HotFreeBooks.com
The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Vol. VII.
Author: Various
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

VOLUME VII

GEORG WILHELM FRIEDRICH HEGEL

BETTINA VON ARNIM

KARL LEBRECHT IMMERMANN

KARL FERDINAND GUTZKOW

ANASTASIUS GRUeN

NIKOLAUS LENAU

EDUARD MOeRIKE

ANNETTE ELISABETH VON DROSTE-HUeLSHOFF

FERDINAND FREILIGRATH

MORITZ GRAF VON STRACHWITZ

EMANUEL GEIBEL

GEORG HERWEGH



THE GERMAN CLASSICS

Masterpieces of German Literature

TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH



PATRONS' EDITION IN TWENTY VOLUMES

ILLUSTRATED



1914



THE GERMAN PUBLICATION SOCIETY

CONTRIBUTORS AND TRANSLATORS

VOLUME VII

* * * * *



CONTENTS OF VOLUME VII

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

The Life of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. By J. Loewenberg.

Introduction to the Philosophy of History. Translated by J. Sibree.

The Philosophy of Law. Translated by J. Loewenberg.

Introduction to the Philosophy of Art. Translated by J. Loewenberg.

Bettina von Arnim

The Life of Bettina von Arnim. By Henry Wood.

Goethe's Correspondence with a Child. Translated by Wallace Smith Murray.

Karl Lebrecht Immermann

Immermann and His Drama Merlin. By Martin Schuetze.

Immermann's Muenchhausen. By Allen Wilson Porterfield.

The Oberhof. Translated by Paul Bernard Thomas.

Karl Ferdinand Gutzkow

Gutzkow and Young Germany. By Starr Willard Cutting.

Sword and Queue. Translated by Grace Isabel Colbron.

German Lyric Poetry from 1830 to 1848. By John S. Nollen.

Anastasius Gruen

A Salon Scene. Translated by Sarah T. Barrows.

Nikolaus Lenau

Prayer. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork.

Sedge Songs. Translated by Kate Freiligrath-Kroeker.

Songs by the Lake. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork.

The Postilion. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork.

To the Beloved from Afar. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork.

The Three Gipsies. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork.

My Heart. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork.

Eduard Moerike

An Error Chanced. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork.

A Song for Two in the Night. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork.

Early Away. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork.

The Forsaken Maiden. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

Weyla's Song. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

Seclusion. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

The Soldier's Betrothed. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

The Old Weathercock: An Idyll. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

Think of It, My Soul. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

Erinna to Sappho. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

* * * * *

Mozart's Journey from Vienna to Prague. Translated by Florence Leonard

Annette Elizabeth von Droste-Huelshoff

Pentecost. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

The House in the Heath. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

The Boy on the Moor. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

On the Tower. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

The Desolate House. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

The Jew's Beech-Tree. Translated by Lillie Winter

Ferdinand Freiligrath

The Duration of Love. Translated by M.G. in Chambers' Journal

The Emigrants. Translated by C.T. Brooks

The Lion's Ride. Translated by C.T. Brooks

The Spectre-Caravan. Translated by J.C. Mangan

Had I at Mecca's Gate been Nourished. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

Wild Flowers. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

The Dead to the Living. Translated by Bayard Taylor

Hurrah, Germania! In Pall Mall Gazette, London

The Trumpet of Gravelotte. Translated by Kate Freiligrath-Kroeker

Moritz Graf von Strachwitz

Douglas of the Bleeding Heart. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

Georg Herwegh

The Stirrup-Cup. Translated by William G. Howard

Emanuel Geibel

The Watchman's Song. Translated by A.I. du P. Coleman

The Call of the Road. Translated by A.I. du P. Coleman

Autumn Days. Translated by A.I. du P. Coleman

The Death of Tiberius. Translated by A.I. du P. Coleman



ILLUSTRATIONS—VOLUME VII

Arco. By Benno Becker

Georg Wilhelm Frederich Hegel. By Schlesinger

Royal Old Museum in Berlin. By Schinkel

Bettina von Arnim

The Goethe Monument. By Bettina von Arnim

Karl Lebrecht Immermann. By C.T. Lessing

The Master of the Oberhof. By Benjamin Vautier

The Oberhof. By Benjamin Vautier

The Freemen's Tribunal. By Benjamin Vautier

Lisbeth. By Benjamin Vautier

Oswald, the Hunter. By Benjamin Vautier

Karl Ferdinand Gutzkow

The Potsdam Guard. By Adolph von Menzel

King Frederick William I of Prussia. By R. Siemering

King Frederick William I and His "Tobacco Collegium". By Adolph von Menzel

Anastasius Gruen

Nikolaus Lenau

Evening on the Shore. By Hans am Ende

Eduard Moerike. By Weiss

Annette von Droste-Huelshoff

The Farm House. By Hans am Ende

Ferdinand Freiligrath. By J Hasenclever

Dusk on the Dead Sea. By Eugen Bracht

Death on the Barricade. By Alfred Rethel

George Herwegh

Emanuel Geibel. By Hader

Journeying. By Ludwig Richter



THE LIFE OF GEORG WILHELM FRIEDRICH HEGEL

BY J. LOEWENBERG, PH.D.

Assistant in Philosophy, Harvard University

Among students of philosophy the mention of Hegel's name arouses at once a definite emotion. Few thinkers indeed have ever so completely fascinated the minds of their sympathetic readers, or have so violently repulsed their unwilling listeners, as Hegel has. To his followers Hegel is the true prophet of the only true philosophic creed, to his opponents, he has, in Professor James's words, "like Byron's corsair, left a name 'to other times, linked with one virtue and a thousand crimes.'"

The feelings of attraction to Hegel or repulsion from him do not emanate from his personality. Unlike Spinoza's, his life offers nothing to stir the imagination. Briefly, some of his biographical data are as follows: He was born at Stuttgart, the capital of Wuertemberg, August 27, 1770. His father was a government official, and the family belonged to the upper middle class. Hegel received his early education at the Latin School and the Gymnasium of his native town. At both these institutions, as well as at the University of Tuebingen which he entered in 1788 to study theology, he distinguished himself as an eminently industrious, but not as a rarely gifted student. The certificate which he received upon leaving the University in 1793 speaks of his good character, his meritorious acquaintance with theology and languages, and his meagre knowledge of philosophy. This does not quite represent his equipment, however, for his private reading and studies carried him far beyond the limits of the regular curriculum. After leaving the University he spent seven years as family tutor in Switzerland and in Frankfurt-on-the-Main. Soon after, in 1801, we find him as Privat-Docent; then, in 1805, as professor at the University of Jena. His academic activities were interrupted by the battle of Jena. For the next two years we meet him as an editor of a political journal at Bamberg, and from 1808 to 1816 as rector of the Gymnasium at Nuremberg. He was then called to a professorship of philosophy at Heidelberg. In 1818 he was called to Berlin to fill the vacancy left by the death of Fichte. From this time on until his death in 1831, he was the recognized dictator of one of the most powerful philosophic schools in the history of thought.

It is no easy task to convey an adequate idea of Hegel's philosophy within the limits of a short introduction. There is, however, one central thought animating the vast range of his whole philosophic system which permits of non-technical statement. This thought will be more easily grasped, if we consider first the well-known concept of permanence and change. They may be said to constitute the most fundamental distinction in life and in thought. Religion and poetry have always dwelt upon their tragic meaning. That there is nothing new under the sun and that we are but "fair creatures of an hour" in an ever-changing world, are equally sad reflections. Interesting is the application of the difference between permanence and change to extreme types of temperament. We may speak loosely of the "static" and the "dynamic" temperaments, the former clinging to everything that is traditional, conservative, and abiding in art, religion, philosophy, politics, and life; the latter everywhere pointing to, and delighting in, the fluent, the novel, the evanescent. These extreme types, by no means rare or unreal, illustrate the deep-rooted need of investing either permanence or change with a more fundamental value. And to the value of the one or the other, philosophers have always endeavored to give metaphysical expression.



Some thinkers have proclaimed change to be the deepest manifestation of reality, while others have insisted upon something abiding behind a world of flux. The question whether change or permanence is more essential arose early in Greek philosophy. Heraclitus was the first one to see in change a deeper significance than in the permanence of the Eleatics. A more dramatic opposition than the one which ensued between the Heracliteans and the Eleatics can scarcely be imagined—both schools claiming a monopoly of reason and truth, both distrusting the senses, and each charging the other with illusion. Now the significance of Hegel's philosophy can be grasped only when we bear in mind that it was just this profound distinction between the permanent and the changing that Hegel sought to understand and to interpret. He saw more deeply into the reality of movement and change than any other philosopher before or after him.

