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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Critical Theory, Deleuze, Foucault, Hegel, Lyotard, Philosophy (General), Skepticism, Social Change

Postmodernism considered

I’m going to take a post or two to talk about postmodernism.  At first, I want to talk about it in a general sort of way, painting in broad strokes how I understand postmodernism as a historical movement.  This will probably seem a little out of place here on this blog, but bear with me, it will circle back around to religion in a subsequent post.

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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.

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Ethics, Hegel, Myth, Open Theology, Religion and Faith

Spirit is a bone

This (hopefully) will be short, a hard little nub.

It’s simple really, but if we are to speak of spirit, of the sacred, as something serious, something real, we need to remember that just as Hegel reminded us that mind is a bone, so is spirit.

It’s a real thing.  It’s a distinct thing, too, not an amorphous daydream.

To those who would respond, that it is not dead, is not inert ‘like a bone,’ I can only suggest that you consider what you mean by those terms.  In their most literal application, no, it is not like a bone.  It is a different thing.  But in their extended sense, those terms don’t even apply to bones.

That’s also a warning against fantasy, against the false comforts we grant ourselves by abandoning the things and retreating into our ideas of things.  Ideas are different things, and confusing the idea for the thing to which it lays claim is the road to illusion.

Spirit, like all things, wears our ideas lightly.  Just as our own ideas and words, too, remain in the silent kingdom of things, so does spirit.  So do we.  Let us curb our imagination accordingly.  Let us not dwell in false riches.

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