Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
|Born||27 August 1770|
|Died||14 November 1831 (aged 61)|
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (//; German: [ˈɡeːɔʁk ˈvɪlhɛlm ˈfʁiːdʁɪç ˈheːɡl̩]; 27 August 1770 – 14 November 1831) was a German philosopher. He is considered one of the most important figures in German idealism and one of the founding figures of modern Western philosophy, with his influence extending to the entire range of contemporary philosophical issues, from epistemology, logic, and metaphysics to aesthetics, philosophy of history, philosophy of religion, political philosophy, and the history of philosophy.
Hegel was born in 1770 in Stuttgart, during the height of the Romantic period in Germany, and lived through and was heavily influenced by the French and American revolutions, as well the Napoleonic wars. He attended the Tübinger Stift seminary with Friedrich Hölderlin and Friedrich Wilhelm Schelling, both of whom exerted a strong influence on him philosophically. After receiving his PhD in 1800, he worked as a lecturer at the University of Jena, where he also wrote and published his most famous work, The Phenomenology of Spirit in 1807. However, after Napoleon defeated the Prussian army in the Battle of Jena–Auerstedt in 1806, he had difficulty finding work in the following semester. He moved to Bamberg, where he worked as a newspaper editor, and then worked as a headmaster in Nuremberg, where he published his second major work, The Science of Logic which brought him fame and a position at the University of Heidelberg. Two years later, Hegel took a position as a professor of philosophy at the University of Berlin, where he lectured on his philosophical system and attracted a large following that cemented his reputation as one of the most famous and influential philosophers of the 19th century.
Hegel's philosophical system is split into three parts: Logic, Nature, and Spirit (Geist). In his Phenomenology, he introduces his philosophical system and exhibits the historical process through which spirit acquires an adequate concept of itself and of truth. In his Logic, as well as the Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences, which he compiled as a textbook for his lectures, he further expands upon the different parts of his system. Many of the ideas in his system are also expanded upon further in his Elements of the Philosophy of Right and in posthumously published lecture notes that were compiled by his students on Aesthetics, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of History, and the History of Philosophy.
Hegel influenced a wide variety of thinkers and writers. In the decade following his death, two distinct movements formed, the conservative Right Hegelians and the more radical Young Hegelians, who included David Strauss, Ludwig Feuerbach, and Bruno Bauer. Both of these schools of Hegelianism went on to influence a variety of other philosophical movements including Marxism, Existentialism, and British idealism. In the 20th century, Hegel's philosophy has also influenced phenomenologists such as Martin Heidegger and "Neo-Hegelians" such as Alexandre Kojève. His philosophy continues to exert influence in modern times across many contemporary philosophical movements in both the Analytic and Continental traditions.
Hegel was born on 27 August 1770 in Stuttgart, capital of the Duchy of Württemberg in southwestern Germany. Christened Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, he was known as Wilhelm to his close family. His father, Georg Ludwig, was secretary to the revenue office at the court of Karl Eugen, Duke of Württemberg. Hegel's mother, Maria Magdalena Louisa (née Fromm), was the daughter of a lawyer at the High Court of Justice at the Württemberg court. She died of bilious fever when Hegel was thirteen. Hegel and his father also caught the disease, but they narrowly survived. Hegel had a sister, Christiane Luise (1773–1832); and a brother, Georg Ludwig (1776–1812), who perished as an officer during Napoleon's 1812 Russian campaign. At the age of three, Hegel went to the German School. When he entered the Latin School two years later, he already knew the first declension, having been taught it by his mother. In 1776, he entered Stuttgart's Eberhard-Ludwigs-Gymnasium and during his adolescence read voraciously, copying lengthy extracts in his diary. Authors he read include the poet Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock and writers associated with the Enlightenment, such as Christian Garve and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. His studies at the Gymnasium concluded with his graduation speech, "The abortive state of art and scholarship in Turkey"[a]
At the age of eighteen, Hegel entered the Tübinger Stift, a Protestant seminary attached to the University of Tübingen, where he had as roommates the poet and philosopher Friedrich Hölderlin and the future philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling. Sharing a dislike for what they regarded as the restrictive environment of the Seminary, the three became close friends and mutually influenced each other's ideas. All greatly admired Hellenic civilization and Hegel additionally steeped himself in Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Lessing during this time. They watched the unfolding of the French Revolution with shared enthusiasm. Although the violence of the 1793 Reign of Terror dampened Hegel's hopes, he continued to identify with the moderate Girondin faction and never lost his commitment to the principles of 1789, which he expressed by drinking a toast to the storming of the Bastille every fourteenth of July. Schelling and Hölderlin immersed themselves in theoretical debates on Kantian philosophy, from which Hegel remained aloof. Hegel, at this time, envisaged his future as that of a Popularphilosoph, (a "man of letters") who serves to make the abstruse ideas of philosophers accessible to a wider public; his own felt need to engage critically with the central ideas of Kantianism would not come until 1800.
