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Comments by Wade McKenzie
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On “Feet First on Reagan, Neo-Conservatism, and Hegel

I have downloaded numerous Leo Strauss course transcripts in recent years--if memory serves, mostly from archive.org, which is where I assume I got that one. They are typically photocopies of old typescripts, though the online Leo Strauss Center has a few transcripts available in quite nice versions. I'd be perfectly willing  to send you a copy of my folder--though I'm not entirely sure that I know how to do so, as my understanding of computers is limited.

On “Because “The question ‘what is God?’ is impossible” (amended version of comment at @thinking_reed’s blog)

Rosenzweig certainly understood that uttering the question was possible, so was aware that the question is possible in that sense, in that it is possible to ask it.

And Aquinas certainly understood that the question (and not the mere utterance thereof), as well as the answer to the question (and not the mere utterance of an answer), was not only "possible" but had, in fact, been realized.

Now please don't misunderstand me; I find the points you make in your reply to my comment to be, for the most part, very well taken--even the notion that there is a great deal of common ground between Aquinas and Rosenzweig. But your comment implies that it was not only impossible for Aquinas to ask the question "what is God" (let alone to answer said impossible question), but that Aquinas himself agreed with that implication--and I think that's misleading.

As I said though, I don't want to weigh in on this particular controversy any more than I already have. What really interests me is the prospect which you have unveiled that "Hegelianism is an atheism." I do hope you'll clarify your understanding of this matter someday.

On “Feet First on Reagan, Neo-Conservatism, and Hegel

I managed to locate one of the references vis a vis "today Hegel died" (again, I’m convinced I’ve come across this somewhere else as well). This is from the Hegel 1958 course transcript. You'll be pleased to know that, in this very context, Strauss goes on to talk about Kojeve's Introduction to the Reading of Hegel. It occurs on p. 71 of the typescript.

"When Hitler came to power in January of 1933 I remember well that one of the cleverest public lawyers said, 'Today Hegel died' because Hegel in a way really ruled Germany and especially Prussia up to the time of Hitler. I mean, this notion of government which Hegel had, and the rule of intelligence as he called it (which meant the rule of a very well trained and conscientious civil service) came to an end and now party government took over completely--or popular government of a sort. The only form in which the Hegelian sort of government survives today is that by a French scholar of Russian origin..., who wrote probably the best book on Hegel in this generation... It is the most valuable one on Hegel of which I know."

He goes on to talk briefly about Kojeve's interpretation.

I'm well aware that this passage--precisely because it refers to Kojeve--can be construed as lending support to the point you're seeking to make. Strauss clearly recognizes that the continuation of the Hegelian state project, as you term it, is contained in Kojeve’s teaching.

So the question becomes: What was Strauss’s assessment of that teaching (aside from the fact that it was philosophically interesting)? I can only repeat that we must take into account the Restatement on Xenophon's Hiero--because there, I believe, Strauss evinces irremediable opposition to Kojevean Hegelianism and that would seem to be relevant to this consideration.

Also, please note that Strauss describes Nazism as “popular government of a sort”. This would imply that the end of the Hegelian state project is the coming of popular government.

On “Because “The question ‘what is God?’ is impossible” (amended version of comment at @thinking_reed’s blog)

Put differently, to presume we know who we are, what knowing is, what what is, what is is, is already to presume possession of the answer, and to circumscribe and pre-determine the interpretation that would tell us who we are, what knowing is, what what is, what is is.

Well, I'll only point out that statements like this are themselves rather audacious presumptions of knowledge. Which is to say, that they presume possession of the answer, and to circumscribe and pre-determine the interpretation.

“The question ‘what is God?’ is impossible” (Rosenzweig).

The question certainly isn't impossible. Aquinas certainly didn't think that either the question or the answer to the question was impossible and that ought to count for something. Doesn't fairness require that, in speculations such as these, recourse to figures such as Rosenzweig or Peirce (both of whom I'm willing to hold in high regard) be counter-balanced with figures who express strongly the alternate posture (such as Aquinas)?

