Hegelcourses.com is going to take a break, once again, just for a month or so. August will be a time for reflection, study and leisure – and decision making.
After two years of teaching and discussing the Phenomenology I have to admit that I didn’t find the time to study the materials – again – in depth, and that I somehow lost my interest in the intricate details of Hegel’s system. My philosophical questions have moved, with some vehemence, to questions that are vital to me and my current profession.
So, I am going to take a break from the Phenomenology, that is from the reading of the text page after page, chapter after chapter. I am even going to take a break – well in part- from Hegel himself. Because my questions are getting urgent.
What are my questions then?
First of all, a question that haunts me from my early youth is the question concerning the existence of God. What does it mean to affirm that existence? What does it imply for my existence if I can affirm it? What problems arise from philosophical scrutiny of such affirmations? And what does such an affirmation actually entail? Or rather, what does “God’ mean?
Secondly, I have questions concerning the understanding of society. What does liberty mean? Why is ‘happiness’ something that ‘all men aspire to’? What is the State and what is its role within social life? What is the justification of power and is a society without violence possible?
Both these questions are somehow interconnected, ‘God’ being the symbol that in earlier days was used to affirm the solid foundation of statehood – of sovereign power controlling all social life. Not so long ago, a Dutch philosopher even pleaded for the return of religion in order to produce a more solid binding between members of society. That moral responsibility was evaporating could only be counteracted by a religious fervor that would make such morality more ‘absolute’ and more based on neighborly love.
From the viewpoint of a theologian – one of my viewpoints therefore – these questions are certainly loaded with significance. Almost every Sunday I deliver a sermon in my Church, I teach dogmatics and ethics from biblical texts, and speak to the faithful about our common faith, as expressed in the Nicene Creed in the 5th century. “I believe in God the Father, creator of heavens and earth, etc.” What if after all God did not exist? What am I doing then?
And the same goes for my other question. If the State is truly “God on earth’ then the Kingdom of the heavens is a religiously formulated ideal, that should be expressed secularly if only to get more support. Then social justice is not about the intervention of a divine ruler, but about the progress in the righteousness of our institutions – only a direct political struggle would then be meaningful. My theological point of view, that takes issue with the self-evident nature of the State, rejects ‘statism’ as a form of idolatry and therefore views the Kingdom of God as an Intervention, should then be corrected. Either Hegel is right, or the theology of the eschatological Kingdom.
Such are my questions. And there is very little time to do much about them, unless I can somehow incorporate them into my site. I can’t do both. Well, why not? My site after all is MY site. I can do with it whatever I like. If you like to join in, you are welcome. If not, I’m sorry to see you leave, but I still need to be faithful to my questions. As do you, I understand that…
So a change is coming up. Maybe the site – and the wiziq lectures connected to them – will focus more directly on my questions, which implies a reading of Hegelian texts of a different nature:
1. Hegel’s texts on Religion
2. Hegel’s texts on social philosophy.
And even more to the point: it will involve reading others besides Hegel, Adorno e.g. and Jacques Ellul, Derrida, Heidegger, Kant and Levinas, and of course: Slavoj Zizek.
The wiziq lectures would be free studies of themes, the lectures without any previous structure, apart from the fact that they revolve around God and the State. Most of the teaching would be in the form of audio or video lessons, made available on wiziq or on the site. Most of the interaction would be through email or wiziq, at the most two hours a week.
Let me try that for a year. There will always be time to return to the line by line reading of the Phenomenology. It will still be there. Waiting patiently to be explored. As the rabbi’s would say: we will return unto you, Phenomenology. But not for a while.
So my holiday: starting on august 4th, and ending august 29th. After that I will make the announcements. If you see a blog appearing in between, you bet I am just having fun during my vacation.