Why They Suck: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Junior (2022)

Crispin Sartwell

Francis Fukuyama'sprimitive,fantastical histories.

Why They Suck: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Junior (1)

(Video) Chapter 3.3: Hegel, the logic of History

There are few more impressive thinkers than Hegel(1770-1831), and few less readable.Also,few more influential;Hegel lentintellectual ballast indifferently to reactionary nationalism (Hegel's ownposition, honestly) and Marxist communism.The intellectual underpinnings of both fascism and socialism can be traced to some extent to him, and battlesbetween "right and left Hegelians" broke out early and have hardly abated. Perhaps right now we could make that Francis Fukuyama v. Slavoj Zizek.

Hegel helps almosteveryone: he's profound, obscure, and impressive, so everyonewho cares about ideaswants him on their side. And he tells human history—the whole thing; everyone everywhere;where humanity hasgoneand where it's headed—as a narrative, in a way that gives you the sense that, without troubling yourself too hard about the details, you have a comprehensive grasp ofeverything. Human history, for Hegel, makes sense or is meaningful in as straightforward a sense as anythingcanbe: it's a story, a text, a treatise perhaps. Every single thing that happens—perhaps you stubbed your toe this morning, for example—happens because of what history demands.

What drives history, for Hegel (unlike his follower and would-be slayerMarx) isn't material events (climate change or the discovery of the Americas, super-conductors or monetary policy), but ideas. History for Hegel is (believe it or not) God coming to self-consciousness, a dialectical process conducted betweenabstractions such as "the primitive," "the religious," and "the romantic," as phases of the arts and of political systems. One phase emerges out of another because of the internal intellectualtensionswithin it, not(for example)because of arbitrary or unforeseeable physicalevents (a plague, say).

(Video) 04:00 PM - JRF 2021 | Political Science by Saif Ahmad | Hegel

It does feel good, understanding all of history without getting lost in factsor coming into contact with them at all. And by the 1980s, we'd run out of Hegels and post-Hegels, andstraight into philosophies (associated with "postmodernism") that rejected the whole idea of narrating history as a single coherent story. Cue Francis Fukuyama, the Hegel of the 1990s.

Like Hegel, he narrated all of human history in a few hundred pages. Like Hegel he sort of promised that history would end or had already ended in a way that would make sense and be good for roughly everybody. He read the Cold War as a Hegelian dialectic, and the "liberal world order" that he saw emerging out of the fall of the Berlin Wall as the satisfying culmination of the novel that constitutes human history.

You might’venoticed that human history hasn't come to an end after all, which has no real tendency to throw the views of Hegel or Fukuyama into doubt because they’revery evasive about what exactly to expect atand afterthe End. But to the extent that he wants to explain all, FF willneed to explain, for example, the rise of "right-wing populism" as the alleged antagonist of "theliberal world-order," and he’llhave to do it in terms of a dialectical encounter of ideas, as unlikely as that seems. That's evidently the project of his new bookLiberalism and Its Discontents.

But Fukuyama is no Hegel. First, he's very derivative of Hegel, even at this extremely late date. The philosophy hasn’treally been mastered; Fukuyama's Hegel, like his Nietzsche and Marx, are explained atthe Wikipedia level, with some verbal concealment (try working out his distinction between thymotic and athymotic regimes, key to his bookThe End of History and the Last Man) orthe role of "the desire for recognition" (a very Hegelian concept). Concrete events from the fall of the Roman Republic to the election of Boris Johnsonfigure for Fukuyama only as illustrationsofhistory as the operation of general concepts.

Here's the narrative he puts forth in the new book, same as the other books. During the aptly-named "Enlightenment" people, especially European people, managed tofindtheir way out of the religious ignorance of the Dark Ages."These techniques are known collectively as the scientific method, and its rise was critical to liberalism's struggle against religion. Science was able to defeat it because it could produce repeatable results."That's the level of sophistication at which we're operating: middle-school history circa1975.

(Video) Hegel, Wokeness, and the Dialectical Faith of Leftism

Things were going well, and we were all basically agreed, until "post-modernism" came to throw Enlightenment science and its liberal politics into question around 1970.(How agreed were "we" all in 1730, 1830, or 1930, about science or liberal politics? Best not to look too closely.)This was understandable because science did produce some untoward consequences, such as Hiroshima, Fukuyama remarks. Michel Foucault was smart, butin his work "deconstruction evolved into postmodernism, a more general critique of the cognitive modes that had been associated with classical liberalism for centuries."