Having received his theological certificate from the Tübingen Seminary, Hegel became Hofmeister (house tutor) to an aristocratic family in Bern (1793–1796). During this period, he composed the text which has become known as the Life of Jesus and a book-length manuscript titled "The Positivity of the Christian Religion". His relations with his employers becoming strained, Hegel accepted an offer mediated by Hölderlin to take up a similar position with a wine merchant's family in Frankfurt in 1797. There, Hölderlin exerted an important influence on Hegel's thought. Also in 1797, the unpublished and unsigned manuscript of "The Oldest Systematic Program of German Idealism" was written. It was written in Hegel's hand, but may have been authored by Hegel, Schelling, or Hölderlin. While in Frankfurt, Hegel composed the essay "Fragments on Religion and Love". In 1799, he wrote another essay entitled "The Spirit of Christianity and Its Fate", unpublished during his lifetime.
In 1801, Hegel came to Jena at the encouragement of Schelling, who held the position of Extraordinary Professor at the University of Jena. Hegel secured a position at the University of Jena as a Privatdozent (unsalaried lecturer) after submitting the inaugural dissertation De Orbitis Planetarum, in which he briefly criticized mathematical arguments that assert that there must exist a planet between Mars and Jupiter. [b]. Later in the year, Hegel's first book The Difference Between Fichte's and Schelling's Systems of Philosophy was completed. He lectured on "Logic and Metaphysics" and gave lectures with Schelling on an "Introduction to the Idea and Limits of True Philosophy" and facilitated a "philosophical disputorium". In 1802, Schelling and Hegel founded the journal Kritische Journal der Philosophie (Critical Journal of Philosophy) to which they contributed until the collaboration ended when Schelling left for Würzburg in 1803. In 1805, the university promoted Hegel to the unsalaried position of Extraordinary Professor after he wrote a letter to the poet and minister of culture Johann Wolfgang Goethe protesting the promotion of his philosophical adversary Jakob Friedrich Fries ahead of him. Hegel attempted to enlist the help of the poet and translator Johann Heinrich Voß to obtain a post at the renascent University of Heidelberg, but he failed. To his chagrin, Fries was, in the same year, made Ordinary Professor (salaried). The following February marked the birth of Hegel's illegitimate son, Georg Ludwig Friedrich Fischer (1807–1831), as the result of an affair with Hegel's landlady Christiana Burkhardt née Fischer. With his finances drying up quickly, Hegel was under great pressure to deliver his book, the long-promised introduction to his philosophical system. Hegel was putting the finishing touches to it, The Phenomenology of Spirit, as Napoleon engaged Prussian troops on 14 October 1806 in the Battle of Jena on a plateau outside the city. On the day before the battle, Napoleon entered the city of Jena. Hegel recounted his impressions in a letter to his friend Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer:
I saw the Emperor—this world-soul [Weltseele]—riding out of the city on reconnaissance. It is indeed a wonderful sensation to see such an individual, who, concentrated here at a single point, astride a horse, reaches out over the world and masters it.
Terry Pinkard notes that Hegel's comment to Niethammer "is all the more striking since he had already composed the crucial section of the Phenomenology in which he remarked that the Revolution had now officially passed to another land (Germany) that would complete 'in thought' what the Revolution had only partially accomplished in practice".. Although Napoleon had spared the University of Jena from much of the destruction of the surrounding city, few students returned after the battle and enrollment suffered, making Hegel's financial prospects even worse. Hegel traveled in the winter to Bamberg and stayed with Niethammer to oversee the proofs of the Phenomenology, which was being printed there.. Although Hegel tried to obtain another professorship, even writing Goethe in an attempt to help secure a permanent position replacing a professor of Botany, he was unable to find a permanent position. With the birth of his illegitimate son Ludwig, whome he named after his brother, in February 1807, whom he felt an obligation to support, and with his own savings and the payment from the Phenomenology exhausted, Hegel reluctantly moved to Bamberg to become the editor of the local newspaper,Bamberger Zeitung, a position he obtained with the help of Niethammer. Ludwig Fischer and his mother stayed behind in Jena.
