Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Quiz April 7

Hegel, Schopenhauer (LH); WATCH: Hegel, Schopenhauer (SoL);LISTEN: Robert Stern on Hegel on Dialectic(PB); Angie Hobbs on beauty & goodness (HI)... Podcast... Schopenhauer & Hegel

1. Who was Minerva, and what did Hegel say about her? 

(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. 

3. Stern says Hegel's philosophy is ______ (similar to, different from) Mill's in its emphasis on progress, optimism, and freedom of speech.

4. Schopenhauer was _____  in general, but ______ about the possibility of personal "enlightenment". (optimistic, pessimistic)

5. Schopenhauer called the "deeper reality beyond the world of appearances" ___. 

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. 

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? 

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

3Are 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 Prowse
The 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 Stern
Less 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.” 
*Schopenhauer was darker, maybe deeper, probably not nicer. He's another philosopher who loved dogs, probably more than people.

“The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.” 

“We will gradually become indifferent to what goes on in the minds of other people when we acquire a knowledge of the superficial nature of their thoughts, the narrowness of their views and of the number of their errors. Whoever attaches a lot of value to the opinions of others pays them too much honor.” 

“It is difficult to find happiness within oneself, but it is impossible to find it anywhere else.” 

“It would be better if there were nothing. Since there is more pain than pleasure on earth, every satisfaction is only transitory, creating new desires and new distresses, and the agony of the devoured animal is always far greater than the pleasure of the devourer.”

“What disturbs and depresses young people is the hunt for happiness on the firm assumption that it must be met with in life. From this arises constantly deluded hope and so also dissatisfaction. Deceptive images of a vague happiness hover before us in our dreams, and we search in vain for their original. Much would have been gained if, through timely advice and instruction, young people could have had eradicated from their minds the erroneous notion that the world has a great deal to offer them.”

Old post-
Thursday, April 9, 2015
Hegel & Schopenhauer

We're into the 19th century, with Hegel (and Robert Stern on Hegel's dialectic) and his arch-rival Schopenhauer. A pair of audacious Hun metaphysicians who presumed to speak grandly for Reality.

(What's real, if you ask me? Younger Daughter's home pitching debut for her new school resulted in a 15-3 win yesterday afternoon, as she chipped in another triple and a beautiful scoring line drive to support her own cause. Later, Older Daughter phoned home from college with news that she's been recognized for excelling in both cinema and oratory. That's reality. I don't need a theory to tell me so. But Hegel and Schopenhauer thought otherwise.)

And here come the Germans now, led by their skipper Knobby Hegel...

Hegel was the ultimate optimist, Schopenhauer the uber-pessimist. I prefer to split the difference with meliorism, myself. More on that later. [Hegel up@dawn... pointless will... James reads Hegel; and some quotes from Schopenhauer, Mill, and Darwin]

They’re both in the song, if that helps. Let’s see… Schopenhauer and Hegel were both out-consumed by David Hume.

But it would probably be more helpful to relate the Germans to their predecessor Kant.

Schopenhauer and Hegel tried to go beyond Kant’s proscription against specifying the “thing-in-itself,” the ultimate “noumenal” reality beneath the appearances. For Hegel, History’s the thing. For Schopenhauer it’s Will.

An amusing sidelight: in spite of himself, and his intent to renounce personal will (so as to starve ultimate Will, or at least deprive it), Schopenhauer was stubbornly competitive with his philosophical rival Hegel. He insisted on lecturing at the same time as the more popular Hegel, with predictable results.

But you have to wonder if his auditors understood a word Hegel said? Maybe free gas was provided? (See William James’s “observations on the effects of nitrous-oxide-gas-intoxication” and his essay On Some Hegelisms - ”sounds like nonsense, but it is pure on-sense!”)

That's funny, but not entirely fair. Hegel wanted to fly with Minerva, through a glorious dawn. Any given snippet of Hegelian prose may be impenetrable, but his overall objective is clear enough: he wanted us to understand ourselves and our lives as active participants in the great progressive unfolding of history, of the coming-to-consciousness of spirit ("geist"), of the birth of enlightenment and freedom. Friendly aspirations all.

My old Mizzou prof often spoke of "Friend Hegel," and so did Michael Prowse.
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, and tries to work out the rules by which it develops through time… Hegel didn’t regard Geist as something that stands apart from, or above, human individuals. He saw it rather as the forms of thought that are realised in human minds… What Hegel does better than most philosophers is explain how individuals are linked together and why it is important to commit oneself to the pursuit of the general or common good.
And that's why, as Stern points out,
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.
That's not Schopenhauer's view, nor is it even remotely close to his mindset and general sensibility. Anything at all ambitious, let alone something as grand as the liberation of society and triumph of good, was to him just more fuel for the Will. Will is a voracious, never-sated, all-devouring blind force or power that uses us, and everything else in its path, to no end beyond its own perpetuation and expansion.