Very early in his life, judging by the recently published writings of his youth, Hegel became interested in various phases of movement and change. The vicissitudes of his own inner or outer life he did not analyze. He was not given to introspection. Romanticism and mysticism were foreign to his nature. His temperament was rather that of the objective thinker. Not his own passions, hopes, and fears, but those of others invited his curiosity. With an humane attitude, the young Hegel approached religious and historical problems. The dramatic life and death of Jesus, the tragic fate of "the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome," the discrepancies between Christ's teachings and the positive Christian religion, the fall of paganism and the triumph of the Christian Church—these were the problems over which the young Hegel pondered. Through an intense study of these problems, he discovered that evil, sin, longing, and suffering are woven into the very tissue of religious and historical processes, and that these negative elements determine the very meaning and progress of history and religion. Thereupon he began a systematic sketch of a philosophy in which a negative factor was to be recognized as the positive vehicle in the development of the whole world. And thus his genius came upon a method which revealed to him an orderly unfolding in the world with stages of relative values, the higher developing from the lower, and all stages constituting an organic whole.

The method which the young Hegel discovered empirically, and which the mature rationalist applied to every sphere of human life and thought, is the famous Dialectical Method. This method is, in general, nothing else than the recognition of the necessary presence of a negative factor in the constitution of the world. Everything in the world—be it a religious cult or a logical category, a human passion or a scientific law—is, so Hegel holds, the result of a process which involves the overcoming of a negative element. Without such an element to overcome, the world would indeed be an inert and irrational affair. That any rational and worthy activity entails the encounter of opposition and the removal of obstacles is an observation commonplace enough. A preestablished harmony of foreseen happy issues—a fool's paradise—is scarcely our ideal of a rational world. Just as a game is not worth playing when its result is predetermined by the great inferiority of the opponent, so life without something negative to overcome loses its zest. But the process of overcoming is not anything contingent; it operates according to a uniform and universal law. And this law constitutes Hegel's most central doctrine—his doctrine of Evolution.

In order to bring this doctrine into better relief, it may be well to contrast it superficially with the Darwinian theory of transformation. In general, Hegel's doctrine is a concept of value, Darwin's is not. What Darwinians mean by evolution is not an unfolding of the past, a progressive development of a hierarchy of phases, in which the later is superior and organically related to the earlier. No sufficient criterion is provided by them for evaluating the various stages in the course of an evolutionary process. The biologist's world would probably have been just as rational if the famous ape-like progenitor of man had chanced to become his offspring-assuming an original environment favorable for such transformation. Some criterion besides the mere external and accidental "struggle for existence" and "survival of the fittest" must be furnished to account for a progressive evolution. Does the phrase "survival of the fittest" say much more than that those who happen to survive are the fittest, or that their survival proves their fitness? But that survival itself is valuable: that it is better to be alive than dead; that existence has a value other than itself; that what comes later in the history of the race or of the universe is an advance over what went before-that, in a word, the world is subject to an immanent development, only a comprehensive and systematic philosophy can attempt to show.

The task of Hegel's whole philosophy consists in showing, by means of one uniform principle, that the world manifests everywhere a genuine evolution. Unlike the participants in the biological "struggle for existence," the struggling beings of Hegel's universe never end in slaying, but in reconciliation. Their very struggle gives birth to a new being which includes them, and this being is "higher" in the scale of existence, because it represents the preservation of two mutually opposed beings. Only where conflicts are adjusted, oppositions overcome, negations removed, is there advance, in Hegel's sense; and only where there is a passage from the positive through its challenging negative to a higher form inclusive of both is there a case of real development.

The ordinary process of learning by experience illustrates somewhat Hegel's meaning. An individual finds himself, for instance, in the presence of a wholly new situation that elicits an immediate, definite reaction. In his ignorance, he chooses the wrong mode of behavior. As a consequence, trouble ensues; feelings are hurt, pride is wounded, motives are misconstrued. Embittered and disappointed with himself, he experiences great mental sorrow. But he soon learns to see the situation in its true light; he condemns his deed and offers to make amends. And after the wounds begin to heal again, the inner struggles experienced commence to assume a positive worth. They have led him to a deeper insight into his own motives, to a better self-comprehension. And he finally comes forth from the whole affair enriched and enlightened. Now in this formal example, to which any content may be supplied, three phases can be distinguished. First, we have the person as he meant to be in the presence of the new situation, unaware of trouble. Then, his wrong reaction engendered a hostile element. He was at war with himself; he was not what he meant to be. And finally, he returned to himself richer and wiser, including within himself the negative experience as a valuable asset in the advance of his development.

This process of falling away from oneself, of facing oneself as an enemy whom one reconciles to and includes in one's larger self, is certainly a familiar process. It is a process just like this that develops one's personality. However the self may be defined metaphysically, it is for every self-conscious individual a never-ceasing battle with conflicting motives and antagonistic desires—a never-ending cycle of endeavor, failure, and success through the very agency of failure.

A more typical instance of this rhythmic process is Hegel's view of the evolution of religion. Religion, in general, is based on a dualism which it seeks to overcome. Though God is in heaven and man on earth, religion longs to bridge the gulf which separates man and God. The religions of the Orient emphasize God's infinity. God is everything, man is nothing. Like an Oriental prince, God is conceived to have despotic sway over man, his creature. Only in contemplating God's omnipotence and his own nothingness can man find solace and peace. Opposed to this religion of the infinite is the finite religion of Greece.

Man in Greece stands in the centre of a beautiful cosmos which is not alien to his spirit. The gods on high, conceived after the likeness of man, are the expression of a free people conscious of their freedom. And the divinities worshiped, under the form of Zeus, Apollo, Aphrodite—what are they but idealized and glorified Greeks? Can a more complete antithesis be imagined? But Christianity becomes possible after this struggle only, for in Christianity is contained both the principle of Oriental infinity and the element of Hellenic finitude, for in a being who is both God and man—a God-man—the gulf between the infinite and finite is bridged. The Christian, like the Greek, worships man—Jesus; but this man is one with the eternal being of the Orient. Because it is the outcome of the Oriental and Greek opposition, the Christian religion is, in Hegel's sense, a higher one. Viewing the Oriental and the Hellenic religions historically in terms of the biological "struggle for existence," the extinction of neither has resulted. The Christian religion is the unity of these two struggling opposites; in it they are conciliated and preserved. And this for Hegel is genuine evolution.

That evolution demands a union of opposites seems at first paradoxical enough. To say that Christianity is a religion of both infinity and finitude means nothing less than that it contains a contradiction. Hegel's view, strange as it may sound, is just this: everything includes a contradiction in it, everything is both positive and negative, everything expresses at once its Everlasting Yea and its Everlasting No. The negative character of the world is the very vehicle of its progress. Life and activity mean the triumph of the positive over the negative, a triumph which results from absorbing and assimilating it. The myth of the Phoenix typifies the life of reason "eternally preparing for itself," as Hegel says, "a funeral pile, and consuming itself upon it; but so that from its ashes it produces the new, renovated, fresh life." That the power of negativity enters constitutively into the rationality of the world, nay, that the rationality of the world demands negativity in it, is Hegel's most original contribution to thought. His complete philosophy is the attempt to show in detail that the whole universe and everything it contains manifests the process of uniformly struggling with a negative power, and is an outcome of conflicting, but reconciled forces. An impressionistic picture of the world's eternal becoming through this process is furnished by the first of Hegel's great works, the Phenomenology of Spirit. The book is, in a sense, a cross-section of the entire spiritual world. It depicts the necessary unfolding of typical phases of the spiritual life of mankind. Logical categories, scientific laws, historical epochs, literary tendencies, religious processes, social, moral, and artistic institutions, all exemplify the same onward movement through a union of opposites. There is eternal and total instability everywhere. But this unrest and instability is of a necessary and uniform nature, according to the one eternally fixed principle which renders the universe as a whole organic and orderly.

Organic Wholeness! This phrase contains the rationale of the restless flow and the evanescent being of the Hegelian world. It is but from the point of view of the whole that its countless conflicts, discrepancies, and contradictions can be understood. As the members of the body find only in the body as a whole their raison d'etre, so the manifold expressions of the world are the expressions of one organism. A hand which is cut off, as Hegel somewhere remarks, still looks like a hand, and exists; but it is not a real hand. Similarly any part of the world, severed from its connection with the whole, any isolated historical event, any one religious view, any particular scientific explanation, any single social body, any mere individual person, is like an amputated bodily organ. Hegel's view of the world as organic depends upon exhibiting the partial and abstract nature of other views. In his Phenomenology a variety of interpretations of the world and of the meaning and destiny of life are scrutinized as to their adequacy and concreteness. When not challenged, the point of view of common sense, for instance, seems concrete and natural. The reaction of common sense to the world is direct and practical, it has few questions to ask, and philosophic speculations appear to it abstract and barren. But, upon analysis, it is the common sense view that stands revealed as abstract and barren. For an abstract object is one that does not fully correspond to the rich and manifold reality; it is incomplete and one-sided.

