Saturday, May 23, 2015

Answer to a Good Question: Sartre and Hegel

One of the most productive aspects of holding monthly online Q&A sessions as a perk for my Patreon supporters of this project is getting asked questions that really do need to be asked and answered, given that the main purpose of the video series (and the associated activities) is to help people productively study and learn Hegel's Phenomenology.

It's occurred to me that I ought to start writing down the responses that I give, for two main reasons.  First, they're not being recorded in these sessions, and every once in a while, I surprise myself by coming up with an interesting response or explanation.  Second, and more importantly, with quite a few of the questions, if one person is asking them, they're likely to bear upon issues that many other people wonder about as well.

This first one was asked by Thao Nguyen -- and it's a question I've addressed before in a different setting (in one of my 10 Short Clips videos) -- about the relation between Jean-Paul Sartre's and G.W.F. Hegel's use of the same terminology, specifically the "in-itself" and "for-itself".  Are both philosophers in effect meaning the same thing when they use these terms in the course of their magna opera, Being and Nothingness and the Phenomenology of Spirit

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Cool Hegel Triptych

One of the fans of the Half Hour Hegel series, (who goes by what I'm guessing are pseudonyms) Milliardo Peacecraft and Budimen Budimen, created this interesting triptych, taking Hegel's iconic portrait as a starting point.

It might well be titled "Hegel and Melancholia," and read visually and expressively from right to left.  We start with a recognizable representation of the great German philosopher, but with almost a hint of a smile, and eyes a bit softer and forgiving than those in his usual depictions.  Then, we shift to a blued, Jekyll-Hyde-suggestive distortion, still recognizably the iconic work, but dour or even soured in expression.  In the third, an externalization has taken place, a hazy net providing the latticework through which Hegel gazes out at the world, and at the viewer.

It's a suggestive piece of work, which I'm quite grateful to have been provided with.  I'm by no means a good guy for commenting upon artwork -- so I'd welcome any comments by those who want to contribute a bit more by way of discussion or analysis.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Starting The Section: Force and the Understanding!

We've been making fairly consistent progress -- supported, encouraged, and also (important for me) held to promised deadlines by Patreon supporters of the project -- and we now are moving into the third and final section of the first part of the Phenomenology -- "Consciousness".  This is the first lecture in the new -- and difficult -- section "Force and the Understanding."

Hegel's not yet introducing one of the key new terms -- Force (Kraft) -- that will occur in the next paragraph (136), which might require an entire video devoted specifically to it in its own right, but he is bringing attention to something that has been implicit all along, as we explored the dialectics of the object of sense and perception -- the Unconditioned Universal.  He also adds a distinction -- a new way of looking at multiple sides or aspects, which then will undergo their own interplay -- between Content and Form.

As I remarked early on in the lecture video, we're now going to be engaging in some pretty heavy duty metaphysics.  But, as we'll see, as we proceed through the section over the next two months or so, there are also some important developments and implications for our understanding of matters of ethics, identity, and interpersonal relations -- it's not for nothing that this section immediately precedes the next main division of the work:  "Self-Consciousness."

Thursday, May 7, 2015

We're Finished With The Section "Perception"!

Early in May, we're finished  with working our winding way through the section "Perception", the second in the first main division "Consciousness"!  That puts both Sense Certainty and Perception behind us -- and now a new horizon opens.  The road ahead leads us into what might be described as a "dense, dark forest", worthy of a Brother Grimm's fairy-tale:  Force and the Unconsciousness.

Before we head into that new section -- the last of the part "Consciousness" -- we should stop to take stock of how far we've come so far (but don't look too much yet at how much lies ahead, lest you get dissuaded of continuing our long march!).  We've made it through the difficult introductory material -- the Preface and the Introduction -- and we worked through some specific and preliminary dialectical maneuvers with the last two sections.  We've realized, first, that there's strictly speaking no such thing as "sense certainty" -- the object or experience that was supposed to be immediate showed itself, at least for Consciousness (where the whole game plays itself out for Hegel) to be an intersection of Universals -- sensuous universals, as we realized as we moved into Perception (the "truth-taking," Wahr-nehmung, by the conscious subject).

Now we've seen that even Perception itself could not be a secure resting-place (and because of that, no foundational starting-point) for Philosophy.  The Thing -- the object with its properties -- turned out to suffer a kind of pulsational diffusion and reintegration as we explored various perspectives upon it, ultimately displaying itself as unable to unite all of these aspects within itself.  Upon retrospect, that should be so surprise, since after all, this is the section devoted to consciousness. . .

For those who haven't yet watched them, here's the full set of videos of commentary on this section: