The Absolute is that which reflects itself into itself. What I am, my individual Spirit, is thus Absolute Spirit individuating itself within itself. Hegel thus coincides with Joyce: the madman who announces his own divinity is alright, for God is a shout in the street. [Update April 12th 2022: It should be clarified that the divine spark is meant here, i.e. an identity-in-difference between universal and particular, rather than an insipid solipsism. Perhaps this does not coincide with Joyce, given that Joyce was a non-believer.] [Update May 10th 2022: Was he?]
Opposed to this we have the Nietzschean-Heideggerian philosophy of post-subjectivity. But insofar as the subject is devalued, so is the universal. And the universal is the Concept (Begriff), viz., the deposit of logical forms that normatively orient the res cogitans. In other words the laws of thought issue from Concept as the laws of the state issue from legislature.
Now if since Hegel the study of logic has become formal and abstract and therefore divorced from the sphere of norms and purposes, then we can expect to find such a move towards abstraction in the field of law, too. So the deconstruction of the Cartesian subject, of logocentrism, etc. leads to the predictable aimlessness, lawlessness, and disorientation that we find in the world today.
The Heideggerian Dasein that finds itself released from the “fallenness” of das Man can therefore quickly turn into Peredonov, the bitter and malicious anti-hero of Fyodor Sologub’s masterful portrait of ordinary psychosis, Мелкий бес (The Petty Demon):
Blinded by the delusions of the individual and of separate being, he did not comprehend the Dionysian elemental ecstasies that were exultant and rampant in nature. He was blind and pitiful, like many of us.1
In my thesis I have noted the sense of directionlessness that pervades Sologub’s diegesis.2 Boundaries between diegetic levels are subtly transgressed, thereby inducing in the reader the experience of ἀπορία. Now this disoriented directionlessness is more specifically a Begriffslosigkeit that encounters its limit in the experience of love. And isn’t it striking that Heidegger mentions love only once in Sein und Zeit, and then only in a footnote, and only alongside the theological categories of sin, repentance, etc.?
Heidegger also invokes loyalty, which I have previously identified with love, in his definition of resoluteness: “Resoluteness constitutes the loyalty of existence to its own Self.” (“Die Entschlossenheit konstituiert die Treue der Existenz zum eigenen Selbst.”3) The German word for ‘loyalty’ is Treue. Its root is the PIE *deru- from which we get truth, trust, tryst, betroth, and (amazingly) tree. Etymologically we are at that point where love and truth coincide in the Concept (Begriff). In other words love gives purpose to my life as it does my lover’s. (In fact we are one life, one love.) But Heidegger is not there because he blows right past these etymological connections, which are so important.
The other side of the etymology is what was noted above, viz., that my loyalty is originarily loyalty to the law, or legality. The relevant root is of course the all-important PIE *leg-, from which we get the following pairs: legal and illegal, logical and illogical, loyal and disloyal, legitimate and illegitimate, religious and negligent. And aren’t all these just different kinds of the grasping together characteristic of what Hegel calls Begriff or Concept?
Now the Begriff is none other than the ancient λόγος, the legion of thought. On this basis the laws of thought are supposed to be reflected in the laws of the state, viz. the actual leg-islation called Recht, right. (And these latter words have for a root the PIE *reg-, from which we also get these: royal, regal, and region. So *reg- is to royal, regal, and region as *leg- is to loyal, legal, and legion.)
What I am tracing here, all too quickly, is the history of the λόγος of which Heidegger represents the highest point of forgetting. This forgetting can be conceived as a kind of psychotic alienation. From this perspective—the perspective that takes love to be absolute value—Nietzsche and Heidegger approximate worthlessness. The price of Spirit, of Geist, has not ceased to fall, and Heidegger and Nietzsche are the shepherds of its absolute ruination. On the other hand, they wander further than anyone before them. This wandering is a kind of error, a straying from the λόγος and therefore a kind of nihilism; but it can also be conceived of as radical openness.
But a conversation on Facebook with Esse Delendam (who by the way makes such great videos) has recently given me the opportunity to emphasize why radical wandering is not our most urgent need. I claim we need Hegel today more than Heidegger, Žižek more than Dugin. I have written:
The universal in its true sense is the Concept, which is the grasping that grasps together. The opposite of aimlessly drifting abstractions. The global Concept would include, e.g., environmental law, which is urgently needed. We can’t safeguard Earth with Heidegger’s poems. The universal law must be actualized on Earth before capital decimates the latter. For this actualization of the global universal we need Hegel. We need the concrete Concept to reign in [sic] abstract capital that’s running riot on the global field, gobbling up nature and turning it into lifeless commodities. If the Concept stays swirling around inside itself, this isn’t Hegel’s Begriff. The latter is substance that actualizes itself as universal law via Absoluter Geist.
In other words, just as logic (λόγος, Concept, etc.) saves my thinking from ruination, so must environmental law intervene in the chaos of capitalism and put an end to its ruination of Earth. Or the safeguarding of Earth can only be accomplished by the λόγος that Heidegger devalues as “discourse.” I go on:
Now if the general will does not will the universal (i.e. the general) then it is clearly in contradiction to itself. That is error and criminality. And that’s just what capitalism is: error, criminality, chaos. The universal interest is subordinated to the particular interests of partial individuals (Bezos, Zuckenberg, Biden, etc.). The Gesellschaft is coming undone at the hands of a few individual wills.
To counter this we must grasp the Dionysian elemental ecstacies [sic] that are exultant and rampant in nature. Only thereby shall we free ourselves of the illusion of separate, “authentic” existence. Dare I say it? What we are are reflections of the Absolute into itself. Therefore each of us is the whole Absolute, individuating itself within itself. If das Man lags behind and stubbornly refuses to actualize, it can be excused for this on the basis that the Gesellschaft is presently plagued by capitalist exploitation and nihilistic leveling. Das Man is still Absoluter Geist, even if Geist is presently sick with the tumor called Zuckenberg.
Therefore Hegel, and therefore a rejuvenation of the perspective of Absolute Spirit, which is the only perspective from which global environmental law comes on the scene of history as the actualization of the divine λόγος, which is all truth and love. [April 12th: Yet the universal telos must not be reduced, via an insipid naturalism, to environmental law. Rather the ascention of humanity comes first, and from this issues the necessity of a healthy environment. The primacy of the human being over nature must not be inverted.]
In Hegel’s words:
The universal is therefore free power; it is itself and takes its other within its embrace, but without doing violence to it; on the contrary, the universal is, in its other, in peaceful communion with itself. We have called it free power, but it could also be called free love and boundless blessedness, for it bears itself towards its other as towards its own self; in it, it has returned to itself.4
Gariety, Coleman. Working Through Aporia: Three Case Studies in Interpretation. Reed College, May 2019, https://hegelsbagels.net/documents/gariety_working_through_aporia_may_16.pdf.
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. Science of Logic. Translated by Arnold V. Miller, George Allen & Unwin Ltd; Humanities Press, 1969.
Heidegger, Martin. Sein Und Zeit. 19th ed. edition, Max Niemeyer Verlag, 2006.
Sologub, Fyodor. The Petty Demon. Ardis, 1983.