Monday, September 11, 2017


We begin with the question; does one really care about truth?

Academics seem to think they have arrived at something, but how do they know that their institutional conditioning has not rendered them intellectually incapable of the kind of criticism that matters?

I have come into contact with many thinkers over the years. And I keep on spotting the same defect: a lack of social understanding (they have zero interaction with the literature). Most thinkers stick to epistemology, they are tragically integrated into the analytical procedure of thought, they know nothing of the world system, economics or politics.

I have a challenge for you, my dear professor. See if you can comprehend Hegel on "identity." If you do you will come to understand that his was one of the most powerful philosophical mind's in the history of the human race. Hegel shatters every notion of common sense; he breaks up the old authority in search of the new.

Respectfully yours,
Jersey Flight 



Thanks for the observations. I will take them under consideration. 

As for truth, I studied the concept a great deal throughout my life so yes, I do care about it on many different levels.

I could never get through Hegel because of his excessive verbosity, complexity, and obfuscation; instead, I studied the ancient skeptics, Hume, the pragmatists, and the analytics. I tend to subscribe to the idea of hypothetical realism because it allows me to get through the day and still be philosophical i.e. head in the clouds with one foot solidly on the ground.

But I will look into the links you have provided to see if there is still hope for Hegel and me.

All the best,


[jersey flight]


My good professor, I'm pretty sure you don't have time for an exchange (and I'm not trying to have one myself). What you say about Hegel's prose is true, but the question is... is the appearance of Hegel also his substance?

I have come into contact with much abstract thought. It tends to be of two kinds: empty verbiage that goes nowhere (or in the case of Hegel)... his thought burst the seams of all that came before it, he had no choice but to expand his articulation in organic unison with the expansion of his thought. This is exceedingly profound! It means that Hegel did not merely rehash the philosophical tradition, it means he invented new philosophy and pushed the old premises further along the course of their conclusions by taking heed to their unearthed assumptions.

It is important to note: the expanding articulation, which accompanies experience, does in fact give off the appearance of "obfuscation" but this is only because we are judging the new framework by the old articulation of experience. [Of course the new appears backward and false in contrast with what is familiar and assumed to be normative!]    

I know you like to ponder powerful thinkers, THIS IS WHY I HAVE TRIED TO ENTICE YOU IN HEGEL'S DIRECTION.

Hegel's great discovery about identity is that it comes to difference... in other words, every affirmation of identity presupposes the necessity of difference (otherwise, according to Hegel, there would be no identity)! Difference is what has already taken place in the existence of identity!

As thinkers we have been taught to use an inherited, Aristotelian, philosophical approach to thinking [Hegel sought to transcend this approach.] But he did not seek to destroy it -- he sought to expand it. (And when I say, "he sought," this is false... where Hegel ended up is where the presuppositions of logic lead)! He did not try to contrive his ideas, he simply followed assumptions to their logical conclusions. But perhaps his genius was simply his ability to unearth these assumption in the first place ---- why do we only find their articulation manifest in Hegel? It is the genius of Hegel to make us conscious of things we never even knew existed; he strives to takes us beyond the fallacy of crude appearance.

What can you tell me about the presuppositions of identity? Hegel already did the thinking for us: identity amounts to the act of difference. This has sweeping ramifications for rational analysis. What matters above all things is the intelligence of our methodology when it comes to approaching the world: and here Aristotle fails because he does not actually penetrate into the diverse and complex nature of things, instead he tries to reduce reality in terms of his logical, idealist formula. The problem is that his methodology is too narrow to comprehend the complex nature of reality. 

I take you to be an honest thinker, and this is why I have contacted you: merely engaging in an ad hominem, in the case of Hegel, has been the traditional approach of dogmatic minds. Schopenhauer, for example, at no point interacted with Hegel, he was merely content to complain about Hegel's style. Look at your own reply; look at your own reasoning, it comes close to the same objection.

Now this is what I have learned: as intellectuals we must acquire the ability to discern between empty abstraction (which merely tries to give the appearance of profundity by its arbitrary use of terms) and expanding articulation (which has no choice but to search for and create new terms in order to explain its own experience). Hegel is a philosopher of the latter not the former.

We must note that it is the ontological nature of expanding articulation to give off the appearance of empty abstraction. And if we allow the dogma of this appearance to solidify the direction of our will, inevitably it will poison us against the expansion of our own understanding.

What I'm telling you is that there's far more here than what you're getting from the reduction of the academic ad hominem.

Respectfully yours,
Jersey Flight


I appreciate your passion for Hegel. Please do not associate my comments on him as ad hominems. I studied Hegel as an undergraduate and tried my very best to understand his work.

Since I cannot read/speak German, and given my advanced age, it is doubtful that I shall return to his works. But I will keep an open mind on this. And I doubt that I will have the time necessary to appreciate his writings; however, I will take what you said in mind to see if the universe pushes me further in his direction.

All the best,


A friend of mine has a doctorate in Hegelian studies, we often converse on Hegel's philosophy. I've spent hours dissecting Hegel's logic, there is no work quite like it. No one has the master key to it.

