Exchange with James Good on Hegel


Editorial Note

One does not expect any love lost between a Hegelian and Friesian, and this increasingly unfriendly exchange, with its initial charge of ignorance and "terrorism," certainly confirms that. While a Hegel apologist like Robert Solomon is at least aware and candid that he is in the business of denaturing and "redoing" Hegel, by ignoring most of his mature work and selectively interpreting earlier things (especially the Phenomenology), I do not gather from this exchange that Dr. Good is even conscious of engaging in such selectivity, or of its tendentiousness. Thus, he is totally unwilling to explain Hegel's metaphysics but doesn't avail himself of the excuse that the "good" Hegel is "anti-metaphysical." I see from his webpage, linked below, that Dr. Good recently defended a dissertation entitled A Search for Community in Diversity: The 'Hegelian Deposit' in the Philosophy of John Dewey. While Dr. Good was not forthcoming about Hegelian politics in this exchange, it may be significant that, although John Dewey is known as a Pragmatist, he was also a socialist and for some time an admirer of the Soviet Union -- until he decided (reluctantly?) that the Moscow Show Trials of the late 1930's were a fraud. This does not sound like "pragmatism" in the ordinary meaning of the term; and, indeed, it is now not uncommon for leftist ideologues, like Richard Rorty, to wrap themselves in the mantle of "pragmatism." The New Apologetic for Hegel fits into all this quite nicely, and my suspicion about Dr. Good's lack of complaint about "far left-wing" interpretations of Hegel -- that he is precisely in that camp -- seems confirmed.


Date: Tue, 27 Feb 2001 08:09:28 -0600
From: Jim Good
Subject: Hegel

Dr. Ross,

I just saw your page on Hegel. Your ignorance of his writings and 
secondary scholarship is truly amazing. Popper's ad hominem attack on 
Hegel was discredited shortly after it was published. See Walter 
Kaufmann, "The Hegel Myth and Its Method" in From Shakespeare to 
Existentialism (1959). You should also take a look at Jon Stewart, 
ed., The Hegel Myths and Legends (1996). I find it hard to understand 
how people can claim to be fighting totalitarianism when they employ 
terroristic rhetorical methods to do so.

Jim Good
-- 
James A. Good
Rice University
History Department - MS42
6100 Main St.
Houston, TX 77005-1892
Voice: 713.348.4947 | Home Page: 
http://www.owlnet.rice.edu/~gem/

Dear Mr. Good,

I wonder why a philosophical evaluation constitutes "terrorist rhetorical methods," even while you fail to mention just what was wrong with the evaluation, or how Hegel escapes accusations like Popper's. But perhaps you think referring me to the mentioned publications is sufficient.

Best wishes,
Kelley Ross


Date: Tue, 27 Feb 2001 21:20:35 -0600
To: "Kelley L. Ross" 
From: Jim Good 
Subject: Re: Hegel

Well we both have an ability to exchange barbs. I'll get back to you as
soon as I can. Right now I'm up against a deadline. I see you worked with
Doug Browning at UT. I've met him but can't say I know him well. I just
took another quick look at your Hegel page and the ad hominem is just as
thick I remembered it being.

"It is not clear, however, which is worse, the thought that the enthusiasts
were deceived by the mere appearance of Hegel's profundity, that the
enthusiasts feather their own nest in a self-contained hermetic bureaucracy,
or that the enthusiasts actually embrace the kind of theory that Hegel ends
up with out of honest conviction and agreement."

Would you honestly claim that this is sound logic?

Cheers,
Jim

Dear Mr. Good,

I wonder why a philosophical evaluation constitutes "terrorist rhetorical methods," even while you fail to mention just what was wrong with the evaluation, or how Hegel escapes accusations like Popper's. But perhaps you think referring me to the mentioned publications is sufficient.

Best wishes,
Kelley Ross


Dear Mr. Good,

I might ask you a couple of brief questions:

(1) Do you deny that, in terms of Hegel's metaphysics, the state, as a manifestation of Geist, is more real than the individuals that constitute it? And if individuals are more real, what is the nature of their existence (substantial, phenomenal, etc.)?

(2) Do you deny that Hegel rejected the Kantian principle that each rational individual contains a source of moral certainty against which anything in the phenomenal world cannot measure up? Or, does what Kant considered possible only among things-in-themselves become in fact assimilated by Hegel to phenomena themselves, having rejected things-in-themselves?

(3) Do you affirm that Hegel, through his dialectic, had access to truths about nature that were superior or in contradiction to those attainable by science at the same time? You say that Popper's critique was soon exposed as all wrong, but does this mean that Hegel did not, as Popper cites, "prove" that a planet could not occur between Mars and Jupiter? Did Popper have trouble, with German as his first language, understanding or translating what Hegel said in his "Philosophy of Nature"?

If I am to be accused with unfamiliarity with the secondary literture, then I assume that you must also be familiar with Leonard Nelson's *Progress and Regress in Philosophy*, which contains an extensive analysis of Hegel.

Note that an "ad hominem" argument condemns arguments on the basis of considerations about individuals that are not "ad rem", i.e. relevant to the issue. My condemnation of or heated language about Hegel apologists is not, however, based on anything but the "ad rem" condemnation of their support and apologiae for Hegel. Condemnations of Hegel are for bad philosophy, bad metaphysics, bad epistemology, bad morality, bad science, bad ethics, and bad politics.

Best wishes,
Kelley Ross


Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2001 21:33:02 -0600
To: "Kelley L. Ross" 
From: Jim Good 
Subject: Re: Hegel

Mr. Ross,

In my opinion your questions assume the truth of the far right-wing 
reading of Hegel. But as you well know there are many schools of 
thought in Hegel scholarship. Personally, I believe the reading 
propagated by the right-wing is indefensible by reference to Hegel's 
texts.

>(1) Do you deny that, in terms of Hegel's metaphysics, the state, as 
>a manifestation of Geist, is more real than the individuals that 
>constitute it?  And if individuals are more real, what is the nature 
>of their existence (substantial, phenomenal, etc.)?

If, in your question, you mean the political state, the answer is 
unequivocally no, Hegel does not characterize it as more real than 
the individuals that constitute it. Hegel firmly denies that a 
person's obligation to the political state requires him to make 
extraordinary sacrifices on its behalf (PR, sect. 268). If you mean 
"state" as Hegel more frequently used the term, the articulated 
totality of all human relationships, the question is a bit more 
complicated. In the latter sense of the term, Hegel believes the 
state is an "absolute end," meaning that individuals should place it 
above their own private interests (PR, sect. 258). When you say "the 
state, as a manifestation of Geist," do you mean that Geist is a 
God-like, supernatural being apart from humanity? If so, I think you 
have accepted the right-wing reading of Hegel uncritically. It makes 
more sense, in my estimation, to read Geist as humanity since Hegel 
speaks of it as a resolutely historical reality. I address the 
reality of individual below.

>(2) Do you deny that Hegel rejected the Kantian principle that each
>rational individual contains a source of moral certainty against which
>anything in the phenomenal world cannot measure up?  Or, does what Kant
>considered possible only among  things-in-themselves become in fact
>assimilated by Hegel to phenomena themselves, having rejected
>things-in-themselves?

Contra Kant, Hegel believed that human actions gain universal 
significance, not through their relationship to abstract moral 
principles, but when they are the actions of someone culturally and 
historically situated, and when they promote the ethical life of a 
determinate people at a given stage of its history. In the 
Phenomenology, Hegel makes it clear that he believed the French Reign 
of Terror was based on fanatical devotion to abstract moral 
principles. Thus, in comparison to Kant, he actually brought morality 
down to earth by placing it firmly within a cultural context. Hegel 
rejected the thing-in-itself because he believed that what we 
encounter in ordinary experience is as real as it gets. Kant, on the 
other hand, denied the reality of the everyday world by claiming that 
the "really real" objects are in an unaccessible realm. If you 
assume, as many have, that Hegel's rejection of the noumena/phenomena 
dichotomy relegates him to one part of the dichotomy, the phenomenal 
world, you are begging the question against him since he rejects the 
entire dichotomy. Thus, in answer to the second part of (1) above, 
for Hegel, particular individuals that we actually encounter in our 
experience are more real than they are for Kant. They have no 
mysterious, transcendent noumenal aspect that cannot be known. This 
avoids Kant's problem of how to talk about the noumenal realm when, 
according to his own epistemology, it cannot be known.

>(3) Do you affirm that Hegel, through his dialectic, had access to truths
>about nature that were superior or in contradiction to those attainable by
>science at the same time?  You say that Popper's critique was soon exposed
>as all wrong, but does this mean that Hegel did not, as Popper cites,
>"prove" that a planet could not occur between Mars and Jupiter?

No, I do not believe that Hegel's dialectic gave him access to truths 
about nature that were superior or in contradiction to those 
attainable by science at the time. And in fact, he never claimed 
otherwise.

Actually, I believe you are referring to an argument Hegel made in 
his dissertation, "Dissertatio philosophica de orbitis planetarum..." 
In that document, Hegel critiqued the "Law of Titius-Bode," according 
to which the distance between the planets had to correspond to a rule 
of arithmetical progression. According to that law, if one posits the 
distance of Mercury as a, where a=4 and b=3, then the distance of 
Venus = a+b, Earth = a+2b, Mars = a+4b, Jupiter = a+16b, Saturn = 
a+32b. Because, at that time there was no known planet that 
corresponded to a+8b, 24 (I believe the number was no coincidence) 
astronomers founded an international association who devoted 
themselves to the task of tracing the recalcitrant planet. Their 
research was encouraged by the recent discovery of Uranus by W. 
Heschel in 1781 that seemed to confirm the hypothetical law because 
it was found precisely in the 8th position of the series. Hegel 
suspected that the mathematical rule was inexact because it was 
merely quantitative and, in his terminology, non-rational in nature. 
In the dissertation he sought to discover another mathematical 
sequence that would account for the distance between Mars and 
Jupiter. He argued that scientists had been numbed by a non-rational 
arithmetical sequence, and postulated a new planet in order to 
corroborate their mathematical construction which was, in fact, the 
result of the abitrariness of their own faculty of understanding. In 
the dissertation, Hegel claimed that "the study and knowledge of the 
laws of nature are based upon nothing other than this: we believe 
that nature has been formed by reason, and we are convinced that all 
the laws of nature are identical." (Dissertatio, 136) Hegel went on 
to argue that through their very activity--and indeed through their 
experience of joy at the correspondence of natural phenomena to their 
laws--scientists betray their agreement with this conviction. "If 
other phenomena are not equally in agreement with the law, it is the 
experiences that they [the scientists] put in doubt, and they 
endeavor to realize at all cost the harmony between the two." 
(Dissertatio, 136) Now, the numerical series that Hegel proposed to 
replace the Law of Titius-Bode was also incorrect (and some have 
claimed that he was being ironic here), but he presented it as one 
that was more consistent with actual experience. He claimed that in 
order to do science it is necessary to follow the laws of reason, 
rather than attempt to force nature to bow to a strictly mathematical 
interpretation. Unfortunately for Hegel, shortly after he defended 
his thesis G. Piazzi discovered the asteroid Ceres, whose orbit was 
taken to confirm the Law of Titius-Bode. However, Hegel wrongly 
concluded in the dissertation that there was no compelling reason to 
search for a celestial body between Mars and Jupiter, and years later 
in the Encyclopedia he acknowledged that his initial effort had been 
insufficient. Although Hegel had committed a blunder, he was right to 
reject the Law of Titius-Bode, which in fact was discredited by the 
discovery of Neptune in 1846, which does not correspond to the law. 
The primary philosophical point behind Hegel's dissertation was that 
a certain conception of science was actually an oppression of nature, 
whereas we should seek to discover the reason in nature (it is 
important to understand that, for Hegel, deduction is only an element 
of reason).

>Did Popper have trouble, with German as his first language, 
>understanding or translating what Hegel said in his "Philosophy of 
>Nature"?

I honestly don't know if Popper had trouble understanding Hegel's 
texts (though most people do), but there is a great deal of evidence 
that his arguments against Hegel were not based on close textual 
study.

>If I am to be accused with unfamiliarity with the secondary literture, then
>I assume that you must also be familiar with Leonard Nelson's *Progress and
>Regress in Philosophy*, which contains an extensive analysis of Hegel.

I don't see how your assumption follows from my accusation, but I 
humbly confess that I have not read Leonard Nelson.

>Note that an "ad hominem" argument condemns arguments on the basis of
>considerations about individuals that are not "ad rem", i.e. relevant to
>the issue.  My condemnation of or heated language about Hegel apologists is
>not, however, based on anything but the "ad rem" condemnation of their
>support and apologiae for Hegel.  Condemnations of Hegel are for bad
>philosophy, bad metaphysics, bad epistemology, bad morality, bad science,
>bad ethics, and bad politics.

