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Dictionary of the History of Ideas

Studies of Selected Pivotal Ideas

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1. Hegelian Idealism. Hegel's philosophy is gener-
ally described as Absolute Idealism. Carl Michelet, one
of Hegel's leading nineteenth-century followers, said
that in Absolute Idealism, Subjective and Objective
Idealism are united. It is characteristic of Idealism, he
wrote, to regard thought as fundamental in the world,
but in the Subjective Idealism of Kant and Fichte the
objective world is neglected in favor of merely subjec-
tive mind, and in the Objective Idealism of Schelling
subjectivity is lost in an impersonal cosmic order.
Hegel, according to Michelet, reinstated Aristotle's
teaching that thought and its object are identical in
what is free from matter: “theoretical knowledge and
its object are the same” (De anima III. 4). According
to Michelet, Hegel combined Idealism with Realism
by means of his dialectical method in which the
thought of the philosopher becomes identical with the
objective development of reality (Geschichte der letzten
Systeme der Philosophie in Deutschland,
I, Berlin
[1837], 34 and II, Berlin [1838], 602-11).

The central feature of the German Idealist philoso-
phy which began with Kant's Critique of Pure Reason
(Riga, 1781) and culminated in Hegelianism, is its
defense of spontaneity and freedom against the empir-
icism and materialism that flourished during the En-
lightenment. Like Kant and Fichte, Hegel thought that
freedom is of the very essence of mind, but he devel-
oped this idea in a more systematic way than they had
done. Thought, he held, cannot be limited by fixed and
ready-made categories, and in the first part of his
system, the Logic, he tried to show that each limited
category gave rise to contradictions which can only
be resolved by advancing towards progressively less
limited ones until the Absolute Idea, the most compre-
hensive category of all, is reached. Using language
like that applied by Rousseau to the laws of the state
and by Kant to the moral law, Hegel wrote that


thought is “a self-developing totality of determinations
and laws which it gives to itself and does not find
already formed within itself” (Encyclopedia, 3rd ed.
[1830], §19).

The second part of his system, the Philosophy of
is concerned with what is not free, with what
occurs as it must and yet might have been other than
it is. Even the wickedness of men, he says, “is infinitely
superior to the law-like turning of the stars or to the
innocence of the plants; something that goes astray is
nevertheless mind” (Encyclopedia, §248).

The third part of Hegel's system is called by him
the Philosophy of Mind. Mind (Geist), he says, is essen-
tially freedom, but is manifested at various levels.
There is first the level, which Hegel calls “subjective
mind,” at which mind turns from the natural world
and finds freedom in itself. Then there is an opposite
stage where a world of artifacts and institutions has
been produced in which particular minds can recognize
both their own achievements and the constraints they
impose. This, says Hegel, is the world of “objective
mind” in which “freedom lies before it as necessity”
(Encyclopedia, §385). The third and highest stage of
mind Hegel calls “absolute mind.” This is the sphere
of art, religion, and philosophy, in which man is taken
beyond his particular social milieu, and even beyond
the international order and the course of human his-
tory. In art the Absolute is manifested in sense-objects,
in religion it is revealed in forms of consciousness that
need no philosophical training, and in philosophy it
becomes thought aware of itself, and, as Aristotle put
it (Metaphysics, XII. 7), on the occasions when men
think philosophically they are fitfully enjoying what
God enjoys eternally.

We can now understand the philosophical context
within which Hegel's views on politics and religion
are presented. It is within the context of a philosophy
in which mind is fundamental to the world, in which
freedom is of the essence of mind, and in which free-
dom shows itself in thought as self-development by
contrast with mere conformity to fixed and uncriticized
categories. Men, as thinking beings, do not submit to
natural necessity but transform nature and create insti-
tutions which do not merely constrain individuals but
also give expression to their thoughts. Political activity
has its place in this sphere of objective mind. Art and
religion, however, elevate man to the sphere of Abso-
lute Mind where religion is the stage that prefigures
the highest achievement of mind, which is that of
self-conscious philosophical thought.

2. Hegel's Political Philosophy. Hegel's philosophy
of politics and law is set out in detail in his Grundlinien
der Philosophie des Rechts
(Berlin, 1821), although a
briefer account of it is contained in his Encyclopädie
Der Philosophischen Wissenschaften im Grundrisse (1st,
2nd, and 3rd eds., Heidelberg, 1817, 1827, 1830)—
referred to here as the Encyclopedia. Like the rest of
Hegel's systematic writings the Philosophie des Rechts
is divided into three main parts in dialectical progres-
sion. The first part, “Abstract Right,” is concerned with
property, its transfer, and the means of dealing with
fraud and coercive crime. The second part, “Morality,”
deals with human conduct insofar as its propriety is
thought to depend upon intentions and conscientious
motives. The third part, “Ethical Life” (Sittlichkeit),
deals first with the family, then with “civil society,”
i.e., the economic world and the legal, administrative,
and penal arrangements it makes necessary, and cul-
minates with the state, which Hegel considers to be
the supreme and most effective embodiment of reason
in the social sphere.

We cannot here describe the dialectical transitions
through which Hegel passes in developing his system
of social philosophy. He starts with the notion of per-
sons, as creatures who transcend nature by being aware
of themselves and each other, and he concludes with
a sketch of world history in which the succession of
predominating states is taken to be the evolution of
human freedom from its first emergence from the nat-
ural world towards the highly complex, self-conscious
form it exhibited in the Christian Europe of his day.

