(2) [and later published
in a volume in honour of Hans-Georg Gadamer's 60th birthday,] Heidegger
recounts the history of philosophy as seen through Hegel's thinking. In
writing this paper, Heidegger obviously recurs to his previous writings
on Hegel, in particular to his treatise, 'Hegels Begriff der Erfahrung
(1942/43)',(3) that formed the
basis for seminars on Hegel's Phänomenologie des Geistes and
Aristotle's Metaphysics[ Books Delta and Theta held in 1942/43].
The intention of the present paper will be to sketch Heidegger's recounting
of Hegel's situating of the Greeks in the latter's history of philosophy
and then to criticize it by juxtaposing it to Hegel's own telling of the
history of philosophy and what he highlights in it as the world-historical
achievement of the Greek beginnings of philosophy.
Right at the outset of his 1958 lecture, Heidegger declares, "Die Sache des Denkens steht auf dem Spiel" ("The issue for thinking is at stake." WM:421) Heidegger doesn't say immediately what this issue is, but we are given notice that thinking is a game in which a lot is at the stake. Presumably the stakes have become so high through a process of vieing and revieing(4) throughout the history of philosophy which, according to both Heidegger and Hegel, forms the foundation of Western history as a whole. The prize to be taken by the winner of this gambit in thinking is nothing less than the bringing to light of the issue given to thinking to think and thus, indirectly, the setting of the course (Weichenstellung) for Western history. What is at stake is not the final resolution of the issue for thinking, which for Heidegger is "das Rätselhafte" ("the enigma", WM:436), but above all, in the very first place, for both Heidegger and ourselves, the determination of what, precisely, this issue is upon which so much hangs. Given that Heidegger remarks also at the outset that "der Zerfall der Philosophie offenkundig wird" ("the decay of philosophy is becoming obvious", WM:421), what is also at hazard is whether we Western humans are still up to the task of thinking the issue for thinking.(5)). Heidegger takes this aim specified as "the truth" as a hint at the "issue for thinking" (WM:423) and goes on immediately to cite Hegel's famous introduction to his treatement of Descartes in his lectures on the history of philosophy: "Hier, können wir sagen, sind wir zu Hause und können wie der Schiffer nach langer Umherfahrt auf der ungestümen See 'Land' rufen" ("Here, we can say, we are at home and, like a sailor after a long voyage hither and thither on the stormy sea, we can call out 'land ahoy!'", VGPIII:120). Heidegger comments as follows: "Hegel will mit diesem Bild andeuten: Das 'ego cogito sum', das 'ich denke, ich bin' ist der feste Boden, auf dem die Philosophie sich wahrhaft und vollständig ansiedeln kann." ("With this image Hegel wants to indicate that the 'ego cogito sum', the 'I think, I am' is the firm ground upon which philosophy can truly and completely settle", WM:423) Heidegger's commentary on the same passage in his earlier treatise from 1942/43 is lengthier and reads:
Das Denken sucht in der unerschütterlichen Gewißheit seines Gedachten für sich das fundamentum absolutum. Das Land, worin sich die Philosophie seitdem heimisch macht, ist die unbedingte Selbstgewißheit des Wissens. [Das Land wird nur schrittweise erobert und vollständig vermessen.] In den vollständigen Besitz gelangt es dann, wenn das fundamentum absolutum als das Absolute selbst gedacht ist. Das Absolute ist für Hegel der Geist: das in der Gewißheit des unbedingten Sichwissens bei sich selbst Anwesende. (HW:125)Heidegger then situates Hegel's thinking on an arc that stretches from Descartes via Kant's subjective idealism to Hegel himself for whom, Heidegger proclaims, "sind Sein und Denken dasselbe ("being and thinking are the same" WM:424), a thought which one would have supposed, in the light of his interpretation of Parmenides, Heidegger himself would have subscribed to, but here he interprets this identity as a formula for the domination of the subject in its subjectivity as the unshakeable foundation of certain truth. Hegel's dialectical thinking is thus interpreted as "der Prozeß der Produktion der Subjektivität des absoluten Subjekts" ("the process of production of the subjectivity of the absolute subject" WM:424). It should be noted that the collocations, "absolute subject" and "absolute subjectivity", occur no less than nine times in this relatively short paper of Heidegger's, and later on we will have to ask whether and in what way such a formulation is at all justified in the case of Hegel's thinking.
