An unintended irony in that title, I think. Inspired by a combination of factors – NP and Mikhail’s posts, a bit of boredom and restlessness, and a bit of sleeplessness – I read the first preface to Hegel’s Science of Logic. I’m not sure I’ll make it the whole way through. Actually, I’m pretty sure I won’t. I was in a reading group for a year on the shorter logic in Chicago. We met once a week with very few interruptions. I read the whole book, and damned if I knew what I’d read at the end. *sigh*

In any case – a few scattered comments.

One, I like Hegel’s association of metaphysics with religion. I like that as a way to hassle folk I like with their attention to ontology and all that Deleuzian stuff. I also like the rhetoric this allows – Hegel saw metaphysics going away in his era, why resurrect it? you want to be a throwback?!

Two, I expect that Hegel is not a fan or uncritically a fan of the liquidating impulse which he sees in his era. In paragraph four he writes “That one learns from logic how to think (the usefulness of logic and hence its purpose, were held to consist in this — just as if one could only learn how to digest and move about by studying anatomy and physiology) this prejudice has long since vanished, and the spirit of practicality certainly did not intend for logic a better fate than was suffered by the sister science.”

I like this spirit of practicality with its hacking and burning and salting the earth across culture – deflate, deflate, that is Moses and the prophets. (This reminds me, I never have finished Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations and I should. Despite not having finished it, I associate a certain sensibility with Wittgenstein here, I think from having read Rorty on Wittgenstein, along the lines of this “spirit of practicality” – philosophy is a sign of something breaking down, of getting entangled someplace; the positive work to be done philosophically is therapeautic – to free oneself from the need for philosophy.) I expect Hegel doesn’t like it so much. We shall see.

I also like his point in this paragraph that logic does not teach one to think. After all, if that were the case, how would anyone learn logic in the first place? Learning logic requires thought, even if logic teaches one to think better (I imagine Hegel would agree on this?). Just as anatomy and physiology presume the capacities for digestion and motion (or the things that make those possible). I’m under the impression that part of Hegel’s project is a presuppositionless and self-grounding philosophy. I wonder how these outside/prior elements will fit within that project (or perhaps I’m wrong to characterize the project that way).