"The first of the particular arts . . . is architecture." (A 13.116/1.83)1 For Hegel, architecture stands at several beginnings. It is the art closest to raw nature. It is the beginning art in a progressive spiritualization that will culminate in poetry and music. The drive for art is spirit's drive to become fully itself by encountering itself; art makes spirit's essential reality present as an outer sensible work of its own powers.2 (A 13.453/1.351) If Hegel's narrative of the arts (...) creates a hierarchy, architecture stands lowest, yet it nonetheless plays a unique and necessary role in spirit's development. In this essay I first describe Hegel's views on the nature of architecture and its three stages (symbolic, classical, romantic). Then I indicate some problems with Hegel's narrative. Finally I raise the question whether Hegel's theories might be adapted to our present architectural situation. (shrink)
Plato is mistaken on both sides of his distinction between Socrates and the Sophists. He imagines the Sophists to have a formless power that cannot be resisted. This exaltation of the power of persuasion needs to be seen as motivating excessive fears in various modern debates. Pragmatic approaches can lessen our fear.
I want to tell some stories of ends and transformations in the relation of the past to the future. These stories have implications for education and enlightenment. They are stories in which modernity is seen as an end and a beginning. Modernity is the end of tradition, or oppression, or superstition, or other restrictive conditions. It is the beginning of true self-consciousness and rational human history. But there are also stories about an end of modernity. There are stories about postmodernity. (...) These ends don't depend on talk of the millenium, nor are they apocalyptic or cultic, but they do suggest that we live in a time of transition. (shrink)
What follows are the introductory remarks and a series of questions that were raised for a discussion about what Hegel is doing in the paragraphs 669-71 of the Phenomenology of Spirit, with reference back to paragraphs 444 and 650-5. Broadly speaking, the issues concern the place and the nature of that self-consciousness that Hegel describes as the universal and mediating element in which spirit comes to itself. I also ask about the applicability of his dialectic of forgiveness to a particular (...) situation today. (shrink)
We need to give up single visions that are supposed to embrace social and place totalities. We live in overlapping nets rather than single places. We cannot plan unlimited geometrical vistas a la Versailles; but that was always an illusion, and today it would be an oppression. Can we still plan like Sixtus at Rome? Only if we also encourage other modes of organization at the same time. The whole may often end up more like Tokyo, with corners of design (...) and beauty that do not make an overall plan. (shrink)
A discussion of whether Habermas as a representative modernist and Lyotard as a representative postmodern echo the ancient dispute between Plato and the Sophists. My conclusion is that they do not quite do so. Each is more complex and ancient dichotomy should be revised.
Centers have been out of intellectual and political fashion, because they have been often oppressive. We both celebrate and worry about postmodern fragmentation as we enact it in our technology, while fearing hidden centralization. But centering is important. I would like to mull over some issues concerning centers and criticism.
A discussion of the logical role of particular concepts in Robert Pippin's reading Hegel as a theorist of modernity, with special reference to the question whether modernity can be surpassed or left behind.
Our task is the preservation of historic towns. In America as in Europe historic town centers are surrounded by recent additions and suburban sprawl. It is tempting to imagine the task of preservation as protecting our historical heritage from a featureless wave of mediocrity, as the worldwide commercial civilization overwhelms local cultures. This story is familiar from the writings of Kenneth Frampton and others: sprawl, homogenization, loss of distinctive local and regional form. I want to disagree with this story. From (...) what force are we trying to save the historic towns? Might not that force have its own new kinds of order? Might that new order be already at work inside the historic towns? Are its effects only negative? I want to question a presupposition common in many discussion of historic preservation. This is the presupposition that a spatially distinct historic center belongs to a single community that possesses a unified self-consciousness and a unified aesthetic self-image. Local communities less and less correspond to bounded spatial areas, and spatial areas contain less and less homogeneous communities. There is growing a new kind of discontinuous unity, which is the theme of this essay. (shrink)
In the popular press and the halls of politics, controversies over evolution are increasingly strident these days. Hegel is relevant in this connection, even though he rejected the theories of evolution he knew about, because he wanted rational understanding but without claims to intelligent design. He is reported to have said that nature has no history, but a closer examination will show that his ideaqs are more nuanced and that there is more room for darwinian ideas than one might expect, (...) though not enough to allow the full Darwinian contingency of form. (shrink)
From Hegel's philosophy of nature, this essay develops a critique of economic models and market society, based on Hegel's notion of what it takes for a formally described system to be embodied and real.
