From mysticism to materialism – ‘the tremendous power of the negative’, before which everything but change is doomed

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By arguing that Hegel was not only a mystic, but that he was specifically the consummate Neoplatonist, I address in my thesis the part his philosophy played in a continuum that was and is by its nature always open to development – running from the idealism of Plotinus (consciousness is primary) to its ‘inversion’ in the materialism of Marx (matter is primary). My thesis also argues that Hegel’s system, encapsulated in his Encyclopaedia, is based on Proclus’ triad of triads and that Hegel was fully aware of Cusanus whose De docta ignorantia was also structured on that triad, never mentioning him both because of the degree to which he was indebted to him and because of the implications of that acknowledgement. I provide evidence from Hegel’s own sources.

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Konstantin Yuon, ‘A New Planet,’ 1921. Tempera on cardboard, The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

I address Magee’s claim that Hegel was an Hermeticist and argue that Magee misrepresented both the Hermetica and Hermeticism in order to argue that claim. I also argue that the response of the bourgeoisie to the revolutionary core that Marx and Engels brought out in Neoplatonism is fundamental to why Hegel’s thorough-going Neoplatonism is not recognised and acknowledged. With ‘the tremendous power of the negative’ – the source of all development, before which everything is also ‘doomed’ – as that core, this current is the greatest current in Western philosophy, and now, as dialectical materialism, is the epistemology of the future.

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The Crab Nebula and its pulsar

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‘Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist’ A

‘Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist’ B

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Astronomy, formal and dialectical reason

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Formal reason:

‘Since fire is the rapid acquisition of oxygen, and since oxygen is a key indicator of life, fire on any planet would be an indicator of life on that planet.’

Dialectical reason:

To consider this statement dialectically, one would think creatively – of the relationship between destruction and creation. Hegel did this from the idealist perspective –

‘Everything that surrounds us may be viewed as an instance of Dialectic. We are aware that everything finite, instead of being stable and ultimate, is rather changeable and transient; and this is exactly what we mean by that Dialectic of the finite, by which the finite, as implicitly other than what it is, is forced beyond its own immediate or natural being to turn suddenly into its opposite. We have before this (§80) identified Understanding with what is implied in the popular idea of the goodness of God; we may now remark of Dialectic, in the same objective signification, that its principle answers to the idea of his power. All things, we say – that is, the finite world as such – are doomed; and in saying so, we have a vision of Dialectic as the universal and irresistible power before which nothing can stay, however secure and stable it may deem itself.’

G.W.F.Hegel, Hegel’s Logic, Trans., William Wallace, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1975, Remark to §81, 118

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‘Massive stars form and explode, and brown filaments of dust are strewn about.’

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Spiral Galaxy NGC 4038 in Collision

‘Everything that surrounds us may be viewed as an instance of Dialectic. We are aware that everything finite, instead of being stable and ultimate, is rather changeable and transient; and this is exactly what we mean by that Dialectic of the finite, by which the finite, as implicitly other than what it is, is forced beyond its own immediate or natural being to turn suddenly into its opposite. We have before this (§80) identified Understanding with what is implied in the popular idea of the goodness of God; we may now remark of Dialectic, in the same objective signification, that its principle answers to the idea of his power. All things, we say – that is, the finite world as such – are doomed; and in saying so, we have a vision of Dialectic as the universal and irresistible power before which nothing can stay, however secure and stable it may deem itself.’ G.W.F.Hegel, Hegel’s Logic, Trans., William Wallace, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1975, Remark to §81, 118.

The hostility towards Neoplatonism and dialectical materialism by the learned servants of the bourgeoisie and their inability to embrace them are for the same reasons – both the prime importance to this current of what they have assigned to ‘the feminine’ – the ephemeral, the creative, that which resists control and particularly, its recognition of the engine of contradiction with its resultant flux. Everything but change itself will pass.

The ideological silence for so long in academia with regard to the pervasive impact of mysticism on Western culture, particularly its primary Western form Neoplatonism and the distortions and fluff written and spoken in the attempt to explain that influence away can be compared with the erasure of a two thousand year history of materialism from Indian philosophy. The only place where this ‘survives’ is in the writing of those who hated it. Some of those in the West who built their careers on never using the word ‘mysticism’ other than disparagingly or on explaining it away are now teaching it as though it has been ever thus. They make a mockery of philosophy and excellently exemplify the early stages of a major adjustment in capitalist ideology – from ‘modernism’ to ‘postmodernism’ to…? What will the new ‘ism’ be that denies or instils doubt regarding the primacy of objective reality? 

