I have decided to terminate the Hegel-by-HyperText email list. I have myself just subscribed to the Hegel Society of America list by sending the message:
SUBSCRIBE HEGEL-L <My_Name> to <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I urge all of you to do the same, and apologise especially to the new members of this list, who have subscribed and waited in vain for a discussion in which they wanted to participate. However, it is my experience that all such discussions always have a finite life, and we should have no regrets.
Personally, I have learnt a huge amount from the experience of the two years of managing this list. Of late, I have been active daily in email discussions on the subject of philosophy, but these have invariably been on a one-to-one basis. I continue to welcome contact with everyone of you on the list, and you may email me with comments, questions, ideas and greetings without the possibility that your thoughts will be broadcast to all and sundry! You are of course still welcome to email everyone on the Hegel-by-Hyertext list as it stands today.
One of the reasons that the list has died is that I have myself "moved on" in my philosophical interests. The idea that stimulated the creation of the Hegel-by-HyperText web page and the list was the conviction that an understanding of the current crisis of humanity was impossible without an understanding of Marx, and that an understanding of Marx was impossible without a thorough understanding of Hegel, an "immersion" in Hegelian philosophy.
But one cannot stop there. I have come to the view that the whole Classical period of epistemology was working out the fundamental problems of human existence in a kind of "secular religion", in which human needs were equated with sensuous perception (experience) whose power was seen as given and immutable; the producing classes themselves were perceived as a dumb part of Nature and no distinction made between the labour process and objective Nature; the value extracted from the labour process was therefore identified with knowledge.
Hegel's great insight was to understand that human beings produce not only the object of their desires but also subject of their desires - themselves, that production and consumption are part of one and the same labour process. Thta the drive to produce more than was required to meet human needs was not a defect but the driving force of the whole thing.
However, like the whole tradition before him, this was worked out in a mystical way, and Marx's 1844 manuscripts showed how Hegel (and Kant and Hume, etc I might say) could be read in a way that stripped the mysticism away and made human needs and human labour the real immediate subject of attention.
Hegel's philosophy led directly to the placing of a question mark over the whole bourgeois order. This was manifested in the Chartists movement in Britain equally as in the revolutions which swept Europe in 1848. At the same time, the positive development of the sciences made this speculative philosophy "unnecessary", and the bourgeoisie retreated back to Kant and Hume, with the ban on questions which go beyond the sphere of experience. Bourgeois ideology then proceeded on the basis of an immensely more developed division of labour, generating ever newer "branches" of science, each pursuing their own self-defining ends.
I have formed the view that the whole bourgeois epoch is characterised by this problem of Knowledge. Fought out first in (Protestant) religious form in the 15th and 16th centuries, then in philosophical form in classical epistemology up till its termination c. 1848, and then in connection with the development of the separate sciences, both natural and "huamn". Recent "cultural" speculation marks the completion of this process.
The only "problem of knowledge" that affects human society today is that we have too much of it, too much that is in relation to the total absence of Ethics, other than that which is given in the laws of bourgeois political economy. By Ethics, I do not mean morality, that is, individual "rectitude", but the problem of living, living without oppression, without exploitation, brutality and war. This is a new kind of problem. It does not abolish the problem of knowledge, but transcends and absorbs it. But new methods and principles are required.
I want to continue to pursue these problems, and I continue to believe that Hegel has an immense amount to offer, being as he was, the pinnacle of speculative bourgeois philosophy. However, I no longer feel that the Hegel-by-HyperText list is an effective medium for this work.
The Web page will be adjusted to reflect the termination of the list, but the archive of the discussion will remain as it stands.
comradely regards to you all,
have a great 1999 and beyond,
and PLEASE do keep in touch,