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Introduction to the Hegel Seminar 2002

Posted By DK On 20.03.2002 @ 19:19 In Supplemental essays, philosophy | No Comments

The hopes of those who think right can be fulfilled, those of the ignorant cannot. No art, no science can be attained without learning. To think much, not to know much is to be fostered.

[Democritus of Abdera (ca. 460 BC – ca. 370 BC): Fragments, Diels-Vorsokratiker, vol. 2, p. 75]

All radical political changes which wrote world history, were spiritual revolutions (reformations).

Up until the late eighteenth century, the subjective spirit (“man”) did not get beyond the naive realism of intellectual thought, the principle of which is the separation of subject and object.

It was the German philosopher Immanuel Kant who, with his “Critique of Pure Reason”, pushed thought into absolute despair and simultaneously once and for all tore down the dividing wall between subject and object, by proving in pure thought that the objects of our perception are created by thought. He was also able to demonstrate that the thoughts on everything under the sun invariably entangled themselves in contradictions. But he remained a “realist” in a peculiar manner, by declaring that the “Ding an sich” (God) is not recognisable, and by taking the view that man were only able to perceive “appearances”. He is therefore the actual founder of agnosticism, as the realm of the intellect that is currently reaching its perfection in nihilism.

Kant hoped to save faith from the arrogance of the intellect. That the Central European were no longer able to believe against the intellect, is something he did not know. This has only now been our experience.

His attempt to defend the belief in God against the attacks of rationalism, ended up in the deepest abasement of man. Involuntarily and without being aware of it, he became the archangel of the zeitgeist – but at the same time he produced in the spirit, again without being aware of it, the overcoming of the zeitgeist.

The seed he had planted, sprouted in the thinking of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. He opened the doorway to the realm of reason, by recognising that contradiction is the token of truth and that non-contradiction is the token of untruth (Thesis 1 of his post-doctoral thesis).

With this realisation, Hegel stands at the beginning of a reformation which outclasses everything that has up until now shown itself in history.

We have become blinded by the intellect for the worldly actuality of the Absolute Spirit (God). We no longer recognise his absolute might in the momentum of the event. The degeneration of war into the destruction of human bio-mass, and murderous free trade which literally starves out humanity, seem to us to be the bad work of man. In its last convulsion, the dying belief in God casts the anathema against those who still recognise the living God in the twentieth century, with its over one hundred million victims of violence: Those – so it is said – who in the face of the hecatombs of the battlefields of Verdun, Stalingrad, Indochina and Iraq, and after the Gulag, Dresden and Hiroshima, claim that there is a God – omnipotent, infinite, omniscient and all-loving – are blasphemers.

It is this blindness that causes our resignation and robs us of our courage and strength. We feel abandoned. We even believe that we do not dispose of the weapons needed to conquer the overpowering enemy.

We do not understand that it is our weakness which lets the enemy appear strong. We do not recognise the infirmity of the enemy because we no longer feel our strength within the spirit.

This strength however, grows irresistibly out of the spirit, in whom the intellect has been brought to reason. This was Hegel’s deed.

Only he, who makes himself at home in the thought-world of Hegel can assess the radical political changes that are now resulting out of it, for in this thought-world the inconsistency (aporia) of Kantian philosophy is overcome in the realisation that thinking is not an expression of our subjectivity, but is the motion of the thing itself, i.e. of the “Ding an sich” (God).

The deathly desperation of the human world that jumps out at us when we become aware of the news behind the news, is to be turned into that which has been announcing itself for the past 150 years in the bloody contractions of the spirit: the self-conscious volksgemeinschaft [folk-community] which Hegel thought as the state based on mores (sittlicher Staat), and which as a feeling of existence and there-being rushed ahead, enabling the German People to accomplish the wonders about which the world speaks. Without having gold and brutally annexed sources for raw-materials at their disposal, the Germans, as late-comers in the concert of the European powers, developed into the leading industrial power within just two decades. The German Reich successfully withheld the attempt of the British Empire to destroy it in league with France, Russia and Italy, until the intervention of a power foreign to the region – the United States of America. Defying the arbitrariness of its victorious enemies, the German People arose in 1933 and tore up the Versailles Diktat in order to restore its honour with the sword. Within five years it returned, from a condition of complete disarmament, as the strongest military power of the world onto the stage of history. In a six-year gruesome war it filled the world with astonishment, with its glorious victorious campaigns from 1939 to 1943, until its military strength and fighting spirit broke at the Eastern Front which was equipped by the USA with weapons, ammunition and equipment.

Yet even after the second total military defeat within half a century, the folk-strength of the Germans again showed itself. In spite of the decimation of its stock as well as the annexation of a quarter of its native territory, it rose again, out of the rubble, within just fifteen years to an industrial and trading power of the first order.

