Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich the greatest of modern German metaphysicians. The following sketch of his life is modified from the English Cyclopaedia. He was born at Stuttgart Aug. 27, 1770, and was educated at the gymnasium of his native city. From 1788 to 1793 he studied at Tübingen, where he had for his class fellow the illustrious Schelling; and where he acquired not only a knowledge of the history of philosophy, but also a thorough acquaintance with the natural and political sciences. Upon being admitted doctor in philosophy, he accepted an engagement as private tutor, in which capacity he lived for some years, first in Switzerland, and afterwards at Frankfort- on-the-Main, until, on the death of his father in 1800, he was enabled, by the inheritance of a small patrimony, to devote himself to the study of philosophy. He accordingly proceeded to Jena, where Schelling was teaching his system of "Absolute Identity," of which Hegel was at this period one of the warmest partisans. "Here he composed his first philosophical work, entitled Ueber die Differens der Fichte schen und Schellingschen Philosophie
On the Difference of the Systems of Fichte and Schelling); — which treatise, notwithstanding the sincerity with which Hegel then advocated the views of the latter, contained the germ of that dissent which was afterwards expanded into a peculiar theory. He was also associated with Schelling in conducting the Kritische — Journal der Philosophie (Critical Journal of Science);;and among the most important of the articles contributed by him is that "On Faith and Science," which contains a luminous review of the doctrines of Kant, Jacobi, and Fichte, whose several systems are represented as nothing more than so many forms of a purely subjective philosophy. In 1806, when Schelling went to Würzburg, Hegel was appointed to supply his place as lecturer. Now for the first time Hegel openly avowed his dissatisfaction with the system of Schelling. The difference between the ideas of the master and disciple was marked still more strongly in the Phoenomenologie des ,Geistes (Phenomenology of Mind), which was published at Bamberg, whither Hegel had retired after the battle of Jena. This work he used to call his Voyage of Discovery, as indicating the researches he had passed through in order to arrive at a clear knowledge of the truth. It contains an account of the several grades of development through which the 'self,' or 'ego,' proceeds: first of all from consciousness into self-consciousness; next into reflective and active reason, from which it becomes philosophical reason, self-cognizant and self-analyzing, until at last, rising to the notion of God, it manifests itself in a religious form. The title 'Pheanomenology' points out the limits of the work, which is confined to the phenomena of mind as displayed in the elements of its immediate existence, that is, in experience. It traces the course of mind up to the point where it recognizes the identity of thought and substance, of reason and reality, and where the opposition of science and reality ceases. Henceforward mind develops itself as pure thought or simple science, and the several forms it successively assumes, which differ only in their subject-matter or contents, are the objects of logic, or 'dialectic.' In 1808 he was called to preside over the gymnasium of Nurnberg. In 1812 he published his Logic (Wissenschaft der Logik), which was designed, with the 'Phenomenology,' to complete the whole body of science. Hegel employs the term logic in a very extended sense. He does not confine it, as is usually the case, to the account of the abstract forms of thought and the laws of connection of ideas, but understands by it the science of the self-sufficient and self determining idea-the science of truth and of reality. From his fundamental principle that thought and substance are one and identical, it followed that whatever is true of the former is true also of the latter, and consequently the laws of logic become ontological. From this point of view Hegel describes in this work the progress of reason; how, by virtue of a peculiar and inherent impulse, it passes constantly onwards, until at last it returns into itself. The general merits of this work were at once admitted, and the high powers of philosophical reflection which it evinced were acknowledged by the offer of a professorship at Heidelberg in 1817. His first course of lectures was attended by a numerous and distinguished class, attracted by the profoundness and originality of his views, notwithstanding the great obscurity of his style. By the publication of the Encyklopadie der philos. Wissenschaften (Encyclopedia, of Philosophical Sciences) in 1817, his reputation as a philosopher was established, and Hegel was invited by the Prussian government to fill the chair at Berlin, which had remained vacant since the death of Fichte in 1814. This work, being designed as a manual for his class, takes a general view of his whole system, and exhibits in the clearest manner the ultimate tendency of his views. Considering logic as the base of all ontology, and starting from the idea in itself or potentially, he considers it as the essence and primary substance. He then examines thought as at first existing in itself, then in other or in nature; next in the mind of the individual, in a purely subjective point of view; and then objectively, in its outward realization; and, lastly, as he terms it, absolutely, that is, as manifesting itself in art, religion, and philosophy. From 1817 until death terminated his career there is nothing to relate in the life of Hegel beyond the constantly increasing celebrity of his lectures and the publication of several works. He successively published the Philosophy of Jurisprudence, two new editions of the Encyclopedia, the first volume of the second edition of his Logic, and several articles in the Annals of Scientific Criticism, which he had established as an organ of his system, and of its application to every branch of art and science" (Eng. Cyclop.). He died Nov. 14,1831, of cholera.
