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Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Full name Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Born August 27, 1770
Stuttgart, Germany
Died November 14, 1831 (aged 61)
Berlin, Germany
Era 19th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School German Idealism; Founder of Hegelianism; Historicism
Main interests Logic, Philosophy of history, Aesthetics, Religion, Metaphysics, Epistemology, Political Philosophy,
Notable ideas Absolute idealism, Dialectic, Sublation, master-slave dialectic
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel00.jpg
Part of a series on
G. W. F. Hegel
Hegelianism
Absolute idealism
British & German idealism
Dialectic
Master-slave dialectic
Works
Phenomenology of Spirit
Science of Logic
Philosophy of Right
Philosophy of History
Notable People
Immanuel Kant
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Gottlieb Fichte
Friedrich Hölderlin
Friedrich Schelling
Arthur Schopenhauer
Søren Kierkegaard
Karl Marx
Related
Right Hegelians
Young Hegelians
Marx's theory of alienation
The Secret of Hegel
The birthplace of Hegel in Stuttgart, which now houses The Hegel Museum

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (German pronunciation: [ˈɡeɔʁk ˈvɪlhɛlm ˈfʁiːdʁɪç ˈheːɡəl]) (August 27, 1770 – November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher, one of the creators of German Idealism. His historicist and idealist account of the total reality as a whole revolutionized European philosophy and was an important precursor to continental philosophy and Marxism.

Hegel developed a comprehensive philosophical framework, or "system", to account in an integrated and developmental way for the relation of mind and nature, the subject and object of knowledge, and psychology, the state, history, art, religion and philosophy. In particular, he developed a concept of mind or spirit that manifested itself in a set of contradictions and oppositions that it ultimately integrated and united, without eliminating either pole or reducing one to the other. Examples of such contradictions include those between nature and freedom, and between immanence and transcendence.

Hegel influenced writers of widely varying positions, including both his admirers (Bauer, Brandom, Feuerbach, T. H. Green, Marx, Bradley, Dewey, Sartre, Küng, Kojève, Žižek) and his detractors (Schelling, Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Peirce, Popper, Russell).[2] His influential conceptions are of speculative logic or "dialectic", "absolute idealism", "Spirit", negativity, sublation (Aufhebung in German), the "Master/Slave" dialectic, "ethical life" and the importance of history.

Contents

Life

Early years

Childhood

Hegel was born on August 27, 1770 in Stuttgart, in the Duchy Württemberg in southwestern Germany. Christened Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, he was known as Wilhelm to his close family. His father, Georg Ludwig, was Rentkammersekretär (secretary to the revenue office) at the court of Karl Eugen, Duke of Württemberg.[3] Hegel's mother, Maria Magdalena Louisa (née Fromm), was the daughter of a lawyer at the High Court of Justice at the Württemberg court. She died of a "bilious fever" (Gallenfieber) when Hegel was thirteen. Hegel and his father also caught the disease but narrowly survived.[4] Hegel had a sister, Christiane Luise (1773–1832), and a brother, Georg Ludwig (1776–1812), who was to perish as an officer in Napoleon's Russian campaign of 1812.[5]

At the age of three Hegel went to the "German School". When he entered the "Latin School" aged five,he already knew the first declension, having been taught it by his mother.

In 1776 Hegel entered Stuttgart's Gymnasium Illustre. During his adolescence Hegel read voraciously, copying lengthy extracts in his diary. Authors he read include the poet Klopstock and writers associated with the Enlightenment such as Christian Garve and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. Hegel's studies at the Gymnasium were concluded with his Abiturrede ("graduation speech") entitled "The abortive state of art and scholarship in Turkey."

Tübingen (1788-93)

At the age of eighteen Hegel entered the Tübinger Stift (a Protestant seminary attached to the University of Tübingen), where two fellow students were to become vital to his development—his exact contemporary, the poet Friedrich Hölderlin, and the younger brilliant philosopher-to-be Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling. Sharing a dislike for what they regarded as the restrictive environment of the Seminary, the three became close friends and mutually influenced each other's ideas. They watched the unfolding of the French Revolution with shared enthusiasm. Schelling and Hölderlin immersed themselves in theoretical debates on Kantian philosophy, from which Hegel remained aloof. Hegel at this time envisaged his future as that of a Popularphilosoph, i.e., a "man of letters" who serves to make the abstruse ideas of philosophers accessible to a wider public; his own felt need to engage critically with the central ideas of Kantianism did not come until 1800. Hegel engaged critically by himself.

Berne (1793-96) and Frankfurt (1797-1801)

Having received his theological certificate (Konsistorialexamen) from the Tübingen Seminary, Hegel became Hofmeister (house tutor) to an aristocratic family in Berne (1793–96). During this period he composed the text which has become known as the "Life of Jesus" and a book-length manuscript entitled "The Positivity of the Christian Religion". His relations with his employers having become strained, Hegel gladly accepted an offer mediated by Hölderlin to take up a similar position with a wine merchant's family in Frankfurt, where he moved in 1797. Here Hölderlin exerted an important influence on Hegel's thought.[6] While in Frankfurt Hegel composed the essay "Fragments on Religion and Love". In 1799 he wrote another essay entitled "The Spirit of Christianity and Its Fate" which was not published during his lifetime.

Career years

Jena, Bamberg and Nuremberg: 1801-1816

In 1801 Hegel came to Jena with the encouragement of his old friend Schelling, who was Extraordinary Professor at the University there. Hegel secured a position at the University as a Privatdozent (unsalaried lecturer) after submitting a Habilitationsschrift (dissertation) on the orbits of the planets. Later in the year Hegel's first book, The Difference Between Fichte's and Schelling's Systems of Philosophy, appeared. He lectured on "Logic and Metaphysics" and, with Schelling, gave joint lectures on an "Introduction to the Idea and Limits of True Philosophy" and held a "Philosophical Disputorium". In 1802 Schelling and Hegel founded a journal, the Kritische Journal der Philosophie ("Critical Journal of Philosophy") to which they each contributed pieces until the collaboration was ended by Schelling's departure for Würzburg in 1803.

In 1805 the University promoted Hegel to the position of Extraordinary Professor (unsalaried), after Hegel wrote a letter to the poet and minister of culture Johann Wolfgang von Goethe protesting at the promotion of his philosophical adversary Jakob Friedrich Fries ahead of him.[7] Hegel attempted to enlist the help of the poet and translator Johann Heinrich Voß to obtain a post at the newly renascent University of Heidelberg, but failed; to his chagrin, Fries was later in the same year made Ordinary Professor (salaried) there.[8]

Hegel sees the "world spirit on horseback", Napoleon.

His finances drying up quickly, Hegel was now under great pressure to deliver his book, the long-promised introduction to his System. Hegel was putting the finishing touches to this book, now called the Phenomenology of Spirit, as Napoleon engaged Prussian troops on October 14, 1806, in the Battle of Jena on a plateau outside the city. On the day before the battle, Napoleon entered the city of Jena. Hegel recounted his impressions in a letter to his friend Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer:

I saw the Emperor – this world-soul – riding out of the city on reconnaissance. It is indeed a wonderful sensation to see such an individual, who, concentrated here at a single point, astride a horse, reaches out over the world and masters it [...] this extraordinary man, whom it is impossible not to admire.[9]

Although Napoleon chose not to close down Jena as he had other universities, the city was devastated and students deserted the university in droves, making Hegel's financial prospects even worse. The following February Hegel's landlady Christiana Burkhardt (who had been abandoned by her husband) gave birth to their son Georg Ludwig Friedrich Fischer (1807–31).[10]

In March 1807, aged 37, Hegel moved to Bamberg, where Niethammer had declined and passed on to Hegel an offer to become editor of a newspaper, the Bamberger Zeitung. Hegel, unable to find more suitable employment, reluctantly accepted. Ludwig Fischer and his mother (whom Hegel may have offered to marry following the death of her husband) stayed behind in Jena.[11]

He was then, in November 1808, again through Niethammer, appointed headmaster of a Gymnasium in Nuremberg, a post he held until 1816. While in Nuremberg Hegel adapted his recently published Phenomenology of Mind for use in the classroom. Part of his remit being to teach a class called "Introduction to Knowledge of the Universal Coherence of the Sciences", Hegel developed the idea of an encyclopedia of the philosophical sciences, falling into three parts (logic, philosophy of nature, and philosophy of spirit).[12]

Hegel married Marie Helena Susanna von Tucher (1791–1855), the eldest daughter of a Senator, in 1811. This period saw the publication of his second major work, the Science of Logic (Wissenschaft der Logik; 3 vols., 1812, 1813, 1816), and the birth of his two legitimate sons, Karl Friedrich Wilhelm (1813–1901) and Immanuel Thomas Christian (1814–1891).

Heidelberg and Berlin: 1816-1831

Having received offers of a post from the Universities of Erlangen, Berlin, and Heidelberg, Hegel chose Heidelberg, where he moved in 1816. Soon after, in April 1817, his illegitimate son Ludwig Fischer (now ten years old) joined the Hegel household, having thus far spent his childhood in an orphanage.[13] (Ludwig's mother had died in the meantime.)[14]

Hegel published The Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sentences in Outline (1817) as a summary of his philosophy for students attending his lectures at Heidelberg.

Hegel with his Berlin students
Sketch by Franz Kugler

In 1818 Hegel accepted the renewed offer of the chair of philosophy at the University of Berlin, which had remained vacant since Fichte's death in 1814. Here he published his Philosophy of Right (1821). Hegel's efforts were primarily directed at delivering his lectures; his lecture courses on aesthetics, the philosophy of religion, the philosophy of history, and the history of philosophy were published posthumously from lecture notes taken by his students. His fame spread and his lectures attracted students from all over Germany and beyond.

Hegel was appointed Rector of the University in 1830, when he was 60. He was deeply disturbed by the riots for reform in Berlin in that year. In 1831 Frederick William III decorated him for his service to the Prussian state. In August 1831 a cholera epidemic reached Berlin and Hegel left the city, taking up lodgings in Kreuzberg. Now in a weak state of health, Hegel went out little. As the new semester began in October, Hegel returned to Berlin, with the (mistaken) impression that the epidemic had largely subsided. By November 14 Hegel was dead. The physicians pronounced the cause of death as cholera, but it is likely he died from a different gastrointestinal disease.[15] He is said to have uttered the last words "And he didn't understand me" before expiring.[16] In accordance with his wishes, Hegel was buried on November 16 in the Dorotheenstadt Cemetery next to Fichte and Solger.

Hegel's son Ludwig Fischer had died shortly before while serving with the Dutch army in Batavia; the news of his death never reached his father.[17] Early the following year Hegel's sister Christiane committed suicide by drowning. Hegel's sons Karl, who became a historian, and Immanuel, who followed a theological path, lived long lives during which they safeguarded their father's Nachlaß and produced editions of his works.