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What is primary for truth and art?

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Painting with Jupiter

Materialist dialectics, a philosophical method for investigating nature and society, holds practical activity to be the basis of our relations with the world and therefore of cognition. Praxis is thus a criterion of knowledge. Only when practical activity confirms the coincidence of ideas and hypotheses with reality can it be said that they are true. Since practical activity is relative to the level of technological development, truth can never be that absolute ardently sought and equally trembled before by the idealists, rather, it is a deepening relative in relation to an absolute which can only ever be theoretical. Lenin wrote:

’From living perception to abstract thought, and from this to practice, such is the dialectical path of the cognition of truth, of the cognition of objective reality. Kant disparages knowledge in order to make way for faith: Hegel exalts knowledge, asserting that knowledge is knowledge of God. The materialist exalts the knowledge of matter, of nature’, V.I.Lenin, Collected Works, Vol., 38 (Philosophical Notebooks), Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1976, 171.

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Comment on Desultory Heroics: ‘The Skripal Poisonings and the Ongoing Vilification of Putin’

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‘This was the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since World War II, they told him; very, very serious’. Why should post the second capitalist world war over the redivision of areas of exploitation be the cut-off point? It was the US capitalist class that first and twice employed ‘nuclear agents’ on the Japanese, when they were trying to surrender, as a warning to the Soviet Union and all socialists. Whatever the West – particularly the US capitalist class – and their agents criticise anyone for, they have done over and again and worse themselves.

Big picture (not one that focuses on individuals, as the agents of capital want you to do): the crisis of capitalism continues to deepen as the world moves from capitalism to socialism just as inevitably as it moved from feudalism to capitalism. MOABs, black ops and psy ops can and will impede this, just as the development of capitalism was opposed, but nothing can stop it.

Why? Not because I like socialism, but because consciousness is secondary and derivative of what is primary – the necessity of nature, reflected in the level of development of the productive forces. It is this that has to be understood. Not only Trump with his bullying bluster, but all political leaders and all individuals are secondary to this.

The Russians will never be forgiven by the capitalist class and their agents for having had the world’s first and successful socialist revolution (military from those same nations now expelling Russian diplomats invaded Russia after the revolution and were defeated). The denigration and now open vilification of Putin points to scores still to be settled. Further, the number of nuclear weapons the Russians possess is on a par with those of the American capitalist class, both far exceeding those of any other nation.

Driven by the crisis of capitalism, the vilification of Putin is a necessary, deliberate and significant step towards revitalising the division between the capitalist West and Russia, China and North Korea.

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Shanghai maglev train

Engels wrote brilliantly in 1894: ‘The war in China has given the death-blow to the old China. Isolation has become impossible; the introduction of railways, steam-engines, electricity, and modern large-scale industry has become a necessity, if only for reasons of military defence. But with it the old economic system of small peasant agriculture, where the family also made its industrial products itself, falls to pieces too, and with it the whole old social system which made relatively dense population possible. Millions will be turned out and forced to emigrate; and these millions will find their way even to Europe, and en masse. But as soon as Chinese competition sets in on a mass scale, it will rapidly bring things to a head in your country and over here, and thus the conquest of China by capitalism will at the same time furnish the impulse for the overthrow of capitalism in Europe and America’ (Engels to Friedrich Adolf Sorge in Hoboken; London, November 10, 1894, Marx Engels, Selected Correspondence, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1982, 450-451).

What Engels got wrong was that China would become capitalist. What he got right was the impact the development of such a huge nation would have on the world.

In order to compete with China, the West will have to become socialist!

The Chinese Communist Party has shown itself, particularly since Deng Xiaoping, to be adaptable, to be able and willing to learn – both from its experience, that of the Chinese people and of the Soviet Union. Lenin saw the need for the NEP but because of his hatred for the bourgeoisie and his theoretical commitment, it was insufficient. The Chinese have learnt essential lessons from this, all at great cost.

But they have had their revolution. Politically, socially and philosophically they are way ahead of the West and, with the potential of the size of their population, any other nation.