Heidegger claims that Hegel conceives of the history of philosophy as "die innerste Bewegung im Gang [...] der absoluten Subjektivität zu sich selbst" ("the innermost movement in the path ... of absolute subjectivity to itself", WM:426). From this perspective, Hegel's assessment of Greek philosophy is said to be a thinking of "das reine Objektive" ("pure objectivity", WM:427), of being in its most abstract and poorest determinations. Heidegger then takes "vier Grundworte" ("four basic words", WM:428) of Greek ontology, e(/n, lo/goj i)de/a, e)ne/rgeia and comments on how Hegel translates and interprets each of them (das All, die Vernunft, der Begriff, die Wirklichkeit — the universe, reason, the concept, actuality). Only the conclusion that Heidegger draws from his discussion of these "four basic words" of being is of interest here. Heidegger says,
Das Sein und somit das in den Grundworten Vorgestellte ist noch nicht bestimmt und noch nicht vermittelt durch und in die dialektische Bewegung der absoluten Subjektivität. Die Philosophie der Griechen ist die Stufe dieses 'Noch nicht'. (WM:432)According to Heidegger, Hegel interprets the Greeks as still being lost in the abstractness of impoverished, abstract determinations of being. Heidegger then quotes a passage from Hegel on abstract thinking: "die Philosophie ist dem Abstrakten am entgegengesetztesten; sie ist gerade der Kampf gegen das Abstrakte, der stete Krieg mit der Verstandesreflexion" ("philosophy is most opposed to what is abstract; it is precisely the struggle against what is abstract, continual war against understanding's reflection", cited WM:432(6)) to show just how anaemic Hegel regarded Greek philosophy still to be. But beware, because the sense of "abstract" in these two different contexts is entirely different, and Heidegger is here performing a sleight of hand.
Hegel does not claim that the beginnings of philosophy with the Greeks were abstract in the sense of being merely "understanding's reflection". On the contrary, he concedes and praises precisely the speculative nature of (parts of) early Greek thinking in attaining an absolute unity of subject and object, which nonetheless remains abstract in the sense that it deals with only very few determinations of being. Heidegger here confuses these two different significations of "abstract" with the aim of showing that "der Geist kommt noch nicht eigens als das sich selbst wissende Subjekt zur absoluten Gewißheit seiner selbst" ("thinking spirit does not yet come specifically to absolute certainty of itself as the subject that knows itself", WM:432). In this coming of thinking spirit "to absolute certainty of itself" in the subject, according to Heidegger's interpretation of Hegel, philosophy would have entered the "realm of truth".
Heidegger then introduces a)lh/qeia as the Greek word for truth and asks why Hegel does not speak of it. "Versteht er unter 'Wahrheit' anderes als die Unverborgenheit? Allerdings. Wahrheit ist für Hegel die absolute Gewißheit des sich wissenden absoluten Subjektes." ("Does he understand by 'truth' something other than unconcealedness? Indeed. For Hegel, truth is the absolute certainty of the absolute subject that knows itself", WM:433). Here we come to the "issue for thinking" announced at the start of Heidegger's paper. It is 'truth' or a)lh/qeia. A)lh/qeia is the issue at stake for Heidegger's thinking and, according to the quotation from Hegel, it is also the issue for Hegel's thinking. But, according to Heidegger, he and Hegel each means something different by 'truth'. We will soon have to investigate whether for Hegel truth indeed means "absolute certainty" of the "absolute subject".
