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GOTHOS
08-01-2008, 09:49 PM
If any Marx/Hegel devotees are hereabouts, this should flush them out...
Okay, until recently I'd never attempted Hegel, though I'd often heard that Marx had "stood Hegel on his head" to come up with Socialism. Long ago I'd read selections from DAS KAPITAL and judged that Marx didn't know what he was talking about. I was particularly bothered by his "alienation of labor" concept, since he seemed to be saying that the bourgeoise laborer was more alienated from his work than was the serf of the feudal periods-- which seemed (and still seems) ridiculous romanticism.

Last year I plowed thru Hegel's PHENOMENOLOGY OF SPIRIT, said to be his first major work, and though I'm sure I missed out on a lot due to the density of Hegel's writing, I did at least glean some of the common concepts that Marx adapted from Big H.

Now I'm reading Alexandre Kojeve's INTRO TO THE READING OF HEGEL, which examines PHENOMENOLOGY in depth, and which revealed to me one of the points I'd missed from the source: that Hegel is the guy who came up with the idea that the bourgeoise was far more alienated than the humble serf of yore:

"the Bourgeois must work... just like the Slave [a.k.a, "serf."] But in contrast to the Slave, since the Bourgeois has no Master, the Bourgeois does not have to work in *another's* service. Therefore he believes that he works for himself." (Kojeve)

And, a paragraph later:
"The bourgeois worker presupposes an Entsagung, an Abnegation of human existence. Man transcends himself...by projecting himself onto the idea of private Property, of Capital, which-- while being the Property-Owner's own product-- becomes independent of him and enslaves him just as the Master enslaved the Slave..." (Kojeve)

Does this leap of logic make sense to you Marx-Hegel buffs? I don't have a problem with Hegel saying that the bourgeois's very different form of "slavery" transforms society in a way that the serf's slavery cannot; precisely because the bourgeois has property and thus wields power in society.

But where in the world does Hegel get the notion that the bourgeois suffers an "abnegation of human existence?" Presumably this is supposed to be greater "alienation" than what the Slave experiences, just as it is in Marx.

Any help in plowing through this morass will be appreciated.

RAMHALite
08-02-2008, 05:20 PM
>>"The bourgeois worker presupposes an Entsagung, an Abnegation of human existence. Man transcends himself...by projecting himself onto the idea of private Property, of Capital, which-- while being the Property-Owner's own product-- becomes independent of him and enslaves him just as the Master enslaved the Slave..." (Kojeve)

Does this leap of logic make sense to you Marx-Hegel buffs? I don't have a problem with Hegel saying that the bourgeois's very different form of "slavery" transforms society in a way that the serf's slavery cannot; precisely because the bourgeois has property and thus wields power in society.<<

GOTHOS,

Maybe you're getting stuck on the idea that Hegel should be read as social commentary in the same way as Marx. Hegel was tracing the development of Spirit in a metaphysical sense. His philosophical analysis posits a stage of development, and then shows how that stage generates its own opposite, such as the "masterless" bourgeois individual becoming enslaved by his own property. The initial stage and its opposite then merge into a higher stage of spiritual unfoldment that represents an uplifting based on the resolution of the tension between them. The German word that Hegel uses for this means simultaneously "rejected," "preserved," and "uplifted."[/LEFT]

It's the old thesis-antithesis-synthesis formula (terms that Hegel never actually used himself). The process ends with the Spirit coming to realize itself as pure Spirit, as though it had been playing hide-and-seek with itself through these various forms and has now discovered itself. It's a lot like the old Alan Watts lectures at Esalen on Eastern philosophy.

BTW, Hegel's followers felt that the Western philosophical enterprise had come to an end with Phenomenology of the Spirit, and that there was nothing more to say on the subject. OTOH, Marx felt that Hegel's process was valid, but that humanity's handling of materiality was the real stuff of philosophy, not intangible, irrelevant metaphysics.

