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Hegel as Sorcerer: The "Science" of Second Realities and the "Death" of God
Self | November 10, 2008 | Jean F. Drew

Posted on 11/10/2008 11:37:17 AM PST by betty boop

Hegel as Sorcerer:
The “Science” of Second Realities and the “Death” of God

 

by Jean F. Drew

 

 

 

A friend asked for an explanation of a remark I recently made on a public forum that the great German philosospher, Hegel, was a “sorcerer.” I’m glad for this opportunity to respond. For the spirit of Hegel is alive and well today in the construction of any Second Reality, of which I regard the recent Obama Campaign to have been a splendid example.

 

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) was a world-class philosopher — a master of classical philosophy, and a master system-builder. He is usually associated with the period of German Idealism in the decades following Immanuel Kant. The most systematic of the post-Kantian idealists, Hegel attempted to elaborate a comprehensive systematic ontology, or “science of being,” from a “logical” or “rational” starting point. He is perhaps most well-known for his teleological, “goal-directed,” even eschatological, account of human history — a model which was later appropriated by his notable follower Karl Marx, who developed Hegel’s “dialectical science” into his own theory of historical development (“dialectical materialism”), which by “historical necessity” culminates in communism.

 

Sorcery, or magic, is a conceptual system that asserts the human ability to control the natural world (including events, objects, people, and physical phenomena) through mystical, paranormal, or supernatural means — through, for example, magic words, or an ability to present compelling appearances of fictitious reality.

 

A Second Reality is such an ersatz reality. The term was coined by Robert Musil to denote a fictitious world imagined to be true by the person creating it, who will then use his construction to mask and thereby “eclipse” genuine, or First Reality.

 

In 1807, Hegel published his grimoirei.e., a magician’s book of spells and incantations — the Phänomenologie, which takes as its main goal the transformation of philosophy, the “love of knowledge,” into the final, complete possession of “real knowledge,” by means of his system of “absolute science.” Of his accomplishment the great German-American philosopher Eric Voegelin (1901–1985) would write, “No modern propaganda minister could have devised a more harmless-sounding, persuasively progressivist phrase as a screen for the enormity transacted behind it.”

 

For Hegel, “‘Absolute knowledge’ was to be the form ‘in which the pure consciousness of the infinite is possible without the determinateness of an individual, independent life.’” In short, the Phänomenologie “admits no reality but consciousness…. [Yet] since consciousness must be somebody’s consciousness of something, and neither God nor man is admitted as somebody or something, the consciousness must be consciousness of itself. Its absolute reality is, therefore, properly identified as ‘the identity of identity and nonidentity.’ The substance becomes the subject, and the subject the substance, in the process of a consciousness that is immanent to itself…. The reader would justly ask what a consciousness that is nobody’s consciousness could possibly be?”[1]

 

And with that question, noetically astute observers realize we must be dealing with a Second Reality: It appears that “Hegel the sorcerer” wants to eclipse our image of reality by a counterimage conjured up to furnish a plausible basis for the action he calls for.

 

As Vöegelin notes, “in order to be effective as a magic opus,” Hegel’s system of absolute science had to satisfy two conditions:

 

(1)  The operation in Second Reality has to look as if it were an operation in First Reality.

(2)  The operation in Second Reality has to escape critical control and judgment by the criteria of First Reality. (I have noticed that President-Elect Obama excels in conducting both types of operations.)[2]

 

So, what is First Reality? In effect, it is the classical Greek (and Judeo-Christian) description of the context in which human existence is actually experienced and lived. That is to say, the human condition is specified by man’s participation in a Great Hierarchy of Being that extends beyond, encompasses, and shapes his existence as a man.

 

Being is a philosophical term referring to the fundamental structure or order of the world. Vöegelin, following the classical Greeks, defines being as “not an object, but a context of order in which are placed all experienced complexes of reality….” Thus the Great Hierarchy of Being consists of four partners: God, Man, World, and Society. The individual man, as “part” of this “whole,” finds his own humanity in his participatory experiences and relations with the other partners of the hierarchy, and most especially in his relation to God.

 

Strangely, given his “revolt” against God and man and the world, Hegel was a man who not only insisted on his Christian orthodoxy up to his dying day; but as already mentioned, he was a master of classical Greek philosophy. So clearly he was aware of First Reality in the above sense. His “magical opus” is motivated fundamentally by a desire to overturn and supplant it with a plausible Second Reality of his own imaginative construction.

 

The first “partner” of the Great Hierarchy that had to go was God. This was necessary in order to make room for Hegel as the “new Christ” who would usher in the “third religion” of his System of Absolute Science, so to be the Messiah, the New Christ, of the new age a-borning. The point here is that with God “gone,” man himself becomes a pure abstraction and, as such, an ideologically manipulatable entity and nothing more.

 

As far as I know, it was Voegelin who first drew attention to the element of sorcery in Hegel’s work — even though the language Hegel had been using from the first was the language of the “magic word” and the “magic force” (Zauberworte and Zauberkraft respectively). Vöegelin indeed identified the Phänomenologie as a sorcerer’s grimoire. My sense is if Vöegelin was joking here, he was only half-joking: Something very serious is going on. So we need first of all to understand what Hegel intended by evoking such language. As for instance, here:

 

“Every single man is but a blind link in the chain of absolute necessity by which the world builds itself forth. The single man can elevate himself to dominance over an appreciable length of this chain only if he knows the direction in which the great necessity [i.e., the Geist of history] wants to move and if he learns from this knowledge to pronounce the magic words (die Zauberworte) that will evoke its shape (Gestalt).”[3]

 

We need to define our terms here: Geist can be translated from the German as either “mind” or “spirit”; but the latter, allowing for a more cultural sense, as in the phrase “spirit of the age” (“Zeitgeist”), seems a more suitable rendering for Hegel’s use of the term. Gestalt (plural: Gestalten) means the present historical configuration of events as the Geist inexorably moves or evolves in time towards the fulfillment of its final  “absolute necessity,” at which point — in its final Gestalt, which in Hegel’s system is identified with the consciousness of Hegel expressing as the complete identity of absolute Self and absolute Idea — world history ends; and a “new age” of Man, “standing alone,” begins. Because man is now “alone,” Hegel teaches that now he has arrived at the point in history where he can grant “grace to himself,” to “save himself,” to perfect the human condition, without the salvific Grace of God.