In Bamberg, as editor of the Bamberger Zeitung, which was a pro-French newspaper, Hegel extolled the virtues of Napoleon and often editorialized the Prussian accounts of the war . Being the editor of a local newspaper, Hegel also became in important person in Bamberg social life, often visiting with the local offical Johann Heinrich Liebeskind , and becoming involved in local gossip and pursued his passions for cards, fine eating, and the local Bamberg beer. However, Hegel bore contempt for what he saw as "old Bavaria", frequently referring to it as "Barbaria" and dreaded that "hometowns" like Bamberg would lose their autonomy under new the Bavarian state. After being investigated in September 1808 by the Bavarian state for potentially violating security measures by publishing French troop movements, Hegel wrote to Niethammer, now a high official in Munich, pleading for Niethammer's help in securing a teaching position. With the help of Niethammer, Hegel was appointed headmaster of a gymnasium in Nuremberg in November of 1808, a post he held until 1816. While in Nuremberg, Hegel adapted his recently published Phenomenology of Spirit for use in the classroom. Part of his remit was to teach a class called "Introduction to Knowledge of the Universal Coherence of the Sciences", Hegel developed the idea of an encyclopedia of the philosophical sciences, falling into three parts: logic, philosophy of nature and philosophy of spirit. In 1811, Hegel married Marie Helena Susanna von Tucher (1791–1855), the eldest daughter of a Senator. This period saw the publication of his second major work, the Science of Logic (Wissenschaft der Logik; 3 vols., 1812, 1813 and 1816), and the birth of two sons, Karl Friedrich Wilhelm (1813–1901) and Immanuel Thomas Christian (1814–1891).
Having received offers of a post from the Universities of Erlangen, Berlin and Heidelberg, Hegel chose Heidelberg, where he moved in 1816. Soon after, his illegitimate son Ludwig Fischer (now ten years old) joined the Hegel household in April 1817, having spent time in an orphanage after the death of his mother Christiana Burkhardt. In 1817, Hegel published The Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Outline as a summary of his philosophy for students attending his lectures at Heidelberg. In 1818, Hegel accepted the renewed offer of the chair of philosophy at the University of Berlin, which had remained vacant since Johann Gottlieb Fichte's death in 1814. Here, Hegel published his Philosophy of Right (1821). Hegel devoted himself primarily to delivering lectures; his lectures on the philosophy of fine art, the philosophy of religion, the philosophy of history, and the history of philosophy were published posthumously from students' notes. His fame spread and his lectures attracted students from all over Germany and beyond. In the remainder of his career, he made two trips to Weimar, where he met Goethe, and to Brussels, the Northern Netherlands, Leipzig, Vienna, Prague, and Paris.
During the last ten years of his life, Hegel did not publish another book but thoroughly revised the Encyclopedia (second edition, 1827; third, 1830). In his political philosophy, he criticized Karl Ludwig von Haller's reactionary work, which claimed that laws were not necessary. A number of other works on the philosophy of history, religion, aesthetics and the history of philosophy were compiled from the lecture notes of his students and published posthumously. Hegel's posthumous works have had remarkable influence on subsequent works on religion, aesthetics, and history because of the comprehensive accounts of the subject matters considered within the lectures, with Heidegger for example in Poetry, Language, Thought characterizing Hegel's Lectures on Aesthetics as the "most comprehensive reflection on the nature of art that the West possesses—comprehensive because it stems from metaphysics."
Hegel was appointed University Rector of the university in October 1829, but his term ended in September 1830. Hegel was deeply disturbed by the riots for reform in Berlin in that year. In 1831 Frederick William III decorated him with the Order of the Red Eagle, 3rd Class for his service to the Prussian state. In August 1831, a cholera epidemic reached Berlin and Hegel left the city, taking up lodgings in Kreuzberg. Now in a weak state of health, Hegel seldom went out. As the new semester began in October, Hegel returned to Berlin in the mistaken belief that the epidemic had largely subsided. By 14 November, Hegel was dead. The physicians pronounced the cause of death as cholera, but it is likely he died from another gastrointestinal disease. His last words are said to have been, "There was only one man who ever understood me, and even he didn't understand me." He was buried on 16 November. In accordance with his wishes, Hegel was buried in the Dorotheenstadt cemetery next to Fichte and Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand Solger.