Okay, regarding Hegel's alleged totalitarianism, let's consider some 
relevant biographical facts. In The Open Society and Its Enemies, 
Popper depicts Hegel as the founder of German nationalism and 
racialism.

1) In Jena, 13 October 1806, the day Napoleon's troops entered the 
city, Hegel wrote to his friend Niethammer: "As I wrote to you 
earlier, all of us here wish the French victory and success. The 
Prussians are suffering the defeats they deserve..."

2) 3 months later Hegel wrote to another friend, Zelmann, about the 
battle of Jena:
"There is no better proof than the events occurring before our eyes, 
that culture is triumphing over barbarism and the intellect over 
spirit-less mind."

3) 2 May 1813, when Nuremberg, where Hegel was then living, was 
liberated from the French, he again wrote to Niethammer, this time 
saying:
"Several hundred thousand Cossacks, Bashkirs and Prussian patriots 
have seized the city."

4) 23 December 1813, Hegel mocked the enthusiasm of nationalist 
students over the liberation: "Liberation? Liberation from what? They 
talk a great deal here about Liberation. If I ever see one liberated 
person with my own eyes, I shall fall to the ground and prostrate 
myself before him."

5) When the German romantic naturalistic movement agitated for the 
establishment of a united Germany subsequent to liberation, Hegel 
applauded the outcome of the Congress of Vienna, which perpetuated 
the small states of Germany.

6) When the nationalist students' fraternities stirred up the 
Wartburg pilgrimage in 1817, and Hegel's colleague at Berlin 
University, Jakob Fries, delivered his famous speech at the rally, in 
which he visualized a unified and liberated Germany, Hegel devoted 
most of the introduction of the Philosophy of Right to an attack on 
the Fries school and its subjectivism.

7) When student fraternities refused to accept Jewish students as 
members, Hegel demanded the granting of full equality of political 
and civil rights to the Jews, since "a man counts as a man in virtue 
of his manhood alone, not because he is a Jew, Catholic, Protestant, 
German, Italian, etc." (PR, sect. 209, cf. sect. 270) Hegel argued 
that is imperative to preserve particular differences among people.

8) When F. von Schlegel published The Language and Wisdom of the 
Indians (1820), the first book in Germany to expound the Aryan view 
arguing for a national and racial affinity between the Germans and 
the Indians on the basis of the linguistic relationship between 
Sanskrit and Old Gothic, Hegel stated, in his Introduction to the 
Philosophy of History, that any attempt to draw political and 
historical conclusions from linguistic evidence meant the conversion 
of science into mythology, and ridiculed Schlegel's assumptions about 
the existence of an ancient "original" Indo-European Ur-Volk.

As I recall, Popper failed to mention all of these relevant 
biographical facts, hence I think it is reasonable to assume that his 
arguments concerning Hegel's nationalism and racism are ad hominem. 
Since you merely repeat the arguments of Popper, Schopenhauer, etc. 
on your website, and offer no evidence that Hegel espoused "bad 
philosophy, bad metaphysics, bad epistemology, bad morality, bad 
science, bad ethics, and bad politics," other than the "arguments" 
(actually they're more like emotive ejaculations) you quote, it seems 
to me you have blindly repeated their ad hominem arguments.

The biographical material above can be verified in a number of books:
H. S. Harris, Hegel's Development: Toward the Sunlight, 1770-1801 
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972); H. S. Harris, Hegel's Development: 
Night Thoughts (Jena, 1801-1806) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983); 
Laurence Dickey, Hegel: Religion, Economics, and the Politics of 
Spirit, 1770-1807 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983); and 
Terry Pinkard, Hegel: A Biography (Cambridge: Cambridge University 
Press, 2000).

I can also provide citations for good secondary sources on Hegel's 
thought if you like.

Cheers,
Jim

Dear Dr. Good,

I have not had time so study your 14K letter carefully, but I wanted to let you know that I will answer in detail. Right now I just notice a couple of things from a cursory examination:

(1) although you mention the falseness of the "extreme" right interpretation of Hegel, my impression is that the "extreme" right (Fascist, Nazi) and the "extreme" left (Marxist, Leninist, Stalinist, Maoist) interpretations of Hegel both take aid and comfort from a system that is foundational for statism, moral heteronomy, and judicial positivism. I am curious, to say that least, that your only concern seems to be to the rightist interpretation, especially when my experience is that those of the political left often only object to principles used by the right just when they are actually used by the right, but not when they are actually used by the left. Whether this is characteristic of your treatment, I am eager to ascertain.

(2) although you originally condemned my (or Popper's) reading of Hegel as incorrect, I notice that much of your comment seems to be of the form that Hegel was right and Kant was wrong. But it is one thing to argue against Kant, as Hegel does, and another to get Hegel's criticisms wrong. If you regard Kant as simply wrong, this would tend to confirm, not refute, my understanding of Hegel, against whom my objections to him are mostly Kantian. When I get back to you with a full response to your comments, please consider the points where you simply want to say, "You and Kant are wrong," and where you want to say, "You are right, but Hegel agrees with you, and you have misunderstood him." So far, I do not find myself agreeing with much of what you, or Hegel according to you, has to say.

Soon,
Kelley Ross


Dear Dr. Good,

I fear that I have about doubled your 14K letter in answering it. I would have preferred something more succinct, but perhaps there is no helping it.

At 09:33 PM 2/28/01 -0600, you wrote:
>In my opinion your questions assume the truth of the far right-wing 
>reading of Hegel. But as you well know there are many schools of 
>thought in Hegel scholarship. Personally, I believe the reading 
>propagated by the right-wing is indefensible by reference to Hegel's 
>texts.

As I said previously, what troubles me are the far right AND the far left readings of Hegel, which means it troubles me that you only mention the far right ones. Whatever I assume, I have read Hegel, and some secondary sources, not all of which are righist, indeed more likely leftist, and my opinions are based on that.

>>(1) Do you deny that, in terms of Hegel's metaphysics, the state, as 
>>a manifestation of Geist, is more real than the individuals that 
>>constitute it?  And if individuals are more real, what is the nature 
>>of their existence (substantial, phenomenal, etc.)?
>
>If, in your question, you mean the political state, the answer is 
>unequivocally no, Hegel does not characterize it as more real than 
>the individuals that constitute it. Hegel firmly denies that a 
>person's obligation to the political state requires him to make 
>extraordinary sacrifices on its behalf (PR, sect. 268).

The question is about Hegel's metaphysics (the reality of Geist, etc.), about the sorts of entities that individuals or the state are. If Hegel denies that "a person's obligation to the political state requires him to make extraordinary sacrifices on its behalf," that is nice, but it is not going to help unless the individual has some cognitive, moral, and ontological standing, some leverage, vis a vis the state. Simply denying that Hegel sees the state as more real isn't going to persuade unless a version of the metaphysics is explained that would motivate this.

>If you mean 
>"state" as Hegel more frequently used the term, the articulated 
>totality of all human relationships, the question is a bit more 
>complicated. In the latter sense of the term, Hegel believes the 
>state is an "absolute end," meaning that individuals should place it 
>above their own private interests (PR, sect. 258). When you say "the 
>state, as a manifestation of Geist," do you mean that Geist is a 
>God-like, supernatural being apart from humanity? If so, I think you 
>have accepted the right-wing reading of Hegel uncritically. It makes 
>more sense, in my estimation, to read Geist as humanity since Hegel 
>speaks of it as a resolutely historical reality. I address the 
>reality of individual below.

I mean Geist as the stage of the Dialectic that reconciles and surpasses subject and object, internal and external. If this is simply the "right-wing" (or left-wing) reading of Hegel, then I am very curious what you think his metaphysics actually is. The "articulated totality of all human relationships" doesn't help much, since it says nothing in the terms of traditional metaphysical debate and theory. "To read Geist as humanity" doesn't add to that, since one must then ask what "humanity" or "historical reality" is, metaphysically. Since Hegel's metaphysics really gives a rather clear idea what kind of existence Geist has, reading it as "humanity" muddies the waters and evades the actual ontology.

>>(2) Do you deny that Hegel rejected the Kantian principle that each
>>rational individual contains a source of moral certainty against which
>>anything in the phenomenal world cannot measure up?  Or, does what Kant
>>considered possible only among  things-in-themselves become in fact
>>assimilated by Hegel to phenomena themselves, having rejected
>>things-in-themselves?
>
>Contra Kant, Hegel believed that human actions gain universal 
>significance, not through their relationship to abstract moral 
>principles, but when they are the actions of someone culturally and 
>historically situated, and when they promote the ethical life of a 
>determinate people at a given stage of its history.

Hence the moral heteronomy and judicial positivism of Hegelian ethics and politics -- the historicist version of relativism. "Universal significance" may be the key term here, since Hegel's objective idealism is his answer to the problem of univerals. History, in its stages, consists of the system of universals. The individual becomes meaningful in that system of universals.

Perhaps this is the "right-wing" interpretation of Hegel again, but, again, I would like to know what alternative interpretation of Hegel's metaphysics you are offering.

>In the 
>Phenomenology, Hegel makes it clear that he believed the French Reign 
>of Terror was based on fanatical devotion to abstract moral 
>principles.

Hegel and Edmund Burke. Which I suppose would make Hegel truly "right-wing," since Burke is usually seen as a conservative. However, Jefferson was equally devoted to abstract moral principles, and there wasn't much of a Reign of Terror in the United States (after the Loyalists left). Indeed, domestic tranquility was restored by Jefferson after the anti-tax Whisky Rebellion under Washington and Fries's Rebellion under Adams, not to mention the oppressive Alien and Sedition Acts. It was the abstract principles of self-ownership and natural liberty that made Jefferson guilty about slavery. History, what in Roman law was the "custom of nations," would not have made him uneasy at all about slavery.

"Abstract moral principles" are what are consistent with the tradition of natural law jurisprudence, upon which English and American liberties are based, rather than the judicial positivism that Hegel and his metaphysics motivates.

>Thus, in comparison to Kant, he actually brought morality 
>down to earth by placing it firmly within a cultural context.

I.e., actually relativized morality in a heteronomous context. "Down to earth" begs the question of the standard of moral conduct.

>Hegel 
>rejected the thing-in-itself because he believed that what we 
>encounter in ordinary experience is as real as it gets.

Which can only mean that nothing is better or more perfect that what appears in phenomena. This could lead to either despair (nihilism) or utopianism, both of which are characteristic of the ills of the 20th century.

>Kant, on the 
>other hand, denied the reality of the everyday world by claiming that 
>the "really real" objects are in an unaccessible realm.

This is false. Neither a far right-wing nor a far left-wing reading of Kant, just a bad one.

>If you 
>assume, as many have, that Hegel's rejection of the noumena/phenomena 
>dichotomy relegates him to one part of the dichotomy, the phenomenal 
>world, you are begging the question against him since he rejects the 
>entire dichotomy.

Meaning what? Hegelian phenomena are, to be sure, supposed to embrace the duality of subject and object, but they are still phenomena, still ideal (contents of consciousness). Is "absolute" or objective idealism just part of the "far right-wing" interpretation? And if so, what *are* Hegel's metaphysics? When Young Hegelians embraced materialism, how did they think they were disagreeing with him?

>Thus, in answer to the second part of (1) above, 
>for Hegel, particular individuals that we actually encounter in our 
>experience are more real than they are for Kant.

Not likely. Individuals in Kant have all the reality of "primary substance" in Aristotle. But in Hegel, leaving out things-in-themselves is rather like leaving out matter in Aristotelian metaphysics -- it removes the ontological element responsibility for individuality, leaving only universals. I know of nothing in Hegel that contradicts this move. I will be eager to know what then supplies the element of individuality for Hegel. I don't think there is one; and, having ready your entire letter, you don't mention one.

>They have no 
>mysterious, transcendent noumenal aspect that cannot be known. This 
>avoids Kant's problem of how to talk about the noumenal realm when, 
>according to his own epistemology, it cannot be known.

Attempts to know thing-in-themselves occur through concepts of unconditioned realities. That anything of the sort cannot be known is not an idea unique to Kant (God, freedom, and immortality are not exactly the favorites of science or of the trendiest 20th century philosophy), but then, according to Kant, one unconditioned reality IS known, namely the Moral Law. That is the key to everything else that, according to Kant, can be intimated about things-in-themselves.

>>(3) Do you affirm that Hegel, through his dialectic, had access to truths
>>about nature that were superior or in contradiction to those attainable by
>>science at the same time?  You say that Popper's critique was soon exposed
>>as all wrong, but does this mean that Hegel did not, as Popper cites,
>>"prove" that a planet could not occur between Mars and Jupiter?
>
>No, I do not believe that Hegel's dialectic gave him access to truths 
>about nature that were superior or in contradiction to those 
>attainable by science at the time. And in fact, he never claimed 
>otherwise.

