The remarkable perversity of idealism


A perverse idealist

Many years ago, when I was a simple boy who thought he ought to know a lot about Hegel, I took masses of notes on his philosophy. Below is a small fraction of them, notes on Alexander Kojève's famous Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit (1947). God knows how I was able to read the whole thing. I even read half of Jean Hyppolite's massive commentary on Hegel! (And took detailed notes, wasting endless hours.) In some respects, Hegel's ideas, and Kojève's translations of them, aren't without interest. Hegel had a brilliant mind, but it was wrecked on the shoals of idealism. The notes below give some paradigm examples of the idealistic mode of thinking, the abstracting-from-everything-real mode of thinking, which intellectual defenders of the powerful have always loved so dearly. The perversity and shallowness of idealism are so extreme you hardly know what to say about the thousands and thousands of thinkers who have been seduced by it. Intellectuals' characteristic adherence to idealism is already enough reason to conclude that the whole lot of them are not to be taken seriously.


Elsewhere on this website you can find critiques of idealism, which in milder forms is almost ubiquitous in, for example, the news media (too much paying attention to the meaningless rhetoric of politicians, not enough analysis of material, institutional reality) and humanistic scholarship—postmodern fixation on language, culture, and "discourses" being the most common recent example. But political conservatism is also a supreme instance of perverse idealism; see, e.g., the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal. It's better to write about "the free market," "limited government," "the failures of socialism [whatever 'socialism' is supposed to mean] wherever it has been tried," the glories of "flexible labor markets," and such abstract concepts than to look at the actual concrete world, because doing the latter might lead you to subversively democratic conclusions.


All the idealistic ideological garbage that surrounds us, from liberalism to conservatism to postmodernism to ordinary political rhetoric, is in the obscurantist mode of what follows. Below, it will probably seem just comical, comically stupid. And it is, mostly. But in the real world it's utterly pernicious, serving to hide the most appalling crimes that are constantly taking place, including the very destruction of both the natural environment and society itself. It is essential to continually combat idealism wherever it rears its monstrous head.


So enjoy the absurdities below, but remember how dangerous is the tendency of thought they exemplify.


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The first chapter is a translation of and commentary on Hegel's master-slave dialectic. Man is self-consciousness. To understand his origin is to understand the origin of the word ‘I’. It arises in the moment of desire. The man who contemplates is “lost” in the object, absorbed by it; the man who desires thinks “I…” and thus asserts his self-consciousness. Hence man’s self is the self of desire, and his existence must be a biological one. But that isn’t a sufficient condition for his existence. In moving man to act, desire causes him to negate/transform the object, which at the same time is a transformation of himself because he “assimilates” the object and makes it a subjective reality. In the act, the empty I of desire “receives a real positive content” through this assimilation of an external elementand its content is a function of the content of the negated non-I. Therefore, if the desire is directed toward something “natural” (biological), the I will be merely natural, i.e. animal. “The I created by the active satisfaction of such a desire will have the same nature as the things toward which that desire is directed: it will be a ‘thingish’ I, a merely living I, an animal I.” This I will not attain self-consciousness because its object is not self-conscious.[1] In order for the self to be human, desire’s object must be non-natural, i.e. desire itselfwhich, in being “the revelation of an emptiness, the presence of the absence of a reality”, is the only thing that is not natural, not identical to itself. A desire that desires desire will give rise to an I that is essentially desire (because the content of the I is a function of its object). “And since desire is realized as action negating the given, the very being of this I will be action.” It will not be equality to itself, like the animal I, but “negating-negativity”. “In other words, the very being of this I will be becoming, and the universal form of this being will not be space, but time.” The I is “intentional becoming”: “the act of transcending the given that is given to it and that it itself is”.


Since human desire is directed toward another desire it can exist only in a multiplicity of desires. “That is why the human reality can only be social.” In saying that humans desire each other’s desire Hegel means that they want to be recognized in their human value. For example, in the relationship between man and woman, desire is directed toward the possession not of the other’s body but of his/her desire; it is a wanting to be desired, to be loved, to be recognized.


Likewise, desire directed toward a natural object is human only to the extent that it is “mediated” by the desire of another directed toward the same object: it is human to desire what others desire, because they desire it. Thus, an object perfectly useless from a biological point of view (such as a medal, or the enemy’s flag) can be desired because it is the object of other desires.

