(More Hegel quotes below*)
2. Hegel (accepted, rejected) Kant's view that noumenal reality lies beyond our reach, and that we can know only the appearances of things in the phenomenal world. LH 128
3. Stern says Hegel's philosophy is ______ (similar to, different from) Mill's in its emphasis on progress, optimism, and freedom of speech. PB 152-3
4. Schopenhauer was _____ in general, but ______ about the possibility of personal "enlightenment". (optimistic, pessimistic) LH 132-3
5. Schopenhauer called the "deeper reality beyond the world of appearances" ___. LH 134
6. (T/F) Even though he once pushed an old lady down the stairs for chatting outside his door, Schopenhauer thought harming other people was a kind of self-injury. LH 136
BONUS: Who thought he might better understand Hegel if he first ingested nitrous oxide before reading The Phenomenology of Spirit?
BONUS+: Was Schopenhauer an ascetic? LH 136
1. Do you consider history important, either your own personal history or that of your community, nation, world, species...? Do you think it generates what Hegel called a "gradual increase in self-awareness"? Is there a "spirit" of history? Is it getting smarter? What has history taught you? Us? What does it ever teach anyone? (Henry Ford said it's just one damn thing after another.) Is it true that those who fail to learn its lessons are doomed to repeat its mistakes? (And do you know who said that?)
2. Is it worth trying to grasp the ultimate reality of things, or do you agree with Douglas Adams? "The chances of finding out what's really going on in the universe are so remote, the only thing to do is hang the sense of it and keep yourself occupied." Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
3. Are you optimistic about progress in society and history? Are we solving more problems than we're surrendering to? Will future generations be happier, smarter, kinder? If you're pessimistic, does that make you a misanthrope? (How do you feel about George Carlin?)
4. What do you think of Schopenhauer's belief that everyday life ("the human situation") is a meaningless cycle of will, striving, and unfulfilled desire? Is a blind, purposeless, voracious Will really the ultimate reality of our existence? What do you think of the idea that art and music are our salvation? LH 135
5. What's the deepest reality you know about? How do you know?
6. Should your metaphysics make you a better person? If there's a disconnect between what you believe about reality and how you treat other people, is that a personal or a philosophical failing? Or both?
HE has short hair and a long brown beard. He is wearing a three-piece suit. One imagines him slumped over his desk, giggling helplessly. Pushed to one side is an apparatus out of a junior-high science experiment: a beaker containing some ammonium nitrate, a few inches of tubing, a cloth bag. Under one hand is a piece of paper, on which he has written, "That sounds like nonsense but it is pure on sense!" He giggles a little more. The writing trails away. He holds his forehead in both hands. He is stoned. He is William James, the American psychologist and philosopher. And for the first time he feels that he is understanding religious mysticism... (from "The Nitrous Oxide Philosopher"... "The Subjective Effects of Nitrous Oxide"... Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit)
But despite the density and difficulty of his prose style, "friend Hegel" had a fairly straightforward message:
To the degree that we are thinking beings, Hegel says, we have to consider ourselves as part of a larger whole and not as neatly individuated. He calls this mental whole Geist, or Spirit, [or Absolute Reason,] and tries to work out the rules by which it develops through time… Robert ProwseThe message is that we're all a part of a progressive history, towards freedom and enlightenment.
Hegel thinks that one important movement in history is the movement from thinking that just one of us is entitled to freedom (a king, say) to some (the patricians of ancient Athens, say) to all of us, where obviously this development relates to changing views of what freedom is, what we are, how we relate to one another... I'm not free unless I'm working for the good of society. Robert SternLess mystifyingly expressed, Hegel seems to be saying the same thing Carl Sagan used to say:we are the universe, coming gradually but steadily to know itself. History (personal, social, and natural) is the process of dawning self-awareness. We're waking up. This is good!
So Hegel's an optimist, unlike his countryman Schopenhauer and perhaps oddly more like the Brits Mill and Darwin.
*A few pithier-than-usual Hegel quotes:
“Only one man ever understood me, and he didn't understand me.”
“Truth is found neither in the thesis nor the antithesis, but in an emergent synthesis which reconciles the two.” [There's a pedestrian example of what Hegel means by "dialectic" in The Cave and the Light: think of automobiles as the thesis, traffic jams as the antithesis, and stop signs & traffic laws as the synthesis... and so on, ho hum.]
“We may affirm absolutely that nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.”
“What experience and history teaches us is that people and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.”
“To be independent of public opinion is the first formal condition of achieving anything great.”