Because, according to Heidegger's recounting, Hegel interprets the Greeks from the standpoint of "absolute subjectivity" (WM:435), "es Hegel verwehrt blieb, die A)lh/qeia und deren Walten eigens als die Sache des Denkens zu erblicken" ("it remained denied to Hegel to see A)lh/qeia and its prevailing sway as the issue for thinking", WM:435). [Heidegger claims that a)lh/qeia is at play in all of the "four basic words", e(/n, lo/goj i)de/a, e)ne/rgeia, through which the Greeks think being, and then asks, "Aber wie steht es dann mit dieser rätselhaften a)lh/qeia selbst...?" ("But then what is the situation with this enigmatic a)lh/qeia itself...?", WM:435) The emphasis is now of the word "itself", and Heidegger proceeds by pointing out that truth in the sense of correctness and certainty "hat ... mit der a)lh/qeia zu tun, nicht aber diese mit der Wahrheit" ("has to do with a)lh/qeia, but the latter does not have to do with truth", WM:436).
But even before that, and more primordially,] Heidegger asks what a)lh/qeia and ou)si/a have to do with one another and claims that if unconcealedness were more primordial than being, then "[hätte] das Sein mit der Entbergung zu tun, nicht aber die Entbergung mit dem Sein" ("being would have to do with decrypting/disclosing, but decrypting/disclosing would not have anything to do with being", WM:436). Accordingly, the way in which a)lh/qeia is at play "aus der Entbergung selbst, d.h. aus der Lichtung des Sichverbergens ihre Bestimmung empfängt" ("receives its determination from decrypting/disclosing itself, i.e. from the clearing of self-concealment/self-sheltering", WM:437). Heidegger therefore agrees with Hegel that the philosophy of the Greeks remains in a stage of "not yet", but what remains unthought by the Greeks and in all subsequent philosophy, including Hegel's, is a)lh/qeia itself, "was vor dem Beginn der 'Philosophie' und durch ihre ganze Geschichte hindurch das Denken schon zu sich eingeholt hat" ("which before the beginning of 'philosophy' and throughout its history has already drawn thinking into itself", WM:438) So, for Heidegger, it is a)lh/qeia itself, more primordial than being, that is at stake as the issue for thinking for us today through a "step back", and it is true that for Hegel a)lh/qeia itself is not the issue for thinking. But the matter does not rest there.
In dieser neuen Periode ist das Prinzip das Denken, das von sich ausgehende Denken, — diese Innerlichkeit, die überhaupt in Rücksicht auf das Christentum aufgezeigt und die das protestantische Prinzip ist. Das allgemeine Prinzip ist jetzt, die Innerlichkeit als solche festzuhalten, die tote Äußerlichkeit, Autorität zurückzusetzen, für ungehörig anzusehen. [Nach diesem Prinzip der Innerlichkeit ist nun das Denken, das Denken für sich, die reinste Spitze des Innersten, diese Innerlichkeit das, was sich für sich jetzt aufstellt; und dies Prinzip fängt mit Descartes an. Es ist das Denken frei für sich, was gelten soll, was anerkannt werden soll; dies kann es nur durch mein freies Denken in mir, nur dadurch kann es mir bewährt werden. Dies hat zugleich den Sinn, daß dies Denken allgemeines Geschäft, Prinzip für die Welt und die Individuen ist:] das, was gelten, was festgesetzt sein soll in der Welt, muß der Mensch durch seine Gedanken einsehen; was für etwas Festes gelten soll, muß sich bewähren durch das Denken. (Hegel VGPIII Werke 20:120)This is how Hegel sees the new beginning in philosophy with Descartes in the modern age. It is a matter of the "Protestant principle" of "inwardness" according to which the thinking individual must have insight through his or her own thinking into what is to be recognized as firmly established as true. [It is the Enlightenment principle of thinking for oneself, which is at the same time the principle of freedom itself.] Was the Protestant principle of the Protestant, Hegel, distasteful to Heidegger, the relapsed Catholic? Did Heidegger harbour animosity against the Protestant principle of individualization? Does Heidegger's well-known anti-Liberal stance in thinking and in politics have to do with a rejection of the principle of thinking for oneself, of the principle of freedom? Can this principle of thinking for oneself be translated without deformation into the principle of self-certainty of the subject, and this latter principle then transferred without further ado to Hegel as the thinker of truth as "absolute certainty" (WM:433)? More is at stake here than whether Hegel can be regarded as the absolute Cartesian who finds absolute certainty in absolute subjectivity. The issue of freedom itself is at stake here and how it relates to the issue of truth. More on the interrelations between the issues of truth and freedom later. For the moment we will focus on the issue of freedom.