Hegel argued that property is essential to the exer-
cise of the free will of persons. By taking possession
of natural objects, by forming, and even by marking
them, persons emerge from their isolation and enter
into social, as distinct from biological, relations with
one another. Hegel rejected slavery on the ground that
owning a person involves treating him as if he were
a natural object. For slavery to be possible, however,
the slave himself must allow it, and to that extent he
shares with his master responsibility for his condition.
The institution of slavery has some point during the
transition from the animal condition to that of self-
consciousness, but it is eradicated by the modern state.
Hegel argued that ownership is in essence free and
complete, and he therefore thought that feudal forms
of property, insofar as they placed limits on this, ought
to be eliminated. He also held that, since ownership
implies the will to use the property, it ceases when
that will decays, as with bequests for purposes that
have ceased with the passage of time. He intended this
argument to justify such policies as the Dissolution of
the Monasteries by Henry VIII.

Property is handed down within families and is
produced and exchanged in the course of business
transactions. In the family, what began as a merely
biological relationship is rendered human and self-
conscious by being deliberately entered into by persons


who respect one another. In “civil society” the wants
of individuals are supplied, not by the unpaid devotion
that is called for in families, but by each individual's
pursuit of his own particular interests. Out of this
bargaining and trafficking arises the spontaneously
ordered system which Adam Smith, Say, and Ricardo
described and explained in the new science of Political
Economy. Family or tribal organization has esprit de
but is incompatible with developed economic
activity. Civil society, through the division of labor,
money, and market activities, supplies individual
wants, but lacks esprit de corps. According to Hegel,
it is in the modern state that the loyalty characteristic
of families is united with the spontaneous progress of
market enterprise. The state, he writes, is “the self-
conscious ethical substance, the union of the principles
of the family and of civil society; the unity which is
in the family the feeling of love, is the essence of the
state, but this essence also receives the form of con-
scious universality through the second principle of
intelligent and spontaneously active will...” (Ency-

Hegel was appointed to the chair of philosophy at
Berlin in 1818, at a time when the Prussian govern-
ment, although modernized as a result of the Napole-
onic invasion and the Wars of Liberation, was still an
absolute monarchy. There were elected local assem-
blies but no parliament for the country as a whole.
In his Philosophie des Rechts, published soon after his
arrival in Berlin, Hegel makes a detailed defense of
constitutional monarchy. He advocated elected upper
and lower chambers and an administration by civil
servants, the chief of whom would be appointed by
the Crown for their expertise, and others who would
be elected by the business community in order to
ensure realistic execution of the government's policy.
In publishing this at a time when liberals throughout
Europe were calling upon reluctant monarchies to
grant constitutions to their subjects, Hegel might seem
to have aligned himself with the liberals. His argu-
ments, however, were very different from those used
by the liberals. He considered that reason played such
a large part in the modern world, that the family and
historical tradition were no longer capable of sustaining
men's highest allegiance. The French Revolution, that
“glorious sunrise,” as he called it in his Lectures on
the Philosophy of History
(given every two years from
1822-23 until his death in 1831) was an attempt to
gain freedom and to enthrone reason, but the freedom
was anarchic and destructive, and the conception of
reason was too limited. The French revolutionaries first
subordinated everything to the legislature and then,
having abolished the monarchy, they fell under the
tyranny of men who, regarding themselves as virtuous
and their opponents as sinful, concentrated all power
in the executive which they controlled. Hegel con-
cluded that mind, at the level it had reached in his
day, required a legislature to establish laws, an execu-
tive to bring particular cases under the universal pre-
scribed in the laws, and a monarch “as the will with
the power of ultimate decision” (Philosophie des

Hegel did not, however, support this view with the
current utilitarian argument that this sort of consti-
tution would lead to the general happiness. For in his
opinion, to use such arguments was to assume that the
state exists to satisfy particular wants and desires, and
hence to confuse civil society with the state. In an era
when Protestant Christianity fostered freedom of con-
science, and when paternalism and traditionalism had
given way before freely thinking intellect, any political
arrangements would be defective which failed both to
distinguish and to unite the three “moments” we have
just listed. Hegel preferred hereditary monarchy both
to elective monarchy and to republicanism, but al-
though he accepts such arguments as that elective
monarchy and republicanism are likely to be unstable,
he said that empirical arguments are not decisive in
such matters. What is decisive is that in a society in
which men can think freely and wish to do so, there
must be an ultimate authority with unquestioned
“majesty,” as well as free public discussion in a legisla-
ture where laws are rationally framed and rationally
executed by those with executive authority. Hegel even
compares this form of constitution with the necessary
existence of the Perfect Being of the Ontological
Argument for the existence of God, and compares the
monarch within it with the self-moved mover in Aris-
totle's Metaphysics (Philosophie des Rechts §281—and
see Knox's note to this on p. 370 of his translation).
Hegel thought that this majestic constitutional mon-
arch must be hereditary because his position would be
arbitrary if subjected to the chances of voting rather
than to the impersonal processes of nature.

Arguing in this a priori manner we have just called
attention to—he himself would have said that it is the
proper philosophical method—Hegel maintained that
states are by their very essence a plurality, so that a
world state is not rationally thinkable. Given the com-
plexities of things and the willfulness of men, states
are bound to conflict with one another and to engage
in wars. War brings suffering and evil but is also a
means of breaking deadlocks and of preventing a torpid
acceptance of the stiatus quo. As the various poten-
tialities of mind are developed, various levels of free-
dom are achieved in the institutions which states foster
and protect. Mind—Hegel often speaks of “the Idea”—
finds increasingly subtle means of realizing itself in the


history of mankind. One by one the civilizations de-
velop some one-sided aspect of free mind and, one by
one they reach their peak, exhaust themselves, and sink
from lack of conviction or will to continue. Hegel
thought that the European Protestant civilization of
his day was the highest achievement of independent
individual mind, as it combined freedom of thought
and conscience with rational control over events that
would become anarchic if left to themselves.

