Dying is easy; comedy is hard. Comedy is sovereign. I begin with an excerpt from Bertolt Brecht’s Fugitive Conversations. Ziffel, a physicist, is chatting with the worker Kalle: For humor, I always think of the philosopher Hegel.... He had the makings of one of the greatest humorists among the philosophers.... I read his book The Great Logic once, when I had rheumatism and couldn’t move. It’s one of the greatest humorous works of world literature. It treats of the way of (...) life of concepts, those slippery, unstable, irresponsible existences; how they abuse one another and fight with knives and then sit down together to supper as though nothing had happened.... They can live... (shrink)
The subtitle is a little misleading in that the book is really a discussion of Michael Theunissen’s recent Sein und Schein. Die kritische Funktion der Hegelschen Logik, reviewed in the March Owl. The present book began life as a colloquium on Th.’s study held in Bielefeld in December of 1978, after which it was generally felt that much would be gained from asking the author himself to explain certain points. Hence the form of the book, which consists of seven questions (...) addressed by Fulda and Horstmann to determinate ‘theses’ imputed to Th., followed by Th.’s answer, and concluding with F.’s and H.’s replies. (shrink)
As part of the 1995 IAPL meeting devoted to “Incorporations: Virtual Reality,” John Russon organized and chaired a session on the theme “Virtual Hegel.” Participants were asked to address the issue of Hegel and the postmodern, and to facilitate discussion their papers were circulated in advance.
The author of this study was born in Italy, received degrees in physics from MIT and in philosophy from Berkeley, and now teaches philosophy at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He has written on the historiography of science, especially on Galileo. The present book looks ahead to a larger work, Gramsci and the History of Dialectic, about to appear with Cambridge. It focusses on the methodology rather than the substance of Gramsci’s thinking, and seeks to bring out a certain (...) polemical, critical cast to it. In the first part—Gramsci the critic—we have four chapters devoted to Gramsci’s critical encounters with Croce, Bukharin, Machiavelli, and Mosca. The second contains the author’s own polemical treatment of four recent books of Gramsci criticism, those by Pellicani, Adamson, Femia, and Paggi. The first part is more useful and informed; the second by contrast seems like a series of extended reviews. But with the growth of Anglo-American interest in Gramsci, it is good to report that Joseph Femia’s Gramsci’s Political Thought is judged the best, most “judicious”, of the books criticized. (shrink)
These comments of Walt Whitman may surprise some, as he is not usually considered a Hegelian of any stripe. But then, this entire collection of essays on Hegel and American literature comes as something of a surprise, given the current state of literary theory. It turns out that Whitman’s attention to Hegel was both fitful and oracular. He had read only the selections printed in Frederic Hedge’s compendium, Prose Writers of Germany, i.e., short excerpts from the Philosophy of History and (...) the essay, “Who Thinksly?”. Nor can Hegel plausibly be said to have greatly influenced other writers or critics, despite Cowan’s claim in the introduction; the St Louis Hegelians never dominated the intellectual life of the late nineteenth century. (shrink)
“If there existed a philosophy of history attached to words, it would find a worthy topic in the expression ‘personality’ and the changes its meaning has undergone.” Thus Adorno, in an essay bemoaning the decline of the term from Kantian high-mindedness into media spectacle. Kant writes: “The idea of the moral law alone, together with the respect that is inseparable from it... is personality itself.” Here the unique and inmost self is identified with im personal law; my self is intelligible, (...) yet as purely noumenal it cannot be represented theoretically, only respected, in practice. The paradox is appropriated by Hegelian ethics, where the determinate individual appears nevertheless as free, this person and yet all persons: “Personhood [diePersönlichkeit] is thus at the same time the sublime and the wholly ordinary.... The supreme achievement is to support this contradiction....” Adorno discerns quite another line of descent. This line stems from Goethe rather than Kant, and runs via Humboldt and the Romantics down to our own day. Instead of personhood as calling, it emphasizes personhood as determination or destiny ; a cultivation of self in its many-sidedness, for which the ancient Greeks provide the model. It was important for J. S. Mill, and for much North American thinking from Emerson onwards.Yet mainstream sociological theorists such as Durkheim or Weber tended to prefer the first path, stressing imposed duty rather than found opportunity; indeed Weber reserves special contempt for what he sees as the indulgent subjectivism of aesthetic ‘personality.’ Which line weighs more with us moderns, or perhaps more suits our situation, would be hard to decide at this point. But the term itself remains crucial—and crucially obscure! (shrink)
This book contains the proceedings of a conference held in Nuremberg early in 1981, appropriately enough on the theme Hegel in Nuremberg, and in particular on his chief activities while there, education and writing the Science of Logic.
On March 18–19, 1995, the Virginia Polytechnical Institute in Blacksburg sponsored a symposium on Hegel and architecture. Genially organized and hosted by Deland Anderson of VPI, the event afforded a rare opportunity for philosophers, teachers of architecture, and students to discuss common interests.
As the author of this agreeably written book points out, the Lectures on Aesthetics is a neglected work in English-language Hegel scholarship. Desmond responds to this lack by aiming not at a full commentary but rather at a selective discussion of some central issues. He believes that the result should be of interest not merely to Hegel scholars or philosophers but also to a wider audience, with concerns in art and in modern culture generally.
