Sunday, April 23, 2017

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and the philosophy of history

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) is an influential philosopher best know for his analysis of history. Librarian James Billington says,
[To Hegel] everything became relative to historical context because his own capacity for seeing the whole picture was assumed to be absolute... His method applied reason to precisely those phenomena that most interested the romantic mind: art, philosophy, and religion. (Fire in the Minds of Men, 1980)
This post is a collection of my favorite quotes from Hegel.

Analysis of history

"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... Thus absorbed in itself, it is sunk in the night of its self-consciousness; but in that night its vanished outer existence is preserved, 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." (The Phenomenology of Spirit, 1807)

"Reading the morning newspaper is the realist's morning prayer. One orients one's attitude toward the world either by God or by what the world is. The former gives as much security as the latter, in that one knows how one stands." (Quoted in Miscellaneous writings of G.W.F. Hegel by Jon Bartley Stewart)

Analysis of concepts

"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 Phenomenology of Spirit, 1807)

"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?" (Lectures on the Philosophy of History, 1832)

"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." (Lectures on Aesthetics, 1835)

"Any idea is a generalization, and generalization is a property of thinking. To generalize something means to think it." (Elements of the Philosophy of Right, 1820)

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