Precisely such an object is the world of common sense. Its concreteness is ignorance. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of by common sense. Its work-a-day world is not even a faint reflex of the vast and complex universe. It sees but the immediate, the obvious, the superficial. So instead of being concrete, it is, in truth, the very opposite. Nor is empirical science with its predilection for "facts" better off. Every science able to cope with a mere fragmentary aspect of the world and from a partial point of view, is forced to ignore much of the concrete content of even its own realm. Likewise, art and religion, though in their views more synthetic and therefore more concrete, are one-sided; they seek to satisfy special needs. Philosophy alone—Hegelian philosophy—is concrete. Its aim is to interpret the world in its entirety and complexity, its ideal is to harmonize the demands of common sense, the interests of science, the appeal of art, and the longing of religion into one coherent whole. This view of philosophy, because it deals with the universe in its fulness and variety, alone can make claim to real concreteness. Nor are the other views false. They form for Hegel the necessary rungs on the ladder which leads up to his own philosophic vision. Thus the Hegelian vision is itself an organic process, including all other interpretations of life and of the world as its necessary phases. In the immanent unfolding of the Hegelian view is epitomized the onward march and the organic unity of the World-Spirit itself.

The technical formulation of this view is contained in his Logic. This book may indeed be said to be Hegel's master-stroke. Nothing less is attempted in it than the proof that the very process of reasoning manifests the same principle of evolution through a union of opposites. Hegel was well aware, as much as recent exponents of anti-intellectualism, that through "static" concepts we transmute and falsify the "fluent" reality. As Professor James says "The essence of life is its continuously changing character; but our concepts are all discontinuous and fixed ... When we conceptualize we cut out and fix, and exclude everything but what we have fixed. A concept means a that-and-no-other." But are our concepts static, fixed, and discontinuous? What if the very concepts we employ in reasoning should exemplify the universal flow of life? Hegel finds that indeed to be the case. Concepts we daily use, such as quality and quantity, essence and phenomenon, appearance and reality, matter and force, cause and effect, are not fixed and isolated entities, but form a continuous system of interdependent elements. Stated dogmatically the meaning is this: As concavity and convexity are inseparably connected, though one is the very opposite of the other—as one cannot, so to speak, live without the other, both being always found in union—so can no concept be discovered that is not thus wedded to its contradiction. Every concept develops, upon analysis, a stubbornly negative mate. No concept is statable or definable without its opposite; one involves the other. One cannot speak of motion without implying rest; one cannot mention the finite without at the same time referring to the infinite; one cannot define cause without explicitly defining effect. Not only is this true, but concepts, when applied, reveal perpetual oscillation. Take the terms "north" and "south." The mention of the north pole, for example, implies at once the south pole also; it can be distinguished only by contrast with the other, which it thus includes. But it is a north pole only by excluding the south pole from itself—by being itself and not merely what the other is not. The situation is paradoxical enough: Each aspect—the negative or the positive—of anything appears to exclude the other, while each requires its own other for its very definition and expression. It needs the other, and yet is independent of it. How Hegel proves this of all concepts, cannot here be shown. The result is that no concept can be taken by itself as a "that-and-no-other." It is perpetually accompanied by its "other" as man is by his shadow. The attempt to isolate any logical category and regard it as fixed and stable thus proves futile. Each category—to show this is the task of Hegel's Logic—is itself an organism, the result of a process which takes place within its inner constitution. And all logical categories, inevitably used in describing and explaining our world, form one system of interdependent and organically related parts. Hegel begins with an analysis of a concept that most abstractly describes reality, follows it through its countless conflicts and contradictions, and finally reaches the highest category which, including all the foregoing categories in organic unity, is alone adequate to characterize the universe as an organism. What these categories are and what Hegel's procedure is in showing their necessary sequential development, can here not even be hinted at.

That the logical development of the categories of thought is the same as the historical evolution of life—and vice versa—establishes for Hegel the identity of thought and reality. In the history of philosophy, the discrepancy between thought and reality has often been emphasized. There are those who insist that reality is too vast and too deep for man with his limited vision to penetrate; others, again, who set only certain bounds to man's understanding, reality consisting, they hold, of knowable and unknowable parts; and others still who see in the very shifts and changes of philosophic and scientific opinion the delusion of reason and the illusiveness of reality. The history of thought certainly does present an array of conflicting views concerning the limits of human reason. But all the contradictions and conflicts of thought prove to Hegel the sovereignty of reason. The conflicts of reason are its own necessary processes and expressions. Its dialectic instability is instability that is peculiar to all reality. Both thought and reality manifest one nature and one process. Hence reason with its "dynamic" categories can comprehend the "fluent" reality, because it is flesh of its flesh and bone of its bone. Hegel's bold and oft quoted words "What is rational is real; and what is real is rational," pithily express his whole doctrine. The nature of rationality and the nature of reality are, for Hegel, one and the same spiritual process, the organic process of triumphing over and conquering conflicts and contradictions. Where reality conforms to this process it is rational (that which does not conform to it is not reality at all, but has, like an amputated leg, mere contingent existence); the logical formula of this process is but an abstract account of what reality is in its essence.

The equation of the real and the rational, or the discovery of one significant process underlying both life and reason, led Hegel to proclaim a new kind of logic, so well characterized by Professor Royce as the "logic of passion." To repeat what has been said above, this means that categories are related to one another as historical epochs, as religious processes, as social and moral institutions, nay, as human passions, wills, and deeds are related to one another. Mutual conflict and contradiction appear as their sole constant factor amid all their variable conditions. The introduction of contradiction into logical concepts as their sine qua non meant indeed a revolutionary departure from traditional logic. Prior to Hegel, logical reasoning was reasoning in accordance with the law of contradiction, i. e., with the assumption that nothing can have at the same time and at the same place contradictory and inconsistent qualities or elements. For Hegel, on the contrary, contradiction is the very moving principle of the world, the pulse of its life. Alle Dinge sind an sich selbst widersprechend, as he drastically says. The deeper reason why Hegel invests contradiction with a positive value lies in the fact that, since the nature of everything involves the union of discrepant elements, nothing can bear isolation and independence. Terms, processes, epochs, institutions, depend upon one another for their meaning, expression, and existence; it is impossible to take anything in isolation. But this is just what one does in dealing with the world in art or in science, in religion or in business; one is always dealing with error and contradiction, because one is dealing with fragments or bits of life and experience. Hence—and this is Hegel's crowning thought—anything short of the whole universe is inevitably contradictory. In brief, contradiction has the same sting for Hegel as it has for any one else. Without losing its nature of "contradictoriness," contradiction has logically this positive meaning. Since it is an essential element of every partial, isolated, and independent view of experience and thought, one is necessarily led to transcend it and to see the universe in organic wholeness.

Thus, as Hegel puts his fundamental idea, "the truth is the whole." Neither things nor categories, neither histories nor religions, neither sciences nor arts, express or exhaust by themselves the whole essence of the universe. The essence of the universe is the life of the totality of all things, not their sum. As the life of man is not the sum of his bodily and mental functions, the whole man being present in each and all of these, so must the universe be conceived as omnipresent in each of its parts and expressions. This is the significance of Hegel's conception of the universe as an organism. The World-Spirit—Hegel's God—constitutes, thinks, lives, wills, and is all in unity. The evolution of the universe is thus the evolution of God himself.

The task of philosophy, then, as Hegel conceives it, is to portray in systematic form the evolution of the World-Spirit in all its necessary ramifications. These ramifications themselves are conceived as constituting complete wholes, such as logic, nature, mind, society, history, art, religion, philosophy, so that the universe in its onward march through these is represented as a Whole of Wholes—ein Kreis von Kreisen. In Hegel's complete philosophy each of these special spheres finds its proper place and elaborate treatment.

Whether Hegel has well or ill succeeded in the task of exhibiting in each and all of these spheres the one universal movement, whether or no he was justified in reading into logic the same kind of development manifested by life, or in making life conform to one logical formula—these and other problems should arouse an interest in Hegel's writings. The following selections may give some glimpse of their spirit.