A man is truly human only if his human desire “wins out” over his animal desire, which is for the preservation of his life. Therefore, he completely affirms his humanity only if he risks his (animal) life for the sake of his human desire (for recognition). (Incidentally, a more precise definition of the desire for recognition is that it is “a desire to substitute oneself for the [supreme] value desired by [another] desire”, i.e., to represent the other’s self-ideal, that which he wishes he could be.) However, not everyone is willing to risk his life. Indeed, if he were then all the fights for recognition would result in the death of either both adversaries or onein both of which cases the realization of the human being would be impossible, since either everyone would be dead or there would be no one left to recognize the final survivor. Fortunately for the continued existence of mankind, some people are cowards. They fear their adversary and refuse to risk their life for the sake of recognition. In so doing they give up their desire and recognize the other as their Master.[2]


Thus, in the beginning of his history man is never simply man. He is necessarily either Master or Slave, because this is the only way the human reality can come into being.


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Kojève has a different spin on Hegel than Jean Hyppolite does (or, many different spins). First of all, he emphasizes that the end of history is universal recognition, and that the desire for recognition is what continuously propels humans to create their history. He also says that all of history is created by the slave who desires recognition from the master. (Both the master and the slave exist through the whole of history, but one is idlemerely negateswhile the other is productive.) When the master and the slave are synthesized, when they cease to exist as such, history will come to an end.


Kojève portrays the stoic, skeptical and Christian consciousnesses as reactions of the “educated” (through work) slave against his continued slavery. In order to realize his newly formed idea of freedomformed in the crucible of work done for a masterhe will have to fight against the master, “risk his life in a fight for freedom”. But before he dares to do that he imagines ideologies “by which he seeks to justify himself [and] his slavery, to reconcile the ideal of freedom with the fact of slavery”. The first of these is stoicism. “The slave tries to persuade himself that he is actually free simply by knowing that he is freethat is, by having the abstract idea of freedom.” The real conditions of existence don’t matter; he is independent of them. This ideology, which justifies the slave’s inaction, fails because, in the end, it’s boring. Man is fundamentally an active creature: if he doesn’t actif he remains identical to himself, does not negate (which is his essence)he becomes bored. Therefore, he moves on to the next stage, that of skepticism-nihilism, in which “he is content to activate his thought in some sense”, viz. by making it negate the given world. This attitude culminates in solipsism: “the value, the very reality of all that is not I is denied”. However, it’s impossible to live while believing this, since it doesn’t allow for action. When the slave becomes aware of the contradictionwhich is still essentially that between his idea of freedom and his reality of slaveryhe invents the Christian consciousness, in which he justifies ‘his’ contradiction by saying that “all existence necessarily implies a contradiction”.


He imagines an “other world”, which is “beyond” the natural world of the senses. Here below he is a slave, and he does nothing to free himself. But he is right, for in this world everything is slavery, and the master is as much a slave here as he is. But freedom is not an empty word, a simple abstract idea, an unrealizable ideal, as in stoicism and skepticism. Freedom is real, real in the beyond. Hence no need to fight against the master, since one already is free to the extent that one participates in the beyond... No need to fight to be recognized by the master, since one is recognized by a God. …One can maintain the stoic attitude…without being bored, for now one does not eternally remain the same: one changes and one must change, one must always go beyond oneself in order to rise above oneself as something given in the real empirical world, in order to attain the transcendental world…

Thus the Christian obtains equality with the master. Inequality is an illusion. This ideology persists through the centuries, but Hegel rejects it because it doesn’t take into account that originally the slave was made such because he refused to risk his life, and that he will continue to be a slave until he risks his life (against the master)until he accepts the idea of his death. Moreover, the Christian frees himself from the human master only by enslaving himself to the divine master, God. “He is the master’s equal only in absolute slavery.” And the new master “is such that the new Christian slave is even more a slave than the pagan slave”. Furthermore, he accepts his slavery for the same reason that the pagan slave did: fear of death. Before, it was for the sake of biological life; now it’s for the sake of eternal life. The motive has always been “the slavish desire for life at any price”.


