Sunday, June 21, 2020

A Hegel-Scotus Connection?

Alas, bad scholarship has much in common, no matter the topic.

From an Essay by Walter Kaufmann:

One of the few things on which the analysts, pragmatists, and existentialists agree with the dialectical theologians is that Hegel is to be repudiated: their attitude toward Kant, Aristotle, Plato, and the other great philosophers is not at all unanimous even within each movement; but opposition to Hegel is part of the platform of all four, and of the Marxists, too. Oddly, the man whom all these movements take to be so crucially important is but little known to most of their adherents; very few indeed have read as many as two of the four books that Hegel published.
Hegel is known largely through secondary sources and a few incriminating slogans and generalizations. The resulting myth, however, lacked a comprehensive, documented statement till Karl Popper found a place for it in his widely discussed book, The Open Society and Its Enemies. After it had gone through three impressions in England, a revised one-volume edition was brought out in the United States in 1950, five years after its original appearance.


Furthermore, Popper has relied largely on Scribner’s Hegel Selections, a little anthology for students that contains not a single complete work. Like Gilson in The Unity of Philosophical Experience (p. 246), Popper takes over such a gross mistranslation as “the State is the march of God through the world,” although the original says merely that it is the way of God with the world that there should be the State, and even this sentence is lacking in the text published by Hegel and comes from one of the editor’s additions to the posthumous edition of The Philosophy of Right — and the editor admitted in his Preface that, though these additions were based on lecture notes, “the choice of words” was sometimes his rather than Hegel’s.


No conception is bandied about more unscrupulously in the history of ideas than “Influence.” Popper’s notion of it is so utterly unscientific that one should never guess that he has done important work on logic and on scientific method. At best, it is reducible to post hoc, ergo propter hoc. Thus he speaks of “the Hegelian Bergson” (p. 256 and n. 66) and assumes, without giving any evidence whatever, that Bergson, Smuts, Alexander, and Whitehead were all interested in Hegel, simply because they were “evolutionists” (p. 225 and n. 6).


Anonymous said...

Glad to know your blog is up and running again!

The habit of commentators on Hegel placing Hegel's work in a myth of *the* history of philosophy (or March of Mind, as it were) is ironically and explicitly one he encourages and builds himself. We should probably thank him for it; his History of Philosophy (rather than his Philosophy of History) seemed to be very influential for incepting in 19c German universities studies in the history of philosophy. Of course, as with Scotus, practical philosophy for Hegel did not mean the humdrum encouragement of political or practical movements; as - as is well known - Popper, Russel, and the Marxists want 'Hegel -> Fascism'; or Radical Orthodoxy's 'Scotus -> all modern ailments'. And at any rate, modern Hegel scholars are of so different stripes: some attempting to stick primarily to source material and in effect do Hegel exegesis; others - usually postmodern - taking the Kool Aid and viewing him as progressive step to XYZ phenomenon/thinker/ideology/goodness-knows-what. This is a problem known to the British Idealists, some of whom do engage with Hegel as an exegete, e.g. JME McTaggart - see his Commentary on Hegel's Logic-, seem to want *only* to think through Hegel by his own steps.
But I'm not sure there are comparable medieval thinkers to Hegel, because I'm not sure any medieval thinker (and I would be very interested to know) thinks about the philosophy of history in terms of teleological fulfilment, or were interested particularly in what is of distinctly *historical* concern. (I would be very interested to know if there are Western medieval reflections on the philosophy of history?).


Garrett said...

Hi PJ, so all i meant was that extreme distortions of an author's work is not limited to Scotus and his enemies. So a very tenuous, non doctrinal connection between Scotus and Hegel is what I was alluding to. I have been reading the science of logic, that is all, but I would agree, the medievals don't discuss philosophy of history. for them, at least the Latins, such things would be subsumed into the beatific vision and the final end of humanity. There are some loose parallels between Hegel's reflections on the notion of being and Peter Thomae's De ente, but that is not due to any historical connection or theorizing, just the internal logic of the problem of being, I would say.