In conclusion, some bare suggestions must suffice to indicate the reason for Hegel's great influence. Hegel has partly, if not wholly, created the modern historical spirit. Reality for him, as even this inadequate sketch has shown, is not static, but is essentially a process. Thus until the history of a thing is known, the thing is not understood at all. It is the becoming and not the being of the world that constitutes its reality. And thus in emphasizing the fact that everything has a "past," the insight into which alone reveals its significant meaning, Hegel has given metaphysical expression and impetus to the awakening modern historical sense. His idea of evolution also epitomizes the spirit of the nineteenth century with its search everywhere for geneses and transformations—in religion, philology, geology, biology. Closely connected with the predominance of the historical in Hegel's philosophy is its explicit critique of individualism and particularism. According to his doctrine, the individual as individual is meaningless. The particular—independent and unrelated—is an abstraction. The isolation of anything results in contradiction. It is only the whole that animates and gives meaning to the individual and the particular. This idea of subordinating the individual to universal ends, as embodied particularly in Hegel's theory of the State, has left its impress upon political, social, and economic theories of his century. Not less significant is the glorification of reason of which Hegel's complete philosophy is an expression. Reason never spoke with so much self-confidence and authority as it did in Hegel. To the clear vision of reason the universe presents no dark or mysterious corners, nay, the very negations and contradictions in it are marks of its inherent rationality. But Hegel's rationalism is not of the ordinary shallow kind. Reason he himself distinguishes from understanding. The latter is analytical, its function is to abstract, to define, to compile, to classify. Reason, on the other hand, is synthetic, constructive, inventive. Apart from Hegel's special use of the term, it is this synthetic and creative and imaginative quality pervading his whole philosophy which has deepened men's insight into history, religion, and art, and which has wielded its general influence on the philosophic and literary constellation of the nineteenth century.

* * * * *



GEORG WILHELM FRIEDRICH HEGEL

INTRODUCTION TO THE PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY[1] (1837)

TRANSLATED BY J. SIBREE, M.A.

The subject of this course of lectures is the Philosophical History of the World. And by this must be understood, not a collection of general observations respecting it, suggested by the study of its records and proposed to be illustrated by its facts, but universal history itself. To gain a clear idea, at the outset, of the nature of our task, it seems necessary to begin with an examination of the other methods of treating history. The various methods may be ranged under three heads:

I. Original History. II. Reflective History. III. Philosophical History.

I. Of the first kind, the mention of one or two distinguished names will furnish a definite type. To this category belong Herodotus, Thucydides, and other historians of the same order, whose descriptions are for the most part limited to deeds, events, and states of society, which they had before their eyes and whose spirit they shared. They simply transferred what was passing in the world around them to the realm of re-presentative intellect; an external phenomenon was thus translated into an internal conception. In the same way the poet operates upon the material supplied him by his emotions, projecting it into an image for the conceptive faculty.

These original historians did, it is true, find statements and narratives of other men ready to hand; one person cannot be an eye-and-ear witness of everything. But, merely as an ingredient, they make use only of such aids as the poet does of that heritage of an already-formed language to which he owes so much; historiographers bind together the fleeting elements of story, and treasure them up for immortality in the temple of Mnemosyne. Legends, ballad-stories, and traditions must be excluded from such original history; they are but dim and hazy forms of historical apprehension, and therefore belong to nations whose intelligence is but half awakened. Here, on the contrary, we have to do with people fully conscious of what they were and what they were about. The domain of reality—actually seen, or capable of being so-affords a very different basis in point of firmness from that fugitive and shadowy element in which were engendered those legends and poetic dreams whose historical prestige vanishes as soon as nations have attained a mature individuality.

Such original historians, then, change the events, the deeds, and the states of society with which they are conversant, into an object for the conceptive faculty; the narratives they leave us cannot, therefore, be very comprehensive in their range. Herodotus, Thucydides, Guicciardini, may be taken as fair samples of the class in this respect. What is present and living in their environment is their proper material. The influences that have formed the writer are identical with those which have molded the events that constitute the matter of his story. The author's spirit and that of the actions he narrates are one and the same. He describes scenes in which he himself has been an actor, or at any rate an interested spectator. It is short periods of time, individual shapes of persons and occurrences, single, unreflected traits, of which he makes his picture. And his aim is nothing more than the presentation to posterity of an image of events as clear as that which he himself possessed in virtue of personal observation, or lifelike descriptions. Reflections are none of his business, for he lives in the spirit of his subject; he has not attained an elevation above it. If, as in Caesar's case, he belongs to the exalted rank of generals or statesmen, it is the prosecution of his own aims that constitutes the history.

Such speeches as we find in Thucydides, for example, of which we can positively assert that they are not bona fide reports, would seem to make against our statement that a historian of his class presents us no reflected picture, that persons and people appear in his works in propria persona ... Granted that such orations as those of Pericles—that most profoundly accomplished, genuine, noble statesman—were elaborated by Thucydides, it must yet be maintained that they were not foreign to the character of the speaker. In the orations in question, these men proclaim the maxims adopted by their countrymen and formative of their own character; they record their views of their political relations and of their moral and spiritual nature, and publish the principles of their designs and conduct. What the historian puts into their mouths is no supposititious system of ideas, but an uncorrupted transcript of their intellectual and moral habitudes.

Of these historians whom we must make thoroughly our own, with whom we must linger long if we would live with their respective nations and enter deeply into their spirit—of these historians to whose pages we may turn, not for the purposes of erudition merely, but with a view to deep and genuine enjoyment, there are fewer than might be imagined. Herodotus, the Father, namely the Founder, of History, and Thucydides have been already mentioned. Xenophon's Retreat of the Ten Thousand is a work equally original. Caesar's Commentaries are the simple masterpiece of a mighty spirit; among the ancients these annalists were necessarily great captains and statesmen. In the Middle Ages, if we except the bishops, who were placed in the very centre of the political world, the monks monopolize this category as naive chroniclers who were as decidedly isolated from active life as those elder annalists had been connected with it. In modern times the relations are entirely altered. Our culture is essentially comprehensive, and immediately changes all events into historical representations. Belonging to the class in question, we have vivid, simple, clear narrations—especially of military transactions—which might fairly take their place with those of Caesar. In richness of matter and fulness of detail as regards strategic appliances and attendant circumstances, they are even more instructive. The French "Memoirs" also fall under this category. In many cases these are written by men of mark, though relating to affairs of little note; they not unfrequently contain such a large amount of anecdotal matter that the ground they occupy is narrow and trivial. Yet they are often veritable masterpieces in history, as are those of Cardinal Retz, which, in fact, trench on a larger historical field. In Germany such masters are rare, Frederick the Great in his Histoire de mon temps being an illustrious exception. Writers of this order must occupy an elevated position, for only from such a position is it possible to take an extensive view of affairs—to see everything. This is out of the question for him who from below merely gets a glimpse of the great world through a miserable cranny.

II. The second kind of history we may call the Reflective. It is history whose mode of representation is not really confined by the limits of the time to which it relates, but whose spirit transcends the present. In this second order a strongly marked variety of species may be distinguished.

1. It is the aim of the investigator to gain a view of the entire history of a people, of a country, or of the world in short, what we call universal history. In this case the working up of the historical material is the main point. The workman approaches his task with his own spirit—a spirit distinct from that of the element he is to manipulate.

Here a very important consideration is the principles to which the author refers the bearing and motives of the actions and events which he describes, as well as those which determine the form of his narrative. Among us Germans this reflective treatment and the display of ingenuity which it affords assume a manifold variety of phases. Every writer of history proposes to himself an original method. The English and French confess to general principles of historical composition, their viewpoint being more nearly that of cosmopolitan or national culture. Among us, each labors to invent a purely individual point of view; instead of writing history, we are always beating our brains to discover how history ought to be written.

This first kind of Reflective history is most nearly akin to the preceding, when it has no further aim than to present the annals of a country complete. Such compilations (among which may be mentioned the works of Livy, Diodorus Siculus, Johannes von Mueller's History of Switzerland) are, if well performed, highly meritorious. Among the best of the kind may be included such annalists as approach those of the first-class writers who give so vivid a transcript of events that the reader may well fancy himself listening to contemporaries and eye-witnesses. But it often happens that the individuality of tone which must characterize a writer belonging to a different culture is not modified in accordance with the periods which such a record must traverse. The spirit of the writer may be quite apart from that of the times of which he treats. Thus Livy puts into the mouths of the old Roman kings, consuls, and generals, such orations as would be delivered by an accomplished advocate of the Livian era, and which strikingly contrast with the genuine traditions of Roman antiquity—witness, for example, the fable of Menenius Agrippa. In the same way he gives us descriptions of battles as if he had been an actual spectator; but their salient points would serve well enough for battles in any period, for their distinctness contrasts, even in his treatment of chief points of interest, with the want of connection and the inconsistency that prevail elsewhere. The difference between such a compiler and an original historian may be best seen by comparing Polybius himself with the style in which Livy uses, expands, and abridges his annals in those periods of which Polybius' account has been preserved. Johannes von Mueller, in the endeavor to remain faithful in his portraiture to the times he describes, has given a stiff, formal, pedantic aspect to his history. We much prefer the narratives we find in old Tschudi; all is more naive and natural than when appearing in the garb of a fictitious and affected archaism.

