Gillian Rose’s Case for Hegel

In Hegel Contra Sociology (1981), Gillian Rose takes Marx to task for not grasping Hegel:

Marx did not appreciate the politics of Hegel’s presentation, the politics of a phenomenology [logic of appearance] which aims to re-form consciousness . . . [and] acknowledges the actuality which determines the formation of consciousness. . . .  Marx’s notion of political education was less systematic than [Hegel’s]. (232–233)

I recently read and commented upon Terry Pinkard’s case for Hegel. Similar to how Marx allegedly flattens out Hegel’s “practical Idea” of history, Pinkard claims that the “Hegelian” pragmatism of Robert Brandom owes more to Fichte. For Fichte,

[S]ince modern conceptions of nature had also compeltely undermined all attempts at resuscitating a conception of the cosmos as containing natural purposes within itself that could therefore authorize humans to do certain things, no attempt at specifying a natural human telos would suffice to do that. Such norms would have to be instituted, not discovered… (Pinkard 2007, 164).

Like the American Pragmatists, the neo-Kantians of the Marburg School emerge from what Rose call the “Fichtean station on the road between Kant and Hegel” (211). Rose makes a case that taking Hegel seriously would resist the (‘neo-Kantian’) sociologists priority of ‘validity over values’ and refresh contemporary intellectual life:

the dilemma of addressing modern ethics and politics without arrogating the authority under question is seen as the ineluctable difficulty in Hegel. . . .  This book, therefore, remains the core of the project to demonstrate a nonfoundational and radical Hegel, which overcomes the opposition between nihilism and rationalism.  It provides the possibility for renewal of critical thought in the intellectual difficulty of our time. (viii)

This pattern of misunderstandings gives some context to Rose’s critique of the knee-jerk postmodern aversion to ‘metaphysics’ that Steve introduced last week. The solution is wrapped up with Rose’s case for Hegel.


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