Works

Hegel published only four books during his life: the Phenomenology of Spirit (or Phenomenology of Mind), his account of the evolution of consciousness from sense-perception to absolute knowledge, published in 1807; the Science of Logic, the logical and metaphysical core of his philosophy, in three volumes, published in 1811, 1812, and 1816 (revised 1831); Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences, a summary of his entire philosophical system, which was originally published in 1816 and revised in 1827 and 1830; and the Elements of the Philosophy of Right, his political philosophy, published in 1822. In the latter, he criticized von Haller's reactionary work, which claimed that laws were not necessary. He also published some articles early in his career and during his Berlin period. A number of other works on the philosophy of history, religion, aesthetics, and the history of philosophy were compiled from the lecture notes of his students and published posthumously.

Hegel's tombstone in Berlin

Hegel's works have a reputation for their difficulty and for the breadth of the topics they attempt to cover. Hegel introduced a system for understanding the history of philosophy and the world itself, often described as a "progression in which each successive movement emerges as a resolution to the contradictions inherent in the preceding movement"[citation needed]. For example, the French Revolution for Hegel constitutes the introduction of real individual political freedom into European societies for the first time in recorded history. But precisely because of its absolute novelty, it is also absolutely radical: on the one hand the upsurge of violence required to carry out the revolution cannot cease to be itself, while on the other, it has already consumed its opponent. The revolution therefore has nowhere to turn but onto its own result: the hard-won freedom is consumed by a brutal Reign of Terror. History, however, progresses by learning from its mistakes: only after and precisely because of this experience can one posit the existence of a constitutional state of free citizens, embodying both the benevolent organizing power of rational government and the revolutionary ideals of freedom and equality. Hegel's remarks on the French revolution led German poet Heinrich Heine to label him "The Orléans of German Philosophy".

Hegel's writing style is difficult to read; he is described by Bertrand Russell in the History of Western Philosophy as the single most difficult philosopher to understand. This is partly because Hegel tried to develop a new form of thinking and logic, which he called "speculative reason" and which includes the more famous concept of "dialectic", to try to overcome what he saw as the limitations of both common sense and of traditional philosophy at grasping philosophical problems and the relation between thought and reality.

Thought

Freedom

Hegel's thinking can be understood as a constructive development within the broad tradition that includes Plato and Kant. To this list one could add Proclus, Meister Eckhart, Leibniz, Plotinus, Jakob Boehme, and Rousseau. What all these thinkers share, which distinguishes them from materialists like Epicurus, the Stoics, and Thomas Hobbes, and from empiricists like David Hume, is that they regard freedom or self-determination both as real and as having important ontological implications, for soul or mind or divinity. This focus on freedom is what generates Plato's notion (in the Phaedo, Republic, and Timaeus) of the soul as having a higher or fuller kind of reality than inanimate objects possess. While Aristotle criticizes Plato's "Forms", he preserves Plato's preoccupation with the ontological implications of self-determination, in his conceptions of ethical reasoning, the hierarchy of soul in nature, the order of the cosmos, and the prime mover. Kant, likewise, preserves this preoccupation of Plato's in his notions of moral and noumenal freedom, and God.

In his discussion of "Spirit" in his Encyclopedia, Hegel praises Aristotle's On the Soul as "by far the most admirable, perhaps even the sole, work of philosophical value on this topic" (par. 378). And in his Phenomenology of Spirit and his Science of Logic, Hegel's concern with Kantian topics such as freedom and morality, and with their ontological implications, is pervasive. Rather than simply rejecting Kant's dualism of freedom versus nature, Hegel aims to subsume it within "true infinity", the "Concept" (or "Notion": Begriff), "Spirit", and "ethical life" in such a way that the Kantian duality is rendered intelligible (as mentioned above), rather than remaining a brute "given."

The reason why this subsumption takes place in a series of concepts is that Hegel's method, in his Science of Logic and his Encyclopedia, is to begin with ultra-basic concepts like Being and Nothing, and to develop these through a long sequence of elaborations, including those mentioned in the previous paragraph. In this manner, a solution that is reached, in principle, in the account of "true infinity" in the Science of Logic's chapter on "Quality", is repeated in new guises at later stages, all the way to "Spirit" and "ethical life", in the third volume of the Encyclopedia.

In this way, Hegel intends to defend the germ of truth in Kantian dualism against reductive or eliminative programs like those of materialism and empiricism (which one can see at work in many of Hegel's critics, including Nietzsche and Russell). Like Plato, with his dualism of soul versus bodily appetites, Kant wants to insist on the mind's ability to question its felt inclinations or appetites and to come up with a standard of "duty" (or, in Plato's case, "good") which goes beyond them. Hegel preserves this essential Platonic and Kantian concern in the form of infinity's going beyond the finite (a process that Hegel in fact relates to "freedom" and the "ought"[18]), the universal's going beyond the particular (in the Concept), and Spirit's going beyond Nature. And Hegel renders these dualities intelligible by (ultimately) his argument in the "Quality" chapter of the Science of Logic that the finite has to become infinite in order to achieve "reality." This is because, as Hegel suggests by his introduction of the concept of "reality",[19] what determines itself rather than depending on its relations to other things for its essential character, is more fully "real" (following the Latin etymology of "real": more "thing-like") than what does not. Finite things don't determine themselves, because, as "finite" things, their essential character is determined by their boundaries, over against other finite things. So, in order to become "real", they must go beyond their finitude ("finitude is only as a transcending of itself"[20]).

The result of this argument is that finite and infinite—and, by extension, particular and universal, nature and freedom—don't face one another as two independent realities, but instead the latter (in each case) is the self-transcending of the former.[21] Thus rather than being merely "given", without explanation, the relationship between finite and infinite (and particular and universal, and nature and freedom) becomes intelligible. And a challenge is issued to reductive and eliminative programs like materialism and empiricism: What kind of "reality" do your fundamental entities or data possess?

Progress

The obscure writings of Jakob Böhme had a strong effect on Hegel. Böhme had written that the Fall of Man was a necessary stage in the evolution of the universe. This evolution was, itself, the result of God's desire for complete self-awareness. Hegel was fascinated by the works of Kant, Rousseau, and Goethe, and by the French Revolution. Modern philosophy, culture, and society seemed to Hegel fraught with contradictions and tensions, such as those between the subject and object of knowledge, mind and nature, self and Other, freedom and authority, knowledge and faith, the Enlightenment and Romanticism. Hegel's main philosophical project was to take these contradictions and tensions and interpret them as part of a comprehensive, evolving, rational unity that, in different contexts, he called "the absolute idea" or "absolute knowledge".

According to Hegel, the main characteristic of this unity was that it evolved through and manifested itself in contradiction and negation. Contradiction and negation have a dynamic quality that at every point in each domain of realityconsciousness, history, philosophy, art, nature, society—leads to further development until a rational unity is reached that preserves the contradictions as phases and sub-parts by lifting them up (Aufhebung) to a higher unity. This whole is mental because it is mind that can comprehend all of these phases and sub-parts as steps in its own process of comprehension. It is rational because the same, underlying, logical, developmental order underlies every domain of reality and is ultimately the order of self-conscious rational thought, although only in the later stages of development does it come to full self-consciousness. The rational, self-conscious whole is not a thing or being that lies outside of other existing things or minds. Rather, it comes to completion only in the philosophical comprehension of individual existing human minds who, through their own understanding, bring this developmental process to an understanding of itself.

(Note: "Mind" and "Spirit" are the common English translations of Hegel's use of the German "Geist." Some have argued that either of these terms overly "psychologize" Hegel,[citation needed] implying a kind of disembodied, solipsistic consciousness like ghost or "soul." Geist combines the meaning of spirit—as in god, ghost or mind—with an intentional force.)

Central to Hegel's conception of knowledge and mind (and therefore also of reality) was the notion of identity in difference, that is that mind externalizes itself in various forms and objects that stand outside of it or opposed to it, and that, through recognizing itself in them, is "with itself" in these external manifestations, so that they are at one and the same time mind and other-than-mind. This notion of identity in difference, which is intimately bound up with his conception of contradiction and negativity, is a principal feature differentiating Hegel's thought from that of other philosophers.politics

Civil society

See also: Civil society

Hegel made the distinction between civil society and state in his Elements of the Philosophy of Right.[22] In this work, civil society (Hegel used the term "buergerliche Gesellschaft" though it is now referred to as Zivilgesellschaft in German to emphasize a more inclusive community) was a stage on the dialectical relationship between Hegel's perceived opposites, the macro-community of the state and the micro-community of the family.[23] Broadly speaking, the term was split, like Hegel's followers, to the political left and right. On the left, it became the foundation for Karl Marx's civil society as an economic base[24]; to the right, it became a description for all non-state aspects of society, expanding out of the economic rigidity of Marxism into culture, society and politics[25]. This modern liberal distinction between political society and civil society was followed also by Alexis de Tocqueville.[24]

Hegel and Heraclitus

According to Hegel, "Heraclitus is the one who first declared the nature of the infinite and first grasped nature as in itself infinite, that is, its essence as process. The origin of philosophy is to be dated from Heraclitus. His is the persistent Idea that is the same in all philosophers up to the present day, as it was the Idea of Plato and Aristotle."[26] For Hegel, Heraclitus's great achievements were to have understood the nature of the infinite, which for Hegel includes understanding the inherent contradictoriness and negativity of reality, and to have grasped that reality is becoming or process, and that "being" and "nothingness" are mere empty abstractions. According to Hegel, Heraclitus's "obscurity" comes from his being a true (in Hegel's terms "speculative") philosopher who grasped the ultimate philosophical truth and therefore expressed himself in a way that goes beyond the abstract and limited nature of common sense and is difficult to grasp by those who operate within common sense. Hegel asserted that in Heraclitus he had an antecedent for his logic: "... there is no proposition of Heraclitus which I have not adopted in my logic."[27]

Hegel cites a number of fragments of Heraclitus in his Lectures on the History of Philosophy.[28] One to which he attributes great significance is the fragment he translates as "Being is not more than Non-being", which he interprets to mean

Sein und Nichts sei dasselbe
Being and non-being are the same.

Heraclitus does not form any abstract nouns from his ordinary use of "to be" and "to become" and in that fragment seems to be opposing any identity A to any other identity B, C, etc., which is not-A. Hegel, however, interprets not-A as not existing at all, not nothing at all, which cannot be conceived, but indeterminate or "pure" being without particularity or specificity.[29] Pure being and pure non-being or nothingness are for Hegel pure abstractions from the reality of becoming, and this is also how he interprets Heraclitus. This interpretation of Heraclitus cannot be ruled out, but even if present is not the main gist of his thought.

For Hegel, the inner movement of reality is the process of God thinking as manifested in the evolution of the universe of nature and thought; that is, Hegel argued that, when fully and properly understood, reality is being thought by God as manifested in man's comprehension of this process in and through philosophy. Since man's thought is the image and fulfillment of God's thought, God is not ineffable (so incomprehensible as to be unutterable) but can be understood by an analysis of thought and reality. Just as man continually corrects his concepts of reality through a dialectical process so God himself becomes more fully manifested through the dialectical process of becoming.