There's a subtle difference between the questions "what is God" and "what would God be like"--so subtle, in fact, that it would seem the latter formulation exists in order that agnostics may pose the former question without admitting the existence of God. Aquinas might say that God is just the sort of thing that would be like something that must necessarily be.

Well, I'm actually not intending to weigh in on this debate other than to say that militant agnosticism is every bit as problematic as militant atheism or militant theism. I do think, however, that there is a strong link between atheism and nihilism. I hold opposition to the latter to be mandatory and therefore I find the former concerning. Since you find Kojeve's construction of Hegel to be compelling and you raised the issue of Kojeve's asserting Hegel to be an esoteric atheist, I couldn't help but wonder what you think of that.

On “Almost Everyone vs. The Whole Thing

Well, I told you some time ago that I have always found expositions of Hegel's thought to be fascinating and this post would be another example. I've only ever read two or three books on Hegel. One of the things I took from the Rosen book--which this post reinforces--is that reality is dynamic but philosophic discourse is static and Hegel aspired to craft a discourse that would adequate the real, that would be mindful of being's motion, the so-called Hegelian dialectical logic. Rosen's expositions of Hegel's logic were too difficult for me, I'm afraid, but I acknowledge that the problem (the dynamism of being or the whole) which gives rise to Hegel's logic is genuine and thus that said logic may indeed be appropriate. Also, your suggestion that philosophy is necessarily more than philosophies or schools of philosophy is one that I'm inclined to embrace.

So Hegel is an open issue for me, I have an open mind to his writings and I intend one day to embark on as serious a study of his works as my limited intelligence will permit. Your expression above that any educated person ought to be able to understand the preface to the Phenomenology suggests that I ought to read it without further delay.

I must say, however, that I'm infinitely more attracted to bureaucratic monarchy than I am to liberal democracy. I fully realize that it can only ever be an armchair thing for me--but strictly in the privacy of my own mind, liberal social democracy (and thus "left" Hegelianism) will never do.

On “Feet First on Reagan, Neo-Conservatism, and Hegel

K, just to give one example, claims that H is implicitly atheist, and has in fact performed the ultimate and irrefutable atheistic proof, something that Hegel, who may have suffered justifiable anxiety in regard to that perfect Prussian state, never stated and in fact directly rejected.

Now, I myself am entirely open to the idea that Hegel may have concealed his heterodoxy--but whatever happened to the idea that we can only impute to an author ideas that are derived from "his own explicit statements"? You know, a la Strauss and his love for the "great and precious form of government"?

(As an aside--you don't strike me as an atheist or as someone who is supportive of political atheism. Would you mind commenting on that?)

Also, I just want to say that, while it is certainly possible to make an absolute distinction between Hegel's teaching and Kojeve's revision/reinvention of same (and, say, a Right-Hegelian might want to do so), it seems to me that you are necessarily committed to the notion that Kojeve's Hegel is a more or less accurate interpretation of Hegel. And it appears that that is the stance you are indeed taking in your reply to my comment. Thus, in your case, it is enough to show that Strauss utterly repudiated Kojeve's Hegel in order further to demonstrate that Strauss couldn't have been very receptive to Hegel simpliciter--and that is what the Restatement shows.

Finally, I find your reference to the Hegelian "project" to be odd.

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I'm aware of the reference you're making to "Hegel ended when the Nazis took power"--I only wish I'd made a note as to where that is. I could undoubtedly track it down, but it might take me a long while to do so. I do recall, however, that Strauss is quoting someone else when he says that. It seems that I've come across that reference more than once in my reading of Strauss--at least one of those references was undoubtedly from one of the Hegel course transcripts. I could almost swear that on one occasion it is attributed to Carl Schmitt.

Be that as it may--and entirely aside from any disputation concerning Strauss's receptivity to Hegelianism--I'd be interested in your response to the passage from the Restatement.

"

"All of history, or what makes history a progressive history, is for Hegel or for Kojève’s Hegel..."

An interesting disjunction--Hegel or Kojeve's Hegel--because it implies that the latter isn't a faithful rendering of the former's teaching, but rather a revision.