 

And Hegel’s enormously influential student Karl Marx (1818–1883) took the lesson to heart:

 

“Philosophy makes no secret of it. The confession of Prometheus, ‘In a word, I hate all the gods,’ is its own confession, its own verdict against all gods heavenly and earthly who do not acknowledge human self-consciousness as the supreme deity. There shall be none beside it.”[4]

 

“A being regards itself as independent only when it stands in its own feet; and it stands on its feet only when it owes its existence to itself alone. A man who lives by the grace of another [including God] considers himself a dependent being. But I live by the grace of another completely if I owe him not only the maintenance of my life but also its creation: if he is the source of my life; and my life necessarily has such a cause outside itself if it is not my own creation.”[5]

 

And so the “outside cause” — God — must “die” in order for man to be “liberated” for self-sanctification and self-salvation.

 

In light of such expectations, first of all, we need to remember that a “magic word” in itself does not evoke an actual creative act. Rather, it is the invocation of appearances, of illusions. “Magic words” do not have the power actually to change the structure of being, of reality; but only the way the sorcerer wants us to see it. If he is successful, then we are grievously misled.

 

Hegel’s famous epigone Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) had a field day with Hegel’s insights. He not only declared God “dead,” but claimed that “we” had “murdered” Him. Mankind, on this view, has finally gained the existential status not only to be in a position to “kill God,” but also to grant itself “grace” and “salvation” via human reason alone. Of course, these are the maunderings of a person who sadly died in an insane asylum. Nonetheless, Nietzsche is splendidly honored by the “progressives” among us to this day….

 

It’s interesting to note that many students of the Phänomenologie consistently over time have reported that to be drawn into the “magic circle” of this enterprise is to enter into a perfectly logically self-consistent construction — so long as one does not use the criteria of First Reality to judge it. But finally, all criticism by appeal to reality itself, i.e., as actually experienced by human beings in contrast with being merely cogitated or thought, is foreclosed by Hegel’s rule that his construction need justify itself through nothing but “the presentation of the system itself.” Thus we have the case of the magically disappearing world.

 

And so not only God is booted out of Hegel’s system; but also any sense of “objective reality.” The “world” is drawn into the sorcerer’s consciousness as conceptualizations only, as Gestalten, “shapes.” Once the sorcerer possesses the historical “shapes” in his consciousness, he has no further need of “the world,” of evidence from the side of actual experience of the world. Thus he intends to “eclipse” such experience by the force of reason alone, dispensing with human existential experience altogether through the power of “magical” imagination — which of course altogether destroys any avenue of critical judgment from the side of First Reality, which happily satisfies criterion (2) above.

 

Second of all, we need to appreciate the worldview implicit in Hegel’s remarks. Voegelin thinks the above-quoted passage — i.e., “Every single man is but a blind link in the chain of absolute necessity….” — reveals Hegel’s intense resentment of the human condition as well as its cause. Further, it is a key passage for understanding the diremption — meaning the tearing apart, or violent separation from all former historical notions of the human condition so characteristic of modern existence — at the foundation of Hegel’s enterprise:

 

“Man has become a nothing; he has no reality of his own; he is a blind particle in a process of the world which has the monopoly of real reality and real meaning. [Note it is not the world that has meaning; only its process has meaning.] In order to raise himself from nothing to something, the blind particle must become a seeing particle. But even if the particle has gained sight, it sees nothing but the direction in which the process is moving…. And yet, to Hegel something important has been gained: the nothing that has raised itself to a something has become, if not a man, at least a sorcerer who can evoke, if not the reality of history, at least its shape. I almost hesitate to continue — the spectacle of a nihilist stripping himself to the nude is embarrassing. For Hegel betrays in so many words that being a man is not enough for him; and as he cannot be the divine Lord of history himself, he is going to achieve Herrschaft [i.e., dominion, lordship, mastery, rule, reign] as the sorcerer who will conjure up an image of history — a shape, a ghost — that is meant to eclipse the history of God’s making. The imaginative project of history falls in its place in the pattern of modern existence as the conjurer’s instrument of power”….

 

Since the conjurer’s instrument of power is in this case to be obtained by the “perfection” of philosophy into a system of absolute knowledge, we need to define what philosophy is. The etymology of the word tells you the meaning of philosophy is “love of wisdom”: In the original Greek, philo refers to “love” or “lover”; sophia to “wisdom.”

 

Hegel’s main project, as it turns out, was to transform philosophy, the love of wisdom, into an instrument of Absolute Science, whereby “wisdom,” and all knowledge, are found to consist, not in the loving search or quest for divine truth, the complete possession of which is denied to mortal men in this lifetime; but in the  “final possession” of absolute truth once and for all — the “absolute science” that can make men “immortal” in this world. In short, Hegel would like to transform philosophy into an exact science.

 

But if this were possible, then philosophy would instantly cease to be philosophy.

