Hegelian (one off) Kick-Off: the first of 10 about "Science of Logic"

The first of ten (alternating) discussions on Hegel's (non-"lesser") "Science of Logic" (covering from):
his "Preface to the First Edition"
through the opening of "Book One:  Doctrine of Being;  Section One:  Determinateness (Quality)." 

In my old version (@ 1969 George Allen & Unwin , London),
translated by A.V. Miller and foreword-ed by J.N. Findlay,
this first dose amounts to pp. 25-81.

(If'n y'all would indulge me in some public outlining of my own thoughts about our looming discussions:) 
I.)  Our here and now (or, at least, soon).
II.)  Hegel in general.
III.)  Interpretations by others.
IV.)  Considerations of approach.
V.)  Remaining mindful of our text of choice, Hegel's "Science of Logic," and the confidence to gather its meaning for us through an agreeably shared commitment to it (if only by sometimes merely hoisting it).
     
I.)  For an hospitable invitation to philosophical practice/inquiry (among other things), 
I pilfer from others more concise (not to mention credible):

Mr. G.R.G. Mure:
"...philosophy is no more the exclusive business of professionals than is art or religion."

II.)  For some inspiring introductions to Hegel's writings in general:
J.N. Findlay:
"Hegel will appear as the greatest of European thinkers, engaged in a self-critical enterprise which even he only half understood, whose most obscure, botched utterances are often worth many of the lucidities of modern philosophers."

III.)  Because the only thing greater than the scope of Hegel's thinking may very well be the variety of interpretations of it, I self-restrain from spilling forth conclusions by commentators. However, because old habits die hard: 

Etienne Gilson:
"Hegel was not a philosopher;  he was a world, a self-creating world..."
("whose inner trouble it was to realize that, while it could not exist without exteriorizing itself through concepts, it could do not so without spreading far and wide its innermost depth at the very risk of losing it.").

IV.)  Any consideration of particular approach (other than our spontaneous own) might enjoy how the variety of established interpretations, based in a variety of approaches, can encourage our own without mis-guiding us (or, heaven forbid, putting one off entirely):

E.g.,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9fZe4mlKSoHegel and Marx - Bryan Magee Series of The Great Philosophers
Here, Bryan Magee accurately introduces (to his audience) Hegel's reputation for being "difficult" and "obscure":
"Hegel is notorious for being difficult to read, for being obscure...  often described as the most obscure of all the major philosophers."
(In agreement with his guest, Peter Singer,...)
"The best starting point is the philosophy of history."
 
Peter Singer clarifies for his audience, if nothing else, the convenience of Hegel's history/"History" as a concrete "way in to" his abstract logic/"Logic":
"Part of the difficulty of Hegel is that he's so abstract, but the history/"History", because it's concrete, is an easy way in to the more abstract parts of his philosophy."

Alternatively,
(however un-tempted I am to post the particular link),
Slavoj Zizek :
"If you have an idea that somehow the basic matrix, as it were, of the Hegelian movement of the self-deployment of Hegelian Dialectic is this famous triad:  Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis...  Forget about it!"

V.)  But, lest we get distracted by the 2ndary, let's try, after beginning so, to return to the man himself or, at least, a few of his actual words (as I hope we will throughout).

E.g.,
(from early on in Volume One, Book One, Section One:) 
"Being is the indeterminate immediate...
This reflectionless being is being as it is immediately in its own self alone."

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  • Roger

    Yes! I too was lost (and bored). Granted, I hadn't read any of the material. When I realized that being lost and bored could go on for two hours, I decided I would leave and try again, but read the material before I come. This is a group where reading beforehand is essential. I think having some background in philosophy would be helpful too. Much of the commentary was really a critique of Hegel given an understanding of what came before. Not that either reading or having background information is too much work or uninteresting. I would love to get to that point, but initially, I think the learning curve is steep. Maybe too steep for something that also serves a social function. Is it possible that there are really two groups here. Those who already have the background and the desire to deeply survey the material and those who aspire to have that background or are ok with a more general survey of the topic(s), that includes some informed discussion?

    3 · April 8, 2014

    • Alan

      You are right. I had read some philosophy. Next session i will bring a dummies guide to Hegel . Lol.

      1 · April 8, 2014

    • Alan

      Well Hegel was interesting because his work branches out to Kant. My goal is understanding metaphysics and how it branches out into other religions with the knowledge of hegel, kant, and aristotle. I want to explore the conceptualization of sin and no sin from the metaphysical perspective.