Throughout his life Hegel was deeply interested in
political events. He read English and French as well
as German newspapers, and wrote, and sometimes
published detailed comments on constitutional prob-
lems. In 1817 there appeared in the heidelbergische
a long article by Hegel entitled Verhand-
lungen der Landstände des Königreichs Württemberg
im Jahre 1815 und 1816.
This contains a detailed dis-
cussion of a dispute in which the King of Württemberg
wished the Estates to accept a new constitution, while
the Estates, which had not met since before the French
Revolution, wished to go back to the pre-Revolutionary
constitution. Hegel here expressed his opposition to the
legalistic attitude of the Estates in standing on anti-
quated rights when they had the opportunity of ex-
tending the popular influence in the government of
the country. A large part of Hegel's Der Englische
appeared in the Preussische Staatszeitung
in 1831, but the King of Prussia prohibited publication
of the last part, apparently on the ground that it was
too critical of the British constitution. In this article
Hegel criticizes the irrational traditional elements of
the British constitution, comparing them to their dis-
advantage with the reformed codes of law and systems
of administration that had arisen in Prussia and else-
where in Europe as a result of the French Revolution.
He thought that the proposed reforms did not go far
enough, even though he was apprehensive lest the
passage of the Bill would intensify conflicts between
the aristocracy and the people. Both of these essays
show that, cautious as he was, Hegel was no advocate
of traditionalism.

3. Hegel's Philosophy of Religion. Hegel's philoso-
phy as a whole has been described as “contemplative
theology” (I. 1lj, in DiePhilosophie Hegels als kontem-
plative Gotteslehre,
Bern, 1946), and this is an apt
description in that Hegel equated the ultimate reality,
which in philosophical language he called the Infinite
and the Absolute, with the God of the Christian reli-
gion. The philosopher, he held, comprehends in
thought what religious believers represent to them-
selves in less purified intellectual terms. Religious
thinking is said by Hegel to belong to the realm of
“representation” (Vorstellung). In his Encyclopedia
(§§451ff.) Hegel describes Vorstellung as a form of
thinking between perception, on the one hand, and
fully developed thought, on the other. It involves the
use of memory-images and of both reproductive and
productive imagination. This last is the point at which
the power of thinking in terms of generalizations from
experience begins to acquire the freedom of inde-
pendent thought. In his Lectures on the Philosophy
of Religion
(given in Berlin four times from 1821 to
1831) Hegel says that Vorstellung must not be confused
with imaging or picturing, even though it makes use
of them. It is less bound with particulars than imaging
is, and adumbrates or prefigures completely rational
thought. It falls short of this by failing to elicit the
rational connections between its elements. For exam-
ple, when God is said to be “all-wise,” “good,” or
“righteous,” no image of him is presented, nor is he
described as something that could be sensed or directly
encountered in history. Nevertheless, these three pred-
icates are not shown to have any necessary connection
with one another as would be the case if they were
grasped philosophically. In the part of his Lectures
(Part One, B, II, 3) in which he discusses Vorstellung,
Hegel compares the Gospel story with the myths of
Plato. Plato's myths allegorically express philosophical
truths. The deeds and actions of men and states express
moral truths “which are the essential moral powers”
which operate in history. People may be dimly aware
of them without fully understanding them, and this,
says Hegel, is the position of the unphilosophical
Christian towards the historical elements of Christian
doctrine. The story of Jesus, he says, holds (gilt) not
only as a myth, in the manner of pictures, but as
something perfectly historical. This is its “repre-
sentational” side (Das ist denn für die Vorstellung), but
it has another side, “it has the divine for its content,
divine doing, divine, timeless happening, absolutely
divine action, and this is what is internal, true, substan-
tial in this story and is the very thing that is the object
of reason.” Hegel here raises the question of how the
historical elements of Christian doctrine are related to
the moral and philosophical truths they exhibit. He
here says that there are moral truths in all historical
events without saying precisely what differentiates the
Gospel history from the rest. He discusses this in a later
section of the Lectures.

Hegel, like Spinoza, believed that the Infinite must
exist, that the ultimately real must appear, must mani-
fest itself. He argued, too, that to regard the Infinite
as merely not finite, was to regard it as limited and
hence as not infinite. He concluded that the true infi-
nite must somehow include the finite. Kant, therefore,
was wrong in abstracting the world of appearances
from the real world, and theologians are wrong to
regard the Perfect Being as hidden or remote. Accord-


ing to Hegel, the great philosophical importance of
Christianity resides in the doctrine of the Incarnation,
according to which God became man and suffered as
a man. Furthermore the doctrine of the Trinity exhibits
the dialectic of opposites and reconciliation. God the
Father is said to be the Absolute grasped in thought,
God the Son the Absolute believed in representative
thinking, and God the Holy Spirit the Absolute recon-
ciling man and God by love and worship in the Church.

That “God does not exist apart from the Son and
has sent the Son into the world” is, according to Hegel,
philosophically incontestable. A distinct question, he
holds, is: “Was this particular individual, Jesus of
Nazareth, the carpenter's son, the Son of God, the
Christ?” What is different between Socrates and Jesus
such that Jesus is the Son of God and Socrates is not?
Part of Hegel's answer (Lectures, Part Three, C, II,
3 and C, III, 1), seems to be that Jesus rose from the
dead by continuing to live in the Church. Hegel warns
against regarding the Resurrection and the Ascension
as empirically verifiable events. They belong, he says,
to the faith of Christian believers. Furthermore, the
Incarnation and the Ascension could be believed by
ordinary men only if the history or story (Geschichte)
is “perceived” (angeschaut). “It is not the story of a
particular individual, but it is God who carries it
through, that is, it is the perception that this is the
story that is universal and ultimate” (für sich Seiende).

