Friday, May 19, 2006

A Colonel Kurtz Comedy Hour?

Interesting critique of the au courant hegelianism and what passes for online "philosophy."

"Bertrand Russell, writing his History of Western Philosophy in '43 or so (it's a bit glib and abridged but not such a bad overview of modern philosophy), did not have much positive to say about Hegel's history philosophy nor his metaphysics. He more or less dismissed Hegel's logic (a logic which takes the elements of logic themselves to be sort of constituents of all reality? hah. physics and the natural sciences don't work that way, Herr Hegel) , and argues that the Wehrmacht itself would have found ample support in Hegel's Philosophy of Right and Philosophy of History. And the nazis found some related ideas in Nietzsche ( who more and more appears like a materialist Hegel Jr. sans the great dialectic).

Throughout Russell's critique of Hegel one notes his objections to the irrational and to the militaristic aspects of Hegelianism. Russell does a fairly convincing job demonstrating that Hegel was more a prussian type of scholar-officer, with more than a hint of proto-fascism to his character and writing, than some Sorbonne- like cafe-filosophe or leftist intellectual. Yet the cafe-filosophes and marxists never tire of invoking all the old Hegelian jargon; indeed, the Hegelian militarism and heroics seems to form part of the irrational allure of postmodernism and of marxism. Who needs all those boring Englishmen going on about contracts, sensations and cause, fallibility, etc. when there is Der Geist to attend to. Hegelianism, even when attenuated by french aesthetes or orthodox marxists, is nothing if not romantic."


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