Thursday, November 27, 2014

Continuing On Through the Introduction

I've been proceeding along with the lecture series this month, making it to roughly the halfway point of the Introduction to the Phenomenology.

We ought to be able to finish up the rest of the Introduction by the end of December, which works well. 

That way, we can get started with the Phenomenology proper -- those three portions of the "Consciousness"section (Sense-Certainty, Perception, and the ever-enigmatic Force and the Understanding) -- with the start of the new year. 

In any case, here's the next three lectures:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Introduction Commences!

Having passed a bit of a milestone last month -- bringing the lectures on the Preface to the Phenomenology to a successful close -- it was time to start on the next portion of the work -- the Introduction.

Much shorter in length, the Introduction won't take anywhere near the time demanded to produce and post the 31 earlier lectures -- I'm on good track to have us moving into the section on Sense-Certainty around New Years.  It's looking as if it will demand about 8 half-hour lectures to get through all the paragraphs.

I'll say more about precisely what's going on in the Introduction when I post later videos here.  For right now, permit me to drag us down from the sublimities of metaphysics and cognition to the admittedly superficial level of the aesthetic. 

You'll notice that there's a different look to this video, a look that will continued through the other videos that follow out this section.  I also switched the introductory music, and I have decided that I'm going to continue this precedent as we transition to further sections of the text.

With as many videos as are likely to be required to round out the series, I wanted to have some manner by which to distinguish the different sets of videos from each other -- so, changing the background, font color, and music, while maintaining everything of the structure the same, struck me as a good way to mark the move from Preface to Introduction.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

SubReddit on Half-Hour Hegel Series

Doing a Google-search to track down some of my materials (eventually I've got to get organized and have everything curated in one main place -- but that's a separate matter!), I came across a Reddit discussion about this video series.  I have to say that the best -- because funniest -- post by far was this one-liner, by quierogato:  "Thought that said half hour kegel."

It was interesting to come across this (and a few other, less commented-upon) discussions of the series on that site.  Back when I was first starting to build my presence in the virtual world of social media, I played around with Reddit a little bit, but I never really "clicked" with it the way I did with other platforms.  So, I more or less abandoned my Reddit presence, then ended up forgetting not only what my password was, but also my username!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

And with Lecture 31 (71-72), We Finish the Preface!

I've just released lecture 31 -- Preface, sec. 71 and 72 -- on YouTube.  With this one, we've now got over 15 hours of Hegel commentary footage produced, uploaded, and freely offered to the public.

This actually has me so excited and happy that I'm not going to do my usual resume of the lecture, and those sections of Hegel's text -- instead, I'm going to indulge a bit in speculating about this project and this particular milestone -- but first, here's the video!

So. . .  I started this new series back in February, after thinking for a good month or so about how I might respond to my viewers' and subscribers' requests for more Hegel material.  The big problem, in my view -- and this is one reason I've actually written and published so little on Hegel -- is that I find it very difficult to simply summarize and condense what's going on in the text of the Phenomenology (not to mention the Logic - and which Logic, you ask?  Science of course!)

So, what's the other possibility?  Actually pay attention to each part, each portion, each paragraph of the work.  Perhaps with some, there's really nothing that needs looking at there -- but I can't say, looking back on the times I've worked through the Phenomenology, that I recall ever coming across any such passages. . . . 

Would it really be possible to go through the whole work, paragraph by paragraph?  Well, why not?  Although there's never been a video series of that sort, it's not as if some of the great Hegel commentators who I look up to didn't engage in that sort of painstaking, close reading labor themselves. At the very least, translators like Hippolyte (and more recently, Pinkard) have done so -- so, although I'm certainly not saying that I regard myself as being anywhere near their level of expertise, it ought to be at least feasible for me to plow through the 800-or-so paragraphs.

In executing a task like that, it's much like mountain-climbing or at the very least excursions in high places, except shifted ninety degrees.  Instead of the advice:  "don't look down," it's:  "don't look at what's ahead -- or you might find yourself falling prey to vertigo! 

