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The Devil's Logic

30th Av, 5767

The Devil's Logic

Pragmatism and the Hegelian Dialectic

by John J. Parsons

The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk.
G.W.F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Mind (1807)

It's been said that modern politics operates on the basis of the so-called "Hegelian Dialectic," a method of social engineering based on a rather dismal theory about how precious little people can actually know. This theory can be easily traced to the "critical philosophy" of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), who taught that the human mind cannot transcend itself in order to apprehend ultimate reality. There are limits or boundaries to the mind's ability to discover "things in themselves," and at best we are left with methods (or paradigms) by which we "manage appearances."

Immanuel  Kant (Encyclopædia Britannica)

Even hard sciences, such as physics, can only deal with the phenomenal realm of life.  The inner working of reality — the "noumenal" — is sealed off as essentially unknowable. We are left only with postulates, hypothetical constructs, models, etc., but knowledge is essentially constrained by fundamental structures of consciousness (e.g., the categories of space and time) from which we interpret any possible experience.

Instead of accepting the limits of the human mind that Kant outlined (the "antinomies of reason"), G.W. Hegel (1770-1831) went on to claim that the mind itself is its own endpoint, and therefore the interplay of ideas is itself ultimate reality. In other words, Hegel was an "idealist," by which is meant that he considered ideas to be the substrata of reality. The phenomenal realm is the product of the mind, after all, and therefore it is the very thing Kant said could not be known — i.e., the noumenal.

According to Hegel, ideas are not static things, like rocks or tables. Instead, they express themselves as part of a larger "thesis" in an ongoing historical process of refinement and change.  Ideas are therefore not merely personal states of mind, but are embedded in a historical/economic context that highly conditions their meaning.  Even logic itself is subject to change, being subject to the underlying "spirit of the age" (Zeitgeist).

It's vital to understand that Hegel's theory of truth was not based on a classical representational model, i.e., the view that a proposition is true if and only if it obtains in reality. No, according to Hegel, since reality itself is dynamic and changing, the usual subject-predicate distinctions necessarily have to be qualified. The binary view that a well-formed, meaningful and factual proposition must necessarily be either true or false (either p or ~p is necessarily true for statements of fact) was rejected for a "triadic" formula that claimed that a proposition (p) conflicts with its opposite (~p), which is resolved into (p'), a "higher" truth (synthesis) that "mediates" and "resolves" the truth of both p and ~p.  (This process continues, so that (p') later conflicts with (~p'), resolving into (p"), and so on ad infinitum, ad nauseaum.)

Hegel, Dialectic, Marx

Hegel's "dialectical method" of reasoning was therefore founded on the syncretistic idea that conflict and resolution is the way of "truth."  Note that there are no "absolutes" (apart from murky metaphysical abstractions Hegel calls "Being" and "Non-Being" with the synthesis of "Becoming" or Absolute Spirit). There is no absolute moral authority (such as the Judeo-Christian God) or categorical imperatives that are non-negotiables in life (e.g., "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not commit incest," and so on). According to Hegel (and his followers) current everyday "reality" is a fluid process that can be "directed" through various techniques of social manipulation (e.g., propaganda, disinformation, rewriting history etc.).   By means of social engineering using the "Hegelian Dialectic," history may be manipulated to move "onward and upward to perfection" (this is called the "realization of Spirit" by Hegel, or the quest for "Freedom").   If you can control the conflict (e.g., "terrorism" vs. "freedom"), you can dominate and control the outcome.

The utopian vision of a better "world" obtained through the schemes of Hegelian politicians is a nightmare in disguise. Indeed, it is perhaps the underlying basis and justification for all the pragmatism that lies behind political expediency in the world. Courtesy of this philosophy, tyranny is made justifiable, as is torture, disinformation, propaganda, fascist control, revisionist history, terrorism, and the bloody adventures of government leaders the world over.  All these techniques are considered "noble lies" served up for the sake of the "greater good" of humanity and for the realization of the utopian world to come…. Marx (and his communist followers), Nietzsche, and Hitler (y'sh) were all devotees of this abominable and execrable dogma.

Victims of the Sickness

Such deception and wickedness is utterly appalling, and yet this is the standard operating procedure of our plutocratic politicians today.  Hence the USA can preemptively attack nations it deems a threat, killing and displacing millions, all in the name of a supposed good for humanity. Using the dubious catalyst of 9-11, US politicians can enact "Patriot Act" legislation, justify wiretapping its citizens (i.e., spying), repealing the Bill of Rights (including habeas corpus), and otherwise enforcing fascist control over people, paradoxically in the name of "freedom" and a supposed "liberty and justice for all."

The Hegelian Dialectic is what I call "the devil's logic," based as it is on compromise, calling evil good and good evil, hissing out a seductive appeal to a supposed "higher synethesis" of esoteric knowledge, claiming superiority to the commonsense truth claims of experience, justifying human atrocities, barbarity, callous pragmatism, and even cold-blooded murder for the sake of power and control. It's the prevailing dogma of the princes of this world, and it is at work in the halls of power today.