Hegel never tires of emphasizing that freedom resides in coming to oneself:
[...] die Freiheit heißt, in dem bestimmten Inhalt sich zu sich verhalten, — die Lebendigkeit des Geistes, in dem, was als Anderes erscheint, in sich zurückgekehrt zu sein. Das, was als Anderes im Geiste bleibt, ist entweder unassimiliert oder tot, und der Geist ist unfrei, indem er es als Fremdes in sich bestehen läßt. (VGPIII:57)Moreover, such freedom is the very beginning of philosophy itself. The introduction to Hegel's lectures on the history of philosophy includes a section entitled "Die Freiheit des Denkens als Bedingung des Anfangs" ("The freedom of thinking as condition for the beginning", VGPI:115). The beginning referred to is that of "philosophy and its history" (VGPI:115). There we read,
Das Denken muß für sich sein, in seiner Freiheit zur Existenz kommen, sich vom Natürlichen losreißen und aus dem Versenktsein in die Anschauung heraustreten. Das Denken muß als freies in sich gehen; es ist damit Bewußtsein der Freiheit gesetzt. Der eigentliche Anfang der Philosophie ist da zu machen, wo das Absolute nicht als Vorstellung mehr ist, sondern der freie Gedanke nicht bloß das Absolute denkt, [sondern] die Idee desselben erfaßt: d. h. das Sein [...], welches er als das Wesen der Dinge erkennt, als die absolute Totalität und das immanente Wesen von Allem [...] (VGPI:115f)Hegel finds with the Greeks "der Keim der denkenden Freiheit und so der Charakter, daß bei ihnen die Philosophie entstanden ist." ("the germ of thinking freedom and thus the character that with them philosophy arose", VGPI:175) Heidegger does not once mention in his 1958 paper that Hegel discovers freedom with the Greeks, where thinking spirit is "bei sich" or "with itself", and instead he characterizes the Greek beginning in Hegel's eyes solely as "die Stufe der Abstraktion" ("the stage of abstraction", WM:428) And Hegel does indeed say that "die ersten Philosophien die ärmsten und abstraktesten sind;" ("the first philosophies are the poorest and most abstract", VGPI:60) but this by no means exhausts what he finds among the Greeks. He characterizes Socrates, for instance, that "welthistorische Person" ("world-historical person", VGPI:441) as follows:
Die unendliche Subjektivität, Freiheit des Selbstbewußtseins ist im Sokrates aufgegangen. Ich soll schlechthin gegenwärtig, dabeisein in allem, was ich denke. [Diese Freiheit wird in unseren Zeiten unendlich und schlechthin gefordert.] [...] Es ist im allgemeinen nichts anderes, als daß er die Wahrheit des Objektiven aufs Bewußtsein, auf das Denken des Subjekts zurückgeführt hat, — ein unendlich wichtiges Moment; wie Protagoras sagte: das Objektive ist erst durch die Beziehung auf uns. (VGPI:442)This is what Hegel sees in the beginning of philosophy with the Greeks, even pre-Socratically, say, with Anaxagoras(7): the emergence of freedom in world history. The reference to Protagoras shows that truth can only be individual, i.e. mediated by an individual, thinking human being. By omitting any reference whatsoever to Hegel's praise of freedom in both Descartes and Socrates, and more generally in philosophy as a thinking-for-oneself, Heidegger wants to characterize Hegel's thinking, along with all thinking of the modern age, as representational or vorstellendes thinking that culminates ultimately in "der totalen Berechenbarkeit" ("total calculability", WM:426). This twist on Heidegger's part makes all free thinking as a thinking for oneself into merely subjectivist, representational thinking and Hegel's "absolute knowing" of a unity of subject and object into "the unconditional self-certainty of knowing". Can Hegel be assimilated to Descartes in this way? With this question we return to considering whether Hegel's thinking spirit can at all be characterized as "absolute subjectivity".
