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Saturday, February 25, 2017

A RESPONSE TO A COMMENT, AND ONCE AGAIN HEGEL

James offers a long and thoughtful comment on Arendt and her relationship to the Frankfurt School, in the course of which he inquires into my antipathy to Hegel.  I have written about this before.  My antipathy is not the outcome of a deep and sustained engagement with Hegel's writings.  It is a visceral dislike, prompted more than anything else by Hegel's tendency to make simple ideas needlessly complicated, as though their value was somehow measured by their obscurity.  I, on  the other hand, have spent my entire life struggling to make difficult ideas as transparent and comprehensible as possible.

Inasmuch as I have devoted much of my career to a study of the thought of Immanuel Kant and Karl Marx, no one, I trust, will accuse me of a penchant for the superficially elementary!  But, as my books show, I strive always to render the deepest ideas of these great thinkers so clearly that my readers or students can contemplate the beauty of those ideas and feel their power immediately.  Hegel's work has always seemed to me to be the antithesis of this ideal.

However, this is a matter of taste, and, as the Romans wisely claimed, de gustibus non est disputandum.

2 comments:

s. wallerstein said...

Leiter quotes Schopenhauer on Hegel:

Schopenhauer on Kant, obscurity, and Hegel
From the "Critique of the Kantian Philosophy," an Appendix to The World as Will and Representation:
[T]he most injurious result of Kant's occasionally obscure language is, that it acted as exemplar vitiis imitabile; indeed, it was misconstrued as a pernicious authorisation. The public was compelled to see that what is obscure is not always without significance; consequently, what was without significance took refuge behind obscure language. Fichte was the first to seize this new privilege and use it vigorously; Schelling at least equalled him; and a host of hungry scribblers, without talent and without honesty, soon outbade them both. But the height of audacity, in serving up sheer nonsense, in stringing together senseless and extravagant mazes of words, such as had previously only been heard in madhouses, was finally reached in Hegel, and became the instrument of the most ponderous general mystification that has ever taken place, with a result which will appear fabulous to posterity, and will remain as a lasting monument of German stupidity.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

What a great quote!!! Thank you.