Skip to comments.SOTU I: Or, How to Peddle a Second Reality Using First-Reality Language
Posted on 02/08/2010 11:33:17 AM PST by betty boop
SOTU I: Or, How to Peddle a Second Reality Using First-Reality Language
By Jean F. Drew
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 wants to move and if he learns from this knowledge to pronounce the magic words (Die Zauberworte) that will evoke its shape (Gestalt). Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770 1831)
Am I alone in thinking these statements sound creepy somehow? And yet they lay out the essential presupposition, or foundation, of Hegels masterful construction of the very model of second reality, in the Phänomenologie.
Hegel was a German Transcendental Idealist philosopher of enormous distinction and importance. I would argue, however, that in the Phänomenologie, he has constructed a parlor game, or divertissement that, notwithstanding, shows us the way to logically construct a second reality.
This is the work in which Hegel lays out his case for dialectical science (described as thesisantithesissynthesis, with each synthesis providing the base for the next thesisantithesis, inevitably producing yet another synthesis, and so on and so on, evidently forever, evidently purposelessly), from which Karl Marx later abstracted his own theory of dialectical materialism.
Which in its turn laid the base for Left Progressive political ideologies of all stripes, especially including the Saul Alinsky school of progressive sociopolitical dynamics (i.e., the community organizer model) of which the sitting POTUS on the basis of his history (as scanty as it is) and his daily actions is clearly an acolyte.
Well come back to that point shortly; but a little groundwork might be useful first.
The Phänomenologie is an abstruse work. Detailed discussion of its arguments lies beyond the scope of the present writing. Suffice it to say that Hegels dialectical science is a purely mental construction; i.e., it is completely abstracted away, detached, from any and all referents to the world outside the mind.
Thus Hegel utterly guts Natural Law theory in one fell swoop.
Which is something quite startling: For the entire Western cultural tradition, including the natural sciences, arguably rests on Natural Law theory. The Declaration of Independence is a late epiphany of precisely that tradition. And as we know, the DoI is the foundation on which the U.S. Constitution rests. And all that follows from that.
Natural Law theory is, in the words of the great mathematician/theoretical biologist Robert Rosen (1934 1998), the explicit underpinning on which all of science rests. That is, on which reason and logic rest. There could be no reason, no rational thought, without it. Its most fundamental holding is that there is an ultimate correspondence between the natural world and the world of the self, defined as follows:
The Natural World
The world of nature, or the world external to the self; the phenomenal world, whose order appears to be not entirely arbitrary or whimsical; rather, Natural Law asserts the phenomenal world manifests causal relations in the behavior of its elements; i.e., that its behavior is in some sense lawful or orderly.
The World of the Self
Or of the mind; the observer of the Natural world. Natural Law asserts the orderliness of the Natural World is discernible to, and articulable by, the self that is, the posited orderliness of the external world can be matched by, or put into correspondence with, some equivalent orderliness within the human self.
Rosen adds, Mathematics is the language science uses to bring these two worlds into correspondence.
Yet as the great German-American philosopher Eric Vöegelin (1901 1985) observed, The Phänomenologie admits no reality but consciousness. That is, it admits only the World of the Self which Hegel then proceeds to erase in due course (except his own, of course). The Natural World partner just magically disappears. In this way, Hegel can dispose, not only of the world, but also of God and man as well. In the end, for Hegel there is just one great big collective consciousness; it is the consciousness of nobody in particular, of nothing in particular.
Notwithstanding, as Vöegelin astutely points out, Since consciousness must be somebodys 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 defined as the identity of identity with nonidentity [Thesis Antithesis Synthesis as a foundation of science.] . The reader would justly ask what a consciousness that is nobodys consciousness could possibly be?
One gathers for Hegel, gutting Natural Law in this way has the salutary effect of providing for the requisite tabula rasa on which to construct an alternative or second reality unencumbered by the baggage of First Reality which preternaturally includes God, man, world, and society.
What motivates the construction of a Second Reality? The great poet T. S. Eliot had a useful suggestion:
They constantly try to escape
From the darkness outside and within
By dreaming of systems so perfect that no one
Will need to be good
But then the poet adds this caution:
But the man that is will shadow
The man that pretends to be.
At this point, let us deconstruct Hegels opening remarks. He stipulates man as but a blind link in a chain of necessity. This seems to harmonize rather well with conventional ideas of Newtonian determinism. If man is blind and has no free will, his status in Nature seems to be little better than that of any ordinary material particle: He ultimately is determined by Newtons laws. He is nothing more than that.