A history which aspires to traverse long periods of time, or to be universal, must indeed forego the attempt to give individual representations of the past as it actually existed. It must foreshorten its pictures by abstractions, and this includes not merely the omission of events and deeds, but whatever is involved in the fact that Thought is, after all, the most trenchant epitomist. A battle, a great victory, a siege no longer maintains its original proportions, but is put off with a mere allusion. When Livy, for instance, tells us of the war with the Volsci, we sometimes have the brief announcement: "This year war was carried on with the Volsci."

2. A second species of Reflective history is what we may call the pragmatical. When we have to deal with the past and occupy ourselves with a remote world, a present rises into being for the mind—produced by its own activity, as the reward of its labor. The occurrences are, indeed, various; but the idea which pervades them-their deeper import and connection—is one. This takes the occurrence out of the category of the past and makes it virtually present. Pragmatical (didactic) reflections, though in their nature decidedly abstract, are truly and indefeasibly of the present, and quicken the annals of the dead past with the life of today. Whether, indeed, such reflections are truly interesting and enlivening depends on the writer's own spirit. Moral reflections must here be specially noticed—the moral teaching expected from history; the latter has not infrequently been treated with a direct view to the former. It may be allowed that examples of virtue elevate the soul and are applicable in the moral instruction of children for impressing excellence upon their minds. But the destinies of people and states, their interests, relations, and the complicated tissue of their affairs, present quite another field. Rulers, statesmen, nations, are wont to be emphatically commended to the teaching which experience offers in history; yet what experience and history teach is this-that peoples and governments have never learned anything from history, nor have they acted on principles deduced from it. Each period is involved in such peculiar circumstances, exhibits a condition of things so strictly idiosyncratic, that its conduct must be regulated by considerations connected with itself, and itself alone. Amid the pressure of great events a general principle gives no help.

It is useless to revert to similar circumstances in the past. The pallid shades of memory struggle in vain with the life and freedom of the present. Looked at in this light nothing can be shallower than the oft-repeated appeal to Greek and Roman examples during the French Revolution; nothing is more diverse than the genius of those nations and that of our times. Johannes von Mueller, in his Universal History as also in his History of Switzerland, had such moral aims in view. He designed to prepare a body of political doctrines for the instruction of princes, governments, and peoples (he formed a special collection of doctrines and reflections, frequently giving us in his correspondence the exact number of apothegms which he had compiled in a week); but he cannot assert that this part of his labor was among the best he accomplished. It is only a thorough, liberal, comprehensive view of historical relations (such for instance, as we find in Montesquieu's L'Esprit des Lois) that can give truth and interest to reflections of this order. One Reflective history, therefore, supersedes another. The materials are patent to every writer; each is prone to believe himself capable of arranging and manipulating them, and we may expect that each will insist upon his own spirit as that of the age in question. Disgusted by such reflective histories, readers have often returned with pleasure to narratives adopting no particular point of view—which certainly have their value, although, for the most part, they offer only material for history. We Germans are content with such; but the French, on the other hand, display great genius in reanimating bygone times and in bringing the past to bear upon the present condition of things.

3. The third form of Reflective history is the Critical. This deserves mention as preeminently the mode, now current in Germany, of treating history. It is not history itself that is here presented. We might more properly designate it as a History of History—a criticism of historical narratives and an investigation of their truth and credibility. Its peculiarity, in point of fact as well as intention, consists in the acuteness with which the writer extorts from the records something which was not in the matters recorded. The French have given us much that is profound and judicious in this class of composition, but have not endeavored to make a merely critical procedure pass for substantial history; their judgments have been duly presented in the form of critical treatises. Among us, the so-called "higher criticism," which reigns supreme in the domain of philology, has also taken possession of our historical literature; it has been the pretext for introducing all the anti-historical monstrosities that a vain imagination could suggest. Here we have the other method of making the past a living reality; for historical data subjective fancies are substituted, whose merit is measured by their boldness—that is, the scantiness of the particulars on which they are based and the peremptoriness with which they contravene the best established facts of history.

4. The last species of Reflective history announces its fragmentary character on its very face. It adopts an abstract position; yet, since it takes general points of view (such, for instance, as the History of Art, of Law, of Religion), it forms a transition to the Philosophical History of the World. In our time this form of the history of ideas has been especially developed and made prominent. Such branches of national life stand in close relation to the entire complex of a people's annals; and the question of chief importance in relation to our subject is, whether the connection of the whole is exhibited in its truth and reality, or is referred to merely external relations. In the latter case, these important phenomena (art, law, religion, etc.), appear as purely accidental national peculiarities. It must be remarked, if the position taken is a true one, that when Reflective history has advanced to the adoption of general points of view, these are found to constitute not a merely external thread, a superficial series, but are the inward guiding soul of the occurrences and actions that occupy a nation's annals. For, 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.

III. The third kind of history is the Philosophical. No explanation was needed of the two previous classes; their nature was self-evident. It is otherwise with the last, which certainly seems to require an exposition or justification. The most general definition that can be given is, that the philosophy of history means nothing but the thoughtful consideration of it. Thought is, indeed, essential to humanity. It is this that distinguishes us from the brutes. In sensation, cognition, and intellection, in our instincts and volitions, as far as they are truly human, thought is a constant element. To insist upon thought in this connection with history may, however, appear unsatisfactory. In this science it would seem as if thought must be subordinate to what is given, to the realities of fact—that this is its basis and guide; while philosophy dwells in the region of self-produced ideas, without reference to actuality. Approaching history thus prepossessed, speculation might be supposed to treat it as a mere passive material, and, so far from leaving it in its native truth, to force it into conformity with a tyrannous idea, and to construe it, as the phrase is, a priori. But as it is the business of history simply to adopt into its records what is and has been-actual occurrences and transactions; and since it remains true to its character in proportion as it strictly adheres to its data, we seem to have in philosophy a process diametrically opposed to that of the historiographer. This contradiction, and the charge consequently brought against speculation, shall be explained and confuted. We do not, however, propose to correct the innumerable special misrepresentations, whether trite or novel, that are current respecting the aims, the interests, and the modes of treating history and its relation to philosophy.

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 is that 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. It is the infinite complex of things, their entire essence and truth. It is its own material which it commits to its own active energy to work up—not needing, as finite action does, the conditions of an external material of given means from which it may obtain its support and the objects of its activity. It supplies its own nourishment and is the object of its own operations. While it is exclusively its own basis of existence and absolute final aim, it is also the energizing power realizing this aim, developing it not only in the phenomena of the natural, but also of the spiritual universe—the history of the world. That this "Idea" or "Reason" is the true, the eternal, the absolutely powerful essence; that it reveals itself in the world, and that in that world nothing else is revealed but this and its honor and glory—is the thesis which, as we have said, has been proved in philosophy and is here regarded as demonstrated.

In entering upon this course of lectures, I may fairly presume, at least, the existence in those of my hearers who are not acquainted with philosophy, of a belief in Reason, a desire, a thirst for acquaintance with it. It is, in fact, the wish for rational insight, not the ambition to amass a mere heap of acquirements, that should be presupposed in every case as possessing the mind of the learner in the study of science. 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 the world of intelligence and conscious volition is not abandoned to chance, but must show itself in the light of the self-cognizant Idea. Yet I am not obliged to make such a preliminary demand upon your faith. What I have said thus provisionally, and what I shall have further to say, is, even in reference to our branch of science, not to be regarded as hypothetical, but as a summary view of the whole, the result of the investigation we are about to pursue—a result which happens to be known to me, because I have traversed the entire field. It is only an inference from the history of the world that its development has been a rational process, that the history in question has constituted the rational necessary course of the World-Spirit—that Spirit whose nature is always one and the same, but which unfolds this, its one nature, in the phenomena of the world's existence. This must, as before stated, present itself as the ultimate result of history; but we have to take the latter as it is. We must proceed historically—empirically. Among other precautions we must take care not to be misled by professed historians who (especially among the Germans, and those enjoying a considerable authority) are chargeable with the very procedure of which they accuse the philosopher—introducing a priori inventions of their own into the records of the past. It is, for example, a widely current fiction that there was an original primeval people, taught directly by God, endowed with perfect insight and wisdom, possessing a thorough knowledge of all natural laws and spiritual truth; that there have been such or such sacerdotal peoples; or, to mention a more specific claim, that there was a Roman Epos, from which the Roman historians derived the early annals of their city, etc....