The collocations, "absolute subject" and "absolute subjectivity", occur infrequently in Hegel's writings. Firstly, they can refer to God (cf. e.g. EnzI §147 Add.; PhG:26; VPRI A Von Gott; VPRII:18), and the human subject is not God if only because it does not possess the "absolute power" ("Gott als die absolute Macht", VPRI:113) that Hegel attributes to God. On the other hand, they refer to the absolute freedom of thinking spirit or the ego to free itself from any determinate and therefore finite content, whether it be in theoretical thinking or in practical will, and to withdraw into its "absolute negativity". (cf. e.g. EnzII §275 Add.; RPh [note on § 139]; VAesI:97; VAesIII:572; PhG:482f, VGPIII:365) Thinking spirit and the ego are therefore infinite or absolute in the sense of absolving themselves from any determinate content. [Such absolving is a setting free, for instance, in practical living: "Der Wille bestimmt sich in sich, auf Freiheit beruht alles Rechtliche und Sittliche; darin hat der Mensch sein absolutes Selbstbewußtsein." ("The will determines itself within itself; everything to do with law and custom is based on freedom; human beings have their absolute self-consciousness therein", VGPIII:365)] This freedom, however, in no way absolves thinking from having to penetrate the object if it is to know it. Absolute knowing means only that the object is no longer given to the subject; its Kantian givenness has been overcome and thinking has penetrated through to the object as it is in itself and is therefore no longer relative to the object. Such absolute knowing is the idea.
Die Idee ist die Wahrheit; denn die Wahrheit ist dies, daß die Objektivität dem Begriffe entspricht, — nicht daß äußerliche Dinge meinen Vorstellungen entsprechen; dies sind nur richtige Vorstellungen, die Ich Dieser habe. (EnzI §213 Anm.)With this quotation we have caught up with Heidegger's assertion that for Hegel truth is "die absolute Gewißheit des sich wissenden absoluten Subjektes" ("the absolute certainty of the absolute subject that knows itself", WM:433). Heidegger also often characterizes subjectivist metaphysics as "vorstellendes Denken", "representational thinking". For Hegel truth is not correctness; it is not the correspondence between "my representations" in consciousness and objects, but between the concept and objectivity. For Hegel truth is also not the certainty that the object corresponds to my representations of it, nor that the object is interrogated to conform with my representations of it. Contra Heidegger, who claims that in Hegelian reason "das denkende Ich versammelt das Vorgestellte" ("the thinking ego gathers what is represented", HW:424), it is precisely Hegel who demands that thought enter "ins Wissen als denkendes, nicht vorstellendes" ("into knowing as a thinking knowing, not as representational knowing", LI:79). The concept itself is ontological; it conceives beings in their being and does not merely represent them in consciousness in a representation, a Vorstellung. Thinking has to give itself over to objectivity in itself, to things in their Ansichsein in order to be able to grasp them in their being. Thinking remains bei sich or with itself in its self-surrender to objectivity and is thus free.
