View Full Version : G. W. F. Hegel: Lectures on the History of Philosophy

Friday, July 8th, 2005, 06:39 AM

by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Introduction to text:
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831), the great Idealist philosopher, did not belong to the so-called "Romantic school" in Germany. Nevertheless, he struck some characteristic romantic notes in his work.. Although a great rationalist, his "reason" was more like Vernunft than Verstand (see selection from Coleridge). And in his lectures on the philosophy of history, delivered at Berlin between 1822 and 1831, he exhibited .a strong historical sense, put "Spirit" (as opposed to "Matter") at the heart of the historical process, and stressed the role played by great individuals. Hegel's enormous influence on subsequent thought, especially on the Young Hegelians, including Marx, is well known.

LIKE the soul-conductor Mercury, the Idea is in truth, the leader of peoples and of the World; and Spirit, the rational and necessitated will of that conductor, is and has been the director of the events of the World's History. To become acquainted with Spirit in this its office of guidance, is the object of our present undertaking . . . .

The only Thought which Philosophy brings with it to the contemplation of History, is the simple conception of Reason; that Reason is the Sovereign of the World; that the history of the world, therefore, presents us with a rational process. This conviction and intuition is a hypothesis in the domain of history as such. In that of Philosophy it is no hypothesis. It is there 'proved by speculative cognition, that Reason -and this term may here suffice us, without investigating the relation sustained by the Universe to the Divine Being,-is Substance, as well as Infinite Power; its own Infinite Material underlying all the natural and spiritual life which it originates, as also the Infinite Form, --that which sets this Material in motion. On the one hand, Reason is the substance of the Universe; viz. that by which and in which all reality has its being and subsistence. On the other hand, it is the Infinite Energy of the Universe; since Reason is not so powerless as to be incapable of producing anything but a mere ideal, a mere intention-having its place outside reality, nobody knows where; something separate and abstract, in the heads of certain human beings.

If the clear idea of Reason is not already developed in our minds, in beginning the study, of Universal History, we should at least have the firm, unconquerable faith that Reason does exist there; and that tile World of intelligence and conscious volition is not abandoned to chance, but must show itself in the light of the self-cognizant Idea . . . .

The nature of Spirit may be understood by a glance at its direct opposite-Matter. As the essence of ,Matter is Gravity, so, on the other hand, we may affirm that the substance, tile essence of Spirit is Freedom. . . . Matter has its essence out of itself; Spirit is self -contained existence. Now this is Freedom, exactly. For if I am dependent, my being is referred to something else which I am not; I cannot exist independently Of something external. I am free, on the contrary, when my existence depends upon myself. This self-contained existence of Spirit is none other than self-consciousness-consciousness of one's own being. Two things must be distinguished in consciousness; first, the fact that I know; secondly, what I know. In self consciousness these arc merged in one; for Spirit knows itself. It involves an appreciation of its own nature, as also an energy enabling it to realize 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 tile exhibition of Spirit in tile process of working out the knowledge of that which it is potentially. And as the germ bears in itself the whole nature of rite tree, and the taste anal 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 general statement given above, of the various (Trades in tile consciousness of Freedom-and which we applied in the first instance to, the fact that the Eastern nations knew only that one is free; tile Greek and Roman world only that soave arc free; whilst we know that all men absolutely (man as min) arc free,-supplies us with the natural division of Universal History, and suggests the mode of its discussion.

[The "particular aims" of "great historical men"] involve those large issues which arc the will of the World-Spirit. They may he called heroes, inasmuch as they have derived their purposes and their vocation, not from the calm, regular course of things, sanctioned by tile existing order; but from a concealed fount-one which has not attained to phenomenal, present existence,--from that inner Spirit, still hidden beneath the surface, which, impinging on the outer world as on a shell, bursts is in pieces, because it is another kernel than that which belonged to the shell in question. They are men, therefore, who appear to draw the impulse of their life from themselves; and whose deeds have produced a condition of things and a complex of historical relations which appear only their interest, and their work.

Such individuals had no consciousness of the general Idea they were unfolding, while prosecuting those aims of theirs; on the contrary, they were practical, political men. But at the same time they were thinking men, who had an insight inter the requirements of the time-what was ripe for development.

