Talk:Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

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Beneficiaries/critics of Hegel's thought[edit]

I've added Gadamer. I noticed that another user added 'Gadamer' some days back, an edit that was subsequently reversed. With respect, I'm not quite sure why; as the twentieth century's most important advocate of philosophical hermeneutics, Gadamer was both an important interpreter and (especially in Part III of his magnum opus Truth and Method) an acknowledged beneficiary of Hegel's brand of 'speculative' thought. Despite having taken the Hegelian legacy in quite a different direction to the list's other constituents, he well and truly deserves his place there. In a similar vein, I've also included Wilhelm Dilthey on account of his (explicit) reception and appropriation of the Hegelian notion of 'Geist' in respect of a society's pervasive 'Zeitgeist', such as must be reconstructed through the hermeneutical process. It seems to run counter to the concept of a list of 'admirers and detractors' to keep it canonical, as if to say: "these are the admirers"; and "these are the detractors". --Rmc56 (talk) 14:29, 11 September 2012 (UTC)

I'm sorry if I'm posting this in the wrong place, but I noticed a very strange sentence in the article: "Hegel began to write in an obscure, esoteric, unintelligible manner after Fichte was removed from his professorship at Jena. Fichte had been accused of writing atheistic philosophy." 1) It is either biased or incorrect (one either believes that Hegel always wrote unintelligibly, or that he almost always wrote intelligibly, and nothing changed when Fichte was removed...) 2) Fichte being accused is completely beside the point here. The whole sentence is some kind of weird mistake. magneez 15 December 2012 —Preceding undated comment added 15:43, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

--108.181.146.182 (talk) 00:37, 9 March 2013 (UTC)== max planck was also a critic of hegel i believe ==

max planck was also a critic of hegel i believe

Atheist? Deist? Which is it?[edit]

So I'm trying to research Hegel and I keep seeing the article change! Is he an atheist or a deist? A Christian? Voodoo practitioner? Which is it?!? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 128.239.154.42 (talk) 20:36, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

