The Philosophy of History

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Courier Corporation, Mar 6, 2012 - Philosophy - 480 pages
Hegel wrote this classic as an introduction to a series of lectures on the "philosophy of history" — a novel concept in the early nineteenth century. With this work, he created the history of philosophy as a scientific study. He reveals philosophical theory as neither an accident nor an artificial construct, but as an exemplar of its age, fashioned by its antecedents and contemporary circumstances, and serving as a model for the future. The author himself appears to have regarded this book as a popular introduction to his philosophy as a whole, and it remains the most readable and accessible of all his philosophical writings.
Eschewing the methods of original history (written during the period in question) and reflective history (written after the period has passed), Hegel embraces philosophic history, which employs a priori philosophical thought to interpret history as a rational process. Reason rules history, he asserts, through its infinite freedom (being self-sufficient, it depends on nothing beyond its own laws and conclusions) and power (through which it forms its own laws). Hegel argues that all of history is caused and guided by a rational process, and God's seemingly unknowable plan is rendered intelligible through philosophy. The notion that reason rules the world, he concludes, is both necessary to the practice of philosophic history and a conclusion drawn from that practice.
 

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User Review  - DinadansFriend - LibraryThing

to be truly Hegelian, I should write this review in terminology which especially in translation, will be a fertile field for further analysis by other hands :-) ..This translation has been received ... Read full review

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User Review  - HadriantheBlind - LibraryThing

How on earth can I 'review' this beast of an author, much less give his works a star rating? I'll try anyway. This is one of his more accessible works, thankfully. If you have to read him, start here ... Read full review

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About the author (2012)

Born the son of a government clerk in Stuttgart, Germany, George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel received his education at Tubingen in theology. Arguably the most influential philosopher of the nineteenth century, Hegel's lectures---most notably at the University of Berlin from 1818 to his death---deeply influenced not only philosophers and historians but generations of political activists of both the Right and Left, champions of the all-powerful nation-state on the one hand and Karl Marx on the other. His lectures at Berlin were the platform from which he set forth the system elaborated in his writings. At the heart of Hegel's philosophy is his philosophy of history. In his view, history works in a series of dialectical steps---thesis, antithesis, synthesis. His whole system is founded on the great triad---the Idea as thesis, Nature as antithesis, and the Spirit as synthesis. The Idea is God's will; Nature is the material world, including man; Spirit is man's self-consciousness of the Idea, his coming to an understanding of God's will. The formation over time of this consciousness is History. Spirit does not exist in the abstract for Hegel, but is comprehended in "peoples," cultures, or civilizations, in practice states. Hegelian Freedom is only possible in organized states, where a National Spirit can be realized. This National Spirit, a part of the World Spirit, is realized in History largely through the actions of World Historical Individuals, heroes such as Napoleon, who embody that Spirit. A profound misunderstanding of this doctrine led many German intellectuals to subvert it into a narrow, authoritarian nationalism that glorified the "state" as an end in itself. Although Hegel saw his philosophy as universal, applicable throughout the world, the focus and inspiration of his thought was European. And in his own even smaller world, he was content to support and work for the Prussian state, which he believed to be the highest development of history up to that time.

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