Foucault's alleged (very vaguely described) turn from deconstruction to postmodernism has led to the end of the end of history, because now we can agree on nothing at all, just the opposite of the happy consensus Fukuyama pretended we'd reached in1989. "For many years now," he says in the new book, "societies have been living with moral relativism, which asserts the essential subjectivity of all value systems. Liberalism was founded on the premise that people disagree on the final ends of life or the understandings of the good. Postmodernism, however, has moved us further, from moral to cognitive relativism, in which every factual observation is regarded as subjective."

From Foucault (by way of Nietzsche) straight to Trump. Contemporary relativism, attributable straightforwardly to postmodernor "critical"theory, has ledto two disasters: white identity or“replacement”politicson the right, andalso the relentless emphasis on race and melt-down of gender on the left. Postmodern subjectivism about truth ended the beautiful end and now portends disaster. What we need is to return to classical liberalism and objectivity.

As a piece of intellectual history,it’smerely wishful, incompetently handled,hack-like in its primitive distinctions,simplistic in its analysis. Concrete events appear asone-paragraph cameos,illustrations of Fukuyama's just-so stories about Planet Narrative. Compared to intellectual historians of the previousgeneration—figures such as Isaiah Berlin or Hannah Arendt—Fukuyama doesn't reach a standard of basic competence; hedoesn't even make a start on what would be necessary to make his sort of story plausible. The authorship is uninformed and merely tendentious.

It would take me a long unprofitable time to really show this. But just a few remarks on this particular segment. Notions such as "the Enlightenment" and "science" need, and havefor a centuryreceived,much more subtle andtruthful analyses from intellectual historians.The idea that science eliminated religion, as well as the relation of science, for example, to democracy, as to colonialism, and so on: these are immensely complicated terrains and Fukuyama's high-school-textbook level history conflatingit allis unsustainable in the face of any responsible treatment of the phenomena.

(Video) Introduction to Hegel: Philosophy in the Sopranos

Neither Nietzsche nor Foucault are straightforward relativists, and Fukuyama's readings of such figures is just asraw in its incompetenceas his reading of the Enlightenment. If there’ssuch a thing as postmodern relativism (his great bugaboo and destroyer), it’sobviously not the same as "subjectivism."That Fukuyama identifies cultural relativism (the idea, for example, that truth emerges only within particular languages, cultures, conceptual schemes and can’tbe evaluated independently of them) with total subjectivism(the idea that whatever I believeis true for me, or something) is a good indication of the level of philosophical sophistication at which he's operating.

At any rate, Fukuyama says that Nietzsche and Foucault argue that there's no truth, only raw power. This is a terrible misreading, an ideological caricature.Then he says, more or less, that this is the position of both Donald Trump and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and that it explains theprecarioussituation we're in now, or why history still needs to twitch awhile before falling still.

You can't explain any concrete events by throwing around abstractions at this levelof implausibility or with this sort of incompetenceorbyblaminga caricature ofMichel Foucault. And if you are going to try, you'd better tell a more subtleand a more accurate story. "Francis Fukuyama," the name, is often used to add intellectual heft to a point or a line of...jive. It ought to have just the opposite effect, marking anything and anyone it touches as pseudo-intellectual.

—FollowCrispin Sartwellon Twitter: @CrispinSartwell

FAQs

What did Hegel argue? ›

Hegel argues that the tendency in modern life characterized by economic individualism and the Enlightenment idea of the individual as a subject possessing various rights represents a movement away from the recognition of essential social bonds.

What is Hegel's theory? ›

Hegel describes the relationship between the logical and the real-philosophical parts of his system in this way: "If philosophy does not stand above its time in content, it does so in form, because, as the thought and knowledge of that which is the substantial spirit of its time, it makes that spirit its object."

What is Hegel talking about? ›

Hegel deals with a sequence of logical categories: being, becoming, one, many, essence, existence, cause, effect, universal, mechanism, and "life". Each is examined in turn and made to reveal its own inadequacies and internal tensions.

