virus: Hegel's Virus (was Altruism, Empathy, Etc.)

D. H. Rosdeitcher (
20 Apr 97 16:04:58 EDT

A lot of people on this list appear to have a thinking disorder which I
call Hegel's virus. Hegel's virus has to do with confusion about the
relationship between cause and effect. 2 examples include 1)believing that memes
literallly compete for survival, using people as hosts for the memes'
replication purposes and 2)believing that the meaning of ideas are determined by
the definitions of words used to express those ideas, (instead of meanings of
words being determined by how they are used in a given context of an idea).
Philosopher Georg Hegel discovered a new kind of logic that was different
from traditional (objectivist) logic. In traditional logic, the notion that
things have their own identity often takes the expression, 'A is A'. Hegel made
a statement that 'A is both A and Not A'. Hegel's claim that 'A is both A and
not A', never contradicted traditional logic, as he was simply referring to a
different type of logic which applies the the act of thinking.
The notion that 'A is both A and not A', according to Hegel, meant that
when one thinks about something, the opposite or context of that something will
inevitably be thought about or implied. For instance, thinking about the color
'blue' can lead to thinking about the rest of the colors in the spectrum.
Similarly, when one thinks of 'day', 'night' comes to mind. 'Cause' implies
One aspect of this Hegelian way of thinking, is that it is possible to
reverse the relationship between 'A' and 'Not A' such as when the roles of cause
and effect are reversed. For instance, in selfish gene theory, the genes
compete with each other for survival, using people as their messengers to
replicate themselves instead of people competing for survival, using genes as
messengers. While selfish gene theory and other types of Hegelian logic can be
used to clarify something, ( genes evolve), some people appear to take it
literally.There are other times when Hegelian logic is used for the purpose of
obscuring reality, as in "selfish definitions of words" theory, in which
definitions of words determine the meaning of ideas that use those words,
instead of ideas determining what its words mean in their context. For instance,

James W. wrote:
Reed wrote:
>>>Obviously we are
>>> the sense that we can engage in trade, that we can delay
>>>gratification, that we are willing to "invest" effort today on the
>>>assumption that there will be return with interest at a later date.

Robin wrote:
>>Sorry, that's not altruism.
>>Regard for others, both natural and moral; devotion to the interests of
>>others; brotherly kindness; -- opposed to egoism or selfishness.

>Robin appears to have difficulty with Reed's use of a word, presents a
>reference for how she understands it to have been defined, and cites the
>source. How else can you object to someone using a word in a context that
>you do not agree with?

Does anyone misunderstand what Reed meant by 'altruism' in this context?

and Martz wrote:
> I don't know about you David but when it comes down to finding a common
>ground regarding a definition of a word I reach straight for the

There's nothing wrong with looking up words to understand the author, but
that doesn't mean words can't have different meanings according to context.
Using a Hegelian trick of reversing the relationship between ideas and
definitions of words, can prevent certain points of view from being
expressed.(ie. the un-Catholic or un-Buddhist idea that altruism is in the
context of self-interest.)
Hegel's virus can also be shown by the spread of Communism. Karl Marx, the
father of Communism, claimed that Instead of people producing and controlling
goods and services, goods or services controlled the people. (politically,
socially, etc) Marx's theory, like selfish gene theory, might be simply an
interesting mental exercise to understand and observe the economy, but was
apparently taken literally by lots of people. Marx might have been joking but
most people didn't get it.

-David Rosdeitcher