An editor is adding the deist information to the article. The editor has not provided any citations to back up his claims. Another editor has provided some quotations from Hegel scholars to back up his claims that Hegel was an atheist.
The fact is that Hegel's philosophy is too complicated to accurately put him in either category. He envisioned history as a succession of the appearances (or phenomena) of the whole or The Absolute, which he called geist (German for spirit or mind). To call this philosophy "deism" is completely wrong in my opinion. — goethean 20:54, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
It's not just your opinion. Deism was a predominantly French movement that made its way into anglophone countries to a certain extent but not into Germany. So it's not just Hegel who wasn't a deist: I don't know of any Germans who were deists. (Goethe, for example was a pantheist, like Wordsworth was, I believe.)
Hegel was certainly an atheist, but he was also an influential Christian thinker. Also, he could consider himself in good conscience to be a Lutheran, since he simply made a philosophical interpretation or rational reconstruction of Christianity, from a specifically Lutheran point of view. This is why he should be considered to be a Christian for the purposes of this article. In his view, Christian believers have a better grasp of reality than liberal, empiricist atheists. Christians understand on a symbolic, intuitive level what he worked out in his philosophy; empiricist philosophers don't understand it at any level. As you say, his stance towards religion (which for Hegel means Protestant Christianity, which is the most highly developed religion) is complicated, and is very hard for someone who has only been exposed to (the predominantly fundamentalist) Christianity of today or to "vulgar" New Atheism to understand. – Herzen (talk) 02:50, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
I think it is not justifiable to just call Hegel an atheist (or a deist) and leave it at that. For such a bare claim to be stated in Wikipedia, this would have to be the (near) uniform judgment of reliable sources, and it just is not. And with respect to the sources quoted, their idea of theism and atheism might not be Hegel's, or early thinkers'. One can find a colossal number of quotes from him, including ones remembered by contemporaries that he would have no reason to dissemble to that contradict atheism. Indeed to Hegel "God alone is real, God alone is true" (from memory, such a statement appears both in his works and in conversation with Heine (?).) If one wrongly wants to pigeonhole this least pigeonholeable of thinkers with a religious ism, (His philosophy has been called "anti-ism"-ism - in The Accessible Hegel IIRC) Panentheism is probably the best, and sourceable. Basically, I agree with Goethean's statement above.John Z (talk) 20:19, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
Do we want to undo the changes which User:Atticusattor/141.156.50.42/141.156.47.161 has made the the article? page history This would be going back to the 25 August 2013‎ version of the article. — goethean 20:20, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
I must say that I have not read the article for quite some time (as opposed to monitoring revisions), but glancing at Atticusattor's changes, I did not see anything glaringly awful. If you have problems with them, I suggest that you start a new Talk section, and hopefully he will chime in. – Herzen (talk) 20:53, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
I now looked at Atticusattor's changes a little more closely: this is probably one you don't like. But Atticusattor is expressing a respectable point of view there (although the Hegel exegetes he quotes are not as charitable and sympathetic to Hegel as I would like). I think it's clear that Atticusattor is making positive contributions to the article and—to use that WP cliché—acting in good faith, so that outright reverts of his revisions are uncalled for. However, discussion about Hegel's attitude toward religious (i.e., Christian) belief can continue here, and people should feel free to make edits to Atticusattor's edits (as I did when I scrubbed the "indoctrinated in Lutheranism" bit, which Atticusattor apparently wrote). — Herzen (talk) 21:15, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm surprised to learn that "indoctrinated in Lutheranism" is an issue. Hegel always claimed to be a Lutheran (he was equivocating: saying one thing and meaning another), and he was raised as a Lutheran. According to Terry Pinkard's Hegel: A biography, "generations of Hegels had been pastors at Wurttenberg [Hegel's home town]," and "Hegel's parents were thus the kind of people who were tied into the traditional order of Wurttemberg and, no doubt, as Protestants, also disdainful of the impertinence of their Catholic ruler." (pp. 3,7) Also, "Hegel was descended from a long line of prominent Protestant reformers." (p. 7) And "it seems that quite early in his life he or his parents (very likely his mother) decided that he was to study theology." (p. 8) Hegel attended the Gymnasium Illustre, where "more than fifty percent of the graduates went on to pursue careers that involved theological studies." (p. 8) Later, at the Protestant seminary at Tubingen, Hegel "attempted . . . to shift over to the study of law," but "his father, however, refused to let him make the switch" (p.28) -- evidence that Hegel's father was as interested as his mother in directing Hegel into a theological career. Atticusattor (talk) 19:49, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
