The Hegel Variations

Fredrick Jameson has a new book coming out in June and it’s on Hegel (is the old-timer making a comeback? not that he was ever gone, mind you – I mean Hegel, of course, not Jameson):

Master philosopher and cultural theorist tackles the founder of
modern dialectics

In this major new study, the philosopher and cultural theorist Fredric Jameson offers a new reading of Hegel’s foundational text thePhenomenology of Spirit. In contrast to those who see the Phenomenologyas a closed system ending with Absolute Spirit, Jameson’s reading presents an open work in which Hegel has not yet reconstituted himself in terms of a systematic philosophy (Hegelianism) and in which the moments of the dialectic and its levels have not yet been formalized.

Hegel’s text executes a dazzling variety of changes on conceptual relationships, in terms with are never allowed to freeze over and become reified in purely philosophical named concepts. The ending, on the aftermath of the French Revolution, is interpreted by Jameson, contra Fukuyama’s “end of history,” as a provisional stalemate between the political and the social, which is here extrapolated to our own time.

In other news, our favorite Objectologist (the Son, yes, not the Father, he’s hopeless – a kid asks him for an advice and he uses the opportunity to talk more about himself – the lession? be like me and your life will be just dandy) has a couple of interesting posts in a Manifesto form. Despite all of my past annoyances and so on, I actually kind of like these – take a look, it’s straightforward and to the point (whether those points are valid is another issue, of course): Part 1 and Part 2. If you ignore the barbaric misreading of Kant (and his philosophical role – see previous battles vis-a-vis Kant as a strawman) and occasional nonsense (such as wrong book in reference to Hegel – but who has time to look up references, right? it’s a freaking Manifesto), it’s not bad. I hope this Manifesto is published in some more or less finished form (and not on, as the Father calls it, a “message board”) – I would certainly pass it around and see what people think. I think I’m starting to get this whole objectology business (even if I think it’s rather under-investigated, but this is what young ambitious academics are for, right?)

8 thoughts on “The Hegel Variations

  1. Can’t say I’m all that enthused about the objectology manifesto (and that link to Harman’s advice is hilarious, I hope we can expect more references to Stonewall Jackson in his upcoming magnum opus, Circus Philosophicus), but Jameson, on the other hand.. I finished reading *Valences of the Dialectic* a few months ago and, aside from the fact that most of the material was recycled from past works, the articles that *weren’t*—the ones on Hegel—were superb and extremely clever. At least one of them went into some detail about this contention that PhG represents a pre-Hegelianism version of Hegel, whereas in the WdL, Hegel turned his dialectic into an ideology. On the whole, it felt like a preface to something much larger, so I’m excited to see this. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. I should give Valences a read then, I’ve been meaning to do so for a while now (since it came out).

    I do like the Manifesto form, not that it’s important in the larger scheme of things, precisely because it seems to be a kind of straightforward proposition without the usual “well, I’m still working on this aspect so get back to me later” (the Son) or “I like this, and I don’t like that, and as long as I sincerely express my likes/dislikes, you cannot accuse me of being wrong” (the Father) – at least now I can see what the fuss is about and make up my mind. I do find it to be interesting, even though most of it has been already discussed before, but now all of these issues of “inhuman” are coming back around and I think it’s good. As long as the obvious absurdities* are avoided, I think it’s an interesting take. We’ll see where it all goes, plus now that some time has passed, I don’t have to worry about The Objectological Duo perusing my comments and then writing me long sulky emails about how uncool it is that I criticize them on my “message board”…

    I’m sure the Circus book is every bit as exciting as the Father is presently claiming it is, but I’ll wait for The Guardian review or a subsequent movie – considering the fact that he openly (and Im’ sure sincerely – sincerity covers all sins) recounts that his trial readers didn’t think it was that funny while he was rolling on the floor laughing at his own jokes, it’s probably as egomaniac and condescending as his whole blog-oeuvre.


    * Such as talking about ethics, politics, or democracy but not in “anthropocentric” ways – I mean all of these ideas are made by humans for humans, to take these human-oriented concepts and then to talk about a “democracy of objects” is cute and provocative, but ultimately just plain moronic – there’s no “demos” of objects and they do not have any “cratos” – some human inventions/concepts must then be simply discarded, if one wants to be a consistent objectologist…

  3. While I share your approval of the manifesto genre (hey, let’s all write manifestos and compare them! Or not!), and I agree that one from that quarter would most likely be helpful (after all that other not so helpful stuff), I clicked over there and the first thing that caught my eye was a bolded subheading which reads “1781: The Failure of Philosophy” (next to a graphic of Las Meninas [wtf]). I know you told us to ignore the barbaric misreading of Kant, but I just had lunch and so I think I’m going to have to wait a bit before checking it out. Thanks for the tip though! Seriously, I appreciate your keeping an eye out for such things.

  4. Well, I did check it out, and I have to disagree — it’s just more of the same. The world is *independent* of us, you see, so realism is true, Kant sucks, blah blah blah. Nothing new at all — very disappointing.

    • But it’s a concentrated disappointment – instead of the usual bullshit about “I developed this point in my post X” and “I believe I have shown this to be so in post Y” it is all now in one (well, two) place.

  5. I too prefer a manifesto, but this is a taster of the book, I suspect the movement will be over before it’s begun. I can’t see any reader or reviewer with more than a Halbbildung doing anything other than tearing it apart. Good luck to him, though.

    • Maybe they’ll do a Sarah Palin on him and give it only to “friendly” reviewers and referees – everyone else will be declared a “hostile correlationist” and too “anthropocentric” to get it…

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