April 21, 2016

Hegel threw everything he had to say into the stitched-together The Phenomenology of Spirit

The Jew invented the God-fearing man; India the God-knower and God-lover-Sri Aurobindo http://indiafacts.org/the-abrahamic-god/ … 
An excerpt from Michel Danino’s book “Indian Culture and India’s Future”.
Increasingly aware of this cruel, irritable, egocentric and exclusivist character of Jehovah, many Western thinkers, specially from the eighteenth century onwards, rejected his claim to be the supreme and only god. Voltaire, one of the first to expose the countless inconsistencies in the Bible, could hardly disguise how it filled him with “horror and indignation at every page”. In particular, he found the plethora of laws dictated by Jehovah “barbaric and ridiculous”. The U.S. revolutionary leader and thinker Thomas Paine wrote of the Old Testament in this Age of Reason:
"Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon that the word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel."
With the growth of materialistic science, in particular Darwinian evolution, such views which were revolutionary at the time of Voltaire, became widespread. Bernard Shaw, for example, described the Bible god as “a thundering, earthquaking, famine striking, pestilence launching, blinding, deafening, killing, destructively omnipotent Bogey Man.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the courageous U.S. pioneer of woman rights movement, wrote in 1898, “Surely the writers [of the Old Testament] had a very low idea of the nature of their God. They make Him not only anthropomorphic, but of the very lowest type, jealous and revengeful, loving violence rather than mercy. I know of no other books which so fully teach the subjection and degradation of woman.” Mark Twain put it in his own way: 
“Our Bible reveals to us the character of our god with minute and remorseless exactness. The portrait is substantially that of a man – if one can imagine a man charged and overcharged with evil impulses far beyond the human limit… It is perhaps the most damnatory biography that exists in print anywhere. It makes Nero an angel of light and leading by contrast.” 
On another occasion he added, “It ain’t the parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.” Freud, seeing in Jehovah an all too human creation, subjected him to psychoanalysis – a dream of a subject for a psychoanalyst. Aldous Huxley called the Old Testament “a treasure trove of barbarous stupidity [full of] justifications for every crime and folly.” In fact, Huxley traced the “wholesale massacres” perpetrated by Christianity to Jehovah’s “wrathful, jealous, vindictive character, just as he attributed “the wholesale slaughter” of Buddhists and Hindus by invading Muslims to their devotion for a “despotic person”. Albert Einstein said, “I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own – a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty.”
Because a few intellectuals had the courage to state the obvious, the power of Christianity was greatly reduced in the West. Yet I have always marveled that Indians should learn about Christianity neither from those bold Western thinkers nor from their own inquiry, but from bigots who continue to pretend that the Age of Enlightenment never happened. 