Hegel's illegitimate son, Ludwig Fischer, had died shortly before while serving with the Dutch army in Batavia and the news of his death never reached his father. Early the following year, Hegel's sister Christiane committed suicide by drowning. Hegel's remaining two sons—Karl, who became a historian; and Immanuelcitation needed], who followed a theological path—lived long and safeguarded their father's manuscripts and letters, and produced editions of his works.[
Hegel's thinking can be understood as a constructive development within the broad tradition that includes Schelling, Fichte, Aristotle, and Immanuel Kant. To this list, one could add Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Spinoza, Goethe and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. It was Rousseau who determined that norms are only followed insofar as the subject accepts the norms as theirs. Kant imported Rousseau's ideas of individual autonomy into his considerations of moral and noumenal freedom. Fichte added a social element into Kant's moral philosophy in which the freedom of the absolute ego is limited by the "summons" of another consciousness. Hegel agreed with this premise, but did not agree that freedom was limited by another consciousness. Instead, true freedom was achieved through the intersubjective relations between different self-legislating normative subjects. Freedom is a relationship between the self and others, and the stance by which we view our actions as "our own".
In his discussion of "Spirit" in his Encyclopedia, Hegel praises Aristotle's On the Soul as "by far the most admirable, perhaps even the sole, work of philosophical value on this topic".[c] In his Phenomenology of Spirit and his Science of Logic, Hegel's concern with Kantian topics such as freedom and morality and with their ontological implications is pervasive. Rather than simply rejecting Kant's dualism of freedom versus nature, Hegel aims to subsume it within "true infinity", the "Concept" (or "Notion": Begriff), "Spirit" and "ethical life" in such a way that the Kantian duality is rendered intelligible, rather than remaining a brute "given".
Hegel's philosophical system is divided into the three parts: Logic, Nature, and Spirit. Spirit then is further subdivided into three parts: Subjective spirit (Anthropology, Psychology, and Phenomenology), Objective spirit (Law, Morality, and Sittlichkeit) and Absolute spirit (Art, Religion, and Philosophy)
See also: The Phenomenology of Spirit
Hegel describes The Phenomenology of Spirit, completed in 1806 and published in 1807, as both the “introduction” to his philosophical system and also as the “first part” of that system as the "science of the experience of consciousness." Yet it has long been controversial in both respects; indeed, Hegel’s own attitude changed throughout his life.
The Phenomenology of Spirit is infamously dense. Its most comprehensive commentary, H.S. Harris’s Hegel’s Ladder, is more than three times the length of the text itself. Terry Pinkard, however, attempts a single-sentence synopsis:
Hegel tried to show that there are no 'given' objects of direct awareness that determine the judgments we make about them; that 'consciousness' already involves 'self-consciousness,' and that self-consciousness itself is highly mediated and dependent on structures of mutual recognition among self-conscious agents; that attempts to establish 'successful' patterns of mutual recognition have foundered because of their inability to sustain allegiance to themselves when set under the microscope of reflective self-criticism; that what we therefore must take as authoritative for ourselves has to do with what has come to be required of us by virtue of the failures of past attempts at sustaining normative structures of mutual recognition and that to understand what is required of us at the present, we must understand how the past came to demand that of us; and that the attempt to understand such reflective, social activity in modern life requires us to rethink a Christian view of the nature of religion as the collective reflection of the modern community on what ultimately counts for it; and that only such a historically, socially construed philosophical account of that whole process can adequately introduce us to such a fully 'modern' standpoint and provide us with an elucidation of both itself and its own genesis.
In praise of Hegel's accomplishment, Walter Kaufmann writes that the guiding conviction of the Phenomenology is that a philosopher should not "confine him or herself to views that have been held but penetrate these to the human reality they reflect". In other words, it is not enough to consider propositions, or even the content of consciousness; "it is worthwhile to ask in every instance what kind of spirit would entertain such propositions, hold such views, and have such a consciousness. Every outlook in other words, is to be studied not merely as an academic possibility but as an existential reality".
Although Hegel seemed during his Berlin years to have abandoned the The Phenomenology of Spirit, at the time of his unexpected death, he was in fact making plans to revise and republish it. As he was no longer in need of money or credentials, H.S. Harris argues that “the only rational conclusion that can be drawn from his decision to republish the book…is that he still regarded the ‘science of experience’ as a valid project in itself” and one for which later system has no equivalent. There is, however, no scholarly consensus about the Phenomenology with respect to either of the systematic roles asserted by Hegel at the time of its publication.
See also: Science of Logic
Hegel’s philosophy is based upon "the insight that fundamentally everything can be called into question except for logic. For logic always furnishes the presupposition of every line of questioning – of every possible epistemic challenge to any given claim. According to Hegel, only a fundamental logic can furnish the basis of philosophy.”
The Science of Logic is Hegel's attempt to meet this challenge by providing an entirely presuppositionless logic. Thus, as Hegel puts it, "logic coincides with metaphysics, with the science of things grasped in thoughts."