I will mention only two phases and points of view that concern the generally diffused conviction that Reason has ruled, and is still ruling in the world, and consequently in the world's history; because they give us, at the same time, an opportunity for more closely investigating the question that presents the greatest difficulty, and for indicating a branch of the subject which will have to be enlarged on in the sequel.

1. One of these points is that passage in history which informs us that the Greek Anaxagoras was the first to enunciate the doctrine that [GREEK: nous],—Understanding in general, or Reason, governs the world. It is not intelligence as self-conscious Reason—not a spirit as such that is meant; and we must clearly distinguish these from each other. The movement of the solar system takes place according to unchangeable laws. These laws are Reason, implicit in the phenomena in question; but neither the sun nor the planets which revolve around it according to these laws can be said to have any consciousness of them.

A thought of this kind—that nature is an embodiment of Reason, that is, unchangeably subordinate to universal laws—appears nowise striking or strange to us. We are accustomed to such conceptions and find nothing extraordinary in them; and I have mentioned this extraordinary occurrence partly to show how history teaches that ideas of this kind, which may seem trivial to us, have not always been in the world; that, on the contrary, such a thought makes an epoch in the annals of human intelligence. Aristotle says of Anaxagoras, as the originator of the thought in question, that he appeared as a sober man among the drunken. Socrates adopted the doctrine from Anaxagoras, and it forthwith became the ruling idea in philosophy—except in the school of Epicurus, who ascribed all events to chance. "I was delighted with the sentiment," Plato makes Socrates say, "and hoped I had found a teacher who would show me Nature in harmony with Reason, who would demonstrate in each particular phenomenon its specific aim, and, in the whole, the grand object of the universe. I would not have surrendered this hope for a great deal. But how very much was I disappointed, when, having zealously applied myself to the writings of Anaxagoras, I found that he adduces only external causes, such as atmosphere, ether, water, and the like." It is evident that the defect which Socrates complains of respecting Anaxagoras' doctrine does not concern the principle itself, but the shortcoming of the propounder in applying it to nature in the concrete. Nature is not deduced from that principle; the latter remains, in fact, a mere abstraction, inasmuch as the former is not comprehended and exhibited as a development of it—an organization produced by and from Reason. I wish, at the very outset, to call your attention to the important difference between a conception, a principle, a truth limited to an abstract form, and its determinate application and concrete development. This distinction affects the whole fabric of philosophy; and among other bearings of it there is one to which we shall have to revert at the close of our view of universal history, in investigating the aspect of political affairs in the most recent period.

We have next to notice the rise of this idea that Reason directs the world, in connection with a further application of it well known to us—in the form, viz., of the religious truth that the world is not abandoned to chance and external contingent causes, but that a Providence controls it. I stated above that I would not make a demand on your faith in regard to the principle announced. Yet I might appeal to your belief in it, in this religious aspect, if as a general rule, the nature of philosophical science allowed it to attach authority to presuppositions. To put it in another shape—this appeal is forbidden, because the science of which we have to treat proposes itself to furnish the proof, not indeed of the abstract truth of the doctrine, but of its correctness as compared with facts. The truth, then, that a Providence (that of God) presides over the events of the world consorts with the proposition in question; for Divine Providence is wisdom, endowed with an infinite power, which realizes its aim, viz., the absolute rational design of the world. Reason is thought conditioning itself with perfect freedom. But a difference—rather a contradiction—will manifest itself between this belief and our principle, just as was the case in reference to the demand made by Socrates in the case of Anaxagoras' dictum. For that belief is similarly indefinite; it is what is called a belief in a general providence, and is not followed out into definite application, or displayed in its bearing on the grand total—the entire course of human history. But to explain history is to depict the passions of mankind, the genius, the active powers, that play their part on the great stage; and the providentially determined process which these exhibit constitutes what is generally called the "plan" of Providence. Yet it is this very plan which is supposed to be concealed from our view, which it is deemed presumption even to wish to recognize. The ignorance of Anaxagoras as to how intelligence reveals itself in actual existence was ingenuous. Neither in his consciousness, nor in that of Greece at large, had that thought been further expanded. He had not attained the power to apply his general principle to the concrete, so as to deduce the latter from the former; it was Socrates who took the first step in comprehending the union of the concrete with the universal. Anaxagoras, then, did not take up a hostile position toward such an application; the common belief in Providence does; at least it opposes the use of the principle on a large scale, and denies the possibility of discerning the plan of Providence. In isolated cases this plan is supposed to be manifest. Pious persons are encouraged to recognize in particular circumstances something more than mere chance, to acknowledge the guiding hand of God; for instance, when help has unexpectedly come to an individual in great perplexity and need. But these instances of providential design are of a limited kind, and concern the accomplishment of nothing more than the desires of the individual in question. But in the history of the world, the individuals we have to do with are peoples, totalities that are States. We cannot, therefore, be satisfied with what we may call this "peddling" view of Providence, to which the belief alluded to limits itself. Equally unsatisfactory is the merely abstract, undefined belief in a Providence, when that belief is not brought to bear upon the details of the process which it conducts. On the contrary our earnest endeavor must be directed to the recognition of the ways of Providence, the means it uses, and the historical phenomena in which it manifests itself; and we must show their connection with the general principle above mentioned. But in noticing the recognition of the plan of Divine Providence generally, I have implicitly touched upon a prominent question of the day, viz., that of the possibility of knowing God; or rather—since public opinion has ceased to allow it to be a matter of question—the doctrine that it is impossible to know God. In direct contravention of what is commanded in holy Scripture as the highest duty—that we should not merely love, but know God—the prevalent dogma involves the denial of what is there said—namely, that it is the Spirit, der Geist, that leads into truth, knows all things, penetrates even into the deep things of the Godhead. While the Divine Being is thus placed beyond our knowledge and outside the limit of all human things, we have the convenient license of wandering as far as we list, in the direction of our own fancies. We are freed from the obligation to refer our knowledge to the Divine and True. On the other hand, the vanity and egoism which characterize our knowledge find, in this false position, ample justification; and the pious modesty which puts far from itself the knowledge of God can well estimate how much furtherance thereby accrues to its own wayward and vain strivings. I have been unwilling to leave out of sight the connection between our thesis—that Reason governs and has governed the world—and the question of the possibility of a knowledge of God, chiefly that I might not lose the opportunity of mentioning the imputation against philosophy of being shy of noticing religious truths, or of having occasion to be so; in which is insinuated the suspicion that it has anything but a clear conscience in the presence of these truths. So far from this being the case, the fact is that in recent times philosophy has been obliged to defend the domain of religion against the attacks of several theological systems. In the Christian religion God has revealed Himself—that is, He has given us to understand what He is, with the result that He is no longer a concealed or secret existence. And this possibility of knowing Him, thus afforded us, renders such knowledge a duty. God wishes for His children no narrow-hearted souls or empty heads, but those whose spirit is of itself indeed, poor, but rich in the knowledge of Him, and who regard this knowledge of God as the only valuable possession. That development of the thinking spirit, which has resulted from the revelation of the Divine Being as its original basis, must ultimately advance to the intellectual comprehension of what was presented, in the first instance, to feeling and imagination. The time must eventually come for understanding that rich product of active Reason which the history of the world offers to us. It was for a while the fashion to profess admiration for the wisdom of God, as displayed in animals, plants, and isolated occurrences. But if it be allowed that Providence manifests itself in such objects and forms of existence, why not also in universal history? This is deemed too great a matter to be thus regarded. But divine wisdom, i. e., Reason, is one and the same in the great as in the little; and we must not imagine God to be too weak to exercise his wisdom on the grand scale. Our intellectual striving aims at realizing the conviction that what was intended by eternal wisdom is actually accomplished in the domain of existent, active Spirit, as well as in that of mere Nature. Our mode of treating the subject is, in this aspect, a Theodicaea—a justification of the ways of God—which Leibnitz attempted metaphysically in his method, i. e., in indefinite abstract categories—so that the ill that is found in the world may be comprehended, and the thinking Spirit reconciled with the fact of the existence of evil. Indeed, nowhere is such a harmonizing view more pressingly demanded than in universal history; and it can be attained only by recognizing the positive existence, in which that negative element is a subordinate and vanquished nullity. On the one hand, the ultimate design of the world must be perceived, and, on the other, the fact that this design has been actually realized in it, and that evil has not been able permanently to establish a rival position. But this conviction involves much more than the mere belief in a superintending [GREEK: nous] or in "Providence." "Reason," whose sovereignty over the world has been maintained, is as indefinite a term as "Providence," supposing the term to be used by those who are unable to characterize it distinctly, to show wherein it consists, so as to enable us to decide whether a thing is rational or irrational. An adequate definition of Reason is the first desideratum; and whatever boast may be made of strict adherence to it in explaining phenomena, without such a definition we get no farther than mere words. With these observations we may proceed to the second point of view that has to be considered in this Introduction.