For his god Hegel does not take the logos of Heraclitus but refers rather to the nous of Anaxagoras, although he may well have regarded them the same, as he continues to refer to god's plan, which is identical to God. Whatever the nous thinks at any time is actual substance and is identical to limited being, but more remains to be thought in the substrate of non-being, which is identical to pure or unlimited thought.

The universe as becoming is therefore a combination of being and non-being. The particular is never complete in itself but to find completion is continually transformed into more comprehensive, complex, self-relating particulars. The essential nature of being-for-itself is that it is free "in itself"; that is, it does not depend on anything else, such as matter, for its being. The limitations represent fetters, which it must constantly be casting off as it becomes freer and more self-determining.[30]

Although Hegel began his philosophizing with commentary on the Christian religion and often expresses the view that he is a Christian, his ideas of God are not at home among some Christians, although he has had a major influence on 19th- and 20th-century theology. At the same time, an atheistic version of his thought was adopted instead by some Marxists, who, stripping away the concepts of divinity, styled what was left dialectical materialism, which some saw as originating in Heraclitus.

Religion

Hegel's thoughts on the person of Jesus Christ stood out from the theologies of the Enlightenment. In his posthumous book, The Christian Religion: Lectures on Philosophy of Religion Part 3, he espouses that, "God is not an abstraction but a concrete God." "God, considered in terms of his eternal Idea, has to generate the Son, has to distinguish himself from himself; he is the process of differentiating, namely, love and Spirit". This means that Jesus as the Son of God is posited by God over against himself as other. Hegel sees both a relational unity and a metaphysical unity between Jesus and God the Father. To Hegel, Jesus is both divine and Human. Preceding the 'death-of-God' theologians, Hegel further attests that God (as Jesus) not only died, but "...rather, a reversal takes place: God, that is to say, maintains himself in the process, and the latter is only the death of death. God rises again to life, and thus things are reversed." Hegel therefore maintains not only the deity of Jesus, but the resurrection as a reality.

Influence

There are views of Hegel's thought as a representation of the summit of early 19th century Germany's movement of philosophical idealism. It would come to have a profound impact on many future philosophical schools, including schools that opposed Hegel's specific dialectical idealism, such as Existentialism, the historical materialism of Karl Marx, historicism, and British Idealism.

Hegel's influence was immense both within philosophy and in the other sciences. Throughout the 19th century many chairs of philosophy around Europe were held by Hegelians, and Kierkegaard, Feuerbach, Marx, and Engels--among many others—were all deeply influenced by, but also strongly opposed to, many of the central themes of Hegel's philosophy. After less than a generation, Hegel's philosophy was suppressed and even banned by the Prussian right-wing, and was firmly rejected by the left-wing in multiple official writings.

After the period of Bruno Bauer, Hegel's influence did not make itself felt again until the philosophy of British Idealism and the 20th century Hegelian Western Marxism that began with Georg Lukács. The more recent movement of communitarianism has a strong Hegelian influence.

Legacy

Reading Hegel

Some of Hegel's writing was intended for those with advanced knowledge of philosophy, although his "Encyclopedia" was intended as a textbook in a university course. Nevertheless, like many philosophers, Hegel assumed that his readers would be well-versed in Western philosophy, up to and including Descartes, Hume, Kant, Fichte, and Schelling. For those wishing to read his work without this background, introductions to and commentaries about Hegel can contribute to comprehension, although the reader is faced with multiple interpretations of Hegel's writings from incompatible schools of philosophy. The German philosopher Theodor W. Adorno devoted an essay to the difficulty of reading Hegel and asserted that there are certain passages where it is impossible to decipher what Hegel meant. Difficulties within Hegel's language and thought are magnified for those reading Hegel in translation, since his philosophical language and terminology in German often do not have direct analogues in other languages. For example, the German word "Geist" has connotations of both "mind" and "spirit" in English. English translators have to use the "phenomenology of mind" or "the phenomenology of spirit" to render Hegel's "Phaenomenologie des Geistes", thus altering the original meaning. Hegel himself argued, in his "Science of Logic", that the German language was particularly conducive to philosophical thought and writing.

One especially difficult aspect of Hegel's work is his innovation in logic. In response to Immanuel Kant's challenge to the limits of Pure Reason, Hegel developed a radically new form of logic, which he called speculation, and which is today popularly called dialectics. The difficulty in reading Hegel was perceived in Hegel's own day, and persists into the 21st century. To understand Hegel fully requires paying attention to his critique of standard logic, such as the law of contradiction and the law of the excluded middle, and, whether one accepts or rejects it, at least taking it seriously. Many philosophers who came after Hegel and were influenced by him, whether adopting or rejecting his ideas, did so without fully absorbing his new speculative or dialectical logic.[citation needed]

If one wanted to provide a big piece of the Hegel puzzle to the beginner, one might present the following statement from Part One of the Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences: The Logic:

... a much misunderstood phenomenon in the history of philosophy — the refutation of one system by another, of an earlier by a later. Most commonly the refutation is taken in a purely negative sense to mean that the system refuted has ceased to count for anything, has been set aside and done for. Were it so, the history of philosophy would be, of all studies, most saddening, displaying, as it does, the refutation of every system which time has brought forth. Now although it may be admitted that every philosophy has been refuted, it must be in an equal degree maintained that no philosophy has been refuted. And that in two ways. For first, every philosophy that deserves the name always embodies the Idea: and secondly, every system represents one particular factor or particular stage in the evolution of the Idea. The refutation of a philosophy, therefore, only means that its barriers are crossed, and its special principle reduced to a factor in the completer principle that follows.

Left and Right Hegelianism

Some historians have spoken of Hegel's influence as represented by two opposing camps. The Right Hegelians, the allegedly direct disciples of Hegel at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, advocated a Protestant orthodoxy and the political conservatism of the post-Napoleon Restoration period. The Left Hegelians, also known as the Young Hegelians, interpreted Hegel in a revolutionary sense, leading to an advocation of atheism in religion and liberal democracy in politics.

In more recent studies, however, this paradigm has been questioned.[31] No Hegelians of the period ever referred to themselves as "Right Hegelians"; that was a term of insult originated by David Strauss, a self-styled Left Hegelian. Critiques of Hegel offered from the Left Hegelians radically diverted Hegel's thinking into new directions and eventually came to form a disproportionately large part of the literature on and about Hegel.[citation needed]

The Left Hegelians also spawned Marxism, which inspired a global movement lasting more than 150 years, encompassing the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution and even more national-liberation movements of the 20th century. Yet those movements are not a direct result of Hegel's philosophy.

Twentieth-century interpretations of Hegel were mostly shaped by British Idealism, logical positivism, Marxism, and Fascism. The Italian Fascist Giovanni Gentile, according to Benedetto Croce, "...holds the honor of having been the most rigorous neo-Hegelian in the entire history of Western philosophy and the dishonor of having been the official philosopher of Fascism in Italy."[32] However, since the fall of the USSR, a new wave of Hegel scholarship arose in the West, without the preconceptions of the prior schools of thought. Walter Jaeschke and Otto Pöggeler in Germany, as well as Peter Hodgson and Howard Kainz in America are notable for their recent contributions to post-USSR thinking about Hegel.

Triads

In previous modern accounts of Hegelianism (to undergraduate classes, for example), especially those formed prior to the Hegel renaissance, Hegel's dialectic was most often characterized as a three-step process, "thesis, antithesis, synthesis"; namely, that a "thesis" (e.g. the French Revolution) would cause the creation of its "antithesis" (e.g. the Reign of Terror that followed), and would eventually result in a "synthesis" (e.g. the Constitutional state of free citizens). However, Hegel used this classification only once, and he attributed the terminology to Immanuel Kant. The terminology was largely developed earlier by Johann Fichte. It was spread by Heinrich Moritz Chalybäus in a popular account of Hegelian philosophy, and since then the misfit terms have stuck[citation needed]. What is wrong with the "thesis-antithesis-synthesis" approach is that it gives the sense that things or ideas are contradicted or opposed by things that come from outside them. To the contrary, the fundamental notion of Hegel's dialectic is that things or ideas have internal contradictions. From Hegel's point of view, analysis or comprehension of a thing or idea reveals that underneath its apparently simple identity or unity is an underlying inner contradiction. This contradiction leads to the dissolution of the thing or idea in the simple form in which it presented itself and to a higher-level, more complex thing or idea that more adequately incorporates the contradiction. The triadic form that appears in many places in Hegel (e.g. being-nothingness-becoming, immediate-mediate-concrete, abstract-negative-concrete) is about this movement from inner contradiction to higher-level integration or unification.

Believing that the traditional description of Hegel's philosophy in terms of thesis-antithesis-synthesis was mistaken, a few scholars, like Raya Dunayevskaya, a devout Marxist who was once Leon Trotsky's secretary, have attempted to discard the triadic approach altogether. According to their argument, although Hegel refers to "the two elemental considerations: first, the idea of freedom as the absolute and final aim; secondly, the means for realising it, i.e. the subjective side of knowledge and will, with its life, movement, and activity" (thesis and antithesis) he doesn't use "synthesis" but instead speaks of the "Whole": "We then recognised the State as the moral Whole and the Reality of Freedom, and consequently as the objective unity of these two elements." Furthermore, in Hegel's language, the "dialectical" aspect or "moment" of thought and reality, by which things or thoughts turn into their opposites or have their inner contradictions brought to the surface, what he called "aufhebung", is only preliminary to the "speculative" (and not "synthesizing") aspect or "moment", which grasps the unity of these opposites or contradiction. Thus for Hegel, reason is ultimately "speculative", not "dialectical".

It is widely admitted today that the old-fashioned description of Hegel's philosophy in terms of "thesis-antithesis-synthesis" is inaccurate. Nevertheless, such is the persistence of this misnomer that the model and terminology survive in a number of scholarly works.

Advocates

According to J.N. Findlay, Hegel is the "Aristotle of modern times", and is, "the greatest of European thinkers, engaged in a self-critical enterprise..."[33]

Oswald Spengler admired Hegel, contrasting what he saw as Hegel's authentically German philosophy with what he considered Marx's foreign and fraudulent ideology. "Hegel stands above, Marx below the level of historical actuality", claimed Spengler. "Take away Hegel's metaphysics and you will discover a political thinker with a sense of reality unequaled in modern philosophy. As a 'Prussian' by intellectual choice he placed the state at the center of his extraordinarily profound, well-nigh Goethean vision of historical development, whereas Marx, the Englishman by choice, assigned to the economic life the central role in his Darwinian and mechanistic theory of historical 'evolution' (he would call it 'progress')."[34]

In the latter half of the 20th century, Hegel's philosophy underwent a major renaissance. This was due to: (a) the rediscovery and reevaluation of Hegel as a possible philosophical progenitor of Marxism by philosophically oriented Marxists; (b) a resurgence of the historical perspective that Hegel brought to everything; and (c) an increasing recognition of the importance of his dialectical method.

