Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Hegel Knew There Would Be Days Like These
There have been places and periods of history when only a congenital optimist could have had any hope for the future of our species. Think of the end of Athens’s golden age, the fall of the Roman Empire, the petering out of the Renaissance, the close of the Enlightenment, the rise of fascism…
It’s when things look bleak indeed that it pays to remember the German 19th century philosopher Hegel. In his Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, published in 1830, Hegel offered us a way of looking at the darker periods of history that neither glosses over their pain nor refuses to give up hope — but intelligently helps us to understand why human progress cannot be linear while encouraging us to trust that it does occur nevertheless.
For Hegel, history moves forward in what he termed a dialectical way. A dialectic is a philosophical term for an argument made up of three parts:
- A thesis
- An antithesis
- And a synthesis
Both the thesis and the antithesis contain parts of the truth, but they are also exaggerations and distortions of the whole, and so need to clash and interact, until their best elements find resolution in a synthesis.
Lady Liberty leading the People
Hegel thought this pattern a constant in history. The world makes progress by lurching from one extreme to another, as it seeks to compensate for previous mistakes and generally requires three moves before the right balance on any issue can be found.
For example, the Ancient Athenians discovered the idea of individual liberty, but their regime was blind to the need for collective discipline and organisation. The Ancient Persians knew all about that and were thereby able to conquer the Athenians on the battlefield, yet they were also despotic enemies of free thought, which with time became its own liability. It took many centuries for the correct synthesis between liberty and discipline to be worked out in the form of the Roman Empire.
In Hegel’s own era, the stifling, unfair 18th-century system of inherited monarchy had been abolished by the French Revolution — but what should have been the peaceful birth of representative government ended up in the anarchy and chaos of the Terror. This in turn led to the emergence of Napoleon, who restored order but became a military brute, trampling on the liberty he had professed to love. Only after forty years and much bloodshed did the modern ‘balanced constitution’ emerge, an arrangement which more sensibly balanced up popular representation with the rights of minorities.
Or to take another example, the European Enlightenment had stressed the importance of Reason, but it had in many parts been sterile and reductive. The movement known as Romanticism had then swept in to assert the importance of Emotion but this had carried excesses of its own. Only eventually had a correct reconciliation been worked out between the legitimate, competing needs of Reason and Emotion.
Hegel’s argument has a highly consoling feel at moments when it seems that one kind of progress has been entirely lost. He is on hand to reassure us that we are merely seeing the pendulum swing back for a time. Yet he also wisely counselled that this was needed because the initial move forward had been blind to a range of crucial insights. All sides on a matter will contain important truths lodged amidst exaggerations, and bombast — yet will eventually be sifted through the wisdom of time.
Hegel reminds us that big overreactions are eminently compatible with events broadly moving forward in the right direction. The dark moments aren’t the end, they’re a challenging but even in some ways necessary part of an antithesis that will — eventually — locate a wiser point of synthesis.
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Controversial new alcohol guidelines follow recommendation that infants also receive foods containing peanuts to avoid nut allergies
The National Institute of Health (NIH) announced on Friday that parents should give babies a shot of alcohol regularly, starting at 6 months or even earlier, as a way to help prevent later alcoholism.
The recommendation comes on the heels of new guidance announced this week by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases that children be fed foods containing peanuts to help avoid nut allergies as they grow older.
“We realize our new alcohol guidelines fly in the face of conventional wisdom,” said Dr. Mortimer P. Banzer, Director of the NIH, “but the research is clear — a shot of tequila, vodka, whiskey, even a pint of beer every other day, can help fortify a toddler’s body against the affects of alcohol addiction in adulthood.”
The new national health guidelines calling for parents to give their infants a shot of booze early and often has parents concerned, but Dr. Banzer was adamant. “Overloading the body with the offending addictive agent or allergen at a young age is precisely what works. There’s a window of time when the body is more likely to tolerate a shot of hooch than react to it, and if you can educate the body during that window, alcohol addiction is much less likely to occur. It’s counter-intuitive but parents needn’t worry. This is well-researched — it’s completely safe to do so.”
Dr. Banzer said that a bigger threat may be parents joining their babies in doing a shot, “which could lead to irresponsible parenting.” But he added that a little impulse control should do the trick.
The NIH is also experimenting with giving newborns one cigarette a week as a way to prevent nicotine addiction, but results from that study, while promising, are not yet conclusive.
Owsley Stanley was a sound engineer, an LSD cook, and the co-designer of the iconic Grateful Dead “Steal Your Face” symbol. There are a lot of things you can learn – even if you are over 60 like me – click the link below the graphic. It’s safe.
There are so many common sense thoughts returning to the fore and so much garbage political correctness BS going where it belongs. I have not been this HAPPY since…………..wait for it………….Bush. Egads!
In less than 24 hours since Donald Trump has been named the President-elect of the greatest nation on this earth, it’s become apparent he’s being given far more credit than he’s due. There’s anguished cries of, ‘How will my children grow up knowing not to discriminate?’ or, ‘How can I look my daughter in the eye and tell her she has purpose?’ Really? Really, America? You have given Donald Trump, a mere mortal man, far more credit than he deserves, especially considering the man hasn’t even taken office yet. Trump does not have the power to mold our families, that is our flat-out our responsibility.
Your children will learn to love or hate, be respectful or disrespectful, wise or foolish, not by the character of the family in the White House, but by the family in their house. May I submit to you that your sons and daughters will be…
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Help Prevent Election Fraud!!
The Trump Campaign is looking for
Continuing and Preserving the Obama Legacy
It makes total sense. When Barack Obama won the Peace Prize in 2009 it subsequently tipped the balance in his favor during the 2012 election.
This year they have not yet announced the award date for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
That is probably because it is a new category: Outrageous Fictional Literature
I could be wrong, though. It might just be total BS. Not unlike 90% of the mainstream media reporting on Donald Trump.