Consequently, in order to realize freedom, one must accept the idea of death and thus atheism. This is what happens in the French Revolution, when Christian theology is overcome and the Christian era (the heyday of slavery[3]) comes to an end, giving way to the third and last historical period, in which realized freedom is conceived by philosophy (German philosophy, and ultimately Hegel). In order for the Christian ideology to be transcended, its ideal must be realized on earth. Everyone must be recognized. To explain how this can happen and what it means, Kojève gives an historical analysis of the pagan state. But first he says that, because a man wants his own particular value to be recognized universally, he can be satisfied only in a society that has a universal State that recognizes each person’s unique value and in which (society) he recognizes everyone else through the medium of the State. “Such a synthesis of the particular and the universal is possible only after the overcoming of the opposition between the master and the slave, since the synthesis of the particular and the universal is also a synthesis of mastery and slavery.” (See the next paragraph.) That’s why it’s impossible in the pagan and Christian eras.


The pagan state is dominated by masters. Only masterswarriorsare citizens; only they are recognized. Now, the master represents the element of universality, because the only reason why he is recognized is that he risks his life, and the man who risks his life is (by that act) no different from everyone else who has done the same. To the state he is merely an anonymous warrior; his “particularity” means nothing. Hence he cannot be satisfiedbecause man’s desire is to be recognized as an individual, not as a function of the State. The slave, on the other hand, represents particularity. Work is an essentially particular activity because it depends on the concrete conditions in which it is carried out. Moreover, “it is by work that the differences between men are established, that the ‘personalities’ are formed”. (Therefore it is the slave who becomes conscious of his personality and imagines individualistic ideologies.) The slave isn’t satisfied because he’s the only one to recognize his particular value.


There is indeed a “particular” aspect of the master’s existence: his family. It doesn’t satisfy him, though. He’s recognized (loved) in it not as who he is but as existing. Because he exists, he’s loved. His actions don’t really influence this love one way or the other. In short, his human value isn’t recognized; his biological being is.[4]


In principle, a synthesis of the familial Particular and the political Universal could satisfy man, but it’s impossible because the two entities have different supreme values. The value for the family is the life of its member; the value for the state is the risk of his life. His death serves the universal cause. “To fulfill the duty of the citizen, therefore, is necessarily to break the law of the family; and inversely.” This conflict is inevitable, and in the end it causes the ruin of the pagan world. “In the final analysis, the pagan world perishes because it excludes work. But the immediate agent of its ruin is woman. For it is the woman who represents the family principlei.e., that principle of particularity which is hostile to society as such and whose victory signifies the ruin of the state.” The young military hero who comes to power is still under the influence of woman and the family, and “he tends to transform the state into his private property, into a family patrimony, and to make the citizens of the state his own subjects”. He succeeds because the state excludes work. As the stronger state swallows up smaller ones it becomes an empire, and the masters, being too few to defend it, are pushed into the background by mercenaries. Eventually war is conducted almost exclusively by mercenaries, and the masters lose their power to resist the particularism of the emperor (because, again, they don’t work either). They become his “slaves”.[5] (In the Greek city they were “citizens”; in the Roman empire they’re “subjects”.) Therefore they accept the ideologies of their slaves, and the pagan world evolves to the Christian one without a violent revolution.


The former masters are not slaves properly so-called, for they don’t work in the service of another. They’re “pseudo-slaves”as are their former slaves after they’ve freed them (which they do on a large scale). The Roman world becomes a society of pseudo-slaves, whom Hegel calls “bourgeois”, private property-owners. Even the emperor isn’t a true master, since he doesn’t risk his life; he’s a bourgeois. The character of Roman civil law supports Hegel’s analysis:


The fundamental notion of Roman legal thought, that of the “legal person”, corresponds to the stoic conception of human existence, as well as to the principle of family particularism. Just like the family, civil law attaches an absolute value to the pure and simple being of man, independently of his actions. And just as in the stoic conception, the value attributed to the “person” does not depend on the concrete condition of his existence: a man, and every man equally, is everywhere and always a “legal person”. And we can say that the bourgeois state founded on the idea of civil law is the real basis of stoicism, of stoicism taken not as an abstract idea, but as a social, historical reality.

Similarly, private property is the real basis and the reality of nihilistic skepticism, for the property-owner subordinates everything, even the state, to the absolute value of his own property.