The book that did the most to reintroduce Hegel into the Marxist canon was perhaps Georg Lukács' History and Class Consciousness. This sparked a renewed interest in Hegel reflected in the work of Herbert Marcuse, Theodor W. Adorno, Ernst Bloch, Raya Dunayevskaya, Alexandre Kojève and Gotthard Günther among others. The Hegel renaissance also highlighted the significance of Hegel's early works, i.e. those published prior to the Phenomenology of Spirit. The direct and indirect influence of Kojève's lectures and writings (on the Phenomenology of Spirit, in particular) mean that it is not possible to understand most French philosophers from Jean-Paul Sartre to Jacques Derrida without understanding Hegel.

Beginning in the 1960s, Anglo-American Hegel scholarship has attempted to challenge the traditional interpretation of Hegel as offering a metaphysical system: this has also been the approach of Z.A. Pelczynski and Shlomo Avineri. This view, sometimes referred to as the 'non-metaphysical option', has had a decided influence on many major English language studies of Hegel in the past 40 years.

U.S. neoconservative political theorist Francis Fukuyama's controversial book The End of History and the Last Man was heavily influenced by Alexandre Kojève. Among modern scientists, the physicist David Bohm, the mathematician William Lawvere, the logician Kurt Gödel and the biologist Ernst Mayr have been interested in Hegel's philosophical work.[citation needed]

A late 20th century literature in Western Theology that is friendly to Hegel includes such writers as Dale M. Schlitt (1984), Theodore Geraets (1985), Philip M. Merklinger (1991), Stephen Rocker (1995) and Cyril O'Regan (1995). The contemporary theologian Hans Küng has also advanced contemporary scholarship in Hegel studies.

Recently, two prominent American philosophers, John McDowell and Robert Brandom (sometimes, half-seriously, referred to as the Pittsburgh Hegelians), have produced philosophical works exhibiting a marked Hegelian influence. Each is avowedly influenced by the late Wilfred Sellars, also of Pittsburgh, who referred to his seminal work, Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind, as a series of "incipient Méditations Hegeliennes" (in homage to Edmund Husserl's treatise, Meditations Cartesiennes).

Beginning in the 1990s, after the fall of the USSR, a fresh reading of Hegel took place in the West. For these scholars, fairly well represented by the Hegel Society of America and in cooperation with German scholars such as Otto Pöggeler and Walter Jaeschke, Hegel's works should be read without preconceptions. Marx plays a minor role in these new readings, and some contemporary scholars have suggested that Marx's interpretation of Hegel is irrelevant to a proper reading of Hegel. Some American philosophers associated with this movement include Clark Butler, Vince Hathaway, Daniel Shannon, David Duquette, David MacGregor, Edward Beach, John Burbidge, Lawrence Stepelevich, Rudolph Siebert, Randall Jackwak, Theodore Geraets and William Desmond.

Criticism

Criticism of Hegel has been widespread in the 19th and the 20th centuries; a diverse range of individuals including Arthur Schopenhauer, Karl Marx, Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, Eric Voegelin, and A. J. Ayer challenged Hegelian philosophy from a variety of perspectives.

Among the first to take a critical view of Hegel's system was the 19th German group known as the Young Hegelians, which included Ludwig Feuerbach, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and their followers. In Britain, the Hegelian British Idealism school (members of which included Francis Herbert Bradley, Bernard Bosanquet, and, in the United States, Josiah Royce) was challenged and rejected by analytic philosophers G. E. Moore and Bertrand Russell; Russell, in particular, considered "almost all" of Hegel's doctrines to be false.[35] Logical positivists such as Alfred Jules Ayer and the Vienna Circle also criticized Hegelian philosophy and its supporters (such as F. H. Bradley).

Obscurantism

Hegel's philosophy has been labeled by some critics as obscurantist, with some going so far as to refer to it as pseudo-philosophy. His contemporary Schopenhauer was particularly critical, and wrote of Hegel's philosophy as:

... a colossal piece of mystification which will yet provide posterity with an inexhaustible theme for laughter at our times, that it is a pseudo-philosophy paralyzing all mental powers, stifling all real thinking, and, by the most outrageous misuse of language, putting in its place the hollowest, most senseless, thoughtless, and, as is confirmed by its success, most stupefying verbiage...

On the Basis of Morality

The charge of obscurantism has been echoed by modern analytical and positivistic philosophers.[citation needed] Scientist Ludwig Boltzmann also criticized the obscure complexity of Hegel's works, referring to Hegel's writing as an "unclear thoughtless flow of words".[36]

Another criticism of Hegel came from Bertrand Russell, one of the leading figures in analytical philosophy. An advocate for clarity in language, Russell criticized Hegel as "the hardest to understand of all the great philosophers" in his Unpopular Essays and A History of Western Philosophy. Like Schopenhauer, Russell considered much of Hegel's philosophy to be an elaboration of the mystic theories to which Hegel was attracted in his younger years; Russell also attacked Hegel's "obscure" logic and "metaphysically impossible" attempt to get rid of the "in-itself".

A significant component of Karl Popper's attack on Hegel was directed towards the abstruse mysticism of his prose; Popper suggested that this style was purposefully used by Hegel to distract the reader's attention from some of the ugliest implications of his ideas.[citation needed]

The Absolute

Nietzsche criticized Hegel's claims about the Absolute.

Words are but symbols for the relations of things to one another and to us; nowhere do they touch upon absolute truth. ... Thus it is, today, after Kant, an audacious ignorance if here and there, especially among badly informed theologians who like to play philosopher, the task of philosophy is represented as being quite certainly "comprehending the Absolute with the consciousness", somewhat completely in the form "the Absolute is already present, how could it be sought somewhere else?" as Hegel has expressed it.

Friedrich Nietzsche, Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks, § 11.

Totalitarianism

Kierkegaard, one of Hegel's earliest critics, criticized Hegel's 'absolute knowledge' unity, not only because it was arrogant for a mere human to claim such a unity, but also because such a system negates the experience of the individual in favor of the imagined perspective of the whole unity. In Concluding Unscientific Postscript, one of Kierkegaard's main attacks on Hegel, he writes, under the pseudonym Johannes Climacus:

So-called systems have often been characterized and challenged in the assertion that they abrogate the distinction between good and evil, and destroy freedom. Perhaps one would express oneself quite as definitely, if one said that every such system fantastically dissipates the concept existence. ... Being an individual man is a thing that has been abolished, and every speculative philosopher confuses himself with humanity at large; whereby he becomes something infinitely great, and at the same time nothing at all.

Johannes Climacus, "alias" Søren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript I

Karl Popper suggested that Hegel's system formed a thinly veiled justification for the absolute rule of Frederick William III, and that Hegel's idea of the ultimate goal of history was to reach a state approximating that of 1930s Prussia. Popper further proposed that Hegel's philosophy served as an inspiration for communist and fascist totalitarian governments of the 20th century.

This view of Hegel as an apologist of state power and precursor of 20th century totalitarianism was criticized by Herbert Marcuse in his Reason and Revolution: Hegel and the Rise of Social Theory, on the grounds that Hegel was not an apologist for any state or form of authority simply because it existed: for Hegel the state must always be rational. Other scholars, e.g. Walter Kaufmann and Shlomo Avineri, have also criticized Popper's theories about Hegel. (See for instance Walter Kaufmann 1959, The Hegel Myth and Its Method.) An analysis against Popper's arguments can also be found in Joachim Ritter's influential work, Hegel and the French Revolution.

George Santayana also interpreted Hegel as defending absolute power and the rule of the strongest:

The worship of power is an old religion, and Hegel, to go no farther back, is full of it; but like traditional religion his system qualified its veneration for success by attributing success, in the future at least, to what could really inspire veneration; and such a master in equivocation could have no difficulty in convincing himself that the good must conquer in the end if whatever conquers in the end is the good.

Winds of Doctrine, I

Jakob Friedrich Fries accused Hegel of defending the existing Prussian order of his time, and his own privileged position within it. He argued that, "Hegel's metaphysical mushroom has grown not in the gardens of science but on the dunghill of servility."[37] For Fries, Hegel's theories merely added up to a defense of the establishment and, specifically, the Prussian authorities.

Isaiah Berlin listed Hegel as one of the six architects of modern authoritarianism who undermined liberal democracy, along with Rousseau, Helvetius, Fichte, Saint-Simon, and Maistre.[38]

Natural sciences

Gauss, writing in hindsight, viewed Hegel's discussion of the natural sciences as inaccurate:

Noah got drunk only one time, to become then, according to the Scriptures, a judicious man, while the insanities of Hegel in the Doctoral Dissertation, where he criticizes Newton and questions the utility of a search for new planets are still wisdom if one compares them with his later remarks.

Carl Friedrich Gauss, In Jacques d'Hondt, Hegel et l'hégélianisme, Que sais-je?, p.27

Wilhelm Krug challenged Hegel to "deduce his quill (pen)." In other words, he dared Hegel to arrive at knowledge of a particular thing from the abstractions of absolute idealism's philosophy of nature. Hegel later ridiculed Krug for missing the point of philosophy itself, stating that:

A dog, an oak, a horse, a reed are, to be sure, like Moses, Alexander, Cyrus, Jesus, etc., something more excellent [to understand than the quill pen], and both lines of organization [nature and history] are closer to philosophy than Herr Krug's pen and the philosophical works he has authored. The philosophy of nature points out to him how he should have to comprehend the organization of an oak, rose, dog, and cat; and if he has the inclination and zeal to contract his human individuality to the stage of life of a rose or a dog in order to comprehend and grasp their living being completely, let him make the attempt. But he cannot expect this from others. And it would be better if he tried to expand his nature to the greatest individualities, such as Cyrus, Moses, Alexander, Jesus, etc., or even only of the great [to Krug] orator Cicero; then he could hardly fail to comprehend their necessity and to consider the construction of these individuals, as well as the series of the appearances of the world spirit which one calls history, more capable of a construction. But from the demand for a deduction of his pen he will have to desist entirely toward this end..."

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, In Walter Kaufmann, Hegel: Reinterpretation, Texts, and Commentary, p.84

Psychology

The psychoanalyst Carl Jung associated Hegel with mental illness (Jung also made similar statements about James Joyce) when he wrote:

A philosophy like Hegel's is a self-revelation of the psychic background and, philosophically, a presumption. Psychologically it amounts to an invasion by the unconscious. The peculiar language Hegel uses details this view, it is reminiscent of the megalomaniac context of schizophrenia, who use terrific words to reduce the transcendent to subjective and objective form, to give weight the abscurity of their use of language and it's inherent subjective meaning, so great in their terminology produces the symptoms of weakness, ineptitude, and lack of substance.