Hegel's influence upon the philosophy and theology of Germany has been very great. It is impossible, in brief space, to give a full idea of the Hegelian system. "The transcendental idealism of Kant formed the transition from the empiricism of the 18th century, and effected, as it were, a compromise between the ancient realism and the skepticism of Hume. To the system of Kant succeeded the pure and absolute idealism of Fichte, destined to be displaced in its turn by Schelling's system of absolute identity and intellectual intuition, which was itself to be further modified and developed by the dialectical momentum of Hegel. Essentially the systems of Hegel and Schelling are both founded on the same principle, namely, the absolute ideality of thought and being; for there is evidently but little difference between the doctrine of Schelling, which supposed that the human mind contained within it the fullness of reality and truth, the consciousness of which it may attain to simply by contemplating its own nature, and that of Hegel, according to whom the concrete notion, or the reason, comprises within itself all verity, and that, in order to arrive at the science thereof, it is only necessary to employ logical thought, or dialectic. The difference is purely a difference of method. For the rigorous formalism of Fichte, Schelling had substituted a sort of poetical enthusiasm, and, banishing from philosophy the scientific form it had received from Wolff, had introduced into it the rapturous mysticism of the intellectual intuition. Hegel, however, insisting that the scientific system is the only form under which truth can exist, re-established the rights and utility of method by his doctrine of the dialectical momentum, or development of the idea. Indeed, with Hegel the method of philosophy is philosophy itself. This he defines to be the knowledge of the evolution of the concrete. The concrete is the idea, which, as a unity, is diversely determined, and has in itself the principle of its activity. The origin of the activity, the action itself, and the result are one, and constitute the concrete. Its movement is the development by which that which exists merely potentially is realized. The concrete in itself, or virtually, must become actual; it is simple, yet different. This inherent contradiction of the concrete is the spring of its development. Hence arise differences, which, however, ultimately vanish into unity. There is both movement, and repose in the movement. The difference scarcely becomes apparent before it disappears, whereupon there issues from it a full and concrete unity. Of this he gives the following illustration: the flower, notwithstanding its many qualities, is one; no single quality that belongs to it is wanting in the smallest of its leaves, and every portion of the leaf possesses the same properties as the entire leaf. He then observes that although this union of qualities in sensible objects is readily admitted, it is denied in immaterial objects, and held to be irreconcilable. Thus it is said that man possesses liberty, but that freedom and necessity are mutually opposed; that the one excluding the other, they can never be united so as to become concrete. But, according to Hegel, the mind is in reality concrete, and its qualities are liberty and necessity. It is by necessity that man is free, and it is only in necessity that he experiences liberty. The objects of nature are, it is true, subject exclusively to necessity; but liberty without necessity is an arbitrary abstraction, a purely formal liberty" (English Cyclopaedia, s.v.).
Hegel "rejected the intellectual intuition of the philosophy of nature, and studied to make philosophy an intelligible science and knowledge by means of dialectics. He called philosophy the Science of Reason, because it is the idea and consciousness of all esse in its necessary development. It is his principle to include all particular principles in it. Now as the Idea is reason identical with itself, and as, in order to be cognizant of itself, or, in other words, as, in order to be self-existing (fir sich seyn), it places itself in opposition to itself, so as to appear something else, without, however, ceasing to be one and the same thing; in this case philosophy becomes divided:
1. Into logic considered as the science of the Idea in and for itself.
2. Into the philosophy of nature considered as the science of the Idea representing itself externally (reason thrown out in nature).
3. Its third division is that of the philosophy of mind, expressing the return of the Idea within itself, after having thrown itself without externally.
All logic, according to Hegel, presents three momentums:
1. The abstract or intelligible momentum, which seizes the object in its most distinct and determinate features, and distinguishes it with precision.
2. The dialectic or negative rational momentum consists in the annihilation of the determinations of objects, and their transition to the opposite determinations.
