Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Fukuyama and improvable human nature


After I read The End of History I was so struck by it that I looked for comments and reviews to see if others were as impressed as I was. I recall a criticism or an elaboration that described Fukuyama as not so much a Hegelian as a Kojevean. Kojeve, the argument went, was a Hegelian that transformed Hegel into something that was no longer utterly Hegel, and Fukuyama used Kojeve’s interpretations rather than his own. It was Kojeve who argued that Marx was wrong when he turned Hegel on his head. Marx said Hegel’s process was right but he was wrong about Liberal-Democracy being the end of history. Kojeve argued that it was time to give Hegel his due and admit that he was right when he argued that Capitalism, aka Liberal-Democracy, was the end of history.

It’s interesting that you think Fukuyama should have mentioned “Bultmann, Bonheoffer, Brunner ,etc.” I heard Fukuyama on C-Span two or three times over the years and my impression is that he’s an atheist. I believe he does believe in the perfectibility of human nature as C. Mott Woolley says. I had forgotten that because it isn’t quite presented as something Fukuyama believes. I wanted to argue with Woolley, but when I checked Fukuyama again he presents Hegel’s idea about human nature and I can’t see that he disapproves of it i.e., “that in his most essential characteristics man was undetermined and therefore free to create his own nature.” [TEOH page 63] I don’t think Bultmann, Bonheoffer or Brunner would have argued that man’s human nature was perfectible. In a Postmillennial eschatology, the improvement of human nature couldn’t be ruled out if it were a work of the Holy Spirit, but that man can improve his own nature through the creation of just the right Social Structures was the argument of Rousseau which I found utterly unconvincing. I keep wanting to read adaptable (which would make sense) in lieu of improvable which doesn’t make sense.

Lawrence Helm

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