It must further be understood that all the worth which the human being possesses-all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State. For his spiritual reality consists in this, that his own essence-Reason-is objectively present to him, that it possesses objective immediate existence for him. Thus only is he fully conscious; thus only is he a partaker of morality-of a just and moral social and political life. For Truth is the Unity of the universal and subjective Will; and the Universal is to be found in rile 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, and lives in the enjoyment of this objectivity. For Law is the objectivity of Spirit; volition in its true form. Only that will which obeys law, is free; for it obeys itself--it is independent and so free. When the State or our country constitutes a community of existence; when the subjective will of man submits to laws,--the contradiction between Liberty and Necessity vanishes. The Rational has necessary existence, as being the reality and substance of things, and we are free in recognizing it as law, and following it as the substance of our own being. The objective and the subjective will are then reconciled, and present one identical homogeneous whole. For the morality (Sittlichkeit) of the State is not of that ethical (moralische) reflective kind, in which one's own conviction bears sway; this latter is rather the peculiarity of the modern time, while the true antique morality is based on the principle of abiding by one's duty [to the state at large] . . . .

The development in extenso of the Idea of the State belongs to the Philosophy of Jurisprudence; but it must be observed that in the theories of our time various errors are current respecting it, which pass for established truths, and have become fixed prejudices. We will mention only a few of them, giving prominence to such as have a reference to the object of our history.

The error which first meets us is the direct contradictory of our principle that the state presents the realization of Freedom; the opinion, viz., that man is free by nature, but that in society, in the State-to which nevertheless he is irresistibly impelled-he must limit this natural freedom . . . .

If the principle of regard for the individual will is recognized as the only basis of political liberty, viz., that nothing should be done by or for the State to which all the members of the body politic have not given their sanction, we have, properly speaking, no Constitution.

Summing up what has been said of the State, we find that we have been led to call its vital principle, as actuating the individuals who compose it,--Morality. The State, its laws, its arrangements, constitute the rights of its members; its natural features, its mountains, air, and waters, are their country, their fatherland, their outward material property the history of this State, their deeds; what their ancestors have produced, belongs to them and lives in their memory. All is their possession, just as they are possessed by it; for it constitutes their existence, their being.

Their imagination is occupied with the ideas thus presented, while the adoption of these laws, and of a fatherland so conditioned is the expression of their will. It is this matured totality which thus constitutes one Being, the spirit of one People. To it the individual members belong; each unit is the Son of his Nation, and at the same time-in as far as the State to which he belongs is undergoing development-the Son of his Age. None remains behind it, still less advances beyond it. This spiritual being (the Spirit of his Time) is his; he is a representative of it; it is that n which he originated, and in which he lives. Among the Athenians the word Athens had a double import; suggesting primarily, a complex of political institutions, but no less, in the second place, that Goddess who -represented the Spirit of the People and its unity . . . .

The remark next in order is, that each particular National genius is to be treated as only One Individual in the process of Universal History. For that history is the exhibition of the divine, absolute development of Spirit in its highest forms,-that gradation by which it attains its truth, and consciousness of itself. The forms which these grades of progress assume are the characteristic "National Spirits" of History; the peculiar tenor of their moral life, of their Government, their Art, Religion, and Science. To realize these grades is the boundless impulse of the World-Spirit--the goal of its irresistible urging; for this division into organic members, and the full development of each, is its Idea . . . .

The mutations which history presents have been long characterized in the general, as an advance to something better, more perfect. The changes that take place in Nature-how infinitely manifold soever they may be-exhibit only a perpetually self-repeating cycle; in Nature there happens "nothing new under the sun," and the multiform play of its phenomena so far induces a feeling of ennui; only in those changes which take place in the region of Spirit does anything new arise. This peculiarity in the world of mind has indicated in the case of man an altogether different destiny from that of merely natural objects-in which we find always one and the same stable character, to which all change reverts;-namely, a real capacity for change, and that for the better,--an impulse of perfectibility . . . .