To get out of this situation, a man has to be very bright, indeed. For he is embedded in a wholly random process, and then tasks himself with the problem of finding the direction in which the great necessity wants to move which of course, could not possibly be discerned in a random process to begin with: There can be no discernable movement involving direction in a purely random process. And if its totally random, the possibility that an observer could have possibly emerged in the first place gets odds of slim to none.
And what is this great necessity anyway? (A proposal: Nothing but the idle dream of a would-be constructor of a Second Reality.)
We are to believe that, if a man is very bright indeed, and so could (somehow) surmount these logical obstacles, he could learn (Hegel assures us) how to pronounce the magic words that will evoke the SHAPE of the new Reality. And thus, one assumes, be able to control it.
Mind, such an exercise has nothing to do with any truthful account of Reality as human beings have experienced it more or less universally for some forty millennia by now; but is merely a description of its shape. That is, it indicates an abstraction from Reality. But the idea seems to be: If a man can shape Reality, he thereby proves his power .
As a great sorcerer or magician . Who speaks the Zauberworte, according to the dynastes megas (the power of speech).
Like Hegel, Obama relies on magic words. He well recognizes that, in order to instantiate a Second Reality, he has to use the language of First Reality to do it. For that is the only language the public understands.
Like Hegel, Obama appears to believe that all one needs to change the shape of Reality is to invoke the Zauberworte the magic words that will evoke its putatively real shape.
At this point, I find it useful to ask: Can Reality ever be based in a human dream?
The great pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus discriminated two kinds of men: the public man and the private man. The public man is such because he understands the Logos is one and common. That is, the Truth of Reality is something shared by all men alike, at all times.
The private man, on the other hand, withdraws into a personal world of dreams . He rejects any order to his existence beyond his own personal feelings and preferences. As such, he is (to my mind) basically functioning at the level of animal existence.
Like Hegel, Obama is obsessed with power: Hegel was a huge fan of Napoleon, whom he regarded as a kind of New Christ who would redeem and save Europe, once he had extended and consolidated all of Europe under his sole imperial power.
Well, it turned out that Napoleon dropped the ball on that one. So evidently in Hegels view, the office of New Christ had not been filled. One gathers it was at around this time that he began to consider himself as a candidate for this office.
And yet, the office of the New Christ has still not been filled, for all that Hegel seemed to have tried. Evidently, Obama is now on deck to try for it, as I gather from his SOTU this past Wednesday night.
POTUS invoked the language of First Reality throughout in order to sell us a Second Reality that thoroughly undermines the first one. He constantly made appeals to traditional American values and principles oddly enough the very values and principles his policies seem determined to destroy.
This is the huge problem with Obama in my view: His rhetoric and his deeds seemingly never match. And the difference is the difference between a first and a second reality. The discrepancy registers as a lie.
Obama who one hears is celebrated for his interest in language and symbolization uses the language of First Reality to misdirect our attention from the actuality of his plans and deeds. Just as a magician misdirects our attention Watch the birdie! so we will not see what he is really thinking, actually doing; what the mechanics of the trick are in short, what is really going on. It is our ignorance of such things that lets a magic trick work.
He also lied repeatedly. The most disgraceful example was a pretext to get the mob to insult and revile six sitting Justices of the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice.
So what if he invoked constitutional values and principles. We know from his own public statements and writings that he thoroughly detests the Constitution. He hates it because it is not a positive charter for government action, but a negative statement about what government has no business doing in the first place.
But those are the very things Obama, as the nominal leader of the Progressive Left in America today, most wants to do.
Obama, the self-selected New Christ, cannot and will not brook any opposition to the exercise of his putatively salvific powers . Not if he and his enablers and codependents have anything to say about it .
Just two sentences from Eric Vöegelins Wisdom and the Magic of the Extreme (1983) capture in a nutshell the problem now confronting the American people:
[A]ll of us are threatened in our humanity, if not in our physical existence, by the massive social force of activist dreamers who want to liberate us from our imperfections by locking us up in the perfect prison of their phantasy. Even in our so-called free societies not a day passes that we are not seriously molested, in encounters with persons, or the mass media, or a supposedly philosophical and scientific literature, by somebodys Utopian imagination.
©2010 Jean F. Drew
Just in case this might be your cup of tea....
Sip! ( ^: }
Thanks for the ping!
Pantheism or Panentheism has many different sources to choose from so I’m not convinced to lay all this at Hegel’s feet.
Its hard to improve on the metaphors in John ch 10...
Where Jesus stands at the door of the sheep pen and calls them all out(metaphorically).. into the pasture of Ps 23.. Ekkesia(church) lterally means the "called out ones".. History shows, some come out, some do not.. The drama of all this is pregnant...