In his previous book, The Kantian Sublime, Paul Crowther set out both to explicate and to improve on Kant. This new work seeks to apply some of the ideas developed there to the contemporary social and cultural scene. In particular Crowther casts a critical eye on our "postmodern" condition and its reflection in theory and in art, aiming at a middle course between outright rejection and indulgence in Baudrillard's "ecstacy of communication." Ambitious in its scope, the book is equally so (...) in its putative solution to our ills: appeal to aesthetic contemplation, and to Merleau-Pontian embodiment in the world. (shrink)
The last few years have seen a renewed interest in the British idealists, with, e.g., Vincent’s and Plant’s book on their political thought, Manser’s studies of Bradley’s logic and general philosophy, and most recently from Cambridge a fine new edition of Green’s Lectures on the Principles of Political Obligation.
The late A. J. Ayer once dismissed Oxford Idealism as unphilosophical, with “the uplift coming from Balliol and subtleties from Merton.” If nothing else Geoffrey Thomas shows in this impressive and painstaking study that there was more than moral uplift at Balliol, and many subtleties besides, though how many of these last come from the University of London, where the book began life as a 1983 doctoral dissertation, is moot. Thomas notes two reasons why past philosophers continue to interest us: (...) either the fascination of arguments for positions that may well be insupportable, or else the intrinsic interest of certain perspectives they open up, though their actual reasoning may be weak. Thomas assigns Green firmly to the second camp, while trying his hardest to make good some of the poor or simply absent argumentation. An exercise in rational reconstruction as much as straight exposition, the book establishes a coherence and salience to Green’s moral thought that few might have suspected. (shrink)
By comparison with other parts of his philosophy, Hegel'sAestheticshas been slighted by Anglo-American philosophers. All the more welcome then are two recent essays by Robert Pippin, which promise to go well beyond received notions. WithHegel's Idealism, Pippin published what is by any measure one of the most original of recent treatments. Shortly thereafter came a penetrating study of the idea of the modern, which allotted a central role to artistic modernism, and since then he has published various essays actively engaging (...) our post-Kantian legacy. Readers will therefore have heightened expectations of Pippin's turn to Hegel's aesthetics, or rather, as he himself signals, the philosophy of art — unlike some he clearly approves of the shift from Kantian questions of aesthetic taste to Romantic speculations on art, indeed on Art as cultural absolute.They will hardly be disappointed. Yet in the event they will find themselves negotiating texts that are at once dense and elliptical, much of the argument being conducted via footnotes, its implications—what it commits the author to in theory and in practice — not evident straightaway. If Hegel's position is complex, Pippin's turns out to be no less so. While I can hardly do justice to its intricacies, I do consider it both important and controversial, whether as interpretation of Hegel or as an approach to modernist abstraction. (shrink)
Hegel’s admiration for Sophocles’ Antigone is well-known. In the Philosophy of Religion he declares it to be “for me the absolute example of tragedy.” In the Aesthetics he calls it “one of the most sublime and in every respect most magnificent works of art of all time” - and adds : “Of all the splendors of the ancient or modern worlds - and I know nearly all, and one should and can know them - the Antigone seems to me in (...) this respect the most magnificent, most satisfying, work of art.” No less extravagant is Hegel’s praise of Antigone herself: “the heavenly Antigone, the most magnificent figure ever to have appeared on earth” as he puts it in his History of Philosophy. (shrink)
In this original and trenchantly written study, Rockmore argues that the literature on Hegel has ignored a central feature in his philosophy, namely, the embracing of a circular epistemology in order to justify claims to philosophical knowledge. This procedure receives only fitful attention from Hegel's texts, and Rockmore's book attempts to show what it is and how it bears importantly on various parts of the system. Under the name of "anti-foundationalism," it has obvious relevance, Rockmore argues, to contemporary discussions, and (...) even--given the ahistorical way in which these discussions have taken place--a few useful lessons. (shrink)
Little attention has been paid to Hegel’s version of the sublime. I argue that the sublime plays a very marginal role in the Berlin lectures on aesthetics and on religion; in particular, Hegel ignores the “Romantic” sublime popular among his contemporaries. The sublime he locates in Persian poetry and more properly in Biblical Psalmody. After surveying his various articulations of the sublime, I turn to Hegel’s careful analysis of how the Psalms achieve their peculiar effects and note his focus on (...) the “individual.” Paradoxically, while close to Romantic “subreption”, their complex play with voice—and Hegel’s explication—both keep a safe distance, I contend. Turning finally to the question of anachronism and the sublime as a historical category, I suggest in a brief postscript how effects analogous to the Psalms’ rhetoric may nevertheless be detected in Terry Malick films. (shrink)
To mark the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Hegel’s death, the Hegel Societies of America and of Great Britain held a joint meeting in September 1981 at Merton College, Oxford. The volume under review contains the papers delivered at that conference. Its theme was well chosen, for “action” is a category central to Hegel’s system, while requiring a certain interpretative ingenuity to tease out exactly how it is so. The result is a book of great interest to Hegel studies.
This paper attempts in a preliminary way to bring out the ‘pragmatics’ or ‘performativity’ in Hegel’s conception of tragedy and the tragic in the Phenomenology of Spirit. The secondary literature has tended to focus on ethical content at the expense of cultic form and dramaturgical enactment ; and even with the tragic it has tended to overlook the different linguistic levels in use. I argue that the peculiar term ‘Individualität’ allows Hegel, in chapter VI, to describe a logic of equivocal (...) representation he sees at work in ancient ‘Sittlichkeit’. I argue furthermore that we seriously misrepresent Hegel’s conception of tragedy if we do not include the astonishing claims made of ‘Art-religion’ in chapter VII. Here tragedy takes on a meta-aesthetic color. Hegel sees tragedy as more than an ancient phenomenon, but as a recurring feature in attempts to represent a speculative truth in sensuous form. (shrink)