Idealism to the rescue!

Both "the right" and "the left" suffer from a one-sided focus on an aspect of poverty at the expense of the full picture. The right focuses on agency, and tends to dump the entire blame for their condition on the poor, failing to keep in mind adages like, "There but for the grace of God go I!"

The left tends to focus exclusively on circumstances, which winds up denying the poor any agency themselves, and portrays them like shelter animals waiting for a good progressive to come along and adopt them.

The reality is that both views are partial truths, each of which needs the other to round out the picture.

Although Hegel was somewhat mad at times, teaching us to look at these supposedly irreconcilable divides like this was surely a great contribution to human thought.


7 comments:

  1. One of the better details of the book "Idealism: A Guide for the Perplexed" is its account of the politics of Idealists. I didn't know that they were so vocal about political theory!

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  2. Gene, for those of us who haven't read anything about the politics of idealists, could you briefly explain why a belief that matter cannot exist independently of mind should correlate in any way with political beliefs?

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    1. Keshav, Who said they were correlated? Among the Hegelians we find communists (Marx and Engels, whose "materialism" was about economic factors of production, and not about metaphysics), fascists (Gentile), mild socialists (Green), middle-of-the-road liberals (Croce, Collingwood), and conservatives (Oakeshott, Ortega y Gasset).

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    2. "…Marx and Engels, whose "materialism" was about economic factors of production, and not about metaphysics…"

      Eh? Mind explaining?

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  3. "The right focuses on agency, and tends to dump the entire blame for their condition on the poor, failing to keep in mind adages like, 'There but for the grace of God go I'"

    It's a really bad right now for "the right" when it comes to the whole issue of the poor. I've never found the political issues surrounding poverty and wealth all that interesting, so I'd like to consider that my neutral analysis of the situation.

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  4. And as far as progressives go, I think they can tend to be a little too—I hate using this phrase, because all it reminds of are angry movement conservatives—"bleeding heart". I don't think "bleeding heart" policies are necessarily paternalist, but sometimes it's difficult for them not to be.

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  5. …teaching us to look at these supposedly irreconcilable divides like this was surely a great contribution to human thought.

    Is this concept somehow different from the saying that "the truth is somewhere in the middle"?

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