Popper's critique is that Hegel wasn't interested in the empirical methods of science and made many absurd statements. The examples he gives are of Hegel attempting to derive truths about nature from the Dialectic -- Hegel hardly needs to make some special claim about that if the Dialectic happens to constitute all of rationality.

>Actually, I believe you are referring to an argument Hegel made in 
>his dissertation, "Dissertatio philosophica de orbitis planetarum..." 

That would be Popper, not me, referring to Hegel's claims.

>In that document, Hegel critiqued the "Law of Titius-Bode," according 
>to which the distance between the planets had to correspond to a rule 
>of arithmetical progression.

"Had to"! Hardly. That was simply a curious mathematical regularity. It is still a regularity, and still curious.

>According to that law, if one posits the 
>distance of Mercury as a, where a=4 and b=3, then the distance of 
>Venus = a+b, Earth = a+2b, Mars = a+4b, Jupiter = a+16b, Saturn = 
>a+32b. Because, at that time there was no known planet that 
>corresponded to a+8b, 24 (I believe the number was no coincidence) 
>astronomers founded an international association who devoted 
>themselves to the task of tracing the recalcitrant planet. Their 
>research was encouraged by the recent discovery of Uranus by W. 
>Heschel in 1781 that seemed to confirm the hypothetical law because 
>it was found precisely in the 8th position of the series. Hegel 
>suspected that the mathematical rule was inexact because it was 
>merely quantitative and, in his terminology, non-rational in nature.

But then, it turned out that Ceres and other asteroids fit in the space between Mars and Jupiter, a space left by Bode's Law.

>In the dissertation he sought to discover another mathematical 
>sequence that would account for the distance between Mars and 
>Jupiter. He argued that scientists had been numbed by a non-rational 
>arithmetical sequence, and postulated a new planet in order to 
>corroborate their mathematical construction which was, in fact, the 
>result of the abitrariness of their own faculty of understanding.

This is kind of silly. Nobody was "numbed." Ceres was discovered because many astronomers, now as then (often these are amateurs now, especially comet hunters), spend time searching the sky for new objects. The only serious predictions about planets, Neptune, etc., were based on gravitational perturbations analysed with Newtonian physics. Bode's Law was a curiosity, but one that turned out to have some predictive power. There is nothing irrational or arbitrary about that, except to a Hegel who is privy to the inner secrets of Reason.

>In 
>the dissertation, Hegel claimed that "the study and knowledge of the 
>laws of nature are based upon nothing other than this: we believe 
>that nature has been formed by reason, and we are convinced that all 
>the laws of nature are identical." (Dissertatio, 136)

St. Thomas Aquinas could have said exactly the same thing, but it did not mean that St. Thomas knew, understood, or practiced any kind of modern natural science. And St. Thomas didn't even have as elaborate a theory about Reason as Hegel did.

>Hegel went on 
>to argue that through their very activity--and indeed through their 
>experience of joy at the correspondence of natural phenomena to their 
>laws--scientists betray their agreement with this conviction. "If 
>other phenomena are not equally in agreement with the law, it is the 
>experiences that they [the scientists] put in doubt, and they 
>endeavor to realize at all cost the harmony between the two." 
>(Dissertatio, 136)

This still doesn't provide much traction. Scientists certainly expect the universe to be amenable to rational understanding, but they were and are unlikely to agree in the slightest with what Hegel meant by Reason.

>Now, the numerical series that Hegel proposed to 
>replace the Law of Titius-Bode was also incorrect (and some have 
>claimed that he was being ironic here), but he presented it as one 
>that was more consistent with actual experience.

And, if anyone was taking Bode's Law too seriously, it would be Hegel (unless he was ironic, of course), since the regularity owed nothing to the real meat and potatoes of Newtonian physics. The spacing of the planets still cannot be generated in pure theory, certainly because it is a many body problem with unknown interactions (from comets and other vanished objects) in the past.

>He claimed that in 
>order to do science it is necessary to follow the laws of reason, 
>rather than attempt to force nature to bow to a strictly mathematical 
>interpretation.

Uh oh. Hegel's "laws of reason" are what get forced on nature, while all the success of science had been precisely through mathematical interpretation. This is the kind of nonsense that sent Popper through the roof, and the irrational "laws of reason" what provoked only derision in people like Schopenhauer.

>Unfortunately for Hegel, shortly after he defended 
>his thesis G. Piazzi discovered the asteroid Ceres, whose orbit was 
>taken to confirm the Law of Titius-Bode. However, Hegel wrongly 
>concluded in the dissertation that there was no compelling reason to 
>search for a celestial body between Mars and Jupiter, and years later 
>in the Encyclopedia he acknowledged that his initial effort had been 
>insufficient.

In truth, he didn't know a damn thing about it and had no genuinely observational or mathematical reason to know one way or the other whether there were going to be objects between Mars and Jupiter or anywhere else.

>Although Hegel had committed a blunder, he was right to 
>reject the Law of Titius-Bode, which in fact was discredited by the 
>discovery of Neptune in 1846, which does not correspond to the law.

You know what, nobody cares! Bode's Law was never a prediction of Newtonian physics! But it is still a curiosity just because it fits the planets so well up to Neptune. So it is not simply wrong, or "discredited," either.

>The primary philosophical point behind Hegel's dissertation was that 
>a certain conception of science was actually an oppression of nature, 
>whereas we should seek to discover the reason in nature

Which is why he was full of it, and completely out of touch with what had enabled scientific method to do so much already. Maxwell and Einstein were still "oppressing" nature in that same old nasty, mathematical way.

>(it is 
>important to understand that, for Hegel, deduction is only an element 
>of reason).

No kidding.

>>Did Popper have trouble, with German as his first language, 
>>understanding or translating what Hegel said in his "Philosophy of 
>>Nature"?
>
>I honestly don't know if Popper had trouble understanding Hegel's 
>texts (though most people do), but there is a great deal of evidence 
>that his arguments against Hegel were not based on close textual 
>study.

Popper's critiques, both of Hegel's notion of science, and of his politics, look well illustrated with quotes to me. And the quotations out of the "Philosophy of Nature," in line what you have just been saying, look particularly damning. All of those meta-deductive elements of reason were presumably generating knowing, non-oppressive knowledge I take it, of nature. But none of it is ever counted, and not just by Popper, but by any historian of science, as part of the body of scientific discovery in the 19th century.

>>If I am to be accused with unfamiliarity with the secondary literture,
>>then I assume that you must also be familiar with Leonard Nelson's
>>*Progress and Regress in Philosophy*, which contains an extensive
>>analysis of Hegel.
>
>I don't see how your assumption follows from my accusation, but I 
>humbly confess that I have not read Leonard Nelson.

Your accusation was that I didn't understand Hegel because, presumably, I had not read the secondary literature that YOU apparently agree with (with another assumption thrown in, that I must only be familiar with "far right-wing" interpretations). Well, if you're not familiar with Nelson, then, in some respect, we're even.

>>Note that an "ad hominem" argument condemns arguments on the basis of
>>considerations about individuals that are not "ad rem", i.e. relevant to
>>the issue.  My condemnation of or heated language about Hegel apologists
>>is not, however, based on anything but the "ad rem" condemnation of their
>>support and apologiae for Hegel.  Condemnations of Hegel are for bad
>>philosophy, bad metaphysics, bad epistemology, bad morality, bad science,
>>bad ethics, and bad politics.
>
>Okay, regarding Hegel's alleged totalitarianism, let's consider some 
>relevant biographical facts. In The Open Society and Its Enemies, 
>Popper depicts Hegel as the founder of German nationalism and 
>racialism.

That is not the essential point. Totalitarianism doesn't need either nationalism or racism, all it needs is statism and the elimination of civil society and moral individuality. I think you have already admitted as much to the elimination of moral individuality (Kantian moral autonomy). It was not Hegel who coupled his statism to nationalism and racism, since both of these would have been inconsistent with the Prussian state, which was not national or particularly racist. But historically, the glorified Prussian state later adopted nationalism, and the Nazi German state adopted racism. Hegel need not be blamed for either, but he can be blamed for the conception of the state that turned both the nationalism and the racism into the kinds of nightmares that they were. In other words, Hegel was not a theorist of a liberal state; but an illiberal state, warmly endorsed from Frederick William III to Bismark to Hitler, made manifold crimes not just possible, but likely.

At least as important for Popper was Hegel's conception of history, what Popper called "historicism" -- which to him meant history as a predictive, but purely rational, discipline. That is less interesting to me, except in so far as it seems consistent with Hegel's view of Reason. More damage was done by the adaptation of this side of Hegel into Marxism, where the constant invocation of "science" owed little to real science and everything to speculative *Wissenschaft* as understood by Hegel.

>1) In Jena, 13 October 1806, the day Napoleon's troops entered the 
>city, Hegel wrote to his friend Niethammer: "As I wrote to you 
>earlier, all of us here wish the French victory and success. The 
>Prussians are suffering the defeats they deserve..."

German nationalism may never have appealed much to Hegel, but Prussia seems to have grown on him.

>2) 3 months later Hegel wrote to another friend, Zelmann, about the 
>battle of Jena:
>"There is no better proof than the events occurring before our eyes, 
>that culture is triumphing over barbarism and the intellect over 
>spirit-less mind."
>
>3) 2 May 1813, when Nuremberg, where Hegel was then living, was 
>liberated from the French, he again wrote to Niethammer, this time 
>saying:
>"Several hundred thousand Cossacks, Bashkirs and Prussian patriots 
>have seized the city."
>
>4) 23 December 1813, Hegel mocked the enthusiasm of nationalist 
>students over the liberation: "Liberation? Liberation from what? They 
>talk a great deal here about Liberation. If I ever see one liberated 
>person with my own eyes, I shall fall to the ground and prostrate 
>myself before him."

Liberation from the French, who had been running Europe for their own (i.e. Napoleon's) purposes. What the German's should have wanted instead, i.e. a liberal social order or Jeffersonian democracy, was never as clear at the time, or clearly desired.

>5) When the German romantic naturalistic movement agitated for the 
>establishment of a united Germany subsequent to liberation, Hegel 
>applauded the outcome of the Congress of Vienna, which perpetuated 
>the small states of Germany.
>
>6) When the nationalist students' fraternities stirred up the 
>Wartburg pilgrimage in 1817, and Hegel's colleague at Berlin 
>University, Jakob Fries, delivered his famous speech at the rally, in 
>which he visualized a unified and liberated Germany, Hegel devoted 
>most of the introduction of the Philosophy of Right to an attack on 
>the Fries school and its subjectivism.

Some ill advised politics, but not much subjectivism in Fries's philosophy.

>7) When student fraternities refused to accept Jewish students as 
>members, Hegel demanded the granting of full equality of political 
>and civil rights to the Jews, since "a man counts as a man in virtue 
>of his manhood alone, not because he is a Jew, Catholic, Protestant, 
>German, Italian, etc." (PR, sect. 209, cf. sect. 270) Hegel argued 
>that is imperative to preserve particular differences among people.

Which was nice, but I must be really out of touch if the settlement of the Congress of Vienna is not still widely regarded as the triumph of Reaction, and the purposes of Prussia, Russia, and Austria wholly at odds with any conception, then or now, of progress to a liberal political order, or any other kind of order favored by "progressive" forces since then. The last chance for that, in 1848, was thoroughly crushed by the same old Prussia and Austria.

>8) When F. von Schlegel published The Language and Wisdom of the 
>Indians (1820), the first book in Germany to expound the Aryan view 
>arguing for a national and racial affinity between the Germans and 
>the Indians on the basis of the linguistic relationship between 
>Sanskrit and Old Gothic, Hegel stated, in his Introduction to the 
>Philosophy of History, that any attempt to draw political and 
>historical conclusions from linguistic evidence meant the conversion 
>of science into mythology, and ridiculed Schlegel's assumptions about 
>the existence of an ancient "original" Indo-European Ur-Volk.
>
>As I recall, Popper failed to mention all of these relevant 
>biographical facts,

Which were actually irrelevant to the point.

>hence I think it is reasonable to assume that his 
>arguments concerning Hegel's nationalism and racism are ad hominem.

Again, nationalism and racism are not the issue with Hegel. The issue is the morality, politics, and even ontology that can pick up either nationalism and racism, or collectivism and socialism, into a politics that is fundamentally hostile to individuality and freedom.

>Since you merely repeat the arguments of Popper, Schopenhauer, etc. 
>on your website, and offer no evidence that Hegel espoused "bad 
>philosophy, bad metaphysics, bad epistemology, bad morality, bad 
>science, bad ethics, and bad politics," other than the "arguments" 
>(actually they're more like emotive ejaculations) you quote, it seems 
>to me you have blindly repeated their ad hominem arguments.