 

For although the insights of philosophy can advance, it cannot advance beyond its structure as “love of wisdom.” In the great tradition of the classical Greeks, eminently Plato and Aristotle (which Hegel had thoroughly mastered), philosophy denotes the loving tension of man “toward the divine ground of his existence. God alone has sophia, ‘real knowledge’; man finds the truth about God and the world, as well as of his own existence, by becoming philosophos, the lover of God and his wisdom. The philosopher’s eroticism implies the humanity of man and the divinity of God as the poles of his existential tension. The practice of philosophy in the Socratic–Platonic sense is the equivalent of the Christian sanctification of man; it is the growth of the image of God in man. Hegel’s harmless-sounding phrase [ i.e., philosophy must at last “give up its name of a love of wisdom and become real knowledge”] thus covers the program of abolishing the humanity of man; the sophia of God can be brought into the orbit of man only by transforming man into God. The Ziel [goal] of the Phänomenologie is the creation of the man-god….” — commencing with Hegel’s own self-deification as the redeemer of mankind now that the history of mankind, and notably his spiritual history, has been abolished by Hegel’s system of absolute science.[6]

 

In this, Hegel reveals his profound alienation from the idea of an established order of the universe. Indeed, he outright rejects any idea of order that has an origin other than in human consciousness, which he hypostasizes as “reason” or at least a facsimile thereof that the sorcerer can put over on his audience.

 

Voegelin provides some helpful insights into the consciousness of the sorcerer and his project:

 

“…Hegel experiences his state of alienation as an acute loss of reality, and even as death. But he cannot, or will not, initiate the movement of return; the epistrophe, the periagoge, is impossible. The despair or lostness, then, turns into the mood of revolt. Hegel closes his existence in on himself; he develops a false self; and lets his false self engage in an act of self-salvation that is meant to substitute for the periagoge of which his true self proves incapable. The alienation which, as long as it remains a state of lostness in open existence, can be healed through the return [to God], now hardens into the acheronta movebo of the sorcerer who, through magic operations, forces salvation from the non-reality of his lostness. Since, however, nonreality has no power of salvation, and Hegel’s true self knows this quite well, the false self must take the next step and, by ‘the energy of thinking,’ transform the reality of God into the dialectics of his consciousness: the divine power accrues to the Subjeckt that is engaged in self-salvation through reaching the state of reflective self-consciousness. If the soul cannot return to God, God must be alienated from himself and drawn into the human state of alienation. And finally, since none of these operations in Second Reality would change anything in the surrounding First Reality, but result only in the isolation of the sorcerer from the rest of society, the whole world must be drawn into the imaginary Second Reality. The sorcerer becomes the savior of the ‘age’ by imposing his System of Science as the new revelation on mankind at large. All mankind must join the sorcerer in the hell of his damnation.”[7]

 

In classical Greek philosophy, and especially in Plato, the epistrophe or periagoge in the above passage refers to the “turning around” to God (the transcendent Beyond of the cosmos) in open existence, in loving response to His call. The terms are analogous to the Christian “born again” experience. The term acheronta movebo means “If I cannot bend the Higher Powers, I will move the Infernal Regions.” It is the satanic declaration of the sorcerer who chooses to close all of reality in on himself, the Subjekt. Given the classical experience, this can only be a system of anti-philosophy.

 

In [Plato’s] Republic, the Beyond is imagined as the ultimate creative ground, the Agathon, from whom all being things receive their existence, their form, and their truth; and since by its presence it is the origin of reality and the sunlike luminosity of its structure, the Agathon-Beyond is something more beautiful and higher in rank of dignity and power that the reality that we symbolize by such terms as being, existence, essence, form, intelligibility, and knowledge. In the myth of the Phaedrus, then, the Beyond is the truly immortal divinity from whose presence in contemplative action the Olympian gods derive their divine and men their human immortality. In the puppet myth of the Laws, finally, ‘the god’ becomes the divine force that pulls the golden cord of the Nous that is meant to move man toward the immortalizing, noetic order of his existence. In this last image of the noetic “pull” (helkein) Plato comes so close to the helkein of the Gospel of John (6:44) that it is difficult to discern the difference.[8]

 

It appears that Hegel’s “revolt” is above all finally a revolt against, a rejection of the human condition, of the fact that a human being is never consulted about the terms of his coming into the world, nor of his departure from it. It is the essence of the human condition that a man is neither the origin nor the “end” of himself — “end” in the sense of telos, meaning purpose, or goal. Meanwhile, in between birth and death, there is a litany of evils to which mortal human nature is subject. “The life of man is really burdened,” as Voegelin put it, “with the well-known miseries enumerated by Hesoid. We remember his list of hunger, hard work, disease, early death, and the fear of the injustices to be suffered by the weaker man at the hands of the more powerful — not to mention the problem of Pandora.”[9]

 

Notwithstanding, Voegelin reminds us that “as long as our existence is undeformed by phantasies, these miseries are not experienced as senseless. We understand them as the lot of man, mysterious it is true, but as the lot he has to cope with in the organization and conduct of his life, in the fight for survival, the protection of his dependents, and the resistance to injustice, and in his spiritual and intellectual response to the mystery of existence.”[10]

 

Now the “lot of man” as just given is a description of the condicio humana, the human condition. It is the very basis for the idea of a universal, common humanity, of the brotherhood of mankind. It is my conjecture that it is possible for a person to take great umbrage at this condicio humana, to deplore and reject it, to see it as a grievous insult to one’s own assumed personal autonomy; and so to take flight in an alternative reality that can be structured more according to one’s own wishes, tastes, and desires. And thus, a Second Reality is born.

 

As for me, all things considered, I’ll take First Reality, the Great Hierarchy of Being — God–Man–World–Society — any day, any time. I believe that human beings were put in this world to be creative actors, even if they never get to design the stage on which the acting is being done, nor to control the writing of the script by which the play unfolds. And meanwhile they not only act, but suffer the actions of other actors or forces — personal, natural, social — from outside themselves.

