فصل 22

دوره: تاریخچه کوتاهی از فلسفه / درس 22

فصل 22

توضیح مختصر

  • زمان مطالعه 0 دقیقه
  • سطح خیلی سخت

دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

این درس را می‌توانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید

دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

فایل صوتی

برای دسترسی به این محتوا بایستی اپلیکیشن زبانشناس را نصب کنید.

متن انگلیسی درس

chapter 22

The Owl of Minerva

Georg W.F. Hegel

‘The owl of Minerva flies only at dusk.’ This was the view of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831). But what does it mean? Actually, that question ‘What does it mean?’ is one that readers of Hegel’s works ask themselves a lot. His writing is fiendishly difficult, partly because, like Kant’s, it is mostly expressed in very abstract language and often uses terms that he has himself invented. No one, perhaps not even Hegel, has understood all of it. The statement about the owl is one of the easier parts to decipher. This is his way of telling us that wisdom and understanding in the course of human history will only come fully at a late stage, when we’re looking back on what has already happened, like someone looking back on the events of a day as night falls.

Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom, and she was usually associated with the wise owl. Whether Hegel was wise or foolish is much debated, but he was certainly influential. His view that history would unfold in a particular way inspired Karl Marx (see Chapter 27) and so certainly changed what happened, since Marx’s ideas stirred revolutions in Europe in the early twentieth century. But Hegel also irritated many philosophers. Some philosophers even treated his work as an example of the risk of using terms imprecisely. Bertrand Russell (see Chapter 31) came to despise it, and A.J. Ayer (see Chapter 32) declared that most of Hegel’s sentences expressed nothing at all. For Ayer, Hegel’s writing was no more informative than nonsense verse and considerably less appealing. Others, including Peter Singer (see Chapter 40), have found great depth in his thought, and argue that his writing is difficult because the ideas he is struggling with are so original and hard to grasp.

Hegel was born in Stuttgart, in what is now Germany, in 1770 and grew up in the era of the French Revolution when the monarchy there was overthrown and a new republic established. He called it ‘a glorious dawn’ and with his fellow students planted a tree to commemorate the events. This time of political instability and radical transformation influenced him for the rest of his life. There was a real sense that fundamental assumptions could be overturned, that what seemed to be fixed for all time needn’t be. One insight this led to was the way in which the ideas that we have are directly related to the time we live in and can’t be fully understood outside their historical context. Hegel believed that in his own lifetime a crucial stage in history had been reached. On a personal level he progressed from obscurity to fame. He began his working life as a private tutor to a wealthy family before moving on to be a headmaster of a school. Eventually he was made a professor at the university in Berlin. Some of his books were originally lecture notes written up to help his students understand his philosophy. By the time of his death he was the best-known and most admired philosopher of his time. This is quite amazing, given how difficult his writing can be. But a group of enthusiastic students dedicated themselves to understanding and discussing what he taught and bringing out both the political and metaphysical implications.

Heavily influenced by Immanuel Kant’s metaphysics (see Chapter 19), Hegel came to reject Kant’s view that noumenal reality lies beyond the phenomenal world. Rather than accepting that noumena lie beyond perception causing our experience, he concluded that the mind shaping reality just is reality. There is nothing beyond it. But this did not mean that reality remained in a fixed state. For Hegel, everything is in a process of change, and that change takes the form of a gradual increase in self-awareness, our state of self-awareness being fixed by the period in which we live.

Think of the whole of history as a long bit of paper folded up on itself. We can’t really understand what is there until it has all been unfolded. Nor can we know what is written on the very last bit of paper until it is opened out. There is an underlying structure to the way it unfolds. For Hegel, reality is constantly moving towards its goal of understanding itself. History isn’t in any sense random. It’s going somewhere. When we look back over it we will see that it had to unfold like this. This is a strange idea when you first hear it. I suspect most people reading this won’t share Hegel’s view. History for most of us is closer to how Henry Ford described it: ‘just one damned thing after another’. It is a series of things that happen without any overall plan. We can study history and discover the probable causes of events and predict something of what might happen in the future. But that doesn’t mean it has an inevitable pattern in the way Hegel thought it did. It doesn’t mean it’s going somewhere. And it certainly doesn’t mean it is gradually becoming aware of itself.