The principle of Development involves also the existence of a latent germ of being-a capacity or potentiality striving to realise itself. This formal conception finds actual existence in Spirit; which has the History of the World for its theatre, its possession, and the sphere of its realization. It is not of such a nature as to be tossed to and fro amid the superficial play of accidents, but is rather the absolute arbiter of things; entirely unmoved by contingencies, which, indeed, it applies and manages for its own purposes . . . . That development (of natural organisms) takes place in a direct, unopposed, unhindered manner. Between the Idea and its realization-the essential constitution of the original germ and the conformity to it of the existence derived from it-no disturbing influence can intrude. But in relation to Spirit it is quite otherwise. The realization of its Idea is mediated by consciousness and will; these very faculties are, in the first instance, sunk in their primarv merely natural life; the first object and goal of their striving is the realization of their merely natural destiny,-but which, since it is Spirit that animates it, is possessed of vast attractions and displays great power and moral richness. Thus Spirit is at war with itself; it has to overcome itself as its most formidable obstacle. That development which in the sphere of Nature is a peaceful growth, is in that of Spirit, a severe, a mighty conflict with itself. What Spirit really strives for is the realization of its Ideal being; but in doing so, it hides that goal from its own vision, and is proud and well satisfied in this alienation from it.

Its expansion, therefore, does not present the harmless tranquillity of mere growth, as does that of organic life, but a stern reluctant working against itself. It exhibits, moreover, not the mere formal conception of development, but the attainment of a definite result. The goal of attainment we determined at the outset: it is Spirit in its completeness, in its essential nature, i.e., Freedom.

Universal history-as already demonstrated-shows the development of the consciousness of Freedom on the part of Spirit, and of the consequent realization of that Freedom. This development implies a gradation-a series of increasingly adequate expressions or manifestations of Freedom, which result from its Idea. The logical, and-as still more prominent-the dialectical nature of the Idea in general, viz., that it is self-determined-that it assumes successive forms which it successively transcends; and by this very process of transcending its earlier stages, gains an affirmative, and, in fact, a richer and more concrete shape; this necessity of its nature, and the necessary series of pure abstract forms which the Idea successively assumes-is exhibited in the department of logic. Here we need adopt only one of its results, viz. that every step in the process, as differing from any other, has its determinate peculiar principle. In history this principle is idiosyncrasy of Spirit-peculiar National Genius. It is within the limitations of this. idiosyncrasy that the spirit of the nation, concretely manifested, expresses every aspect of its consciousness and will-the whole cycle of its realization.

source (http://www.cooper.edu/humanities/core/hss3/g_hegel2.html)

Saturday, July 9th, 2005, 06:32 PM
Great find. :)

My problem with Hegelianism is that it is always up to the subjective mind of the philosopher what trends in history are chosen as thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis. For example, mass-immigration/globalization could be seen as anti-thesis, creating an ethno-pluralist world as the synthesis. But it could also be seen as the synthesis in itself, creation of a united humanity. We only know afterwards. Apart from that, it is a very useful tool in trying to understand history.

fms panzerfaust
Saturday, July 9th, 2005, 06:47 PM
I have the entire book in pdf format, but is 1,64 mb for upload (more than 400 pages). I find it in a web search. Recently I bought it in print-format too.
Unfortunately the limit is 1mb, then I can't upload it.

Sunday, July 10th, 2005, 07:38 PM
Philosophy of History

Paul Newall

History may not seem to have much to do with philosophy butójust as we have already seen with science, politics and artóit relies on philosophical assumptions and concepts as much as any other subject. In this discussion we'll introduce some of the philosophical issues within history and hence try to gain a deeper appreciation of it. First, however, we need to know what we're dealing with.
source (http://www.galilean-library.org/int18.html)

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007, 09:16 PM
Note on the text (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/ToC/Hegel-Hist%20of%20Phil.htm#Note)
Inaugural Address (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/hegel%20-%20hist%20phil/address.htm)
Prefatory Note (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/hegel%20-%20hist%20phil/preface.htm)
Introduction (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/hegel%20-%20hist%20phil/intro.htm)
A. Notion of the History of Philosophy (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/hegel%20-%20hist%20phil/Intro%20-%20A.htm)
1. Common Ideas regarding the History of Philosophy
2. Explanatory remarks on the Definition of the History of Philosophy
3. Results obtained with respect to the notion of the History of Philosophy
B. Relation of Philosophy to other Departments of Knowledge (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/hegel%20-%20hist%20phil/Intro%20-%20B.htm)
1. The Historical Side of this Connection
2. Separation of Philosophy from other allied departments of Knowledge
3. Commencement of Philosophy and its History
C. Division, Sources, and Method adopted in treating of the History of Philosophy (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/hegel%20-%20hist%20phil/Intro%20-%20C.htm)
1. Division of the History of Philosophy
2. Sources of the History of Philosophy
3. Method of Treatment adopted