Hegel seems to argue, then, that Jesus, by continuing
to live in his Church, has provided the only possible
means by which ordinary men, as distinct from Hegel-
ian philosohers, can, through faith, participate in the
divine life and love. But at the very end of the pub-
lished lectures he expresses doubts about the power
of the Church to continue in existence. There is a split,
he says, between the unself-conscious faith of ordinary
Christians and the reasonings of critics and philoso-
phers. These reasonings cannot be ignored, and these
are not times in which religion can be upheld by
commands and the power of the state.

When the Gospel is no longer preached to the poor; when
the salt has lost its savour and all foundations are tacitly
removed, then the people, whose solid reason can only grasp
the truth in the form of representation, no longer know how
to direct the pressures that build up within them.... they
seem to themselves to have been deserted by their teachers;
for these have managed to help themselves by means of
reflective thought and to find satisfaction in what is finite,
in the sophistication and ultimate frivolity of subjective

Hegel goes on to say that the philosophical under-
standing of religion is “a sanctuary apart,” that those
who serve it form “an isolated priestly order,” and that
it is not the business of philosophy to predict what
will emerge from this division between the religion
of the people and the ratiocinations of philosophical

4. Hegel and His School. Hegel was well known
when he went to Berlin in 1818. He was invited there
by von Altenstein, head of the recently formed “Minis-
try of Spiritual, Educational and Medical Affairs,” who
admired Hegel's writings and was ready to grant him
special privileges. Hegel's arrival and the official sup-
port he received were of particular concern to two
leading Berlin professors, Friedrich Schleiermacher,
the theologian and philosopher, and Friedrich von
Savigny, the most eminent member of the so-called
“Historical School” of law. Hegel came into conflict
with both of them. Schleiermacher's view that religion
is man's feeling of dependence is not compatible with
Hegel's view that religion is philosophy or reason in
representational form, and Hegel did not try to smooth
over the differences. In a preface he wrote for a book
by a former pupil (H. F. W. Hinrichs, DieReligion
im inneren Verhältnisse zur Wissenschaft,
1822) Hegel said that if religion were the feeling of
one's dependence, dogs would be the best Christians.
According to Schleiermacher, Hegel used to criticize
him in his lectures. As we have seen, Hegel was no
supporter of traditions as such, and favored a rationally
constructed system of legislation. He did not himself
directly criticize Savigny, but in the Introduction to
the Philosophie des Rechts he criticized the work of
G. von Hugo (Lehrbuch..., p. 20) who, like Savigny,
had regarded Roman law as eminently rational, and
in §211 he said it was “an insult” to a civilized people
to question their ability (as Savigny had done) to codify
their legal system.

Not long after his arrival in Berlin in 1818, Hegel
wrote to the Minister of Education suggesting that a
journal be founded under official auspices in Berlin for
the publication of signed reviews of new publications
both from abroad and in Germany. This was not agreed
to. In 1825 the Stuttgart publisher Cotta and Hegel's
friend and disciple Eduard Gans, a Professor of Law
at Berlin, endeavored to come to an agreement with
Victor Cousin in Paris, to publish a journal that would
appear simultaneously in both capitals. This fell
through. Then Cotta and Gans, with Hegel's support,
arranged for the publication of a journal that was to
be controlled by a newly formed body, the Societät
für wissenschaftliche Kritik.
This journal was called
the Jahrbücher für wissenschaftliche Kritik and began
to appear in January, 1827. Schleiermacher was delib-
erately excluded from it, and the evangelical leader
Hengstenberg wrote: “à bas la philosophie. Alongside
the Word of God philosophy is a pleonasm” (Fritz
Schlawe, “Die Berliner Jahrbücher für Wissenschaft-


liche Kritik,” Zeitschrift für Religion und Geistes-
Cologne [1959], 11, 240-58, 343-56).

The Jahrbücher soon came to be known as the
“Hegelzeitung,” but it was not as exclusively Hegelian
as Hegel himself wished it to be. There were contri-
butions by the diplomat, literary critic, and historian
Varnhagen von Ense, whose reviews of historical works
are still of interest. He wrote of Sir Walter Scott's Life
of Napoleon,
that Scott “... regards the French Revo-
lution exclusively from the shores and ships of Great
Britain.” Ranke contributed too. Nevertheless, it was
primarily an organ of the Hegelian School. In the first
volume, for example, E. Gans reviewed the fourth
volume of Savigny's Geschichte des Römischen Rechts
im Mittelalter
(Heidelberg, 1826), in which, while
praising his erudition, he said that Savigny made no
attempt at an historical and rational assessment of the
place of the Roman law in the history of Europe, so
that the book as a whole “lacks thought.” An important
document in the history of Hegelianism is Hegel's
review in 1829 of Friedrich Göschel's Aphorismen über
Nichtwissen und Absolutes Wissen im Verhältnis zur
Christlichen Glaubenserkenntnis
(Berlin, 1829). This
book, the work of a lawyer and civil servant with
whom Hegel was not then acquainted, began with a
dialectical criticism of Jacobi's view that God is beyond
the sphere of human knowledge, passed on to a discus-
sion of man's knowledge of God and relationship to
Him, and concluded with an account of the importance
of faith as well as knowledge. The author's general
position was that the categories in terms of which both
fideists like Jacobi and their rationalist critics thought
were inadequate for their subject matter. Hegel agrees
with Göschel that by means of speculative philosophy
a “self-alienation of man's natural existence and
knowledge” and “a spiritual rebirth” are achieved. He
quotes with approval Göschel's words: “The being and
knowledge of God in me contains, therefore, not only
the knowledge that God has of me, but the knowledge
that I have of Him...,” and goes on to say that those
who accuse the holders of this view of deifying man
fail to notice that to say that man is in God is not
to say that he is God. In discussing Göschel's account
of faith and knowledge Hegel remarks that “a philoso-
phy without a heart and a faith without understanding
are abstractions,” and goes on to say that since no one
can “understand the Holy Writ except through the
Holy Spirit,” it is philosophically inappropriate to try
to interpret the Bible merely on the basis of the texts
or to “spare oneself the trouble of examining the feel-
ing, the understanding, the logic which is conducting
the exegesis.”