I don't have to repeat on the page about Hegel the ideas that are considered elsewhere at the website. What would be considered "good" metaphysics, epistemology, etc. is laid out on other pages. Schopenhauer also presupposes his own results, and is indeed largely abusive. But Popper's treatment could only be called "emotive ejaculations" some someone who didn't understand his principles, or the point of his examples.

But I am left wondering how well you yourself understand, or are even that interested in, Hegel's metaphysics or epistemology, since you have not given me any real version of an answer here in dealing with the reality of individuals, or of abstract entities like the state, or specifying what Hegel means by "reason" and how it transcends deductive logic. But Hegelianism is nothing without its metaphysics, upon which the morality and politics depend.

>The biographical material above can be verified in a number of books:
>H. S. Harris, Hegel's Development: Toward the Sunlight, 1770-1801 
>(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972); H. S. Harris, Hegel's Development: 
>Night Thoughts (Jena, 1801-1806) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983); 
>Laurence Dickey, Hegel: Religion, Economics, and the Politics of 
>Spirit, 1770-1807 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983); and 
>Terry Pinkard, Hegel: A Biography (Cambridge: Cambridge University 
>Press, 2000).
>
>I can also provide citations for good secondary sources on Hegel's 
>thought if you like.

All in all, I think your answers to my questions are largely either irrelevant or just non-responsive. The biographical material is familiar but not germane. The only solid clue I have is where you say, "Hegel believed that human actions gain universal significance, not through their relationship to abstract moral principles, but when they are the actions of someone culturally and historically situated, and when they promote the ethical life of a determinate people at a given stage of its history."

Of course, something "culturally and historically situated" or "of a determinate people at a given stage of its history" is NOT, pretty much by definition, "universal," but in fact rather particular, limited by historical situation. This incoherence can be resolved in terms of Hegel's metaphysics, if phenomena consist only of universals and if history is the expression of the Dialectic of Reason. Then, placement in the particularity of history does indeed put one in what is universal and genuinely Rational. But to make the particular "universal" in that way admits all the hypostatization of "the totality of human relationships," or of the state, that Hegel is very properly accused of.

Also, whatever you happen to think about Hegel's metaphysics or the ontological status of the state, this statement, in the context in which you apparently favor Hegel's ideas, betrays the heteronomy and judicial positivism, if not communitarianism, that are at odds with the liberal autonomy, natural law jurisprudence, and individualism that historically have characterized all the critics of Hegel (except "in house" critics like Marx, who adopt the Dialectical method and other absurdities) who are fundamentally adverse to his system, root and branch, with all its epistemology, metaphysics, and politics. Since you explicitly reject and condemn Kantian morality, epistemology, and metaphysics, this tends to confirm my impression that Hegel appeals to you precisely for the same reasons that he appealed historically to his "far right-wing" and far left-wing interpreters, for whom rational moral autonomy is a troublesome roadblock to the kinds of politics that they prefer. Since you never did mention the left-wing appropriations of Hegel, I can only suspect that this is because your objections to such, if there are any at all, are much weaker and of much less concern to you than the right-wing ones. The 20th century body counts of left and right both represent an intellectual tradition that goes directly back to the illiberal statism of Hegel.

Yours truly,
Kelley Ross


Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001 22:17:39 -0600
To: kross@friesian.com
From: Jim Good 
Subject: Hegel

Kelly Ross,

Amazingly, you characterize my answers to your questions as either 
irrelevant or non-responsive, and I felt you completely missed the 
point of my answers. In this email I will only address a couple of 
points. I plan to follow this with another email that will address 
other issues you asked me about.

First, I addressed the right-wing reading of Hegel because, in my 
opinion, that is what you espoused. If I believed you articulated a 
left-wing distortion of Hegel I would try to address that, but in my 
opinion you did not.

Second, I believe you completely missed the point of my explanation 
of Hegel's dissertation.

>>In that document, Hegel critiqued the "Law of Titius-Bode," 
>>according to which the distance between the planets had to 
>>correspond to a rule of arithmetical progression.
>
>"Had to"!  Hardly.  That was simply a curious mathematical 
>regularity. It is still a regularity, and still curious.

As I explained previously, Hegel was addressing scientists who 
understood the Law of Titius-Bode as meaning that the planets did 
have to correspond to the mathematical regularity. His claim was that 
they were forcing their observations into that regularity, not 
because of empirical evidence, but because they wanted to prove the 
law to be absolutely true rather than a simple curiosity. It seems to 
me Popper would also disapprove of that approach to science. Your 
statement above simply takes Hegel's argument out of the context of 
who he was arguing with. He had no beef with scientists who viewed 
the law as a curiosity.

>>In the dissertation he sought to discover another mathematical
>>sequence that would account for the distance between Mars and
>>Jupiter. He argued that scientists had been numbed by a non-rational
>>arithmetical sequence, and postulated a new planet in order to
>>corroborate their mathematical construction which was, in fact, the
>>result of the abitrariness of their own faculty of understanding.
>
>This is kind of silly.  Nobody was "numbed."

When you say "There is nothing irrational or arbitrary about" Bode's 
law, you miss the point. Hegel's point was that some scientists were 
using it irrationally. As I explained previously, there were 
"scientists" who were numbed by the aesthetic appeal of Bode's law, 
and who were bordering on numerology. That is why I mentioned the 
international association of 24 (a + 8b, the position of the missing 
planet) scientists who set out to discover the missing planet simply 
because the law proved it would be there. Again, you've ignored the 
historical context of Hegel's dissertation. Hegel sought to 
articulate a mathematical sequence that actually corresponded to the 
position of the planets that had been discovered. How is that forcing 
nature into an arbitrarily understood rational mode?

>In truth, he didn't know a damn thing about it and had no genuinely
>observational or mathematical reason to know one way or the other whether
>there were going to be objects between Mars and Jupiter or anywhere else.

Again, you completely miss the point of Hegel's argument which was 
about a philosophical rather than a scientific issue. His 
philosophical point was that it is foolish to expect nature to 
conform to mathematical laws that we find pleasing. The dissertation 
was, in essence, a defense of empirical science, rather than science 
based on a priori principles. I fail to understand what bothers you 
about that.

You wrote, "all the success of science had been precisely through
mathematical interpretation." Do you honestly believe this is, or are
you getting a bit hyperbolic here?

Sincerely,
Jim

Dear Dr. Good,

At 10:17 PM 3/12/01 -0600, you wrote:
>Amazingly, you characterize my answers to your questions as either 
>irrelevant or non-responsive,

Well, yes. Not too amazing, though.

>and I felt you completely missed the 
>point of my answers.

If the points were off target, then I didn't miss them. Since you avoided the specifics of Hegel's metaphysics, made some statements that wouldn't even be true in Hegel's metaphysics, and then cherry-picked a few favorable political quotes, despite the page after page of quotes carefully assembled by Popper (which you dismissed in general as "emotional") from a variety of Hegel's works, and spent much of your space (as here) in a ridiculous defense of Hegel's ridiculous ideas about science, I would say that your letter was, indeed, irrelevant and non-responsive.

>In this email I will only address a couple of 
>points. I plan to follow this with another email that will address 
>other issues you asked me about.
>
>First, I addressed the right-wing reading of Hegel because, in my 
>opinion, that is what you espoused. If I believed you articulated a 
>left-wing distortion of Hegel I would try to address that, but in my 
>opinion you did not.

Since the worst things about the right-wing readings are what they have in common with the left-wing readings, I don't see that this is a distinction that makes a difference. If you don't think that the left has espoused statism, collectivism, totalitarianism, heteronomy, judicial positivism, etc., that would be interesting indeed.

>Second, I believe you completely missed the point of my explanation 
>of Hegel's dissertation.
>
>As I explained previously, Hegel was addressing scientists who 
>understood the Law of Titius-Bode as meaning that the planets did 
>have to correspond to the mathematical regularity.

Then this gets worse and worse. The expectation that nature will correspond to mathematical regularities has nothing to do specifically with Bode's Law; but a complaint about something of the sort must target all of modern physics (of which that Law is not a serious part), since the progress of physics from Galileo to Newton to Einstein depends on it. A criticism of this must ignore its success, and must ignore the irrelevance of metaphysical and philosophical criticisms. Not that a philosophical critique of science is illegitimate or unimportant, but it is rarely necessary or important for the practice or progress of science itself. I don't think Hegel appreciated that. But the postulate of the mathematical regularity of nature is a poor target for complaint.

>His claim was that 
>they were forcing their observations into that regularity, not 
>because of empirical evidence, but because they wanted to prove the 
>law to be absolutely true rather than a simple curiosity.

Just nonsense. Nothing is "forced" here. Mathematical principles are applied to nature because they work, which means they are confirmed by *empirical" evidence. If we want a metaphysics to match that, there is always Pythagoras, Plato, or Kant to supply it. If Hegel's criticism, however, is only about Bode's Law, then it is making a trivial point about a trivial matter -- the "Law" was not part of the predictive mathematics of Newtonian physics. That it did have some predictive value was shown by its application to the asteroids shortly to be discovered. That it didn't work as well with all the later planets is hardly surprising, since it had no theoretical basis, but its application to the inner planets is still interesting.

>It seems to 
>me Popper would also disapprove of that approach to science.

Popper doesn't waste time complaining about the philosophical rationality of scientific theories (at least until quantum mechanics), certainly not mathematical ones. If they make predictions that provide an avenue of empirical investigation, and can be confirmed or falsified, that is all that scientists need to worry about.

>Your 
>statement above simply takes Hegel's argument out of the context of 
>who he was arguing with. He had no beef with scientists who viewed 
>the law as a curiosity.

The context appears to be that he misunderstood that the Law didn't have much to do with serious physics, since it was not derivable from Newtonian mechanics. But if his complaint was that scientists incautiously or falsely assume that nature is mathematical, and "oppress" nature by "forcing" their assumption in it, then he either doesn't understand science, or he is trying to impose his own philosophical theory of reason and reality on science. I think both are the case.

>When you say "There is nothing irrational or arbitrary about" Bode's 
>law, you miss the point. Hegel's point was that some scientists were 
>using it irrationally. As I explained previously, there were 
>"scientists" who were numbed by the aesthetic appeal of Bode's law, 
>and who were bordering on numerology. That is why I mentioned the 
>international association of 24 (a + 8b, the position of the missing 
>planet) scientists who set out to discover the missing planet simply 
>because the law proved it would be there.

There is nothing irrational about following a mathematical regularity. If these "numbed" scientists started looking for an extra planet because of the regularity of Bode's Law, that was a perfecty sensible and scientific procedure, however shallowly based in theoretical physics. Indeed, it was vindicated by the sequel. But, actually, I don't think that Piazzi was looking for objects because of Bode's Law. It was the common business of astronomers to look for new objects. Piazzi was cataloging stars. That Ceres fit in between Mars and Jupiter couldn't even be known until the orbit was calculated, which required some of the most recent developments in Newtonian physics to do.

>Again, you've ignored the 
>historical context of Hegel's dissertation. Hegel sought to 
>articulate a mathematical sequence that actually corresponded to the 
>position of the planets that had been discovered. How is that forcing 
>nature into an arbitrarily understood rational mode?

If Hegel had his own sequence to propose, that would have been fine. He didn't need to write a dissertation about that. Popper was under the impression that Hegel thought he had proven, through his own numerology, that his sequence was right and Bode's necessarily wrong.

>Again, you completely miss the point of Hegel's argument which was 
>about a philosophical rather than a scientific issue. His 
>philosophical point was that it is foolish to expect nature to 
>conform to mathematical laws that we find pleasing.

OK, so, again, the problem is not just Bode's Law, but instead a complaint about the role of mathematics in science. This *does* get worse and worse. Much of the progress of physics has been based on what mathematicians and physicists find "pleasing." Their sense is that nature will be mathematically beautiful. This might be said to be no more than Ockham's Razor, but there is in any case nothing foolish about it. Indeed, complaints about it now seem the foolish thing -- and were already foolish in 1800, after the successes of Newtonian physics.

>The dissertation 
>was, in essence, a defense of empirical science, rather than science 
>based on a priori principles. I fail to understand what bothers you 
>about that.

Nonsense. If the "a priori" principles are mathematical, then there is no sensible objection to them in a scientific context. If Hegel's objection is a *metaphysical" objection to assumptions about the mathematical nature of the world, then it could very well be based on Hegel's own *a priori* metaphysics, in which the world is not intrinsically mathematical (or empirical). This looks to be the case. He doesn't like the way Newtonians do science, because it is not like Hegel's own idea of how *Wissenschaft* should be done -- it is not "rational" in terms of Hegel's own view of "Reason."

>You wrote, "all the success of science had been precisely through
>mathematical interpretation." Do you honestly believe this is, or are
>you getting a bit hyperbolic here?