According to George di Giovanni, the Logic has, for Hegel,
a function not unlike that of [Kant's] Transcendental Logic. Just as the categories define the concept of an object in general (ein Gegenstand überhaupt) which is then to be given content in both theoretical and practical shape, now the Logic defines the structure of an original conceptual space that makes possible both spirit’s interpretation of nature as its pre-history and of itself as forging that same nature into a meaning-generating community.
In this way, di Giovanni interprets the Logic in as (in contrast to Kant) immanently transcendental; its categories, according to Hegel, are built into life itself, and define what it is to be "an object in general."
The Encyclopedia Logic is an abbreviated or condensed presentation of the same dialectic that Hegel composed for use with students in the lecture hall. The opening section, entitled "Preliminary Conception," provides a historical examination of philosophical "positions on objectivity," which is quite a different sort of introduction to the logic than what Hegel earlier provided in the Phenomenology of Spirit.
See also: Naturphilosophie
The coverage of the philosophy of nature in Hegel's Encyclopedia is divided into Mechanics (Space and Time, Matter and motion, Absolute mechanics), Physics (General individuality, Particular individuality, and total individuality) and Organics (Mineral, Vegetable, and Animal). Kaufmann states that of these topics, the treatment of space and time is "obviously of considerable philosophic interest; much of the rest is not."
The German, 'Geist' has a wide range of meanings. In its most general Hegelian sense, however, "Geist denotes the human mind and its products, in contrast to nature and also the logical idea." Some older translations render it as "mind", rather than "spirit."
According to Hegel, “the essence of spirit is freedom." The Encyclopedia Philosophy of Spirit charts the progressively determinate stages of this freedom until spirit fulfills the Delphic imperative with which Hegel begins: “Know thyself.”  As becomes clear, Hegel’s concept of freedom is not (or not merely) the capacity for arbitrary choice, but has as its “core notion” that “something, especially a person, is free if and only if, it is independent and self-determining, not determined by or dependent upon something other than itself.”
The first part of Hegel's Encyclopedia Philosophy of Spirit is devoted to considering spirit under the headings Anthropology, Phenomenology, and Psychology.
Standing at the transition from nature to spirit, Willem deVries describes its role in Hegel's system as being to analyze "the elements necessary for or presupposed by such relations [of objective spirit], namely, the structures characteristic of and necessary to the individual rational agent" by elaborating "the fundamental nature of the biological/spiritual human individual along with the cognitive and the practical prerequisites of human social interaction." 
See also: Elements of the Philosophy of Right
See also: Lectures on the Philosophy of History
In the broadest terms, Hegel’s philosophy of objective spirit “is his social philosophy, his philosophy of how the human spirit objectifies itself in its social and historical activities and productions."  This part of Hegel’s philosophy is presented first in his 1817 Encyclopedia (revised 1827 and 1830) and then at greater length in the 1821 Elements of the Philosophy of Right (like the Encyclopedia, intended as a textbook), upon which he also frequently lectured (six times between 1818 and 1831). Its final part, the philosophy of world history, was additionally elaborated in Hegel’s lectures on the subject (given five times between 1822 and 1831).
The Preface to The Elements of the Philosophy of Right contains what is probably Hegel’s most famous passage:
As the thought of the world, [philosophy] appears only at a time when actuality has gone through its formative process and attained its completed state.… When philosophy paints its gray in gray, a shape of life has grown old, and it cannot be rejuvenated, but only recognized, by the gray in gray of philosophy; the owl of Minerva begins its flight only with the onset of dusk. 
Although this easily reads – and is frequently read – as an expression of the political impotence of philosophy, Allegra de Laurentiis reminds us of what all the English translators forget, namely that “sich fertig machen” is reflexive, and that the reflexive “implies both completion and preparedness” – that “sich fertig machen” is, in fact, a common expression simply meaning “to make oneself ready” – and, finally, that to render the term “completed” or “finished” is to run roughshod over Hegel’s Aristotelian concept of actuality, a being-at-work-staying-itself, that can never be once-and-for-all completed or finished. 
The German Recht in Hegel's title does not have an English equivalent (though it does correspond to the Latin ius and the French droit). As a first approximation, Michael Inwood distinguishes three senses: “(1) a right, claim or title; (2) justice (as in, e.g., ’to administer justice’…but not justice as a virtue…); (3) ’the law’ as a principle, or ’the laws’ collectively.” 
Part One of Hegel’s Philosophy of Objective Spirit is entitled “Abstract Right.” This section analyzes the will as “embodied in an external object, property, and [thus as] ‘person.’"  It is subdivided into sections on property, contract, and wrong.