It has been said that in these passages, and in a
passage of the Encyclopedia (§564), Hegel was influ
enced not only by Göschel but by the thirteenth-
century German mystic Meister Eckhart. Hegel men-
tions Eckhart once in his Lectures on the Philosophy
of Religion
(Part One, C, I, On Faith) where he quotes
the famous passage: “The eye with which God sees
me is the eye with which I see him; my eye and his
eye are one....” Hegel's distinguished follower, Karl
Rosenkranz, says (Hegels Leben, Berlin [1844], p. 102)
that as a young man Hegel copied from various literary
periodicals extracts from Eckhart and Tauler, and in
his hegel als Deutsche Nationalphilosoph (Leipzig,
1870) Rosenkranz devotes a chapter to the German
mystics, and his chapter on Hegel's philosophy of reli-
gion interprets him as believing that man “... in faith
knows himself to be one with God. What is all this
virtuosity of culture, what are all his failures in the
ascetic struggle, what is all the happiness and unhappi-
ness of his existence, in comparison with this recon-
cilation?” (p. 205). It is interesting to note that Henry
Crabb Robinson reports in his diary (Dec. 10, 1825),
a meeting he had with the poet William Blake: “...
on my asking in what light he viewed the great ques-
tion concerning the divinity of Jesus Christ, he said:
'He is the only God'; but then he added: 'and so am
I and so are you'.” Like Hegel, Blake rejected the
empiricist thinkers of the seventeenth century. Ac-
cording to Robinson, Blake said on the same occasion:
“Bacon, Locke and Newton are the three great teachers
of atheism or of Satan's doctrine.” Hegel would have
said that they remain ensnared in the categories of the

5. David Strauss. David Strauss came to Berlin from
Tübingen in 1831 in order to study under Hegel, who
died, however, when Strauss had been able to hear only
a few lectures. Strauss had studied biblical scholarship
and church history under F. C. Baur at Tübingen, and
during his first years at Berlin he acquired a knowledge
of Hegel's philosophy of history and went to lectures
by Schleiermacher, Michelet, and Philipp Marheineke,
a theologian of Hegelian views who preached at
Hegel's funeral and edited his Lectures on the Philoso-
phy of Religion.
In 1832 Strauss reviewed in the Jahr-
Karl Rosenkranz's Encyclopädie der theolo-
gischen Wissenschaften
(Bonn, 1832), and maintained
that Rosenkranz was wrong to argue that the absolute
activity of God was bound to manifest itself in miracles
when exercised in the human sphere. He also thought
that some of Rosenkranz's interpretations of Hegel
“went straight over into mysticism.” His Leben Jesu
(Tübingen, I [1835]; II [1836]) is a detailed examination
of the Gospel narratives within a Hegelian framework
of ideas. The central theme is that the facts of the birth,
career, and death of Jesus were occasions around which
myths were formed which gave expression to the long-


ings and aspirations of the early Christian community.
The myths were not deliberately invented, but devel-
oped because of the expectations of a Messiah learned
from the Old Testament. But Strauss emphasizes that
the central myths of Christianity represent important
truths that are not affected by the rejection of false
historical beliefs. In the Preface he writes: “The super-
natural birth of Christ, his miracles, his resurrection
and ascension, remain eternal truths, whatever doubts
may be cast upon their reality as historical facts,” and
at the end of the book, after summarizing Hegel's in-
terpretation of Christian doctrine, he says that Chris-
tian clergy should continue “to adhere to the forms of
the popular conceptions” but should take every oppor-
tunity “to exhibit their spiritual significance.” In gen-
eral, this significance is that “it is humanity that dies,
rises and ascends to heaven.... by the kindling in him
of the idea of humanity, the individual man participates
in the divinely human life of the species.” Strauss
differs from Hegel in rejecting mysticism and in regard-
ing the human race rather than the Church as the
body in which Christ continues to live.

Strauss's justifications in the controversy that ensued
are contained in his Streitschriften zur Verteidigung
meiner Schrift über das Leben Jesu
(Tübingen, 1838;
new ed., 1841). Strauss remarks that Hegel was un-
happy about historical criticism because, like Goethe,
he was unwilling for great heroes to be depreciated.
But Strauss shows that his account of the dwelling of
the Holy Spirit in the Church is the same as Hegel's.
Strauss says, too, that whereas Fichte was a revolu-
tionary philosopher, Hegel was the philosopher of the
Restoration—“Hegel's term objective mind' describes
the transformation.” Fichte emphasized the struggle
with things as they are, Hegel the mind that is already
in them. It is here that Strauss began the practice of
characterizing religious and philosophical outlooks in
terms of politics. Göschel, he says, was on the Right,
and he himself on the Left, even though he is not
welcome there. A new note is struck when he writes:
“... the victory which man achieves over the natural
forces within him by education and self-mastery, and
over the natural forces outside him by inventions and
machines, is of more value than controlling nature by
the word of a thaumaturge” (1841 ed., III, 116). Here
there is the suggestion that moral control and mastery
over nature through science and industry is an im-
proved substitute for religion.