Especially since Jesus never forbids sheep pens.. let alone vulture, vampire, pig, and goat pens.. The point being second realities as opposed to first reality.. The metaphor only deals with sheep pens.. but my mind can easily conjure up the other pens that humans frequent.. (implied, I believe)..
Very interesting, the_conscience. I'd like to hear more about this, if you have the time and interest.
Oh, is that an understatement, dearest brother in Christ!
The Lord created men free that is, fully capable of generating second realities if they want to. But that does not mean such men are exempted from the one single standard of divine Judgement that ultimately judges all men, whether they be denizens of first or second reality, equally and equitably in the End....
Thank you ever so much for writing, dearest brother in Christ it's so good to hear from you!
What Obama spews when he speaks to the people I describe as the disgusting progressive spittlegeist. All will be made equal by destroying any striving for excellence.
Progressivism's target is mediocrity and servitude to the collective power of a very small oligarchy.
Betty, isn’t it Kant’s idealism that you ran into on the other thread? We can’t know the noumenon.
Hope to get to it today.
Extremely well put, dearest brother in Christ! I couldn't agree with you more.
Perhaps you are right that the rabble will take us all down in the end. But it seems to me nothing in the reality I experience ever moves in a "straight line." So as far as I can tell, the jury's still out on this question.
Meanwhile, I pray to God for spiritual renewal, for another Great American [Re]Awakening! There have been two major ones in the history of America, going back to the colonial period; and each changed the course of the subsequent American future. The first fed the spirit that culminated in the American Revolution; the second fed the spirit that culminated in the abolition of slavery....
Both seemed intended to form "a more perfect union."
Be of good cheer, dearest brother in Christ! For Christ Logos reigns eternally, from the Beginning to the End and all "places" in between.
But we have to live as though we do. :^)
That's a little joke I guess.
Kant elaborated the distinction between phenomenon an existent object of sense perception and noumenon the way the object actually is, "in itself;" or in more philosophical terminology, in its substance.
Evidently he was inspired to do this by David Hume, who had the temerity to suggest that the only things that the mind can "possess" are perceptions of reality, but never reality as it is "in itself."
Another way to put it, human sense perception can acquire and register only "images" of reality, never the reality itself. That is, the phenomenon in se. The skepticism of Hume raises the issue of on what ground can humans say that their perceptions actually match up with actual reality that is, phenomenal reality as we encounter it in experience. Hume notices there is no purely logical connection here. The only connection seems to come from human experience i.e., from habit and custom.
Anyhoot, Kant evidently noticed that part of reality, which recedes from methods of direct proof. That would be the "thing in itself" of which perception can be no more than an image: The "original" can never be directly captured by the mind, only its "photograph."
But Hume evidently also notices that human beings continue to think and live as if phenomena and noumena coalesce in actual human experience.
So far, that looks like a good bet to me. :^)
I suppose I’m trying to get at the difference between Kant’s “transcendental idealism” and Hegel’s “absolute idealism”.
One of the side effects of Kant’s idealism was wrought in the Lutheran theologian Schleiermacher. Reacting to Kant’s idealism he reduces God to Natural Law.
Here’s how Kevin Van Hoozer summarizes Schleiermacher’s position: “Yet few modern theolgoians are happy to construe the God/world relation in terms of divine intervention. Schleiermacher influenced a whole theological tradition when he judged it a mistake to see God as overriding or supplementing natural causes, for to think of God in terms of exercising efficient causality is to think of God in terms appropriate to creatures: ‘It can never be necessary in the interest of religion so to interpret a fact that its dependence on God absolutely excludes its being conditioned by the system of Nature’”.
(Tyndale Bulletin 49.2 (1998))
Thus it seems the reaction to idealism in some theology is that God is reduced to merely Natural Law. Schleiermacher is the father of liberal Protestant pantheistic theology of which Obama drinks.
Plato and his ideal sphere somewhere . . . his ideal perfect chair somewhere etc. etc.
I think it is
1. we all have perceptual bias--inescapable perceptual distortion bias.
2. that from some hypothesized yet also--certainly from the Christian perspective--REALalistic perspective of God . . . God's angelic hosts . . . or even, one might say . . . God's master computer hardware observer drones . . . THERE IS SOME OBJECTIVE REALITY that does not suffer from perceptual distortion and bias.
3. However, the latter, has a bit of a problem with TIME in the equation. What IS or WAS at that moment is MOST PROBABLY altered the next moment or given sufficient moments . . . depending on a list of partially unknown variables.
4. Hume, Hegel, and all the other nihilistic pontificals ad nauseum . . . seem to have been in a hell fostered rush to push God out of the equation. Given that God was/is by definition infinite . . . and largely empirically unknowable in strict RELIGION OF SCIENCE TERMS--it was a nice trick to define reality as only that which is empirically provable.