Whoever thinks that such an achievement grew out of “matter” and not the spirit, is on the wrong track.

This People is called to further great deeds. All abilities needed to show the world out of the catastrophe are dormant within it. It is its spirit which will bring salvation. This spirit will put forth its power yet again, when it now finds itself to itself. In Hegelian thought it is already with itself. But as such it is only the spirit of a new order in itself. It has not yet unfolded itself as a New World in which it is also for itself. But only as a world does the spirit conquer the spirit of the times.

An idea is now to be given what the seminar is about and what the participants can expect.

The starting-point is something that is familiar to us: namely the consciousness that our age is formed by the Enlightenment.

Principle of the Enlightenment: The justification, before reason, of all that exists in the realm of the spirit, as being the condition of freedom.

Criterion of this justification: The Cartesian “cogito ergo sum” as first and absolute certainty in which the world, if it is, is to be included; but which then needs to be dismissed if the world does not let itself be included in this way.

The world, God, and as such the relationship of the finite spirit to the infinite spirit (religion) was drowned in doubt. Only thought as such remained. This was unable to drown in doubt. For doubt is itself thought. Thought maintains itself in doubt.

In this sentence of Descartes only thought itself is pronounced as justification of being. Being is taken back into the one point that is I. Whether a world will come to be out of it is still an open question. The distinction and contradiction of the intellect as finite thinking to infinite thinking, i.e. reason, is still veiled – although already present.

It will be seen that the French rationalists were unable to realise the programme of the Enlightenment because they took the every-day intellect, i.e. naive thought as we all know it, to be the highest, and had not yet been introduced to reason, which is a wholly different thinking.

Intellectual thought, which formed itself in the contemplation of nature as being “only nature” in the sense of the epitome of all finite matters, lets the spirit perish, and with it man as a spiritual being.

The intellect does not justify, it destroys the world of the spirit.

Intellectual thought is the nature of bondage and at once the precursor of liberation: The self-consciousness of reason (absolute knowledge) only sets in once the intellect has perfected its realm and has as a result of this recognised its one-sidedness.

Prior to the intellect’s ascent to the throne on the barricades of Paris, European man did indeed have a spiritual life in his belief in God, which now, with the Enlightenment’s pitchfork of one-sided thought, was thrown onto the manure heap of “suicidal nihilism” (Nietzsche). From here, the crucified individual now resurrects in the German volksgemeinschaft as a person.

The French Enlightenment ran aground on finite thought. It now experiences its justification in the practical execution of the infinite thought of German idealistic philosophy. Its shape and form is the struggle of the German People against an enemy who is in one and the same consideration both an internal as well as an external enemy.

This enemy is a shape and form of the spirit, whose external presence we are encountering as the global power of money, and whose internal presence is the system of the dogmas of the zeitgeist, which is degrading our consciousness to a servant of Mammon.

The German War of Liberation is the continuation of the Lutheran Reformation and according to its nature, nothing other than the justification of the belief in God through reason.

In this War of Liberation, the Deutsches Kolleg takes the scientific standpoint: “My knowledge is to determine my action. Nothing spiritual is to be valid if I do not understand it, for only that which I understand do I recognise as my knowledge.”

We therefore do not teach for belief that the world, the state, the People or the nation are of such or such a condition, or at all of what condition they should be.

First and foremost we impart only knowledge over our thinking. This can be accepted or not. It is then this knowledge of our thinking which, after appropriate practice, puts us into the condition to recognise objects such as I, God, People, state, nation, history and politics as well as their necessary, i.e. inner, relationship and motion, or more accurately: which show our conceptions, which we have always had of these matters, to be preconceptions that need to be cast off – preconceptions which lure our thinking into the trap and make our actions – especially our political actions – fruitless.

It is therefore not results that we teach. And we do not demand the acceptance of course contents on account of authority or creedal command.

We lead onto paths of thought.

At the end of these paths we reach conclusions, which justify in thought the chosen starting point and every step that we have taken.

In this way, the results become the own thoughts of him who has covered the way to them in his own thinking. His conviction is then no longer based on belief or experience and a probability calculus, but is of the type which Descartes first pointed out. His statement “cogito (ergo) sum” is the truth that is obvious to itself (absolute knowledge), the first thought of God.

The wandering of thought through itself, is the re-location of our consciousness out of the location where it is positioned due to the zeitgeist, onto the level of recognition of the absolute truth. Under the impression of the murder of Socrates, Plato demonstrated the danger of this change in location in his Allegory of the Cave. Each person who executes this re-location on himself, and who thus appears “loco” to the others therefore risks death. But it is those who are “loco” who will accomplish their goals, for they live in truth, and truth is immortal and is the power to realise itself, i.e. to establish itself as a world.