(As an aside--here's an interesting quote from Stanley Rosen's Nihilism: A Philosophical Essay: "Let us put to one side the here-irrelevant question of the philological validity of Kojeve's interpretation of Hegel [i. e. there is some question as to its validity]. The central point is that Kojeve's lectures on Hegel are philosophical; they constitute a work of philosophy in a sense to which Strauss never aspired. I say this even though I believe that, on most points of detail in their lifelong friendly disagreement, Strauss was, if not correct, certainly closer to the historical truth than Kojeve. Nevertheless, Kojeve was the more philosophical of the two.")

'Transcripts faithfully or perhaps slavishly tend to repeat his mistaken locution, which reads in full, nonsensically, “You and I know and do not believe…”'

Now, I haven't read the speech in question here and so I don't know the context, but the quoted fragment seems to rely on the distinction between certitude and faith--"we are certain and not merely anticipating"--which is by no means nonsensical. If I've misunderstood you (or it), then I'll have to stand corrected.

From the Roosevelt quote: "It is more than that; it is a war for the survival of democracy. We are fighting to save a great and precious form of government for ourselves and for the world."

Hegel certainly didn't regard democracy as "great and precious", because he either believed or knew himself to be living in a perfectly rationalized polity--Prussian monarchy coupled with Prussian bureaucracy.

From the Lincoln quote: "Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history."

I have a sneaking suspicion that fifty thousand years from now, we'll have "escaped history" well and truly--even the Civil War, with its glorious culmination in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments.

"what Strauss does not seem to have considered is that the German phase of the Hegelian project may have been displaced and absorbed (or perhaps “sublated”) by the American state-national and global or neo-imperial project."

Strauss didn't believe that there was a "German phase of the Hegelian project" but only a German phase of Hegelian influence. That Strauss was resolutely opposed to Hegelianism on purely philosophical grounds, having nothing whatever to do with empirical phenomena like "the American state-national and global or neo-imperial project" is something that I believe can easily be demonstrated from several different places in his work.

One such would be the end of the Restatement on Xenophon's Hiero, starting at the long paragraph which begins, "I need not examine Kojeve's sketch of the history of the Western world." It is shocking not only in its opposition to "Kojeve's Hegel", but to modern political philosophy generally.

On “Open Thread

From Joseph Cropsey's Polity and Economy:

There might be immense difficulties in the way of understanding the content of excellence, but however the content of it may be understood, excellence is itself intelligible as inherently good, as the word naming it implies. Liberty is unintelligible except as liberty or freedom to do certain acts. Thus there is freedom to despoil one's neighbor, to overturn the state, and to inaugurate despotism, as well as to worship unhindered, to speak openly, and to speculate safely. In each case not "freedom," but despoiling one's neighbor, overturning the state, and so on, is the end. So that the mere implication of the existence of excellence, which is intelligible as an end, raises questions as to the intelligibility of Liberty as an end...

On “I’ll be seeing me

In spite of whatever difference exists between us, I'd like to think I've made my respect and admiration for you abundantly clear. It may be little consolation to you, but I, at least, know your worth. You're a deeply thoughtful, erudite scholar and your practice of the writer's craft is exemplary. I've told you before that you ought to write a book. To the extent that your weblog is a projection of your fundamental self, you exemplify the virtues of profundity and sophrosyne--virtues of a high rank. That you have, thus far, failed to acquire the wider audience which your writing deserves may be put down to vicissitude.

I, for one, would be very disappointed if you were to lose heart and discontinue or scale back the writing you submit to this website. The writing you do which appears here, the fruit of your reading and contemplation, is the real work of your life--infinitely more important than whatever it is you "do for a living". And that is so regardless of whether you have any readers or not. The life of philosophic contemplation, which you exhibit at an enviably high level, is its own reward and may be the highest kind of life for a man--even when carried on in a largely solitary vein.

Again, it may be slight consolation for you, but I intend to read your writing and comment on it as thoughtfully as my middling intellect will allow. Thank you for taking the time to write your careful, insightful and interesting pieces. Your website adds something to my intellectual life which I highly value, not least your noble example of intelligence and moderation.