What does it mean to be a modern American today? These slides summarize the discussion from five lectures delivered in winter 2019 at the University of Oregon's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. The lectures themselves are available on YouTube -/- Just how different is American from other cultural identities? We have thought of ourselves as the specially modern nation, spreading the revolutionary gospel of freedom from traditional restrictions. Some condemn this American exceptionalism, while others celebrate it. Don't take sides too quickly, (...) there are deep issues here. -/- -- The first lecture poses the question whether American identity is a rigid given set of traditional substantive values, or a free floating modern identity with at most a set of formal procedural values. -/- -- The second and third lectures dismantle these options, arguing that any substantive identity must include areas of inner freedom and mobility, and any formal procedural identity needs substantive style and content in order to exist at all. Personal and social identities are two leveled, with given values and projects plus inner self-reflection and space for revision. -/- -- The fourth lecture argues that what makes American identity special is neither its substantive values nor its modern formalism, which are shared with other modern nations, but rather the particular slant of its second level attitudes and practices towards first level substance. -/- -- The fifth lecture asks what America can learn and teach in an increasingly multicultural world. (shrink)
Arakawa and Gins have been fomenting revolution for a long time. In the last twenty years their attention has turned more and more towards architecture and urban planning as a way of reforming our bodily existence. Their proposals enter daily life rather than staying in the isolated sphere of the museum or gallery. These constructions are to be lived in, not contemplated. Will daily life then blunt or sharpen Arakawa and Gins's power to educate and revise our "architectural bodies"?
The old spiritual masters told us to be in the world but not of it. We moderns have given this a secular twist. We are in our world — we have values, ways of life, world pictures — but not of it — we are to be aware of our freedom, aware of the contingency of our world and its dependence on factors many of which are or will be under our control. We both inhabit our world and enjoy the (...) status of distanced controllers. Or, if our lack of control and our dependence on historical and social factors is being emphasized, we are to inhabit our world with a certain knowing irony, since we understand the process by which it came about, even if we cannot change it. We hnave found ways to institutionalize this split-level identity. -/- Such institutions posit a separation of form and content. In the free market, in procedural justice, in free speech we live out that separation. This parallels cognitive and volitional theories of Kantian and Utilitarian descent, which make the same separation. All these give us freedom by having us seek our identity in a formal process above all content, but at the cost of introducing distance and irony. -/- Martin Heidegger's response to modernity often sounds like a romantic flight from modern distances. He clearly wants to overcome our split-level existence, the uneasy balance of facticity and freedom, which for him is but another manifestation of the will to power which he fines lurking behind our tradition. But to what degree is his own overcoming of modernity also susceptible to split-level living and ironic distance? (shrink)
want to question this idea of a pure presuppositionless self-developing sequence of logical categories. This is part of a larger investigation of the inherence of Hegel's thought in historical language. Concerning the necessary self-development of thought, I have three objections to propose. The first concerns the difficulty of recognizing a uniquely correct sequence of categories, when the various versions all express positive insights. The second concerns the very idea of a unified sequence. The third concerns the goal of pure self-development.
A discussion of "postmodern" architecture in the sense in which the term was used in the late 1980s, namely, the introduction of historical substantive content and reference into architecture, disrupting the supposedly ahistorical purity of modernist architecture. Argues that postmodern use of history is really another version of the modern distance from history.
