virus: Hegel's Virus

Reed Konsler (
Thu, 24 Apr 1997 10:53:06 -0400 (EDT)

>From: "D. H. Rosdeitcher" <>
>Date: 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.

Is that the best you can do? Come on, David, think harder. What is a
useful and simple strategy in the Prisoner's Dillema?

>>> 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).

"Objective" is to "Objectivism"
in the same way that
"Science" is to "Scientology"

>>[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
>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

I agree: if you are convinced you know what the answer is, there isn't any use
in asking questions. If you know the "one true process" of knowledge then there
is no reason to try any others. Some of us try to be a little more flexible.

The rest of the paragraph above is assertion:
"there exists an inescapable assumption that the individual represents the

I have obviously escaped it...but then I'm a fool, aren't I? ;-)

>>[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.

Hegel also argues that any "fragmentary" model (one which doesn't contain
"all the facts") is incapable of existing without contradiction unless it is
complemented by the rest of the world. In other words, It matters little that
you find it difficult to imagine a logical or ethical system without the
"individual" as it's thesis. Our imaginary foibles and rapier logic describe
reality, they do not define or delimit it. To the extent one denies the
(in your case, even the POSSIBLE existence) of things which cannot be well
defined according to your system of analysis you are (according to Hegel...
who, as we know, was a fool) by definition inconsistent, open to contradiction,
and in error.

Well, that's no big deal becuase (according, again, to Hegel) we are all in
or less the same boat. But, David, you aren't moving anymore! Hegel's great
contribution to philosophy was the concept that it could evolve with
history and
change to accomodate emerging reality, where in the past philosophers had
believed they revealing some sort of static eternal absolute truth.

>>[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
>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).

How can you know, before the end of history, which of Hegel's intellectual
children will be the most productive and culturally useful? Hegel disagreed
with Kant who disagreed with Hume who disagreed with Descartes. I suppose,
according to your way of thinking, they were all fools, eh? Tell me, does your
brand of Objectivism allow heathens who died before the Holy Word of Rand
into heaven on a technicality? Is is even useful to remember such thinkers
names? It seems to me you're arguing that Rand finished philosophy for us,
but that nobody noticed.

Look, David: Mohammed was just another prophet.

> 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
>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.

Your evolutionary argument is too simplistic. Environments fact,
in times of great change it is the most evolutionary "perfect" or highly
specialized organisms that die off first as the ecology they are part of is
disrupted. Even in reletivly placid periods the cycle of seasons, of predator
prey relationships, and of random changes in the environment make the
selection landcape an ocean to swim, not a mountian to climb.

Furthermore, you are arguing from an implicit "chain of being" assumption in
which "higher evolved" or "more complex" organisms are in some way better
than, say slime. In what way are you "better" than the cyanobacteria which
permeate the entire Earth and which ceased to evolve (well, much) billions
of years ago? In what way is Objectivism "better"? That's a rhetorical
question, I've heard your answer.

Again, you speak of the immutability of Objectivism as if it were some modern
Fortress of Solitude. It's a prison, David...and if you want to contribute
something to the thinking of this generation you need to break out of it.
Otherwise, you are the mouthpiece of a fossilizing institution...a
trilobite...and we already have one Roman Catholic Church.

Immutability is a weakness.


Reed Konsler