Deflationary Optimism

I came across this just now and thought I’d post it.  In a letter to his mother from 1918, Franz Rosenzweig—while reading through Hermann Cohen’s Logic of Pure Cognition—writes

Cohen is insanely hard. I would never have believed that a philosophical book would hold such difficulties for me.  Moreover-whether understanding him is accordingly worthy, is not yet certain for me; I almost believe it is not. But now I have begun it and am reading it through.

Rosenzweig, of course, ends up taking up Cohen’s infinitesimal method (of sorts) in the Star, but I find this passage somewhat comforting.

Science of Logic, “Introduction” (Some More Random Observations)

[The beginning is here and still more here.]

Having read “Introduction” several times last night and earlier this evening, I have to say that Hegel could be accused of all kinds of sins (being dense, confusing, haste and outright bizzare, for starters), but the lack of enthusiasm is not among them!  As I have already pointed out, only as an observation and not, by any means, as a chosen interpretive strategy, the language of the “Introduction” contains several theological metaphors of redemption/salvation: “ordinary logic” is to be saved from its blind mechanistic calculations that are presented to us as actual workings of the mind.  It is interesting to note, at least for me, that if Hegel were to join a discussion on the role of philosophy at a university and asked to share his views on the value of a variety of courses related to so-called “critical thinking,” one would probably hear something like this: 

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