Oriental Philosophy


Introduction (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/modintro.htm)

Section One

Modern Philosophy in its First Statement (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/modern%20sect%201.htm)

A. Bacon (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/bacon.htm)

B. Jacob Boehme (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/boehme.htm)

Section Two

Period of the Thinking Understanding (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/modern%20sect%202.htm)

Chapter I. - The Metaphysics of the Understanding (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/modern%20sect%202%20ch%201.htm)

A. First Division (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/modern%20sect%202%201st%20div.htm)

1. Descartes (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/Descartes.htm)

2. Spinoza (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/spinoza.htm)

3. Malebranche (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/Malebranche.htm)

B. Second Division (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/modern%20sect%202%202nd%20div.htm)

1. Locke (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/locke.htm)

2. Hugo Grotius (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/grotius.htm)

3. Thomas Hobbes (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/hobbes.htm)

4. Cudworth, Clarke, Wollaston (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/cudworth.htm)

5. Puffendorf (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/Puffendorf.htm)

6. Newton (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/newton.htm)

C. Third Division (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/modern%20sect%202%203rd%20div.htm)

1. Leibnitz (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/leibniz.htm)

2. Wolff (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/wolff.htm)

3. German Popular Philosophy (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/german%20popular%20philosophy.htm)

Chapter II. - Transition Period (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/Modern%20sect2%20ch%20II.htm)

A. Idealism and Scepticism (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/idealism-scepticism.htm)

1. Berkeley (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/berkeley.htm)

2. Hume (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/hume.htm)

B. Scottish Philosophy (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/Scottish%20Philosophy.htm)

1. Thomas Reid (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/reid.htm)

2. James Beattie (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/beattie.htm)

3. James Oswald (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/oswald.htm)

4. Dugald Stewart (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/stewart.htm)

C. French Philosophy (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/french.htm)

1. The Negative Aspect (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/French%20-%20negative.htm)

2. The Positive Aspect (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/French%20-%20positive.htm)

a. Materialism

b. Robinet

3. Idea of a Concrete Universal Unity (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/French%20-%20idea.htm)

a. Opposition between Sensation and Thought

b. Montesquieu

c. Helvetius

d. Rousseau

D. The German Illumination (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/german.htm)

Section Three

Recent German Philosophy (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/recent%20german.htm)

A. Jacobi (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/jacobi.htm)

B. Kant (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/kant.htm)

C. Fichte (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/fichte.htm)

1. The First Principles of Fichte's Philosophy

2. Fichte's System in a Re-constituted Form

3. The More Important of the Followers of Fichte

a. Friedrich von Schlegel

b. Schleiermacher

c. Novalis

d. Fries, Bouterweck, Krug

D. Schelling (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/schelling.htm)

E. Final Result (http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Hist%20Phil/final.htm)

Note on the Text: The lectures presented herein were first published between 1833-36 in volumes 13-15 in the first edition of Hegel's Werke. They were edited by Hegel's former student, Karl Ludwig Michelet. According to Frederick C. Beiser (Introduction to the Bison Book Edition, U. of Neb. Press, 1995), the source material consisted of Hegel's notebook from his Jena lectures (1805-06), a fragment written by Hegel on the history of philosophy, Hegel's introduction to his Berlin lectures (1820), and several sets of student lecture notes. According to Haldane, the Jena volume is "made the basis, as representing the main elements of the subject afterwards to be more fully amplified . . . ." (Translator's Note) A shortened edition of the Werke was issued in 1840-44. The present translation - the first part of which was published in 1892 - is taken from this shortened edition.

The Introduction of this e-text was originally posted by Hegel by HyperText (http://hegel.marxists.org/). The format was subsequently modified, the translator's corrections (as found at the end of vol. III) and footnotes added, and some typographical errors corrected. Part Three: Modern Philosophy was published by J. Carl Mickelsen utilizing resources of the University of Idaho, Department of Philosophy.