Having spent a few years laboring over the last sections of “Science of Logic”, I don’t think it’s right to say that the project of the Logic is to give a conceptual-discursive account of what religion accounted for representationally; that’s the aim of the whole system of philosophy, not just the first of its three parts. Once you work through the whole book, you come out of “Science of Logic” still generally ignorant of spirit as spirit, for example — the pure grasp of thought in the Logic isn’t thematized as historical or social in the Logic itself. (Nor do the philosophies of nature or subjective spirit get this thematizing — history and society finally get thematized in objective spirit, the middle third of the “Philosophy of Spirit”, which is where it makes sense for them to show up. That’s where the world-history lectures belong, for example.)
The significance of the Logic for Hegel’s full system is obscured by the stitched-together character of PhG. Hegel just sort of threw everything he thought he had to say into that book, adding sections at the last minute (and greatly annoying his publisher). By the time he’s re-presenting that material in the Encyclopedia system, it’s not all stuck together anymore — “Phenomenology of Spirit” becomes the title for just abbreviated versions of Consciousness, Self-Consciousness, and two short paragraphs on Reason. The discussion of “Spirit” that follows in the Encyclopedia is just about the knowing/acting subject — sensation, perception, memory, etc. treated in psychological fashion, before the transition to objective spirit. Very different structure, though the content of Consciousness/Self-Consciousness are recognizable as what Hegel was treating under those titles in the early book.
The obscure arrangement in the book goes along with a serious lack of clarity about what Hegel was supposed to produce next, after PhG — “Science of Logic” claims to be following after PhG in its preface, but I don’t think there’s really any smooth linkage between the two. There’s no reason to become familiar with Hegel’s discussions of religion or Greek tragedy before starting to look at the Logic, for example. The Encyclopedia Logic improves on the Logic’s beginning immensely, by abandoning any role for PhG; starting the system off with the “positions of thought with respect to objectivity” lets it be clear that the topic of the Logic is the concept as such. (The Logic has a “it was the concept all along!” line going through it, like you mention happening with spirit in PhG, but it’s harder to grasp than the parallel line in PhG because it doesn’t start showing up until hundreds of dense pages later, and then is articulated in a discussion of Kant’s B-Deduction.)
So, if you go through with trying to read WdL in a summer (which sounds like an absurd pace — Houlgate and Pippin both teach it over three semesters, and that’s still a forced march), you should be prepared for a very, very different book than the Phenomenology. If you want to continue leading readings of Hegel, you’re probably better off looking at something more directly on what’s of interest to the group, like the Aesthetics or Religion lectures. The Logic takes a long, long, long time to have its payoffs. The Encyclopedia Logic is at least radically shorter, and has a lot of fun short discussions in the Zusatze, while retaining the basic structure that WdL has (without some of the harder parts — Hegel omitted them so he could actually use the EL to teach from, which even he didn’t do with WdL). 
“So is it fair to say that I’m picking up on what Hegel is trying to promise, but he doesn’t really deliver?”
I think he more or less does deliver on that promise — by the end of the Encyclopedia. The Logic isn’t that ambitious; it leaves work for the Realphilosophie to do. 

Eric 1d ago
The “picture thinking” of “Religion” is already critiqued in “Absolute Knowing” (cf. the last and first paragraphs of those chapters, respectively) as what the Science of Logic would call external reflection. In so far as the Phenomenology achieves the overcoming of the division of consciousness and its object by seeing the two as the result of the same activity (Hegel is still riffing on Fichte and Schelling, which he continues to do by critiquing them pretty directly in the Science of Logic while preserving their terminology), it serves as the jumping off point for the Logic, which as Daniel says, really has no bearing on the social ontology of the Phenomenology.
Ultimately, I think Hegel subordinates the concrete universality of religion to that of theoretical philosophy just because the former is an external positing. This is the standard view, but it seems justified by the transition from “Religion” to “Absolute Knowing.” I think this may also help explain the transition to the Science of Logic. Hegel felt the Phenomenology provided the ground for that book by already achieving the unity of consciousness and its object. Ardis Collins at Loyola argues that the Phenomenology is a sort of “proof” system necessary to get to the starting point of science in the Logic (almost like the Wittgensteinian ladder.) I think the Logic is essential for elucidating the other aspects of the system by serving as the whole thing’s ontological foundation, and also I think providing the clearest critique and sublating of Schellingian metaphysics. The Phenomenology is what Hegel had to go through to get to a point where he could really put forth his ontology in its purest philosophical dress. 

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— Edited by Sri Aurobindo Archives and Research Library 
ISBN: 978-81-7058-363-9 

— Compiled from the Writings of Sri Aurobindo 
ISBN: 978-81-7509-045-3 

— Compiled by Sri Aurobindo Archives and Research Library 
ISBN: 978-81-7058-032-4 

(Corrigenda-Cum-Addenda) — Compiled by Gopal Dass Gupta 
Glossary and index of proper names in Sri Aurobindo's works 

The research below was done by members of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives and Research Library. At present the material consists of two items: 
Most of the documents presented were first published between 1977 and 1994 in the biannual journal of the Ashram Archives, Sri Aurobindo: Archives and Research. 
This provisional glossary contains Sanskrit and other terms used by Sri Aurobindo in the Record of Yoga, the diary of his spiritual practice between 1909 and 1927. 
To download the current PDF version, click here

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