The State of Contradiction
Emancipation After Hegel argues that Hegel’s philosophy as a whole has not been properly received; the essential place of contradiction in his thought has been obscured partly by Hegel’s own counterintuitive positions on totality, reason, and the state, and partly by knee-jerk reactions to those positions. Hegel should be reclaimed as a truly revolutionary thinker because the movement of contradiction in his thought, and the account of the ontological character of contradiction he offers, open onto a more robust political theory of contradiction than even that of Marx (who of course famously critiqued Hegel’s conservatism), or of numerous 20th century philosophers (who habitually denounce Hegel’s system). Under Todd McGowan’s lens, Hegel theorizes being itself as contradiction, identifies contradiction as the motor of history, and arrives at his counter-intuitions by way of his commitment to contradiction. This ontology and its attendant epistemology offer significant political insights and imperatives; McGowan’s is not an exercise in scholasticism, correcting misinterpretations of sacred 19th century texts, so much as a prolegomena for emancipatory theory in the present, projecting political formations that more adequately accommodate the being of contradiction. If the political calamities of the 20th century, from imperial war to Nazism to fascistic late capitalism, share logics of resistance to contradiction, McGowan wields Hegel’s dialectic as incitement to different logics. In our 21st century, such other logics take on dire urgency, since all hitherto existing contradictions cower in the humid shadow of capitalogenic ecocide.
- Journal Articles