Moreover, Schopenhauer was morose and constitutionally dis-affected. He despised happiness as a form of self-delusion.

But I have to admit: for such an old sourpuss, Schopenhauer’s a lot of fun to read. His aphoristic Art of Controversy is a good place to begin.
The average man pursues the shadow of happiness with unwearied labour; and the thinker, the shadow of truth; and both, though phantoms are all they have, possess in them as much as they can grasp. Life is a language in which certain truths are conveyed to us; could we learn them in some other way, we should not live. Thus it is that wise sayings and prudential maxims will never make up for the lack of experience, or be a substitute for life itself.

And his Studies in Pessimism are oddly cheerful.

Schopenhauer, In Our Time...

One of the lesser-known but more intriguing facets of Schopenhauer’s philosophy was his belief that music is our point of entree to Will, and to ultimate reality.

Schopenhauer, like Rousseau, loved his dog…So maybe he knew a little something about love.


  1. Mariem Farag #12
    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?

    I think Schopenhauer's way of looking at life is so depressing and boring. His belief that everyday life ("the human situation") is a meaningless cycle of will, striving, and unfulfilled desire, can cause people to commit suicide. I can't imagine myself waking up every morning with that attitude. I wouldn't ever be able to enjoy what life has to offer. Even though I love art and music, I don't think it's "our salvation". There is more to life than just art and music.

  2. (#8) My thoughts on DQ 3:

    I would say that I am definitely optimistic about or societal and historical progress. I say this because I feel like the world and its people are undoubtedly making great strides towards solving mysteries/problems that our kind once would have never imagined possible; and, the rate of invention is only increasing as it appears to me. As far as future generations and their state of mind is concerned, I think that they will be even more driven towards achieving greater things through an optimistic attitude. On the other side of things, pessimism is usually associated with misanthropy; however, I believe that this is simply a state driven by the inability to see the good mankind and not the genuine hatred of humanity. It does not necessarily mean that they do not want to be optimistic; they just can't see it. So no, I do not think pessimism is conjunctive with misanthropy.

  3. Karol saleh
    Section 8
    FQ Was Schopenhauer's book finished in 1818 or 1844? LH page 133

  4. Karol saleh
    Section 8
    Do you consider history important, either your own personal history or that of your community, nation, world, specie?
    I think history is more important, for example my personal life I will learn from my history to nor rear the mistake I already did or I will do the same thing over and over if it good thing.
    For the world of history, I can say that we need to know our history so we can not repeat the mistakes again.

  5. Karol saleh
    Section 8
    The deepest reality I know about is history, because it's the most important thing in the world that no one can't live without it.

  6. Section 6

    Quiz Question
    Who believed that music was the most important of the arts?

  7. Emily Blalock
    Section 4
    quiz question

    Which philosopher, similar to how Plato had done before, gave philosophers a special position in society?

  8. Adam Martin #4

    1. I would say that history is important in understanding the current world and the future world. Taken from a certain perspective, history can be seen as an evolution of human society.

    2. I would say that reality should be questioned only when the risks are not as great as the rewards. If one were to see a group of people on fire, one shouldn't ponder whether the fire is real or not but simply help them.

    3. I would say that society is progressing through the possession of power that has been given to the general population. This can come through political power, economic power, or simply through education, as an educated populace will be have a much greater chance of creating progressive change than an uneducated one.

    4. On an individual and daily basis, life may seem like a constant and pointless struggle, but when viewed as a part in a greater whole, I think one's life can be more fulfilling. Instead of seeing ourselves as simply living our lives for ourselves, with the impact going no further than our death, we should be aware of the greater changes possible as a species.

    5. Although I do not really concern myself with what constitutes reality, I would say that the surest reality that I know of is emotion.

    6. I think it can help you take on a more objective view, rather than one that is only suited towards your best interests.

  9. Danielle Bonner section 4
    Quiz questions
    1. What did Schopenhauer write on the old woman's death certificate?
    2. What was the metaphor used by Schopenhauer to explain how hurting other's is self-harm?
    3.What does Hegel imply when he say's "the owl of minerva flies only at dusk"?