This is where Hegel might grab you:  "In this remark, I will consider in more detail identity as the law of identity which is usually adduced as the first law of thought. This proposition in its positive expression A = A is, in the first instance, nothing more than the expression of an empty tautology. It has therefore been rightly remarked that this law of thought has no content and leads no further. It is thus the empty identity that is rigidly adhered to by those who take it, as such, to be something true and are given to saying that identity is not difference, but that identity and difference are different. They do not see that in this very assertion they are themselves saying that identity is different; for they are saying that identity is different from difference; since this must at the same time be admitted to be the nature of identity, their assertion implies that identity, not externally, but in its own self, in its very nature, is this, to be different." Hegel, The Science of Logic, para.875 [emphasis mine]

Now this directly interacts with the law of identity. So here's the polemical question: "do you see" that identity comes to difference or are you still unaware of the presuppositions of your own logic? Where do you come out in Hegel's contrast, as one who sees or one who is ignorant? [Maybe you think Hegel is wrong, but in that case we must first comprehend him, and you have already confessed to an inability of comprehension.]

If you would wield identity as a sword (polemically) then surely you need to understand it; surely you need to apply the same critical approach to it, that you use identity for when approaching everything else!

It seems to me that we are really still at the first stages of discovering Hegel.

Translating Hegel's logic into practical polemics, this is the work that needs to be done. This process has already gone on with Aristotle for over one thousand years, but this narrow and rigid method is now stunting our growth. If we want to comprehend more than we have to expand the boundaries of our method.

I'm not talking about making a name for oneself in the world or academia: I'm talking about doing real philosophical work, developing ideas that matter, not ideas that bring praise without material substance. The whole world has gone mad in this sense (are there any philosophers left)?

Pragmatism is tragically flawed, precisely because it severs the interconnectedness of reality. A pragmatic thinker lacks the ability to think beyond mere appearance, lacks the ability to think historically and causally. Pragmatism mistakes appearance for essence; it is not interested in the intelligence of solutions through any long term calculation, and it is not interested in understand things but in classifying them on the basis of their immediate impressions. How can this not be a flaw of animal impulse?

Think about this, how can it be, that for Hegel, the abstract thinker is a dunce, a moron, a man or woman of uncritical common sense. And what is the value of this kind of shallow thinking when it comes to resolving the contradictions of the social world? The answer is simple: it cannot synthesize the contradictions it finds in reality! Instead, it seeks to eliminate contradiction by denying its existence. Hence, idealism amounts to a secularized version of theism! In idealism one still worships and submits to unquestioned dogma. It is no different in the case of theists. Indeed, one does not have to be a theist in order to adopt their bogus philosophical methodology!

Why is Hegel so down on abstract thinking? The great Russian philosopher Ilyenkov expounds:

"If a definition exists in the head separately, in isolation from the sensually contemplated image, unconnected with it or with a system ‘of other definitions, it is ratiocinated abstractly. There is certainly nothing commendable about this way of ratiocination. Thinking abstractly merely means thinking unconnectedly, thinking of an individual property of a thing without understanding its links with other properties, without realising the place and role of this property in reality. ‘Who thinks abstractly?’ asks Hegel; and his answer is, ‘An uneducated person, not an educated one.’ A market-woman thinks abstractly (that is, one-sidedly, in accidental and unconnected definitions) in regarding all men exclusively from her own narrow pragmatic viewpoint, seeing them only as objects of swindling; a martinet thinks abstractly in regarding a private only as someone to be beaten up; an idler in the street thinks abstractly in seeing a person being taken to execution only as a murderer and ignoring all of his other qualities, not interested in the history of his life, the causes of his crime, and so on. Contrariwise, a ‘knower of men’ thinking concretely will not be satisfied with tagging phenomena with abstract indices- a murderer, a soldier, a buyer. Still less will the ‘knower of men’ view these general abstract tags as expressions of the essence of an object, phenomenon, man, event. A concept revealing the essence of the matter is only unfolded through a system, through a series of definitions expressing separate moments, aspects, properties, qualities, or relations of the individual object, all these separate aspects of the concept being linked by a logical connection, not merely concatenated in some formal complex grammatically (by means of such words as ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘if ... then’, ‘is’, etc.)." Ilyenkov, The Dialectics of the Abstract and the Concrete, pg. 27-28 Aakar Books 2008

My good professor, I will not go on pestering you with motions toward Hegel. Thank you for taking the time to read my plea. But I would encourage you to hypothetically weigh what I'm alluding... even now (is it not possible) that the dogma of your pragmatism prevents you from pressing toward essence? Hence, you consider your structure comprehensive (with no critical thought toward it) simply because it seems to work. A philosophy of mere appearance which solidifies itself through appearance.

There is a space of error here, it is the space where you assure yourself against error (and then proceed forward in the conviction of your assumptions). Until you close this space you will be the common victim of your own conditioning.

Hegel's dialectic is a sharp contrast from a narrow, abstract, ideological logic. As Marcuse explains:

"Dialectical thought starts with the experience that the world is unfree; that is to say, man and nature exist in conditions of alienation, exist as “other than they are.” Any mode of thought which excludes this contradiction from its logic is a faulty logic. Thought “corresponds” to reality only as it transforms reality by comprehending its contradictory structure. Here the principle of dialectic drives thought beyond the limits of philosophy. For to comprehend reality means to comprehend what things really are, and this in turn means rejecting their mere factuality." A Note on Dialectics, 1960 Preface to "Reason and Revolution." 

What a statement: any logic which excludes contradiction from its program is itself a faulty logic. This is because (as Hegel understood) existence itself is rooted in contradiction.   

Respectfully yours,
Jersey Flight