 

Yet to recognize all this is to recognize the very basis of one’s own existential humanity. And to realize that the lot of any other man is no different. To be part and participant of this divinely constituted, dynamic “sub-whole” of a yet greater Whole is a glorious privilege. To go hole up in a Second Reality, to me, would be to lose one’s reason and probably one’s soul as well….

 

Indeed, that appears to be the conclusion reached by Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867), the great French poet, a noetically and spiritually sensitive person who understood himself to be living in an age of great noetic and spiritual disorder:

 

“A man who does not accept the conditions of life, sells his soul.”

 

And he penned these lines that make it crystal-clear to whom our soul is to be sold:

 

Sur l’oreiller du mal c’est Satan Trismégiste

Qui berce longuement notre esprit enchanté,

Et le riche metal de notre volonté

Est tout vaporiseé par ce savant chimiste

 

C'est le Diable qui tient les fils qui nous remuent.[11]

 

 

[“On the pillow of evil is Satan Trismegistus

Who long lulls our minds delighted,

And the rich metal of our will

Everything is vaporized by the scientist chemist.

 

“It is the devil who holds the son who we move.”]

 

 

 



[1] Eric Vöegelin, “On Hegel: A Study in Sorcery,” Collected Works Vol. 12, 1990.

[2] Ibid.

[3] G. W. F. Hegel, MS, Fortsetzung des “Systems der Sittlichkeit,” c. 1804–06.

[4] Karl Marx, Doctoral Dissertation, 1840–41 (quoting a passage from Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound).

[5] Karl Marx, “National Ökonomie und Philosophy,” Der Historische Materialismus: Die Früschriften.

[6] Eric Vöegelin, “On Hegel,” op. cit.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Eric Vöegelin, “Wisdom and the Magic of the Extreme,” Collected Works, Vol. 12, 1990.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Charles Baudelaire, “Au lecteur,” introducing the Fleurs du Mal, 1857.

©2008 Jean F. Drew


TOPICS: History; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: atheism; hegel; obama; secondrealities
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I thought this might be topical, since I'm pretty convinced that Barrack Hussein Obama's entire presidential campaign was mainly an exercise in "second reality." So much so that I've taken to referring to him as "Mr. Wizard." :^)

Yet as President of the United States, he will be required to govern (not "rule") in First Reality. I sure do hope he's up to it.

1 posted on 11/10/2008 11:37:18 AM PST by betty boop
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To: All

ping for future study


2 posted on 11/10/2008 11:41:33 AM PST by Brian S. Fitzgerald
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To: betty boop; shibumi

This entire election was a textbook example of the Hegelian Dialectic.


3 posted on 11/10/2008 11:42:17 AM PST by Salamander (Welcome to Obamageddon! The best apocalypse foreign money can buy!)
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To: betty boop

bookmark for later


4 posted on 11/10/2008 11:50:05 AM PST by GiovannaNicoletta
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To: GiovannaNicoletta

Chuck Hagel? /s


5 posted on 11/10/2008 12:06:52 PM PST by stocksthatgoup
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To: betty boop
Sorcery, or magic, is a conceptual system that asserts the human ability to control the natural world (including events, objects, people, and physical phenomena) through mystical, paranormal, or supernatural means — through, for example, magic words, or an ability to present compelling appearances of fictitious reality.

Here's something I wrote nearly six years ago...

Occultism is more about the belief that nature, and the various entities/personalities that inhabit it, can be successfully manipulated by humans into granting said humans some favor.

In short, all of creation is humankind's personal vending machine, and the whole magic thing is just about learning how to use exact change.

Christianity isn't a religion of manipulation - it's a religion of ethics. Our relationship with God is based on our ethical standing before Him. No amount of relics, or icons, or potions, or incantations can change that. God is not some impersonal force that we can manipulate if we're skilled enough. The occultist's beef with Christianity is that it places humankind permanently subservient to a single diety, instead of allowing them to pick and choose their leaders (and allegiances), as if they were simply voting for their next senator.


6 posted on 11/10/2008 12:16:52 PM PST by Alex Murphy ( "Every country has the government it deserves" - Joseph Marie de Maistre)
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To: Salamander
This entire election was a textbook example of the Hegelian Dialectic.

Indeed.

Hegel has been enormously influential in the post-Enlightenment period. It seems to me he has two major lines of intellectual descent, the Nietzchean and the Marxian, and both are, to my mind, pernicious to the health of a decent, well-ordered society committed to the preservation of liberty under a rule of law of equal justice for all. To put it mildly.

The line of descent through Friederich Nietzche led to anarchism as further developed by such notable anarchists as Mikhail Bukhanin and Antonio Gramsci. The line of descent via Karl Marx led to communism, and to such notables as Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, et al., and in contemporary times to Saul Alinsky.

Since I still don't know the first thing about BHO from his own mouth (and any inferences I might draw from his past radical associations are Verboten (unless you want to be labeled a racist), I cannot say whether he's read "the masters" on the above little list. But somehow I feel assured that his handlers, such as David Axelrod, are intimately familiar with the anarchist/socialist/communist literature.

Salamander, I just LOVE your tag line!!! LOLOL!

7 posted on 11/10/2008 12:36:28 PM PST by betty boop
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To: Alex Murphy
In short, all of creation is humankind's personal vending machine, and the whole magic thing is just about learning how to use exact change.

That seems to sum it up pretty well, Alex Murphy!

Thank you so much for your excellent insights!

8 posted on 11/10/2008 12:39:58 PM PST by betty boop
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To: betty boop

It’s good to study up on eschatology and how Hegel built off an understanding of Daniel. Unfortunately, the humanistic basis of Hegel, Kant and Marx have led to many a miserable political conclusion in our worldly systems of government.