Part Two is entitled “Morality.” It is focused on an analysis of action, and is divided into subsections on design and responsibility, intention and welfare, and good and conscience. Parts of the dialectic in this section resemble Hegel’s earlier criticism of Kantian moralism and the Romantic posture of the beautiful soul in The Phenomenology of Spirit.
Part Three is entitled “Ethical Life” ("Sittlichkeit") and occupies more than half of The Elements of the Philosophy of Right. Its primary subdivisions, which are all themselves further internally divided, are the family, civil society, and the state. Hegel’s account of the state culminates in the philosophy of world history, which is treated only very briefly in this handbook, but is expanded upon at length in separate lecture series.
Hegel’s use of the term “absolute” is easily misunderstood. Inwood, however, clarifies: derived from the Latin absolutus, it means “not dependent on, conditional on, relative to or restricted by anything else; self-contained, perfect, complete.”  For Hegel, this means that absolute knowing can only denote “an ‘absolute relation’ in which the ground of experience and the experiencing agent are one and the same: the object known is explicitly the subject who knows.” That is, the only “thing” (which is really an activity) that is truly absolute is that which is entirely self-conditioned, and according to Hegel, this only occurs when spirit takes itself up as its own object. The final section of his Philosophy of Spirit presents the three modes of such absolute knowing: art, religion, and philosophy.
As Walter Jaeschke puts it,
It is only in this sphere that spirit brings forth a shape – an image of itself, as it were – and relates itself to this shape in the forms of intuition, representation and comprehending thinking. It is here that spirit relates itself to itself and is absolute precisely in its self-relation. It cognizes itself as what it is and it is with itself (bei sich) and free in this cognition. Only with this cognition is the concept of spirit – as the concept of a thinking relation to self – complete.
It is with reference to these modalities of consciousness – intuition, representation, and comprehending thinking – that Hegel distinguishes the three modes of absolute knowing. Frederick Beiser summarizes: "art, religion and philosophy all have the same object, the absolute or truth itself; but they consist in different forms of knowledge of it. Art presents the absolute in the form of immediate intuition (Anschauung); religion presents it in the form of representation (Vorstellung); and philosophy presents it in the form of concepts (Begriffe)."
Although Hegel’s discussion of absolute spirit in the Encyclopedia is quite brief, he develops his account at length in lectures on the philosophy of fine art, the philosophy of religion, and the history of philosophy.
See also: Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion
As a graduate of a Protestant seminary, Hegel's theological concerns were reflected in many of his writings and lectures.[d] For instance, in his "The Philosophy of History", Hegel argued the Protestant cause in the Thirty Years' War was part of the struggle against absolutism and advanced the cause of human freedom. His thoughts on the person of Jesus Christ stood out from the theologies of the Enlightenment.
In his posthumously published Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, Part 3, Hegel is particularly interested in demonstrations of God's existence and the ontological proof.: 100 He espouses that
God is not an abstraction but a concrete God [...] God, considered in terms of his eternal Idea, has to generate the Son, has to distinguish himself from himself; he is the process of differentiating, namely, love and Spirit". This means that Jesus, as the Son of God, is posited by God over and against himself as other. Hegel sees relational and metaphysical unities between Jesus and God the Father. To Hegel, Jesus is both divine and human. Hegel further attests that God (as Jesus) not only died, but "[...] rather, a reversal takes place: God, that is to say, maintains himself in the process, and the latter is only the death of death. God rises again to life, and thus things are reversed".
By contrast, the philosopher Walter Kaufmann argued that there was sharp criticism of traditional Christianity in Hegel's early theological writings. Kaufmann also pointed out that Hegel's references to God or to the divine and spirit drew on classical Greek as well as Christian connotations of the terms. Kaufmann wrote:
Aside to his beloved Greeks, Hegel saw before him the example of Spinoza and, in his own time, the poetry of Goethe, Schiller, and Hölderlin, who also liked to speak of gods and the divine. So he, too, sometimes spoke of God and, more often, of the divine; and because he occasionally took pleasure in insisting that he was really closer to this or that Christian tradition than some of the theologians of his time, he has sometimes been understood to have been a Christian.
Hegel's biographer notes that, over the course of his lectures on this topic, Hegel continued to develop his thoughts on religion both in terms of how it was to be given a wissenschaftlich, or "theoretically rigorous," account in the context of his own "system," and how a fully modern religion could be understood. 
Twentieth-century interpretations of Hegel were mostly shaped by British idealism, logical positivism, Marxism, and Fascism.
