August 20th, 2022

Here, then, we have a struggle against an enemy, to vanquish whom is really to suffer defeat, where victory in one consciousness is really lost in its opposite. Consciousness of life, of its existence and activity, is only an agonizing over this existence and activity, for therein it is conscious that its essence is only its opposite, is conscious only of its own nothingness. - Phenomenology of Spirit, Paragraph 209

I have reviewed everything in the Phenomenology up to the chapter on Reason, which is where I last began to run into a bit of difficulty. My current plans are to finish reading the Phenomenology for a second time along with Kalkavage's Logic of Desire, return to the Preface with Yirmiyahu Yovel's translation and commentary and then transition to Hegel's Lectures on the Philosophy of World History; after that it'll be time to delve into the Science of Logic and the Philosophy of Right. Somewhere between all that I'll likely squeeze in reading Michael Inwood's translation and commentary on the Phenomenology of Spirit since the translation seems to be closer in language to the Cambridge edition of the Science of Logic, which I intend to get a copy of. In my experience of reading around the canon, regardless of what philosopher you decide to delve into, familiarizing yourself with their corpus will always be incredibly difficult on one's first reading, it's impossible to prevent this, therefore I've taken to sticking to the philosopher I enjoy the most.

The Force and Understanding was more interesting the second time around, and I've noticed that I find both the chapter on Perception and the section on Observing Nature to be equally dry, although I wonder if that'll change after I loop around for a second or third time. The Unhappy Consciousness is a section I'd like to review and return to. Currently, my only plans for commentary of my own regards the section in Spirit entitled Absolute Freedom and Terror, which is Hegel's philosophical analysis of the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution, but I hope to come across other sections that I'd like to write about. I don't know how long it'll be before I feel I've prepared adequately to write anything of my own on Hegel, possibly when I've finished the Science of Logic. I will admit that I have the urge to defend Marx and Engels' reception of Hegel against those who would oppose them, and I hope equally to defend Lenin against his contemporary adversaries, whether Left or Right. I mention this because in almost every account of Hegel I've read from contemporary authors, there is almost always a potshot at Marx, which, rather than dismiss outright, I intend to take seriously and strain myself to comprehend. To defend Marx, Engels, and Lenin is to defend the conceptual and analytical tools of my own class, to prove not only to myself, but to other members of my class that these tools are worth our effort to wield and creatively apply.

I worry sometimes that my partisan interests prevent me from being properly receptive to Hegel's work, but I expect even my own natural consciousness of everything I've learned about Communism to be thoroughly dissolved and mediated by the caustic fluid of Hegel's speculative philosophy, and it isn't a process that I fear. Marx and Lenin went through Hegel and so will I, as I reconcile myself with eternity and the worlds of knowing they've bequeathed to me. Oddly enough, I also find reading Hegel to be a much better use of my time than arguing with idiots on Rose Twitter.

Lately, the only thing I've been struggling with is making time to read works of literature and things related to the kind of fiction I'd like to write. Determinateness is always a form of negation and by determinately focusing so much of my time and effort on Hegel, I'm negating and subordinating my interests in everything else. I don't mind it, but I do sometimes mourn the loss of all the media I'll never experience again or media that I might never have the time for. Maybe one day I'll get around to Hegel's Lectures on Aesthetics, and I have his sections on art in the Phenomenology to look forward to. Unfortunately, our daily political realities make it unlikely that I'll ever return to a life of aesthetic enjoyment, even one mediated by works of aesthetic theory, so I hope Hegel makes good on his promise of Absolute Knowing's luminous sunburst, and I hope to step into his spiritual daylight. Every paragraph, every word, is a step towards the sunlight.

Lastly, I still intend to get through a bit of Kant, Fichte, and Schelling when I get the chance. I've developed a little bit of an affinity for Fichte and I wonder if it'll develop into an enduring interest, he was the peasant son of a ribbonmaker who was taken under the wing of a local Baron and given a better education than someone of his class would've normally been afforded, and his entire identity and self-esteem seems to have been based on his prodigious intellectual talents. It's unfortunate that there isn't a full length biography of his life like that of Kant and Hegel, I would love to read it. I hear he's somehow more difficult to read than Hegel and I'm curious if that's true.