9 posted on 11/10/2008 12:42:58 PM PST by Cvengr (Adversity in life and death is inevitable. Thru faith in Christ, stress is optional.)
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To: Alex Murphy

Obama must be challenged daily to witness that he is a fallen creature saved only by the blood of Christ. Any other answer is demonic, yes, demonic.


10 posted on 11/10/2008 12:45:33 PM PST by Louis Foxwell (Here come I, gravitas in tow.)
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To: Alamo-Girl; marron; hosepipe; metmom; joanie-f; spirited irish; Jeff Head; YHAOS; TXnMA; Diamond; ..

You’re invited to the party!!! Hope you can come if you’re free to join us, and have the interest....


11 posted on 11/10/2008 12:58:58 PM PST by betty boop
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To: betty boop
I never fail to learn lots of stuff from your posts. They're always thought-provoking and very well-written. So, thanks for that!

The first thought you provoked today has to do with Ayn Rand: I think that, despite her claims to the contrary (that she was an Aristotelian), her system of Objectivism actually reduces to a fundamentally Hegelian system....

Along those lines, Whittaker Chambers famously dimissed Ms. Rand's philosophy as a cheap knock-off of Nietzsche's, and in that he was probably correct. But I was struck by how well the following seems to describe the basis of her philosophy:

The first “partner” of the Great Hierarchy that had to go was God. This was necessary in order to make room for Hegel as the “new Christ” who would usher in the “third religion” of his System of Absolute Science, so to be the Messiah, the New Christ, of the new age a-borning. The point here is that with God “gone,” man himself becomes a pure abstraction and, as such, an ideologically manipulatable entity and nothing more.

When you look at her work with a critical eye, it is fairly evident that Rand selected a set of axioms that seemed to fit a pre-selected conclusion. (Her axioms might best be described as the 10 Commandments, carefully edited to remove those pesky references to God). I've long thought that the fatal weakness of Rand's philosophy was the inability of her "fundamental" axioms to withstand careful scrutiny. In that context, it's instructive to assess Rand's supposedly reality-based conclusions in the light of the scientific evidence for evolution (which Rand's philosophy would presumably consider to be determinative). Her axioms do not fare well at all. For example, in a world where evolution holds sway one can quite logically argue that we are necessarily a means to our children's ends and not, as Rand would have it, a means to our own ends.

And thus, "it’s interesting to note that many students of the [Rand's philosophy] consistently over time have reported that to be drawn into the “magic circle” of this enterprise is to enter into a perfectly logically self-consistent construction — so long as one does not use the criteria of First Reality to judge it." Where Rand's ideas are concerned, Libertarians are the most obvious example of this phenomenon, but we conservatives are prone to it as well.

There is much in your discourse that is useful for us conservatives, in this time when we find our philosophy in a terrible state of disarray.

You correctly observe that Mr. Obama's campaign is a fine example of a "Second Reality" movement. I would say that we conservatives are guilty of the same thing, albeit we're a lot worse at the process than the Democrats seem to be. Our "conservative" tenets seem to have been reduced to the level of slogans and catch-phrases -- they're like Hegel's "magic words," in that we seem to repeat them over and over, hoping that they'll create the desired effect. (That we keep repeating them to less and less effect may suggest that we could be headed toward Mr. Nietzsche's unhappy fate.)

What we really need, is a return to our own "First Reality." We need to expound what the Declaration of Independence proclaims: "We hold these truths to be self-evident...."

And we need to convince people of the truth of what John Adams famously said:

"We have no government armed in power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other."

It is difficult to imagine a politically "conservative" society such as we all claim to desire, operating within the context of a society that is "unbridled by morality and religion." Well, guess what: we live in a society whose culture is very much influenced by media and entertainment organs for whom Adams' brand of "morality and religion" are onerous at best. While I don't believe that the main body of the American population is actually opposed, much less irredeemably lost to "morality and religion," many people aren't actively for them, either.

I would propose that what "conservatism" needs most, is what one might call a "First Reality Project." We need to understand the reality we actually inhabit rather than assuming (pretending) that we live in a reality that we claim to desire.

We also need to figure out how to effectively expose and explain a "Second Reality" such as is being propounded by Mr. Obama -- without falling into a "Second Reality" trap of our own. (The fall of Mr. Newt Gingrich comes to mind....)

12 posted on 11/10/2008 1:34:42 PM PST by r9etb
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To: betty boop

Though by no means comprehensive, the line of descent is from Lenin, Derzhinsky (?sp), and Lucacs (inventers of the bogus Marxist thinktank, the Frankfurt School) to Gramsci, the Frankfurt School (invited to the USA by progressive John Dewey), to Alinsky, to BHO.


13 posted on 11/10/2008 1:38:37 PM PST by spirited irish
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To: betty boop

I have no idea about what you or Hegel are talking about.


14 posted on 11/10/2008 1:49:57 PM PST by LeGrande
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To: LeGrande
I have no idea about what you or Hegel are talking about.

I was afraid of that. Which is why I continue to pray for you.

15 posted on 11/10/2008 2:10:36 PM PST by betty boop
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To: betty boop
I was afraid of that. Which is why I continue to pray for you.

Bless you : ) I need all the prayers I can get. I am having a really tough time deciding on a vacation, diving in Belize or diving in Palau? I need God to tell me where the diving will be better.

16 posted on 11/10/2008 2:23:23 PM PST by LeGrande
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To: r9etb
[Rand's] axioms do not fare well at all. For example, in a world where evolution holds sway one can quite logically argue that we are necessarily a means to our children's ends and not, as Rand would have it, a means to our own ends.