--RAMHALite

Ruv Draba
08-02-2008, 06:01 PM
"the Bourgeois must work... just like the Slave [a.k.a, "serf."] But in contrast to the Slave, since the Bourgeois has no Master, the Bourgeois does not have to work in *another's* service. Therefore he believes that he works for himself." (Kojeve)There's nothing quite like the arrogance of philosophers with limited life-experience inferring from first principles what other folks must be thinking. As far as I know, Hegel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hegel) was a student, newspaper editor, headmaster and teacher, but never owned or ran a business himself.

I run a small consulting business, and know quite a lot of small business owners. I don't know one of them who believes he works for himself. Ask any small business owner and they'll say that they work for their customer when things are going well, and for their staff when things are not. :tongue But what is true is that the business works for the owner - that's all about the flow of cash, but the responsibilities and duty of care flow in entirely different directions.



"The bourgeois worker presupposes an Entsagung, an Abnegation of human existence. Man transcends himself...by projecting himself onto the idea of private Property, of Capital, which-- while being the Property-Owner's own product-- becomes independent of him and enslaves him just as the Master enslaved the Slave..." Well, that's true of businesses - they do come to own you in the same way that your offspring do (but unlike offspring, business never relinquish their grip :D) On the other hand, people are commonly owned by their possessions regardless of their socio-economic status. Houses own their inhabitants just as much as the reverse... (what else would get people up at 5am to race to take the garbage out?). I know people who are owned by their cars, VCR/PVRs, alarm-clocks, clothes, computers and let's not forget their pets... some possessions are just highly demanding.

GOTHOS
08-02-2008, 08:55 PM
>>"The bourgeois worker presupposes an Entsagung, an Abnegation of human existence. Man transcends himself...by projecting himself onto the idea of private Property, of Capital, which-- while being the Property-Owner's own product-- becomes independent of him and enslaves him just as the Master enslaved the Slave..." (Kojeve)

Does this leap of logic make sense to you Marx-Hegel buffs? I don't have a problem with Hegel saying that the bourgeois's very different form of "slavery" transforms society in a way that the serf's slavery cannot; precisely because the bourgeois has property and thus wields power in society.<<

GOTHOS,

Maybe you're getting stuck on the idea that Hegel should be read as social commentary in the same way as Marx. Hegel was tracing the development of Spirit in a metaphysical sense. His philosophical analysis posits a stage of development, and then shows how that stage generates its own opposite, such as the "masterless" bourgeois individual becoming enslaved by his own property. The initial stage and its opposite then merge into a higher stage of spiritual unfoldment that represents an uplifting based on the resolution of the tension between them. The German word that Hegel uses for this means simultaneously "rejected," "preserved," and "uplifted."[/left]

It's the old thesis-antithesis-synthesis formula (terms that Hegel never actually used himself). The process ends with the Spirit coming to realize itself as pure Spirit, as though it had been playing hide-and-seek with itself through these various forms and has now discovered itself. It's a lot like the old Alan Watts lectures at Esalen on Eastern philosophy.

BTW, Hegel's followers felt that the Western philosophical enterprise had come to an end with Phenomenology of the Spirit, and that there was nothing more to say on the subject. OTOH, Marx felt that Hegel's process was valid, but that humanity's handling of materiality was the real stuff of philosophy, not intangible, irrelevant metaphysics.

--RAMHALite

RAMHALite,

I agree that Marx was far more obsessed with materiality than was Hegel. However, Hegel took the concept of Work-- a physical enough entity-- and used that as one of the bases for his metaphysics. So Hegel has a fairly grounded side for a Germanic philosopher spinning out all these abstruse theories. Marx responded to the parts that dealt more with material nature, though it's arguable that the concept of "dialectical materialism" isn't really any less metaphysical than Hegel's History of Spirit.

GOTHOS
08-02-2008, 09:10 PM
There's nothing quite like the arrogance of philosophers with limited life-experience inferring from first principles what other folks must be thinking. As far as I know, Hegel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hegel) was a student, newspaper editor, headmaster and teacher, but never owned or ran a business himself.