In any case, I'm concentrating on what follows next -- for the Phenomenology, the much shorter, and in some way more straightforward Introduction -- sections 73-89 -- a mere 17 paragraphs.  I'll likely get through those lectures and be ready to move into the work in earnest before the start of 2015!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Lecture 30: Preface 69-70 Published

We're almost all of the way through the Preface to the Phenomenology -- and that's somewhat of an achievement in itself.  72 out of the 800 plus paragraphs comprising the work.  Not quite one-tenth of the work accomplished.  But. . .  it is a dense and tricky section, and it does purport to provide at least some of the main ideas of the work (Hegel's suspicion of preface, introductions, not to speak of reviews  -- one needs to kind of spit that word out to make it fit Hegel's attitude towards that sort of literary shortcut! -- set aside).

I released installation number 30 earlier this week -- it's been a bit tough to get everything released on time in my main YouTube channel, since I've had some other videos that had to be brought out as well.  It looks now as if if the end of the Preface videos is going to come in early November.

What's particularly interesting about these two paragraphs are two things.  One of these is the biting humor, the standpoint from which Hegel criticizes the standpoint of right-thinking "common sense", encapsulated in his ironic recommendation that one just read reviews, or perhaps even introductions and first paragraphs of philosophical works, in order to osmotically imbibe their essence.

The other is where he drops his pretense of sarcasm -- I don't think this is something Hegel can keep up all that long, actually -- and points out that there is something anti-human to the attitude of common sense.  I'll leave that hanging here, as an invitation to watch the video (or just read the paragraphs) and see why. . .

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Lectures 27, 28, and 29 Posted

While doing quite a bit of speaking, writing, and video production, I've gotten a bit behind -- not in actually producing and posting the Half-Hour Hegel video sessions -- but in writing the announcements here and linking to them in the Video Series page

We've still got two more installments to do, covering paragraphs 69-72, and then we'll be finished with the lengthy Preface and ready to move into the Introduction.

But, here they are -- the three most recent installments, covering paragraphs 61-68.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Lecture 26: Preface 59-60 Published

We're now just about rounding the last corner in the first lap of the Phenomenology -- the Preface.  Here, Hegel continues contrasting the dialectical approach he champions against the "argumentative" or "ratiocinative" approach in Philosophy.

In these sections he spells out the differences by looking at how some of the traditional classifications or functions of grammar, logic, and enquiry work with both approaches -- focusing on Subject, Predicate, and Accident.  How do we get from any of these to Substance. . .  and Notion or Concept (Begriff)?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Lecture 25: Preface 56-58 Published

This is an interesting set of passages -- not that they aren't all, in the Phenomenology! 

I need to point out that there's a small error at the start of this video -- the very first slide has the previous lecture's (54-55) numbers rather than the present one.  But rest assured, this is indeed paragraphs 56, 57, and 58

One of the key things to look out for here is a new target of Hegel's critique of other, prevalent, but deficient modes of philosophical thinking -- what he calls Räsonieren, translated in Miller by "argumentation", "argumentative thinking", or "ratiocination".  This is the sort of approach that he will later discuss in terms of "skepticism" -- a use of human freedom towards whatever content is being developed or discussed to simply say "no" to it, by means of use of the understanding, though critique, analysis, argument. .  . .

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The View Count For the Series So Far

We're now in the seventh month of producing the Half-Hour Hegel video series -- with 24 videos released so far -- and we're getting near to the end of the very first portion of the lectures, that is, finishing up with Hegel's Preface to the Phenomenology.  There's about another 6-8 more yet to come, and then we'll move into the considerably shorter (paragraphs 73-89) Introduction.

YouTube allows one to create groups of videos, so that one can get the "analytics," or rather measurements, for just certain types, or in my case series, of videos, and today I decided to check what those numbers were for the Half-Hour Hegel lectures.

It's quite gratifying -- and a bit surprising -- to see them.  Since February 27 to today, the videos have been viewed about 28,000 times.  The very first one has garnered over 8,000 views, and as one can expect, the numbers scale downwards for the later ones -- they've not been out as long, so they've been viewed less. 

I also look at the "average view duration," which is around 10-15 minutes per video.  What this reflects is that there's some people who watch a video in its entirety, there's some who watch just a part of it, and there's many others who click on for a moment, and then leave (which includes me, when I'm posting the videos in social media!).  Given this average view duration, I think that it makes sense to interpret that raw 28,000 views number as really signifying something more like around 8,000-9,000 views that do indeed watch the whole lecture through.  One might conservatively estimate that perhaps 200-250 people have watched the entire sequence so far, with others dropping out along the way, or just popping in for a video here and there.

