virus: Hegel's Virus

D. H. Rosdeitcher (
23 Apr 97 13:57:30 EDT

Reed wrote:
> You can say exactly the
>same thing without declaring that these tendencies are a "problem"
>we seem to have. You are welcome to believe we are "wrong-thinking"
>but if you want to transmit a structure the it is often best to leave the
>moral judgements as to what is a useful and what is a useless way of
>thinking at the door, IMHO. One persons "disorder" is another persons
>"vision". I'd suggest less confrotational language...especially in the

It seems like Reed uses Hegelian logic to advocate a confrontational and
judgemental style. He does this by taking the opposite position that we should
be wimpy and flaky.

>> Philosopher Georg Hegel discovered a new kind of logic that was different
>>from traditional (objectivist) logic.

>[Careful. I don't accept that all "traditional" logic is synonymous with
>"objectivist" logic. Making assertions like that strengthens the tie you
>are trying to make between "objectivism" and "logic" but I think you
>lose a lot more by weaking your argument with an unsupported and
>unresolved assumptive allusion]

Actually, I got this from reading Hegel, who referred to traditional logic as
objective, and he made a point that he never disagreed with traditional
Aristotelian logic before he discussed his other kind of logic (dialectic).

>[I think I understand what you're getting at. But how do you know what
>the "thesis" is as opposed to the "antithesis"? If, from my perspective, it
>is the genes and memes which are "A" then "the individual" is "not A".
>I can, from this basis, argue that all discussion about individual will and
>selection is a Hegelian reversal of the true thesis: that genes, memes and
>other replicators are the compeditors in selection and "the individual" is
>the opposite invoked by our communal perception of this reality. How do
>you determine what is the "figure" and what is the "ground"?]

You don't really know the thesis as opposed to the antithesis. But, once you
decide to investigate or argue a position, there exists an inescapable
assumption that the individual represents the thesis, or else we'd be like pawns
to genes and memes, have no free-will, and would have no point in
investigating-- we wouldn't be able to control or understand genes or memes,
otherwise. But, Hegelian logic helps understand the phenomenon of evolution of
genes and memes, so reversing thesis and antithesis can be used in a certain

>[But, previously, you were arguing that we should all use objectivist logic
>and appeared to be very interested in the literal word of
>Rand, and were cricized for this apparent shortsightedness. I think you can
>generalize this criticism beyond Hegelianism. We are all too enamored of
>the Word.]

Hegel explained that you can add numbers many different ways to reach the sum of
9, (ie. 5+4, 3+6, 7+2, etc). Similarly, you can use many different models
(philosophies) to understand reality. But some models do not correspond with
reality as well as others. (ie. 5+1=9) Also, as Hegel said, action matters more
than words.

>[What do you think Hegel contributed to philosophy which was useful? Do you
>think Hegel himself often fell into these reversal-traps, or is this a
>result of his
>followers misinterpreting his method? Can you restate, in Hegelian
>language, the
>part you think is useful, if any?]

What Hegel contributed an evolutionary thinking *process*. In order for
evolution to occur, there has to be variation and selection. For instance, say
you have a DNA molecule. That molecule divides and its strands then recombine
with other strands from foreign DNA. Evolution depends on there being a constant
process of recombination with other DNA strands, and weeding out DNA that does
not meet requirements for survival. With ideas, a statement or thesis (like DNA
strand) gets asserted. That thesis gets challenged by an antithesis (foreign
DNA), which criticizes the thesis. What results might be a synthesis (new DNA)
which could be superior to either thesis or antithesis, as far as corresponding
to reality is concerned. That synthesis then becomes the new thesis that goes
through further evolution.
It seems obvious that Hegel's followers had an advantage over other
thinkers, since they had access to a powerful thinking process. Examples of
Hegel's followers include most of the great thinkers such as Nietzche,
Schopenhauer, Marx, etc. But, most of those thinkers misinterpreted Hegel and
they went unchallenged by other Hegelians, for various reasons.(ie. the
difficult of reading Hegel weeding out variety of Hegelians).
Note that evolution would not happen if a perfectly good strand of DNA was
used as a template to make copies of itself. The genes would be healthy, but
would not have variation to evolve. The philosophy of objectivism seems to
correspond with reality, but most objectivist followers have tended to copy
their leaders instead of challenging them. Students of the objectivist founders,
such as Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff have not had as much success as the
students of Hegel. Hegel was the "master template" of great thinkers.

-David Rosdeitcher