That Hegel's parents wanted him to study theology is besides the point. I think it's fair to say that "indoctrinate" today has a fairly pejorative meaning. (I just looked it up in the OED, and this only seems to have happened in the 20th century.) Thus, the Compact OED defines indoctrinate as "cause to accept a set of beliefs uncritically through repeated instruction. (It characterizes the second meaning, "teach or instruct", as archaic.) Thus, I think that the implication is that one can only be indoctrinated into something that is false. If the belief system in question is true, then it's really not a proper use of the word to say that one gets "indoctrinated" into it. This is why I found your phrase "indoctrinated into Lutheranism" objectionable. Following the usage of the word as I've described it, the only kinds of religion that one can get indoctrinated into are false religions, whereas according to Hegel, Protestant Christianity (which to him means Lutheranism) is the true religion. Thus, it is improper to speak of being "indoctrinated into Lutheranism" in an article on Hegel. (On the other hand, one can certainly be indoctrinated into Catholicism, Judaism, or Islam, for example.)
After writing that, I googled "die wahre Religion", and came up with this, in which Hegel approvingly cites Scotus Eriugena: »Die wahre Philosophie ist die wahre Religion, und die wahre Religion ist die wahre Philosophie,«  – Herzen (talk) 20:53, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure where "indoctrinated into Lutheranism" came from, but it didn't come from me. What I wrote is "Though raised as a Lutheran." Although I could quibble about whether "indoctrinated" is always pejorative (it can be simply descriptive), that would be beside the point. "Indoctrinated" is indeed a stronger word than the evidence justifies. Atticusattor (talk) 03:47, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Calling Hegel a pantheist almost does as much injustice to his thought as calling him an atheist: his thought far transcends both of those "isms", as you call them. I am in agreement with Goethean, too. I wrote above that "for the purposes of this article", "he should be considered to be a Christian". I never said that we should "just call Hegel an atheist and leave it at that." I did not anywhere suggest that the article should even suggest or mention the possibility that Hegel was an atheist. Doing so would just confuse readers, since reconciling Hegel's atheism (of which there is no doubt in my mind) with his system and what he wrote goes beyond what a Wikipedia article can accomplish.
Nevertheless, Hegel's "stance" can be described rather simply. Hegel claimed that his philosophy successfully explained and limned (to use a favorite word of analytic philosophers) the structure of reality. Unfortunately, not everyone has the resources and/or ability to study philosophy. Most people do not, but they can get by with religion (i.e., orthodox Christianity) to come to the same basic worldview that philosophy (i.e, Hegel's system) leads to. People who have studied philosophy understand that "God" is merely a metaphorical/symbolic stand-in for the Absolute; people who have not take the God concept literally, and hence believe that God actually exists (as something other than the Absolute, that is, Spirit coming to know itself). This explains, by the way, the passage "God alone is real, God alone is true", which you quoted: for Hegel the philosopher (as opposed to Hegel as a member of a Lutheran congregation), "God" simply means the Absolute. – Herzen (talk) 20:53, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
It simply isn't true that, for Hegel, "'God" simply means the Absolute." Hegel uses "God" as a synonym for a nonsupernatural entity called Spirit that Hegel designed -- a far cry from the supernaturalistic metaphysical absolutes of some philosophers. Hegel distinguished between Spirit and absolute Spirit. Throughout most of Phenomenology, Spirit is simply Spirit, meaning conscious but not yet self-conscious, not yet in the state of self-realization. Spirit's goal is "its consummation as self-conscious Spirit" (para. 802, Miller trans.). "Self-consciousness," or self-realization, occurs when Hegel, part of Spirit's mind (Spirit's mind is the collective mind of all humans), arrives and realizes that the external "objects" he (Spirit) sees are not really "alien" but are himself, because everything in the physical universe is Spirit, the conceptual inner reality of everything. Before this act of self-realization, "the object is revealed to it [to Spirit, any perceiving person] . . . and it does not recognize itself [as the object]" (para. 771). Only in the last paragraph (para. 808) of Phenomenology does the "goal, Absolute Knowing [title of the last chapter], or Spirit that knows itself as Spirit," arrive. Then Spirit evolves into "absolute Spirit"; only at the end of the line does Spirit become an "Absolute." And that Absolute is not the supernatural "Absolute" of some philosophers. Findlay is entirely correct when he writes that "Hegel believes in no God and no Absolute." Atticusattor (talk) 20:21, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
The funny thing is that Hegel's philosophy is almost identical to Plotinus', and nobody goes around calling Plotinus an atheist. — goethean 22:00, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