The absoluteness of the idea does not reside in the absolute certainty of the subject, but in the merging of subject and object in the idea. This is why Hegel calls the idea "Subjekt-Objekt" ("subject-object", EnzI § 214). The idea, or "reason" ("Vernunft", EnzI § 214) is the "Einheit [...] des Denkens und Seins" ("unity [...] of thinking and being", EnzI § 215 Anm.), but not a unity in which the thinking subject serves as underlying fundamentum absolutum, nor as something static, but rather as a "process" ("Prozeß", EnzI § 215), i.e. as a movement in which the concept moves through objectivity, defining determinate concepts, thus becoming more concrete along the way. All the determinate concepts along speculative thinking's path, from the outset, starting with being, are predicates or definitions of the Absolute.(8) In particular, that the Absolute is subject is only developed later,(9) after its determination, for instance, as being-for-itself, as essence, reality and substance, and for Hegel the subject is not primarily that which underlies, sub-jectum, — for substance also 'underlies' in this sense — but that which has a Zweck, a purpose and is self-reflective, i.e. bent back upon itself.
Such a movement of thinking in unity with being is a progressive movement starting from the most abstract, universal and indeterminate. The beginning must be unmediated, and at the same time the unity of thinking and being, and therefore absolute. It is therefore pure being as the pure thought of immediate, indeterminate presence or "abstract, empty being" ("abstrakte[s] leere[s] Sein", EnzI § 86). Hegel explicitly argues against the Cartesian ego in its "certainty of itself" ("Gewißheit seiner selbst", EnzI § 86 Anm.; cf. LI:76ff) being able to form the beginning, precisely because the ego cogito is not immediate, but mediated and insofar already a "having-gone-further" ("Hinausgegangensein", EnzI § 86 Anm.). "Pure immediacy" however is "nothing other than being" ("...in dieser reinen Unmittelbarkeit nichts anderes als Sein", EnzI § 86 Anm).
But there is a difference between Hegel and Heidegger. The former's thinking aims at setting out from the beginning, both the abstract historical beginnings of philosophy and the abstract beginning of speculative thinking that thinks the beginning as "pure abstraction"; Hegel's thinking goes forth from the beginning and progresses, setting out on its way to the absolute idea, [which concludes the unfolding of the Logik of the being of beings,] and then on to a more concrete unfolding of the idea in nature and the human world. Heidegger's thinking, by contrast, is on its way back to the beginning, only to tarry there insistently and contemplate this enigmatic pure immediacy in itself in a "step back"[, and not in relation to its forward movement into determinate being as something and on to the further categories of beings as such]. In tarrying, Heidegger sees not determinations that define beings as such, but rather the temporal determinations contained in being itself, thus translating it into pure "presence", "Anwesen". [Heidegger sees also that being, which is to become something, is still nothingness, and not yet something, thus bringing the temporal moment of 'not yet' into play.] The immediate identity of being and nothingness as pure, immediate abstraction is, at the beginning of Hegel's Logik, becoming, again a temporal determination that brings being into unity with time. For Heidegger, not only is time the "preliminary name" ("Vorname", GA54:113(10)) for truth, for a)lh/qeia as the clearing of self-concealment, but also a)lh/qeia as time-space is itself temporal. So here we have Heidegger inserting time into Hegel's abstract beginning for speculative thinking. And Heidegger tarries further in thinking the belonging-together of being and human being as Ereignis, as propriation, and in thinking a)lh/qeia as the clearing of being's self-sheltering and self-concealment.
