Hegel for Social Movements


Hegel for Social Movements by Andy Blunden is an introduction to the reading of Hegel intended for those already active in social movements. It introduces Hegel’s ideas in a way which will be useful for those fighting for social change, and while some familiarity with philosophy would be an advantage for the reader, the main pre-requisite is a commitment to the practical pursuit of ideal aims. The book covers the whole sweep of Hegel’s writing, but focuses particularly on the Logic and Hegel’s social theory – the Philosophy of Right. Blunden brings to his exposition an original interpretation of Hegel’s Logic as the logic of social change, utilizing his expertise in Vygotsky’s cultural psychology and Soviet Activity Theory.

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Biographical Note

Andy Blunden is an Australian writer, a former editor of the journal Mind, Culture, and Activity and Secretary of the Marxists Internet Archive. He has published extensively on cultural psychology, activity theory, and social movements, promoting Hegelian approaches to Marxism.

Table of contents

List of Figures

Part 1: Introduction

1Why Hegel
 §1For Hegel, Ideas were Forms of Activity
 §2‘Thought’ Means Norms of Human Activity
 §3Hegel’s Influence on Modern Philosophy is Immense
 §4Hegel is Very Difficult to Read
 §5Plan of this Book
2The Young Hegel and What Drove Him
 §1Germany was Fragmented, and Socially and Economically Backward
 §2Hegel was a Modernist Opponent of Liberalism
 §3The Main Difference between Hegel and Marx is the Times They Lived In
 §4The “Spirit of a People” was Rooted in an Historical Form of Life
 §5 Zeitgeist Remains a Widely Accepted, if Problematic, Concept of Spirit
 §6In What Sense was Hegel an Idealist?
 §7Spirit and Material Culture
3Hegel’s Idea of Science and Philosophy
 §1The Subject Matter of Philosophy
 §2The Diversity of Philosophical Views are Parts of a Single Whole
 §3From Where to Begin?
 §4The Phenomenology and the Logic
4The Phenomenology and ‘Formations of Consciousness’
 §1How can We Conceptualise a ‘Formation of Consciousness’?
 §2How do We Conceive of a Formation of Consciousness as a Whole?
 §3What can be Called a ‘Formation of Consciousness’?
 §4The Dynamics of ‘Formations of Consciousness’ is in the Logic
 §5The Importance of the Master-Servant Narrative is Exaggerated
 §6How the Phenomenology was ‘Rediscovered’
5Hegel as Philosopher of Social Movements
 §1It is Hegel’s Logic which Makes Him the Philosopher of Social Movements
 §2Hegel Knew Emancipatory Social Movements, but No Labour Movement
 §3A Concept is a Form of Practice
 §4A Social Movement is Understood as an Entire Process of Social Change
 §5How to Read Hegel and What to Read

Part 2: The Logic

6The Subject Matter of the Logic
 §1The Logic is the Logic of Formations of Consciousness
 §2The Logic is the Foundation for a Presuppositionless Philosophy
 §3The Logic Studies the Inner Contradictions within Concepts
 §4The Problem of “Moving Concepts”
 §5The Logic Concerns Real Situations, Not Mathematical Abstractions
7The Three Divisions of the Logic: Being, Essence and Notion
 §1The Starting Point of the Logic: Being
 §2Being is the Concept In-Itself, Not yet Conscious of Itself
 §3Essence is Reflection
 §4The Notion is the Concept Conscious of Itself
 §5Being and Essence Constitute the Genesis of the Notion
 §6Each Division has a Distinct Form of Movement or Development
8The Doctrine of Being, or Ontology
 §1“Being is the Absolute” Marks the Beginning of Philosophy
 §2Being, Nothing and Determinate Being
 §3Quality, Quantity and Measure
 §4In the Sphere of Being it’s Just One Damn Thing After Another
 §5Social Movements Do Not Exist Until They Realise It
9The Doctrine of Essence: Mediation or the Truth of Being
 §1Identity, Difference, Diversity, Opposition, Contradiction and Ground
 §2The Thing: The Dialectic of Matter and Form
 §3Appearance: The Dialectic of Content and Form
 §4Actuality: The Dialectic of Cause and Effect, Reciprocity
 §5Development is the Struggle of Opposites Which do not Disappear
10The Subjective Notion: Universal, Individual and Particular
 §1The Whole is Reconstructed by Rising from the Abstract to Concrete
 §2The Subject is What is Active
 §3The Subject is the Truth of Being and Essence
 §4The Concept is the Identity of the Individual, Universal and Particular
 §5The Judgments are Logical Representations of Unmediated Actions
 §6Each Moment Mediates between the Other Two
11Subject, Object and Idea
 §1The Subject Develops from Abstract to Concrete
 §2The Three Phases of Objectification: Mechanism, Chemism and Organism
 §3The Idea is the Unity of Life and Cognition
 §4Hegel Overcomes the Individual/Society Dichotomy
 §5Spirit is Both Substance and Subject
Hegel’s Theory of Action, Part 1: Teleology
12The Subject and Culture: Logic and Ontology
 §1Dichotomy is a Problem in the History of Philosophy
 §2Hegel has Overcome the Mind-Matter Dichotomy with Logic
 §3The Logic Offers a Basis for Interdisciplinary Research
 §4Everything is Both Immediate and Mediated
 §5Normativity, Attributes and the Idea
 §6Hegel and Deconstruction
 §7Is Hegel’s Logic a Monologue?
 §8Brief Outline of Philosophy of Nature
 §9Einstein Confirmed Hegel’s Approach to Mechanics