It is simply the truth. Without Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Eistein, etc., all we've got is Aristotelian science, which didn't do very well. Not surprisingly, Aristotle's attitude to mathematics was to reject the Platonic expectation of the mathematical structure of nature. This prevented, rather than promoted, progress in empirical research. Hegel did not operate much differently, and it is ridiculous to think that Hegel was ever in the business of defending the empirical basis of science. That was the last thing he was interesting in.

I notice that you devote all your energies here to defending Hegel's lame criticisms of Bode's Law, but you don't tell me why Popper has mistranslated or misunderstood the idiotic statements he quotes from Hegel (and that I reproduce) about sound, or about magnetizing iron, Newton's theories of inertia and gravity, etc.

Then you can give me the details of Hegel's metaphysics, say about what it is that provides, like Aristotelian matter, Kantian things-in-themselves, or space in Schopenahuer, for individuality. And then you can give me Hegel's answer to the Problem of Universals. Realistic? Nominalistic? Something else?

Yours truly,
Kelley Ross


Dear Dr. Good,

Let me make some wild guesses here: I bet that you aren't really interested in Hegel's metaphysics. I bet that you would prefer that Hegel's phenomenology was a Husserlian phenomenology, i.e. a Pyrrhonian skepticism in metaphysics. I bet that Hegel's philosophy or critique of science only appeals to you as a way to put science in its place, perhaps substituting the kind of sociology of science that is popular in the humanities today, with Hegelian epistemology assimilated to quasi-Marxist power analyses. I bet that it is Hegel's politics that appeals to you, and certainty not a "right-wing" version of the same. And I bet that Hegel's historicism is the heart of that appeal. But then, I am just guessing.

KR


Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 19:00:03 -0600
From: Jim Good 
Subject: Re: Hegel

Kelly Ross,

In my last email I said: "In this email I will only address a couple 
of points. I plan to follow this with another email that will address 
other issues you asked me about."

Then I addressed two points: Why I spoke of problems with the 
right-wing reading of Hegel and Hegel's critique of Bode's law in his 
dissertation.

In your response you wrote:
>I notice that you devote all your energies here to defending Hegel's lame
>criticisms of Bode's Law, but you don't tell me why Popper has
>mistranslated or misunderstood the idiotic statements he quotes from Hegel
>(and that I reproduce) about sound, or about magnetizing iron, Newton's
>theories of inertia and gravity, etc.

Because, once more, I am addressing the two issues I named. This is 
not difficult for you to understand.

>Since the worst things about the right-wing readings are what they have in
>common with the left-wing readings, I don't see that this is a distinction
>that makes a difference.  If you don't think that the left has espoused
>statism, collectivism, totalitarianism, heteronomy, judicial positivism,
>etc., that would be interesting indeed.

If you are unable to see significant differences between the left and 
right-wing readings of Hegel, I see little reason to believe you are 
intellectually capable of understanding Hegel.

>  >As I explained previously, Hegel was addressing scientists who
>>understood the Law of Titius-Bode as meaning that the planets did
>>have to correspond to the mathematical regularity.
>
>Then this gets worse and worse.  The expectation that nature will
>correspond to mathematical regularities has nothing to do specifically with
>Bode's Law; but a complaint about something of the sort must target all of
>modern physics (of which that Law is not a serious part), since the
>progress of physics from Galileo to Newton to Einstein depends on it.  A
>criticism of this must ignore its success, and must ignore the irrelevance
>of metaphysical and philosophical criticisms.  Not that a philosophical
>critique of science is illegitimate or unimportant, but it is rarely
>necessary or important for the practice or progress of science itself.  I
>don't think Hegel appreciated that.  But the postulate of the mathematical
>regularity of nature is a poor target for complaint.

You continue to miss the point here. If Hegel was targeting the 
postulate of the mathematical regularity of nature why, pray tell, 
would he have offered his own mathematical sequence in the 
dissertation? His point was that certain scientists believed nature 
had to conform to Bode's Law regardless of empirical evidence. What 
is getting worse and worse is your unresponsiveness to my arguments.

>  >His claim was that
>>they were forcing their observations into that regularity, not
>>because of empirical evidence, but because they wanted to prove the
>  >law to be absolutely true rather than a simple curiosity.
>
>Just nonsense.  Nothing is "forced" here.  Mathematical principles are
>applied to nature because they work, which means they are confirmed by
>*empirical" evidence.  If we want a metaphysics to match that, there is
>always Pythagoras, Plato, or Kant to supply it.  If Hegel's criticism,
>however, is only about Bode's Law, then it is making a trivial point about
>a trivial matter -- the "Law" was not part of the predictive mathematics of
>Newtonian physics.  That it did have some predictive value was shown by its
>application to the asteroids shortly to be discovered.  That it didn't work
>as well with all the later planets is hardly surprising, since it had no
>theoretical basis, but its application to the inner planets is still
>interesting.

Once more, you've committed the exact same error you committed 
repeatedly in your previous email. The scientists Hegel addressed in 
his dissertation were applying Bode's law regardless of whether or 
not it worked. Hence they were unwilling to modify or abandon it when 
empirical evidence didn't  confirm it. Their belief in Bode's law was 
non-falsifiable. Talking about mathematical principles applied to 
nature in general is utterly irrelevant to this discussion. Try to 
stay on point! We are attempting to discuss a particular application 
of a particular mathematical principle.

>Popper doesn't waste time complaining about the philosophical rationality
>of scientific theories (at least until quantum mechanics), certainly not
>mathematical ones.  If they make predictions that provide an avenue of
>empirical investigation, and can be confirmed or falsified, that is all
>that scientists need to worry about.

Bingo! In this particular case, scientists were committed to Bode's 
law in a way that was non-falsifiable. They were unwilling to modify 
or abandon it in the light of new evidence.

>  >Your statement above simply takes Hegel's argument out of the context of
>  >who he was arguing with. He had no beef with scientists who viewed
>>the law as a curiosity.
>
>The context appears to be that he misunderstood that the Law didn't have
>much to do with serious physics, since it was not derivable from Newtonian
>mechanics.  But if his complaint was that scientists incautiously or
>falsely assume that nature is mathematical, and "oppress" nature by
>"forcing" their assumption in it, then he either doesn't understand
>science, or he is trying to impose his own philosophical theory of reason
>and reality on science.  I think both are the case.

I'll say it again. The context was that certain scientists were 
foolishly assuming that nature must conform to a particular 
mathematical principle regardless of empirical evidence. How many 
more times do I have to explain the context before you will be able 
to understand it?

>If Hegel had his own sequence to propose, that would have been fine.  He
>didn't need to write a dissertation about that.  Popper was under the
>impression that Hegel thought he had proven, through his own numerology,
>that his sequence was right and Bode's necessarily wrong.

Popper missed the principle trust of the dissertation, which was 
philosophical rather than scientific. In the dissertation, Hegel 
wrote, "if other phenomena are not equally in agreement with the law, 
it is the experiences that they [these scientists] put in doubt, and 
they endeavor to realize at all cost the harmony between the two." 
(136) In other words, he is addressing scientists who refuse to 
modify their theories when observation contradicts them. Nowhere in 
the dissertation does Hegel express any doubt that the laws of nature 
can be expressed mathematically.

>  >Again, you completely miss the point of Hegel's argument which was
>>about a philosophical rather than a scientific issue. His
>>philosophical point was that it is foolish to expect nature to
>>conform to mathematical laws that we find pleasing.
>
>OK, so, again, the problem is not just Bode's Law, but instead a complaint
>about the role of mathematics in science.

Wrong again. It is a complaint about scientists who adhere to their 
theories regardless of the evidence.

>  >The dissertation was, in essence, a defense of empirical science, 
>rather than science
>  >based on a priori principles. I fail to understand what bothers you
>>about that.
>
>Nonsense.  If the "a priori" principles are mathematical, then there is no
>sensible objection to them in a scientific context.

Even if they do not correspond to what we actually observe in nature?

>  >You wrote, "all the success of science had been precisely through
>  >mathematical interpretation." Do you honestly believe this is, or 
>are you getting
>  >a bit hyperbolic here?
>
>It is simply the truth.  Without Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Eistein, etc.,
>all we've got is Aristotelian science, which didn't do very well.

How is Darwin's theory of evolution, what many would consider an 
advance in biology, based on mathematical interpretation of species? 
It may well be confirmed by experiments that employ mathematics, but 
how did the conception of the theory arise from the mathematical 
interpretation of species?

>Hegel did not operate much differently, and it is ridiculous to 
>think that Hegel was
>ever in the business of defending the empirical basis of science.  That was
>the last thing he was interesting in.

How do you explain passages in the dissertation that indicate otherwise?

Thus far, you have shown no desire to engage my arguments logically. 
Consequently, I wonder why you continue to respond. Are you just 
venting pent-up hatred of Hegel?

Sincerely,
Jim

Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 19:03:04 -0600
From: Jim Good 
Subject: Re: Hegel

Kelly Ross,

Are your guesses about me falsifiable? Or are they merely 
preconceived prejudices.

Sincerely,
Jim


>Dear Dr. Good,
>
>Let me make some wild guesses here:  I bet that you aren't really
>interested in Hegel's metaphysics.  I bet that you would prefer that
>Hegel's phenomenology was a Husserlian phenomenology, i.e. a Pyrrhonian
>skepticism in metaphysics.  I bet that Hegel's philosophy or critique of
>science only appeals to you as a way to put science in its place, perhaps
>substituting the kind of sociology of science that is popular in the
>humanities today, with Hegelian epistemology assimilated to quasi-Marxist
>power analyses.  I bet that it is Hegel's politics that appeals to you,
>and certainty not a "right-wing" version of the same.  And I bet that
>Hegel's historicism is the heart of that appeal.  But then, I am just
>guessing.
>
>KR
>
>http://www.friesian.com/ross/

Dear Dr. Good,

You have written another rather long letter here, to which I have responded in detail below, yet you continue to concentrate on Hegel's dissertation and are completely unresponsive about the questions I have asked about Hegel's metaphysics, epistemology, and politics. Perhaps you are not aware that Hegel is a philosopher who thought that the axioms of geometry were analytic, with their predicates logically deducible from the subjects. Not only is it popular now (W.V.O. Quine) to assert that there are NO analytic propositions, but if the axioms of geometry were analytic, then non-Euclidean geometry, first developed in Hegel's lifetime, would be impossible. Since Hegel's analysis of geometry is the way he thinks about everything, your attempts to reconstruct Hegel as a good empiricist are therefore astounding, and Popper's understanding of Hegel's dissertation is more credible than yours precisely because his reading is consistent with the rest of Hegel's epistemology and methodology. Your's is not; and the way you make it out, it is a ridiculously trivial issue anyway. Hegel can only complain about other people ignoring the phenomena because he thinks that the essence of the phenomena is to be understood through his own Dialectic. As you say yourself, his objection to these people offering Bode's Law was philosophical; but philosophical knowledge for Hegel is all rational, and his epistemology does not really allow that natural science is independent of philosophy. "Science," *Wissenschaft*, was just what Hegel thought he was doing himself.

If your purpose in writing to me was to persuade me of the reasonableness or truth of Hegel's philosophy, you would have done a better job to address the issues where there is a profound moral objection to Hegel. You might have explained why Hegel was not really a judicial positivist -- an empiricist in the worse sense -- cooking up a phony rationality for existing institutions. Yet from one, perhaps incautious, comment, I gather that you are attracted to Hegel precisely for such moral heteronomy and judical positivism -- an issue you now have avoided in two (or three) responses. Also, despite my questions about Hegel's metaphysics, and my "guess" that you are not even interested in Hegel's metaphysics, you have not made the slightest attempt to illuminate his system or answer specific questions (e.g. the ontological element that accounts for individuality). So you haven't even tried to falsify the "guess."

Why you think that spending all your time talking about Bode's Law is going to accomplish anything is curious. You have chosen to write, after all, in defense of Hegel, to a website that prominently features Hegel's contemporary philosophical opponents, Fries and Schopenahauer, and a subsequent tradition of Hegel criticism, from Leonard Nelson to Karl Popper -- a website, indeed, that is the *Proceedings of the FRIESian School." One might think that this is the last place on earth a Hegel apologist could write to and get away with evading all the details of Hegel's epistemology, methodology, metaphysics, and doctrine. But you have ignored all the essentials, all the fundamentals of Hegel's philosophy, and have decided to defend Hegel as a very modern, empirically sensitive, philosopher of science, twisting one text into an absurd objection to a minor mathematical regularity. This is just ridiculous.

As for the differences between the left-wing interpretation of Hegel and the right-wing being so obvious that you don't even have to talk about them, even though I have listed the principles that they historically have had in common, I think this only means that either you are not "intellectually capable" of intelligently discussing politics or that the issue is so sensitive, since you are guilty as charged, that you will evade it at all costs. My experience is that people who complain about the right but not the left, but who like to think of themselves as neutral and objective, are usually hopeless leftists, who are so uncritical and unaware of their own presuppositions that such things are beyond doubt and beyond examination.