Eugene Gendlin claims that he wants "to think with more than conceptual structures, forms, distinctions, with more than cut and presented things" (WCS 29).1 He wants situations in their concreteness to be something we can think with, not just analyze conceptually. He wants to show that "conceptual patterns are doubtful and always exceeded, but the excess seems unable to think itself. It seems to become patterns when we try to think it. This has been the problem of twentieth century philosophy" (...) (WCS 29). As a result he has "long been concerned with what is not formed although always in some form" (TAD 1). In this essay I would like to explore some of the issues surrounding the relation of the unformed and the formed. Gendlin says that "we get beyond the forms by thinking precisely in them" (TAD 1). The two emphasized words have to be considered separately as well as together. In many essays Gendlin's main concern is with the "precisely": can something that is not fully formed and definite still direct us as we carry forward language and action? My discussion begins with that issue; I suggest ways that Gendlin's proposal connects with and differs from some current ideas in epistemology and the philosophy of language. Then my discussion moves to the "in": what sense can we make of the formed being unformed? Finally I suggest that Gendlin's program runs into some difficulties in this connection. (shrink)
What can it mean to criticize when you are inside the work itself? In a immersive electronic or digital environment critic is not distanced on a platform based on firm principles. Yet criticism self-awareness and commentary remain possible. This essay examines various techniques for dealing with immersive environments critically.
Stephen Houlgate has written an introduction to Hegel that is more than historical. For him, “Hegel’s is still a viable philosophical endeavour with extremely important things to contribute to modern debates, particularly the debates about historical relativism, poverty and social alienation, the nature of freedom and political legitimacy, the future of art, and the character of the Christian faith”. This ambitious book is clearly written and very thoughtful. By concentrating on a number of central themes, Houlgate avoids giving us another (...) numbing summary of the whole Hegelian system, yet he conveys a general idea and feel for the overall project. He also provides fresh looks at areas of Hegel’s thought not usually treated by those in his wing of Hegel interpretation. (shrink)
I am a philosopher with Parkinson’s Disease. Over the past several years I’ve been trying to write about my situation. I wrote about how I was forced to face the disease. I described how the disease twists and distorts my world. Then I asked myself, as a philosophy writer and teacher, whether I could say anything that might help myself or others facing life with Parkinson’s? I found ideas in the ancient Stoics and expanded them with ideas about time, coming (...) up with suggestions for living as excellently as possible despite the disease. Looking at those suggestions, I realized how the special awareness, resolve, and attention I was suggesting would be eaten away by dementia, and I know that a majority of Parkinson’s patients face dementia if they survive long enough. What can philosophy say to me or any person whose self and philosophy are being erased? Writing about such issues has helped me deal with my situation, and maybe my essay might be useful for others dealing with decline. (shrink)
A discussion of how diggers stance with regard to contemporary analytic and Continental philosophy, with special emphasis on Heidegger's later works. The essay argues that Heidegger has now become attacks that people can interpret in many ways, and so is entered into dialogues which go against his own self-image of what he was about.
What does it take to settle an argument or debate, for the classical Greek philosophers, and how does this compare with our modern ideas about resolving disputes? Plato and Aristotle are not quite what they been reputed to be.
When I was first studying Hegel I encountered quite divergent readings of his views on religion. The teacher who first presented Hegel to me was a Jesuit, Quentin Lauer at Fordham University, who read Hegel as a Christian theologian providing a better metaphysical system for understanding the doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation. When I studied at Yale, Kenley Dove read Hegel as the first thoroughly atheistic philosopher, who presented the conditions of thought without reference to any foundational absolute being. (...) Meanwhile, also at Yale, John Findlay read us a deeply Neo-Platonic Hegel who taught about absolute forms held in a cosmic mind. In giving my own reading I want to talk about the ways Hegel redefines both metaphysics and religion. I would like to approach these issues by way of the medieval controversy over double truth, which was a previous conflict between religion and science. (shrink)
The essay offers a thought experiment to try to clarify our distinction between our naïve ancestors and our sophisticated moderns. The effect of the thought experiment is to cast doubt upon the distinction and examine further our own myths about our ancestors. And to wonder at what it means to be truly modern.
The goal or criterion of "authenticity" for judging a change in art or ethics or culture is notoriously vague and can be dangerous. This essay proposes a version of authenticity based on a quasi-Hegelian version of the process of development rather than on any specific patrimony to be preserved. Oddly enough, the proposed criterion has many similarities with one proposed by a staunch anti-Hegelian, Gilles Deleuze.