Part 3: The Philosophy of Right

13Subjective Spirit
 §1Subjective Spirit, Objective Spirit and Absolute Spirit
 §2Psyche, Consciousness and Intellect
 §3The Forms of Movement in Subjective Spirit
 §4A Contradiction within Subjective Spirit Gives Rise to Objective Spirit
14Social Science as Hegel Saw It
 §1Hegel Unfolds Social Theory from the Concept of ‘Right’
 §2Right may not be True to its Concept
 §3Concepts have an Inherent Tendency Towards ‘Perfecting Themselves’
 §4What is Rational is Real and What is Real is Rational
 §5Philosophy cannot Teach the State What it should Be
 §6Here is the Rose in the Cross, Now Jump!
 §7The Owl of Minerva Takes Flight at Dusk
Hegel’s Theory of Action, Part 2: The Free Will
15The Three Parts of The Philosophy of Right : Right, Morality and Ethical Life
 §1Right, Morality and Ethics
 §2Hegel Rejected the Individualism of Kant’s Moral Philosophy
 §3Hegel Rationalised the Paternalistic Family
 §4The Family, Civil Society and the State
 §5Hegel’s Critique of Rousseau on the State
 §6Logic and History
 §7The State in Germany and Europe in Hegel’s Times
16Abstract Right
 §1The Right to Property is Necessary to Being a Person
 §2Contract and Exchange
 §3The Form of Movement in Abstract Right
Hegel’s Theory of Action, Part 3: Purpose, Intention and the Good
 §1Conscience and Duty, Good and Evil
 §2Hegel’s Morality and Present-day Issues in Moral Philosophy
 §3Civil Disobedience
 §4Ends Justify the Means?
 §5The Right of Heroes
18Ethical Life
 §1Ethical Life is the Idea of Freedom in the Existing World
 §2The Family is the Unit of Ethical Life
 §3Civil Society is the Self-governing World of Particular Interests
 §4The System of Needs and Labour is the Essence of Ethical Life
 §5Hegel Debunks Successive Solutions to the Capitalist Crisis
 §6The Classes of Civil Society: the Rich ‘Lead’ the Poor
 §7The Public Authorities are Part of Civil Society, not the State
 §8The Corporations
19The State
 §1The State is the March of God on Earth
 §2The Crown
 §3The Executive, the Civil Service and the Public Authorities
 §4The Legislature, the Estates and the Classes of Civil Society
 §5The Young Marx vs. Hegel on the State
20Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right
 §1You, Marx and Hegel on the State
 §2Civil Disobedience is No Crime
 §3Human Rights, Abstract Right and Ethical Life
 §4Universal Suffrage and Participatory Democracy

Part 4: Conclusions

21Marx’s Capital and Hegel’s Logic
 §1Turning Hegel on His Head
 §2Goethe, Hegel and Marx
22Soviet Psychology
 §1Vygotsky, Concepts and Artefact-mediated Actions
 §2A.N. Leontyev on Activities
23Once Again: Hegel for Social Movements
 §1Collaborative Projects

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