Just simply brilliant insights, r9etb! I just knew you would come at this problem from an "interesting angle!" And I think you (and Whittaker Chambers) are right, that "When you look at [Rand's] work with a critical eye, it is fairly evident that Rand selected a set of axioms that seemed to fit a pre-selected conclusion."

Doctrinal thinking (or "system-building" in general) usually does not disclose its most fundamental premises/presuppositions; instead, it masks them by appeals to "axioms." But it sure knows where it wants to go — to the end or purpose it seeks to justify. If it's got a great big libido dominandi behind it (as arguably was the case with Hegel), then it can effectively be established without an appeal to reason or actual experience at all.

Ayn Rand, as influential as she's been, simply wasn't in that class of ideologue. Her main problem (it seems to me) is she hadn't mastered the Greeks well enough. If she understood anything of what they were really up to, she wouldn't have turned Plato into a Socialist (or even Communist), and Aristotle into a Libertarian.

Jeepers, she lost me right there.

Thank you so much for your elegant, brilliant essay-post!

17 posted on 11/10/2008 2:42:17 PM PST by betty boop
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To: LeGrande
I need God to tell me where the diving will be better.

Well then, I pray He shall not disappoint you!

Bon voyage!

18 posted on 11/10/2008 2:43:38 PM PST by betty boop
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To: r9etb
I would propose that what "conservatism" needs most, is what one might call a "First Reality Project." We need to understand the reality we actually inhabit rather than assuming (pretending) that we live in a reality that we claim to desire.

p.s.: In short, conservatives need to be reminded of exactly what they are "conserving." If it isn't the foundations of American culture and the Constitution, then I don't know what it could possibly be.

And yes, Newt Gingrich is a most instructive case. His analysis of the ills afflicting the Body Politic had it all right; but finally, he gave free rein to his ego. And so the problem was no longer about what is right, what is just, but only about how Newt could best ride the tide of his own genius.

Human nature is "frail" indeed — even among the "great ones."

19 posted on 11/10/2008 2:54:30 PM PST by betty boop
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To: betty boop
Brilliant treatment of Hegel and Hegelian concepts..
Hegel was indeed a pagan Shaman with a Cargo Cultic overtones..
And lies at the base of many of his disciples cargo (which are many)..
Marx was following Hegel not Hegel.. Marx..
True also of Antonio Gramsci.. the base of Buttocks Obama..
20 posted on 11/10/2008 3:14:29 PM PST by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole....)
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To: betty boop

It appears to be a drawn out assertion that there is no escape from theology - that even engaging in a conscious effort to avoid theology is an explicit expression of theology.


21 posted on 11/10/2008 3:17:24 PM PST by tacticalogic ("Oh bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
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To: LeGrande
[ I need God to tell me where the diving will be better. ]

Suggestion.. Staniel Cay, Bahamas..

Pope Pipus I..

22 posted on 11/10/2008 3:18:10 PM PST by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole....)
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To: hosepipe; betty boop
Suggestion.. Staniel Cay, Bahamas..

Been there, done it. It was good diving : ) I like the Exumas a lot.

Pope Pipus I..

Hmmm, Hosepipe - Pope Pipus. Could it be a mere coincidence? I think not. It must be a miracle. There is a God! How could I have been so blind? : )

23 posted on 11/10/2008 3:52:59 PM PST by LeGrande
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To: r9etb
There appears to be more than a little pot/kettle going on there.

The quote by Adams is held up as axiomatic, chosen to produce a preordained conclusion, and upon it built a "second reality" wherein all of the Founders share the same religious beliefs, and subscribe to the same sectarian/denominational doctines as the person making the argument.

24 posted on 11/10/2008 4:26:33 PM PST by tacticalogic ("Oh bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
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To: Salamander; betty boop
"This entire election was a textbook example of the Hegelian Dialectic."

Really, the past century in politics, and sociology has been applied dialectics. Obama is their 'synthesis.' (they think)

25 posted on 11/10/2008 4:56:56 PM PST by editor-surveyor (Obama - not just an empty suit - - A Suit Bomb invading the White House)
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To: tacticalogic; r9etb
"The quote by Adams is held up as axiomatic, chosen to produce a preordained conclusion, and upon it built a "second reality" wherein all of the Founders share the same religious beliefs, and subscribe to the same sectarian/denominational doctines as the person making the argument."

Balderdash! - Your fear is showing. No one has ever held up a universal, monolithic 'faith of the founders;' Only that they all were indeed believers in "the God of the Bible," which leaves much room for differences.

26 posted on 11/10/2008 5:03:52 PM PST by editor-surveyor (Obama - not just an empty suit - - A Suit Bomb invading the White House)
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To: betty boop
Voegelin and Hegel each suffer from the misconception that philosophy is a method for acquiring knowledge. It isn't.

Philosophy may invalidate others’ reasoning due to logical fallacies, but it is impotent in establishing positive truth.

Voegelin's philosophy starts with an article of faith and therefore can only produce new articles of faith.

27 posted on 11/10/2008 5:09:44 PM PST by PasorBob
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To: betty boop

You got a lot about Hegel right, but you got Nietzsche entirely wrong. He despised Hegel’s notion of progress and took it to its most extreme so that we might notice its depravity.


28 posted on 11/10/2008 5:09:50 PM PST by PalinForever
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To: editor-surveyor

I call ‘em like I see ‘em. If you want to dismiss it as “fear induced balderdash”, go right ahead. I’m not losing any sleep over it.


