05 October 2007

"Into all that becomes something inward for man, language has penetrated"

Hegel's Science of Logic, § 14:

The forms of thought are, in the first instance, displayed and stored as human language. Nowadays we cannot be too often reminded that it is thinking which distinguishes man from the beasts. Into all that becomes something inward for men, an image or conception as such, into all that he makes his own, language has penetrated, and everything that he has transformed into language and expresses in it contains a category-concealed, mixed with other forms or clearly determined as such, so much is Logic his natural element, indeed his own peculiar nature. If nature as such, as the physical world, is contrasted with the spiritual sphere, then logic must certainly be said to be the supernatural element which permeates every relationship of man to nature, his sensation, intuition, desire, need, instinct, and simply by so doing transforms it into something human, even though only formally human, into ideas and purposes.
I think it's easy to see what McDowell finds attractive in Hegel from passages like this; the only bit that looks a bit dated to me is the claim that categories are "concealed" in everyday language, and even that's still not a ridiculous way to talk. A good bit of this paragraph could've been taken straight from Mind and World.

I know Brandom makes a big deal about f this paragraph somewhere; I think it was his "Kantian Lessons about Mind, Meaning, and Reality" lecture. It is a very good paragraph. Good enough to warrant a post to highlight it, I think.

(I clipped the wonkier end parts of the paragraph, since it's a bit long. I actually had a page or so commenting on them, which I was going to use for another post, but I deleted it on accident. Oops.)

(a side note: I had not included Ben Wolfson's site in my blogroll. This was an oversight, and has been corrected. A lot of the time I have no idea what the hell he's talking about, but he's worth reading for the other times.
The fact that he called me a "fine entity" recently is totally irrelevant; I had meant to add him before then. Really.)

No comments: