Saturday, September 13, 2014

For Hegel, it's clearly quid est, not just an est

"In the Christian religion God has revealed Himself, that is, He has given us to understand what He is [(was er ist)]; so that He is no longer a concealed or secret existence [(ein Verschlossenes, Geheimnis)].  And this possibility of knowing Him, thus afforded us, renders such knowledge a duty. . . . That development of the thinking spirit, which has resulted from the revelation of the Divine Being as its original basis, must ultimately advance to the intellectual comprehension [(auch mit dem Gedanken zu erfassen)] of what was presented in the first instance, to feeling and imagination.  The time must eventually come for understanding that rich product of active reason, which the history of the world [(Weltgeschichte), which 'universal history' (Weltgeschichte)] offers to us."

     Hegel, Philosophy of history, Introduction III, trans. J. Sibree (GBWW, vol. 46, p. 159); ed. Karl Hegel, pp. 19-20.
     It should be noted that this entire section is, like the preceding one on the doctrine of providence, anti-classical.  Hegel explicitly rejects the "the doctrine that it is impossible to know God" ("was [Gott] ist"), for readily available to us is the "reason" that "governs and has governed the world", Spirit becoming conscious of itself via world history.
     There is no emphasis in the original.

Et si omnes ego non | Etiam si omnes ego non | Etiamsi omnes ego non

Even if all [others], not I.

et si omnes scandalizati fuerint sed non ego (Mk 14:29).
et si omnes scandalizati fuerint in te ego numquam scandalizabor (Mt 26:33).

     "The crucial scene in Fest's childhood memoir is his father's lesson to his two eldest sons.  He told them to write down a Latin motto from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, and to commit it to memory:  'Etiam si omnesego non!'Even if all others . . . not I!  Fest does not mention this, but a variant of these words was written on the house of Philipp von Boeselager, one of the officers who plotted to kill Hitler in July 1944.  He, too, was a pious Catholic."

     Ian Buruma, "A very superior German liberal," reviewing  Not I:  memoirs of a German childhood, by Joachim Fest.  New York review of books 61, no. 13 (August 14, 2014):  68 (67-68).
     Contra Buruma and others, it is closer to Mark than Matthew.
     It's a great motto, and one to which Johannes Fest (!) and Philipp von Boeselager did live up, but Buruma gives no indication that either he or anyone else noticed the irony.  It's a fantastic motto, but one that (given both the Lord's response and Peter's subsequent capitulation) I would be afraid to make my own.

"'in the life of every man, late or soon, there is a moment when he knows beyond whatever else he might understand, and whether he can articulate the knowledge or not, the terrifying fact that he is alone, and separate, and that he can be no other than the poor thing that is himself.'"

     Octavius Caesar to Nicolaus of Damascus, 10 August A.D. 14, as imagined by John Williams;Augustus, Book III ((New York:  New York Review of Books, 2015 [1971]), 293).  

Friday, September 12, 2014

"somehow the remembrance of the dead is easier when the numbers are not round, when the final digit is not a zero."

     "Cultures of memory are organized by round numbers, intervals of ten; but somehow the remembrance of the dead is easier when the numbers are not round, when the final digit is not a zero. So within the Holocaust, it is perhaps easier to think of 780,863 different people at Treblinka: where the three at the end might be Tamara and Itta Willenberg, whose clothes clung together after they were gassed, and Ruth Dorfmann, who was able to cry with the man who cut her hair before she entered the gas chamber. Or it might be easier to imagine the one person at the end of the 33,761 Jews shot at Babi Yar: Dina Pronicheva's mother, let us say, although in fact every single Jew killed there could be that one, must be that one, is that one. . . .
     "Each of the 681,692 people shot in Stalin's Great Terror of 1937-1938 had a different life story: the two at the end might be Maria Juriewicz and StanisÅ‚aw Wyganowski, the wife and husband reunited 'under the ground.' Each of the 21,892 Polish prisoners of war shot by the NKVD in 1940 was in the midst of life. The two at the end might be DobiesÅ‚aw Jakubowicz, the father who dreamed about his daughter, and Adam Solski, the husband who wrote of his wedding ring on the day that the bullet entered his brain.
     "The Nazi and Soviet regimes turned people into numbers, some of which we can only estimate, some of which we can reconstruct with fair precision. It is for us as scholars to seek these numbers and to put them into perspective. It is for us as humanists to turn the numbers back into people. If we cannot do that, then Hitler and Stalin have shaped not only our world, but our humanity."

     Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands:  Europe between Hitler and Stalin (New York:  Basic Books, 2010), 407-408.
     What's nice about this passage (which I have not reproduced in full) is that Snyder finds a way to deal with the round-figure estimates, too.