If Rene Descartes was the first "modern" philosopher, then Immanuel Kant was the first "postmodern" philosopher. Hegel, Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, John Dewey, Foucault, etc., all owe their thinking to Immanuel Kant. Indeed, all modern dictators and tyrants have practiced the dubious ideology of pragmatism, seeking to terrorize people and perform acts of atrocity for the sake of a supposed "collective good." 

The LORD is called the God of Truth (אֵל אֱמֶת), and Jesus our Messiah testified before Pontius Pilate: "For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world -- to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice" (John 18:37). Because false teachers abound in the world, each of us is obligated to test (δοκιμάζω, lit. "determine if a metal is pure") the thinking of others to see if they are truly children of God (1 John 4:1). We must test truth claims. When confronted by false teaching, we are called to "earnestly contend for" (ἐπαγωνίζομαι, lit. "wrestle over") the truth of the faith (Jude 1:3). That's our response to untruth. On the other hand, we are commanded to "always be ready" to provide a reason (λόγος) for the hope that is within us (1 Pet. 3:5). That's the call to be a witness to the truth... (For more on this, see Teshuvah of the Mind).

Since the human mind necessarily must make distinctions to function intelligibly, it is psychologically impossible for us not to make various judgments in our daily lives. In effect, every day we make decisions regarding good and evil, and therefore every day we are deciding what we love and what we hate. The issue is not whether we love or whether we hate, but what we love and what we hate.

יִרְאַת יְהוָה שְׂנאת רָע
 גֵּאָה וְגָאוֹן וְדֶרֶךְ רָע
 וּפִי תַהְפֻּכוֹת שָׂנֵאתִי

yir·at · Adonai · se·not · ra,
ge·ah · ve·ga·on · ve·de·rekh · ra
u·fi · tah·pu·khot · sa·nei·ti

"The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil.
 Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
 and perverted speech I hate."
(Prov. 8:13)


The Scriptures do not play fast and loose on this issue. Despite the world system that spuriously claims that values are "relative" and a matter of mere preference, the Spirit of Truth cries out: "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight" (Isa. 5:20-21).

הוֹי הָאמְרִים לָרַע טוֹב וְלַטּוֹב רָע
 שָׂמִים חשֶׁךְ לְאוֹר וְאוֹר לְחשֶׁךְ
 שָׂמִים מַר לְמָתוֹק וּמָתוֹק לְמָר
 הוֹי חֲכָמִים בְּעֵינֵיהֶם
 וְנֶגֶד פְּנֵיהֶם נְבנִים

hoy · ha-om·rim · la·ra · tov · ve·la·tov · ra,
sa·mim · cho·shekh · le·or · ve·or · le·cho·shekh,
sa·mim · mar · le·ma·tok · u·ma·tok · le·mar;
hoy · cha·kha·mim · be·ei·ne·hem
ve·ne·ged · pe·ne·hem · ne·vo·nim

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,
who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
and shrewd in their own sight."
(Isa. 5:20-21)

"There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers" (Prov. 6:16-19). ‎"I hate and abhor lying, but I love Your law" (Psalm 119:163).

We need to test ourselves. If your opposition to evil seems to be growing weak, it may be a sign that your love for God is growing weak as well... It is never wrong to abhor evil, and indeed, the wicked are identified precisely as those who refuse to do this very thing, because inwardly they love darkness and desire the supposed "liberty" to define what is good in their own terms. The Torah, however, makes a direct connection between hating others and being indifferent regarding their spiritual well-being: "You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly (i.e., reprove, argue, rebuke, judge, challenge) your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him... You shall love neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD" (Lev. 19:17-18). If you really love your neighbor, you will care enough to encourage him turn to God for life and healing.

Again, the issue here is not whether we love or whether we hate, but what we love and what we hate. Pride is the essence of sin because it claims to be able to define good in reference to the selfish ego alone, refusing to acknowledge transcendental moral authority. Yeshua, however, gave us spiritual contraries: "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" (Matt. 6:24).

Contrary to the philosophy of this fallen world, it is the essence of love to hate what is evil; just as it is hateful to be "tolerant" of what is wicked... Followers of Yeshua are called to love the truth and abhor the lie. Tolerating sin in a world ripe for judgment is a tacit form of "collaboration" with the enemy... Indeed, the only thing regarded as intolerable in the devil's world is the objection that people have a supposed "liberty" to sin. But the LORD is clear on this point: those who call evil good and good evil are as good as dead... Therefore we are enjoined: "O you who love the LORD, hate evil" (Psalm 97:10). Yes, hate what is evil and love what is good (Amos 5:15). The connection between loving God and hating evil is repeated in the New Testament: "Let your love be genuine (ἀνυπόκριτος, without a "mask" put on): abhor what is evil; cling to what is good (Rom. 12:9). If we truly love the LORD, let us walk in the awe of His great Name by hating what is evil....

May the LORD God of Truth give you wisdom as you consider these things. And as we recite during the Passover Seder during the Hallel: Brukhim atem ladonai, oseh shamayim va'aretz: "May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth!" (Psalm 115:15).

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