Faust and Hegel.

Posted: November 21, 2013 in History/Philosophy
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The past few days I’ve been reading Hegel. The Essential Writings (ed. F.G. Weiss). During the years at my university, I only once read a piece of Hegel. It was his introduction to the History of Philosophy. It’s about 3 years ago now. But I remember thinking that it was pretty tough to understand, but if you take your time the system Hegel is building becomes clear. The only question I had: Why are you building this system? What question are you answering and what (external) arguments in favor of this system can you give?

I won’t answer these questions today. I haven’t finished the book yet and might write some really silly things. Anyway, there is one thing I would like to share. Hegel is quite scanty with quotes, but here is a lovely one situated around the discussion of analysis in empiricism:

If you want to describe life and gather its meaning,
To drive out its spirit must be your beginning,
Then though fast in your hand lie the parts one by one
The spirit that linked them, alas is gone
And ‘Nature’s Laboratory’ is only a name
That the chemist bestows on’t to hide his own shame.

(Faust, part I, sc. 4. And page 143 in Hegel. The Essential Writings).

It reminds me of a former philosophy professor of mine who was also a psychoanalyst. Every class she repeated the same sentence “You can saw a tree to pulp, but it won’t tell you anything about the tree.


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