Carl G. Jung, On the Nature of the Psyche, 1928

Works

Published during Hegel's lifetime

  • Life of Jesus
  • Differenz des Fichteschen und Schellingschen Systems der Philosophie, 1801
The Difference Between Fichte's and Schelling's Systems of Philosophy, tr. H. S. Harris and Walter Cerf, 1977
Phenomenology of Mind, tr. J. B. Baillie, 1910; 2nd ed. 1931
Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, tr. A. V. Miller, 1977
Science of Logic, tr. W. H. Johnston and L. G. Struthers, 2 vols., 1929; tr. A. V. Miller, 1969
(Pt. I:) The Logic of Hegel, tr. William Wallace, 1874, 2nd ed. 1892; tr. T. F. Geraets, W. A. Suchting and H. S. Harris, 1991
(Pt. II:) Hegel's Philosophy of Nature, tr. A. V. Miller, 1970
(Pt. III:) Hegel's Philosophy of Mind, tr. William Wallace, 1894; rev. by A. V. Miller, 1971
Elements of the Philosophy of Right, tr. T. M. Knox, 1942; tr. H. B. Bisnet, ed. Allen W. Wood, 1991

Published posthumously

Secondary literature

General introductions

  • Beiser, Frederick C., 2005. Hegel. Routledge
  • Findlay, J. N., 1958. Hegel: A Re-examination. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-519879-4
  • Gouin, Jean-Luc, 2000. Hegel ou de la Raison intégrale, suivi de : « Aimer Penser Mourir : Hegel, Nietzsche, Freud en miroirs », Montréal (Québec), Éditions Bellarmin, 225 p. ISBN 2-89007-883-3
  • Houlgate, Stephen, 2005. An Introduction to Hegel. Freedom, Truth and History. Oxford: Blackwell
  • Kainz, Howard P., 1996. G. W. F. Hegel. Ohio University Press. ISBN 0-8214-1231-0.
  • Kaufmann, Walter, 1965. Hegel: A Reinterpretation. New York: Doubleday (reissued Notre Dame IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1978)
  • Plant, Raymond, 1983. Hegel: An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell
  • Singer, Peter, 2001. Hegel: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press (previously issued in the OUP Past Masters series, 1983)
  • Stirling, James Hutchison, The Secret of Hegel: Being the Hegelian System in Origin Principle, Form and Matter
  • Taylor, Charles, 1975. Hegel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-29199-2. A comprehensive exposition of Hegel's thought and its impact on the central intellectual and spiritual issues of his and our time.
  • Scruton, Roger, "Understanding Hegel" in The Philosopher on Dover Beach, Manchester: Carcanet Press, 1990. ISBN 0-85635-857-6

Essays

  • Beiser, Frederick C. (ed.), 1993. The Cambridge Companion to Hegel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-38711-6. A collection of articles covering the range of Hegel's thought.
  • Adorno, Theodor W., 1994. Hegel: Three Studies. MIT Press. Translated by Shierry M. Nicholsen, with an introduction by Nicholsen and Jeremy J. Shapiro, ISBN 0-262-51080-4. Essays on Hegel's concept of spirit/mind, Hegel's concept of experience, and why Hegel is difficult to read.

Biography

  • Althaus, Horst, 1992. Hegel und die heroischen Jahre der Philosophie. Munich: Carl Hanser Verlag. Eng. tr. Michael Tarsh as Hegel: An Intellectual Biography, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000
  • Pinkard, Terry P., 2000. Hegel: A Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-49679-9. By a leading American Hegel scholar; aims to debunk popular misconceptions about Hegel's thought.
  • Rosenkranz, Karl, 1844. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegels Leben. Still an important source for Hegel's life.
  • Hondt, Jacques d', 1998. Hegel: Biographie. Calmann-Lévy /// Recension (2009) de cette biographie en tandem avec celle de Horst Althaus (1999), parue dans la revue Nuit Blanche : Le Commissaire et le Détective

Historical

  • Rockmore, Tom, 1993. Before and After Hegel: A Historical Introduction to Hegel's Thought. Indianapolis: Hackett. ISBN 0-87220-648-3.
  • Löwith, Karl, 1964. From Hegel to Nietzsche: The Revolution in Nineteenth-Century Thought. Translated by David E. Green. New York: Columbia University Press.

Hegel's development

  • Lukács, Georg, 1948. Der junge Hegel. Zürich and Vienna (2nd ed. Berlin, 1954). Eng. tr. Rodney Livingstone as The Young Hegel, London: Merlin Press, 1975. ISBN 0-262-12070-4
  • Harris, H. S., 1972. Hegel's Development: Towards the Sunlight 1770-1801. Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • Harris, H. S., 1983. Hegel's Development: Night Thoughts (Jena 1801-1806). Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • Dilthey, Wilhelm, 1906. Die Jugendgeschichte Hegels (repr. in Gesammelte Schriften, 1959, vol. IV)
  • Haering, Theodor L., 1929, 1938. Hegel: sein Wollen und sein Werk, 2 vols. Leipzig (repr. Aalen: Scientia Verlag, 1963)

Recent English-language literature

  • Inwood, Michael, 1983. Hegel. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul (Arguments of the Philosophers)
  • Rockmore, Tom, 1986. Hegel's Circular Epistemology. Indiana University Press
  • Pinkard, Terry P., 1988. Hegel's Dialectic: The Explanation of Possibility. Temple University Press
  • Westphal, Kenneth, 1989. Hegel's Epistemological Realism. Kluwer Academic Publishers
  • Forster, Michael N., 1989. Hegel and Skepticism. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-38707-4
  • Pippin, Robert B., 1989. Hegel's Idealism: the Satisfactions of Self-Consciousness. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-37923-7. Advocates a stronger continuity between Hegel and Kant.
  • Maker, William, 1994. Philosophy Without Foundations: Rethinking Hegel. State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-2100-7.
  • Winfield, Richard Dien, 1989. Overcoming Foundations: Studies in Systematic Philosophy. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-07008-X.

Phenomenology of Spirit

  • Stern, Robert, 2002. Hegel and the Phenomenology of Spirit. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-21788-1. An introduction for students.
  • Cohen, Joseph, 2007. Le sacrifice de Hegel. (In French language). Paris, Galilée. An extensive study of the question of sacrifice in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit.
  • Braver, Lee. A Thing of This World: a History of Continental Anti-Realism. Northwestern University Press: 2007. ISBN 978-0-8101-2380-9 This study covers Hegel's Phenomenology and its contribution to the history of Continental Anti-Realism.
  • Hyppolite, Jean, 1946. Genèse et structure de la Phénoménologie de l'esprit. Paris: Aubier. Eng. tr. Samuel Cherniak and John Heckman as Genesis and Structure of Hegel's "Phenomenology of Spirit", Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1979. ISBN 0-8101-0594-2. A classic commentary.
  • Kojève, Alexandre, 1947. Introduction à la lecture de Hegel. Paris: Gallimard. Eng. tr. James H. Nichols, Jr., as Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit, Basic Books, 1969. ISBN 0-8014-9203-3 Influential European reading of Hegel.
  • Solomon, Robert C., 1983. In the Spirit of Hegel. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Harris, H. S., 1995. Hegel: Phenomenology and System. Indianapolis: Hackett. A distillation of the author's monumental two-volume commentary Hegel's Ladder.
  • Westphal, Kenneth R., 2003. Hegel's Epistemology: A Philosophical Introduction to the Phenomenology of Spirit. Indianapolis: Hackett. ISBN 0-87220-645-9
  • Russon, John, 2004. Reading Hegel's Phenomenology. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-21692-3.
  • Bristow, William, 2007. Hegel and the Transformation of Philosophical Critique. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199290644
  • Kalkavage, Peter, 2007. The Logic of Desire: An Introduction to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. Philadelphia: Paul Dry Books. ISBN 9781589880375. This work provides insights on Hegel's complex work as a whole as well as serving as a sure guide for every chapter and for virtually every paragraph.
  • Scruton, Roger, "Understanding Hegel" in The Philosopher on Dover Beach, Manchester: Carcanet Press, 1990. ISBN 0-85635-857-6

Logic

  • Burbidge, John, 2006. The Logic of Hegel's Logic: An Introduction. Broadview Press. ISBN 1551116332
  • Hartnack, Justus, 1998. An Introduction to Hegel's Logic. Indianapolis: Hackett. ISBN 0-87220-424-3
  • Houlgate, Stephen, 2005. The Opening of Hegel's Logic: From Being to Infinity. Purdue University Press. ISBN 1557532575
  • Schäfer, Rainer, 2001.Die Dialektik und ihre besonderen Formen in Hegels Logik. Hamburg/Meiner. ISBN 3-7873-1585-3.
  • Wallace, Robert M., 2005. Hegel's Philosophy of Reality, Freedom, and God. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-84484-3. Through a detailed analysis of Hegel's Science of Logic, Wallace shows how Hegel contributes to the broadly Platonic tradition of philosophy that includes Aristotle, Plotinus, and Kant. In the course of doing this, Wallace defends Hegel against major critiques, including the one presented by Charles Taylor in his Hegel.
  • Winfield, Richard Dien, 2006. From Concept to Objectivity: Thinking Through Hegel's Subjective Logic. Ashgate. ISBN 0-7546-5536-9.

Politics

  • Avineri, Shlomo, 1974. Hegel's Theory of the Modern State. Cambridge University Press. Best introduction to Hegel's political philosophy.
  • Ritter, Joachim, 1984. Hegel and the French Revolution. MIT Press.
  • Riedel, Manfred, 1984. Between Tradition and Revolution: The Hegelian Transformation of Political Philosophy, Cambridge.
  • Marcuse, Herbert, 1941. Reason and Revolution: Hegel and the Rise of Social Theory. An introduction to the philosophy of Hegel, devoted to debunking the conception that Hegel's work included in nuce the Fascist totalitarianism of National Socialism; the negation of philosophy through historical materialism.
  • Rose, Gillian, 1981. Hegel Contra Sociology. Athlone Press. ISBN 0-485-12036-4.
  • Scruton, Roger, "Hegel as a conservative thinker" in The Philosopher on Dover Beach, Manchester: Carcanet Press, 1990. ISBN 0-85635-857-6

Aesthetics

  • Bungay, Stephen, 1987. Beauty and Truth. A Study of Hegel's Aesthetics. New York.
  • Danto, Arthur Coleman, 1986. The Philosophical Disenfranchisement of Art. Columbia University Press.
  • Desmond, William, 1986. Art and the Absolute. Albany (New York).
  • Gethmann-Siefert, Annemarie, Einführung in Hegel's Ästhetik, Wilhelm Fink (German).
  • Maker, W. (ed.), 2000. Hegel and Aesthetics. New York.
  • Olivier, Alain P., 2003. Hegel et la Musique. Paris (French).
  • Roche, Mark-William, 1998. Tragedy and Comedy. A Systematic Study and a Critique of Hegel. Albany. New York.
  • Winfield, Richard Dien, 1996. Stylistics. Rethinking the Artforms after Hegel. Albany, Suny Press.