6. Contemplation and Action. In 1838 there was
founded at Halle, under the editorship of Arnold Ruge
and T. Echtermeyer, the hallische Jahrbücher für
deutsche Wissenschaft und Kunst.
In an early issue
there is a review by Rosenkranz—on Strauss's scale a
Hegelian of the Right or Right-Center—of Hegel's
Lectures on the Philosophy of History which had been
published in 1837. Rosenkranz points out that Hegel
himself had believed that philosophy could only elicit
the reason in the events of the past, but that people
had asked him for “a history of the future.” Rosenkranz
argues that since, according to Hegel, the essence of
mind is “reason and freedom,” we can expect them
to spread in the future. Later that year, a pupil of
Michelet, the Polish Count August von Cieszkowski,
published a book entitled Prolegomena zur Historioso-
(Berlin, 1838) in which it was argued that since
philosophy is concerned with the eternal essence of
mind it cannot be confined to the past and present
but must extend to the future too. The end of history
is the rational freedom and eventual divinity of man-
kind. As long as men are unaware of their place in
history they cannot be free, but as they sweep away
brute facts and substitute conscious deeds for them they
transform the natural, secular community into a uni-
versal church. Control of social circumstances by con-
scious action (called by Cieszkowski “Praxis”) will make
the world divine. The radical implications of these
views were explored by Moses Hess in DieEuropäische
(Leipzig, 1841), with acknowledgments to
Cieszkowski's “philosophy of the deed.” Hess called
for an alliance between France, Prussia, and England
to oppose Austria and Russia, and to make possible
the establishment of a completely free society in
Europe. In 1841 Hess met Karl Marx when the Rhein-
ische Zeitung
—to which both Marx and Hess later
contributed until it was closed down at the behest of
the Russian Government—was being founded, and he
claims, too, that he converted Engels to communism
during a discussion at Cologne that same year.

In the hallische Jahrbücher of 1842 Ruge published
a remarkable discussion of Hegel's political philosophy.
According to Ruge, Hegel's constitutional proposals in
his Philosophie des Rechts are presented as if they were
“eternal truths” instead of what was suitable at a par-
ticular period of Prussian history. Ruge noticed in
Hegel a “split” between his “theory and his practice.”
The philosopher, Ruge wrote, “should throw the whole
truth as a ferment into the world.” When what exists
is unreasonable, there is “the demand for 'Praxis,' and
the strong duty to engage in it.” This, in turn, requires
the reforming “Pathos of religion” which must emerge
in “fanaticism.” “As long as there are batteries to be
taken or positions to defend, there is no history without
fanaticism.” Ruge soon came into association with
Marx and Engels, who published their earliest theoret-
ical writings in his Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher
(Paris, 1844).

Hegelians of the Left, then, claimed that Hegel had
failed to recognize the implications of his own basic


ideas. Ignoring Hegel's interest in mysticism, they
developed his views about the “myths” of Christianity,
and moved towards the idea that God and humanity
are one. They used Hegelian arguments, too, to under-
mine Hegel's view that philosophy can only understand
the reason embodied in the past and cannot predict
the future. His linkage between reason and freedom
was their justification for advocating the forcible real-
ization of freedom in the existing irrational social order.
“Orthodox” Hegelians were ill prepared to oppose this
development because of their hostility to the Historical
School of Law. Hegel's insistence that the divine is
in this world and not beyond it, led some Hegelians
(e.g., Feuerbach) to become empiricists and nonreduc-
tive materialists and hence to abandon Hegelianism

In his magnificent hegel und seine Zeit (Berlin, 1857)
Rudolf Haym took the view that Hegel was a political
time-server, who supported Napoleon when he was on
top and Prussian absolutism when he had his chair at
Berlin. The last part of this charge is questionable, but
Haym was correct in noticing a certain passivity in
Hegel's views. “Will and freedom,” Haym wrote,
“evaporated away in Hegel into thought and knowl-
edge.” He wrote of “the whole duplicity of the sys-
tem,” and said that in it the notion of freedom was
“devalued.” According to Haym, Hegel's philosophy
of religion is “archaistic,” exhibits “apologetic, reac-
tionary (restaurative) tendencies,” and is an attempt,
like that of the Neo-Platonists, to refurbish the myths
of a dying religion. Haym concluded that, just as the
metaphysics of Leibniz and Wolff were followed by
Kant's Critical Philosophy, so Hegel's metaphysics
would be followed by a critical philosophy which
would ask: “How is the synthesis possible of language,
art, religion, and of legal, moral, scientific activity?”