The article asserts that " Hegel’s atheism is widely recognized". I don't think this is accurate. I'm a student in an italian Liceo (roughly, a high school)where philosophy is a compulsory subject and I can testify that no one has mentioned Hegel's atheism to me; my teacher described his religious view as a sort of panentheism and so did my textbook, which is considered pretty authoritative and widely used. I couldn't find any reference to his atheism in the page dedicated to him in the Italian, French, Spanish, or German versions of Wikipedia. I haven't read the whole [| entry on Hegel in the Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy], but it doesn't seem to mention atheism either. Regardless of whether he was an atheist or not, it seems to me that his philosophy is not interpreted or taught that way in many circles, and this should be worth pointing out.Gelophile (talk) 15:27, 27 September 2013 (UTC)

You doubt that "Hegel's atheism is widely recognized." But his atheism is recognized by these 10 interpreters: Findlay, Tucker, Kaufmann, Solomon, Hippolyte, Kojeve, Westphal, Pinkard, Beiser, and Wheat. (Conceivably some German interpreters could be added to the list, but I don't read German.) A high school survey-of-philosophy textbook is really not the best place to gain information on whether Hegel was an atheist. Textbook authors tend to rely heavily on secondary sources, and some of those sources do think Hegel was a panentheist. But your textbook's author apparently overlooked a lot of sources. And, as Kaufmann wrote, Spirit "should have caused no misunderstanding, had it not been for Hegel's occasional references to God." Various authors have taken "God" literally as implying a supernatural mind. I could also ask: who besides your teacher says your textbook is considered "pretty authoritative" -- and does "authoritative" apply to every single philosopher in a survey text or might it be meant in a more general way (subject to exceptions, and not implying that the Hegel chapter in particular is fully accurate)?Atticusattor (talk) 05:36, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

There is no need to decide whether or not he was atheist - it seems that both views exist, and both should be presented. Right now, the article reads as an attempt to persuade the reader he was atheist. This section should be edited to reflect a neutral point of view. Aya merkabah (talk) 21:22, 4 October 2013 (UTC)

Agree with Aya merkabah, as my comment on this obviously Marxist-POV:ed article (no pejorative meaning intended, Marx made very beneficial contributions to economics, sociology etc.), where the Marxist-POV in question is to "whitewash" an important contributor to the Marxist system, meaning he must be adapted to the "Marxist Faith", including Atheism. But very obviously (such as in established protestant school books) he is regarded as a Lutheran by Lutherans, more specifically a kind of a mystic. Pursuing the theory that he was "atheist" requires some kind of balance in the citation regime. The current state of the citations: "Wheat, 154-61" "On the Basis of Morality." and worse "Ibid P-n" is not good enough. I think his modern usage within Protestantism warrants some indecision whether he really was atheist or not. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 10:49, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
You refer to "this obviously Marxist-POV article." I wrote much of the article and am not a Marxist. Indeed, I consider both Marx's economics and his dialectical interpretation of history to be unadulterated nonsense. You need to control your impulses to leap to wild conclusions.Atticusattor (talk) 20:38, 25 December 2013 (UTC)
Of course Hegel was a Lutheran. Nobody disputes that. But that in no way implies that he was not also an atheist. Kant was a Lutheran atheist, too. For Lutherans, faith, like grace, is a gift from God, so that one can be a Lutheran without believing that God exists. – Herzen (talk) 22:05, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

(outdent) Instead of arguing on and on from "first principles" we should look at what authoritative sources say (Frederick C. Beiser (ed.) 1993:315, Charles Margrave Taylor 1975:102, Robert B. Pippin 1989:80, Raymond Keith Williamson 1984:297–298); in a nutshell, they explicitly reject the claim that Hegel was an atheist. See my comments here. --Omnipaedista (talk) 14:08, 7 January 2014 (UTC)

See also Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Philosophy#Promotion of Leonard F. Wheat's non-mainstream views in several Hegel-related articles. --Omnipaedista (talk) 14:11, 7 January 2014 (UTC)

Precursor to Marxism[edit]

On the lead it says he was precursor to Marxism. But I see nothing speaking about this through the article. According to guidelines the lede must summarize the article. If that excerpt is present somewhere, can someone point me out where it is, please? GreyWinterOwl (talk) 15:55, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

