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Re: [xmca] Interpreting Leontiev: functionalism and Anglo Finnish Insufficiences

Thanks for that Greg. Indeed I think one must hesitate long and hard before saying Hegel was wrong, because one must first understand what the hell Hegel was saying. The understanding of religion in the Germany of about 200 years ago was incredibly rich. Johann Herder's job in Jena was the supervision of the qualification and training of priests. Anyway ...

I am not sure, but I have mentioned the uncertain nature of what the Subjective Spirit is about. Is it about life in pre-modern communities or is it about human physiology? or is it a logical development which encompasses both? I lean towards the last interpretation, but this still allows a cultural or a physiological reading. Let us look at how Hegel sees the physiology of the emergence of the rational capacity of human animals.

First, from nature emerges individual Souls, these individual animals may be human, but all animals are included here. "Soul" translates the German word Seel, but some translate it as Psyche. The Psyche just feels, it does not feel something, it just feels; it is communing with itself. Through habit and habituation, the Psyche is able to distance itself from the causes of its feelings, and those feelings which are "unexpected" it comes to see as originating from some object, and these feelings are Sensations, which have an object. Sensations are the foundation of Consciousness, and therefore a relation to an objective world, but the Consciousnes does not have self-consciousness yet. It has an Object but not a Subject. Through (*multiple* stages, but amongst others ...) Recognition, it becomes aware of itself as a Subject, and therefore self-consciousness emerges. We still do not have Intelligence or Language, or Theory, far less of course, Right, which lies outside the Subjective Spirit.

I will cut the story short here as the story gets more and more difficult to tell, but suffice it to say that Hegel develops the rational capacity of human beings as a special case of Sensation, itself a special case of Feeling. So, to say that for Hegel self-consciousness lacks feeling is a terrible misunderstanding, since for Hegel self-consciousness rests on Feeling alone. Intelligence is simply a special kind of Sensation, itself a special case of Feeling.

PS. Just got your second message saying you didn't really disagree with Hegel ...
Greg Thompson wrote:
Here is where I'm going to do two things ill advised in academic
conversation, particularly not those conversations on this list.
First, I'm going to disagree with Hegel, and second I'm going to get
religion (foreshadowed in previous email...).

But before making either of these faux pas, thanks to Andy for
pointing me in the direction of Philosophy of Spirit. I doubt that I
will be able to take it on anytime soon (and only in little bits when
I do), but I appreciate the heads up that this would be fertile ground
for writing/developing some of Hegel's ideas.

So to my first faux pas, my beef with Hegel is that his idea for the
origin of self-consciousness lacks feeling. The historical moment that
Hegel describes of coming to self-consciousness does not adequately
capture, imHo, the role that feeling/emotion plays in the emergence of
self-consciousness. For Hegel, this seems to be a very self-conscious
struggle, and when it eventually develops beyond struggle, it
continues to have a kind of rationalistic feel to it - as if it is
knowledge without feeling (and this even when he speaks of recognition
in the form of love). Take, e.g., Hegel's opening description of
self-consciousness in Philosophy of Spirit:
"Self-consciousness is the truth of consciousness: the latter is a
consequence of the former, all consciousness of an other object being
as a matter of fact also self-consciousness. The object is my idea: I
am aware of the object as mine; and thus in it I am aware of me. The
formula of self-consciousness is I = I: - abstract freedom, pure
'Ideality'; and thus it lacks 'reality': for as it is its own object,
there is strictly speaking no object, because there is no distinction
between it and the object."
This is not so much a 'feeling' of self-consciousness as it is a
'knowledge' of self-consciousness.

And on to my second faux pas, turning to religion, Durkheim's
Elementary Forms of Religious Life presents an argument that, for me,
does much of the work that is missing in Hegel's conception of
recognition. In Elementary Forms, Durkheim takes on Kant's a prior
conception of the categories of the understanding and argues that
Kant's categories of the understanding are, in fact, derived from
social life. And, similar to Hegel, he has a narrative to describe how
this has happened in the history of humankind, and it goes like this
(albeit a massive oversimplification): social gatherings create
emotional experiences that become more than the immediacy of life, and
which become identified with the clan. This social/religious feeling
makes possible the first true notion of "kind", the clan. D follows
the same argument through with the category of "cause". What is
critical here, imho, is that Durkheiim is pointing to the origin of
the categories of the understanding in the emotions. It is feeling
that is at the heart of thought.

That was kind of sketchy, so let me offer another example of how these
might be conceptually brought together using the history of religion
and right vis a vis property.

In Roman religion, Terminus was the god who protected boundary
markers; his name was the Latin word for such a marker. Siculus
Flaccus, a writer on land surveying, records the ritual by which the
stone was sanctified: the bones, ashes, and blood of a sacrificial
victim, along with crops, honeycombs, and wine, were placed into a
hole at a point where estates converged, and the stone was driven in
on top. On February 23 annually, a festival called the Terminalia was
celebrated in Terminus' honor, involving practices which can be
regarded as a reflection or "yearly renewal" of this foundational
ritual. Neighboring families would garland their respective sides of
the marker and make offerings to Terminus at an altar—Ovid identifies
these, again, as crops, honeycombs, and wine. The marker itself would
be drenched in the blood of a sacrificed lamb or pig. There followed a
communal feast and hymns in praise of Terminus.
The god of Terminus likely came into existence somewhere around 750 BC.

To present my critique and extension of Hegel's position, I draw on
Williams description of Hegel's notion of "right":
“Right is properly appreciated only when its rational-universal
grounding in intersubjective recognition is understood. If there were
no recognition, there would be no right, but only the subjective
certainty of freedom. In such a circumstance, right would not be
actual but merely a claim or an idea. Everything else that is said
about right or rights is an articulation of recognition in its various
determinate modes and Gestalten” (Williams, p. 111).

I suspect that Andy will have some concerns with this, but the core
idea that I am taking up here is that right is a matter of a mediated
ideation that is primarily a matter of rational thought. In contrast,
Terminus and its associated Feast of Terminalia (in which people would
march out the boundaries of their property) suggests something quite
different. With the ancient Greeks, the Right is ensured by the
feeling that individuals have of not wanting to upset the Terminus.
The location of the terminal stone that marks off one's property is a
religious matter - a matter of feeling. One does not trample on one's
neighbor's property not because of an intellectual understanding of
the Right of one's neighbor. Rather, one does not trample on one's
neighbor's property because one fears the wrath of a god. Here emotion
plays a critical role in the historical moment of the origination of
the Right that I don't think is appreciated in the Hegelian approach.
[I'll add that Andy's post as of 2 hrs ago in which he suggests that
"Right exists as something objective" might offer a way of reconciling
Hegel with the Feast of Terminalia and the religious feeling, but not

I'll leave it at that and see where that gets us.
And if anyone wants to help me out by linking back to Leontiev, please do...


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