7. The Revival of Hegelianism. In 1860 a new
Hegelian periodical, Der Gedanke (Berlin, 1860-84)
was founded under the editorship of Carl L. Michelet.
Among its German subscribers were Göschel and David
Strauss, Ferdinand Lassalle and Rosenkranz, Moses
Hess, Lasson, and Zeller. When subscriptions were
asked for in 1870 for a bust to commemorate Hegel,
subscriptions came (among others) from J. H. Stirling,
T. H. Green, Caird, Wallace, and Benjamin Jowett, and
Ruge responded from his home in Brighton. There were
members in France, Great Britain, Italy, Holland,
Scandinavia, and the U.S.A. In Germany Michelet and
Rosenkranz continued to be the leading Hegelian
writers. Michelet contributed to Der Gedanke a series
of “world-historical surveys” (in which he castigated
Napoleon III) and defended the “philosophy of the
deed of our friend and member Count von Ciesz-
kowski” (Der Gedanke, 1861). He published Naturrecht
oder Rechts-Philosophie als die praktische Philosophie,
2 vols. (Berlin, 1866). The influence of Hegel's Philo-
sophie des Rechts
on this book is considerable, as to
both form and content. But Michelet objected to
Hegel's defence of hereditary monarchy, arguing that
“in our times the Idea has become more stable than
nature,” that “the vote has become more stable than
legitimacy,” and that as mind masters the world “what
is the most rational becomes also the most useful.” (We
may note the Hegelian, nonempiricist distinction be-
tween rationality and the satisfaction of wants, and the
idea that since voting is established it is right.) Michelet
also argued, following Hegel, that freedom of persons
necessitates freedom of contract, and, going beyond
Hegel, that this necessitates universal free trade. He
also held that the incorporation of one people by
another can never be justified, but that what is unjust
from the standpoint of the Law of Nations can be just
from the standpoint of world history. (The idea of a
constantly rationalized and developing world history
is a theme of many Hegelians.) A state can be defeated
by others who become “the bearers of civilization”
(Träger der Bildung), but this should not prevent the
losers from continuing their internal life “so that the
natural limitations of their spirit still give expression
to a side of the universal human spirit” (II, 215).

J. H. Stirling's The Secret of Hegel, 2 vols. (London,
1865) helped to introduce Hegel to the English-speak-
ing world. Although he makes a defense of Hegel
against Haym's political aspersions, Stirling is mainly
concerned with the Hegelian logic and epistemology,
and to some extent with Hegelian religion. He refers
to Strauss and Feuerbach as the “Atheistico-Material-
istic set,” and makes a good attempt to expound the
outlines of Hegel's Christology: “Hegel ascribes to
Christ the revelation that God is man or that man is
God.... Before Christ, God was external to man, and
worship or obedience to him consisted in external
ceremonies. But since Christ, God is inward to man:
he is our conscience. We no longer ask the will of God
from external oracles, but from our own selves: that
is, we are now a law unto ourselves, we are to our
own selves in the place of God, we are ourselves God,
God and man are identified” (I, 149).

Stirling was the first of a number of Scottish Hegel-
ians, of whom Edward Caird and William Wallace are
the best known, and a number of Scottish ministers
contributed to Hegel's bust. T. H. Green, F. H. Bradley,
and Bernard Bosanquet, however, partly because of
their connections with Oxford, exerted a greater influ-
ence. All three thought that Hegel had refuted the
empiricist and atomic (or pluralist) metaphysics they
attributed to J. S. Mill and the utilitarians, and all three
held that individual men are essentially related to the


community to which they belong. Green argued that
the state should, by social legislation, enable individuals
to make the best of themselves, Bosanquet that the state
was necessary to make ultimate decisions—Hegel's
“majesty,” perhaps, in nonmonarchical form. Bosan-
quet lived into the period when socialism was being
publicly discussed in England, and in a lecture given
to the Fabian Society in 1890 he quoted Hegel's justifi-
cation of private property in the Philosophie des
and gave no comfort to his state-socialist lis-
teners (“Individualism and Socialism” in The Civilisa-
tion of Christendom,
London, 1899). Bradley employed
Hegelian concepts (e.g., the concrete universal) to show
that patriotism and retribution are not superseded. At
the end of Ethical Studies (Oxford, 1876) he writes of
religious faith as the belief “that you too are really
one with the divine,” and quotes Böhme to this effect.
He also discusses the notion of worshipping “Human-
ity,” as advocated by the positivist Frederick Harrison.
Bradley, quoting Trendelenburg in his support, ques-
tions whether all human beings, past and present, make
a single being, and argues that even if they did, it would
not be worthy of worship unless it were more than
human. Green, in an early paper, “An Essay on Chris-
tian Dogma” (Works, ed. Nettleship, Vol. III, London,
1888), argues on Hegelian-Straussian lines that the
central Christian doctrines represent profound philo-
sophical truths, but in his review in 1880 of a book
in which J. Caird defended Hegel's philosophy of reli-
gion he objects that it is not credible that the individual
could be identified with God. Bosanquet (What Reli-
gion Is,
London, 1920) says that “religion just is the
weld of finite and infinite,” but although this is Hegel-
ian, Bosanquet does not link it with Christian doctrine
even to the extent that Strauss had done.

The influence of Hegelianism in the United States
can be seen in The Journal of Speculative Philosophy
(St. Louis, 1867-93), edited by William T. Harris. In
the first issue there is a preface by the editor who
announces that there will be discussions of positivism,
articles on Faust and Beethoven, and a defense of
Speculative Philosophy. “The day of simple experi-
ence,” he writes, “is past.” Harris thought that hitherto
“national unity seemed an external mechanism,” but
now people were reaching “a consciousness of the
other essential phase, and each individual recognizes
his substantial side to be the State as such.” This was
Hegelian political philosophy much as Bradley under-
stood it nine years later, but the journal was more
concerned with literature, metaphysics, aesthetics, and
the philosophy of religion than with politics. Harris
contributed a great deal himself, including translations
from Hegel's Logic, sympathetic criticisms of Herbert
Spencer, and a defense of the immortality of the soul:
“But if anything is, then there must exist the Absolute
and its reflection; and its reflection implies immortal
beings” (Journal..., 4, 2 [1870], III). Hegel himself
had not been explicit on this subject, but Göschel had
been, and chapters from his Von den Beweisen für die
Unsterblichkeit der menschlichen Seele im Lichte der
spekulative Philosophie
(Berlin, 1835) were published
in English in the Journal in 1877 and 1883-85. Josiah
Royce, influenced though he was by German Idealism
as a whole, can hardly be called a thoroughgoing
Hegelian in his political or moral philosophy. For
although his Philosophy of Loyalty (New York, 1908)
stresses the need for the individual to find his station
in society and identify himself with a community, his
admiration for loyalty to lost causes is contrary to the
main tendency of Hegelianism whether of the Right
or of the Left. For according to Hegelianism, reason
now or in the future must master the world. It is
interesting to note that in The Philosophy of Loyalty
(p. 238) Royce uses Hegel's phrase “the self-estrange-
ment of the spirit” to express the loss of individuality
suffered when people become mere units in some
over-large community.