Your point is well taken. I have added two paragraphs under the "Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis" heading that show how Marx borrows from Hegel. I could have added that Marx, like Hegel, provided a dialectical interpretation of history. However, this would have further lengthened an already long section of the article.Atticusattor (talk) 22:35, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
The two paragraphs I added on December 6 to demonstrate Hegel's influence on Marx were deleted on December 8 by Gothean, who left this explanation: "Undid good faith edit by Atticusattor (talk). This Marx-related material is inappropriate to the Hegel article." The deleted material showed that (1) Marx explicitly praised Hegel ("that mighty thinker") and approved Hegel's general concept (but not his specific applications) of thesis-antithesis-synthesis dialectics and (2) Marx in his own dialectics used Hegel's pattern of a two-concept thesis, a two-concept antithesis, and a two-concept synthesis that truly synthesizes (combines) by borrowing one concept from the thesis and one from the antithesis. If anyone wants more detailed information on Hegel's influence on Marx, it can be found in the first three chapters of Robert Tucker's book Philosophy and Myth in Karl Marx (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961). The chapter titles are (I) "The Self as God in German Philosophy," (II) "History as God's Self-Realization," and (III) "The Dialectic of Aggrandizement." In his Introduction, Tucker also mentions that Marx adopted Hegel's version of atheism, in which "God" is treated as a synonym for man: "Marx's atheism . . . meant only the negation of the transmundane God of traditional western religion" and "was merely a way of asserting that 'man' should be regarded as the supreme being" (p. 22). Tucker also endorses the deleted material's demonstration that Marx's chief dialectic follows the Hegelian separation-and-return pattern (adopted by Hegel from the gospel of John) in which the synthesis separates from and returns to something in the thesis, separating from and returning to communism in Marx's case: "Communism lost and communism regained -- such is the plot of [Marxian] world history" (23).Atticusattor (talk) 23:29, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
Students of Hegel do not use the term "dialectics", and the deletion of the entirely irrelevant material on Marx was inevitable. – Herzen (talk) 00:14, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

The deletion of this interesting and fascinating material was a necessary stage in the evolution of the article. But can't we salvage it through some sort of Aufhebung?173.72.63.150 (talk) 02:14, 9 December 2013 (UTC)The Honourable Ronald Adair

I am replying here to Herzen, not to Adair. Where did you get that idea? Some students of Hegel (e.g., McTaggart, Findlay, Taylor, Singer, James) do use the term "dialectic," and they use it to refer to incorrect examples of thesis-antithesis-synthesis dialectics from Logic, where there really are no dialectics. (The dialectics are in Phenomenology and Philosophy of History.) Other "students" misuse "dialectics" to refer to all sorts of things that really are not dialectics. Hintakka counted more than 20 different meanings given to dialectics in a symposium on Hegel. Most commonly, authors misuse "dialectic" to refer to whatever passage of Phenomenology they are discussing. But what the students do or don't do isn't particularly relevant, because most of them don't know what they're talking about. What is relevant is what Hegel says in his preface to Phenomenology: "Kant rediscovered this triadic form [dialectics] by instinct, but in his work it was still lifeless and uncomprehended; since then [since Kant] it has, however been raised to its absolute significance [by Hegel, and maybe Fichte and Schelling too], and with it the true form [not just a Kantian table] . . . has been presented, so that the notion of Science has emerged." (Miller translation, para. 50) It doesn't take much reading between the lines to grasp what Hegel is saying. He is saying that Phenomenology uses dialectics and that dialectics is so wonderful that it can be called a Science, which Hegel emphasizes by spelling Science with a capital S. In paragraphs 800 and 805 and 808 (in the penultimate sentence of the book), Hegel again refers to this "Science" in describing Spirit's self-realization, where Spirit becomes Absolute Spirit.Atticusattor (talk) 17:19, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
which Hegel emphasizes by spelling Science with a capital S
That would be a neat trick since in German all nouns are capitalized. — goethean 22:40, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

Hegel used a capital "W." He wrote in German and always used the word "Wissenschaft" instead of the English word "Science."173.72.63.150 (talk) 00:48, 10 December 2013 (UTC)The Honourable Ronald Adair

Popper[edit]

I have removed text which implied that Herbert Marcuse's Reason and Revolution criticizes Karl Popper's view of Hegel. Reason and Revolution was written several years before Popper's attacks on Hegel were published, and not surprisingly it doesn't even mention Popper. Marcuse does criticize the idea that Hegel was a totalitarian, but his criticism is directed against that theory as espoused by Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse, not Popper. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 00:52, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

Would it be relevant in the criticism section to mention exactly what the argument of "scholars such as Kaufmann and Shlomo Avineri" were when they "criticized Popper's theories [misunderstanding - - intentional in many cases] about Hegel"? As we all know, Kaufmann pretty much tore apart Popper's claims in his Shakespeare and Existentialism book — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ditc (talkcontribs) 01:56, 26 May 2014 (UTC)

Making sense[edit]