What does Hegel stand for? ›

German idealist philosopher who interpreted nature and human history and culture as expressions of a dialectical process in which Spirit, or Mind, realizes its full potentiality.

Does Hegel believe in God? ›

Hegel's doctrine of God provides the means for understanding this fundamental relationship. Although Hegel stated that God is absolute Spirit and Christianity is the absolute religion, the compatibility of Hegel's doctrine of God with Christian theology has been a matter of continuing and closely argued debate.

What is Hegel most famous for? ›

Hegel's major works included the Phenomenology of Spirit (1807; also called the Phenomenology of Mind); the Science of Logic, in two parts (1812 and 1816); Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences (1817); the Philosophy of Right (1821); and posthumously published lectures on aesthetics, the philosophy of religion, ...

Does Hegel believe in free will? ›

Hegel argues that the tenets of Taoism support the concept of free will. Additionally, the teachings of most other Eastern religions include “freedom of the Will.” faith enters the discussion, the reasoning principle of philosophy loses the power of logic. discussion within the parameters of philosophy.

What is the main Idea of Hegel concept of state? ›

To Hegel, the state was the culmination of moral action, where freedom of choice had led to the unity of the rational will, and all parts of society were nourished within the health of the whole.

How does Hegel define freedom? ›

Far from deriving from a natural right, freedom has to be 'won through an infinite process of the discipline of knowledge and will power. ' Hegel's freedom is therefore neither the mere consciousness of an absence of necessity nor the physical manifestation of some inner desire.

What was Hegel's method of study? ›

Hegel applied the term dialectic to the logical method of his philosophy, which proceeds from thesis through antithesis to synthesis. Hegel's method was appropriated by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in their philosophy of dialectical materialism.

What does Hegel say about morality? ›

Hegel is a partisan of ethical life and an opponent of morality. He favors social conformism and moral traditionalism, and is an opponent of individualism and critical moral thinking. There is some truth in each of the elements of this picture, but in every case that truth is seriously oversimplified.

What are the 3 parts of Hegel's dialectic? ›

This is the essence of what is popularly called Hegelian dialectics. According to the German philosopher Walter Kaufmann: Fichte introduced into German philosophy the three-step of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, using these three terms.

What did Hegel think of democracy? ›

In Hegel's eyes, when citizens engage as mere individuals in the universal affairs of the state, 'the democratic element [is put] without any rational form into the organism of the state', whereas 'it is only in virtue of the possession of such a form that the state is an organism at all' (PR: §308R).

Is Hegel religious? ›

Robert Solomon continues: “The secret…is that Hegel is an atheist. His 'Christianity' is nothing but nominal,” (Solomon 1981, 582).

What did Hegel believe history? ›

Hegel's philosophy of history is perhaps the most fully developed philosophical theory of history that attempts to discover meaning or direction in history (1824a, 1824b, 1857). Hegel regards history as an intelligible process moving towards a specific condition—the realization of human freedom.

Who is the father of idealism? ›

Plato is considered by many to be the most important philosopher who ever lived. He is known as the father of idealism in philosophy. His ideas were elitist, with the philosopher king the ideal ruler. Plato is perhaps best known to college students for his parable of a cave, which appears in Plato's Republic.

Who is God according to Hegel? ›

God is the fullest reality, achieved through the self-determination of everything that's capable of any kind or degree of self-determination. Thus God emerges out of beings of limited reality, including ourselves.

What is Hegel's absolute idealism? ›

Idealism for Hegel meant that the finite world is a reflection of mind, which alone is truly real. He held that limited being (that which comes to be and passes away) presupposes infinite unlimited being, within which the finite is a dependent element.

Who is the most difficult philosopher to understand? ›

Hegel, Bertrand Russell observed, is “the hardest to understand of the great philosophers.” Hegel would not have liked very much that Russell had to say about his philosophy in A History of Western Philosophy (1945).

What did Marx take from Hegel? ›

Marx's view of history, which came to be called historical materialism, is certainly influenced by Hegel's claim that reality and history should be viewed dialectically.

How do I start reading Hegel? ›

For a first introduction, we recommend that you read Hegel's own introductions to his lectures: the introductions to his lectures on History of Philosophy (start with that one), Philosophy of Religion, Aestetics, and Philosophy of History (most of these are available online, but there also exists a useful reader of all ...

