Surviving One’s Own Death – “The owl of Minerva flies only at dusk.” — G.W.F. Hegel

Huge props for Malabou (‘the best book on Hegel in twenty years’) offered by Slavoj Žižek. His discussion of Malabou begins at 5’20”.

Douglas Crimp’s writings on the origin and purpose of the art museum (click), as a public institution, in 1830 in Berlin. You will recall that Crimp identifies G.W.F. Hegel as an “eminence grise” whose thought helped reconcile, through countless compromises and blurrings, the various conflicting opinions regarding the museum’s form and function.

For numerous reasons which include his own very liberal politics, Crimp takes a uncompromisingly dim view of Hegel, presenting him as a philosopher interested exclusively in the past. Indeed, Hegel’s writings inaugurate modern study of history and historiography, in particular his The Philosophy of History. The idea that history has reached its end can be found in various thinkers, Francis Fukuyama being just of of them; all owe a huge debt to Hegel. Hegel’s philosophy, as presented by Crimp, appears as a ghastly, twilight activity, one which manifests itself principally through surveying the wreckage of human endeavor. In a notorious statement, Hegel proclaims that art is dead, that it belongs to a bygone age. Hegel, according to this line of thinking, might remind us of the vampire Nosferatu. To thwart any sympathy with Hegel on the reader’s part, however, Crimp takes recourse to scatological humor, making the great philosopher appear ridiculous.

Catherine Malabou, on the other hand, belongs to a new group of philosophers who view Hegel in far more affirmative terms. For Malabou, Hegel is not interested solely in ruminating over the past, but indeed taking an active interest in creativity and the emergence of novel living and expressive forms. For this reason, Malabou names her first book – written as a doctoral dissertation – The Future of Hegel. Anyone interested in looking at a very condensed version of that document is free to download the following file. This will be blisteringly difficult reading. But so what? Give it a try.

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