On “Open Thread

From Stanley Rosen's G. W. F. Hegel: An Introduction to the Science of Wisdom:

In still another Platonic image, what may look to some as the "sophistical" character of Hegel's logic is due to the fact that the Whole, or Becoming, is itself a "Sophist." The Whole continuously changes its shape or pretends to be what it is not: it eludes every attempt by the nondialectical logician to "classify" it or to provide us with an analysis of its structure by the method of the division and collection in accordance with kinds. This is the comprehensive problem of Plato's Sophist, or rather, of his entire corpus. It is the problem which Hegel believed himself to have solved. (p.119)

This is Hegel's solution to the fundamental problem of the entire philosophical tradition. Hegel returns man to his origins, and thereby to salvation or satisfaction, by answering the question first posed in Plato's Sophist: How can Being or the Whole be both at rest and in motion? (p. 260)

On “Incredibly Obvious Solutions to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Thanks as well for the book recommendation--I've added it to my wish list. And please feel free at any point in our discussions to recommend books; I'd welcome that.

On “Open Thread

One more quote from "The Liberalism of Classical Political Philosophy":

The greatest enemies of civilization in civilized countries are those who squander the heritage because they look down on it or on the past; civilization is much less endangered by narrow but loyal preservers than by the shallow and glib futurists who, being themselves rootless, try to destroy all roots and thus do everything in their power to bring back the original chaos and promiscuity. The first duty of civilized man is then to respect his past. This respect finds its exaggerated but effective expression in the belief that the ancestors--the Founding Fathers--were simply superior to the present generation and especially to the present youth, and mere "logic" leads from this to the belief in perfect beginnings or in the age of Kronos.~Leo Strauss

On “Incredibly Obvious Solutions to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

This is a fine exposition and I thank you for taking the trouble to write it up. I'll be sure to re-read it and think it over. You obviously have a highly articulated understanding of Leo Strauss. I think our apparent disagreement concerning the import of his work may be far less pronounced than my previous comment indicated.

The quote from Strauss which has just shown up in your Twitter feed might perhaps be an instructive example of where we do perhaps differ. The key phrase, it seems to me, is "which can be accepted as true". We mustn't forget that a great deal of Strauss's work was devoted to pondering concealed and disguised subtexts--though Strauss treated the comprehensive understanding of the surface of a text as a sacred duty, as your comment makes very clear. But one ofttimes comprehensively studies the surface of a text (as, for example, the Platonic dialogues) in order to ponder (not "accept as true") prospective "subterranean" meanings that would seem to be a necessary ramification of the surface presentation. It is enough to point to Strauss's contention that Locke--despite his "own explicit statements"--really was not a Christian theist, to provide evidence for this.

The question then becomes: did Strauss himself practice such an art of rhetorical disguise, to whatever degree (and I certainly do not think it was to the degree of, say, Plato or Maimonides)? Reasonable opinions may certainly disagree on this, though I incline to the affirmative--in part because I would contend that all texts (save instruction manuals), not just so-called "esoteric" ones, employ a rhetorical procedure which strives to keep the intent to persuade as hidden from view as is possible in the circumstance. But when discussing the work of a great scholar like Strauss, that would be a pleasant disagreement to have.

On “Open Thread

Interesting quotes from "The Liberalism of Classical Political Philosophy":

Just to live, securely and happily, and protected but otherwise unregulated, is man's simple but supreme goal. ~Eric A. Havelock

True liberals today have no more pressing duty than to counteract the perverted liberalism which contends that "just to live, securely and happily, and protected but otherwise unregulated, is man's simple but supreme goal", and which forgets quality, excellence, or virtue. ~Leo Strauss

On “Incredibly Obvious Solutions to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

I must confess to being a little surprised that you would cite the work of Leo Strauss in an attempt to criticize some of the notions I put forward in my comment. Strauss practiced a studied ambiguity in his writings. Thus, it is perhaps no accident that there seems to have arisen a factional split in Straussian studies that might be likened to the Right and Left Hegelianism of yore. It may be that we find ourselves on different sides of the line in this as in other things.

