Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Velkley, Richard. "Review of Susan Hahn's CONTRADICTION IN MOTION." NDPR April 22, 2008.

Hahn, Songsuk Susan. Contradiction in Motion: Hegel's Organic Conception of Life and Value. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2007. Hegel famously declares that "Everything in my logic is indebted to Heraclitus" and "Everything is contradictory." Songsuk Susan Hahn's study is a thoughtful and unusual treatment of contradiction in Hegel. It illuminates crucial links between the logical, aesthetic and ethical aspects of Hegel's system, and furthermore is a welcome departure from the prevailing approach to the dialectic as the public-communal constitution and recognition of rational norms, free of ontological claims, in a kind of historicized Kantianism. Hahn observes that Hegel's concept of life is central to the Science of Logic and to the whole of the system, wherein it has undeniable ontological import. Her book, she tells the reader, began with wonder: "What does Hegel mean when he says we must regard concepts as 'living'?" (195). Through investigating the treatment of life in Hegel's Philosophy of Nature she
located the motivation for his doctrine of contradiction in the peculiar logic governing his model of organic wholes and argued that this logic entailed, not a rejection of the law wholesale, but a synthetic reconstruction of our ordinary understanding of the law in its analytic form. (196)
By thus linking the Philosophy of Nature's account of the self-contradictory character of the living to the fundamental speculative science of the Logic, and thereby to all parts of the system, Hahn seeks to construct an "organic-holistic view of nature and cognition" and to offer a new defense of Hegel's doctrine of contradiction (1). Beyond this her aim is to speak "to the timely need for a radical new way of thinking about conflict, contradiction, and conceptual incommensurability, which will explode many of our assumptions about what should count as knowledge" (198). . . . Read the rest here:

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