We have already seen, however, that in his account of Hegel, Heidegger neglects to underscore or even mention that Hegel discovers the roots of freedom with the Greeks. Such freedom as a freedom of thinking is of its essence individual, and Hegel specifically links Socrates' questioning to Protagoras, who propounded the individuality of truth. The individuality of truth and the individuality of freedom go hand in hand; they are the same. Protagoras is also no stranger to Heidegger, who discusses Protagoras as the sophists' "führender Denker" ("leading thinker", NII:139f) at some length in his Nietzsche lectures and elsewhere. While Heidegger admits that, in formulating the "Einschränkung der Unverborgenheit des Seienden" ("restriction of the unconcealedness of beings", NII:139) to the individual's individual sphere, Protagoras clearly saw a "variety" ("Abart", NII:140) of the Greek experience of a)lh/qeia, Heidegger's driving motive is merely to show that this individuality of truth is "wesentlich [...] entfernt" ("essentially [...] far removed", NII;140) from the "unbedingter Gewißheit" ("unconditional certainty", NII:140) of the Cartesian ego cogito as the subject who is "der Richter über alles Seiende" ("the judge of all beings", NII:140). Once again, the collocation "unbedingte Gewißheit" is synonymous with "absolute Gewißheit", so there can be no doubt that for Heidegger, despite all differences, Descartes and Hegel share the same modern subjectivistic fundamental position within metaphysics. But, as we have seen, it is precisely Hegel who not only criticizes Descartes' philosophy as mere understanding, but who also launches a trenchant critique of subjectivist metaphysics from Descartes through to Kant and Fichte.(11)
The issue for Heidegger is obviously not the individuality of truth and how it is identical in essence with the individuality of freedom. In fact, it seems that wherever Heidegger comes across individual freedom, he diagnoses a hopeless case of subjectivist metaphysics. Heidegger situates the individuality of truth as seen by Protagoras merely as a "variety" of the ontologically prior experience of a)lh/qeia [whose priority, according to Heidegger, now calls for explicit thinking in the Other Beginning, thus, to employ Hegel's language, raising the experience of a)lh/qeia out of its Ansichsein or implicitness into the explicitness or Anundfürsichsein of thought-through truth in its concept]. For Heidegger, the issue for thinking that is today at stake is truth, but not truth in its intimate intertwining with freedom.
In Hegel we still find firm, thought-provoking, questionable traces of the link between truth and freedom, and in particular, of the tie between truth and the individuality of freedom [which for Hegel is also an essential part of the historical Protestant experience of the world which refuses to recognize external authority, but instead insists on the individual's thinking through its being-in-the-world. Is this merely a quirk of the Protestant, Hegel, or] does Hegel's assertion about the Greek sophists hold true that "was der freie Gedanke gewinnen soll, das muß aus ihm selber kommen, muß die eigene Überzeugung sein" ("what the free thought is to attain must come from out of itself; it must be one's own conviction", VGPI:410), whilst simultaneously distancing this individuality of truth from "der schlechte Idealismus der modernen Zeit" in which the "Ich das Setzende ist" ("the bad idealism of the modern age [in which the] ego is the positing instance", VGPI:405)?
When Hegel characterizes the period of the sophists and Socrates as the "Zeitalter der subjektiven Reflexion [...], Setzen des Absoluten des Subjekts" ("age of subjective reflection [...], positing of the subject's absoluteness", VGPI:404), this not only is at variance with Heidegger's assessment of human being in the first Greek beginning, but also is far removed from a casting of the fundamentum absolutum of a self-certain subject.(12) For Hegel, the subject can only be absolute by striving "sich einen wesentlichen absoluten Inhalt zu gewinnen" ("to gain an essential, absolute content", VGPI:405), and not through asserting itself as the fundamentum absolutum for a world that is merely represented in the subject's consciousness.(13)
Hegel's claim is that speculative thinking is able, through its dialectical movement, to raise up the splintering of individualized truth to the unified plane of absolute, speculative knowing that ultimately has insight into [the full, progressive unfolding of the abstract beginning of pure immediacy into] the concrete worldliness of a world that accords with freedom. No matter how controversial and problematic Hegel's dialectical development of concrete freedom in a unity of concept and reality may be in particular transitions, it is more than worthy to call for thinking today, that is, if freedom is still of the human essence. This is not an issue for post-1930 Heidegger, for he persists in tarrying at the beginning in an effort to slip in even before the beginning, both historically and in thinking, to think the as yet unthought clearing of a)lh/qeia, leaving the issue of individual freedom to its own fate and insinuating that it is an issue only for liberalism which, for Heidegger, degenerates into a synonym for subjectivist metaphysics.
