Friday, 6 April 2012

A Note to Friends and Readers

That the posts on this blog have become spotty and less frequent goes without saying. That is because it has become impossible for Nasser to write, if you take “impossible” in its practical and not literal sense.

The fourth and final volume of Speculative Capital is just one impediment. Nasser is determined to complete the manuscript this year. But the manuscript keeps changing. Nasser says that is indicative of a dialectical process. That may be. But rewrites take time, leaving little room for much else.

I realized it was time to take the subject head on after three more translations of Hegel’s Logic arrived at our doorsteps. One was the 700+ page The Science of Logic from Cambridge University, translated by Prof. George di Giovanni of McGill. His opening sentence in the translator’s 70-page introduction says: “Writing an introduction to a translation of Hegel’s Logic is an even more formidable task than the translation itself”. You get the idea.

The other was Henry Stuart Marcan’s 1912 book with the friendly title Doctrine of Formal Logic, Being a Translation of the First Section of the Subjunctive Logic. More than a third of the book’s 300 pages is the translator’s introduction.

The third book was Hegel: Three Studies, translated by Shierry Nicholsen from Theodor Adorno’s 1963 book in German. Adorno writes:
The way in which Hegel’s great systematic works, especially the Science of Logic, resist understanding are qualitatively different from those of other infamous texts. With Hegel the task is not to simply ascertain, through intellectual effort and careful examination of the wording, a meaning of whose existence one has no doubt. Rather, at many points the meaning itself is uncertain, and no hermeneutic art has yet established it indisputably.
No one who reads these books on the sideline and during breaks from his other responsibilities will have much free time. Adab– that Farsi word for politeness, concern and respect – demanded that the blog’s friends and readers were informed.

Why, you may ask, this bookish interest in Hegel from a student of economics/finance in the midst of an economic/financial crisis?

Hegel’s dialectics is the account of the movement of thought in search of Truth. Do not be alarmed by that word. It has a technical meaning that will become clear in Vol. 4. The point is that the compulsion of thought constantly drives the mind to higher phases in search of more satisfying answers. In practical terms, that means going to the root of the problems. And that is the aim of Vol. 4: to go to the root of the problems in economics and finance, beyond incidental tales of events and characters. Hence, the need for the author to master Hegel.

But I must warn you against drawing conclusions about the readability of Vol. 4 by “associating” it with Hegel’s “infamous” texts.

Hegel wrote that “self-consciousness achieves its satisfaction only in another self-consciousness”. The “other” of Hegel’s western philosophy is Jalaludin Rumi’s Eastern philosophy. Hegel’s Western scholars are deprived of the “other”, hence their confusion and difficulties in reading him. Nasser knows them both and thus, indisputably. That translates to a penetration of thought and clarity of writing that is unparalleled.

As proof of that assertion and as a prelude to the book’s release, I have decided to adopt ideas from the manuscript and present them in a new blog called Dialectics of Social Change. I do not have Nasser’s encyclopedic knowledge in economics, finance and politics. But I know his Theory of Speculative Capital and his writing style; I have edited his books. So my writing should offer some continuity of style and content – and keep the bench warm until the man himself returns.

The first entry is ‘No Country for Old Man’. Channel hopping one evening while waiting for Nasser to go to a dinner party, I paused on a movie that was in progress. Nasser came in and recognized the movie. A long conversation that followed on the way and continued during the dinner is the basis for the post.

See what I mean by the inability of the mind to rest on the untruth – its compulsion to seek progressively higher stages of truth.

Sarina Saber