8. Concluding Comments. Not all Hegelians have
opposed liberal forms of enterprise economy, for they
believe that the Whole is at work in every finite par-
ticular, and that the total Unity comes from struggle.
But all Hegelians have regarded the State as ultimate
and rational, as “mind on earth” (Hegel, Philosophie
des Rechts,
§270), or as more real than individual men
(Bosanquet, The Philosophical Theory of the State,
London, 1899). Hegel and Bosanquet, however, were
more impressed by the mind already at work in the
world, whereas Hegelians of the Left were anxious to
put it there, to realize the Idea by the force of a
revolutionary ardor or fanaticism that Hegel would
have regarded as abstract and destructive, “the fanati-
cism of destruction,” and “the fury of disturbance” as
marks of “negative freedom” (Philosophie des Rechts,
§5). Revolutionary transformation went well with the
Hegelian thesis that man and God are somehow identi-
cal. Hegel and his orthodox followers interpreted this
in Protestant or possibly mystical terms, but the step
from the unity of man and God to the positivist thesis
of Comte that mankind is God and should be wor-
shipped as such is easy to take, as Bradley pointed out
(Ethical Studies, last footnote).

Hegelianism has been regarded as a glorification of
the state and of militarism. Hegel said (Philosophie des
§338) that “in war, war itself is characterized
as something that ought to pass away,” but that
civilized peoples (e.g., agriculturalists) are justified in
regarding the rights of barbarians (e.g., pastoral peo-
ples) as inferior to their own, and the autonomy of


barbarians “as only a formality” (§351). To proceed
thus, Hegel held, is to secure the victory, not of force
but of reason (§342). This can be interpreted as a plea
to defend civilization by force or as an excuse on behalf
of existing and successful might. There is some am-
biguity, too, between saying that it is wrong for bar-
barians to destroy the civilized world and saying that
in the long run it is impossible. The Hegelian scholar,
Georg Lasson, writing, in his introduction to Hegel's
Lectures on the Philosophy of History (Werke, VIII,
Leipzig [1920], 172) referred to the First World War
in these words: “... it will not come to an end until
the nation to which Providence has given the task of
making the principle of the true cultivation of the state
at home in humanity throughout the world, has been
so physically strengthened and spiritually matured that
those powers which today fancy themselves to be justi-
fied in subjecting the planet to their inferior principles
can no longer resist it.”


On Hegel's political writings the basic works in English
are T. M. Knox's translation, Hegel's Philosophy of Right
(Oxford, 1942), and T. M. Knox (translator) and Z. A.
Pelczynski, Hegel's Political Writings (Oxford, 1964). Knox's
notes to the first and Pelczynski's introduction to the second
provide detailed commentaries. There is an excellent dis-
cussion in E. Weil, Hegel et l'état (Paris, 1950), in which
important earlier works are mentioned. See also: John
Plamenatz, Man and Society, Vol. 2 (London and New York,
1963), Chs. 3, 4. On Hegel's philosophy of religion, J. McT.
E. McTaggart's Studies in Hegelian Cosmology (Cambridge,
1901) covers the main topics, but for more recent discus-
sions, see G. R. G. Mure, “Hegel, Luther and the Owl of
Minerva,” Philosophy, 41, 156 (April, 1966), and F. C.
Copleston, “Hegel and the Rationalisation of Mysticism,”
Talk of God, ed., G. N. A. Vesey, Royal Institute of Philoso-
phy Lectures, 2 (London, 1969). For G. von Hugo, see his
Lehrbuch der Geschichte des römischen Rechts, 5th ed.

Extracts from writers of the Hegelian School are con-
tained in the following: K. Löwith, ed., DieHegelsche Linke
(Stuttgart and Bad Cannstatt, 1962), with extracts from
Ruge, Hess, Feuerbach, Marx, and others. H. Lübbe, ed.,
DieHegelsche Rechte (Stuttgart and Bad Cannstatt, 1962),
contains extracts from Rosenkranz, Gans, Michelet, and
others. Sidney Hook's From Hegel to Marx, new ed. (New
York, 1962), deals with the movement away from Hegel of
the Hegelian Left, and K. Löwith's From Hegel to Nietzsche
(London, 1964; first German edition, Zürich, 1941), covers
a wider field that is not exclusively Hegelian. J. Gebhardt,
Politik und Eschatologie: Studien zur Geschichte der Hegel-
schen Schule in den Jahren 1830-1840
(Munich, 1963) should
not be missed. See also: David McLellan, The Young Hege-
lians and Karl Marx
(London, 1969). The references to
Hegel's Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, found in sec-
tion 3 of this article, can also be found, successively, in
Hegel's Werke, ed. P. Marheineke, 2nd ed. (1840), XI, 137ff.;
XII, 286ff. and 308ff.; XII, 354-56; XI, 212. These passages
are translated by the author of the article.


[See also Authority; Christianity in History; Church as an
Institution; Constitutionalism; God; Liberalism; Marxism;
Property; State.]