Tag Archives: Kant

On Hegel

Portrait of Hegel by Jakob Schlesinger [1]

Sometimes it seems I have no opinion of my own. And I’m not even sure if I should mind.

Take the case of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770 – 1831).

Last week I met with a philosophy professor who said that Hegel marks the dividing line between contemporary philosophy and modern philosophy and in the book I’m currently reading, Short History of the Shadow, Hegel’s Science of Logic is mentioned in the introduction.

So I’m wondering. What is my position vis-à-vis Hegel? Do I have a personal connection with him? I first check Jahsonic.com where, in 2006, I cited Hegel[2] with regards to the other, from a Simone de Beauvoir book.

Speaking of de Beauvoir, have you seen her gorgeous nude photo of Simone de Beauvoir?

I digress.

Next I try Google, I search for the string “Nietzsche and Hegel,”[3] because Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) is in my canon and I’d like to know what he thought of Hegel.


I find French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, also in my canon, who in Nietzsche and Philosophy says:

“There is no possible compromise between Hegel and Nietzsche” […]

Since I like both Nietzsche and Deleuze, must I conclude that I do not like Hegel? Or will have a hard time liking him?

Can I form my opinion based on the opinion of another person?

should do no such thing of course.

But I could if I wanted to.

And I can trust Nietzsche when he says Plato is boring, can’t I?

Being charmed and moved, isn’t that what it’s all about?

I have an aversion to Immanuel Kant, especially his aesthetics (that’s the only thing I actually know something about, I have to admit).

While in general I don’t ‘do’ negative criticism, I’m making an exception for the man from Köningsberg [the town where he was born and where he died and which he never left].

I first mentioned his incomprehensible concept of disinterestedness here[1].

Innocence (1893) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau: Both young children and lambs are symbols of innocence

Innocence (1893) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Today, while researching kitsch (most recently explored here[2]), I came upon another and similar of his dicta. This one warns us for charm and emotion in matters of taste:

“Any taste remains barbaric if its liking requires that charms and emotions be mingled in, let alone if it makes these the standard of its approval”.

I’m stumped.

Being charmed and moved, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Not for Kant it would appear.

And then I remembered one of my favorite definitions of aesthetics.

“Some of the meaning of aesthetic as an adjective can be illuminated by comparing it to anaesthetic, which is by construction an antonym of aesthetic. If something is anaesthetic, it tends to dull the senses, cause sleepiness and induce boredom. In contrast, aesthetic may be thought of as anything that tends to enliven or invigorate or wake one up.”

matter of life and death, so to speak.


Kant’s disinterestedness

L’indifférent (1717) by Antoine Watteau

I’ve always been baffled by Kant’s notion of disinterestedness. And then I remembered that Nietzsche was just as baffled. Here is that passage from On the Genealogy of Morality:

Kant‘s famous definition of the beautiful. “That is beautiful,” says Kant, “which pleases without interesting.” Without interesting! Compare this definition with this other one [..] by Stendhal, who once called the beautiful une promesse de bonheur. Here, at any rate, the one point which Kant makes prominent in the aesthetic position is repudiated and eliminated—le désinteressement. Who is right, Kant or Stendhal?”