Inspired by O.G. Rose Conversation Episode #107 with Dimitri Crooijmans
Hegel is the business of a conditioning of “what is” more than a journey for something elsewhere — though of course the descriptions can overlap.
We do not so much search in Hegel, or if we do it is like the line of a circle looking for where it connects. The completion of the search makes it “as if” there was no search: there is a negation/sublation into something which was “always already.” Most of philosophy, religion, and life for thousands of years have arguably engaged in “searches for truth,” but Hegel suggests our search is a “realization” of what is “always already” (a (re)turn home, as discussed in Hume). To succeed in this is to engage in being a “true infinity” (which the circle represents), which suggests that most of history has been a story of “spurious infinities.” Because of religion though, which generally trained Westerns to be A/B even if they didn’t realize it (for finitude related to infinity, humanity with God, etc.), the need to consciously make ourselves “true infinities” wasn’t so necessary, but Hegel came to believe in his day the A/B-orientation would only arise with intention and philosophical justification. If Hegel failed in this, we would fall into A/A-logic, which must lead to an effacement — and arguably Modernity and Post-Modernity are stories of this mistake.
A circle relates back to itself infinitely anew, and if we believe in God then every phenomenon can “point” beyond itself to “something more” (one can think of William Blake’s “grain of sand”). But if “God is dead,” then nothing “points” unless we are “conceptually mediated” to see things as “pointing,” and that requires a negation/sublation of A/A into A/B. Under Christianity, we can be “(in)complete sinners/saints,” the universe can arise out of “(no)thing,” death is life, God is (in)finite, and more — how might such metaphysics and corresponding ontoepistemology emerge without Christianity? This is Hegel’s concern, for though Aristotle’s logical system existed for centuries, “autonomous A/A” thinking was not really “at hand’ for most people while belief in God was strong, for God inherently functioned as “an Other” (B) which kept us (A) from being “too A,” per se. Now, only A/A-thinking seems to be at hand, for even those who still believe in God don’t feel as sure of themselves (as discussed by James K.A. Smith when considering Charles Taylor), and so a drift into “autonomous A/A,” which is a drift into effacement…
In Christianity, evil is a disordered good, and in Hegel the point of philosophy and “conceptual meditation” is not really to find something but order what is already present. Augustine warns that gluttony is a disordered relationship to food, which is good, and for Augustine avoiding sin is not a matter of “finding food which we cannot eat gluttonously,” but conditioning ourselves to be people who are not gluttonous regardless the situation. Likewise, for Hegel, we are not looking for a “truth” or “philosophy” where our problems are solved, but rather “conceptually mediating” ourselves to be the kind of subjects who can “rightly order” themselves to what they find themselves in, before, and/or experiencing, and for Hegel that requires A/B-logic.
A line finds its way into a circle not by looking for “the next thing” but in finding a certain way to relate to itself, but that require the line to believe there is “something in it” more than what is already present. This is a move from A/A to A/B, and if the line searches itself for its other end, it can connect with itself in a new way, and so become a circle “as if” it always was a circle and never engaged in a search at all. But doesn’t this mean the line “searched?” Ah, but here’s the trick: in Hegel we are all “always already” circles who need to abstractly reason that we are lines which found their other end, and that we came into being already so situated, meaning our “search” is more a “search” for the right “conceptual meditation” through which to consider ourselves. We could say that we are searching for the right metaphor, but that means the search is in our minds more than in the world. We search within, and we already have our “within,” right here and now. In Hegel, it is not so much a “search” we engage in as it is “work” — an internal work to “see” what is “always already” present. This is Hegel’s “(non)journey,” and it turns out it takes courage to see what’s already available…
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