Roots of German Philosophy, Part Four: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831)
October 1, 2008
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (rhymes with “bagel”) was known by many names throughout his lifetime. Willie Boy. Big Brain. Brainy Bagel Hegel. Willie Poo-Poo. Georgie Twinkle-Toes. Steady Freddie. Big Bopper Hegel. Maniac Brainiac Hegel. Snuggle-Bunny-Goo-Goo. Little Georgie Frecklehead. He was the ugliest German philosopher and the most unreadable. This is how Hegel explains what a “thing” is in Phenomenology of Mind (1807): “The This, then, is established as not This, or as superseded, and yet not nothing (simpliciter), but a determinate nothing, a nothing with a certain content, viz., the This.” Pathetic, isn’t it? Schopenhauer called this “pseudo-philosophy,” something you’d expect to hear from lunatics in an insane asylum. That’s for sure! Now you know why bookstores go out of business and get replaced by donut shops, not the other way around. Hegel’s defenders, whom I intend to kill as soon as I’m finished writing this, say that you have to read him in the original German to understand him, because he loses something in translation. What a crock! If something doesn’t make sense in English, it doesn’t make sense, period! Hegel has been denounced by Donald Trump (“uncommercial”), Leon Spinks (“confusing”), Henry Kissinger (“dangerous”), and many other notables. Barbie and Ken both agree that Hegel was “silly.” The only good thing Hegel ever wrote was his high school graduation speech, which was titled “Why Are Serbians So Stupid?” Hegel was in Jena in 1806 and witnessed first-hand the conquest of that city by Napoleon. At the time, he was putting the finishing touches on Phenomenology of Mind. Now, you would think that seeing Napoleon in action would have made him realize the futility of trying to explain what a “thing” is. Napoleon didn’t need to be told what a “thing” is. He knew how to kick the Prussians’ butts. But Hegel needed the money, so he finished the book. He is considered an idealist, which is proven by the fact that he fathered an illegitimate child with his landlady. Earlier in his life, he worked as a tutor in private homes but got fired because the children couldn’t learn anything from him. Then he went to Bamberg to be a newspaper editor. He also wrote the columns on religion, pets, and dating. Then he worked as the principal of a trade school for delinquents. After his big, stupid book was published, he worked as a professor in Jena, Heidelberg, and Berlin. He was the only philosopher ever to use hand puppets in his lectures. His other books were The Philosophy of Right, The Science of Logic, The Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences, and How To Raise Tropical Fish. Don’t read them. They suck. Hegel did have one idea that caught on with eggheads, however — his “dialectic.” You have a thesis and an antithesis, and they crash into each other and produce a synthesis. In the real world, either the guy with the thesis beats the crap out of the guy with the antithesis, or vice-versa. But with Snuggle-Bunny-Goo-Goo, the idealist, you get a synthesis, and nobody ends up dead, assuming the synthesis isn’t fatal. This thesis-antithesis baloney is the real source of the current movement in linguistics that treats language as a semantic phenomenon. You have text and anti-text. The reader reads the text, and the text reads the reader. If this isn’t a recipe for trouble, I don’t know what is. Like, the other night I was reading a nice little book called Nipple Twisters, and it was a pretty good story for normal men, and then all of a sudden, without any warning, I was plunged into a discursive space between two meanings! I thought, Whoa! What the fuck? Who ruined my story? Well, I’ll tell you who. It was those damned post-modern semiotics bastards screwing around with texts and anti-texts, that’s who! They’ve all got Hegel up the ass, and there goes my five dollars! And, of course, Karl Marx picked up on Hegel’s dialectic, too, and where did that lead? Missiles in Cuba, that’s where! And that bearded son-of-a-bitch Castro almost started World War Three. And after all this, Hegel is still required reading in philosophy at Harvard (which is probably to be expected, since Harvard is dominated by Commie wankers). In Stuttgart, Hegel’s home town, the house that he lived in is now a club called Hegel Haus, and they have live S&M sex shows, which attract a lot of tourists. And there is a room in the back where you can get absolutely anything (for a price). There is disagreement among scholars about how Hegel died. Some say he died in a cholera epidemic (thesis); others say he was killed by a falling piano (antithesis). So what’s the synthesis? He died from germs on the piano that fell on him! Obvious. Vince McMahon agrees with everything in this essay.
1. Labyrinths of Metaphysics, by Dave “Tiger” Williams, 1988, Aberystwyth Univ. Press.
2. Bridges to Nowhere, by Esmeralda Klopp, 1975, Centipede Books.
3. Cindy and Ricky Run a Pet Shop, by Alberto Manguel, 1984, Ice Bag Editions.
Copyright@ 2008, by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org