So what are we speaking about?

Every human thinks. Thought turns animals into humans. But does every human, as a result of this, already know “how thought works”? Every person knows his thoughts, but what is cognised is not necessarily agnised.

Every human absorbs nourishment out of his environment, digests it and so keeps himself alive, without having studied the laws of the metabolism. At he same time, however, the community maintains expensive institutions which enable, support and impart the study of medicine and as such the study of the physiology of the metabolism. This is done not only to satisfy human desire for knowledge, but in order to have doctors who are able to heal diseases of the metabolism, which are often life-threatening.

We kneel down in reverence before the stomach: we study the intestines and analyse the juices, so that the treatment of constipation does not result in the mistreatment of the body.

But to that which is most familiar to us, namely thought, we do not grant this honour. People do not analyse, differentiate and integrate, but just start thinking, as though wisdom had been imparted to them in their sleep. And so everyone wildly starts to reason on state matters, as each sees fit. And woe betide anyone who neglects to show his reverence with a solemn expression to this rubbish of pluralistic opinions! Such a one is immediately attacked as an opinionated dictator of convictions.

Just these days, the German nationalist newspaper Deutsche Stimme (no. 3/2002, p. 5) has yet again poured us a cocktail of Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, as though they were compatible. We can live with Aristotle and Hegel as a double-pack. But Hobbes and his contractual theory of voluntary subjection to a despot (Leviathan) is the suicide of freedom in the rapacious spirit of Anglo-Saxon Utilitarianism. If there is not even an awareness within the national camp of the fact that the thought-world of Thomas Hobbes is the depiction of civil (liberal-capitalistic) society, which challenges us to political action in order to surmount it, then that is a clear sign of the manifest brain death of this “camp”.

First and foremost the discipline of thought has to be put into position against this deplorable state of affairs.

What can we expect?

Reinhold Oberlercher will give us a highly concentrated extract of the Hegelian system, most importantly of the logical idea.

Nobody should place the demand on himself to understand what he will present. Whoever has such an attitude will leave the seminar room cursing after only a few minutes – and will never return, but will offer his “experience” that Oberlercher and his friends are nuts, on the marketplace of opinions.

It is best to return to our example from the realm of medicine. Before the medical student can attain a complete picture of the living body, he dissects corpses in order to get to know the many bones and their structure and position. Slowly, a concept of a skeleton forms itself in his mind. And he feels the muscle fibres wound round the bones, follows the course of the blood vessels in the muscle tissue, etc. until he is finally able to pierce through the sight of a living body with his mind’s eye, and is able to assemble all seen or merely known parts into a pulsating organism.

On his way to this ability, the student has to memorise the shapes and names of several hundred bones, of thousands of muscles fibres and blood vessels, etc. He has to simultaneously bring the function of these bodily parts and their co-operation before his mind’s eye. Above all: in order to gain the necessary certainty and freedom of his thought-work he needs to memorise again and again, and needs to practice, by means of self-set tasks, over and over again.

It is no different in the realm of speculative logic. It needs to be thoroughly learned. Mere acquaintance with it does not suffice for us. If we want to make use of speculative logic creatively, it has to fuse completely with our thinking.

Speculative thought, as Hegel discovered it to be the own activity of the spirit, is not to be understood straight away. Of course one can list the determinations of thought, which were first brought into an inner relationship with each other by Hegel, in the correct order. Maybe one will even succeed in a couple of places at giving an idea of the fact that these determinations of thought lead an own life, and above all how they lead it and – following an inner drive – procreate themselves (This is not a metaphor, but an exact description of the speculative process.). But at the beginning we will not manage to get beyond a general acquaintance with the subject. And what has been cognised has not by a long way necessarily been agnised.

By continually dealing with the works of Hegel – it is essential to study the original texts – one moves from being acquainted with the subject, to being familiar with it. Finally one can sporadically penetrate into his thoughts, until a feeling of enlightenment slowly joins which then becomes a never failing drive to penetrate deeper and deeper into the spirit with thought. The study of speculative logic unexpectedly becomes service of God. The consciousness expands itself. The I changes by experiencing itself as one with the cosmic soul – self-conscious reason. It recognises its being as a call to be a helpmate of God in his agony of self-agnition.

Finally, the I knows itself as immortal idea. Death is understood and grasped as the end of the finiteness of the subject, as the point of transition to eternal life, which is the Absolute Spirit. The truth of the biblical verse (1 Cor. 15:55) is recognised and can therefore be experienced: “O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?” The speculatively cleansed consciousness fears neither death nor the devil. Its confidence reaches beyond death in the absolute certainty that history is the own life-process of the spirit, which holds fast onto itself and by necessity becomes that which it has always been. Its kingdom will come, on earth as in heaven. Amen.

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