29 posted on 11/10/2008 5:13:31 PM PST by tacticalogic ("Oh bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
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To: r9etb; betty boop
Our "conservative" tenets seem to have been reduced to the level of slogans and catch-phrases -- they're like Hegel's "magic words," in that we seem to repeat them over and over, hoping that they'll create the desired effect... What we really need, is a return to our own "First Reality."... I would propose that what "conservatism" needs most, is what one might call a "First Reality Project."

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2126186/posts?page=12#12

... For two long we’ve tried to reduce our philosophy of economics and governance to bumper-stickers about tax-cuts.

Tax-cuts don’t motivate people. Tax-cuts don’t explain the proper role of government, or the relationship between liberty and prosperity, or the importance of personal liberty for its own sake, or why people should govern themselves and their families and their communities and why letting government manage them is such a tragic mistake.

We don’t explain those things, we just talk about cutting taxes because in an MTV world we figure no one has the attention span for the whole philosophical discussion.

And in a world in which there are a hundred channels, thats understandable. Most people don’t have the attention span. But too many Repubs don’t have a talent for this kind of discussion even when they have the stage and the microphone.

After decades of a dumbed down education system, most Americans don’t know what the defining principles of this country are. They don’t know what socialism is or why we should not want it. They don’t know why an infantilized populace is bad and wouldn’t recognize themselves in the description.

We’ve abdicated control of the education of our own kids. We’ve abdicated control of the news and entertainment media. Lose the schools and universities, lose the news and entertainment media, and you’ve lost the game. Maybe not immediately, but you’re fighting a rear-guard action from that moment forward. Sooner or later an Obama shows up and down you come.

30 posted on 11/10/2008 6:00:55 PM PST by marron
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To: tacticalogic
The quote by Adams is held up as axiomatic, chosen to produce a preordained conclusion, and upon it built a "second reality" wherein all of the Founders share the same religious beliefs, and subscribe to the same sectarian/denominational doctines as the person making the argument.

There is some truth to your complaint, though I would suggest that the Declaration's "we hold these truths to be self-evident" is the part more properly identified as being "held up as axiomatic." On what other basis, after all, can the rights life, liberty and pursuit of happiness properly be labled as "unalienable?" They are axiomatic in the sense that they are "endowed by our Creator." I think the left doesn't actually believe this to be true -- at least, not in the way the Founders did, and also not like at least some conservatives do.

In that case, of course, the objective basis for the correctness of the Declaration would depend on a "first reality" that actually includes a Creator.

I like the Adams quote not for any "axiomatic" reasons, but rather for its practical (if unspecific) statement of the necessary conditions for limited government. Absent the self-policing nature of a "moral and religious people," it is difficult to imagine a system of "limited government" as not descending into anarchy; or, in order to prevent anarchy, the government would tend toward tyranny.

The question for you is, is there anything that you could offer as a "basis for conservatism" that is not in some sense "axiomatic" in a "second reality" sense?

31 posted on 11/10/2008 6:31:13 PM PST by r9etb
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To: LeGrande
[ Could it be a mere coincidence? I think not. It must be a miracle. There is a God! How could I have been so blind? ]

LoL...

32 posted on 11/10/2008 6:50:00 PM PST by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole....)
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To: PalinForever; betty boop
[ you got Nietzsche entirely wrong. He despised Hegel’s notion of progress and took it to its most extreme so that we might notice its depravity. ]

Depended in the week with Nietzsche.. he vacillated.. on many things..

33 posted on 11/10/2008 6:52:51 PM PST by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole....)
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To: r9etb
The question for you is, is there anything that you could offer as a "basis for conservatism" that is not in some sense "axiomatic" in a "second reality" sense?

Probably not. But with regard to issues like constitutionism and the intent of the Founders, there is a considerable body of work available for consideration. I'm skeptical of conclusions drawn from one quote by one man, and a single sentence lifted from the Preamble.

Axioms can properly be constucted an applied in mathematics. The term is something of a misnomer when applied to political philosophy, but generally speaking the less you base your conclusions on the more "axiomatic" it's going to appear, and I think there's a lot more to the situation than what's being presented as the relevant facts.

34 posted on 11/10/2008 6:54:09 PM PST by tacticalogic ("Oh bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
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To: tacticalogic

Nice response, but you dodged the question. To make it pointed: what should conservatives tout as the basic tenets of “conservatism?”


35 posted on 11/10/2008 6:56:08 PM PST by r9etb
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To: betty boop

As Pascal put it:
“It is in vain, O men, that you seek within
yourselves the cure for your miseries. Your
principal maladies are pride, which cuts you
off from God, and sensuality which binds you
to the earth. Either you imagine you are gods
yourselves, or, if you grasp the vanity of such
a pretension, you are cast into the other abyss,
and suppose yourselves to be like the beasts
of the field and seek your good in carnality.”
So without God, we were left with a choice of
megalomania or erotomania; the clenched fist
or the phallus; Nietzsche or Sade; Hitler or D.
H. Lawrence.
——Malcom Muggeridge


36 posted on 11/10/2008 7:01:59 PM PST by weston (As far as I am concerned, it's Christ or nothing)
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To: r9etb
To make it pointed: what should conservatives tout as the basic tenets of “conservatism?”

I consider basic tenets of conservativism to be a healthy scepticism of government solutions, objective examination of all arguments presented for consideration and consideration given to the possible unintended consequences.

37 posted on 11/10/2008 7:05:13 PM PST by tacticalogic ("Oh bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
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To: tacticalogic
OK .... so much for what you think conservatives should be against. Now what do you think they should be for?
38 posted on 11/10/2008 7:15:57 PM PST by r9etb
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To: weston
the clenched fist or the phallus;

Mr. Muggeridge might profitably have added "the clenched fist and the phallus," and pointed to the emasculating tendencies of modern feminism....