4.1 However, interestingly, Satre was closer than he might have realized . . . to reality--when he asserted that for the finite to have meaning--it must have a connection to the INFINITE. He just never connected to the INFINITE himself, as far as we know.
5. However, they spoke too soon. They could not anticipate quantum physics and the observer problem. They still had the insane 'luxury' of pretending that there COULD BE a
TRULY OBJECTIVE, TRULY EMPIRICAL PERSPECTIVE in this time/space dimension.
6. I think there's another uppity miscalculation on the part of such hell fostered mentalities and perspectives. They are most rattled by MIRACLES. Certainly hell is familiar with the equation that less faith equal less miracles. So, in a sense, it's a tidy little way to decrease miracles--trash faith.
7. However, God IS AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN I-AM . . . and is quite delighted to sabotage such presumptions on the part of the finite and particularly on the part of hell. However, He is also usually loathe to drop HIS MIRACLES into a laboratory--particularly on 'scholarly' 'RELIGION OF SCIENCE' COMMAND.
8. Yet, satan's goons do capture a lot of unsuspecting folks into a mentality that trashes their faith. FAITH--the critical currency and critical structure of God's multiverse.
9. Oddly and flabbergastingly, he gets them to put their FAITH into something
--far more finite,
--far more silly,
--far more irrational,
--far more UNEMPIRICAL,
--far more unverifiable,
--far more unfounded . . .
. . . a philosophy that quickly ties itself in a Gordian Knot of self-obliterating descriptions, premises, definitions and foundations.
10. They know to some degree that there's no such thing as an objective observer. Yet, they go merrily on PRETENDING that they with their super narrow, super rigid, super UN-REAListic biases are MORE objective than God. I'm sure He's impressed.
The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.
The fool has said in his heart, there is nothing knowable outside our little fantasies about reality.
When IN REALITY, there's little knowable WITHIN their fantasies about reality.
Well and truly said, dearest brother in Christ!
Thanks for your kind reply.
Usually it's Hegel who's classified as a "transcendental idealist," not Kant. Kant is usually classified as a "mere" idealist. At least last time I checked. [I don't like "school philosophies" anyway.]
God cannot be "reduced" to Natural Law, for the simple reason that He is the Author of it. The creation can testify to the Lord, but it cannot fully explain Him. It is derivative from Him; and no derivative possesses the type of knowledge that Schleiermacher seems to want to endue it with. (If the object had this kind of knowledge, it could create itself. And we don't see objects in nature doing this. I mean, an object in nature can perhaps create progeny of its kind; but it does not and cannot create itself.)
Who is Schleiermacher anyway, to "tell" God what He may or may not do? Seems to me God can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants.
But I digress. It seems to me the HUGE difference between Kant and Hegel was that Kant did not shuck Aristotelian logic, while Hegel absolutely had to, in order to make his system-to-end-all-systems "work."
Aristotelian (classical) logic is founded on the law of noncontradiction; that is, it is built up on the core idea of antithesis.
Hegelian dialectics, however, is built up on the premise of synthesis: the parties are thesis and antithesis, finally subsumed under a synthesis, which becomes the next "thesis" in the series, inviting its antithesis, which will in turn be subsumed in a higher synthesis. Which becomes the next thesis, ad in finitum, ad nauseam.
In short, Hegel is described as a transcendental idealist because he has removed all referents to a world exterior to the mind from his analysis/programme.
Kant never did this. (BTW Kant is on record as being "shocked" by Hegel's proposal.) Kant just suggested that there are "uncertainties" that obtain between the world of real objects and the way they are registered in human perception.
Hegel obviates direct perception altogether. He finds it needless to his project.... It's all "inside the head" with Hegel....
Your description sounds like a depiction of a do-nothing Congress, obsessed with process, not rooted in any sort of reality (does this sound familiar?), and drifting off into the mists of some obscure and undefined destination, not further defined, but somehow thought to be that illusive Nirvana (History begins today with nothing coming before and nothing following what you call your second reality?).
Thanks for the beep. Hearing from you is always a breath of fresh air
I suppose the point is that whether you start with analysis or synthesis, are a pragmatist or an idealist, yet don’t have God as the absolute Absolute, you turn man into god as the sole interpreter of the world. Either way you’re bound for tyranny.
I will say that the Idealist at least starts with an Absolute although a false Absolute.
Little wonder Jesus came to make ALL religion and pseudo religion; Obsolete.. and said.....
"You MUST be born again".. -Jesus
Into a first reality, I think..
For we all can easily get caught up into a 2nd reality..
or move from one 2nd reality to another... and another..
Some 2nds reality's don't have the name of a religion, but serve the same purpose..
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