The sheer number of time people have spent either watching or listening is pretty staggering to think about -- over 300,000 minutes, roughly 208 full days!  That's a lot of time for people to be engaging the work of a difficult German thinker from two centuries past.  I'm not really sure at this point what to make of this information, I have to admit. . . .

Lecture 24: Preface 54-55 Published

We're now completely back on track with planning, shooting, and editing these Hegel course videos -- I managed to get three of them done last week, and am shooting footage for several more this coming week.  Releasing them at the pace of 1-2 installments each week is now back to being a viable plan.

In these sections, Hegel starts bringing some of the earlier discussed themes -- the characteristics of the dialectical philosophy he will be developing in the rest of the work -- to a crux:  the "identity of Being and Thought". 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Lecture 23: Preface 52-53 Published

We got back from Saas-Fee about a week-and-a-half ago, and I'm now back on schedule producing more Hegel content.  At this point, we're still deep in the Preface.

Here, Hegel refocuses his criticism on philosophical approaches that take the Understanding (Verstand -- also translatable as "intellect") and its approaches to phenomena as paradigmatic, in the process never really entering into the life of the phenomena they purport to study and order.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Lecture 22: Preface 50-51 Published

We're just about to leave Saas-Fee, having made our goodbyes with all of the European Graduate School people last night.  Fortunately, I shot and edited one video installation of this commentary-course to keep matters on track.

This one represents an important turning point -- Hegel is back to criticizing "formalism", but he explicitly discusses how even the triadic schema can fall prey to formalism.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lecture 21: Preface 48-49 Published

I wanted to make sure I'd keep this series on track as I got ready to travel to Saas-Fee in Switzerland for a bit over a week, so I've got a few new installments ready to go.  Here's the first of them.


We're reaching a turning point here in the Preface -- Hegel is finishing up with his critical discussions about "mathematical cognition," that is, the ways of doing things outside of mathematics proper which borrow a kind of model, some key assumptions, and a method from mathematics.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Creating the Half-Hour Hegel Site

About six months ago, after I'd given some thought to what sort of video resources I might create for G.W.F. Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, I decided to venture upon an ambitious project.  I'd work my way, paragraph by paragraph, through the entirety of the work, and publish the video footage in roughly 25-35 minute segments -- half and hour of Hegel at a time.

Since then, I've produced and published 20 installments in that series -- so 10 hours of reading and commentary on the text.  That's really a drop in the bucket -- we're a bit over halfway through the Preface.  The entire work will most likely require a good 250 to 300 videos and two to three years of consistent effort for me to complete. 

But it is worth it, because when it is finished, it will represent the accomplishment of something quite new -- an online, free, publicly accessible video resource taking any interested student or lifelong learner through a difficult but rewarding philosophical work. 

While there are a number of Hegel scholars I freely acknowledge to be much more deeply versed in his work, whose scholarship I greatly respect and benefit from, I am an at least competent expositor of this great German Idealist thinker -- and, most importantly, willing to commit the time, thought, and energy to create this resource and to offer it to the worldwide public.

As the videos started to accumulate in my YouTube channel, it quickly became apparent that I would need some sort of site, if not to house them (YouTube does that quite well), at least to organize and curate them.  I have some experience with creating and contributing to blogger sites -- oriented towards other topics, thinkers, and movements in philosophy -- so that platform provided a convenient nexus for this Hegel-related activity, as well as potential for gradually assembling resources that might help or interest newcomers to Hegel's thought.

It was my YouTube viewers who originally requested -- or rather, with increased frequency, importuned -- me to create videos grappling with Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit.  I'm proud to say that in those six months since I started,  those 20 videos have been viewed over 20,000 times -- 234,000 minutes of my reading and rambling have been watched.  They have evoked over 500 comments on the videos.

I'm not sure exactly what I will be doing with this site beyond aggregating and organizing the videos as I produce them, and providing links to other resources useful to the study of Hegel.  It's really, like the video series itself, an experiment -- a marriage of the possibilities offered by internet technology, on the one side, and old-school philosophical thinking and teaching, on the other.  So, if you've got ideas, suggestions, comments. .  . this is a good place to set them down.