What is Hegel opinion about peace? ›

In sum, Hegel was less averse to war than his predecessors, Kant and Fichte, and much less favorable than they to the endeavor to establish permanent peace. Further war is involved, logically and in fact, in his political philosophy. It is possible, however, to magnify the importance of its position in his system.

Who did Hegel influence? ›

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

What philosophers say free will? ›

In juxtaposition, causal determinism states that free will is limited or does not exist. Philosophical arguments are presented by: Plato, Hobbes, Hume, Leibniz, and Hegel. Plato offers a dual theory offering limited support for free will. Leibnitz includes theological tenets to make the case for predetermined outcomes.

Why is Hegel's state ethical? ›

The State. Hegel's final section of “Ethical Life” is the state. The love for others based on feeling in the family and then on the satisfaction of needs in civil society is transformed to a patriotic love for fellow citizens in support of a shared community, embodied by the modern state (see PR §268).

How did Hegel characterize the modern state? ›

The essence of the modern state is that the universal be bound up with the complete freedom of its particular members and with private well-being, that thus the interests of family and civil society must concentrate themselves on the state, although the universal end cannot be advanced without the personal knowledge ...

Who said state is the source of all rights? ›

Q.According to............., State is the source of all rights.
B.bentham
C.locke
D.chomsky
Answer» a. t h green
1 more row

Who wrote Philosophy of Right? ›

In The Philosophy of Right (1821), Hegel described how this synthesis could be achieved in an organic community. The key to his solution is the recognition that human nature is not fixed but is shaped by the society in which one lives.

How do you think like Hegel? ›

Hegelian Dialectic Explained - Philosophy - YouTube

What is an example of Hegel's dialectic? ›

Hegel's dialectic applied to the true self vs the false self (or selves) is an interesting example. The thesis-anithesis-synthesis cycle does not remove the tension but leads us a little closer to paradise. true and false not intended to imply good or bad, these words are not Hegel's but the ideas are.

How did Marx differ from Hegel? ›

The major difference between the two philosophers relates to the utilization of property. Marx believed that the rich in society utilize wealth to subjugate and dominate the poor. Hegel viewed property as the means to ends meaning that each person should possess property in order to fulfill his or her needs.

What does Hegel say about family? ›

Hegel called the family a spiritual entity, albeit in a natural form. Due to its natural and instinctual roots, no member of a family is able to make it an object of consciousness. Therefore, it is not possible to reduce the family to a structure of mutual recognition.

Why did Hegel disagree with Kant? ›

Rather, Hegel's criticism is of Kant's theory of moral motivation. While Kant famously asserts that one must act from duty and not from inclination (even the inclination to do good, for the pleasure of doing good), Hegel rejects this stipulation.

What is Hegelian dialectic in simple terms? ›

Hegelian dialectic in British English

(hɪˈɡeɪlɪan , heɪˈɡiː- ) noun. philosophy. an interpretive method in which the contradiction between a proposition (thesis) and its antithesis is resolved at a higher level of truth (synthesis)

What is the opposite of dialectic? ›

noun. ( ˌdaɪəˈlɛktɪk) A contradiction of ideas that serves as the determining factor in their interaction. Antonyms. unbelief multiculturalism. contradiction.

What was Hegel's great error according to Marx? ›

Marx claimed that Hegel's belief is contradictory. If history is really dialectical then it is a process of continual development that will never culminate in any absolute state. Why did Marx criticize Hegel's idealism? He believed everything began with an idea and wanted to perserve idealism.

Who has blamed Hegel for contributing to state worship and the development of totalitarianism? ›

More controversially, Hegel is blamed by some (most notably Karl Popper in The Open Society and its Enemies) for contributing to state worship and the development of totalitarianism.

Is Hegel an Enlightenment thinker? ›

Hegel turns both the Enlightenment conception of Reason and its religious opposite inside-out. Hegel's Reason is identified with divine wisdom. It does not merely exist passively in human history, but expresses itself as 'purposive activity' in the course of that history.