      1 · April 9, 2014

  • Marc W.

    Just a thought, I wonder if some of the beginners would be interested in starting a discussion group based on a kind of Philosphy 101 survey course with weekly readings. Start with the Greeks and move on from there. Maybe one of the people with a strong background in philosophy would even like to guide the discussion. I'd be glad to set up a reading list or leave that up to one of the experts.

    3 · April 8, 2014

    • Alan

      I could make an outline or we could make one outlining all of the philosophers. Who were they? Etc. Bring some dummy guides but u could get their works for free online on pdf file files from the smartphone or tablet.

      1 · April 9, 2014

    • Alan

      Application of their philosophy in modern times.

      1 · April 9, 2014

  • Rick O.

    Roger, Alan, and Marc - thanks for the feedback - this is very helpful. The more organizers know the better they can plan.

    2 · April 8, 2014

    • Alan

      I also like 2 see applications of the philosophies. Hegel's science of logic is a cornerstone of western philosophy and continue to learn much more about it.

      1 · April 8, 2014

  • Marc W.

    From what I observed, there was a core group who really mastered the topic and the rest of the group just listened (and looked at their smart phones or at the Bad News Bears on the 3m TV screen). I can't speak for the silent majority but not having read the book and not having much background in philosophy I was quickly lost in the subject matter specific vocabulary that made it impossible for me to follow what the experts were talking about. To the extent that others were in the same boat as me, I wonder if there is a way to pull the rest of us in the conversation w/o ruining the conversation for the experts.

    2 · April 8, 2014

    • Alan

      With smartphone technology, now you can read hegel's science of logic on pdf file rather than bring a book. If you look at the playstores, you can find some material on some things spoken at the session. I agree with you. You definitely need to decipher through 1800s english translated from German.

      April 8, 2014

    • Brian

      HI Marc - hmm perhaps Hegel simply isn't best suited to beginners OR experts? Maybe that's the problem? If experts were possible we'd be able to teach beginners. But speaking for myself (as someone who did speak often at the group) the best I know how to do is try my best to engage at the high level Hegel seems to be demanding of us. Right now, it seems the alternative is to not be actually engaging with Hegel at all. Perhaps with time that will change? Hegel is brand new to the group. Truly, I care very much about a friendly cooperative environment - hopefully we achieve that in the other groups (try Plato?). But honestly, I'm having trouble thinking of any topic less conducive to this than Hegel's Science of Logic. It's a monsterpiece of philosophy!

      1 · April 8, 2014

  • Ann

    George, do they have food there?

    2 · April 6, 2014

    • Brian

      Yes

      1 · April 6, 2014

    • Ann

      George, thank you for the update. I did end up ordering food.

      2 · April 8, 2014

  • Roger

    Needs smaller groups for discussion.

    1 · April 8, 2014

    • Alan

      There was alot of people but i rather and listen from other people to see other perspectives from the book. Now the book has alot of information hidden in colloquial lingo from the 1800s. Lol. Aristotle physics had been a smaller group at the pig cafe.

      1 · April 8, 2014

  • Ann

    Been looking forward to this topic for awhile!

    1 · April 6, 2014

  • Alan

    Very intense book.

    1 · April 6, 2014

  • Brian

    Best philosopher since Plato

    3 · April 6, 2014

  • Brian

    21.32 ..nice

    April 6, 2014

  • George

    No one need read nothin', nor hoist any "big books," to merely attend what might could be an agreeable start to discussing whatever.

    But if'n so long as I've stuck my neck out as host for some such, please consider that no one should fear anything to do with any discussion by our group.
    There is adequate space and time (and quiet for the Owl of Minerva), but no pressure of any kind (especially in Hegel's notoriously static metaphysics).
    I'd like to begin by asking anyone attending (who cares to) to simply state anything: comments, thoughts, feelings, questions, conclusions or drink orders.

    Then I'd like to start at the beginning (of Hegel's "Introduction," with its first sentence):

    "In no science is the need to begin with the subject matter itself, without preliminary reflections, felt more strongly than in the science of logic."

    April 4, 2014

    • Rick O.

      If Logic has gone virtually untouched through the centuries (from the intro), and this is the problem Hegel wants to address, then perhaps we need to remember not to carry into the dialog our existing conceptions of Logic. We need to wipe the slate clean and start fresh.

