Adorno, Hegel, History, Philosophy (General), philosophy of science

How to Be Wrong

I can’t remember when I first heard Dudley Hersbach’s bit about error, but it’s a good one to repeat and discuss in Hegelian terms:

And often, the key thing, if you’re going to be wrong, is to be wrong in an interesting way—because you tried some excursion in thought that took you over somewhere and gave you a new perspective. That’s the kind of thing to try to emphasize.

This plea for a broader notion of science and scientific endeavor applies equally well as a description of the Hegelian vision of speculative philosophy’s relationship to knowledge in general. It is also, like Hegel, frustratingly vague on the matter of what it means to be ‘wrong in an interesting way.’ What does a ‘new perspective’ entail and why does it even matter?

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Adorno, Hegel, Philosophy (General), Social Change

Reading Hegel’s An Introduction to a Philosophy of History

I spent some recent bit of vacation (re)reading through portions of G. W. F. Hegel’s Introduction to a Philosophy of History (Hackett edition, translated by Leo Rauch). In part, that’s just because thinking about Marx puts me in mind of Hegel, but I also wanted to revisit this little book with the fresh eyes; the last time I really read Hegel was almost a decade ago. What follows is mostly a record of my responses to it, in a rough sort of order. I might revisit it more carefully later, but then I might not.

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Adorno, Community, Critical Theory, poverty, Prophecy, Religion and Faith, Social Change

[News] Cornel West and Melissa Harris-Perry

Cornell West was in the news a bit last month because of some fairly harsh things he has said about the President. The story seems to have taken off here and, to my mind, had its most meaningful articulation here on the Ed Show. There seems to be a fair amount in between those two points, but especially Melissa Harris-Perry’s print response here.

What interests me most keenly is the pair of interviews on the Ed Show. The interview of West followed immediately with that of Harris-Perry shows off well the conceptual distance between them and their ways of thinking. I’m pleased that the show gave each interviewee a block of time rather than simply using the simultaneous split-screen method.

That space gave each of their views room to breathe and prevented the interview from becoming an occasion for debate-style one-upmanship. The show does give Harris-Perry’s view pride of place in terms of how the host responds and in closing out the segment, but a certain bias is inescapable.

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Adorno, Anthropology, Christian Thought, Community, Comparative Religion, Critical Theory, History, Modern Polytheism, Myth, Religion and Faith

Towards a proper understanding of religious community

[8/5/2010: Virtually no modification from original posting in July of 2009]

This post is largely critical, distinguishing obstacles that have come between me and a healthy concept of religious community.  It’s propadeutic.  It includes some glimmers of how I want to start talking about religion and community, but an awful lot about what I think may stand in the way of that.

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Adorno, Hegel, Philosophy (General)

Dialectics, a very brief thought

[Warning: dense, presumes familiarity with Hegel]

I daresay that most people who have made their way through any sizable portion of Hegel’s opus comes away with a sense of awe for the man’s intellect.  Many, to be sure, qualify that with a sense that there is something almost, well, too brilliant, too pure.  That history may so gracefully be ordered, progressively, by a series of dialectical movements just seems too good or too awful to be true.

And I think that qualification is pretty much spot on.  I think the idea of dialectics is spot on, brilliant even, but that it holds only for a single remove.  Dialectics breaks down, becomes mere abstraction, when its functions are linked together progressively.

The reason may be put something like this: each dialectical movement is a leap forward of the understanding into confusion and a local resolution of it.  However, the resolution drawn is utterly local, related to the person(s) involved.  The movement can be resolved in a number of different ways, and each of those different (not contradictory) movements are dialectical so long as they are carried to their end.

This is, I suspect, the gist of Adorno’s concern.

Adorno, Critical Theory, Deleuze, Old Thoughts, Walter Benjamin

[Old Thoughts] Peace of Objects

Dated 11/28/2005 (Edited to clean up a few typos)

Rereading Adorno and Benjamin has brought to mind several important things.  First and foremost, that a philosophical account must not rest entirely upon an account of the subject, of the subject’s relationship to the world.  It must encompass the objective and not merely as the shadow of the subject’s actions. Second, that so much modern philosophy does just this, dwelling upon the ceaseless permutations of the Other rather than taking the steps required to place the self and other in the broader field of objects.  This lack of placement gives the Other and Self no content, makes of them empty forms that can sustain both too much (i.e. support multiple contradictory alternatives) and too little (provide no means for selection between competitors).  It strikes me that Deleuze, too, has some savviness in this regard, a concern for the object that is not reduced to the subject, although pursued quite differently.

It would be meaningful, I think, to revisit some of the ‘sexy’ elements of Deleuze’s thought—the mistake many make with them may be the manner in which they eagerly seek a human, subjective face for them, entirely ignoring the way in which the model reaches out to highlight the ‘reality’ of the object—masochism not just as the relation of self and other, servant and mistress (as early Deleuze) but as an effort by the masochist to situate himself or herself among the world of objects, to speak to them in their own tongue, if you will.