  10. Section 6. 3 EC points for April 7th
    Arthur Schopenhauer was said to be “The Philosopher of Pessimism” and also, the first German philosopher to incorporate Eastern thought into his writings. Buddha was an important figure to him, providing him with the idea of enlightenment after a life of suffering—therefore the essence of why he had such negative views about life.
    This intense pessimism that seemed to emulate his philosophical standpoint, appears to have derived from his childhood. His father, a cosmopolitan merchant, was a large influence in Schopenhauer’s life being a firm believer of enlightenment and encouraging him to choose to pursue mercantilism, even though Schopenhauer desired to be a scholar.
    When given a choice to either go on a tour of Europe with his parents and thereafter shadow a merchant, or attend a gymnasium to prepare for the University, he chose the option his father wanted: a continuation of the family legacy. It was at this point in his life that he came to know the “profound suffering of the poor” that shaped his pessimistic perspective.
    Schopenhauer’s father died, a suspected suicide, and Schopenhauer was left to his unreasonable mother. They were said to constantly argue due to their difference in opinions. “She found him morose and overly critical, and he regarded her as a superficial social climber.” This was due to her spontaneous need to thrive socially despite the recent loss of her husband, Schopenhauer’s father. She even further renounced him, and told him to never speak to her again when he was in his 30’s. I think a combination of these factors allowed Schopenhauer to have this pessimistic view—and he had every right to see the world this way after losing an important role model in his life.
    So following his father’s wishes he trained for mercantilism, but while doing this, he decided to take on his own expression of his views as a philosopher. He said, “Life is unpleasant business… I have resolved to spend mine reflecting on it.” An interesting sentiment, most definitely reflecting his past, as well as a summation of his ideals.
    His attitude of always wanting more, and the idea of constantly craving further enhanced the depressing outlook he had. Furthermore his idea of the Will combined with the idea of being a part of a “meaningless force” (LH), insinuates the pessimism Schopenhauer found in life.
    He did appreciate things that moves us like music, art, and living a moral life (mostly indicative of his idea of interconnection between everyone rather than morality). I think despite his perpetual negative ideals, he has a slight optimistic inclination.
    Schopenhauer most likely based all the bad things in his life on the fact that “life is meaningless” so we might as well not try to have an optimistic view. He may have been seen as a hypocrite for not following through with the ascetic lifestyle he proposed people should live, but aren’t we all human? Deep down, I believe if he had not had the tragic event of his beloved father’s death or constant harassment of his mother, he would have had a completely different outlook on life. His pessimism in his philosophy was a bit of a stretch for some people to grasp, however it was a very definitive and accurate reflection of his life.

  11. Ian Law section 4 mini-essay

    Hegel and the Spirit of History

    To the average person, history seems to be nothing but a series of disasters sometimes tempered by progress. However, Hegel had a deterministic outlook of the march of time. For him, the course of history was not merely capricious, but was following an unfolding of “absolute spirit.” Hegel distinguishes three modes of historiography. Original History is simply the factual recording of current events by contemporary reporters. This is what most people think of when studying the historical record. In Reflective History there is a step back. These observations are made after some time has passed and involve a more opinionated view of the past as the historian imposes his or her own contemporary bias onto previous events. In Philosophical History, the highest form espoused by Hegel himself, one abandons personal prejudice to find the ultimate truth underlying the historical process. It is through this last form of inquiry that Hegel hopes to establish the rational basis of all history. The chain of reality is really the result of a Spirit (Geist) that motivates people to change over time. While many theologians argued that history was the result of an unknowable divine plan, Hegel believed that one could find the source of history’s spirit and interpret God’s plan for humanity. Thus, it was a kind of Theodicy that aspired to justify the seemingly random nature of an ostensibly divine action. The Geist changes with the times, and reflects the current status of humanity. Hegel thought that the State was the manifestation of the present dispensation. This procedural view of history would be considered flawed by modern standards of scholarship. Hegel was limited by the knowledge and opinions of his time and his analysis of diachronic development may be considered naïve. Hegel speaks of a consciousness of freedom which was necessary for the Spirit to understand its own nature. To Hegel, this consciousness was undeveloped among the “Orientals.” It found its first expression among the classic civilizations of Greece and Rome, but only some people were considered free.
    Later, it was the Germanic civilizations that fully developed the concept and declared all people to be free. Thus, Hegel exhibits his Eurocentric bias which would seem to be at odds with his declaration of Philosophical History. Ultimately, this deterministic view of history might be dismissed by modern commentators as unfounded. However, the subtle nature of Hegelian Philosophy means that a proper understanding of the material will be difficult to obtain by the layman.


