HEGEL – Our Contemporary?

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How Hegel separated me from Prigogine

At the beginning of the ’80, I had the privilege to meet I. R. Prigogine, firstly through articles and letters between Brussels and Brasov, and afterwards through direct personal contact, which has decisively helped me to understand some ( not all ! ) of the defining features of contemporary knowledge.  The main aspects that I have immediately benefited from ( being named by some of my colleagues as “ Romanian Prigogine ” ) dealt with:

the new methodological status of the system’s genesis and of contemporary knowledge in general;

– activation of the surrounding medium  and the role of nonlinear interactions ( intra – and intersystemic ) in organization and self-organization of the systems, in introducing and legitimating of the global approach ( inseparability).

Here is how  Prigogine has defined the role of nonlinearity: “ Nonlinear relationships and their crucial role has been from now well understood by physicists, they being omnipresent and susceptible to replace local viewpoints with global visions.” Our cooperation has been marked by publication of some studies dedicated to clarifying some of the above mentioned problems.  To illustrate I will quote from a methodological dialogue Felecan – Prigogine published in Romania ( journal Magazin, no. 18, April 30th 1988 ):

FF: Can it be stated that just lately and in strong correlation with the intense organizational coupling system / environment (nonlinear situation), the genesis of systems as systems can be effectively modeled and not just introduced by initial conditions – classical case? In other words: due to nonlinearity the general theory of genesis became a concrete potentiality?

IP: Yes, what we call here “ the general theory of genesis ” is presently found closer than before to science’s attainment.

Unfortunately, our different philosophical positions have soon blocked this cooperation: for Prigogine, Hegel represented one “ eminent example of dialectical thinking ”, that, even presently, is keeping unaltered its methodological value while for me the  work of the great German philosopher (whose pertinence I considered myself indisputable but only within modern knowledge ) meantime had become a hindrance in the development of contemporary thinking. For instance, the Hegelian synthesis seemed to me abstract in three ways ( therefore potentially generating of confusions, hyper simplifications and reductionism ):

  • Through exclusively engaging of contraries ( omitting contradictories – ontological basis of synthesis with harmonizator );
  • Considering just the struggle ( opposition, conflict ), which C. NOICA justly stated that it only represents the beginning of organization;
  • Not considering the reals as being susceptible of modal opening, toward possible ( Hegel treating ” possible / possibility ” as an empty category ), determined that the entire Hegelian philosophy to be incompatible with the genuine living thing.

My preference for our contemporary M. HEIDEGGER who ( following the Danish school of philosophy: KIERKEGAARD, HOFFDING ) has constantly asserted that genuine being is guaranteed by its persistence into possible, respectively by its ability to perform essential effective choices /selections, has been appreciated by Prigogine as unconvincing, disputable. This separation, even though it has psychologically marked me, has accelerated my orientation toward some alternative methodological solutions, searching and finding valid candidates for the genuine genesis mechanism in the decoherence model / theory ( ZEH, ZUREK ), for the activation of possible ( new quantum mechanics ), for recognizing of stochasticity as an essential systemic property (catastrophe theory). It is well known that in the Hegelian conception the role of chance was marginalized, well exemplified by the following elegant but false phrase “ chance is necessary because it has a reason, and is not necessary because it has an extrinsic reason ”; since this position has fed the methodological superficiality of several generations of researchers, I did consider that the theory of catastrophes has a major philosophical relevance, being critical for what I sometime ago called stochasticity internalization – a non-classical defining concept for contemporary knowledge, concept / model which provides a ( positive! ) response to a crucial question, apparently paradoxical: it is possible that a strict determinist process to be CONCOMITANTLY stochastic?

In this non-Cartesian context (the existence of some processes concomitantly determinist and stochastic flagrantly violating the Cartesian criterion, sometime infallible, of some clear and distinct ideas) an interesting moment: in 1987, being an active participant in the World Congress of Logic and Methodology of Science, Moscow, I had the opportunity to personally meet the Russian mathematician V.I. ARNOLD – one of the main promoters of catastrophe theory ( with whom I had a short discussion about the methodological specific of the catastrophe theory ).  With the following  excerpt from the Russian work ” Catastrophe Theory ”  by professor Arnold, 1981, p. 22,  it is shortly and convincingly explained the significance of the “ stochasticity internalization ”, idea that Hegel, in a historically  justified  way, did not have access to :

“ 10 years ago any technician / researcher who was to uncover, let’s say, in a chemical reaction some complex non-periodic oscillations, would refuse to study them, considering them as experimental impurities due to some external stochastic actions, etc. Presently, it is clear to many that these complex oscillations can be solidary with the essence of things itself, being determined by the fundamental equations of the phenomenon: they can and should be studied together with the stationary or periodical regimens  of process flow.”

Thanks, Vladimir Igorevich!

One Response to “HEGEL – Our Contemporary?”

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