Book Review: The Rational Kernel of the Hegelian Dialectic


While this short book is without a doubt a very important introductory study for anyone interested in G.W.F. Hegel and his reception, especially in different places such as the 20th century France and China, it has one huge major drawback: The book itself is set into a “Badiouian” framework, and in contemporary philosophical literature there is not much to hate more than those annoying ideologists of new metaphysics disguising themselves as followers of Badiou in English language.

Thus, to even get to the basic text on Hegel, the reader is forced through a disgusting reflexive ‘Introduction’ about the minor nuances of the “Badiouian system” as it developed over the decades (as if this has anything to do with Hegel’s work itself, since we all know Badiou outside of these pages is defined by anything but being a Hegelian), and then after going through a very concise hundred pages or so of a study on Hegel and the reception of his dialectics in the 20th century, one is again forced to swallow a self-indulgent ‘Interview’ with Badiou himself, yet again written in this disgusting, arrogant, self-glamorizing way of pumping-up the importance of Badiou, as if this has anything at all to do with Hegel or his philosophy.

The stupidity of the Badiou-glamorizing ‘Introduction’ is that much greater as it states the included paper on Hegel “has no connection to the notion of truth”, while the term truth itself explicitly appears within the middle 100 pages of the book, as short as it is without the Badiouian baggage in the front and at the end.

So for anyone vaguely interested in Hegel and his dialectics, you can simply skip the sandwich parts of the book with the masturbatory ‘Introduction’ and the concluding ‘Interview’, and you’re left with a short, concise, easily readable essay on the aspects of Hegel’s thought.

This particular publication would have been a far more qualitative of a read, were it not laced in this way on both ends and would not have unecessarily burdened the reader with the Badiou-as-persona ideology so prevalent in his English reception for the past few decades.

Yet another question that arises is the one of the choice of the book’s title and its political connotations: While “the rational kernel of the Hegelian dialectic” might appear as a “red book” politically speaking, at least the introduction want’s to persuade us it is, especially with all of those references to Lenin and Mao within it, it’s worth noting this exact expression was in use in the 20th century anglo-saxon “Liberal” reception of Hegel also, see for example Pippin’s book titled ‘Hegel’s Idealism’ (which is probably the best positive example of this Liberal appropriation of Hegel).

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