In the last half of the 20th century, Hegel's philosophy underwent a major renaissance. This was due to (a) the rediscovery and re-evaluation of Hegel as a possible philosophical progenitor of Marxism by philosophically oriented Marxists; (b) a resurgence of Hegel's historical perspective; and (c) an increasing recognition of the importance of his dialectical method. György Lukács' History and Class Consciousness (1923) helped to reintroduce Hegel into the Marxist canon. This sparked a renewed interest in Hegel reflected in the work of Herbert Marcuse, Theodor W. Adorno, Ernst Bloch, Raya Dunayevskaya, Alexandre Kojève and Gotthard Günther among others. In Reason and Revolution (1941), Herbert Marcuse made the case for Hegel as a revolutionary and criticized Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse's thesis that Hegel was a totalitarian.
Beginning in the 1960s, Anglo-American Hegel scholarship has challenged the traditional interpretation of Hegel as offering a metaphysical system: this has also been the approach of Z. A. Pelczynski and Shlomo Avineri. This view, sometimes referred to as the "non-metaphysical option", has influenced many major English-language studies of Hegel.
Late 20th-century literature in Western Theology that is friendly to Hegel includes works by such writers as Cyril O'Regan (1995).
Two prominent American philosophers, John McDowell and Robert Brandom (sometimes referred to as the "Pittsburgh Hegelians"), have produced philosophical works with a marked Hegelian influence. However, while openly acknowledging the influence, neither claims to explicate Hegel's views according to his own self-understanding. Each is avowedly influenced by the late Wilfred Sellars, also of Pittsburgh, who referred to his Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind (1956) as a series of "incipient Méditations Hegeliennes" (in homage to Edmund Husserl's 1931 Méditations cartésiennes).
Criticism of Hegel has been widespread in the 19th and the 20th centuries. A diverse range of individuals including Arthur Schopenhauer, Karl Marx, Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, Franz Rosenzweig, Eric Voegelin and A. J. Ayer have challenged Hegelian philosophy from a variety of perspectives.
Among the first to take a critical view of Hegel's system was the 19th-century German group known as the Young Hegelians, which included Feuerbach, Marx, Engels and their followers. The primary thrust of their criticism is concisely expressed in the Eleventh of Marx's "Theses on Feuerbach" from his 1845 German Ideology: "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it."
Criticizing Hegel from the opposite political direction, Karl Popper makes the claim in the second volume of The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945) that Hegel's system formed a thinly veiled justification for the absolute rule of Frederick William III and that Hegel's idea of the ultimate goal of history was to reach a state approximating that of 1830s Prussia. Popper further proposed that Hegel's philosophy served not only as an inspiration for communist and fascist totalitarian governments of the 20th century, whose dialectics allow for any belief to be construed as rational simply if it could be said to exist. Kaufmann and Shlomo Avineri have criticized Popper's theories about Hegel.
According to Benedetto Croce, the Italian Fascist Giovanni Gentile "holds the honor of having been the most rigorous neo-Hegelian in the entire history of Western philosophy and the dishonor of having been the official philosopher of Fascism in Italy".
Isaiah Berlin listed Hegel as one of the six architects of modern authoritarianism who undermined liberal democracy, along with Rousseau, Claude Adrien Helvétius, Fichte, Saint-Simon and Joseph de Maistre.
Some historians present of Hegel's influence as divided into two opposing camps. The Right Hegelians, the allegedly direct disciples of Hegel at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, advocated a Protestant orthodoxy and the political conservatism of the post-Napoleon Restoration period. The Left Hegelians, also known as the Young Hegelians, interpreted Hegel in a revolutionary sense, leading to an advocation of atheism in religion and liberal democracy in politics. Recent studies, however, have questioned this paradigm. No Hegelians of the period ever referred to themselves as "Right Hegelians", which was a term of insult originated by David Strauss, a self-styled Left Hegelian.
Hegel's contemporary Schopenhauer was particularly critical and wrote of Hegel's philosophy as "a pseudo-philosophy paralyzing all mental powers, stifling all real thinking".[e] Hegel was described by Schopenhauer as a "clumsy charlatan".[f] Kierkegaard criticized Hegel's "absolute knowledge" unity.[g] The physicist and philosopher Ludwig Boltzmann also criticized the obscure complexity of Hegel's works, referring to Hegel's writing as an "unclear thoughtless flow of words".
In Britain, the Hegelian British idealism school (members of which included Francis Herbert Bradley, Bernard Bosanquet and in the United States Josiah Royce) was challenged and rejected by analytic philosophers Moore and Russell. In particular, Russell considered "almost all" of Hegel's doctrines to be false. Regarding Hegel's interpretation of history, Russell commented: "Like other historical theories, it required, if it was to be made plausible, some distortion of facts and considerable ignorance". Logical positivists such as Ayer and the Vienna Circle criticized both Hegelian philosophy and its supporters, such as Bradley.
