Friday, December 03, 2010

Georg, Arthur, Marvin, Karl & Willie

Well blog fans, the day you've been waiting for! SCHOPENHAUER VS. HEGEL!

I first heard of both Schopenhauer and Hegel in the work of anthropologist Marvin Harris, specifically Cultural Materialism: The Struggle for a Science of Culture. You can see my web site about Marvin Harris and Cultural Materialism here.

And because of that I had this impression that I heard of Schopenhauer's antagonism towards Hegel through that book, but on reviewing it, I found that's not the case. He mentions Schopenhauer only once, and in no relation to Hegel.

There's no doubt who Harris would root for, however in a battle between Schopenhauer and Hegel. He quotes Schopenhauer approvingly:
Even in the most permissive societies and the richest in alternative roles, the planned actions - lunch, a lovers' tryst, an evening at the theatre - are never conjured up out of thin air but are drawn from the inventory of recurrent scenes characteristic of that particular culture. The issue of behavioral versus mental determinism is not a matter of whether the mind guides action, but whether the mind determines the selection of the inventory of culturally actionable thoughts. As Schopenhauer said, "We want what we will, but we don't will what we want."
I should figure out a way to get that phrase into the JULIA & BUDDY script.

On the other hand, Harris blames Hegel for ruining Marxist theory through the Hegelian dialectic:
Although Hegel himself did not make any sustained contribution to the analysis of capitalism, the study of Hegel's ideas about dialectics undoubtedly helped Marx develop his specific theory of capitalism. One cannot dispute that fact, nor minimize its historical significance. It does not follow, however, that to build upon Marx's unique contribution to social science, one must accept Marx's evaluation of the importance of Hegel's dialectic. Hegel is not the giant on whose shoulders Marx thought he had to stand but a monkey clinging to Marx's back. That Marx never finally and decisively shook Hegel off into merited oblivion is a measure of the cultural limitation on Marx's genius.

Wow, Schopenhauer couldn't be any more Hegel-hatin' than that. But I will let Schopenhauer speak for himself:
If I were to say that the so-called philosophy of this fellow Hegel is a colossal piece of mystification which will yet provide posterity with an inexhaustible theme for laughter at our times, that it is a pseudo-philosophy paralyzing all mental powers, stifling all real thinking, and, by the most outrageous misuse of language, putting in its place the hollowest, most senseless, thoughtless, and, as is confirmed by its success, most stupefying verbiage, I should be quite right.

Further, if I were to say that this summus philosophus [...] scribbled nonsense quite unlike any mortal before him, so that whoever could read his most eulogized work, the so-called Phenomenology of the Mind, without feeling as if he were in a madhouse, would qualify as an inmate for Bedlam, I should be no less right

And speaking of great minds - it's another ad featuring Willie the Whaler:

This ad is from the June 23, 1962 issue. That's the latest appearance of Willie that I have discovered so far, but the search continues for the last Willie ad.

Meanwhile - I got my Whaler Bar book of matches from eBay - whoohoo!

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