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Trump (consciousness) is secondary, necessity (nature) is primary

 

From the current initiated by Plotinus – an idealist and a materialist on necessity:

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Hegel (1770-1831) with his Berlin students, Sketch by Franz Kugler

‘All actions, including world-historical actions, culminate with individuals as subjects giving actuality to the substantial (see Remark to Paragraph 279). They are the living instruments of what is in substance the deed of the world mind and they are therefore directly at one with that deed though it is concealed from them and is not their aim and object (see Paragraph 344). For the deeds of the world mind, therefore, they receive no honour or thanks either from their contemporaries (see Paragraph 344) or from public opinion in later ages. All that is vouchsafed to them by such opinion is undying fame in respect of the subjective form of their acts.’

G.W.F.Hegel, Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, Trans. T.M.Knox, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1979, 348, 218

Lenin, Red Square, 1920

Lenin in Red Square, 1920

‘Engels takes the knowledge and will of man, on the one hand, and the necessity of nature, on the other, and instead of giving any definitions, simply says that the necessity of nature is primary, and human will and mind secondary. The latter must necessarily and inevitably adapt themselves to the former. Engels regards this as so obvious that he does not waste words explaining his view.’

V.I.Lenin, Materialism and Empirio-criticism: Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975, 171

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What does Uluru have to do with Neoplatonism and dialectical materialism?

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Neoplatonic dialectics, culminating in the philosophy of the ‘German Proclus’ Hegel and implicitly recognised by Marx in his acknowledgement in his Postface to the second edition of Capital of his debt to Hegel’s mysticism, is the philosophical core, stood by Marx and Engels on its material feet, of dialectical materialism.

Neoplatonic dialectics can be simply illustrated – Uluru, like the second hypostasis Intellectual-Principle, is a unity (in this case, a monolith). While the ‘ageless’ ‘stillness’ of its mass impresses in its rise from the desert, in its composition, in its infinitely divisible elements, it is in unceasing motion.

The contradictory motion of those elements and the laws bearing on them are the very factors which result in its appearance of immobile, permanent unity.

I am reminded of Plotinus’ profound and profoundly poetic position regarding activity in stillness and the relation between them, both maximal in the One.

What was, for Plotinus, a process of generation and the resolution of contradiction became recognised as one without God and without end.

The interaction of this rock, this material composition, with the greater, infinite material whole of the world, together with its own processes, will one day result in the passing of its form and contents into other material structures.

It will disappear.

Thus everything passes, and only matter (objective reality), driven by contradiction and the absolute of change, remains.

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A nebula, its pulsar and a top – from Plotinus to Marx, the epistemology of the future

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The Crab Nebula and its pulsar

The greatest activity in the greatest stillness

CARDINAL: I shall try [to show you such an image]. I will take [the example] of boys [playing with] a top—a game known to us all, even in practical terms. A boy pitches out a top; and as he does so, he pulls it back with the string which is wound around it. The greater the strength of his arm, the faster the top is made to rotate—until it seems (while it is moving at the faster speed) to be motionless and at rest. Indeed, boys speak of it as then at rest.

So let us describe a circle, b c, which is being rotated about a point a as would the upper circle of a top; and let there be another circle, d e, which is fixed.  Is it not true that the faster the movable circle is rotated, the less it seems to be moved?

BERNARD: It certainly seems true. And, as boys, this [is how] we saw [it].

Nicholas of Cusa, De Possest (‘On Actualised-Possibility’), 1460, in A Concise Introduction to the Philosophy of Nicholas of Cusa, Trans., Jasper Hopkins, The Arthur J. Banning Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1986, 914-954, 18, 923-924

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Thought Police for the 21st Century — Desultory Heroics

By Chris Hedges Source: TruthDig The abolition of net neutrality and the use of algorithms by Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter to divert readers and viewers from progressive, left-wing and anti-war sites, along with demonizing as foreign agents the journalists who expose the crimes of corporate capitalism and imperialism, have given the corporate state the […]

via Thought Police for the 21st Century — Desultory Heroics

I highly recommend both the article and webinar (in which North’s left hand, frequently patriarchally reaching towards and tapping on Hedges was both informative and distracting).

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‘Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist’ download

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I have put two links with a choice of title page colours for the PDF download of my thesis under my statement on my Home/About page and under both my emails to the Chair of Philosophy at the University of Sydney. ‘Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist’ A has the above left title page, ‘Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist’ B has the one on the above right.

Instead of a thesis of 12,000 words, which I did not complete on time, I have completed one of 125,000 words.

If you find any processing errors, please let me know.

‘Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist’ A

‘Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist’ B

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