The “Reading Hegel” section makes it seem that Hegel is incomprehensible because the reader is at fault, not being familiar with “advanced” philosophy or with Hegel’s “logic.” These assumptions may be unwarranted. The difficulty or impossibility of making sense out of Hegel’s words may be due to the fact that the words do not signify concepts that are ultimately grounded in perceptual experience. Also, he repeatedly breaks the law of contradiction (something cannot be and not be at the same time).Lestrade (talk) 11:51, 14 April 2014 (UTC)Lestrade

Kaufmann/Nietzsche on Hegel's language and style[edit]

I have copied and pasted it here in case an editor deletes it from the criticism section. Hopefully we can find a place for this bit here -- since many have called Hegel's language many things but none have really explained why it is that he wrote the way he did.

Walter Kaufmann has argued that as unlikely as it may sound, it is not the case that Hegel was unable to write clearly, but that Hegel felt that "he must and should not write in the way in which he was gifted."[1] The only person who saw this clearly and stated it beautifully was Nietzsche according to Kaufmann. Though Nietzsche was not a Hegel scholar, Kaufmann, quotes Nietzsche from the Dawn Esprit and Morality:

"The Germans, who have mastered the secret of being boring with esprit, knowledge and feeling, and who have accustomed themselves to experience boredom as something moral, are afraid of French esprit because it might prick out the eyes of morality - and yet this dread is fused with tempation, as in the bird faced by the rattlesnake. Perhaps none of the famous Germans had more esprit than Hegel; but he also felt such a great German dread of it that this created his peculiar bad style. For the essence of this style is that a core is enveloped, and enveloped once more and again, until it scarcley peeks out, bashful and curious - as 'young women peek out of their veils', to speak with the old woman-hater Aeschylus. But this core is a witty, often saucy idea about the most intellectual matters, a subtle and daring connecting of words, such as belongs in the company of thinkers, as a side dish of science - but in these wrappings it presents itself as abstruse science itself and by all means as supremely moral boredom. Thus the Germans had a form of esprit permitted to them, and they enjoyed it with such extravagant delight that Schopenhauer's good, very good intelligence came to a halt confronted with it: his life long, he blustered against the spectacle the Germans offered him, but he never was able to explain it to himself." [2]

Reading Hegel[edit]

I have added the following under the reading hegel section. My intention is not to overload the article with references to Kaufmann. I feel he has unique insights and comments that are not expressed anywhere else. Hopefully we can find a place for the following if not under the reading hegel section.


According to Kaufmann, the basic idea of Hegel's works, especially the Phenomenology of the Spirit is that a philosopher should not "confine him or herself to views that have been held but penetrate these to the human reality they reflect." In other words, it is not enough to consider propositions, or even the content of consciousness; "it is worthwhile to ask in every instance what kind of spirit would entertain such propositions, hold such views, and have such a consciousness. Every outlook in other words, is to be studied not merely as an academic possibility but as an existential reality."[3]

Hegel is fascinated by the sequence Kaufmann writes:

How would a human being come to see the world this way or that? And to what extent does the road on which a point of view is reached color the view? Moreover, it should be possible to show how every single view in turn is one-sided and therefore untenable as soon as it is embraced consistently. Each must therefore give way to another, until finally the last and most comprehensive vision is attained in which all previous views are integrated. That way the reader would be compelled – not by rhetoric or by talk of compelling him, but by the successive examination of forms of consciousness – to rise from the lowest and least sophisticated level to the highest and most philosophical; and on the way he would recognize stoicism and skepticism, Christianity, and Enlightenment, Sophocles and Kant.[4]

Many sympathetic commentators have argued that this is surely one of the most imaginative and poetic conceptions ever to have occurred to any philosopher. Kaufmann even argues that the parallel between Hegel's Phenomenology and Dante's journey "through hell and purgatory to the blessed vision meets the eye." He also makes a comparison with Goethe's Faust claiming that "two quotations from ‘The First Part of the Tragedy’ could have served Hegel as mottoes." The first of these passages (lines 1770-75) Kaufmann argues Hegel knew from Faust: A Fragment (1790)": "And what is portioned out to all mankind, I shall enjoy deep in myself, contain; Within my spirit summit and abyss, Pile on my breast their agony and bliss, And thus let my own self grow into theirs, unfettered.[5]