So as a philosophical thinker, you are not impressing me; and I suspect that Schopenhauer was right, when he said that to ruin someone as a thinker, one only needed to expose them to Hegel at a young enough age. As I wrote last week, you could have gone either way, (1) to show that Hegel actually agreed with Kant about epistemological, moral, metaphysical, and scientific issues, in which case you merely needed to explain about how Hegel's epistemology, metaphysics, etc. was misunderstood; or (2) you can continue the project of Hegel himself in attacking and denying essential features of Kantian philosophy, like the synthetic foundations of mathematics, or moral autonomy and natural law jurisprudence. Clearly you wish to continue with (2), but have not done so with any real re-reading of the Hegelian system, just with an attempt to anachronistically force a Popperian understanding of science, totally at odds with Hegel's epistemology and metaphysics, onto Hegel's criticism of Bode's Law.

So from your approach and your arguments, I would say that you are fine Hegelian apologist, using confusion, misdirection, and evasion all in the name of logic and rationality. Doubtless this will enable you to have a great career in American academia, and you can happily forget this nasty episode of the Friesian who regards your hermeneutic as absurd, and your moral and political commitment, if really commensurable to Hegel's, as appalling. Certainly, I don't need to hear from anyone who isn't in the least interested in Friesian philosophy but who can't even tell me why Hegel's metaphysics and epistemology isn't what I think it is. And then if you are actually to become absusive, and suspect that I am not "intellectually capable of understanding Hegel," I really wonder what you think you are doing, since any desire you might have had to endear Hegel (or yourself) to me is going to be defeated. If you want abusive accusations, I'm only getting warmed up. So you are going to have to decide what you are going, to go your merry way in your Hegelian heaven, to stake all on the irrationality of those who were interested in Bode's Law, or to actually explain something about the foundations and the details of Hegel's philosophy.

Yours truly,
Kelley Ross

At 07:00 PM 3/13/01 -0600, you wrote:
>Kelly Ross,

That's K-e-l-l-E-y. A small thing, but either deliberately offensive or systematic carelessness.

>In your response you wrote:
>>I notice that you devote all your energies here to defending Hegel's lame
>>criticisms of Bode's Law, but you don't tell me why Popper has
>>mistranslated or misunderstood the idiotic statements he quotes from Hegel
>>(and that I reproduce) about sound, or about magnetizing iron, Newton's
>>theories of inertia and gravity, etc.
>
>Because, once more, I am addressing the two issues I named. This is 
>not difficult for you to understand.

I understand that, not just your shorter e-mail, but the original one was largely devoted to the Bode's Laws business. What is then easy for me to understand is that you thought this was important and worthy of such attention, both originally and in your first response.

>>Since the worst things about the right-wing readings are what they have in
>>common with the left-wing readings, I don't see that this is a distinction
>>that makes a difference.  If you don't think that the left has espoused
>>statism, collectivism, totalitarianism, heteronomy, judicial positivism,
>>etc., that would be interesting indeed.
>
>If you are unable to see significant differences between the left and 
>right-wing readings of Hegel, I see little reason to believe you are 
>intellectually capable of understanding Hegel.

I have listed what they have in common. You can dispute that the left subscribes to statism, collectivism, etc., but you have not done so. In fact, you haven't said a thing about what the left-wing versions of Hegel are. So I see little reason to believe in your bona fides when you are so evasive.

>>  >As I explained previously, Hegel was addressing scientists who
>>>understood the Law of Titius-Bode as meaning that the planets did
>>>have to correspond to the mathematical regularity.
>>
>>Then this gets worse and worse.  The expectation that nature will
>>correspond to mathematical regularities has nothing to do specifically
>>with Bode's Law; but a complaint about something of the sort must target
>>all of modern physics (of which that Law is not a serious part), since
>>the progress of physics from Galileo to Newton to Einstein depends on it.
>>A criticism of this must ignore its success, and must ignore the
>>irrelevance of metaphysical and philosophical criticisms.  Not that a
>>philosophical critique of science is illegitimate or unimportant, but
>>it is rarely necessary or important for the practice or progress of
>>science itself.  I don't think Hegel appreciated that.  But the postulate
>>of the mathematicalregularity of nature is a poor target for complaint.
>
>You continue to miss the point here. If Hegel was targeting the 
>postulate of the mathematical regularity of nature why, pray tell, 
>would he have offered his own mathematical sequence in the 
>dissertation? His point was that certain scientists believed nature 
>had to conform to Bode's Law regardless of empirical evidence. What 
>is getting worse and worse is your unresponsiveness to my arguments.

If that really was Hegel's point, it was both trival and wrong. There was never a problem in the history of science that anyone believed that Bode's Law described the sequence of the planets regardless of the empirical evidence. Hegel's problem was that there was a gap in the series. On Popper's reading, Hegel did not believe that there COULD be a planet in the gap. It turned out that there was.

>Once more, you've committed the exact same error you committed 
>repeatedly in your previous email. The scientists Hegel addressed in 
>his dissertation were applying Bode's law regardless of whether or 
>not it worked. Hence they were unwilling to modify or abandon it when 
>empirical evidence didn't  confirm it. Their belief in Bode's law was 
>non-falsifiable. Talking about mathematical principles applied to 
>nature in general is utterly irrelevant to this discussion. Try to 
>stay on point! We are attempting to discuss a particular application 
>of a particular mathematical principle.

Again, you are are devoting all your attention here to this ridiculous issue. There was NO SUCH THING as "applying Bode's Law regardless of whether or not it worked"! If there was actually anyone who believed that Bode's Law was simply true and unfalsifiable, history has not remembered them. But it was Hegel who turned out to be wrong. But if your idea is that Hegel was a good empiricist who was criticizing *a priori* theorizing, THAT is the much more important issue, about Hegel's method, which was NOT that of an empiricist.

>>Popper doesn't waste time complaining about the philosophical rationality
>>of scientific theories (at least until quantum mechanics), certainly not
>>mathematical ones.  If they make predictions that provide an avenue of
>>empirical investigation, and can be confirmed or falsified, that is all
>>that scientists need to worry about.
>
>Bingo! In this particular case, scientists were committed to Bode's 
>law in a way that was non-falsifiable. They were unwilling to modify 
>or abandon it in the light of new evidence.

I think this is ridiculous. Bode's Law was never the kind of theory, like Newtonian mechanics, that persisted after anomalies and even better theories had arisen. There is too little to it for that to be the case.

>>The context appears to be that he misunderstood that the Law didn't have
>>much to do with serious physics, since it was not derivable from Newtonian
>>mechanics.  But if his complaint was that scientists incautiously or
>>falsely assume that nature is mathematical, and "oppress" nature by
>>"forcing" their assumption in it, then he either doesn't understand
>>science, or he is trying to impose his own philosophical theory of reason
>>and reality on science.  I think both are the case.
>
>I'll say it again. The context was that certain scientists were 
>foolishly assuming that nature must conform to a particular 
>mathematical principle regardless of empirical evidence. How many 
>more times do I have to explain the context before you will be able 
>to understand it?

I understand your apologetics just fine. (1) Hegel was not an epistemological empricist, (2) there as nothing wrong with Bode's Law, & (3) it was never a serious enough theory for anyone to have irrationally clung to it was an unfalsifiable truth.

>Popper missed the principle trust of the dissertation, which was 
>philosophical rather than scientific. In the dissertation, Hegel 
>wrote, "if other phenomena are not equally in agreement with the law, 
>it is the experiences that they [these scientists] put in doubt, and 
>they endeavor to realize at all cost the harmony between the two." 
>(136) In other words, he is addressing scientists who refuse to 
>modify their theories when observation contradicts them. Nowhere in 
>the dissertation does Hegel express any doubt that the laws of nature 
>can be expressed mathematically.

Popper was always aware of Hegel's epistemology, which was completely rationalistic. Hegel was the last person in the world to really worry about empirical verification or falsification. His complaint was not about scientists being good scientists (allowing falsification), but about scientists not being good philosophers, i.e. not following Hegel's own rationalistic methods.

>>  >Again, you completely miss the point of Hegel's argument which was
>>>about a philosophical rather than a scientific issue. His
>>>philosophical point was that it is foolish to expect nature to
>>>conform to mathematical laws that we find pleasing.
>>
>>OK, so, again, the problem is not just Bode's Law, but instead a complaint
>>about the role of mathematics in science.
>
>Wrong again. It is a complaint about scientists who adhere to their 
>theories regardless of the evidence.

Again, this was simply not a real issue at the time, certainly not with Bode's Law, and Hegel is not the kind of philosopher who is worried about empirical evidence.

>>  >The dissertation was, in essence, a defense of empirical science, 
>>rather than science
>>  >based on a priori principles. I fail to understand what bothers you
>>>about that.
>>
>>Nonsense.  If the "a priori" principles are mathematical, then there is no
>>sensible objection to them in a scientific context.
>
>Even if they do not correspond to what we actually observe in nature?

I was addressing what seemed to be your argument, that mathematics does not address the essence of nature. I have no doubt this is what Hegel believed. If you don't want to argue that point for him, or don't think that is what he was saying in his dissertation, OK.

>>  >You wrote, "all the success of science had been precisely through
>>  >mathematical interpretation." Do you honestly believe this is, or 
>>are you getting
>>  >a bit hyperbolic here?
>>
>>It is simply the truth.  Without Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Eistein, etc.,
>>all we've got is Aristotelian science, which didn't do very well.
>
>How is Darwin's theory of evolution, what many would consider an 
>advance in biology, based on mathematical interpretation of species? 
>It may well be confirmed by experiments that employ mathematics, but 
>how did the conception of the theory arise from the mathematical 
>interpretation of species?

The uncertainties about Evolution, which allow room for objections by fundamentalists, are due, not just to the absence of mathematical rigor in the theory, but to the paucity of predictions that can be made. It is largely a theory that interprets received observations. As many poeple like to say now, such data are going to be open to different interpretations. In the absence of precise predictions, it is harder to falsify the alternatives. It is the hard sciences of chemistry and genetics from which the vindication must come. Otherwise, the strength of Evolution is largely from certain philosophical postulates, such as the necessity of naturalistic explanations of phenomena.

>>Hegel did not operate much differently, and it is ridiculous to 
>>think that Hegel was
>>ever in the business of defending the empirical basis of science.  That
>>was the last thing he was interesting in.
>
>How do you explain passages in the dissertation that indicate otherwise?

You have misinterpreted those passages, and the whole dissertation, by misunderstanding the nature of Hegel's epistemology and metaphysics. I think you need to have a look at the *Logic* for that.

>Thus far, you have shown no desire to engage my arguments logically. 
>Consequently, I wonder why you continue to respond. Are you just 
>venting pent-up hatred of Hegel?

And all I see is complete evasion.

>Sincerely,
>Jim
>
>
At 07:03 PM 3/13/01 -0600, you wrote:
>Kelly Ross,
>
>Are your guesses about me falsifiable? Or are they merely 
>preconceived prejudices.

They are inquiries, about things that you have avoided elucidating.

>Sincerely,
>Jim
>
>>Dear Dr. Good,
>>
>>Let me make some wild guesses here:  I bet that you aren't really
>>interested in Hegel's metaphysics.  I bet that you would prefer that
>>Hegel's phenomenology was a Husserlian phenomenology, i.e. a Pyrrhonian
>>skepticism in metaphysics.  I bet that Hegel's philosophy or critique of
>>science only appeals to you as a way to put science in its place, perhaps
>>substituting the kind of sociology of science that is popular in the
>>humanities today, with Hegelian epistemology assimilated to quasi-Marxist
>>power analyses.  I bet that it is Hegel's politics that appeals to you,
>>and certainty not a "right-wing" version of the same.  And I bet that
>>Hegel's historicism is the heart of that appeal.  But then, I am just
>>guessing.
>>
>>KR
>>
>>http://www.friesian.com/ross/
>

Date: Sun, 18 Mar 2001 10:16:29 -0600
From: Jim Good 
Subject: Re: Hegel

Kelley Ross,

I sincerely apologize for mispelling your name. I assure you that it 
was accidental. "Systematic carelessness" strikes me as a bit of a 
stretch, but I've come to expect no charitable interpretations from 
you whatsoever. That's one way you keep from taking your opponents 
positions seriously. So far, you always exaggerate them first, and 
then attack. I suppose attacking straw men makes you feel strong. 
Unfortunately, it only reveals your insecurity to your opponents.

