12 July 2009

Stuart Jeffries reading Hegel to Sarkozy

Stuart Jeffries' outpouring of philosophical thought in the Guardian is titled Brush up your Hegel, Sarko and subtitled "Monsieur Président's burka outburst suggests he can't tell his abstract and concrete freedoms apart". Makes it tough on the French president, whether he read "his" Hegel or not.

This article is full of rare pearls, but the one that left me breathless is:

By those lights [meaning Hegelian ones], a western fashion victim is as much a sartorial prisoner as a woman in a burka.
Wow... no, really, a big wow... it is also supported by a specific example:
The former [abstract freedom] means the freedom to do whatever you want, which, as you know, is the basis of western civilisation and why you can choose between 23 different kinds of coffee in your local cafe, or 32 different kinds of four-inch wedges the glossies tell you look sexy this summer but in none of which you can walk comfortably.
Not that I clearly remember cases of women being shot, maimed or beaten to death for wearing a wrong pair of shoes in the West, but I bow to Mr Jeffries superior knowledge of the subject matter. Especially on account of my Hegel being extremely rusty.

The last passage I wanted to mention is:
French venerate such abstract freedoms. We needn't.
Be useful to know who is meant by "we" here. The enlightened Hegel-munching Guardian scribes? Or somebody else?

Poor Hegel...