These lines express much of the spirit of the book Kaufmann writes: "Hegel is not treating us to a spectacle, letting various forms of consciousness pass in review before our eyes to entertain us as he considers it necessary to re-experience what the human spirit has gone through in history and he challenges the reader to join him in this Faustian undertaking." [6] Hegel asks readers not merely to read about such possibilities but according to Kaufmann, to "identify with each in turn until their own self has grown to the point where it is contemporary with world spirit. The reader, like the author, is meant to suffer through each position, and to be changed as he/she proceeds from one to the other. Mea res agitur: my own self is at stake. Or, as Rilke put it definitively in the last line of his great sonnet on an “Archaic Torso of Apollo”: du must dein Leben andern – you must change your life.” [7]

Hegel's writing style and language has also been a source of criticism.Schopenhauer for example, called Hegel "this Caliban of the spirit." [8] He also spoke of "Hegel's philosophy of absolute nonsense." [9] Abserwitzig meaning insane is a word that recurs frequently in Schopenhauer's remarks about Hegel, along with the claims that Hegel had no Geist at all.[10]

Kaufmann claims that while it is "widely considered bad form to speak irreverently about Kant, disrespect for Hegel is still good form. Many writers and lecturers enjoy making scurrilous remarks about Hegel while others -- and sometimes actually the very same people -- make use of his ideas without giving credit to him."[11] — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ditc (talkcontribs) 17:40, 27 May 2014 (UTC)

Hegel's Aesthetics?[edit]

I think it might be helpful to include something about Hegel's aesthetics, specifically content from Lectures on Aesthetics, under the "Thought" section. What do other people think? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Tiberius Aurelius (talkcontribs) 14:02, 5 December 2014 (UTC)

PatrickJWelsh (talk) 20:12, 13 December 2014 (UTC) I agree wholeheartedly (I am writing a dissertation on the topic!). Time permitting, I will pull something together for the site. Honestly though, the whole "Thought" section could use an overhaul. Not that there is anything egregiously wrong with it, but it's weirdly selective in its treatment (my main objection) and sometimes lapses into jargon without adequately adumbrating the terms. Do any others feel this way?

Secondary literature[edit]

Hello everyone. I recently added an extensive Hegel bibliography to the external links section. It is much more comprehensive than what is listed on this page and has the additional merit of singling out certain works as either introductory or especially recommended. To me, what is listed on this page is rather useless. The best case scenario, I believe would be to replace it with a selective annotated bibliography of only introductory-level works. For example, H.S. Harris's two-volume Hegel's Development is the most comprehensive account of Hegel's development leading up the PhS, perhaps in any language. But who coming to Wikipedia to learn about Hegel is going to take that on? Let alone technical works in German or French about specific aspects of his philosophy. People coming to this page should be assumed to have a very low level of acquaintance with Hegel. What would be useful to this audience is just a short list of useful introductions with a few words explaining their strengths, weakness, possible biases, etc.

Do others agree? I do not want to presume to delete the whole thing to replace it with a short list entirely of my own devising. I usually recommend Houlgate's intro or Pinkard's intellectual biography to people looking for a general intro. Reason and Revolution may also belong on the list, as it provides a summary of much of Hegel's thought (albeit rather too simplistically for my taste) and situates it in the Marxist tradition, which many will be interested in. I have not read it, but I've heard Rosen's intro highly praised by a scholar hyper-critical of what seems like just about everything written about Hegel in the English language. Apparently it does an especially good job of illustrating the Aristotelean underpinning of so much of Hegel's thought. I could list a few more, but will leave it here for now so that others may weigh in.

Thanks for your consideration. PJ — Preceding unsigned comment added by PatrickJWelsh (talkcontribs) 20:01, 13 December 2014 (UTC)

Overhaul of “Thought” Section?[edit]

Okay, so I have no idea whether I’m actually willing to do such an overhaul, but it might be a good exercise for me. And I think I could be successful in soliciting further improvements from other Hegel scholars. If, however, this is just going to outrage everyone who contributed to the current version and be immediately taken down, I definitely will not waste my time.

