Re: virus: McFadzean on Popper on Hegel

David McFadzean (
Mon, 23 Oct 1995 09:54:57 -0600

At 12:45 PM 10/20/95 -0700, T. Harms wrote:

>You misunderstand Hegel. Hegel's "synthesis" does not resolve the tensions
>of contradiction by devising a new position which addresses problems of
>said contradiction, it establishes a new position which _encloses_ both
>thesis and antithesis, including the contradictions between them. The
>motif Hegel relies on is not _selection_, it is _transcendence_. It is
>simply anti-evolutionary in this regard.

OK, let's take an example from Hegel himself. The thesis is Abstract Right.
The Stoics had an idea of universally binding conduct but it is abstract,
legalistic and ignores individual conscience. The antithesis is Morality.
Rosseau argued that individual conscience dictates if an act is right or
wrong, but this fails to recognize that rationality must dictate the right
thing to do. So along comes Hegel who synthesizes the two into Social Ethics.
The idea of right must be held by the society as a whole. It is not abstract
because everyone agrees. It is not individual because it is binding on
everyone. (I don't necessarily agree with Hegel here, I'm just using this
as an example of how he used the dialectic.)

It is the very act of transcending the thesis and antithesis that
addresses the problems of the contradiction. Of course they are still
there if you examine them individually, but the point is that a new
concept has been created. Maybe Popper misinterpreted Hegel to be
advocating the dialectic as a process which generates scientific hypotheses?

And finally, transcendence is in no way opposed to selection. I don't think
anyone would deny that multicellular animals transcend the prokaryotes, even
if natural selection was the process that underlies their evolution.

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Merak Projects Ltd.