Ellis Washington
On Hegel: Using Dialectic to pervert truth and history
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By Ellis Washington
March 29, 2015


Reality is a historical process.

~ Hegel

Like other historical theories, it required, if it was to be made plausible, some distortion of facts and considerable ignorance.

~ Bertrand Russell

Biography of Hegel

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) was a German philosopher and a central figure in German idealism movement. His radical conceptions of reality are rooted in revolutionized European philosophy that was established in both historicist and idealist philosophy and functioned as a significant antecedent to historicism, Continental philosophy and Marxism: Hegel being the link between Kant dialectic reasoning and Marx dialectical materialism. Hegel's primary realization was his development of absolute idealism as a corollary to combine Hegel's "Idea" of mind, nature, subject, object, psychology, philosophy, religion, art, history and the State. Specifically, he established the idea of the master – slave dialectic and the notion of Geist ("mind-spirit"). The master – slave dialectic is derivative of Hegel's book, Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), though the original German phrase, Herrschaft und Knechtschaft (master and slave). It is generally understood as primary element in Hegel's philosophical development, and has had a tremendous influence upon many subsequent philosophers and philosophy over the past 200 years.

Several other major works by Hegel include Elements of the Philosophy of Right (1820), an expansion upon concepts only briefly dealt with in the Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Science (1817). Elements is Hegel's most mature statement of his social, moral, legal and political philosophy. A posthumous work is Hegel's Lectures on the Philosophy of History, a compilation of lectures he gave in the 1820s while a professor of philosophy at the University of Berlin.

Hegel and the Dialectical Idea

Hegelian dialectic follows a paradigm based on trilogy: a thesis, leading to its rejoinder, an antithesis, which refutes the thesis, and the tension between the thesis and antithesis results in a resolution called a synthesis. Although Hegel attributed the dialectical language to Immanuel Kant, through J.G. Fitche, who championed the German idealism movement through the ideas and writings of Kant. However, Hegel did employ a three-part logical model similar to Kant's antithesis model using the characteristically abstract Hegelian terms: Abstract-Negative-Concrete. Historically Hegel's work marks the four major expositions of dialectic and dialectical reasoning in the literary canon of Western philosophy along with Kant, Plato (via Socrates) and Aristotle. For Hegel as for Plato dialectic establishes the reality of truth and ideas, not probabilities and illusions. Nonetheless Hegelian dialectic is continuously concerned with the process of mind, or of the grand, ubiquitous Idea, an endless motion toward absolute truth. The Idea, he writes, "is self-determined, it assumes successive forms which it successively transcends; and by this very process of transcending its earlier stages, gains an affirmative, and, in fact, a richer and more concrete shape."

Hegel address the Idea of opposition where flawed truths are harmonized by employing the dialectical process as a continuous motion. Since the consequences of the synthesis of thesis and antithesis should result in a more comprehensive truth, however, in reality Hegelian dialectic produces profound perversion of history and truth purposely designed to eventually deconstruct all societal institutions, leaving only the triumphant dialectic. To demonstrate his inference, Hegel uses the illustration of building a house. Using this model it is necessary to have "in the first instance, a subjective aim and design" and as form, "the several substances required for the work – iron, wood, stones." In adapting these materials appropriate for our work, we employ use of the natural elements: "fire, water to set the wheels in motion, in order to cut the wood, etc."

Nevertheless the house formed with these materials, according to Hegel, are the opposite or antithesis of these elements. The early opposition between the Idea of a house and the elements is resolved in a greater synthesis, i.e., the house itself. Although it demonstrates the divergent theses and the resultant synthesis, this model does not completely reveal the dynamic worldview of the Hegelian dialectic, yet Hegel and his followers get away with not defending this glaring philosophical omission by controlling the language, particularly its meaning. In our current Age of Relativism, if words have only subjective meaning or value, then Hegel is a god.

Hegel and the god of the State

The three most ubiquitous understandings of the State in modern times are these – one view, the state is ordered to the serve man. A second view of the State, man is understood to be a creature of the state, and the state is made god. A third view of the State, man (here, a woman) – like Antigone in Sophocles' play Antigone – seems to be conflicted between serving the state and serving God, choosing to defy King Creon's decree not give her brother a proper burial through her appeal to a transcendent or "higher law" which is above that of even a tyrannical king like Creon who with a word could have Antigone executed (she eventually was put to death for violating the king's unjust decree).

Most of these associations or similarities repeat in Hegel's theory of the state. Nevertheless for Hegel they are no longer representations, they are the fundamentals of a transformative definition. "The state is an organism," says Hegel. It is the organic whole no part of which can have a separate life. As "occurs with life in the physical organism," he writes, "life is present in every cell" and "separated from that life, every cell dies. This is the same as the ideality of every single class, power, and Corporation as soon as they have the impulse to subsist and be independent. It is with them as with the belly in the organism. It, too, asserts its independence, but at the same time its independence is set aside and it is sacrificed and absorbed into the whole." Hegel continues that "The march of God in the world, that is what the state is." "The basis of the state is the power of the reason actualizing itself as will," Hegel writes. "In considering the Idea of the state, we must not have our eyes on particular states or on particular institutions. Instead we must consider the Idea, this actual God, by itself."