For example, I recently re-read Thomas Pangle's and Nathan Tarcov's essay on Strauss that concludes the Third Edition of History of Political Philosophy. They go to some lengths to identify Strauss as a "friend of liberal democracy". It just didn't ring true to my own reading of Strauss and I couldn't help but suppose that they had been hoodwinked by Strauss's polite rhetoric. Please remember that Strauss made much of the fact that the philosopher ought not to "publicize" his criticisms of the existing order. Strauss may well have been content with liberal democracy since it gave him the freedom to read, write, and think; but I'm very much inclined to doubt the idea that liberal democracy was his preferred regime-type. Nevertheless, I'll be the first to grant that what I'm saying is speculative.

I have indeed read Liberalism Ancient and Modern, though I haven't studied it intensively--aside from the "Preface to Spinoza's Critique of Religion" and the "Notes on Lucretius", each of which I've read with great care. Now I'm an admirer of Leo Strauss, but it must be acknowledged that several of his books were cobbled together from somewhat disparate articles and given overarching titles that are a little misleading. No book of Strauss's conforms more to this description than Liberalism Ancient and Modern. One expecting to find there an intensive meditation on classical and modern liberalisms, except in a vicarious sense, will be disappointed.

Even so, it seems to me that you have misread Strauss's distinction between classical liberalism and its modern counterpart. Your account of the adjective "liberal" in its relation to personal virtue and the philosophic and scholarly life is well taken, but it seems to me that it is precisely Strauss's point that the virtue of liberality which gives rise to the liberal arts and liberal education is a strictly personal and philosophic virtue that ought not to be made the central virtue of any political order and could only ever have a limited application in the sociopolitical domain as such. Strauss was really suggesting that any replacement of the liberal political order by an illiberal one needn't involve the expulsion of the personal virtue of liberality, which makes life between gentlemen pleasant.

I think Strauss's Notes on Carl Schmitt's Concept of the Political best makes the case concerning the Straussian separation between the modern political order and the premodern illiberal orders. If memory serves, Strauss's critique of Schmitt's book goes something like this: Schmitt is an opponent of liberalism. Thus, he sets out to craft a theoretical anti-liberalism. But by doing so, he takes his guideline from liberalism and so his orientation is strangely determined by liberalism. In a sense, he ends up being a sort of perverted liberal. Then Strauss gives some advice to anyone who finds themselves in opposition to liberalism. Rather than being "anti", instead return to the classics and/or the medievals--and leave the land of liberalism entirely behind.

In closing, I want to make clear that I am a great proponent of the personal virtue of liberality. I would hope that anyone who might meet me in person would find me to be a liberal, humane, tolerant, sympathetic, generous and benevolent fellow. The personal virtue of liberality is a fine virtue, it really is--though a mediocre one. It is a virtue of middling rank. Now my complaint about political and philosophic liberalism has nothing to do with the congenial virtue of liberality in its proper setting of personal relations between gentle men and women and votaries of philosophy, but with its inappropriate elevation to the status of an organizing principle for society as a whole. In that improper context, I believe it goes from being a pleasant virtue to a most unpleasant vice.

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Obviously, our dispute centers on the nature of justice. I contend that justice necessarily has something to do with inequality and I take it that you are claiming that justice necessarily has something to do with equality. It's possible that, in some way, justice has to do with both equality and inequality together, but we're each clearly emphasizing the one or the other. Of course, just as we have to define justice, we also have to define equality. To say that "there is an irreducible element of 'equality' in 'justice'" doesn't exactly get us to the égalité of the French Revolution or the egalitarianism of the United States--and it would seem as well that there is "equally" an irreducible element of inequality in justice.

I find your recurrence to the Anaximander fragment to be interesting, though I'm a little surprised that in going back to the origins of the inquiry concerning justice in the beginnings of Western philosophy you don't reference what I take to be a more common, ready-to-hand starting point than the idea of balance: namely, that justice is getting what one deserves. Now, by the very nature of the concepts themselves, what is noble is more deserving than what is base--but that necessarily entails an imbalance of sorts. I don't think it's inconceivable that that imbalance is somehow finally compatible with "equality"--but I do think it's difficult to square with the equality of the modern liberal political order, in which the distinction between the noble and the base with their corresponding deserts is continuously being eroded.