Russell wrote in A History of Western Philosophy (1945) that Hegel was "the hardest to understand of all the great philosophers". Karl Popper quoted Schopenhauer as stating, "Should you ever intend to dull the wits of a young man and to incapacitate his brains for any kind of thought whatever, then you cannot do better than give Hegel to read...A guardian fearing that his ward might become too intelligent for his schemes might prevent this misfortune by innocently suggesting the reading of Hegel."
Karl Popper wrote that "there is so much philosophical writing (especially in the Hegelian school) which may justly be criticised as meaningless verbiage".
Further information: Hegelian dialectic
This terminology, largely developed earlier by Fichte, was spread by Heinrich Moritz Chalybäus in accounts of Hegel's philosophy. Yet, it is now widely agreed that explaining Hegel's philosophy in terms of thesis–antithesis–synthesis is inaccurate.
According to Walter Kaufmann:
Fichte introduced into German philosophy the three-step of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, using these three terms. Schelling took up this terminology. Hegel did not. He never once used these three terms together to designate three stages in an argument or account in any of his books. And they do not help us understand his Phenomenology, his Logic, or his philosophy of history; they impede any open-minded comprehension of what he does by forcing it into a scheme which was available to him and which he deliberately spurned [...] The mechanical formalism [...] Hegel derides expressly and at some length in the preface to the Phenomenology.
Nevertheless, this interpretation survives in a number of introductory works.
Voegelin argues that Hegel should be understood not as a philosopher, but as a "sorcerer", i.e., as a mystic and a hermetic thinker. This concept of Hegel as a hermetic thinker is elaborated by Glenn Alexander Magee, who argues that interpreting Hegel's body of work as an expression of mystical and hermetic ideas leads to a more accurate understanding of Hegel.[h] In his conclusion, however, Magee himself acknowledges that his study is effectively "a brief for the prosecution."
Writing in 2005 for an Anglophone audience, Frederick Beiser states that the status of Hegel's metaphysics is "probably the most disputed question in Hegel scholarship." Some scholars favor a religious interpretation of Hegel's metaphysics as an attempt to justify Christian beliefs through reason. Against this, Beiser repeatedly stresses the Aristotelian character of Hegel's metaphysical commitments.
Other scholars have advanced a non-metaphysical approach to Hegel that interprets his philosophy as a theory of categories, a neo-Kantian epistemology, hermeneutics, or even as anti-Christian humanism. If Hegel's philosophy is metaphysics, Beiser states that these philosophers believe it is "doomed to obsolescence" as a "bankrupt enterprise" now that Kant has shown the impossibility of determining unconditioned knowledge through pure reason in his Critique.
Yet, since then, the most prominent non-metaphysical interpreter, Robert B. Pippin, has recanted his earlier position, most notably with the 2019 publication of Hegel's Realm of Shadows: Logic as Metaphysics in “The Science of Logic”. Even before this, introducing a collection of essays from the 2014 conference of the Hegel Society of America, Allegra de Laurentiis reports that everyone presenting on the topic of “Hegel Without Metaphysics?” affirmed the metaphysical dimension of Hegel's thought.
As Hegel himself wrote, even before the publication of the Logic:
Think? Abstractly? — Sauve qui peut! Let those who can save themselves! Even now I can hear a traitor, bought by the enemy, exclaim these words, denouncing this essay because it will plainly deal with metaphysics. For metaphysics is a word, no less than abstract, and almost thinking as well, from which everybody more or less runs away as from a man who has caught the plague.
What remains in dispute, however, is how to properly characterize Hegel's (avowedly post-Kantian) metaphysical commitments.
Main article: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel bibliography
The Difference Between Fichte's and Schelling's Systems of Philosophy (German: Differenz des Fichteschen und Schellingschen Systems der Philosophie, 1801) was the first major work of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's to break with Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling. Hegel rejected pantheistic mysticism and called for a more rationalistic understanding of self-consciousness.
The first edition of the Phenomenology of Spirit was published in 1807. The standard German edition is Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich (1986). Werke 3. Phänomenologie des Geistes (1. Aufl ed.). Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. ISBN 9783518282038.
The three volumes of the Science of Logic were first published in 1812, 1813, and 1816, respectively.
The Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences was first published in 1817, with revisions in 1827 and 1830 Enzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften, 1817; 2nd ed. 1827; 3rd ed. 1830 (Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences)
Hegel follows Kant ... in limiting claims to know to the empirically real. In short, he adopts a view very similar to Kant's empirical realism.