Hegel


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Early life

The three became close friends , sharing a dislike for the restrictive environment of the seminary.

Hegelian Dialectics and Conflict Transformation

In , Hegel secured a position as an unsalaried lecturer at the University of Jena with the encouragement of his old friend Schelling , who was Extraordinary Professor there. The same year, he had an illegitimate son, Georg Ludwig Friedrich Fischer by his landlady, Christiana Burkhardt who had been abandoned by her husband. However, unable to find more suitable employment, he was then forced to move from Jena and to accept a position as editor of a newspaper, the "Bamberger Zeitung" , in Bamberg.

From until , he was headmaster of a gymnasium in Nuremberg , where he adapted his "Phenomenology of Mind" for use in the classroom, and developed the idea of a comprehensive encyclopedia of the philosophical sciences later published in In , he married Marie Helena Susanna von Tucher , the eldest daughter of a Senator, and they had two sons, Karl Friedrich Wilhelm in and Immanuel Thomas Christian in and, in , his illegitimate son, Ludwig Fischer, who was by then orphaned , joined the Hegel household.

Hegelianism - Wikipedia

This period saw the publication of his second major work, "Wissenschaft der Logik" "Science of Logic" in three volumes in , and From to , Hegel taught at the University of Heidelberg , and then he took an offer for the chair of philosophy at the University of Berlin , where he remained until his death in At the height of his fame, his lectures attracted students from all over Germany and beyond, and he was appointed Rector of the University in , and decorated by King Frederick William III of Prussia for his service to the Prussian state in A number of other works on the Philosophy of History , Philosophy of Religion , Aesthetics , and the history of philosophy were compiled from the lecture notes of his students and published posthumously.

His works have a reputation for their abstractness and difficulty no less an academic than Bertrand Russell claimed that Hegel was the single most difficult philosopher to understand , and for the breadth of the topics they attempt to cover. These difficulties are magnified for those reading him in translation , since his philosophical language and terminology in German often do not have direct analogues in other languages e.

Hegel's thought can be seen as part of a progression of philosophers going back to Plato , Aristotle , Plotinus , Leibniz , Spinoza , Rousseau and Kant who can generally be described as Idealists , and who regarded freedom or self-determination as real, and as having important ontological implications for soul or mind or divinity. He developed a new form of thinking and Logic , which he called "speculative reason" 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.

His method was to begin with ultra-basic concepts like Being and Nothing , and to develop these through a long sequence of elaborations towards solutions that take the form of a series of concepts. He employed the tried-and-tested process of dialectic which dates back to Aristotle and involves resolving a thesis and its opposing antithesis into a synthesis , but asserted that this logical process was not just a matter of form as separate from content, but had applications and repercussions in the real world. He also took the concept of the dialectic one step further , arguing that the new synthesis is not the final truth of the matter, but rather became the new thesis with its corresponding antithesis and synthesis.

This process would continue effectively ad infinitum , until reaching the ultimate synthesis , which is what Hegel called the Absolute Idea. Hegel's main philosophical project, then, was to take the contradictions and tensions he saw throughout modern philosophy, culture and society, and interpret them as part of a comprehensive, evolving, rational unity that, in different contexts, he called "the absolute idea" or "absolute knowledge". He believed that everything was interrelated and that the separation of reality into discrete parts as all philosophers since Aristotle had done was wrong.

He advocated a kind of historically-minded Absolute Idealism developed out of the Transcendental Idealism of Immanuel Kant , in which the universe would realize its spiritual potential through the development of human society , and in which mind and nature can be seen as two abstractions of one indivisible whole Spirit. However, the traditional triadic dialectical interpretation of Hegel's approach thesis - antithesis - synthesis is perhaps too simplistic. From Hegel's point of view, analysis of any apparently simple identity or unity reveals underlying inner contradictions , and it is these contradictions that lead to the dissolution of the thing or idea in the simple form in which it presented itself, and its development into a higher-level, more complex thing or idea that more adequately incorporates the contradictions.

Hegel was the first major philosopher to regard history and the Philosophy of History as important. Hegel's Historicism is the position that all human societies and all human activities such as science, art or philosophy are defined by their history , and that their essence can be sought only through understanding that.

According to Hegel, to understand why a person is the way he is, you must put that person in a society ; and to understand that society, you must understand its history , and the forces that shaped it. He is famously quoted as claiming that "Philosophy is the history of philosophy". His system for understanding history, and the world itself, was developed from his famous dialectic teachings of thesis , antithesis and synthesis. He saw history as a progression , always moving forward, never static, in which each successive movement emerges as a solution to the contradictions inherent in the preceding movement.

He believed that every complex situation contains within itself conflicting elements , which work to destabilize the situation, leading it to break down into a new situation in which the conflicts are resolved. For example, the French Revolution constituted the introduction of real individual political freedom , but carried with it the seeds of the brutal Reign of Terror which followed, and only then was there the possibility of a constitutional state of free citizens, embodying both the benevolent organizing power of rational government and the revolutionary ideals of freedom and equality.

Thus, the history of any human endeavor not only builds upon , but also reacts against , what has gone before. This process, though, is an ongoing one, because the resulting synthesis has itself inherent contradictions which need to be resolved so that the synthesis becomes the new thesis for another round of the dialectic. Crucially, however, Hegel believed that this dialectical process was not just random , but that it had a direction or a goal, and that goal was freedom and our consciousness and awareness of freedom and of the absolute knowledge of mind as the ultimate reality.

In political and social terms, Hegel saw the ultimate destination of this historical process as a conflict-free and totally rational society or state, although for Hegel this did not mean a society of dogmatic and abstract pure reason such as the French Revolution envisaged, but one which looks for what is rational within what is real and already existent.

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