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Reply To: The Child of Symbolic Disguise,” with Norland Téllez, Ph.D.”


Yes, Robert, I agree with the need to look through a microscope at the problem of discriminating partiality. And I think we should also use a telescope and look at the large-scale structure of the ideological universe of this problem. For it is the fundamental problem of ideology in mythology or the “myth of meaning.”

Of course, you are absolutely correct about the positivistic Kantian understanding of “absolute truth” not being attainable by a human being. It would be equivalent of a cognition of the thing-in-itself. Thus Kant established the phenomenal or perspectival nature of human cognition and its inability to reach the transcendent thing-in-itself. But this is not Hegel’s understanding of absolute consciousness or absolute negativity or the absolute negative dialectic of truth on the ground of the soul’s possible existence—or Existenz. The conversation between Kant and Hegel is extremely important here, since a lot of the vaunted anti-Hegelianism—from Marx, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, through Shopenhauer and Jung, is built upon a failure to understand Hegel’s Kantian critique of Kant and the inevitability of Hegel’s own conclusion, his beginning in and with dialectical negativity. This is what is uniquely traumatic about Hegel, who caused an initial reaction because he gave the impression, and rightly so, that he had gone too far. Where Kant can be shown to retreat from his own discovery, Hegel demonstrably takes it all the way home. Perhaps this background in modern Western philosophy is indispensable for understanding Giegerich and his deployment of negative dialectics in connection to the question of truth.

A subsequent Hegelian discovery is the impossibility of a truly ideologically neutral standpoint. This is included in the absolute-negative understanding of truth as a dialectical process. Absolute truth, rather than being some divine impartiality or “enlightened” transcendent insight, begins with the prima materia of our partiality, our historicity, our embeddedness in ideology and positivistic prejudices and beliefs, in other words, the sum total of everything we think we know. So in the Hegelian perspective, absolute truth is embedded in the prima materia of our prejudices and misunderstandings. This is why Giegerich believed that Hegel, not Jung, was the ultimate redeemer of alchemy. But due to Jung’s partiality for Kant and his disdain of Hegel, Jung could not see the problem of alchemy in terms of logical form or logical status—which is something entirely different from the simple dichotomy of form and content you brought up.

The “rehabilitation of prejudice” is also nicely developed by Hans-Georg Gadamer in his Philosophical Hermeneutics, for example, where it appears as a vital link in the chain of development that leads to true understanding. This is in fact an alchemico-Hegelian perspective which indicates a “determination to acknowledge the unsuspendable finitude and historicity of understanding and to exhibit the positive role [prejudices] actually play in the transmission of meaning” (xv). Again, even though this brand of existential hermeneutics passes as “anti-Hegelian”, one can show, based on a Lacanian reading of Hegel, that it is a further application of Hegelian insights into the absolute historicity of consciousness as absolute truth. This is the sentiment echoed in Hegel’s motto that the Owl of Minerva (philosophical understanding) only takes flight in the twilight of the end of an era, only after the fact.

Well there you have my cards on the table, this is the schooling I am coming from, where we basically make it a habit to be ruthlessly honest with ourselves and to lay on the table our prejudices and partialities without shame or wantonness. This is also why I initially began by trying to lay our cards on the table on that score. Although I also have a nuanced understanding of the relations between Freud and Jung, etc. I have no qualms “fessing up” my partiality for Freud. Even though when I started at PGI, I started with a partiality for Jung—like everyone else that goes there—I did end up recognizing that the real breakthrough on Freud’s side. At some point, if you really understand what is at stake, there is an unavoidable fork in the road where a decision—existentially not theoretically speaking—has to be made.

The same true, for instance, in the study of the history of philosophy. There is no philosophically neutral standpoint from which to take up the subject. For the grasping of the whole can only be done from a partial historic perspective.

We also have the same phenomenon of decidability in the realm of politics, where the game of the “centrist” already falls on the wrong—that is, on the “right” side of things. To be at the center pretty much means you’re endorsing the status quo. Or to quote Negan, a lead character from The Walking Dead, “not to make a decision is a BIG decision!” sometimes.