To explain how Christianity was made possible by Roman society, Kojève describes the existential plight of the bourgeois. To be a truly human being he must work, like the slave. But he doesn’t work for another; he believes he works for himself. According to Hegel, work is a specifically human action only if it is carried out in relation to an idea, “something other than the given, and, in particular, other than the given that the worker himself is”. The slave was supported by the idea of the master, but the bourgeois has no such idea. He doesn’t even have the idea of the State, because the bourgeois world is an agglomeration of private properties without a true community. His problem, therefore, is that he needs to work for another but can work only for himself. The idea of property resolves the problem: the bourgeois works for property that has become money. He works for Capital. In other words, he alienates himself by projecting himself into the idea of capital, which (while being his own product) “becomes independent of him and enslaves him just as the master enslaved the slave; with the difference, however, that the enslavement is now conscious and freely accepted by the worker”. (Thus Hegel ‘agrees with’ Marx that not only the poor man but also the capitalist is enslaved by capital.) This bourgeois alienation is reflected in the dualistic Christian ideology. The transcendent world of Christianity corresponds to Capital, to which man is supposed to devote his actions and for the sake of which he sacrifices his sensuous, biological desires. The structure of the Christian Beyond is formed in the image of the relations between the emperor and his subjects. The reason why the religion is accepted by the pagan “master” is that he is politically impotent and has nothing to lose by accepting a theology in which all men are equal.


If the bourgeois property-owner is particularistic (along with the slave and the family), so is Christianity (because God is incarnated in Jesus Christ and He has a direct relation with each man taken separately, “without passing through the universali.e., social and politicalelement of man’s existence”). However, it is also clearly a synthesis of the universal and the particular. As such, it finds the solution to the pagan tragedy. “Since the coming of Christ there is no longer an inevitable conflict with truly no way out.” The problem now is to realize the Christian idea of individuality (its synthesis of the universal and the particular, which is supposed to occur in the Beyond). According to Hegel this requires that man liberate himself from God. Individuality cannot exist in the “Beyond” because the conception of Heaven presupposes immortality, which is incompatible with the essence of the human being. If it is to exist it must be on earth, which means that the universal God (who recognizes the particular) must be replaced by a universal on earth, which can only be the State. The absolute State that realizes the Christian kingdom of heaven is Napoleon’s empire.


The history of the Christian world is the history of the progressive realization of that ideal State, in which man will finally be “satisfied” by realizing himself as individuality… But in order to realize this State, man must eliminate the Christian idea of transcendence. And that is why the evolution of the Christian world is dual: on the one hand there is the real evolution, which prepares the social and political conditions for the coming of the “absolute” State; and on the other, an ideal evolution, which eliminates the transcendent idea… This ideal evolution, which destroys Christian theology, is the work of the intellectual. Hegel devotes all of chapter V to a discussion of the Christian or bourgeois intellectual.
This intellectual can subsist only in the Christian bourgeois world, in which a man is able not to be a masterthat is, not to have slaves and not to fightwithout thereby becoming a slave himself. But the bourgeois intellectual is nonetheless something different from the bourgeois properly so-called. For if, just like the bourgeois, he is essentially peaceful and does not fight, he differs from the bourgeois in that he does not work either. Hence he is as stripped of the essential character of the slave as he is of the master.
Not being a slave, the intellectual can liberate himself from the essentially slavish aspect of Christianity, namely from its theological, transcendental element. But not being a master, he can preserve the element of the particular, the “individualistic” ideology of Christian anthropology. In short, being neither master nor slave, he is ablein this nothingness, in this absence of all given determinationto “realize” in some way the desired synthesis of mastery and slavery: he can conceive it. However, being neither master nor slavethat is, abstaining from all work and from all fightinghe cannot truly realize the synthesis that he discovers: without fighting and without work, this synthesis conceived by the intellectual remains purely verbal.

In the French Revolution the conditions were created in which this synthesis would be possible. Work was joined with the fight for life and death: the working bourgeois became a warrior while knowing he was mortal. The fight wasn’t between master and slave, though, because there were no masters. The bourgeois is his own slave, since he is ruled by Capital. “It is from himself, therefore, that he must free himself. And that is why the liberating risk of life takes the form not of risk on the field of battle, but of risk created by Robespierre’s Terror. The working bourgeois, turned revolutionary, himself creates the situation that introduces into him the element of death.” Thanks to the Terror, the final synthesis is realized. The State that will liberate man is born, and it comes to maturity in Napoleon’s empire. Napoleon, however, isn’t conscious of his historical rolethe State and the society aren’t “self-conscious”which is why Hegel is necessary to complete history.


