Why Hegel?

Report
Hegel’s Epistemograph,
Classification, and Spivak’s
Postcolonial Reason
HOPE A OLSON
SCHOOL OF INFORMATION STUDIES
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MILWAUKEE
Concepts
 Teleology – linear progression toward a goal
 Epistemograph, “a graduated diagram of the coming-
into-being of knowledge, …”

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, A Critique of Postcolonial
Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present (1999,
p.41)
 Classification as a structure of human knowledge
 Apparent in everyday life in:
Academic disciplines
 DDC, UDC, or LCC

Why Hegel?
 Hegel “a world-historical metonym”

Spivak (1999, p.47)
 Indirect, but clear, influence on Dewey
 Hegelian faculty at Amherst College
 William Torrey Harris
St Louis Hegelian, leader in US Hegelian movement
 St Louis Public School Library Classification applied Hegel
 Wiegand (1998)

Main Classes - Epistemographs
Bacon Reason
Imagination
Memory
←
Philosophy
Poetry
History
Hegel
Idea
Essence
Being
Art (Poetry)
History
Notion
←
Harris Science (Philosophy)
Dewey 100
Phil
&
Psych
200
300
400
500
600
Rel
Soc
Sci
Lang
Nat sci Tech
& math
700
800
900
Arts
Lit
Geog &
& Rhet Hist
Progression toward a goal of higher knowledge
Baconian Links to Hegel’s Epistemograph
Bacon
Hegel
 Memory/History
 Self-experienced
knowledge
 Being (Sein)
 Imagination/Poetry
 Imagination processes
memory into poetry
 Essence (Wesen)
 Reason/Philosophy
 Reason analyzes &
classifies memory to
produce philosophy




“what is there before us”
“simple immediacy”
From reflection on Being
Mediated knowing
 Notion/Idea (Begriff)


Notion synthesizes Being
and Essence
Idea is unattainable truth
Hegel’s Dialectic as Progression
Being  +
(thesis)
Essence Becoming Notion/Idea
(antithesis )
(synthesis)
Knowledge of
what is
primary &
true based on
observation
Mediation of the
“Sublation” of
immediate through
Being &
self reflection
Essence
“negative simplicity”
Sublate =
To preserve,
maintain
To put an end to
Foundation of Hegel’s Epistemograph
 Hegel gives two definitions for “to sublate” which
“means to preserve, maintain, and equally it also
means to cause to cease, to put an end to.” (v.1, bk.1,
s.185)
 Being is preserved, but set aside as knowing
progresses to Essence and Essence is preserved, but
set aside as knowing progresses to Notion
 “Each thing arises in the course of divine selfknowledge and is a step in the revelation of God.”

William Torrey Harris on Hegel (1895, p.145)
Hegel’s Teleology
 “The progress of culture generally, and of the
sciences in particular, gradually brings to light
higher relations of thought, or at any rate,
raises these relations to greater generality, and
thereby attracts to them more attentive
consideration.”

Hegel’s Science of Logic
 Logic leads Thought to the Absolute Truth
Time as Law
 Progression implies a time factor
 Developmental model
 Progression over time through a series of predefined
stages to reach some advanced state of knowledge
 “Time graphed as Law manipulates history seen as
timing [actual lived sequence of events] in the
interest of cultural political explanations, both in
Hegel and the high Hindu contexts.” (Spivak 1999, p.
43)
Postcolonial critical approach
“Postcolonial criticism bears witness to the
unequal and uneven forces of cultural
representation involved in the contest for
political and social authority within the
modern world order. Postcolonial perspectives
... intervene in those ideological discourses of
modernity that attempt to give a hegemonic
‘normality’ to the uneven development and the
differential, often disadvantaged, histories of
nations, races, communities, peoples.” –
Homi K. Bhabha
Spivak on timing, Time, and history
 “timing” is “[o]ne common way of grasping life and
ground-level history as events happening to and
around many lives …”
 “timing” fleshes out the events making time a
“sequential process.”
 “Time” starts with the structure while “timing” starts
with the events.
 “Time graphed as Law” reshapes the events of
history to fit into a predetermined structure – an
epistemograph.”

Spivak (1999, p.44)
Hegel and the Srimadbhagavadgitā
 Hegel found the Gitā “extremely monotonous, and
on the whole empty and wearisome.”

His Lectures on the Aesthetic in Spivak 1999, p.44
 Hegel is measuring with a culturally specific
standard
 The Gitā does not fit Hegel’s epistemograph


Historical
Does not follow a progression
Spivak Deconstructs Hegel and the Gitā
 “… the often unexamined opposition between
colonizer and colonized …”

Spivak 1999, p. 46
 Both Hegel and the writer of the Gitā “dramatize
most successfully [her] thesis that Time graphed as
Law manipulates history seen as timing in the
interest of cultural political explanations …” but each
in his own way

Spivak 1999, p.43
 Difference between Hegel and the writer of the Gitā
is constructed; similarities are ignored
Hegel as Epistemic Bully
 Hegel’s Science of Logic is made up of dialectics
nested in dialectical strings that force a certain
conclusion

Like Plato’s dialectical triumph over the Sophist in Theatetus
 “… because Hegel places all of history and reality
upon a diagram, everything fits.”

Spivak, 1999, p. 39
 Hegel is operating within a western philosophical
discourse
What Does This Mean to Us?
 “The mainstream has never run clean, perhaps never
can. Part of mainstream education involves learning
to ignore this absolutely, with a sanctioned
ignorance.”

Spivak, 1999, p. 2
 If we do, we will never be able to understand more
than the mainstream with the result being ignorance
and injustice
Legacy of Hegel’s Epistemograph
 Continuation under DDC and UDC in particular
 Other classifications in the same mode
 Facets a potential tool if we subvert consistent citation order
such as UDC allows
 So far we have not subverted main classes
 Globalization spreads the western discourse
 Standards for sharing risk homogenization
 From Hegel to Harris to Dewey to the world
Efforts to ameliorate DDC and UDC are laudable, but cannot
address the fundamental mainstream nature of the schemes
 Perpetual expansion of OCLC & ubiquity of WorldCat make
dissemination saturating and instant – watch the ticker
http://www.oclc.org/worldcat/newgrow.htm

Within Western culture:
Hegel’s Gender Views
 Women associated with Being
 Particularity
 Immediacy
 Naturalness
 Substantiality
 Men associated with Essence, Notion
 Mediacy
 Universality
 Freedom
 Subjectivity

Seyla Benhabib (1996, p.29)
A Quick Example:
 The Blackwell guide to feminist philosophy (2007)
LC classified in 305.4201 social groups. role and
status of women and the women’s movement.
philosophy
 Feminist philosophy is in the social sciences – the
Notion

Not quite philosophy
 Philosophy is in the ultimate category – the Idea
How to deconstruct our classificatory practice
 Harris started by reversing the teleological sequence
 Harris and Dewey place 500 Science and 600
Technology contiguously


Pragmatic in linking the two across the Being/Essence
boundary or
Enacting the unity of Being/Essence into Becoming
 Hegel & Bacon had a rationale for the main classes
 000 General works is certainly not the Absolute Truth of the
Idea
 Is it now just a convention that we can ignore?
Should classification reinforce the mainstream?
 Classifications are founded on a particular concept of
knowledge
 May not fit a global context any better than Hegel’s
epistemograph fit Indian art
 Vital to understand our epistemic underpinnings if
we will understand our current standards and
practices
Thank you
HOPE A OLSON
[email protected]

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