.

  10. @ CK MacLeod:
    I share in your struggle for the best word. The tensions that Hegel is forever juggling (I would love to know how he would’ve reacted to W. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle! — “What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.” [W Heisenberg]) are difficult to articulate without the German language’s capacity for commingling qualities. But I’d suggest that ‘fuller’ would serve as it is closer to “aufheben’ or sublation. I find this latter concept serves as an all-purpose condiment; I try to include it whenever I find Hegel’s language becoming like a confused soup!
    You speak for us both when you write:
    “I still have to read and re-read much of this material to feel confident I’m getting them right, without losing some all-important nuance or committing some other sin of interpretation or imposition or interpolation.”


  11. @ Fuster:
    Only proof that We had adequately terrified Our subjects, of course.

    @ David Hickey:
    I think Hegel would have reacted to Heisenberg by saying, “Of course, that’s what I was trine a tell em all along.” You make me realize what reading Kojève on Hegel reminded me of: reading Penrose on Quantum Mechanics, moving step by step through what’s widely regarded as one of the most difficult subjects in the universe in a way that leaves you in the end saying, yep, seems obvious, doesn’t it?

    Kojève suggests that Hegel’s attempt to critique Newtonian physics wasn’t, to say the least, his finest hour. Yet QM – a peculiar “union of particular and universal,” “union of union and non-union” if ever there was one – can be seen as the fulfillment of a Hegelian prophecy.

  12. @ CK MacLeod:
    CKM: Right on! I enjoy your wit.
    I entered Hegel’s atmosphere via Robert Solomon’s “In the Spirit of Hegel,” about 25 years ago. I skipped Kojève; your comments make him sound interesting again.
    Thank you for this brief dialectical climb! Good luck with your project.

  13. @ David Hickey:
    As long-time readers at this blog know, I got on to Kojève when reading ON TYRANNY, which begins with Leo Strauss’ close reading of a dialogue by Xenophon, but also features a long neo-Hegelian response from Kojève, Strauss’s rebuttal, and selections from 30 or so years of correspondence between the two men, intellectual adversaries and something like best friends. Can’t recommend it highly enough.

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For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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