Of course, when I say "modern" liberal political order, I'm being redundant. Prior to the modern era there were no liberal political orders and neither were there any liberal political philosophers. Your comment suggests, however, that the general drift of the Western philosophical tradition is toward liberalism. I don't know if you really suppose this to be true or if you aren't perhaps engaging in a bit of rhetorical legerdemain--but, if the former, then you and I perceive the significance of the tradition very differently. From the time of, say, Hobbes on through to Hegel, the general spirit of the tradition might plausibly be described as liberal--though certainly not before. And after this period, the major thinkers are as liable to be illiberal--even deeply so--as they are to be liberal.

As to this business that, in seeking to have a conversation with you concerning the nature of justice, I am implicitly committing myself to the liberal political order--if this were so, then every philosopher and student of philosophy in all of history would've been an implicit liberal. Again, I can't say whether you really subscribe to such a notion or not. If you do, then I can only reply that you do many of them an injustice.

Finally, we mustn't forget that justice is typically contrasted with mercy. That is to say, justice is harsh, severe, austere and unforgiving--and quite possibly even cruel. While I would by no means say that this is the final word concerning justice, it is surely something like the first word and our inquiry must begin there. In essence, I see the modern liberal political order as an ongoing and deeply misguided attempt to replace the virtue of justice with the virtue of mercy or to equate the two.

"

Well, I suppose there's something to what you're saying--although it sure does have the annoying ring of that ontological argument for the existence of God. (Actually, I find the ontological argument for the existence of God to be interesting; but an ontological argument for the existence of liberalism is just annoying.)

Let's review the "context" in which our discussion of "oppressive discrimination" is taking place. The commenter above maintained that Israel was reprehensibly "oppressively discriminating" against the Palestinians. In order to animate this charge, he courageously made reference to the "oppressive discrimination" against blacks in the American South greater than which no oppressive discrimination may be conceived.

Now allow me to re-phrase my previous comment. Many human souls are more or less innately convinced that oppressive discrimination against Palestinians by Israelis, or oppressive discrimination against American blacks by Southern whites, is reprehensible. Other human souls, such as myself, lack that valence.

I'm fairly sure you find the oppressive discrimination against American blacks to have been reprehensible. I'm also fairly sure that you didn't come to feel that way by philosophizing. That is to say, it is a prephilosophic sentiment. It may well prove to be the sentiment in accord with right or justice, when it is subjected to philosophic scrutiny. But that the right or just is to be equated with the "liberal", with liberality or liberty, or with equality for that matter, is of course controversial in the tradition--though it is non-controversial in today's climate, which is to say that it has the status of a vulgar opinion.

"

Many human souls are more or less innately convinced that oppressive discrimination is reprehensible. Other human souls, such as mine, lack that valence.

"

Well, I suppose I could point to the thought of Burke as an example of an argument for the conservation of prejudice--whereas the standpoint of the commenter seemed to be that the conservation of prejudice is simply inconceivable or at least impermissible (the question as posed was entirely rhetorical).

My own question in reply to the commenter's rhetorical question had itself a rhetorical dimension, though not entirely so. Its rhetorical dimension has to do with what I might call the several valences of human souls. Many human souls are more or less innately convinced that prejudice is reprehensible. Other human souls, such as mine, lack that valence. I simply wanted to make the point that the commenter's ostensibly unassailable point will fall on deaf ears when it is addressed to a soul with a different valence than his own.

Nevertheless, as a devotee of philosophy, I by no means aver that the valence of anyone's soul (including my own) ought to be allowed simply to stand as it is without being scrutinized as to its rightness or wrongness. And in that sense, my question can be read as a genuine one.

"

"How does the end of maintaining Israel — or any other nation-state — justify prejudice?"

In reply, one might reasonably ask, "How does the end of maintaining the liberal regime justify the eradication of prejudice?"