If you thought Hegel's dissertation was trivial, why did you take a 
cheap shot at it in the first place? It appears to me that you hoped, 
from the beginning, to be able to inundate me with cheap shots, and 
when I began to reply to them one by one you became impatient. With 
my approach, you couldn't continue the discussion at your superficial 
level. If you prefer to remain at that level, you will hate my 
approach because I prefer to proceed cautiously and carefully. I 
prefer detailed exegesis, as I tried to do with the dissertation, but 
you never gave me any reason to think that you've even read the 
dissertation, or that you know anything about it beyond what Popper 
told you to think about it. Have you actually read it for yourself? 
Will you even answer such a question?

You wrote:
>His [Hegel's] complaint [in the dissertation] was not about 
>scientists being good scientists (allowing falsification), but about 
>scientists not being good philosophers, i.e. not following Hegel's 
>own rationalistic methods.

This is based on your argument that Hegel's dissertation was founded 
on his metaphysics. This is a curious position because Hegel wrote 
the dissertation in 1801, six years before he published the 
Phenomenology of Spirit. How have you divined what Hegel thought 
about metaphysics before he published anything on it? I've read all 
of his unpublished writings from this period, and there is no 
metaphysics contained in them. Is your claim about Hegel's 
metaphysics in 1801 based upon seances? It is difficult for me to 
imagine a source that you could use to make this claim, but I tell 
you what, I've got a few essays that deal with Hegel that will be 
published soon and I could add a footnote to one or more of them in 
which I state that the renowned Hegel scholar, Kelley Ross, has 
claimed that Hegel had a full-blown metaphysics by 1801. I doubt that 
would do much for your reputation as a scholar, however. Can you 
explain the details of Hegel's 1801 metaphysics? Is it identical to 
the metaphysics in his mature thought? Or are you just completely 
full of shit? I hate to break this to you, but you've made the sort 
of mistake here that I expect from a freshman in college, not a Ph.D. 
It is hard for me to imagine that you earned your Ph.D. at UT using 
this kind of logic. Can we take this discussion to a slightly higher 
level?

You claim you're ready to move on to discussions of Hegel's 
metaphysics and epistemology but, so far, you've shown no desire to 
engage in serious discussion. I will begin to prepare an email that 
moves forward, but I will not reduce my logic to your level. Hence, I 
will continue to move slowly and carefully. Do you have the patience 
for greater intellectual rigor? Thus far you have made numerous 
claims about Hegel's metaphysics and epistemology, but you have 
never provided a citation to any of his writings. In fact, in our 
discussion of the dissertation, you never once provided a quote from 
that document. These are hit and run tactics. You may want to bail 
out now because I won't respond in kind. I suggest you read the 
account of the dissertation contained in one of the Hegel biographies 
I have already cited. H.S. Harris provides a detailed examination of 
Hegel's writing of the dissertation, his defense, and the broader 
context of those events, but that goes far beyond the level of 
discussion you seem to prefer. Pippin's recent biography is a good 
one and I think it is written on a level that you'll be able to 
understand. Be forewarned, however, that he actually read the 
dissertation and actually quotes from it. You may find that 
intimidating.

You also wrote:
>If there was actually anyone who believed that Bode's Law was simply 
>true and unfalsifiable, history has not remembered them.

Implicit in this claim is the phrase, "as far as Kelley Ross knows" 
"history has not remembered them." This about as narrow-minded a 
criterion of truth as I can imagine using. Especially since you've 
already made incredibly anachronistic claims about the dissertation. 
Why should I be willing to grant that if something hasn't been 
recorded in historical scholarship, "as far as Kelley Ross knows," it 
can't possibly be true? This is not poor logic, it's really a 
rejection of logic on your part.

>If that really was Hegel's point, it was both trival and wrong.  There was
>never a problem in the history of science that anyone believed that Bode's
>Law described the sequence of the planets regardless of the empirical
>evidence.

What is your proof that there was never a single soul in the history 
of science who made this mistake? Is this also based on seances, or 
can you provide citations for your claim?

>  >Popper missed the principle trust of the dissertation, which was
>>philosophical rather than scientific. In the dissertation, Hegel
>>wrote, "if other phenomena are not equally in agreement with the law,
>>it is the experiences that they [these scientists] put in doubt, and
>>they endeavor to realize at all cost the harmony between the two."
>>(136) In other words, he is addressing scientists who refuse to
>>modify their theories when observation contradicts them. Nowhere in
>>the dissertation does Hegel express any doubt that the laws of nature
>>can be expressed mathematically.
>
>Popper was always aware of Hegel's epistemology, which was completely
>rationalistic.  Hegel was the last person in the world to really worry
>about empirical verification or falsification.

So has Popper discovered what Hegel's epistemology was in 1801? If he 
has, I'm amazed that I never heard about it. That would be a 
ground-breaking discovery indeed.

>The uncertainties about Evolution, which allow room for objections by
>fundamentalists, are due, not just to the absence of mathematical rigor in
>the theory, but to the paucity of predictions that can be made.  It is
>largely a theory that interprets received observations.  As many poeple
>like to say now, such data are going to be open to different
>interpretations.  In the absence of precise predictions, it is harder to
>falsify the alternatives.  It is the hard sciences of chemistry and
>genetics from which the vindication must come.  Otherwise, the strength of
>Evolution is largely from certain philosophical postulates, such as the
>necessity of naturalistic explanations of phenomena.

So what advances in biology have been based on mathematics? I'll 
remind you of your claim: "all the success of science had been 
precisely through mathematical interpretation." Can you name a 
scientific success in biology that has come precisely through 
mathematical interpretation, or are you simply blowing more smoke 
here?

>  >>Hegel did not operate much differently, and it is ridiculous to
>>>think that Hegel was
>>>ever in the business of defending the empirical basis of science.  That
>>>was the last thing he was interesting in.
>>
>>How do you explain passages in the dissertation that indicate otherwise?
>
>You have misinterpreted those passages, and the whole dissertation, by
>misunderstanding the nature of Hegel's epistemology and metaphysics.  I
>think you need to have a look at the *Logic* for that.

If I have misunderstood the dissertation, cite passages from it that 
prove your claim. But I bet you've never read it have you? This is 
another one of your drive by shootings. Stop the car, get out, and 
engage your opponent on level ground. According to renowned Hegel 
scholar Kelley Ross, in 1801, Hegel's metaphysics was exactly the 
same as what he believes it is in the 3 volume Logic Hegel published 
in 1812, 1813, and 1816. You really need to publish on this 
ground-breaking discovery. Then your evidence could be subjected to 
analysis by the community of Hegel scholars. Do you think your 
evidence could withstand such scrutiny? It's difficult for me to say 
since you haven't offered any evidence.

Sincerely,
Jim

Dear Dr. Good,

At 10:16 AM 3/18/01 -0600, you wrote:
>I sincerely apologize for mispelling your name. I assure you that it 
>was accidental. "Systematic carelessness" strikes me as a bit of a 
>stretch, but I've come to expect no charitable interpretations from 
>you whatsoever.

I reserve no charitable interpretations for Hegel; and it is with little pleasure that I turn to your e-mail -- but I consider answering it both challenging and obligatory, even if you are writing to the *Proceedings of the Friesian School* with no interest in the Friesian School, just in the great (and self-proclaimed) enemy of Fries.

>That's one way you keep from taking your opponents 
>positions seriously.

I am willing to take any position seriously that seems serious. I have never regarded Hegel as serious philosophy, except in its consequences, and as a theoretical example of error in epistemology and metaphysics.

> So far, you always exaggerate them first, and 
>then attack. I suppose attacking straw men makes you feel strong.

I have had to guess about positions where you seemed reluctant to state a stand, or even to indicate your position. That is what I am concerned about. You are only concerned, evidently, about Hegel's dissertation.

>Unfortunately, it only reveals your insecurity to your opponents.

It is more like anger, about the falsehood and damage perpetrated by Hegel and Hegelians.

>If you thought Hegel's dissertation was trivial, why did you take a 
>cheap shot at it in the first place?

As I said, the consequences are not trivial.

>It appears to me that you hoped, 
>from the beginning, to be able to inundate me with cheap shots, and 
>when I began to reply to them one by one you became impatient.

All your have ever written about at length was the Bode's Law business. To other matters in your first long e-mail, you have not responded to my replies. I can only conclude that you believe your entire case rests on Hegel's dissertation, and the rest of his corpus, and its history, can sink beneath the waves.

>With 
>my approach, you couldn't continue the discussion at your superficial 
>level.

The foundations of Hegel's mature epistemology and metaphysics are hardly at the "superficial" level in dealing with him.

>If you prefer to remain at that level, you will hate my 
>approach because I prefer to proceed cautiously and carefully. I 
>prefer detailed exegesis, as I tried to do with the dissertation, but 
>you never gave me any reason to think that you've even read the 
>dissertation, or that you know anything about it beyond what Popper 
>told you to think about it. Have you actually read it for yourself?

My impression is that your "detailed exegesis" gets into trouble because it ignores the context of theory and method in which Hegel wrote, let alone the assumed ontological background.

I am not interested in the dissertation and have no intention of reading it. I've read enough Hegel to know what he is doing, and enough to know the Popper's reading is consistent with Hegel's methods and attitudes. If the dissertation is anomalously progressive, this is of little philosophical or historical significance.

>Will you even answer such a question?

What you might tell me about the dissertation are the names of the astronomers/physicists/numerologists whom Hegel was criticizing, and the nature of the mathematical sequence that Hegel proposed in place of Bode's Law -- i.e. the rule to derive it. If Hegel produced a number series as simple as Bode's Law, which produces the positions for all the known planets, with no place for the asteriods, then I will credit him with being more of a mathematician than I would have expected.

>You wrote:
>>His [Hegel's] complaint [in the dissertation] was not about 
>>scientists being good scientists (allowing falsification), but about 
>>scientists not being good philosophers, i.e. not following Hegel's 
>>own rationalistic methods.
>
>This is based on your argument that Hegel's dissertation was founded 
>on his metaphysics. This is a curious position because Hegel wrote 
>the dissertation in 1801, six years before he published the 
>Phenomenology of Spirit. How have you divined what Hegel thought 
>about metaphysics before he published anything on it? I've read all 
>of his unpublished writings from this period, and there is no 
>metaphysics contained in them. Is your claim about Hegel's 
>metaphysics in 1801 based upon seances? It is difficult for me to 
>imagine a source that you could use to make this claim,

The source, indeed, has just been other Hegelians and Hegel scholars who point out that Hegel's epistemology and methodology was essentially unchanged from 1800 on. If you are going to dispute that, then the questions would be (1) why he changed his mind, (2) how the alternative epistemology of the dissertation would have influenced later philosophers more that his mature thought, or (3) how the dissertation, if it represented some proto-Popperian view of science, could have been so sophisticated if he was simply going to abandon it and nobody else notice it.

>but I tell 
>you what, I've got a few essays that deal with Hegel that will be 
>published soon and I could add a footnote to one or more of them in 
>which I state that the renowned Hegel scholar, Kelley Ross, has 
>claimed that Hegel had a full-blown metaphysics by 1801.

Publish what you like about me, but he hardly needed to have a full-blown metaphysics by 1801 for his essential views to have been formed, especially given the context of the views of Fichte and Schelling. Was he still a Kantian? If not, was the dissertation some dead end, proto-Popperian formulation of science that he would then abandon, for reasons that seemed good?

Of course, most of my questions to you about Hegel's metaphysics were not about the dissertation at all, but about his mature thought and the effect it had in later philosophy and politics. The focus on the dissertation alone is what you have decided on.

>I doubt that 
>would do much for your reputation as a scholar, however. Can you 
>explain the details of Hegel's 1801 metaphysics? Is it identical to 
>the metaphysics in his mature thought? Or are you just completely 
>full of shit?

You should be able to tell me that, shouldn't you? You haven't, despite all my qustions about Hegel's metaphysics. But then, presumably, Hegel didn't have a mature metaphysics at that point. So the methodology is the issue, but still a tangential one, since I consider your whole focus on the dissertation tangential.

From your previous e-mails, I at least expected you to claim that Hegel's mature thought was a direct continuation of the dissertation doctrine. Now you seem to want to back away from that, on the principle that his mature metaphysics didn't exist yet. But, again, that doesn't help in the least if the argument is about the influence exerted by Hegel's mature thought on later philosophy and politics. So now I must conclude that you aren't even interested in Hegel's mature thought but wish to construct an entire philosophical system on the dissertation, elevating this into a more worthy Hegel than the Hegel of the *Phenomenology* or the *Encyclopedia* or the *Philosophy of Right*. You can do that if you like, but it only gets us a completely a-historical Hegel, which is irrelevant to the influences of the doctrines I am concerned with.

>I hate to break this to you, but you've made the sort 
>of mistake here that I expect from a freshman in college, not a Ph.D. 
>It is hard for me to imagine that you earned your Ph.D. at UT using 
>this kind of logic. Can we take this discussion to a slightly higher 
>level?

