Absolute Knowledge, teleologism and dialectics

Pablo Gilabert Pablo.Gilabert at p26.f109.n900.z4.fidonet.org
Sun Feb 25 22:23:53 MST 1996

Justin wrote:

>> I hate to be a pedant, Chris, but didn't Hegel maintain that there was
>> something called absolute knowledge, and suggest that he had it?

and Chris replied:

 "MS> I think there are many interpretations of this Justin... but truthfully,
 "MS> I think that this is precisely what is UNdialectical about Hegel, and in
 "MS> some respects, a materialist theory of history -- the kind of
 "MS> intellectual hubris that assumes that one can have knowledge of the
 "MS> ultimate goals of human history.

I don't think that this is some detail in Hegel's thought, such that could be
put aside of dialectics as a conceptual framework. Rather, I think that this
is a nuclear point of what Hegelian dialectics is. In fact, as a
gnoeseological point of view, dialectics is the apparatus through which
Hegel could remouve Kant's wall respect the knowledge of the "thing in
itself". And Hegel did this by building a theory of knowledge in which
"thought" and "being" were isomorphic. This is the aim of Hegel's "Science
of Logic": which is at the same time a theory of knowledge and an ontology.
   This ontology is inherently teleological. The triadic structure of the
Concept -the heart of "dialectics"- is a teleological pattern. The second
moment of the particularisation appears and is as it is because,by being so,
would promote the satisfaction of the abstract Universal
self-differentiation which is recogniced at the third stage.
   Dialectics, in Hegel, is an ontological pattern based on the assumption
that the course of Being is an expression of the course of Thought.
Thought's goal is its self-counciousness. All the events of reality appear
and can be explained in terms of this goal and its expressive conditions.
  In the last analysis, this is a teological view, and Hegel himself
recognizes this in the Introduction of his Logic. The point was to overcome
the dualism between Infinite Spirit (God) and finite spirits (men) and
nature. Hegel takes the monist view of Spinoza's God-Substance but rebuild
its ontologycal structure as a Subject.
   Dialectics, as a conceptual framework, implies a teleological view of
world history. This appears in Marx, especially in the famous 1859 Preface.
In his German Ideology the view is a non-teleological one. Marx is not
consistent at this respect.
   Of course, one can mantein that "dialectics" is still worth. But if we
want to mantein it, then we'll have to build a non-hegelian dialectics, which
would be something absolutely different. I think that, for example, Elster
did some interesting reconstructions of dialectic process in terms of a
re-definition of the concept of contradiction in a way that not implies
obetive teleologies.

Pablo Gilabert
pablo at carrenet.com
|Fidonet:  Pablo Gilabert 4:900/109.26
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