Saturday, November 19, 2016

Pleasure and Necessity Videos

The sub-section, "Actualization of Rational Self-Consciousness Through Its Own Activity", is considerably shorter than the previous sub-section (Observing Reason) of the massive Reason section of the Phenomenology of Spirit.  But, in my view, it's even more interesting and important.  (I'll admit that I do have a bit of a bias in favor of practical philosophy, as opposed to the merely speculative or theoretical).

After working his way through some introductory - but very important - dialectical developments (for instance, bringing up the relationship between the individual rational self-consciousness and the "ethical substance" of the community), we're now in the first of the three main dialectics of this section.  This one is called "Pleasure and Necessity" - but as I point out in the commentary videos, it's one of the strangest treatments of pleasure you're going to find in philosophical literature (you'll actually see just as many references to "pleasure" in the section that follows ("The Law of the Heart and the Frenzy of Self Conceit")

Here are the commentary videos for this first section - Pleasure and Necessity.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

November Public Hegel Q&A Session Later Today

We've been making some good progress through the Phenomenology - particularly the Reason section, whose second portion we're now working through.  And, it's high time for another public online Q&A session.  This time I wanted to give a bit of notice ahead of time, but as it turns out, it's today. . . 

We're thinking, by the way, of moving away from Google Hangouts for hosting these sessions and towards a better platform - most likelyFreeConferenceCall.com, which we've used for other interactions, e.g. my online classes.

In any case, later on today - 5-6 PM Central (i.e. Chicago) Time, I'll be holding the Q&A session via Google Hangouts, as usual.  I'll post the link for the Hangout once it's opened in several locations - my Patreon page, my Facebook author page, in Google+, and in Twitter. So, if you want to participate, you'll need to check at least one of those around the time the Hangout started.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

How Much Background Do You Need?

One of the Hegel-related blogs I read regularly is The Empyrean Trail, written by Anthony Wolf, who also goes by the pleasingly fanciful moniker of A.W. Hegel.  I like what I've read so far, and a recent piece - An anecdote on the myth that Hegel is impossible without background - has spurred me to do some thinking, and as you can see here, a bit of writing today.

He's raising a very important question, one that does come up from time to time as comments on the Half Hour Hegel videos - just how much preparation does one need in order to be able to successfully read and understand G.W.F. Hegel's works?  Here's how Anthony puts it:
One of the most annoying points I encounter repeatedly when it comes to engaging Hegel for a newcomer is the repetition that Hegel is very, VERY, difficult. So difficult, in fact, that if you have not had at least four years of your life dealing with learning at least the continental movement from Hume to Kant to Fichte to Schelling to… ever increasing background qualifications, you have no hope in properly understanding anything Hegel has to say. That’s not even counting the difficulty of learning Hegel’s terminology itself and the obscure logic of dialectics. So… just hold on until you’ve made it through undergrad, there is no shame in admitting that Hegel is too hard for you.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Actualization of Self-Consciousness Videos

We have now left behind the first - and longest - portion of the Reason section of the Phenomenology, Observing Reason.  The two sections that follow are somewhat shorter, but for me of still more interest, since they have to do particularly with practical rationality.

Why is that?  It isn't because the rational self-consciousness first got its theoretical or speculative (or, if you're of a Kantian bent, "pure") reason side entirely figured out, and then moved on to practical application.

Instead, one of the motifs that you'll find running throughout the Hegelian work as a whole - and I think this may seem a bit counter-intuitive for some people ("isn't Hegel supposed to be an idealist, so everything is speculative, right?") is that the domain of the practical in complex and often implicit ways drives the activity of theoretical or speculative rationality (which, until the very end of the work, isn't a finished product or faculty, but always remains "under development," you might say.

There's quite a bit to say about this section - and I'll do that later this month.  For the time being, here are the five videos comprising the introduction to this new section.

Lecture 136 - paragraphs 347-349
Lecture 137 - paragraphs 350-351
Lecture 138 - paragraphs 352-355
Lecture 139 - paragraphs 356-357
Lecture 140 - paragraphs 358-359

What's coming next?  Three short but rich dialectical developments:  Pleasure and Necessity; The Law of the Heart and the Frenzy of Self-Conceit; and, Virtue and the Way of the World.  Each of them explores a typical way in which practically rational self-consciousness seeks out its good - and tries to produce it - within the world of experience.