What I have in mind is something like this:

Hegel’s Idealism

  • clarify Hegel’s general idealistic thesis as articulated in the Phenomenology and Logic, i.e., explain what he means by "absolute knowing" and the claim that "substance is essentially subject"
  • maybe cite one of Pinkard or Pippin’s single-paragraph attempts at a summary of the PhS (which has its own page, but is totally useless)
  • explain what the logic is, why there is so much confusion about this (reference to “metaphysical,” “non-metaphysical, “revised metaphysical” accounts)
  • cite recent scholarship articulating and defending revisionary metaphysical reading
  • elucidate distinction between scientific portion of Hegel’s philosophy (the PhS in its capacity as a “science of experience” and the logic) and the Realphilosophie, which is “its own time comprehended in thought—and so needs to be read and assessed quite differently

Hegel’s System

The Philosophy of Nature

  • pretty much just that it exists and is a presupposition of spirit
  • the reasons few take it seriously anymore, but noting that some still do


The Philosophy of Spirit

  • distinction between subjective, objective, and abs spirit


Subjective Spirit

  • very brief description of subjective spirit


Objective Spirit

  • Hegel's concept of freedom and how it achieves actuality in Ethical Life
  • the doctrine of world history and its problems


Absolute Spirit

  • present the concept of the beautiful ideal, why Greek sculpture is most perfectly beautiful art
  • explain infamous claim about “passing away” of art to clarify that Hegel does indeed secure an ongoing place for art in the modern world
  • present concept of religion
  • brief explication of Hegel’s interpretation of Lutheranism as “consummate religion” in which spirit, knowing itself, knows god
  • logic as mode of spirit most at one with itself, but entirely in thought—hence ongoing need for art and religion


Sections on his intellectual context and his pre-Jena writing would also be valuable, but I am not in the position to write them without reviewing more material than I have time for.

Do people like this idea? Is there anything conspicuously missing? I can provide citations to primary sources and recent scholarship to establish that I am not doing “original research.” There's no question that this is how the system is organized, and broad scholarly consensus about what he took himself to accomplish (albeit, of course, massive disagreement about the extent which he actually succeeded). — Preceding unsigned comment added by PatrickJWelsh (talkcontribs) 20:54, 13 December 2014 (UTC)

Why multiple template boxes?[edit]

These seem redundant. I think the list of influences and people influenced should be updated on the top box to match my updates of the lists below (probably with some further edits from others), and then we should delete the bottom one. It contains nothing not already in the above or prominently presented in the article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by PatrickJWelsh (talkcontribs) 15:55, 14 December 2014 (UTC)


Also, I moved the external links up above the notes because I feel they are more important and of greater use and interest to readers. Crucial to have the notes, obviously, but most folks are going to access them via mouse hover-over in the body. Only someone familiar with the current state of Hegel scholarship would have any reason to give it direct attention. I also moved the "See also" to the bottom and unless someone wants to update this, I really think it should just be deleted. The principle of selection is utterly unclear, and the listed links seem to me of little value. — Preceding unsigned comment added by PatrickJWelsh (talkcontribs) 16:23, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
  1. ^ Kaufmann, 1966, Hegel: A Reinterpretation, p.99
  2. ^ Nietzsche, Dawn,p.193
  3. ^ Kaufmann, Hegel: A Reinterpretation, Anchor, p.115
  4. ^ Ibid., p.116
  5. ^ Faust cited in Kaufmann, Hegel: A Reinterpretation, Anchor Books, p.118
  6. ^ Kaufmann, p.119
  7. ^ Kaufmann, p.119
  8. ^ Diesen geistigen Kaliban in the Preface to the second ed. of Die Welt alt Wille und Vorstellung
  9. ^ In the Introduction to Uber den Willen in der Natur
  10. ^ Kaufmann, Discovery of the Mind Goethe, Kant, and Hegel, p.199
  11. ^ Ibid., p.200