I might say the same about you (or, in your charming way, ask if you are just full of shit); but, instead, what you remind me of is an eager graduate student who has seized on one radiant idea, apparently Hegel's dissertation, and have pulled it completely out of context and, especially, completely out of subsequent history. So blinded by this radiance, you haven't noticed that most of my questions have been about Hegel's philosophy as a whole, not about an isolated text that you can radically reinterpret.

But if the metaphysics or epistemology of Hegel's dissertation are so incommensurable with his later philosophy, I would suspect that you and your colleagues could well have committed the most sophomoric error of hermeneutics, to read backwards a doctrine from later history anachronistically to an isolated earlier text. This would make Empedocles a Darwin and Democritus a Dalton. But even conceding your whole claim, that the dissertation is a doctrine of philosophy of science ahead of its time, this is, as I have said, irrelevant for the concern of both Popper and myself about the form and influence of Hegel's system. If Popper has misread the dissertation by wrongly interpreting it according to Hegel's *own* later views, this really does not change the overall situation. It just means that Hegel unaccountably was on the right track, and then got off of it.

The "level" I wanted to go to was in response to assertions of yours that (the mature) Hegel did not, for instance, believe that the state was more real than the individual. So I just asked what element in Hegel's metaphysics accounts for individuality. This has nothing to do with the dissertation, but everything to do with the cumulative force and effect of Hegel's philosophy. In all your verbiage you have not done what really could be done very briefly.

>You claim you're ready to move on to discussions of Hegel's 
>metaphysics and epistemology but, so far, you've shown no desire to 
>engage in serious discussion.

My impression, again, of you. I have asked over and over again about Hegel's metaphysics and politics, but by focusing entirely on Hegel's dissertation, you have been able to avoid that completely.

> I will begin to prepare an email that 
>moves forward, but I will not reduce my logic to your level. Hence, I 
>will continue to move slowly and carefully. Do you have the patience 
>for greater intellectual rigor?

There has been no "rigor" in anything you have written. Just attempts at authoritative claims and an arrogant dismissal of actual argument.

>Thus far you have made numerous 
>claims about Hegel's metaphysics and epistemology, but you have 
>never provided a citation to any of his writings. In fact, in our 
>discussion of the dissertation, you never once provided a quote from 
>that document. These are hit and run tactics. You may want to bail 
>out now because I won't respond in kind.

I have asked you for explanations of Hegel's philosophy. You don't have to prove it, all you have to do is give it. Then you could have answered my questions. Neither of us needs to cite texts for that. That is the philosophical level of treating a doctine has having its own inner logical and integrity. If, later, there is some disagreement about the system, then texts can be cited.

When people write to me about the doctrine of the Friesian School, and not just with an axe to grind about something else, I don't have to quote chapter and verse to them, just explain it. You, however, avoid explanations, but make claims for a text that mostly only you and your fellow Hegel apologists have ever read, claims that are really incoherent and incredible (of Hegel as sensitive to the principle of empirical falsification) and are certainly entirely irrelevant to the basic issues on my Hegel page (about which you were presumably writting) about Hegel's philosophical *system*.

>I suggest you read the 
>account of the dissertation contained in one of the Hegel biographies 
>I have already cited. H.S. Harris provides a detailed examination of 
>Hegel's writing of the dissertation, his defense, and the broader 
>context of those events, but that goes far beyond the level of 
>discussion you seem to prefer.

Again, either the dissertation is characteristic of Hegel's mature thought, or it isn't. If it isn't, then Hegel thought better of it and produced the ideas that had the historical effects that concern me. If it is characteristic of Hegel's mature thought, then it is entirely beside the point and you are evading all the issues by making special claims for it.

>Pippin's recent biography is a good 
>one and I think it is written on a level that you'll be able to 
>understand.

Don't blame me for being insulting in return. But I expect no honest argument from a Hegelian.

>Be forewarned, however, that he actually read the 
>dissertation and actually quotes from it. You may find that 
>intimidating.

Well, you know, Popper read it. You may say that Popper was wrong, but I am sorry that Sir Karl is not alive so that you can write him to get him straightened out, call him insulting things, etc. But since you are so dense, I will repeat the point again: if the dissertation is inconsistent with Hegel's mature thought, then it is irrelevant to questions about the structure and influence of Hegel's philosophy; but if it is consistent with Hegel's mature thought, then your entire preoccupation with it is a confusion and a dishonest evasion of the issues about Hegel.

>You also wrote:
>>If there was actually anyone who believed that Bode's Law was simply 
>>true and unfalsifiable, history has not remembered them.
>
>Implicit in this claim is the phrase, "as far as Kelley Ross knows" 
>"history has not remembered them." This about as narrow-minded a 
>criterion of truth as I can imagine using. Especially since you've 
>already made incredibly anachronistic claims about the dissertation.

Since Bode's Law was not a prediction of Newtonian physics, I am indeed curious what respectable physicists gave it the kind of weight that Hegel imputed to them.

Now, Bode's Law, "as far as Kelley Ross know," was not a prediction of Newtonian mechanics. This is wrong? If not, then anyone with the kind of belief attributed to them by Hegel was a fool. And if it was not taken so seriously by serious physicists and mathematicians (e.g. Laplace or Gauss), then it is Hegel who is the fool.

>Why should I be willing to grant that if something hasn't been 
>recorded in historical scholarship, "as far as Kelley Ross knows," it 
>can't possibly be true? This is not poor logic, it's really a 
>rejection of logic on your part.

The original point was that Bode's Law was not, since it was not a prediction of Newtonian mechanics, a serious part of physics. If there was some physicist/astronomer who thought so, I have asked you who.

>>If that really was Hegel's point, it was both trival and wrong.  There was
>>never a problem in the history of science that anyone believed that Bode's
>>Law described the sequence of the planets regardless of the empirical
>>evidence.
>
>What is your proof that there was never a single soul in the history 
>of science who made this mistake? Is this also based on seances, or 
>can you provide citations for your claim?

I have asked you who, but it really doesn't matter. There are always unmotivated variations on theories, like Darwinian "orthogenesis," but Bode's Law doesn't even qualify for that, since it was just a simple numerical series that happened to match the known planets. What I deny is not that no one believed it in the way that Hegel accused, but that it was a serious issue at all and that Hegel's treagtment of it, whether Popper is right or you, is very helpful in evaluating the meaning and impact of Hegel's philosophical system.

>>  >Popper missed the principle trust of the dissertation, which was
>>>philosophical rather than scientific. In the dissertation, Hegel
>>>wrote, "if other phenomena are not equally in agreement with the law,
>>>it is the experiences that they [these scientists] put in doubt, and
>>>they endeavor to realize at all cost the harmony between the two."
>>>(136) In other words, he is addressing scientists who refuse to
>>>modify their theories when observation contradicts them. Nowhere in
>>>the dissertation does Hegel express any doubt that the laws of nature
>>>can be expressed mathematically.
>>
>>Popper was always aware of Hegel's epistemology, which was completely
>>rationalistic.  Hegel was the last person in the world to really worry
>>about empirical verification or falsification.
>
>So has Popper discovered what Hegel's epistemology was in 1801? If he 
>has, I'm amazed that I never heard about it. That would be a 
>ground-breaking discovery indeed.

As I have pointed out, if Hegel had a unique epistemology in 1801, then it is not relevant for the complaints about Hegel that either Popper or I have. But Popper was familiar both with Hegel at that point, with his contemporaries, like Fichte and Schelling, and with his later thought, which is what primarily influenced people subsequently.

>>The uncertainties about Evolution, which allow room for objections by
>>fundamentalists, are due, not just to the absence of mathematical rigor in
>>the theory, but to the paucity of predictions that can be made.  It is
>>largely a theory that interprets received observations.  As many poeple
>>like to say now, such data are going to be open to different
>>interpretations.  In the absence of precise predictions, it is harder to
>>falsify the alternatives.  It is the hard sciences of chemistry and
>>genetics from which the vindication must come.  Otherwise, the strength of
>>Evolution is largely from certain philosophical postulates, such as the
>>necessity of naturalistic explanations of phenomena.
>
>So what advances in biology have been based on mathematics? I'll 
>remind you of your claim: "all the success of science had been 
>precisely through mathematical interpretation." Can you name a 
>scientific success in biology that has come precisely through 
>mathematical interpretation, or are you simply blowing more smoke 
>here?

The most conspicuous successes in recent biology has been from the discovery of DNA, but DNA is only know through chemistry, and through the methods of chemical analysis. These are mathematical, as they have been since Dalton.

>>  >>Hegel did not operate much differently, and it is ridiculous to
>>>>think that Hegel was
>>>>ever in the business of defending the empirical basis of science.  That
>>>>was the last thing he was interesting in.
>>>
>>>How do you explain passages in the dissertation that indicate otherwise?
>>
>>You have misinterpreted those passages, and the whole dissertation, by
>>misunderstanding the nature of Hegel's epistemology and metaphysics.  I
>>think you need to have a look at the *Logic* for that.
>
>If I have misunderstood the dissertation, cite passages from it that 
>prove your claim. But I bet you've never read it have you? This is 
>another one of your drive by shootings. Stop the car, get out, and 
>engage your opponent on level ground. According to renowned Hegel 
>scholar Kelley Ross, in 1801, Hegel's metaphysics was exactly the 
>same as what he believes it is in the 3 volume Logic Hegel published 
>in 1812, 1813, and 1816. You really need to publish on this 
>ground-breaking discovery. Then your evidence could be subjected to 
>analysis by the community of Hegel scholars. Do you think your 
>evidence could withstand such scrutiny? It's difficult for me to say 
>since you haven't offered any evidence.

I have no more intention of reading Hegel's disseration than you have of reading Leonard Nelson's *Progess and Regress in Philosophy* or Jakob Fries's *Neue oder anthropologische Kritik der Vernunft*. But I don't have to, because your whole use of the dissertation is irrelevant. And since you have now introduced the argument in this e-mail that we must evaluate the dissertation out of the context of Hegel's whole thought, it is clear to me that your strategy is to continue to resort to evasive sophistries in order to avoid discussing the substance and implications of Hegel's philosophy.

Since you still favor me with your insults, I will favor you with another one: It is the most infantile philosophical technique to take refuge in a text that few other people have any interest or time to read. You have made the dissertation the issue, when right from the beginning it was almost wholly irrelevant. If Hegel was a proto-Popperian in 1801, that's nice, but it doesn't change an iota about the form, meaning, and influence of Hegel's mature thought. Since you have hardly uttered a word about that, despite repeated questions and, yes, accusations, I can only conclude that your intention is to avoid any identifiable specifics of Hegel's system -- that is, even to explain what it is, regardless of what texts your interpretation is based on.

After my last e-mail, I thought that you might at least be clever enough to jump on my statement that Hegel's positivism was a "kind of empiricism," to triumphantly proclaim, "See, you admit that Hegel was an empiricist!" But you have given me no reason to believe that you understand either positivism or empiricism in philosophy, since you haven't even talked about them, much less seen the opening to try and turn my denial of Hegel's empiricism against me. Full of shit? That is Hegel, the stooge of Prussia and Prussianism. And, even if he wasn't, I have asked for your own judgments about statism, collectivism, moral heteronomy, judicial positivism, and the other failings widely imputed to Hegel's system, which you have chosen to ignore -- except for your early, and perhaps incautious, endorsement of Hegel's attacks on Kant about things in themselves and moral principles. That told enough of a story to me that I could guess, after your silence and evasion, what would follow, but you haven't bothered either to deny or explain.

I am not the least bit surprised that a Hegel apologist should turn out to be so arrogant, insulting, and evasive. It goes with the territory. I still only wonder at why you would bother, however. I do not demand that you read the critique of Hegel by Fries or Nelson (both of whom wrote histories of recent philosophy) and then dismiss you if you are unfamiliar with their works. That is because I am willing to argue Friesian doctrine on its own merits. But you are not only unwilling to argue, or even explain, Hegel's mature doctrine on its own merits, but you act as though the Philosopher's Stone is to be found in one text, previously always misintrepreted, which contains a surprisingly modern theory -- which, misinterpreted or not, was a historical dead letter because of Hegel's disagreement with it in his mature thought.

What I expect, now, of course, is that you can respond with a further evasion by claiming that the dissertation was *not* inconsistent with Hegel's later thought, but the key to reinterpreting all of it! Since this will occasion many paragraphs of insults and browbeating, you still will never actually get around to saying what the mature thought is -- except that it is really modern and scientific! But, hey, you can really get up on your high horse again! The defender of truth and justice! The defender who never quite gets around to the *ad rem*.

Sorry I have to keep guessing, but since you are so reticent and unforthcoming, I almost have to carry on both sides of the *ad rem* discussion by myself.

Kelley Ross


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