If, however, as Hegel clearly sees, the individualization of truth is intimately intertwined with the individuality of freedom, then the sharing of truth as We becomes an [extraordinarily difficult] issue for thinking. [But this question exceeds the restricted brief of the present paper, which has been to defend Hegel against mischaracterization by Heidegger, not only with regard to Hegel's alleged view of the Greeks, but also in relation to the purported status of Hegel's philosophy as subjectivist metaphysics. A critical reconsideration of Hegel's dialectical system, which has a rich ontological, and inevitably contradictory, concept of freedom at its core, could throw light on the question of human freedom, as even Heidegger himself posed it in 1928: "It is a problem how Dasein as essentially free can exist in the freedom of factically bound being-together-with-one-another" ("es ist ein Problem, wie das Dasein als wesenhaft freies in der Freiheit des faktisch gebundenen Miteinanderseins existieren kann"(14))]
Firstly, he makes no mention of the dialogical tradition in German philosophy that started with the left-Hegelian, Ludwig Feuerbach through to Löwith and beyond. This represents a major challenge for Heidegger, whose thinking later retreats to the famous "step back", thus missing the opportunity for a 'side-step' to a 'horizontal' problematic of you-and-me among world-sharing 'whos', who are no longer subjects, and no longer Hegelian self-consciousnesses, but have to be thought in their own right as a modification of Heidegger's casting of human being as Dasein, namely as the interplay among human beings striving to gain standing presence as somewho in a mirror-play of recognition and identity-formation. Heidegger himself gets only so far with the problematic of how Dasein shares its world with Mitdasein (cf. esp. Einleitung in die Philosophie GA27 e.g. §14 'Wir teilen uns in die Unverborgenheit des Seienden', §18 'Dasein und Mit-sein', §20 'Gemeinschaft auf dem Grunde des Miteinander') and of how a 'we' is constituted (cf. Logik als die Frage nach dem Wesen der Sprache GA38 §10 'Das rechte Ansetzen der Vorfrage. Was- und Werfrage', §11 'Der Mensch als ein Selbst', §13 '>'Wir' sind das Volk< kraft der Entscheidung'), but nevertheless his phenomenology of we-formation differs entirely from Hegel's constitution of 'we' as the outcome of the dialectic of recognition in the Phänomenologie des Geists (cf. Chap. 11 iii) of my Social Ontology). The mirror-play of identity-formation as identity of identiy and difference also has to be thought within the dimension of whoness (cf. my 'Dialectic of Self and Other' esp. Section 4 'Heideggerian selfhood as a "shining-back" from being-in-the-world').
Secondly, Sinnerbrink makes no mention of that other left-Hegelian, Karl Marx, whose value-form analysis in the first chapter of his opus magnum, Das Kapital, is a further development of Hegel's thinking on value in the Rechtsphilosophie in conjunction with Marx's dialectical critique of Political Economy. Value, too, can only be thought through as an interplay among commodities in which they mirror each other's value, i.e. their power as exchange-value.
Thirdly, Sinnerbrink does not trace Hegel's and Marx's
sources back to Aristotle, who is a crucial thinker for both (as well as
for Heidegger, of course). In particular, Aristotle's treatment of timh/
in the fifth book on Justice in the Nicomachean Ethics is the door-opening
prototype i) for Marx's value-form analysis of commodity exchange, ii)
for Hegel's dialectic of recognition and, crucially, iii) for thinking
the ontology of social power as distinct from the traditional ontology
of productive power. Significantly, 'value' is one meaning of Greek timh/,
and timh/ conceived as value, honour, esteem
and power is constituted in a mirroring interplay among human beings (whos),
whether they be commodity-owners or simply members of civil society. What
is for Hegel a power struggle of life and death between self-consciousnesses
in the dialectic of recognition thus becomes, on further thought, the power
interplay between and among whos at the core of the sociation of society.
For more on this, see e.g. my 'Anglophone Justice
Theory, the Gainful Game and the Political Power Play'.