I run a small consulting business, and know quite a lot of small business owners. I don't know one of them who believes he works for himself. Ask any small business owner and they'll say that they work for their customer when things are going well, and for their staff when things are not. :tongue But what is true is that the business works for the owner - that's all about the flow of cash, but the responsibilities and duty of care flow in entirely different directions.

Well, that's true of businesses - they do come to own you in the same way that your offspring do (but unlike offspring, business never relinquish their grip :D) On the other hand, people are commonly owned by their possessions regardless of their socio-economic status. Houses own their inhabitants just as much as the reverse... (what else would get people up at 5am to race to take the garbage out?). I know people who are owned by their cars, VCR/PVRs, alarm-clocks, clothes, computers and let's not forget their pets... some possessions are just highly demanding.

Yes, that's my problem with Marx and Hegel. They seem to be utterly sure that they can declare, sans evidence, that there's far greater unhappiness in being a consumer "owned" by one's possessions than in being a Slave who can, in essence, be kicked off his land any time that notion should enter the head of the Slave's Master.

A while back I actually got into an argument with a Marxist about creative rewards. Within a serf/master society, I observed, a serf might create something-- say, a tune that the people loved-- but in those pre-copyright days, he could never make anything more with the song than in his own performance of it. In consumer society, the song's maker could copyright the song and make Capital off of his creation.

The logic did not sway this Marxist. No matter the logic, the consumer-age creator was indisputably worse off than the serf-creator-- maybe because the former was "owned" by his Capital-earning creation.

Does that make any sense to you?

RAMHALite
08-02-2008, 09:29 PM
RAMHALite,

I agree that Marx was far more obsessed with materiality than was Hegel. However, Hegel took the concept of Work-- a physical enough entity-- and used that as one of the bases for his metaphysics. So Hegel has a fairly grounded side for a Germanic philosopher spinning out all these abstruse theories. Marx responded to the parts that dealt more with material nature, though it's arguable that the concept of "dialectical materialism" isn't really any less metaphysical than Hegel's History of Spirit.

I really do think that this perspective, i.e. Marx being just as metaphysical as Hegel, is getting in the way of your meeting Hegel on his own terms. In the Phenomenology, "work" is not about mundane matters; it is all about Consciousness becoming ensnared by its objects. The Phenomenology about the false identification of Consciousness with things external to it, and Its ultimate discovery of Itself as the sole Reality. Marx deals with controlling the means of production: social organization dominated by small elite of capitalist owners vs. dominated by the masses of workers whose "living labor" is controlled by the "dead labor" of capital.

By their fruits shall ye know them. Marx: social revolution and arising of an (evil?) empire. Hegel: adoring and critical academics engaged in endless debate as to whether he solved the ultimate problem of ontology. Apples and oranges, IMHO.

--RAMHALite

GOTHOS
08-03-2008, 01:19 AM
I really do think that this perspective, i.e. Marx being just as metaphysical as Hegel, is getting in the way of your meeting Hegel on his own terms. In the Phenomenology, "work" is not about mundane matters; it is all about Consciousness becoming ensnared by its objects. The Phenomenology about the false identification of Consciousness with things external to it, and Its ultimate discovery of Itself as the sole Reality. Marx deals with controlling the means of production: social organization dominated by small elite of capitalist owners vs. dominated by the masses of workers whose "living labor" is controlled by the "dead labor" of capital.

By their fruits shall ye know them. Marx: social revolution and arising of an (evil?) empire. Hegel: adoring and critical academics engaged in endless debate as to whether he solved the ultimate problem of ontology. Apples and oranges, IMHO.

--RAMHALite

I've already said Marx was more obsessed with materality than Hegel; I'm just pointing out that if you compared Hegel to philosophers who seem totally devoted to syllogisms and the like, Hegel at least has some real-world application.

Okay, re: "the false identification"-- does this relate to the purportedly-greater alienation of the Bourgeois? But is the Egyptian Slave not just as guilty of "false identification" if he identifies his existence with the existence of the pyramids, state-owned edifices that will outlast his limited lifespan?

If not, why not?

Is Hegel propounding a false distinction between the two forms of identification?