Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Reason refuses to allow feeling to warm itself at its own private hearth

The particular form of guilty conscience revealed by the type of eloquence in which such superficiality flaunts itself may be brought to your attention here and above all if you notice that when it is furthest from mind, superficiality speaks most of mind, when its talk is the most tedious dead-and-alive stuff, its favourite words are ‘life’ and ‘vitalize,’ and when it gives evidence of the pure selfishness of baseless pride, the word most on its lips is ‘people’. But the special mark which it carries on its brow is the hatred of law. Right and ethics, and the actual world of justice and ethical life, are understood through thoughts; through thoughts they are invested with a rational form, i.e. with universality and determinacy.

Hegel, Preface to Philosophy of Right, italics mine
This passage gave me a chill when I read it this evening, containing as it does an indictment of Fort Kant as a cult of irrationalism, imagism, subjectivism, givenism, privacy, and picture-thinking. As we continue our research into mind, we must be careful to distinguish between positive and negative freedom, and to promote the universality and determinacy through which alone the former is possible.

For one current reading of the thesis that freedom is possible only through the rule of law, see this latest speech from Al Gore, metaphysician of American democracy.


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