Chapter 3: A Rejoinder

[All the discussions related to Braver Reading Group are here]

The conventional wisdom about the relationship between Kant and Hegel is that Hegel aims to “complete” Kant.  This, of course, describes fairly Hegel’s self-professed intention and is probably a scandalous pronouncement for anyone who considers Kant’s work already complete enough.  Whatever the case may be, it is of course clear that Hegel is reacting to Kant and therefore it is impossible to understand his most immediate motivations without Kant and Kant’s “paradigm,” as Braver labels it.  I would like to put forth some observations/questions regarding the overal development of Braver’s argument and regarding some of the connections between Kant and Hegel, possibly “defending” Kant in couple of places, but generally trying to be “neutral” with an eye of the prize.  So this is more of a thinking aloud type of rejoinder, as I think Jon raised a number of issues, even if, of course, there is plenty more in the chapter itself (it’s a long one, maybe a bit too long).  I will primarily address 3 sets of problems – (and none of these directed at Braver as a demand to clarify, I hope that such a simplistic attitude can be avoided in this reading exercise, plus the author is dead, right?): Continue reading

More Derrida To Come?

Is there a flood of Derrida seminars about to be unleashed on the unsuspecting general public? An editorial note to the Russian review of recently released Séminaire La bête et le souverain: Volume 1 (2001-2002) claims that there are 40-50 volumes of Derrida seminars in all to be released. Say what? I’m not really sure where this information is coming from but the French review (PDF) of the above book does mention about 14 000 pages of Derrida material just waiting to be processed and published: Continue reading

Infinity: Qualitative and Quantitative

Came across this passage from a letter Franz Rosenzweig sent to Hans Ehrenberg in 1918:

What does the irrational number mean in relation to the rational?  For rational numbers, infinity is an always unattainable limit, a forever improbable magnitude, even if it is of the order of certainty, of permanent truth.  With irrational numbers, on the contrary, at each of its points that limit comes up against rational numbers, almost physically, with the presence specific to numbers, thus liberating it from its abstract, linear and one-dimensional nature (from which its hypothetical status also proceeds), to confer a “spatial” totality and an obvious reality on it.  In the form of the infinitesimal number, infinity is the secret spring, forever invisible, of the rational number and its visible reality.  On the other hand, through the irrational number, infiinty is manifested, becomes visible, while forever remaining an alein reality: a number that is not a number, or so to speak a “non-number.”

What an interesting (and oddly clear) passage.  It’s a rather succint statement of  Rosenzweig’s conception of redemption (and critique of Hegel) and sheds a some light on how Rosenzweig approaches some of the problems  towards the end of the Star, e.g. progress, messianism, election and history.  Anyway, at long last I have gotten a hold of Stephane Moses’ recently translated The Angel of History: Rosenzweig, Benjamin, Scholem.  Time permitting, I’m hoping to throw together some thoughts about Moses’ text and more broadly, Rosenzweig sometime soon.

Braver Reading Group: Chapter 3 – Hegel: The Truth of the Whole.

[If you’re just joining us, please click on the cover icon on the right side of the page to see the post that gathers all the discussions of Braver Reading Group, or click here]

1 Overview.

One of the coolest things about Chapter 3 is how beautifully the previous two chapters are explained as part of Hegel’s story.

Unfortunately (well actually fortunately for the reader; order the book!) there is so much great philosophy in this chapter that I can’t do a book report.

Instead, I made a groovy chart that shows how Braver has retold the Phenomenology of Spirit in his first three chapters, with page numbers to the relevant sections in Braver’s book. I present this chart in lieu of a detailed exposition. “R” refers to a realist take on the row’s thesis, “A” refers to an anti-realist take. Expressions such as “6d” occurring in cell X denote that the argument given by Braver in the page numbers given in row 6, column d are part of why cell X gets an A or R. Also note that if you still need your reading glasses after left-clicking on the picture (it’s linked to the full-sized jpeg), then click HERE for the .doc version. Continue reading

Academic Writing and Guilt.

I don’t have the luxury of unlimited free time due to the obvious lack of personal obligations, therefore weekends are not meant for academic writing or any significant reading. I know it’s probably easier to be prolific without, say, a burden of friends, significant others, non-academic interests, or unnecessary distractions, but I think it might be too high of a price to pay in the end (especially if one, like myself, lacks significant academic ambitions). For this reason today is an unusual Saturday as the house is empty and I’m left to my own reading and writing.  Needing to finish a long overdue project, I started at it in the morning and just wrote pages after pages of “stuff” that I have been thinking about for the last month or so.  A strange sensation came over me as I finished up editing and rearranging what I have written today, a sense of guilt that, despite doing an academic type of writing, I never looked at one book or consulted any of my notes. Isn’t academic writing ultimately a kind of negotiation with that which was already written on the issue? “Yes, all of this has been already discussed in one way or another, but I have this small thing to add.”  One must navigate an ocean of secondary literature, demonstrating one’s capacity to allude to relevant discussions without giving into temptation of lowly summarization. “You can’t just sit down and write, man! What are you, a writer?” I hear my inner voice tsk-tsking me. Indeed, as I reread what I wrote, I am in the throes of near-panic: Where does X say that? Where is this citation? What is someone objects to Y? How can I make my argument more precise and objection-proof? But at the same time, there’s a certain pleasure in just writing, in just “making shit up,” if you will, isn’t there?

The guilt is still there though, academic writing can’t be as easy as sitting down and writing, right? Where is the struggle? Where is the infinite quest for originality? Thou shall not enjoy writing…