Key to understanding Hegel’s philosophy and its relevance to everything on today’s left is his concept of aufheben, a peculiar German word, so far as Hegel had it. The Marxists translated aufheben as “sublate,” meaning to break a thing apart dialectically to take it to a higher level of understanding, and that’s ultimately what Hegel meant by it too. Though it’s usually translated in modern vernacular German as “to keep,” aufheben can also mean to negate, abolish, or cancel, and Hegel though this dual meaning of the word was instrumental to understanding a phenomenological systemic philosophy. The concept wasn’t just central to Hegelian thought, specifically the dialectic, or to Marx, but also to the Critical Theorists, who reference the idea frequently in their writing as being central to what Critical Theory is meant to accomplish and how it might do it. I therefore want this obscure term in German philosophical language to become commonplace and recognizable in everyday English. Join me in this episode of James Lindsay OnlySubs, my subscribers-only podcast, for a short introductory discussion on the concept of aufheben and its applications in Critical Theory and beyond, including in Wokeness.
Previous episodes of OnlySubs can be found here.