"Hegel’s Bearings"

In her essay, Rei Terada ponders Hegel's style of "tarrying with the negative," particularly with the narrowing of political possibility in German territories both under Napoleonic liberalization and after Waterloo. In correspondence with his friend Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer, who states his wish to persist in fighting a losing cause even - or especially - if he is the "last man" to do so, as if to find sustenance in his inability to bear his dark times. Hegel bears up in another manner, seeking a middle way that "allows nothing to get too bad and nothing too good." Rather than trusting himself to a truly open history, Terada argues, Hegel protects the civic life of the middle class, but in doing so he also carries through on a philosophy in which "another middle, the middle of transition, always rules the world." Drawing on a description of a dream Hegel sends to his friend, in which "a certain realist calculation and foresight is implicit," his critique of "the mirror reifications of empiricism and idealism" in the Logic, and his account in the Encyclopedia of how the subject, reading every negativity that comes from outside as actually from inside, can become "a being capable of containing and enduring its own contradiction," Terada shows how Hegel becomes a "privileged figure of the new dispensation," someone capable of enduring "the horizonless condition of an antipolitical society that extends from the late Napoleonic era to our own."