Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Faithful Hegel pt. 3 (Ch. 5)

Well now... This was an interesting challenge to read faithfully. I did it... but it wasn't easy.

Basically, chapter five in summation. There are two factors that are important for Hegel in determining where Spirit (and consequently, World History) is. The first is temperature and the second is dirt.

First, if it's hot or cold outside, Spirit isn't there. Apparently, Spirit can only thrive where you can wear shorts for only part of the year. If you have to wear shorts all the time (or less than shorts) because it's so hot, Spirit can't do anything because you're drinking so much water all the time that Spirit can't get anything done. Conversely, if you can't ever wear shorts (but must wear greater than shorts) because it's too cold, Spirit can't get anything done because you are always having to warm up the water that you drink. If you find yourself in one of these predicaments, you should move somewhere else - you will never get freedom here.

The next qualifiers for Spirit are in the nature of the dirt on which you live. There's the quantitative dirt quality that comes into play first. If you have too much dirt, Spirit can't get to work. For example, The U.S. at the time had too much dirt. Because people could get away from the people they didn't like (and find some new, uninhabited dirt), there was no Spirit to be had. Spirit needs conflict in order to be effective and sort itself out. Essentially, this means that the U.S. and Australia couldn't contribute to world history because they had too much dirt.

The other dirt qualification is qualitative. Your dirt must also be, well, older than dirt. If you have new dirt, you haven't had time to organize your dirt to serve the people. That has to be done before your dirt can be of service to Spirit. Spirit only likes dirt that has been toiled over long enough for it to be mature dirt. My only question here is how can something be older than itself? ;)

Chapter six was interesting, too (and where I spent most of my time). This is basically what Hegel has been setting up in the previous chapters. It is an account of history progressing from the East to the West. The progression of the Spirit starts in Asia and gets more free over time as the Spirit moves West. The actual working out of this from Hegel's perspective was really interesting. I look forward to spending class time discussing this process.

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