2. The inquiry 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? And the expression implies that that design is destined to be realized. Two points of consideration suggest themselves: first, the import of this design—its abstract definition; secondly, its realization.

It must be observed at the outset that the phenomenon we investigate—universal history—belongs to the realm of "spirit." The term "World" includes both physical and psychical nature. Physical nature also plays its part in the world's history, and attention will have to be paid to the fundamental natural relations thus involved. But Spirit, and the course of its development, is our substantial object. Our task does not require us to contemplate nature as a rational system in itself—though in its own proper domain it proves itself such-but simply in its relation to Spirit. On the stage on which we are observing it—universal history—Spirit displays itself in its most concrete reality. Notwithstanding this (or rather for the very purpose of comprehending the general principles which this, its form of concrete reality, embodies) we must premise some abstract characteristics of the nature of Spirit.

We have therefore to mention here

(1) The abstract characteristics of the nature of Spirit.

(2) What means Spirit uses in order to realize its Idea.

(3) Lastly, we must consider the shape which the perfect embodiment of Spirit assumes—the State.

(1) 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, the essence of Spirit is freedom. All will readily assent to the doctrine that Spirit, among other properties, is also endowed with freedom; but philosophy teaches that all the qualities of Spirit exist only through freedom; that all are but means for attaining freedom; that all seek and produce this and this alone. It is a result of speculative philosophy that freedom is the sole truth of Spirit. Matter possesses gravity in virtue of its tendency toward a central point. It is essentially composite, consisting of parts that exclude one another. It seeks its unity; and therefore exhibits itself as self-destructive, as verging toward its opposite—an indivisible point. If it could attain this, it would be Matter no longer; it would have perished. It strives after the realization of its Idea; for in unity it exists ideally. Spirit, on the contrary, may be defined as that which has its centre in itself. It has not a unity outside itself, but has already found it; it exists in and with itself. Matter has its essence out of itself; Spirit is self-contained existence (Bei-sich-selbst-seyn). 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 are 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 what it is potentially. According to this abstract definition it may be said of universal history that it is the exhibition of Spirit in the process of working out the knowledge of that which it is potentially. And as the germ bears in itself the whole nature of the tree and the taste and form of its fruits, so do the first traces of Spirit virtually contain the whole of that history. The Orientals have not attained the knowledge that Spirit—Man as such—is free; and because they do not know this, they are not free. They only know that one is free; but on this very account, the freedom of that one is only caprice; ferocity—brutal recklessness of passion, or a mildness and tameness of the desires, which is itself only an accident of nature—is mere caprice like the former. That one is therefore only a despot, not a free man. The consciousness of freedom first arose among the Greeks, and therefore they were free; but they, and the Romans likewise, knew only that some are free, not man as such. Even Plato and Aristotle did not know this. The Greeks, therefore, had slaves, and their whole life and the maintenance of their splendid liberty was implicated with the institution of slavery—a fact, moreover, which made that liberty, on the one hand, only an accidental, transient and limited growth, and on the other, a rigorous thraldom of our common nature—of the Human. The Germanic nations, under the influence of Christianity, were the first to attain the consciousness that man is free; that it is the freedom of Spirit which constitutes its essence. This consciousness arose first in religion, the inmost region of Spirit; but to introduce the principle into the various relations of the actual world involves a more extensive problem than its simple implantation—a problem whose solution and application require a severe and lengthened process of culture. In proof of this we may note that slavery did not cease immediately on the reception of Christianity. Still less did liberty predominate in States; or governments and constitutions adopt a rational organization, or recognize freedom as their basis. That application of the principle to political relations, the thorough molding and interpenetration of the constitution of society by it, is a process identical with history itself. I have already directed attention to the distinction here involved, between a principle as such and its application—that is, its introduction and fulfilment in the actual phenomena of Spirit and life. This is a point of fundamental importance in our science, and one which must be constantly respected as essential. And in the same way as this distinction has attracted attention in view of the Christian principle of self-consciousness—freedom, it also shows itself as an essential one in view of the principle of freedom generally. The history of the world is none other than the progress of the consciousness of freedom—progress whose development, according to the necessity of its nature, it is our business to investigate.

The general statement given above of the various grades in the consciousness of freedom-which we applied in the first instance to the fact that the Eastern nations knew only that one is free, the Greek and Roman world only that some are free, while we know that all men absolutely (man as man) are free—supplies us with the natural division of universal history, and suggests the mode of its discussion. This is remarked, however, only incidentally and anticipatively; some other ideas must be first explained.

The destiny of the spiritual world, and—since this is the substantial world, while the physical remains subordinate to it, or, in the language of speculation, has no truth as against the spiritual—the final cause of the world at large we allege to be the consciousness of its own freedom on the part of Spirit, and, ipso facto, the reality of that freedom. But that this term "freedom" is, without further qualification, an indefinite, incalculable, ambiguous term, and that, while what it represents is the ne plus ultra of attainment, it is liable to an infinity of misunderstandings, confusions, and errors, and to become the occasion for all imaginable excesses—has never been more clearly known and felt than in modern times. Yet, for the present, we must content ourselves with the term itself without further definition. Attention was also directed to the importance of the infinite difference between a principle in the abstract and its realization in the concrete. In the process before us the essential nature of freedom—which involves absolute necessity—is to be displayed as coming to a consciousness of itself (for it is in its very nature, self-consciousness) and thereby realizing its existence. Itself is its own object of attainment and the sole aim of Spirit. This result it is at which the process of the world's history has been continually aiming, and to which the sacrifices that have ever and anon been laid on the vast altar of the earth, through the long lapse of ages, have been offered. This is the only aim that sees itself realized and fulfilled, the only pole of repose amid the ceaseless change of events and conditions, and the sole efficient principle that pervades them. This final aim is God's purpose with the world; but God is the absolutely perfect Being, and can, therefore, will nothing other than Himself—His own will. The nature of His will—that is His nature itself—is what we here call the idea of freedom, translating the language of religion into that of thought. The question, then, which we may next put, is What means does this principle of freedom use for its realization? This is the second point we have to consider.

(2) The question of the means by which freedom develops itself to a world conducts us to the phenomenon of history itself. Although freedom is, primarily, an undeveloped idea, the means it uses are external and phenomenal, presenting themselves in history to our sensuous vision. The first glance at history convinces us that the actions of men proceed from their needs, their passions, when the occasion seems to call for it—is that what we call principle, aim, destiny, or the nature and idea of Spirit, is something merely general and abstract. Principle—Plan of Existence—Law—is a hidden, undeveloped essence which, as such—however true in itself—is not completely real. Aims, principles, etc., have a place in our thoughts, in our subjective design only, but not as yet in the sphere of reality. That which exists for itself only is a possibility, a potentiality, but it has not emerged into existence. A second element must be introduced in order to produce actuality—viz., actuation, realization; and its motive power is the will—the activity of man in the widest sense. It is only by this activity that that Idea, as well as abstract characteristics generally, are realized, actualized; for of themselves they are powerless. The motive power that puts them in operation and gives them determinate existence, is the need, instinct, inclination, and passion of man. That some conception of mine should be developed into act and existence, is my earnest desire; I wish to assert my personality in connection with it; I wish to be satisfied by its execution. If I am to exert myself for any object, it must in some way or other be my object. In the accomplishment of such or such designs I must at the same time find my satisfaction; although the purpose for which I exert myself includes a complication of results, many of which have no interest for me. This is the absolute right of personal existence—to find itself satisfied in its activity and labor. If men are to interest themselves for anything, they must, so to speak, have part of their existence involved in it and find their individuality gratified by its attainment. Here a mistake must be avoided. We intend blame, and justly impute it as a fault, when we say of an individual that he is "interested" (in taking part in such or such transactions)—that is, seeks only his private advantage. In reprehending this we find fault with him for furthering his personal aims without any regard to a more comprehensive design, of which he takes advantage to promote his own interest or which, with this view, he even sacrifices. But he who is active in promoting an object is not simply "interested," but interested in that object itself. Language faithfully expresses this distinction. Nothing therefore happens, nothing is accomplished, unless the individuals concerned seek their own satisfaction in the issue. They are particular units of society—that is, they have special needs, instincts, and interests generally, peculiar to themselves. Among these needs are not only such as we usually call necessities—the stimuli of individual desire and volition—but also those connected with individual views and convictions; or—to use a term expressing less decision—leanings of opinion, supposing the impulses of reflection, understanding, and reason, to have been awakened. In these cases people demand, if they are to exert themselves in any direction, that the object should commend itself to them, that, in point of opinion-whether as to its goodness, justice, advantage, profit they should be able to "enter into it" (dabei sein). This is a consideration of special importance in our age, when people are less than formerly influenced by reliance on others, and by authority; when, on the contrary, they devote their activities to a cause on the ground of their own understanding, their independent conviction and opinion.