On “OBL’s Argument (3): Leviathan

As is usual for this website, the original post is thoughtful and interesting. Its penultimate sentence, however, might give rise to a perplexity in the gentle reader's mind. Here is that sentence:

‘Hegel called this condition of civilization, to which reversion for us – we moderns – would count as regress, the “Roman Realm,” culminating in “universal misfortune” in which “the individualities of nations disappear… and all individuals sink to the level of private person with an equal status and with formal rights, who are accordingly held together only by an abstract and arbitrary will of increasingly monstrous proportions.”’

The quotation from Hegel presumably refers to a state of affairs that prevailed in the imperium romanum; which state of affairs--were it to recur in the present age--would constitute a regression to a less desirable, even frightful, political order. Yet the quotation sounds like a perfect description of the state of affairs which exists in the contemporary United States. Though the sentence presumes that "we moderns" haven't reverted to this condition, it would seem self-evidently true that we--we Americans, that is--have.

One way to try and resolve the perplexity would be to suppose that, from the standpoint of the sentence and the thinking that informs it, the United States remains a "nation" that possesses "individuality". But by that same token, one might suppose that the Roman Empire--despite the fact that the "nations", the ethnoi as traditionally understood, "disappeared" into an amorphous universality--was itself a "nation” possessing distinct "individuality", albeit reformulated on a higher plane.

All which seems implausible. Barring that--or an alternative explanation--the perplexity remains. Hegel was no doubt looking out on the world of his own time, on countries like Prussia and France, etc. and perceiving that world to be something quite different from the Roman Empire, as indeed it was. He may even have supposed that the United States was a kind of nation not entirely dissimilar from a European country--rather than the gelatinous multiracial pudding overlaid by a vast grid of administrative districts (called "states") which it subsequently became.

On “Failure of the US-Syrian Rebel Alliance Is Two-Sided

That the interests of the American politeia and those of the Syrian insurrectionists don't really coincide is a point well taken. It would of course be controversial to assert that issues like the civil war in Syria are best viewed through an illiberal or "realist" perspective, but even according to an assessment that stems from political liberalism and utilitarianism--which supposes that "good" or "bad" outcomes in the sociopolitical domain can largely be evaluated according to a calculus of the (mostly physical) pleasure or pain which they entail--the order that existed in Syria prior to the revolt was infinitely preferable to the current situation and so ought to have been sustained rather than destroyed.

The original post makes repeated use of a peculiar expression: the "enemy of humankind". To describe Bashar Assad--or even Islamic State--as the enemy of humankind would seem to be an exaggeration. Dismissing out of hand the notion that Assad is obliged to be a pacifist, it is imperative that he defend the politeia of which he is the representative head from those who would seek to destroy it. One might disapprove of that politeia without supposing Assad (or his regime-type) to be the metaphysical enemy of all humanity--assuming, that is, that one doesn't simply equate humanity with the liberal politeia.

The Islamic State is clearly the enemy of the liberal politeia. Unlike the liberal regime, which upholds itself as the only way of life whereby the humanity of men and women may be fully achieved and safeguarded, the Islamic State contends that Islam (or a "strict version" of Islam, as they say) is the only path whereon men and women attain to the complete and abiding realization of their humanity. It is certainly a different conception of human self-realization than the liberal one; but that just means that it is the enemy of the liberal political order, not the enemy of humanity as such--unless, of course, the liberal political order is synonymous with humanity itself.

On “In the future everybody will be right about Iraq for fifteen minutes

Having read dozens of blogs over the years, I've more or less concluded that yours is the only worthwhile one out there. It's a shame you're so niggardly with your material.

I dreamed of being a commenter here, but alas I wasn't ready for primetime--and I admit it.

Although my own philosophic quest is fourth or fifth-rate at best, I do cherish philosophy and I know a first-rate philosophic quest when I see one. That's what you have and I honor it. You're a gifted thinker, a learned man, and an excellent writer to boot. You really, really ought to think about writing a book someday.

May you never stop philosophizing and may God grant you a safe and happy journey!

"

So: Nothing to see here, people, move along, go back to your homes.

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