39 posted on 11/10/2008 7:18:15 PM PST by r9etb
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To: r9etb
OK .... so much for what you think conservatives should be against. Now what do you think they should be for?

The Republic. Beyond that I don't have any one size fits all answers for you. I can understand arguments presented from a theological standpoint, but I can't reconcile saying there's one "right" theology to base public policy on in a nation committed to freedom of religion.

40 posted on 11/10/2008 7:33:32 PM PST by tacticalogic ("Oh bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
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To: betty boop; xzins; P-Marlowe; Dr. Eckleburg; Mad Dawg; magisterium; Forest Keeper; Kolokotronis; ...
What a wonderful and timely essay-post, dearest sister in Christ!

Many people have referred to Obama as a "messiah" - tongue in cheek of course around here - but I suspect quite a few have fallen for the magic and believe his Second Reality is "real."

As you say, he will be held accountable for dealing in the First Reality. I predict many disappointments among his followers.

I'm pinging a few others for their insights.

41 posted on 11/10/2008 9:56:28 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: betty boop
I think the 5th chapter of The Phenomenology of Spirit is brilliant and rewards re-reading. In fact, I think I'll re-read it this evening. It's been a couple of decades.

I think Hegel is wrong, but he's wrong brilliantly and even helpfully.

I do NOT think that he tried to make philosophy the cookbook that he is accused of making it. I do think that often the lesser followers of a philosopher, even those who do not professedly turn him on his head, are more liable to a kind of spiritually blind defense of the philosopher's "system" which ends up making the system an idol and entirely misses the truth which the philosopher himself meant the system to serve and to portray.

I think SOME academics and those who try to take the life, love, and blood out of study, who are committed to study as an astringent and life-denying activity end up missing the point and tossing around amazing judgments and condemnations based not on what this or that writer actually said but on their extrapolation of philosophical musings into books of instructions. Some don't need Barron's Outlines or Cliff notes because they bring that approach to anything they read.

Can you tell I'm a tad peeved by this article? Having read (in March of 1971, as I recall -- get my my Geritol with a tequila chaser, please) Hegel's early explicitly Christian stuff, while I say again that I think he turns out to be wrong, I am not going to through him under the bus, at least not with the enthusiasm of this writer.

42 posted on 11/11/2008 3:24:04 AM PST by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: Mad Dawg; betty boop

I agree with your sentiments and it’s not as if the “hierarchy of being” system is free of mysticism and magicalism. It seems to me the problem is with immanentism and not just Hegel himself.


43 posted on 11/11/2008 9:51:50 AM PST by the_conscience
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To: Mad Dawg

I pulled out his “The Phenomenology of Mind” and scanned a few chapters. Chapter VI, on Spirit strikes me as more humanist in perspective than Christian.

“Reason is spirit, when its certainty of being all reality has been raised to the level of truth, and reason is consciously aware of itself as its own world, and of the world as itself.”

IMHO, definitely not the human spirit of Pauline or Johanine writings.


44 posted on 11/11/2008 6:14:57 PM PST by Cvengr (Adversity in life and death is inevitable. Thru faith in Christ, stress is optional.)
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To: Cvengr
Oh, fer shur. No argument.

For one thing, neither "spirit" nor "mind" adequately translate "Geist" as Hegel uses the word. And I think while he has, or thinks he has, Xtian influences in his thought, he is not trying to be a theologian. In the "Athens v. Jerusalem" division, he's sho' nuff on the Athens side, by way of German Idealism.

45 posted on 11/12/2008 4:12:03 AM PST by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: tacticalogic
It appears to be a drawn out assertion that there is no escape from theology - that even engaging in a conscious effort to avoid theology is an explicit expression of theology.

Anyone who has a world view has a theology whether they care to admit it or not. A "no-God' theology is still a theology, though a pretty puny one. Still, its adherents are among the most strident proselytizers on the face of the planet today. Go figure!!!

46 posted on 11/12/2008 10:07:43 AM PST by betty boop
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To: betty boop
Anyone who has a world view has a theology whether they care to admit it or not. A "no-God' theology is still a theology, though a pretty puny one. Still, its adherents are among the most strident proselytizers on the face of the planet today. Go figure!!!

There it is. The assertion that failing to make an explicit reference to God is to assert that there is no God.

47 posted on 11/12/2008 10:20:10 AM PST by tacticalogic ("Oh bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
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To: betty boop

Applied philosophy ping


48 posted on 11/12/2008 10:23:32 AM PST by aWolverine
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To: tacticalogic; r9etb; Alamo-Girl; hosepipe; metmom
"We have no government armed in power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other."

John Adams' insight is neither sectarian nor doctrinal. What it represents is a deep insight into human nature shared by all the Framers regardless of religious confession. It has deep roots in history, philosophy, and culture, and was a major concern for Plato, who saw that no political order could be any better than the general moral "tone" of the people who compose it.

The Constitution was designed for a free people who are morally responsible for their actions. When we speak of a system of self-government, which is what we in America supposedly have, we have to recognize that "self-government" begins in the good order of the individual citizen: Personal morality is the foundation of the system. If the people are "disordered," then so will be the society. And the Constitution itself eventually will come under attack.

I believe that is the point that John Adams was asserting.

49 posted on 11/12/2008 10:25:49 AM PST by betty boop
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To: LeGrande
I have no idea about what you or Hegel are talking about.

Both Marx and Hegel, (and Lucaks, too) are as dead as their aesthetics. Hegel was a jolly fellow and very popular, so we'll give him that. His 'Phenomology of the Spirit' was ground-breaking for sure and is a must read if it takes ten years, but other reading can come first since the cites are few and far between anymore.

50 posted on 11/12/2008 10:35:16 AM PST by RightWhale (Exxon Suxx)
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