We assert then that nothing has been accomplished without interest on the part of the actors; and—if interest be called passion, inasmuch as the whole individuality, to the neglect of all other actual or possible interests and claims, is devoted to an object with every fibre of volition, concentrating all its desires and powers upon it—we may affirm absolutely that nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion. Two elements, therefore, enter into the object of our investigation—the first the Idea, the second the complex of human passions; the one the warp, the other the woof of the vast arras-web of universal history. The concrete mean and union of the two is liberty, under the conditions of morality in a State. We have spoken of the idea of freedom as the nature of Spirit, and the absolute goal of history. Passion is regarded as a thing of sinister aspect, as more or less immoral. Man is required to have no passions. Passion, it is true, is not quite the suitable word for what I wish to express. I mean here nothing more than human activity as resulting from private interests, special, or if you will, self-seeking designs—with this qualification, that the whole energy of will and character is devoted to their attainment, and that other interests (which would in themselves constitute attractive aims), or, rather, all things else, are sacrificed to them. The object in question is so bound up with the man's will that it entirely and alone determines the "hue of resolution" and is inseparable from it; it has become the very essence of his volition. For a person is a specific existence—not man in general (a term to which no real existence corresponds); but a particular human being. The term "character" likewise expresses this idiosyncrasy of will and intelligence. But character comprehends all peculiarities whatever, the way in which a person conducts himself in private relations, etc., and is not limited to his idiosyncrasy in its practical and active phase. I shall, therefore, use the term "passion," understanding thereby the particular bent of character, as far as the peculiarities of volition are not limited to private interest but supply the impelling and actuating force for accomplishing deeds shared in by the community at large. Passion is, in the first instance, the subjective and therefore the formal side of energy, will, and activity—leaving the object or aim still undetermined. And there is a similar relation of formality to reality in merely individual conviction, individual views, individual conscience. It is always a question of essential importance—what is the purport of my conviction, what the object of my passion—in deciding whether the one or the other is of a true and substantial nature. Conversely, if it is so, it will inevitably attain actual existence—be realized.

From this comment on the second essential element in the historical embodiment of an aim, we infer—glancing at the institution of the State in passing—that a State is well constituted and internally powerful when the private interest of its citizens is one with the common interest of the State, when the one finds its gratification and realization in the other—a proposition in itself very important. But in a State many institutions must be adopted, and much political machinery invented, accompanied by appropriate political arrangements—necessitating long struggles of the understanding before what is really appropriate can be discovered—involving, moreover, contentions with private interest and passions and a tedious discipline of the latter in order to bring about the desired harmony. The epoch when a State attains this harmonious condition marks the period of its bloom, its virtue, its vigor, and its prosperity. But the history of mankind does not begin with a conscious aim of any kind, as is the case with the particular circles into which men form themselves of set purpose. The mere social instinct implies a conscious purpose of security for life and property; and when society has been constituted this purpose becomes more comprehensive. The history of the world begins with its general aim—the realization of the idea of Spirit—only in an implicit form (an sich), that is, as nature—a hidden, most profoundly hidden, unconscious instinct; and the whole process of history (as already observed) is directed to rendering this unconscious impulse a conscious one. Thus appearing in the form of merely natural existence, natural will—that which has been called the subjective side—physical craving, instinct, passion, private interest, as also opinion and subjective conception, spontaneously present themselves at the very commencement. This vast congeries of volitions, interests, and activities, constitute the instruments and means of the World-Spirit for attaining its object, bringing it to consciousness and realizing it. And this aim is none other than finding itself—coming to itself—and contemplating itself in concrete actuality. But that those manifestations of vitality on the part of individuals and peoples, in which they seek and satisfy their own purposes, are, at the same time, the means and instruments of a higher and broader purpose of which they know nothing-which they realize unconsciously might be made a matter of question-rather has been questioned, and, in every variety of form, negatived, decried, and contemned as mere dreaming and "philosophy." But on this point I announced my view at the very outset and asserted our hypothesis—which, however, will appear in the sequel in the form of a legitimate inference—and our belief that Reason governs the world and has consequently governed its history. In relation to this independently universal and substantial existence all else is subordinate, subservient to it, and the means for its development. The union of universal abstract existence generally with the individual—the subjective—that this alone is truth belongs to the department of speculation and is treated in this general form in logic. But in the process of the world's history itself—as still incomplete—the abstract final aim of history is not yet made the distinct object of desire and interest. While these limited sentiments are still unconscious of the purpose they are fulfilling, the universal principle is implicit in them and is realizing itself through them. The question also assumes the form of the union of freedom and necessity, the latent abstract process of Spirit being regarded as necessity, while that which exhibits itself in the conscious will of men, as their interest, belongs to the domain of freedom. As the metaphysical connection (i. e., the connection in the Idea) of these forms of thought, belongs to logic, it would be out of place to analyze it here. The chief and cardinal points only shall be mentioned.

Philosophy shows that the Idea advances to an infinite antithesis—that, namely, between the Idea in its free, universal form, in which it exists for itself, and the contrasted form of abstract introversion, reflection on itself, which is formal existence-for-self, personality, formal freedom, such as belongs to Spirit only. The universal Idea exists thus as the substantial totality of things on the one side, and as the abstract essence of free volition on the other. This reflection of the mind on itself is individual self-consciousness—the polar-opposite of the Idea in its general form and therefore existing in absolute limitation. This polar-opposite is consequently limitation, particularization for the universal absolute being; it is the side of the definite existence, the sphere of its formal reality, the sphere of the reverence paid to God. To comprehend the absolute connection of this antithesis is the profound task of metaphysics. This limitation originates all forms of particularity of whatever kind. The formal volition (of which we have spoken) wills itself and desires to make its own personality valid in all that it purposes and does; even the pious individual wishes to be saved and happy. This pole of the antithesis, existing for itself, is—in contrast with the Absolute Universal Being—a special separate existence, taking cognizance of speciality only and willing that alone. In short, it plays its part in the region of mere phenomena. This is the sphere of particular purposes, in effecting which individuals exert themselves on behalf of their individuality—give it full play and objective realization. This is also the sphere of happiness and its opposite. He is happy who finds his condition suited to his special character, will, and fancy, and so enjoys himself in that condition. The history of the world is not the theatre of happiness. Periods of happiness are blank pages in it, for they are periods of harmony—periods when the antithesis is in abeyance. Reflection of self—the freedom above described—is abstractly defined as the formal element of the activity of the absolute Idea. The realizing activity of which we have spoken is the middle term of the syllogism, one of whose extremes is the universal essence, the Idea, which reposes in the penetralia of Spirit; and the other, the complex of external things—objective matter. That activity is the medium by which the universal latent principle is translated into the domain of objectivity.

I will endeavor to make what has been said more vivid and clear by examples. The building of a house is, in the first instance, a subjective aim and design. On the other hand we have, as means, the several substances required for the work—iron, wood, stones. The elements are made use of in working up this material—fire to melt the iron, wind to blow the fire, water to set the wheels in motion in order to cut the wood, etc. The result is that the wind, which has helped to build the house, is shut out by the house; so also are the violence of rains and floods and the destructive powers of fire, so far as the house is made fire-proof. The stones and beams obey the law of gravity—press downward—and so high walls are carried up. Thus the elements are made use of in accordance with their nature, and yet are made to cooeperate for a product by which their operation is limited. It is thus that the passions of men are gratified; they develop themselves and their aims in accordance with their natural tendencies and build up the edifice of human society, thus fortifying a position for Right and Order against themselves.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11     Next Part
Home - Random Browse