Regarding philosophers who disagree that the state is finite (limited, determinate), Hegel replies that "to hold that mind on earth, i.e., the state, is only a finite mind, is a one-sided view, since there is nothing irrational about actuality. Of course, a bad state is worldly and finite and nothing else. But the rational state is inherently infinite." In his magnum opus, Introduction to his Philosophy of History, Hegel is emphatic on this question of the superiority of the State: "the State" Hegel writes, "is the Divine idea as it exists on Earth." This historic, blind, naïve worship of the State, regardless of moral considerations, and under the paradigm of the Hegelian dialectic of course was an obvious precedent to his successor Karl Marx, the father of socialism and communism, whose "dialectical philosophy sought to abolish all notions of absolute truth" according to his co-author Friedrich Engels.

Contrary to all these ideas regarding the conventional law of contracts, Hegel is critical of Kant's view of marriage under the idea of contract, argues that "it is equally far from the truth to ground the nature of the state on the contractual relation, whether the state on the contractual relation, whether the state is supposed to be a contract of all with all, or of all with the monarch and the government." Contract, according to Hegel, is in the domain of "relationships concerning private property generally." Therefore "the intrusion of this contractual relation . . . into the relation between the individual and the state has been productive of the greatest confusion in both constitutional law and public life."

A contract, Hegel defines, "springs from a person's arbitrary will, an origin which marriage too has in common with contract. But the case is quite different with the state; it does not lie with an individual's arbitrary will to separate himself from the state, because we are already citizens of the state by birth. The rational end of man is life in the state, and if there is no state there, reason at once demands that one be founded. Permission to enter a state or leave it must be given by the state; this then is not a matter which depends on an individual's arbitrary will and therefore the state does not rest on contract, for contract presupposes arbitrariness. It is false to maintain that the foundation of the state is something at the option of all its members. It is near the truth to say that it is absolutely necessary for every individual to be a citizen." It is with Hegel’s humanist god-State Idea that 100 years later Mussolini would famously decree in a 1925 speech: Everything inside the State. Nothing outside the State. Nothing against the State.

Under this singular Idea Hegel's atheism and legal absolutism applied to a marriage contract is the sole providence of the State, therefore other moral and religious considerations are irrelevant under the Hegelian dialectic. Also, America during the time of Hegel was only a constitutional Republic for approximately 40 years, nevertheless its constitution was considered a covenant or contract between the entity who formed the U.S. Constitution ("We the People") and its elected representatives. After almost 200 years of Hegelian dialectical materialism it is now no surprise to people like me and other scholars who have studied Hegel were seemingly blind to unforeseen anomalies like same sex marriage which literally happened overnight in America while the Christian Church slumbered and slept. With the rule of law, the family, now marriage deconstructed and under the purview of the Progressive-Socialist State, the final pillar to collapse the Judeo-Christian edifice will be the Church which since Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto (1848) and Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species (1859) has been relentlessly assaulted, infiltrated, corrupted and perverted by the Socialist-Progressive Left, even to this day.

Hegel's legacy in modern times

Hegel was a bridge between the end of the Age of Enlightenment (1600-1800) and early German Idealism and German Romanticism (1780s-1840s). He influenced a number of philosophers, academics and authors whose own worldviews differed tremendously. Ignoring the deconstructive effects of Hegelian dialectic, Swiss Reformed theologian, Karl Barth considered Hegel as a "Protestant Aquinas," while French philosopher, Maurice Merleau-Ponty believed that "All the great philosophical ideas of the past century – the philosophies of Marx and Nietzsche, phenomenology, German existentialism, and psychoanalysis – had their beginnings in Hegel." Michel Foucault, the father of deconstructionism, has written that Hegel's influence was so vast and comprehensive that philosophers of modern times may be "doomed to find Hegel waiting patiently at the end of whatever road [they] travel."

What has been the effect on society of 200 years of Hegelian dialectic in modern times? It has relentlessly taken to its radical extreme what subsequent writers like Auguste Comte, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Nietzsche and Hitler predicted – a ubiquitous form of a "struggle to the death" by which the State (Master) triumphs over the Slave (the people and over all their servile institutions). Philosopher Karl Popper believed that "there is so much philosophical writing (especially in the Hegelian school) which may justly be criticized as meaningless verbiage" and English philosopher and atheist Bertrand Russell, a champion of the Progressives had to confess to the utter evil effects of Hegelian dialectic especially in undermining societal order, truth and history, writing that "Like other historical theories, it required, if it was to be made plausible, some distortion of facts and considerable ignorance."

Like all of the ideological and philosophical descendants of modern liberalism of which all roads lead to the French Revolution (1789-99), for Hegel, this atheist revolution establishes for the first time in recorded history the starting point for real individual political freedom into European societies. It is for this reason I believe he created such a perverted philosophical worldview like his Hegelian dialectic – to achieve his atheist bloodlust of a perpetual French Revolution down through the ages.

*N.B.: This essay is based in part on ideas from Encyclopedia Britannica Great Books of the Western World, Robert Maynard Hutchins, Editor-in-Chief (University of Chicago, 1952), Vol. 2, Chap. 18 – Dialectic; Vol. 2, Chap. 15 – Definition; Vol. 3, Chap. 64 – Opinion; Vol. 3, Chap 90 – State; Vol. 46 – Hegel.


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Invitation for manuscripts

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Ellis Washington

Ellis Washington is a former staff editor of the Michigan Law Review (1989) and law clerk at the Rutherford Institute (1992). Currently he is an adjunct professor of law at the National Paralegal College and the graduate school, National Jurisprudence University, where he teaches Constitutional Law, Legal Ethics, American History, Administrative Law, Criminal Procedure, Contracts, Real Property, and Advanced Legal Writing, among many other subjects... (more)

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