Religion

  • Desmond, William, 2003. Hegel's God: A Counterfeit Double?. Ashgate. ISBN 0-7546-0565-5
  • O'Regan, Cyril, 1994. The Heterodox Hegel. State University of New York Press, Albany. ISBN 0-7914-2006-X. The most authoritative work to date on Hegel's philosophy of religion.
  • Cohen, Joseph, 2005. Le spectre juif de Hegel (in French language); Preface by Jean-Luc Nancy. Paris, Galilée.An extensive study of the Jewish question in Hegel's Early Theological Writings.
  • Dickey, Laurence, 1987. Hegel: Religion, Economics, and the Politics of Spirit, 1770–1807. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-33035-1. A fascinating account of how "Hegel became Hegel", using the guiding hypothesis that Hegel "was basically a theologian manqué".

Hegel's reputation

  • Popper, Karl. The Open Society and Its Enemies, vol. 2: Hegel and Marx. An influential attack on Hegel.
  • Stewart, Jon, ed., 1996. The Hegel Myths and Legends. Northwestern University Press.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Butler, Judith, Subjects of desire: Hegelian reflections in twentieth-century France (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987)
  2. ^ "One of the few things on which the analysts, pragmatists, and existentialists agree with the dialectical theologians is that Hegel is to be repudiated: their attitude toward Kant, Aristotle, Plato, and the other great philosophers is not at all unanimous even within each movement; but opposition to Hegel is part of the platform of all four, and of the Marxists, too." Walter Kaufmann, "The Hegel Myth and Its Method", in From Shakespeare to Existentialism: Studies in Poetry, Religion, and Philosophy by Walter Kaufmann, Beacon Press, Boston 1959, page 88-119
  3. ^ Pinkard, Hegel: A Biography, pp. 2-3; p. 745.
  4. ^ Ibid., 3, incorrectly gives the date as September 20, 1781, and describes Hegel as aged eleven. Cf. the index to Pinkard's book and his "Chronology of Hegel's Life", which correctly give the date as 1783 (pp. 773, 745); see also German Wikipedia.
  5. ^ Ibid., 4.
  6. ^ Ibid., 80.
  7. ^ Ibid., 223.
  8. ^ Ibid., 224-5.
  9. ^ Ibid., 228.
  10. ^ Ibid., 192.
  11. ^ Ibid., 238.
  12. ^ Ibid., 337.
  13. ^ Ibid., 354-5.
  14. ^ Ibid., 356.
  15. ^ Ibid., 658-9.
  16. ^ Norman Davies, Europe: A history p. 687
  17. ^ Pinkard, Hegel: A Biography, p. 548.
  18. ^ See Science of Logic, trans. Miller [Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities, 1989], pp. 133-136 and 138, top
  19. ^ Ibid., 111
  20. ^ Ibid., 145
  21. ^ See Ibid., 146, top
  22. ^ Etext of Philosophy of Right Hegel, 1827 (translated by Dyde, 1897)
  23. ^ Pelczynski, A.Z.; 1984; 'The Significane of Hegel's speration of the state and civil society' pp1-13 in Pelczynski, A.Z. (ed.); 1984; The State and Civil Society; Cambridge University Press
  24. ^ a b Zaleski, Pawel (2008). "Tocqueville on Civilian Society. A Romantic Vision of the Dichotomic Structure of Social Reality". Archiv für Begriffsgeschichte (Felix Meiner Verlag) 50. 
  25. ^ ibid
  26. ^ Hegel, G. W. F.. "Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie". pp. 336–337. http://www.zeno.org/Philosophie/M/Hegel,+Georg+Wilhelm+Friedrich/Vorlesungen+%C3%BCber+die+Geschichte+der+Philosophie/Erster+Teil%3A+Griechische+Philosophie/Erster+Abschnitt.+Von+Thales+bis+Aristoteles/Erstes+Kapitel.+Von+Thales+bis+Anaxagoras/D.+Philosophie+des+Heraklit. Retrieved 2008-07-01. 
  27. ^ Hartnack, Justus; Lars Aagaard-Mogensen, Translator (1998). An Introduction to Hegel's Logic. Hackett Publishing. pp. 16–17. ISBN 0872204243.  Hartnack quotes Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy Volume I.
  28. ^ Hegel, G. W. F.. "Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie". pp. 319–343. http://www.zeno.org/Philosophie/M/Hegel,+Georg+Wilhelm+Friedrich/Vorlesungen+%C3%BCber+die+Geschichte+der+Philosophie/Erster+Teil%3A+Griechische+Philosophie/Erster+Abschnitt.+Von+Thales+bis+Aristoteles/Erstes+Kapitel.+Von+Thales+bis+Anaxagoras/D.+Philosophie+des+Heraklit. Retrieved 2008-07-01. 
  29. ^ Copleston, Frederick Charles (2003). A History of Philosophy. Continuum International Publishing Group. Chapter X. ISBN 0826469019. 
  30. ^ The notable Introduction to Philosophy of History expresses the historical aspects of the dialectic.
  31. ^ Karl Löwith, From Hegel to Nietzsche: The Revolution in Nineteenth-Century Thought, translated by David E. Green, New York: Columbia University Press, 1964.
  32. ^ Benedetto Croce, Guide to Aesthetics, Translated by Patrick Romanell, "Translator's Introduction", The Library of Liberal Arts, The Bobbs–Merrill Co., Inc., 1965
  33. ^ Foreword, Science of Logic, trans. 1969 by A.V. Miller
  34. ^ Prussianism And Socialism by Oswald Spengler
  35. ^ B.Russell, History of western philosophy, pg 701 chapter 22, paragraph 1
  36. ^ Ludwig Boltzmann, Theoretical physics and philosophical problems: Selected writings, p. 155, D. Reidel, 1974, ISBN 90-277-0250-0
  37. ^ G. W. F. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1991, pg 15-16
  38. ^ Berlin, Isaiah, Freedom and Betrayal: Six Enemies of Human Liberty (Princeton University Press, 2003)

Further reading

  • Beiser, F.. Hegel (The Routledge Philosophers). New York: Routledge, 2005.
  • Pinkard, Terry. Hegel: A Biography. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

External links

Hegel's texts online


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel article)

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Not curiosity, not vanity, not the consideration of expediency, not duty and conscientiousness, but an unquenchable, unhappy thirst that brooks no compromise leads us to truth

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (27 August 177014 November 1831) was a German philosopher, best known for attempting to elaborate a comprehensive and systematic ontology from a logical starting point.

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  • Not curiosity, not vanity, not the consideration of expediency, not duty and conscientiousness, but an unquenchable, unhappy thirst that brooks no compromise leads us to truth.
    • Hegel's "Stammbuch" (Album)
  • The great thing however is, in the show of the temporal and the transient to recognize the substance which is immanent and the eternal which is present. For the work of Reason (which is synonymous with the Idea) when considered in its own actuality, is to simultaneously enter external existence and emerge with an infinite wealth of forms, phenomena and phases — a multiplicity that envelops its essential rational kernel with a motley outer rind with which our ordinary consciousness is earliest at home. It is this rind that the Concept must penetrate before Reason can find its own inward pulse and feel it still beating even in the outward phases. But this infinite variety of circumstances which is formed in this element of externality by the light of the rational essence shining in it — all this infinite material, with its regulatory laws — is not the object of philosophy....To comprehend what is, is the task of philosophy: and what is is Reason.
    • Works, VII, 17.
  • Poetry is the universal art of the spirit which has become free in itself and which is not tied down for its realization to external sensuous material; instead, it launches out exclusively in the inner space and the inner time of ideas and feelings.
    • Introduction to Aesthetics (1842), translated by T. M. Knox, (1979)
  • Only one man ever understood me. And he didn't understand me.
    • Last words, as quoted in Famous Last Words (1961) by Barnaby Conrad.

The Phenomenology of the Spirit (1807)

Phänomenologie des Geistes; also translated as The Phenomenology of Mind (see Geist) Full text online

  • The task of conducting the individual mind from its unscientific standpoint to that of science had to be taken in its general sense; we had to contemplate the formative development (Bildung) of the universal [or general] individual, of self-conscious spirit. As to the relation between these two [the particular and general individual], every moment, as it gains concrete form and its own proper shape and appearance, finds a place in the life of the universal individual. The particular individual is incomplete mind, a concrete shape in whose existence, taken as a whole, one determinate characteristic predominates, while the others are found only in blurred outline.
  • In the case of various kinds of knowledge, we find that what in former days occupied the energies of men of mature mental ability sinks to the level of information, exercises, and even pastimes, for children; and in this educational progress we can see the history of the world’s culture delineated in faint outline. This bygone mode of existence has already become an acquired possession of the general mind, which constitutes the substance of the individual, and, by thus appearing externally to him, furnishes his inorganic nature. In this respect culture or development of mind (Bildung), regarded from the side of the individual, consists in his acquiring what lies at his hand ready for him, in making its inorganic nature organic to himself, and taking possession of it for himself. Looked at, however, from the side of universal mind qua general spiritual substance, culture means nothing else than that this substance gives itself its own self-consciousness, brings about its own inherent process and its own reflection into self.
  • The goal to be reached is the mind’s insight into what knowing is. Impatience asks for the impossible, wants to reach the goal without the means of getting there. The length of the journey has to be borne with, for every moment is necessary; and again we must halt at every stage, for each is itself a complete individual form, and is fully and finally considered only so far as its determinate character is taken and dealt with as a rounded and concrete whole, or only so far as the whole is looked at in the light of the special and peculiar character which this determination gives it. Because the substance of individual mind, nay, more, because the universal mind at work in the world (Weltgeist), has had the patience to go through these forms in the long stretch of time’s extent, and to take upon itself the prodigious labour of the world’s history, where it bodied forth in each form the entire content of itself, as each is capable of presenting it; and because by nothing less could that all-pervading mind ever manage to become conscious of what itself is — for that reason, the individual mind, in the nature of the case, cannot expect by less toil to grasp what its own substance contains.
  • The life of God — the life which the mind apprehends and enjoys as it rises to the absolute unity of all things — may be described as a play of love with itself; but this idea sinks to an edifying truism, or even to a platitude, when it does not embrace in it the earnestness, the pain, the patience, and labor, involved in the negative aspect of things.
    • Variant translation: The life of God and divine cognition may well be spoken of as a disporting of Love with itself; but this idea sinks into mere edification, and even insipidity, if it lacks the seriousness, the suffering, the patience, and the labor of the negative.
  • A party first truly shows itself to have won the victory when it breaks up into two parties: for so it proves that it contains in itself the principle with which at first it had to conflict, and thus that it has got beyond the one-sidedness which was incidental to its earliest expression. The interest that formerly divided itself between it and that to which it was opposed now falls entirely within itself, and the opposing principle is left behind and forgotten, just because it is represented by one of the sides in the new controversy that now occupies the minds of men. At the same time, it is to be observed that when the old principle thus reappears, it is no longer what it was before; for it is changed and purified by the higher element into which it is now taken up. In this point of view, that discord which appears at first to be a lamentable breach and dissolution of the unity of a party, is really the crowning proof of its success.
    • Variant translation: the schism incipient in a party, which seems a misfortune, expresses its fortune rather.
  • The force of mind is only as great as its expression; its depth only as deep as its power to expand and lose itself.
  • The very attempt to determine the relationship of a philosophical work to other efforts concerning the same subject, introduces an alien and irrelevant interest which obscures precisely that which matters for the recognition of the truth. Opinion considers the opposition of what is true and false quite rigid, and, confronted with a philosophical system, it expects agreement or contradiction. And in an explanation of such a system, opinion still expects to find one or the other. It does not comprehend the difference of the philosophical systems in terms of the progressive development of the truth, but sees only the contradiction in this difference. The bud disappears as the blossom bursts forth, and one could say that the former is refuted by the latter. In the same way, the fruit declares the blossom to be a false existence of the plant. These forms do not only differ, they also displace each other because they are incompatible. Their fluid nature, however, makes them, at the same time, elements of an organic unity in which they not only do not conflict, but in which one is as necessary as the other; and it is only this equal necessity that constitutes the life of the whole.
  • For the subject matter is not exhausted by any aim, but only by the way in which things are worked out in detail; nor is the result the actual whole, but only the result together with its becoming. The aim, taken by itself, is a lifeless generality; the tendency is a mere drift which still lacks actuality; and the naked result is the corpse which has left the tendency behind.
  • But the other side of its Becoming, History, is a conscious, self-meditating process — Spirit emptied out into Time; but this externalization, this kenosis, is equally an externalization of itself; the negative is the negative of itself. This Becoming presents a slow-moving succession of Spirits, a gallery of images, each of which, endowed with all the riches of Spirit, moves thus slowly just because the Self has to penetrate and digest this entire wealth of its substance. As its fulfilment consists in perfectly knowing what it is, in knowing its substance, this knowing is iat withdrawal into itself in which it abandons its outer existence and gives its existential shape over to recollection. Thus absorbed in itself, it is sunk in the night of its self-consciousness; but in that night its vansihed outer existence is perserved, and this transformed existence- the former one, but now reborn of the Spirit's knowledge- is the new existence, a new world and a new shape of Spirit. In the immediacy of this new existence the Spirit has to start afrsh to bring itself to maturity as if, for it, all that preceeded were lost and it had learned nothing from the experience of the earlier Spirits. But recollection, the inwardizing, of that experience, has perserved it and is the inner-being, and in fact the higher form of the substance. So although to bring itself to maurity, it is none the less on a higher level that it starts. The realm of Spirits which is formed in this way in the outer world constitutes a succession in Time in which one Spirit relieved another of its charge and each took over the empire of the world from its predecessor. Their goal is the revelation of the depth of Spirit, and this is the absolute Notion. This revelation is, therfore, the raising-up of its depth, or its extension, the negativity of this withdrawn 'I', a negativity which is its externalization or its substance; and this revelation is also a Notion's Time, in that this externalization is in its own self externalized, and just as it is in its extention, so it is equally in its depth, in the Seld. The goal, Absolute Knowing, or Spirit that knows itself as Spirit, has for its path the recollection of the Spirits as they are in themselves and as they accomplish the organization of their realm. Their preservation, regarded from the side of their free extistence appearing in the form of contingency, is History,; but regarded from the side of their comprehended organization, it is the Science of Knowing in the sphere of appearance: the two together, comprehended History, form alike the inwardizing and the Calvary of the absolute Spirit, the actuality, truth, and certainty of his throne, without which he would be lifeless and alone. Only
from the chalice of this realm of spirits
foams forth for Him his own infinitude.
  • The final two lines are a rendering of Schiller's Die Freundschaft.
  • Das Wahre ist das Ganze.
    • The true is the whole.
      • Section 20

Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences (1816)

Enzyklopaedie der philosophischen Wissenschaften (1816; 1830)

  • The significance of that 'absolute commandment', know thyself — whether we look at it in itself or under the historical circumstances of its first utterance — is not to promote mere self-knowledge in respect of the particular capacities, character, propensities, and foibles of the single self. The knowledge it commands means that of man's genuine reality — of what is essentially and ultimately true and real — of spirit as the true and essential being.
  • Each of the parts of philosophy is a philosophical whole, a circle rounded and complete in itself. In each of these parts, however, the philosophical Idea is found in a particular specificality or medium. The single circle, because it is a real totality, bursts through the limits imposed by its special medium, and gives rise to a wider circle. The whole of philosophy in this way resembles a circle of circles. The Idea appears in each single circle, but, at the same time, the whole Idea is constituted by the system of these peculiar phases, and each is a necessary member of the organisation.
  • A philosophy without heart and a faith without intellect are abstractions from the true life of knowledge and faith. The man whom philosophy leaves cold, and the man whom real faith does not illuminate, may be assured that the fault lies in them, not in knowledge and faith. The former is still an alien to philosophy, the latter an alien to faith.
  • The Philosophy of Nature takes up the material, prepared for it by physics out of experience, at the point to which physics has brought it, and again transforms it, without basing it ultimately on the authority of experience. Physics therefore must work into the hands of philosophy, so that the latter may translate into a true comprehension (Begriff) the abstract universal transmitted to it, showing how it issues from that comprehension as an intrinsically necessary whole.
  • It is because the method of physics does not satisfy the comprehension that we have to go on further.
  • Not only must philosophy be in agreement with our empirical knowledge of Nature, but the origin and formation of the Philosophy of Nature presupposes and is conditioned by empirical physics. However, the course of a science's origin and the preliminaries of its construction are one thing, while the science itself is another. In the latter, the former can no longer appear as the foundation of the science; here, the foundation must be the necessity of the Concept.
  • The heart is everywhere, and each part of the organism is only the specialized force of the heart itself.
The owl of Minerva first begins her flight with the onset of dusk

Elements of the Philosophy of Right (1820)

Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts (1820)

  • Was vernünftig ist, das ist Wirklich; und was wirklich ist, das ist vernünftig.
    • What is reasonable is real; that which is real is reasonable.
    • Variant translation: What is rational is actual and what is actual is rational. On this conviction the plain man like the philosopher takes his stand, and from it philosophy starts in its study of the universe of spirit as well as the universe of nature. If reflection, feeling, or whatever form subjective consciousness may take, looks upon the present as something vacuous and looks beyond it with the eyes of superior wisdom, it finds itself in a vacuum, and because it is actual only in the present, it is itself mere vacuity. If on the other hand the Idea passes for 'only an Idea', for something represented in an opinion, philosophy rejects such a view and shows that nothing is actual except the Idea.
      • Preface
  • Die Eule der Minerva beginnt erst mit der einbrechenden Dämmerung ihren Flug.
    • The owl of Minerva first begins her flight with the onset of dusk.
    • Variant: When philosophy paints its grey on grey, then has a shape of life grown old. By philosophy's grey on grey it cannot be rejuvenated but only understood. The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk.
      • As translated by T. M. Knox, (1952)
  • The essence of the modern state is the union of the universal with the full freedom of the particular, and with the welfare of individuals.
    • Section 260
  • To be independent of public opinion is the first formal condition of achieving anything great or rational whether in life or in science. Great achievement is assured, however, of subsequent recognition and grateful acceptance by public opinion, which in due course will make it one of its own prejudices
    • Sect. 318, as translated by T. M. Knox, (1952)

Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion (1827)

Online texts at marxists.org

  • The science of religion is one science within philosophy; indeed it is the final one. In that respect it presupposes the other philosophical disciplines and is therefore a result.
  • The beginning of religion, more precisely its content, is the concept of religion itself, that God is the absolute truth, the truth of all things, and subjectively that religion alone is the absolutely true knoweldge.

Lectures on the Philosophy of History (1832)

Also translated as Lectures on the Philosophy of World History; Online translation

