Hegel is hiding within you

Yesterday I finished Martin Heidegger’s Hegel’s Concept of Experience. Leaving aside both the author and the topic, this was a helpful book.  It is Heidegger’s running commentary on key passages in the Phenomenology of Spirit.   It illuminates Hegel and provides a entry point to Heidegger’s larger work.

In this post I will briefly give an overview of the book and then show how Hegel (and Heidegger) are fully within the Greek, Hellenic position and those who hate Hegel yet prize the Greeks–especially Christians today–are inconsistent.

Heidegger reads Hegel as arguing that being is being-present.  It is the manifestation of a thing. Being is always being Par-Ousia–manifestation.  From there we see an interplay between Being as the real and the Absolute as the real.   If the Absolute is the real, and our knowledge is not yet at the absolute, it is then relative to the absolute.

Knowledge is relative to a thing.

Like a good Greek Hegel/Heidegger privileges sight over hearing as sees knowledge as manifestation (Heidegger 57).  The ultimate goal, though Heidegger never clearly states it as such, is unmediated knowledge–the Absolute which has fully come into being [arrival?] as Absolute.

The book contains some useful observations on reflection and the subject-object distinction.   What I found helpful is how the book easily lends itself as a foil to Revelational thought.  Revelational thought (what I have elsewhere called Hebraic Christianity) is verbal.  Reality is verbal.  God speaks and a thing is.  For onto-theo-logy, reality is manifestation and appearance.  It seeks to transcend mediation.

Perhaps this sheds knew-if unintended meaning–on the phrase “absolute truth.”  All of a sudden the term “absolute truth” sounds worryingly Hegelian.  It seems like–and after Hegel and Heidegger you really can’t argue otherwise–it is truth detached from the historical narrative, the particulars, the narratival idiomata.

I am not a relativist.

**For a useful introduction to Heidegger and modern Continental Philosophy, see Gayatri Spivak’s preface to Derrida’s of Grammatology.


3 comments on “Hegel is hiding within you

  1. Andrew says:

    Would you say more about what you mean by ‘reality is verbal’? You go on to say that God speaks a thing and it is, but this would seem to the cause of reality rather than what reality it is.

    • Excellent question. It’s one of my projects right now. I think you’ve spotted what I actually mean by it: God’s speech is the origin of things. I guess I haven’t clarified what I mean by my earlier statement. It’s something I’ll work on.

  2. Andrew says:

    I maybe should have proof read that one before posting!

    It came to mind that some form of idealism is more friendly to a verbal ontology than realism is. That is, to put it crudely, if one supposes that ideas are necessary for words. This would differ from traditional divine exemplarism to the extent that reality is not an image of the divine ideas but words (whatever that might mean). I’m not sure this goes very far, I would have to think about it a bit more. Personally, I’m not fussed on divine ideas.

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