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Chapter 4 expounds the Hegelian conception of the wise man. I’ll give the barest outline. Wisdom has three common definitions. The first is perfect self-consciousness, which implies the ability to answer in a comprehensible manner all questions concerning one’s actswhich, in the end, is the ability to answer all questions. The second is that wisdom consists in being perfectly satisfied by what one is. (The wise man desires nothing, wants to change nothing, and no longer becomes. He simply is.) The third is moral perfection. Hegel tries to show that the second definition is equal to the first and the third is equal to the second, and therefore that all three are equal to each other, and therefore that there is only one possible type of wisdom. I won’t reproduce Kojève’s argumentswith one exceptionbecause this all seems rather scholastic to me. Here’s the exception:


The wise man is the perfectly self-conscious manthat is, the man who is fully satisfied by what he isthat is, the man who realizes moral perfection by his existence, or in other words, who serves as the model for himself and for all others. ….[He is] universally recognized. This is to say that there is only one possible type of wisdom[which is in contradiction with the widely held ideas of relativism]. [Hegel proves his thesis by] starting from the first definition of wisdom, put as an axiom. As for the proof, it is very simple. Let us admit that the wise man is perfectly self-conscious. We have seen that perfect self-consciousness equals omniscience. In other words, the wise man’s knowledge is total, the wise man reveals the totality of Being through the entirety of his thought. Now, since Being obeys the principle of identity to itself, there is only one unique totality of Being, and consequently only one unique knowledge that reveals it entirely. Therefore there is only one unique possible type of (conscious) wisdom.

Kojève adds the parenthesis because it’s possible to denyand it has been denied (by Hindu thinkers, for example)that satisfaction-perfection is identical to self-consciousness. Hegel cannot really argue against these people, because they already place the highest existential value on silence or unconsciousness and thus have no reason to engage in discussion. Hence the Platonic-Hegelian ideal of wisdom is such only for a person who already values self-consciousness most, i.e., a philosopher. This philosopher is distinguished from the wise man in being discontented, in asking questions rather than giving them the answers that the wise man does, in wanting to change himself, in striving for wisdom. Philosophy is meaningful only to the extent that it is guided by the ideal of the wise man. Now, there are two attitudes toward this ideal: one can believe, with Plato, that its realization is humanly impossible, or one can believe, with Hegel, that it’s possible. (Hegel in fact thought that he had realized it.) If it’s impossible, then the philosopher is either a madman who wants to be what one can not be (and he may even know that one cannot be it), or he is not a madman and he thinks that his ideal is realized by something nonhuman, that is, God. But in that case he’s a theologian. Therefore, in order to believe that philosophy is separate from theology, one must accept the possibility of some day realizing wisdom. Hegel provided the first-ever criterion of absolute self-consciousness (or wisdom): circularity. “To start with a question and to proceed logically [must] lead to the starting point”only thus is it clear that “all possible questions-answers have been exhausted”, i.e. that the knowledge obtained is total. Indeed, Hegel thought that circularity is both the necessary and the sufficient condition of absolute truth. However, he also thought that circularity could be realized only in a perfect, universal, homogeneous (conflictless) society, because the wise man, in no longer becoming (i.e., in knowing everything and thus being entitled to a circular wisdom), has passed through all stages of consciousness, which is possible only at the end of history and in a perfect society.


Chapter 5 is on time, specifically the relation between time and the Concept. The Concept is the “coherent whole of conceptual understanding that lays claim to the truth”, “the integration of all concepts, the complete system of concepts, the ‘idea of ideas’”, “the Logos, the wordor discourse endowed with a meaning”. In the preface and the last chapter of his book Hegel defines time as “the Concept itself which exists empirically”. To explicate this statement Kojève proposes to review the Platonic, Aristotelian, Spinozistic and Kantian solutions to the problem that Hegel wants to resolve. He begins by noting that there is only a limited number of possibilities: either the Concept is eternity [or an eternal entity] (and relatesor “corresponds”to nothing), it is time [or a temporal entity] (and relates to nothing), it is eternal, or it is temporal. The fourth possibility is a skeptical abandonment of philosophy, for it means that truth changes. If the Concept is eternal it can relate either to time or to eternity, and eternity can exist either outside of time or in it. Spinoza (and Parmenides) think that the Concept is eternity. Hegel thinks it is time. Plato thinks it is eternal and relates to an eternity outside of time. Aristotle thinks it is eternal and relates to an eternity within time. Kant thinks it is eternal and relates to time.


