On the first day of a Hegel reading group a few weeks ago for his Logic, I posed some questions which I still have difficulty seeing how Hegel will ever answer. I asked how Hegel could explain the richness and specificity of subjective experience (qualia) from logic alone. I asked how Hegel could deal with the problem of other minds and with the inverted spectrum problem. I asked how Hegel would deal with what happens after death. I also asked how Hegel would explain the motion of time.
I also, before all that, asked how Hegel could really believe that there was no Kantian noumenon, but there Hegel has an answer, and it’s something along these lines: not that there is no noumenon, but if it unknowable then to all practical purposes it doesn’t exist. Which to me is not true, because it is not entirely unknowable. It is knowable precisely as that which supplies the material for our cognitions and produces our states of consciousness – but not more than that.
You must allow yourself to be defenseless, though, and let things flow in, like the river into the ocean, even if you later wish to expel it or overwhelm it or dilute it into non-existence. It is the flexible reed which can maintain its identity. It is the ocean which can maintain its identity. Whereas rigidly clinging to beliefs and immediately pummeling away all new systems of ideas which might threaten to uproot them makes one weak, unable to learn anything new, and thus cements the fragility and glass-like vulnerability of your current beliefs, the ones which ground you in the assurance of certainty.
In JN Findlay’s article “Hegel’s Philosophy of the Logic,” he writes “The Absolute Idea must not be thought of as a super-mind which always took cognizance of everything, as in Berkeleyan idealism. Absolute Idealism, for Hegel therefore swings over into absolute realism, a point reached by Hegel’s friend the predecessor Schelling. The realism in Hegel’s system is, however, Platonic rather than materialistic.”
How are the laws of the universe cognized and executed except by a thinking substance? How can you tell that in the equation “if x then y,” (which is the form of a law) that this is in fact an x? Because x is an eternal, Platonic form?
Perhaps. So everything is a Platonic form, and all determinations of all objects as such are eternal. The laws then are like computer programs, applying themselves mindlessly to the objects. The problem is that you can’t get consciousness out of this blind motion. I’m still tempted to say that you can’t even get blind motion out of it, because what after all is a law? Even if the x’s are delineated – how are they delineated? With some marking, “x”? Someone has to read the marking and realize the marking to be what it is. That has to be an awareness of some kind. The laws of the universe cannot run without consciousness.
The only exception might be is if time doesn’t exist, and everything that ever was, is, or will be is just eternally there, like objects in some frozen river, or in jelly. The problem with this theory is the problem Einstein recognized: the problem of the Now. How do you account for the experience of being right here, right now, and time flowing? If time is stored on a video tape, when is the video tape played? There’s no time for it to be played — time is on the video tape. It’s a paradox and an insurmountable problem, this frozen time theory.