Hegel’s study of history wasn’t a separate activity from his philosophy, it was part of it: the main part of it. History and philosophy were entwined for him. And everything was driving towards something better. This wasn’t an original idea. Religions usually explain history as leading to some end point, such as Christ’s Second Coming. Hegel was a Christian, but his account was far from orthodox. For him, the final result wasn’t the Second Coming. For Hegel, history has an end target, one that no one had really appreciated before. It’s the gradual and inevitable coming to self-awareness of Spirit through the march of reason.

But what is Spirit? And what does it mean for it to become self-aware? The word for Spirit in German is Geist. Scholars disagree about its precise meaning; some prefer to translate it as ‘Mind’. Hegel seems to mean by it something like the single mind of all humanity. Hegel was an idealist – he thought that this Spirit or Mind was fundamental and finds its expression in the physical world (in contrast, materialists believe that physical matter is basic). Hegel retold the history of the world in terms of gradual increases in individual freedom. We are moving from individual freedom, via freedom for some people but not others, towards a world in which everyone is free in a political state that allows them to contribute to that society.

One way he thought that we make progress in thought is by a clash between an idea and its opposite. Hegel believed that we can move closer to truth by following his dialectical method. First someone puts forward an idea – a thesis. This is then met with its contradiction, a view that challenges the first idea – its antithesis. From this clash of two positions, a more complex third position emerges, which takes account of both – a synthesis of the two. And then, more often than not, this starts the process again. The new synthesis becomes a thesis, and an antithesis is put against it. All this keeps going until full self-understanding by Spirit occurs.

The main thrust of history turns out to be Spirit understanding its own freedom. Hegel traced this progress from those who lived under tyrannical rulers in Ancient China and India, who did not know that they were free, through to his own time. For these ‘Orientals’, only the supremely powerful ruler experienced freedom. In Hegel’s view, the ordinary people had no awareness at all of freedom. The Ancient Persians were little more sophisticated in their appreciation of freedom. They were defeated by the Greeks, and this brought progress. The Greeks and later the Romans were more aware of freedom than those who went before them. Yet they still kept slaves. This showed that they didn’t fully appreciate that humanity as a whole should be free, not just the wealthy or the powerful. In a famous passage in his book The Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), he discussed the struggle between a master and a slave. The master wants to be recognized as a self-conscious individual and needs the slave in order to achieve this: but without acknowledging that the slave merits recognition too. This unequal relationship leads to a struggle, with one dying. But this is self-defeating. Eventually master and slave come to recognize their need for each other, and the need to respect each other’s freedom.

But, Hegel claimed, it was only with Christianity, which triggered an awareness of spiritual value, that genuine freedom became possible. In his own time history realized its goal. Spirit became aware of its own freedom and society was as a result ordered by principles of reason. This was very important to him: true freedom only arose from a properly organized society. What worries many readers of Hegel is that in the sort of ideal society imagined by Hegel those who don’t fit in with the powerful organizers’ view of society will, in the name of freedom, be forced to accept this ‘rational’ way of living. They will, in Rousseau’s paradoxical phrase, be ‘forced to be free’ (see Chapter 18).

The end result of all history turned out to be Hegel himself coming to an awareness of the structure of reality. He seemed to think he had achieved that in the final pages of one of his books. That was the point at which Spirit first understood itself. Like Plato (see Chapter 1), then, Hegel gave a special position to philosophers. Plato, you’ll remember, believed that philosopher-kings should rule his ideal republic. Hegel, in contrast, thought philosophers could achieve a particular kind of self-understanding that was also an understanding of reality and of all history, another way of enacting the words engraved at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi: ‘Know Thyself ‘. It is philosophers, he believed, who come to realize the ultimate unfolding pattern of human events. They appreciate the way that the dialectic has produced a gradual awakening. Suddenly everything becomes clear to them and the point of the whole of human history becomes obvious. Spirit enters a new phase of self-understanding. That’s the theory anyway.

Hegel had many admirers, but Arthur Schopenhauer was not one of them. He thought Hegel wasn’t really a philosopher at all because he lacked seriousness and honesty in the way he approached the subject. As far as Schopenhauer was concerned, Hegel’s philosophy was nonsense. Hegel, for his part, described Schopenhauer as ‘loathsome and ignorant’.

مشارکت کنندگان در این صفحه

تا کنون فردی در بازسازی این صفحه مشارکت نداشته است.

🖊 شما نیز می‌توانید برای مشارکت در ترجمه‌ی این صفحه یا اصلاح متن انگلیسی، به این لینک مراجعه بفرمایید.