      I heard somewhere that a critic of Hegel mapped out his statements and showed how they were inconsistent. This makes me smile. Either the critic failed to understand Hegel, or he was being sarcastic because his point, if anything, shows that Hegel is right. To carry into the dialog our existing modes of thought is to ignore what Hegel explicitly (for a change) says we should not do. To show that Hegel's thought cannot be mapped into the existing schema to me is a positive sign.

      1 · April 4, 2014

  • George

    Perhaps it'd be good to consider a starting point agreeable to many of us (though perhaps for different reasons).

    "Preface"-s often convey an author's most sincere introduction to what they hope for their philosophizing to follow.

    Here, in the "Preface to the First Edition" (pg. 25, Miller), Hegel begins our "S/L" by describing the recent historical context in which he believes to find himself:

    "That which, prior to this period, was called metaphysics has been, so to speak , extirpated root and branch and has vanished from the ranks of the sciences." I am willing to do the light lifting of subtraction (while ducking any wigs, powdered or not):
    1812 -- 25 = 1787.

    What does Hegel here mean (and not mean) by "metaphysics"?

    And by "sciences"?

    My bias interptets the former to mean an ontology that is prior to an epistemology, and the latter to mean knowledge OF what is (vs. the "mere-iad" of ways of thinking about whatever is).

    March 30, 2014

    • Rick O.

      to add: - and what are the pieces (and there are a lot of them) that make up an ontology? Or, from what is an ontology composed?

      1 · April 4, 2014

  • John H.

    The entire text is available free at libcom.org. Look under the library tab.

    1 · April 4, 2014

  • George

    I'm content with reading and discussing Hegel,
    but for those who might enjoy a musically humorous approach...

    (NB: If anyone's offended by such explicit audio/video, they should feel free to delete this post.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pcg_VRK7e30

    1 · April 1, 2014

  • Brian

    So this special series begins at Globe Pub on Sunday.. The series continues at B. Pig on Wednesdays.....excellent idea!

    2 · February 28, 2014

    • Brian

      I see Hegel on the 6th..and then the 16th.

      1 · March 1, 2014

    • Alex

      1. Matter.. Meaningful.

      1 · March 29, 2014

  • Rick O.

    This line (from the intro) makes me giggle:

    "I could not of course imagine that the method which in this System of Logic I have followed - or rather which this System follows of itself..."

    1 · March 27, 2014

  • Brian

    By locating Kants thing-in-tself in the subject, Hegel also vindicates Spinoza's substance and of understanding necessity as freedom/self-determination/virtue....

    Release the prisoners - this guy is a stream of gold!

    2 · March 18, 2014

    • Rick O.

      say preliminary instead

      1 · March 26, 2014

    • Brian

      Ok

      March 26, 2014

  • George

    Excellent minds translate alike.
    di Giovanni renders the above (pg. 58 in his) almost identically to Miller (pg. 81 in his):
    "Being is the indeterminate immediate...
    This reflectionless being is being as it immediately is only within."

    1.) Do prepositions matter?
    2.) Are these propositions meaningful or just lofty mumbo-jumbo?

    March 8, 2014

    • George

      Whether you're invoking Blake (or even "The Doors" in between) or some later phenomenology or existentialism, I agree not only that prepositions matter but also about the distinction between the unknown immediate and the stuff of philosophical inquiry (or "content" of "philosophic cognition").

      I think Nietzsche would be proud of your preference for self-definition.

      March 15, 2014

    • Rick O.

      Ha - I suspect that is where I get it from.

      I like the phrase 'indeterminate immediate" - it's evocative (hence it's ground for truth).

      My guess so far (from only the two prefaces) is that Hegel's Logic is going to be oriented more towards content over form. I think that is his intent in the quote (which pushes Kant aside).

      Makes me think of Bacon's criticisms of traditional Logic from the Roadshow meetup.

      This is just a guess - which may be simply wrong or too over generalized.

      March 15, 2014

  • George

    Don't fear the bogeyman:

    "Hegel’s absolute idealism has become the bogeyman of philosophy, obscuring the fact that he is the defining philosopher of the historical transition to modernity, a period with which our own times share startling similarities."

    --Slavoj Zizek
    ("Less Than Nothing").

    March 9, 2014

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