“Soludo and Hegel’s theory” (Dick Whyte)

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………………..silverfish…
………………..Hegel’s argument
………………..full of holes

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Headlines:

“Soludo and Hegel’s theory” (The Guardian)

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Poem by Dick Whyte (see editor biographies). Read more by this poet. Note: A silverfish is a small, wingless insect, sometimes called a “mothfish” or a “paramite.” They burrow into books and slowly eat through the pages. Georg Hegel (1770-1831), on the other hand, is a well known German philosopher.

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^ 9 Comments...

  1. Janet

    a clever and snappy poem.

  2. Dick Whyte

    Thanks Janet.

    :)

  3. Chen-ou Liu

    Hi! Dick,

    This haiku is clever. Maybe too clever.

    The concluding line has at least two readings:

    1) The laborious work done by silverfish

    2) the authorial comment on Hegel’s teleological philosophy of history.

    I imagine Hegel would respond to your comment with his own words:

    “One more word about giving instruction as to what the world ought to be. Philosophy in any case always comes on the scene too late to give it… When philosophy paints its gray in gray, then has a shape of life grown old. By philosophy’s gray in gray it cannot be rejuvenated but only understood. The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk.”

    The last sentence could be written as something like Basho’s ever-famous crow haiku.

    Just some thoughts.

    Chen-ou

  4. Chen-ou Liu

    “I imagine Hegel would respond to your comment with his own words”

    And to the interpretation made by the author of Soludo and Hegel’s theory.

    Chen-ou

  5. Dick Whyte

    Hey Chen-ou,

    I dunno – I mean, I think I would say to Hegel: “You need to lighten up – it’s a senryu.” I mean, I respect Hegel and all, but I will take the piss out of him because he was over serious a lot of the time. He needs a little humility. The poem can only be “clever” because Hegel was clever too – I mean, I am exchanging a sly wink and a nod with Hegel I hope. A mature philosopher should be able to laugh at themselves is all I mean.

    As for the Soludu use of Hegel, it is really Marx they are applying, but through Hegel’s theory. But, having said that, I am not a ‘believer’ in dialectical materialism anyway. I am more interested in dialogical materialism (and even then – the word materialism bothers me cause it ignores the mental, which was so important to Hegel). I love the last sentence you quoted (in terms of haiku). Beautiful!

    the owl of Minerva
    spreading its wings…
    dusk falls

    Nice one. Any thoughts on the Hegel situation?? I am glad to be having these philosophical conversations. They interest me very much.

  6. Bill Kenney

    We have so many books that I may consider praying for silverfish. Do they work fast?

    If Hegel is thesis and silverfish is antithesis, what would the synthesis be?

  7. Dick Whyte

    Nah – they work pretty slow unfortunately.

    Hmmmm… if Hegel is the thesis and silverfish the antithesis, what is the synthesis? A great question. Can anyone else answer this? I have an idea of a way to solve the problem but I wanted to open it up to the panel first…

  8. Chen-ou LIu

    Dick, your response is Clever, All Too Clever!

    It is the double articulation of Bakhtinian “dialogic” — on a literary axis opposed to the monologic, on a philosophical axis opposed to the dialectic.

    “I am more interested in dialogical materialism (and even then – the word materialism bothers me cause it ignores the mental, which was so important to Hegel).”

    “Let us provisionally say just this much in advance: Hegel’s standpoint is that of modern political economy. [47] He grasps labour as the essence of man – as man’s essence which stands the test: he sees only the positive, not the negative side of labour. Labour is man’s coming-to-be for himself within alienation, or as alienated man. The only labour which Hegel knows and recognises is abstractly mental labour. Therefore, that which constitutes the essence of philosophy – the alienation of man who knows himself, or alienated science thinking itself – Hegel grasps as its essence; and in contradistinction to previous philosophy he is therefore able to combine its separate aspects, and to present his philosophy as the philosophy. What the other philosophers did – that they grasped separate phases of nature and of abstract self-consciousness, namely, of human life as phases of self-consciousness – is known to Hegel as the doings of philosophy. Hence his science is absolute.”

    Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy in General, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 by Karl Marx

    “but I will take the piss out of him because he was over serious a lot of the time. He needs a little humility.”

    One of the characteristics of the German philosophers, surely including Hegel, is their totalizing way of thinking embodied in the highly systematic body of thought.

    Everything should be taken seriously.

    Dick, I love your haiku.

  9. Robyn E. Kenealy

    What I am especially fond of in the poem is the knowledge that, regardless of accuracy, regardless of answers, all things must pass. In the sense that any philosopher’s answer can only be held in relation to the things that philosopher considers. Whether this is because there can’t be an all encompasing philosophy I don’t know, but I do like the relationship between Chen-ou Llu’s first point of reading, (“1) The laborious work done by silverfish”) and the materialism of physical living/eating/survival as related to labour, and then the relationship to the fact that we are, no matter our accomplishments, equally so much dust.

    ps: The synthesis is silverfish faeces? Which then feeds back into the eco system…?

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