What influenced Hegel? ›

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

How do you pronounce Hegel? ›

How To Say Hegel - YouTube

What is Hegel's end of history? ›

Hegel thought that the end of history would arrive when humans achieved perfect self-knowledge and self-mastery, when life was rational and transparent.

What is the flaw in the Hegel's view of history? ›

I argue that Hegel's basic flaw in his approach to the nature of history is exactly his belief that we can fully know history. And this flaw comes from Hegel's fundamental belief that our reality is (mainly and crucially) rational. 14 .

Who is the father of philosophy of history? ›

In the fourteenth century, Ibn Khaldun, who is considered one of the fathers of the philosophy of history, discussed his philosophy of history and society in detail in his Muqaddimah (1377).

What is the main Idea of Hegel concept of state? ›

To Hegel, the state was the culmination of moral action, where freedom of choice had led to the unity of the rational will, and all parts of society were nourished within the health of the whole.

What is the absolute for Hegel? ›

According to Hegel, the absolute ground of being is essentially a dynamic, historical process of necessity that unfolds by itself in the form of increasingly complex forms of being and of consciousness, ultimately giving rise to all the diversity in the world and in the concepts with which we think and make sense of ...

What is Hegel morality? ›

One common interpretation is the following: “Morality” for Hegel means Kant's moral philosophy; it represents what is reflective, critical, and individualistic in the moral life.

What was Hegel's method of study? ›

“Dialectics” is a term used to describe a method of philosophical argument that involves some sort of contradictory process between opposing sides.

Does Hegel believe in free will? ›

Hegel argues that the tenets of Taoism support the concept of free will. Additionally, the teachings of most other Eastern religions include “freedom of the Will.” faith enters the discussion, the reasoning principle of philosophy loses the power of logic. discussion within the parameters of philosophy.

What are the 3 parts of Hegel's dialectic? ›

This is the essence of what is popularly called Hegelian dialectics. According to the German philosopher Walter Kaufmann: Fichte introduced into German philosophy the three-step of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, using these three terms.

Why is Hegel's state ethical? ›

The State. Hegel's final section of “Ethical Life” is the state. The love for others based on feeling in the family and then on the satisfaction of needs in civil society is transformed to a patriotic love for fellow citizens in support of a shared community, embodied by the modern state (see PR §268).

What did Hegel say about God? ›

God is the fullest reality, achieved through the self-determination of everything that's capable of any kind or degree of self-determination. Thus God emerges out of beings of limited reality, including ourselves.

Is Hegel an optimist? ›

Sure. Hegel believe that everyone, everything, every moment and place were/are phases of the development of the Absolute. So everything has a meaning, even if we cannot reach it fully. So probably he is one of the most optimistic philosopher ever.

What kind of idealism is Hegel? ›

Hegel's basic idea is that subjective idealism consists in the view that our access to what there is is irremediably mediated by the alleged fact that we can only know what there is by sensing it.

What did Hegel say about freedom? ›

The concept of freedom is one which Hegel thought of very great importance; indeed, he believed that it is the central concept in human history. 'Mind is free', he wrote, 'and to actualise this, its essence – to achieve this excellence – is the endeavour of the worldmind in world-history' (VG, p. 73).

What did Hegel think of democracy? ›

In Hegel's eyes, when citizens engage as mere individuals in the universal affairs of the state, 'the democratic element [is put] without any rational form into the organism of the state', whereas 'it is only in virtue of the possession of such a form that the state is an organism at all' (PR: §308R).

What is Hegel opinion about peace? ›

In sum, Hegel was less averse to war than his predecessors, Kant and Fichte, and much less favorable than they to the endeavor to establish permanent peace. Further war is involved, logically and in fact, in his political philosophy. It is possible, however, to magnify the importance of its position in his system.

How do you think like Hegel? ›

Hegelian Dialectic Explained - Philosophy - YouTube

How do I start reading Hegel? ›

For a first introduction, we recommend that you read Hegel's own introductions to his lectures: the introductions to his lectures on History of Philosophy (start with that one), Philosophy of Religion, Aestetics, and Philosophy of History (most of these are available online, but there also exists a useful reader of all ...

What did Marx take from Hegel? ›

Marx's view of history, which came to be called historical materialism, is certainly influenced by Hegel's claim that reality and history should be viewed dialectically.

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