  12. Frank Dremel Section 6 - Makeup essay pt1 -
    Georg Wilhelm Friedrich (1770 - 1831) was a leading figure in the German Idealism movement in the early 19th Century, although his ideas went far beyond earlier Kantianism, and he founded his own school of Hegelianism. He was a serious, hard-working and successful student, and a voracious reader from a young age, reading everything from Shakespeare and the ancient Greek philosophers to the Bible and German literature. In addition to German and Latin, he learned Greek, Hebrew, French and English. Generally, he worked widely in the academic world, as tutor, professor, headmaster, and chair of philosophy, while also publishing four major works from which we are able to glean the ideas he promoted.
    His works are noted often for their abstractness and difficulty. In fact, Bertrand Russell claimed that Hegel was the single most difficult philosopher to understand. However, he was able to convey quite brilliantly the cornerstones of his observances. He developed a new form of thinking and Logic, which he called "speculative reason" o try to overcome what he saw as the limitations of both common sense and of traditional philosophy. His method was to begin with ultra-basic concepts (like Being and Nothing), and to develop these through a long sequence of elaborations towards solutions that take the form of series of concepts.
    One of the ways my own philosophical ideas line up with Hegel is with his incorporation of History as an integral part of philosophy. Hegel was the first major philosopher to regard history and the Philosophy of History as important. Hegel's Historicism is the position that all human societies, and thus all human activities such as science, art or philosophy, are defined by their history, and that their essence can be sought only through understanding people and society in the context of that history. An oft-quoted and misquoted axiom is “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This notion works in many ways, backwards and forwards and sideways. When we observe history, we are able to learn from it, both positively and negatively. We are able to avoid pitfalls, but we also can learn things that work. Instead of feeling as though each generation has progressed so far beyond the generations of the past, we should instead learn from their collective philosophies and attitudes. For example, from the medieval period, we can take the ideas of chivalry and honor. From Ancient Greece, we can get the idea of community. I am always both frustrated and amused at shows like Ancient Aliens, which deny that any of our advancements could have ever come from our own human species. Instead our culture, our technology, our art, etc., must have, they insist, come from space aliens. I believe Hegel would have been appalled at that suggestion, for our progress doesn’t have to be linear. Our technology or our artistic accomp-lishments, etc are more like a cosine graph, ebbing and falling, some things getting lost in our history. But if we will study all parts of our history, we could revive those pieces which could serve us well in any time period.
    Hegel also concerned himself with what is real. He asserted that what becomes the real is "Geist" (which can be translated as mind, spirit or soul), which he also sees as developing through history, with each period having a "Zeitgeist" or spirit of the age.

    1. Pt 2
      It is true that certain ideals and attitudes seem to guide the majority of the populace for somewhat definable periods of time. Thus, Hegel proposed, although individuals and whole societies change as part of the dialectical process, what is really changing is the underlying Geist. He also held that each person's individual consciousness or mind is really part of the Absolute Mind, even if the individual does not realize this. Further, and this is where I drastically part ways with him, he argued that if we understood that we were part of a greater consciousness we would not be so concerned with our individual freedom, and we would agree with to act rationally in a way that did not follow our individual caprice, thereby achieving self-fulfilment.
      After his death, Hegel's followers split into two opposing camps: the Protestant, conservative "Old" Hegelians, and the atheistic, revolutionary "Young" Hegelians. Although that distinction is perhaps now considered somewhat naïve, it can be seen as a tribute to the broad appeal of Hegel's philosophy.

  13. Section 6
    Harrison Matteau, Preston Wilkey

    4) I do not think that our humanity is "demeaned" any by having biological connections to other species. It is extremely arrogant and self centered for humans to believe they are the "purist" species in a sense and demand anything less than pure human DNA connections.
    5) I think the best idea of all time is the invention of cars and transportation, having the ability to move faster than we ever have before has helped close gaps that humans have not known before.

  14. Section 4
    Adam, Ian, and Skylar

    We talked about what it means to say "this is just my opinion"
    We talked about what it means to be a hedonist, long term or for the moment
    We talked about people telling others that their personal pleasures are not ok or whether that should be approached in a different way.

  15. Lucas Futrell (6)
    Quiz Questions:

    1) What statue sat on Schopenhauer's desk?
    2) What was Schopenhauer's most important book, according to Nigel Warburton?
    3) what does "obit anus, abit onus" mean?

  16. Sterling Smith (#6)12:55 PM CDT

    Quiz Question: Did Schopenhauer love his dog?

  17. 6 Brock Francis DQ 1
    I believe history is very important. I think about the saying,"Those that do not know history are doomed to repeat it." We have learned many things from it from government to bettering technology. I believe we use history to learn what works and what does not work. Also, what is good and what is not good. We use history for guidance on many basic fundaments of life.

  18. Sterling Smith (#6)1:21 PM CDT

    Quiz Question: Did Heigel think everyone is entitled to freedom?

  19. Sterling Smith (#6)1:24 PM CDT

    Quiz Question: (T/F) Schopenhauer was against music

  20. Sterling Smith (#6)1:25 PM CDT

    DQ: Why do you think both philosophers thought so highly of music?

  21. Amy Young (4)

    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?)

    I do have hope for the future generation because we are solving more problems and becoming more advanced. I do not necessarily think future generations will be smarter or kinder.

    QQ: what's the story behind Minerva?
    QQ: how are mill's and hegel's philosophirs similar?