  • What experience and history teach is this — that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it.
    • Introduction, as translated by H. B. Nisbet (1975)
    • Variant translation: What experience and history teach is this — that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.
  • Amid the pressure of great events, a general principle gives no help.
  • To him who looks upon the world rationally, the world in its turn presents a rational aspect. The relation is mutual.
  • It is easier to discover a deficiency in individuals, in states, and in providence, than to see their real import or value.
  • Life has a value only when it has something valuable as its object.
  • Serious occupation is labor that has reference to some want.
    • Pt. I, sec. 2, ch. 1
  • It is a matter of perfect indifference where a thing originated; the only question is: "Is it true in and for itself?"
    • Pt. III, sec. 3, ch. 2
  • The Few assume to be the deputies, but they are often only the despoilers of the Many.
    • Pt. IV, sec. 3, ch. 3
  • Abstraktionen in der Wirklichkeit geltand machen, heißt Wirklichkeit zerstören.
    • To make abstractions hold in reality is to destroy reality.
    • Vorlesungen über der Geschichte der Philosophie (herausgegeben von D. Karl Ludwig Michelet) Dritter Band. Berlin, 1836. Verlag von Dunder und humblot. (p. 553)
  • In history, we are concerned with what has been and what is; in philosophy, however, we are concerned not with what belongs exclusively to the past or to the future, but with that which is, both now and eternally — in short, with reason.
    • As translated by H. B. Nisbet (1975)
  • The enquiry into the essential destiny of Reason — as far as it is considered in reference to the World — is identical with the question, what is the ultimate design of the World? And the expression implies that that design is destined to be realised. Two points of consideration suggest themselves: first, the import of this design — its abstract definition; and secondly, its realisation.
  • It must be observed at the outset, that the phenomenon we investigate — Universal History — belongs to the realm of Spirit. The term "World," includes both physical and psychical Nature. Physical Nature also plays its part in the World's History, — and attention will have to be paid to the fundamental natural relations thus involved. But Spirit, and the course of its development, is our substantial object.
  • On the stage on which we are observing it, — Universal History — Spirit displays itself in its most concrete reality.
  • The present is not the occasion for unfolding the idea of Spirit speculatively; for whatever has a place in an Introduction, must, as already observed, be taken as simply historical; something assumed as having been explained and proved elsewhere; or whose demonstration awaits the sequel of the Science of History itself.
  • As the essence of Matter is Gravity, so, on the other hand, we may affirm that the substance, the essence of Spirit is Freedom. All will readily assent to the doctrine that Spirit, among other properties, is also endowed with Freedom; but philosophy teaches that all the qualities of Spirit exist only through Freedom; that all are but means for attaining Freedom; that all seek and produce this and this alone.
  • Matter possesses gravity in virtue of its tendency towards a central point. It is essentially composite; consisting of parts that exclude each other. It seeks its Unity; and therefore exhibits itself as self-destructive, as verging towards its opposite ... Spirit, on the contrary, may be defined as that which has its centre in itself. It has not a unity outside itself, but has already found it; it exists in and with itself. Matter has its essence out of itself; Spirit is self-contained existence (Bei-sich-selbst-seyn).
  • Two things must be distinguished in consciousness; first, the fact that I know; secondly, what I know. In self consciousness these are merged in one; for Spirit knows itself. It involves an appreciation of its own nature, as also an energy enabling it to realise itself; to make itself actually that which it is potentially. According to this abstract definition it may be said of Universal History, that it is the exhibition of Spirit in the process of working out the knowledge of that which it is potentially. And as the germ bears in itself the whole nature of the tree, and the taste and form of its fruits, so do the first traces of Spirit virtually contain the whole of that History.
  • The History of the world is none other than the progress of the consciousness of Freedom; a progress whose development according to the necessity of its nature, it is our business to investigate.
  • The destiny of the spiritual World, and, — since this is the substantial World, while the physical remains subordinate to it, or, in the language of speculation, has no truth as against the spiritual, — the final cause of the World at large, we allege to be the consciousness of its own freedom on the part of Spirit, and ipso facto, the reality of that freedom.
  • Although Freedom is, primarily, an undeveloped idea, the means it uses are external and phenomenal; presenting themselves in History to our sensuous vision. The first glance at History convinces us that the actions of men proceed from their needs, their passions, their characters and talents; and impresses us with the belief that such needs, passions and interests are the sole springs of action — the efficient agents in this scene of activity. Among these may, perhaps, be found aims of a liberal or universal kind — benevolence it may be, or noble patriotism; but such virtues and general views are but insignificant as compared with the World and its doings. We may perhaps see the Ideal of Reason actualized in those who adopt such aims, and within the sphere of their influence; but they bear only a trifling proportion to the mass of the human race; and the extent of that influence is limited accordingly. Passions, private aims, and the satisfaction of selfish desires, are on the other hand, most effective springs of action. Their power lies in the fact that they respect none of the limitations which justice and morality would impose on them; and that these natural impulses have a more direct influence over man than the artificial and tedious discipline that tends to order and self-restraint, law and morality. When we look at this display of passions, and the consequences of their violence; the Unreason which is associated not ,only with them, but even (rather we might say especially) with good designs and righteous aims; when we see the evil, the vice, the ruin that has befallen the most flourishing kingdoms which the mind of man ever created, we can scarce avoid being filled with sorrow at this universal taint of corruption: and, since this decay is not the work of mere Nature, but of the Human Will — a moral embitterment — a revolt of the Good Spirit (if it have a place within us) may well be the result of our reflections.
  • The first remark we have to make, and which — though already presented more than once — cannot be too often repeated when the occasion seems to call for it, — is that what we call principle, aim, destiny, or the nature and idea of Spirit, is something merely general and abstract. Principle — Plan of Existence — Law — is a hidden, undeveloped essence, which as such — however true in itself — is not completely real.
  • Aims, principles, &c., have a place in our thoughts, in our subjective design only; but not yet in the sphere of reality. That which exists for itself only, is a possibility, a potentiality; but has not yet emerged into Existence. A second element must be introduced in order to produce actuality — viz. actuation, realization; and whose motive power is the Will — the activity of man in the widest sense.
  • We assert then that nothing has been accomplished without interest on the part of the actors; and — if interest be called passion, inasmuch as the whole individuality, to the neglect of all other actual or possible interests and claims, is devoted to an object with every fibre of volition, concentrating all its desires and powers upon it — we may affirm absolutely that nothing great in the World has been accomplished without passion.
    • Often abbreviated to: Nothing great in the World has been accomplished without passion.
    • Variant translation: We may affirm absolutely that nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without enthusiasm.
  • Truth is the unity of the universal and subjective will; and the Universal is to be found in the State, in its laws, its universal and rational arrangements. The State is the Divine Idea as it exists on earth. We have in it, therefore, the object of history in a more definite shape than before; that in which Freedom obtains objectivity. For Law is the objectivity of the Spirit.
  • This final aim is God's purpose with the world; but God is the absolutely perfect Being, and can, therefore, will nothing but himself.
  • Science and knowledge, especially that of philosophy, came from the Arabs into the West.
    • Lectures on the Philosophy of History, H.G. Bohn, 1857, part IV. The German world, p.374

Quotes about Hegel

  • If Nietzsche and Hegel serve as alibis to the masters of Dachau and Karaganda, that does not condemn their entire philosophy. But it does lead to the suspicion that one aspect of their thought, or of their logic, can lead to these appalling conclusions
  • The secret of Hegel's dialectic lies ultimately in this alone, that it negates theology through philosophy in order then to negate philosophy through theology. Both the beginning and the end are constituted by theology; philosophy stands in the middle as the negation of the first positedness, but the negation of the negation is again theology.
  • Dr. J. O. Wisdom once observed to me that he knew people who thought there was no philosophy after Hegel, and others who thought there was none before Wittgenstein; and he saw no reason for excluding the possibility that both were right.
  • Altogether, Hegel's conversation was always a kind of monologue, sighed forth by fits and starts in a toneless voice. The baroqueness of his expressions often started me, and I remember many of them. On beautiful starry-skied evening, we two stood next to each other at a window, and I, a young man of twenty-two who had eaten well and had good coffee, enthused about the stars and called them the abode of the bessed. But the master grumbled to himself: "The stars, hum! hum! the stars are only a gleaming leprosy in the sky." For God's sake, I shouted, then is no happy locality up there to reward virtue after death? But he, starring at me with his pale eyes, said cuttingly: "So you want to get a tip for having nursed your sick mother and not having poisoned your dear brother?" — Saying that, he looked around anxiously, but he immediately seemed reassured when he saw that it was only Heinrich Beer, who had approached to invite him to play whist...
  • A philosophy like Hegel's is a self-revelation of the psychic background and, philosophically, a presumption. Psychologically it amounts to an invasion by the Unconscious. The peculiar, high-flown language Hegel uses bears out this view — it is reminiscent of the megalomaniac language of schizophrenics, who use terrific, spellbinding words to reduce the transcendent to subjective form, to give banalities the charm of novelty, or pass off commonplaces as searching wisdom. So bombastic a terminology is a symptom of weakness, ineptitude, and lack of substance.
  • The criticism of the German philosophy of state and right, which attained its most consistent, richest, and last formulation through Hegel, is both a critical analysis of the modern state and of the reality connected with it, and the resolute negation of the whole manner of the German consciousness in politics and right as practiced hereto, the most distinguished, most universal expression of which, raised to the level of science, is the speculative philosophy of right itself.
    • Karl Marx in A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (1844) Introduction
  • Hegel remarks somewhere that history tends to repeat itself. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.
    • Karl Marx in The Eighteenth Brumiare of Louis Bonaparte (1852)
  • However rebellious against the ways of the Seminary Hegel became, he remained the industrious, serious fellow he always was; his friends at the Seminary referred to him by the nickname 'the old man'... He was not content with simply pub crawling, carousing and making merry; he was still reading quite a bit and still remained extremely serious about learning.
    • Terry Pinkard in Hegel: A Biography (2000) ISBN 0521496799
  • Hegel found that in the Homeric epics the depiction of physical objects, however detailed and stylized, did not intrude upon the rhythm and vitality of the poem. Descriptive writing in modern literature, on the other hand, struck him as contingent and lifeless…. Compared to Homeric or even to medieval times, modern man inhabits the physical world like a rapacious stranger. These ideas greatly influenced Marx and Engels. It contributed to their own theory of the ‘alienation’ of the individual under capitalist modes of production.
  • We will never be finished with reading and rereading Hegel.
  • ...a colossal piece of mystification which will yet provide posterity with an inexhaustible theme for laughter at our times, that it is a pseudo-philosophy paralyzing all mental powers, stifling all real thinking, and, by the most outrageous misuse of language, putting in its place the hollowest, most senseless, thoughtless, and, as is confirmed by its success, most stupefying verbiage...
  • The height of audacity in serving up pure nonsense, in stringing together senseless and extravagant mazes of words, such as had been only previously known in madhouses, was finally reached in Hegel, and became the instrument of the most barefaced, general mystification that has ever taken place, with a result which will appear fabulous to posterity, as a monument to German stupidity.
  • In the sphere of thought, absurdity and perversity remain the masters of the world, and their dominion is suspended only for brief periods.
  • ...that clumsy and nauseating charlatan, that pernicious person, who completely disorganized and ruined the minds of a whole generation.
  • What was senseless and without meaning at once took refuge in obscure exposition and language. Fichte was the first to grasp and make use of this privilege; Schelling at best equalled him in this, and a host of hungry scribblers without intellect or honesty soon surpassed them both. But the greatest effrontery in serving up sheer nonsense, in scrabbling together senseless and maddening webs of words, such as had previously been heard only in madhouses, finally appeared in Hegel...
  • ...a commonplace, inane, loathsome, repulsive and ignorant charlatan, who with unparalleled effrontery compiled a system of crazy nonsense that was trumpeted abroad as immortal wisdom by his mercenary followers...
  • If I were to say that the so-called philosophy of this fellow Hegel is a colossal piece of mystification which will yet provide posterity with an inexhaustible theme for laughter at our times, that it is a pseudo-philosophy paralyzing all mental powers, stifling all real thinking, and, by the most outrageous misuse of language, putting in its place the hollowest, most senseless, thoughtless, and, as is confirmed by its success, most stupefying verbiage, I should be quite right. Further, if I were to say that this summus philosophus ... scribbled nonsense quite unlike any mortal before him, so that whoever could read his most eulogized work, the so-called Phenomenology of the Mind, without feeling as if he were in a madhouse, would qualify as an inmate for Bedlam, I should be no less right.

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Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

< Back to the School of Philosophy

[I have seen the master composing with obscure and intricate signs, so that they could not be easily deciphered.] I often used to see him looking around anxiously as if in fear he might be understood. He was very fond of me, for he was sure I would never betray him. As a matter of fact, I then thought that he was very obsequious. Once, when I grew impatient with him for saying: 'All that is, is rational', he smiled strangely and remarked, 'it may also be said that all that is rational must be'. Then he looked about him hastily; but he was speedily reassured, for only Heinrich Beer had heard his words. (Heinrich Heine, cited in McCarney, J: Hegel on History, ISBN 0-415-11695-3)

Hegel has become notorious for the incredible obscurity of his writing. I am reading the back cover of Peter Singer's introduction to Hegel, where one can find a typical description of the non-specialist's impression.

Hegel has become a stock example of an obscure philosopher - a name to conjure with, but not someone whose work can be read and understood. Yet his importance is universally acknowledged, and we are still living in an intellectual climate decisively influenced by his ideas. (ISBN 0-19-287564-7)

However, it is probably best to read something written by Hegel to form your own opinion about his prose. A good place to start is the first couple of pages of the Introduction in the Phenomenology of Spirit.

Those who are not intimidated by the text face a further difficulty: the public reception of Hegel's philosophy is full of misconceptions and misleading stereotypes. These prejudices can contribute to blur the understanding of Hegel's works.

Essential reading

The Hegel Myths and Legends (Jon Stewart, 1996). You can find this article at hegel.net and at marxists.org.

Biography

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Please read one of the following articles:

The Phenomenology of Spirit

The Phenomenology of Spirit (also translated as the Phenomenology of Mind) is widely acknowledged as one of Hegel's most significant contributions to philosophy (perhaps his most important work). It is a very interesting and complex book. The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article on Hegel included a heroic attempt to summarize the Phenomenology which gives an idea of the far reaching implications of the work, from metaphysics to ethics and political philosophy.

Bibliographies

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