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[Xmca-l] Hegel's Headstand



Andy:

Gramsci has this, on p. 232 of the Complete Prison Notebooks, Vol.1, New
York: Columbia University Press, 1975.

“In studying Marx’s Hegelianism one should remember (especially given
Marx’s eminently practical-critical character) that Marx participated in
German university life very shortly after Hegel’s death, when there must
still have been a most vivid memory of Hegel’s ‘oral’ teachings and of the
passionate discussions about concrete history which these teaching
generated—that is, discussions in which the historical concreteness of
Hegel’s though must have stood out much more clearly that it does in his
systematic writings. Some of Marx’s assertions, it seems to me, should be
considered in special relation to this ‘conversational’ vivacity: for
instance, the statement that Hegel ‘has men walking on their heads’. Hegel
really does use this image when dealing with the French Revolution; he
writes that at a certain time during the French Revolution (when the new
state structure was organized) ‘it seemed’ that the world was walking on
its head or something of the sort (c.f.). I think that Croce asks (search
the reference) from where Marx derived this image; it certainly is in one
of Hegel’s books (perhaps the Philosophy of Right, I don’t remember).
However, it seems to me that, given the persistence with which Marx returns
to it (I think that Marx repeats the image; check), it seems to me that at
a certain time it was a topic of conversationi: it really seems to have
sprung out of conversation, fresh, spontaneous, so little ‘bookish’”.
The editor of the book remarks that Gramsci seems to have in mind the
“Postface” to the second edition of Capital. However, this is simply the
Marx, not the Hegel: it’s the passage Lenin (and Vygotsky) referred to “Sie
steht bei ihm auf dem Kopf. Man muss sie umstülpen, um den rationellen Kern
in der mystischen Hülle zu entdecken.” While reading this over, I realized
that Vygotsky, in Chapter Two of Thinking and Speech where he cites this
passage in Lenin, cites it for good reason. The whole chapter is
essentially doing to Piaget what Marx did to Hegel. Vygotsky, more than
anyone alive at that time, understood Piaget's extraordinary contribution,
and what Marx says of Hegel could easily have been said by Vygotsky of
Piaget: "Die Mystifikation, welche die Dialektik in Hegels Händen erleidet,
verhindert in keiner Weise, dass er ihre allegeminen Bewegungsformen zuerst
in umfassander und bewusster Weise dargestellt hat." Having admitted that
Piaget was the first to present the child's thinking in its general form of
motion in a comprehensive and conscious manner, Vygotsky then goes on to
stand Piaget on his head, by inverting "autism-->egocentrism-->social
speech" to "social speech-->egocentric speech-->inner speech".
David Kellogg