Kojève discusses Plato’s view first. Existence is essentially change; it is a temporal entity. In fact, it is time itself, because change is only in existence. The Concept (truth), on the other hand, does not (essentially) change, which means it is other than temporal and other than time. It is eternal. (Concepts are eternal, though they exist in time.) Being eternal, it is related to eternity rather than timeand, furthermore, eternity is outside of time. The relation between the eternal Concept and eternity (or an eternal entity) has two aspects: the Concept’s meaning reveals the eternal entity, and the entity gives the Concept its meaning. To take a concept as an example: “the word ‘dog’ reveals the essence of the dog, and without this word this essence would not be revealed to man; but the essence of the dog is what realizes the meaning of the word; the dog is what allows man to develop the word ‘dog’ into a judgment, saying ‘the dog is an animal with four feet, etc.’”. “Generally speaking, there is a movement from the word to the thing, and a return from the thing to the word.” This double relation is the only thing that constitutes the truth or the revelation of reality. Truth has no relation to time, even though it exists in it.


Incidentally, any philosophy that doesn’t identify the Concept with eternity or timethat says that the Concept is merely related to one or the otheris necessarily transcendentalist, in that it situates reality outside of knowledge, outside of discourse. It defines truth as correspondence. The two philosophies that are not transcendentalist are Spinoza’s and Hegel’s. Kojève calls any system that relates the Concept to an eternity outside of timewhich eternity can be described (as it cannot in mysticism)“theological”.


[Et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum. I'm deleting long, long passages.]


Since reading Hyppolite’s book I’ve thought that Hegel’s system implies a kind of realism. Kojève agrees. While many of his ideas embody a Kojèvean philosophy based on Hegel, and are probably not Hegel himself, this opinion is surely pure Hegel. Otherwise Hegelianism is incoherent. (It is, but for different reasons.) For it posits a dialectic between the object and the subject and a synthesis of them at the end of history, and in order for both the opposition and the “synthesis” to exist there must be a real object that exists independently of the subject. A distinction between man and nature permeates the whole Phenomenology. In fact, in his philosophy of nature Hegel describes what nature is independently of humans! That Spirit is the synthesis of objective being and subjective revelation doesn’t mean that the former exists only in the latter (as Fichte and, in a way, Schopenhauer believed). I don’t know what it means, but presumably it has something to do with nature’s being the externalized or alienated essence of Spirit and collective humanity’s self-consciousness’s being the ‘authentic truth’ or goal of Spirit. Spirit is absolute Beingwhich (along with its implications) is where the designation of Hegelianism as “idealist” came frombut man is only the self-conscious part of Being. However, because Spirit is (in the end) self-conscious, man is the essential part of it.


Incidentally, I don’t blame Schopenhauer for his diatribes against Hegel. I might have acted the same way. The Phenomenology is practically gibberish: it’s a miracle that anyone was able to glean concrete, systematic thoughts from it.


Hegel’s realism is new in that it opposes space and time rather than being and thought. The former opposition might seem equivalent to the latter if you remember that, for Hegel, space is objective being and man is time, but actually it’s more insightful. It explains why man and being are opposed, namely because man (time) exists in space but annihilates it. He is a “hole” in space. It also implies that man is necessarily Error: “a thought that does not coincide with being is false”, and if man annihilates being he most certainly does not coincide with it. With the arrival of the Science, theni.e., absolute truthman ceases to exist as man and history comes to an end. Man (action, time, work) is overcome in favor of static being. No more self-consciousness; man regresses to an animal. This, incidentally, is another of the many absurdities that plague Hegel’s system. An overcoming of self-consciousness and time on the basis of acquired knowledge? Huh?? Did Hegel think that was possible?? Did he think he had overcome self-consciousness? And if he didn’t, why not? His absolute knowledge necessitated it. So either he was a madman or he was inconsistent. (It amazes me that Kojève agrees with Hegel about the nature of “post-historical” man.)


[1] “The animal raises itself above nature that is negated in its animal desire only to fall back into it immediately by the satisfaction of this desire.”


[2] It’s funny that Hegel ignores women. They don’t exist!


[3] The pagan world was the heyday of mastery.


[4] That’s one reason why parental love never fully satisfies us and why we attach so much significance to the other kind of love. We want to be loved for who we are, not because we are!


[5] In effect, they already are slaves, since they’ve ceased to risk their lives.

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