3. The speculative momentum perceives the unity of the determinations in their opposition.
Such is the method which philosophy aught to follow, and which is frequently styled by Hegel the immanent movement, the spontaneous development of the conception. Logic is essentially speculative philosophy because it considers the determinations of thought in and for itself, consequently of concrete and pure thoughts, or, in other words, the conceptions, with the significations of the self-subsisting foundation of all. The primary element of logic consists in the oneness of the subjective and objective; this oneness is the absolute science to which the mind rises as to its absolute truth, and is found in the truth, that pure Esseis pure
conception in itself; and that pure conception: alone is true Esse. The absolute idealism of Hegel has considerable affinity with Schelling's doctrine of Identity on this point, but it shows a clear departure from it in the method. With Hegel, logic usurps the place of what had been previously styled Metaphysics and Critique of pure Reason. The first, and perhaps the most suggestive, of Hegel's works, his Phenomenology of the: Mind, contains a history of the progressive development of the consciousness. Instinctive or common knowledge: only regards the object, without considering itself. But the consciousness contains, besides the former, also a perception of itself, and embraces, according to Hegel, three stages in its progress consciousness, self-consciousness, and reason. The first represents the object standing in opposition to the Ego, the second the Ego itself, and the third accidents attaching to the Ego, i.e. thoughts. This phenomenology constituted at first a. sort of introduction to pure science, whereas later it came to form a part of his doctrine of the mind. Purer science or logic is divided, 1st, into the logic of Esse or being (das Seyn); 2nd, into the logic of qualified nature (das Wesen); 3rd, into logic of the conception or of the idea. The two first constitute the objective logic, and the last division the subjective logic, containing the substance of vulgar logic. Hegel treated as fully of the philosophy of right and of art as of the metaphysical part of his system. According to his view, the essential' in man is thought; but thought is not a general abstraction, opposed to the particular abstraction; on the contrary, it embraces the particular within itself (concrete generality). Thought does not remain merely internal and subjective, but it determines and renders itself objective through the medium of the will (practical mind). To will and to know are two inseparable: things; and the free-will of man consists in the faculty of appropriating and of rendering the objective world his own, and also in obeying the innate laws of the universe, because he wills it. Hegel places the existence of right in the fact that every existence in general is. the existence of a free-will. Right is usually confounded with morality, or with duty placed in opposition to inclination. There exists, however, a higher morality raised above this, which bids us act according to truly rational ends, and which ought to constitute the true: nature of man. We find the objective development of this higher morality in the State and in history (Tennemann, Manual of the History of Philosophy, § 424).
Hegel's view of the philosophy of religion is thus stated by Schwegler: "All religions seek a union of the divine and human. This was done in the crudest form, by
(a.) the natural religions of the Oriental world. God is with them, but a power of nature, a substance of nature, in comparison with which the finite and the individual disappear as nothing.
(b.) A higher idea of God is attained by the religions of spiritual individuality, in which the divine is looked upon as subject-as an exalted subjectivity, full of power and wisdom in Judaism, the religion of sublimity; as a circle of plastic divine forms in the Grecian religion, the religion of beauty; as an absolute end of the State in the Roman religion, the religion of the understanding or of design.
(c.) The revealed or Christian religion first establishes a positive reconciliation between God and the world by beholding the actual union of the divine and the human in the person of Christ, the God- man, and apprehending God as triune, i.e. as himself, as incarnate, and as returning from this incarnation to himself. The intellectual content of revealed religion, or of Christianity, is thus the same as that of speculative philosophy; the only difference being that in the one case the content is represented in the form of the representation, in the form of a history, while in the other it appears in the form of the conception" (Schwegler, Hist. of Philosophy, transl. by Seelye, N. Y. 1864, p. 364).
If, now, after having acquired a general idea of Hegel's philosophical system, we ask what solution that system gives to the questions which most interest humanity; what becomes in it of a just and merciful God, of the individuality and personality of man, the free agency and morality of his acts, his hopes of another life, of a brighter future, we shall find no satisfactory answer. The system claims to agree completely with true Christianity, yet its tendencies seem to be pantheistic and anti-Christian. Hegel himself constantly asserts that his philosophical system is in no way contradictory to the Christian religion, and only differs from it in its forms and expressions. Yet in his system the absolute idea, whose evolution constitutes both the spiritual and the material world, becomes, in its last development, the universal mind, the absolute and infinite subject; and this absolute subject is put in the place of God, who therefore can have no self- conscious existence except in finite and individual subjects. And since this system has no substance but the idea, no reality but the development of the idea, and no absolute reality except the mind, which is its end, it follows that finite and individual subjects themselves are but fleeting forms of the universal mind, which is their substance. What becomes, then, of the immortality of the soul, which presupposes in it an independent substantiality, a true personality, an undying individuality? And if the universal mind be but the logical sum of finite minds, without other consciousness than what it finds in individuals, it follows that pantheism can only be avoided by falling into atheism; our personality can only be saved at the expense of that of God himself. Hegel's moral system seems to float between two extremes, each as dangerous as the other. In either case free agency and morality appear equally endangered. While actually destroying all distinctions — which, it is true, he considers as continually produced by universal motion, the single existing actuality-does not Hegel at the same time obliterate all distinction between good and evil, and destroy one of the surest pledges of a future life? If all is but evolution, the evolution of a given content, then all is virtually determined; and freedom, though proclaimed by the very essence of the mind, becomes necessity, in finite beings: all that they consider as their own work, the effect of their individual action, becomes really but a part of the universal work, an effect of the eternal activity of the general and absolute mind.
The essence of Hegel's religious philosophy is found in the doctrine that the world, including nature and humanity, is only the self-manifestation of God. Such a system, presented with the wonderful dialectical skill that Hegel possessed, could not fail to exert a great effect upon the theology of his age. Soon after he commenced the publication of The Journal for Scientific Criticism (1817), the Hegelian philosophy began to show its power. This magazine was at first exclusively devoted to the external propagation of Hegelianism, and it added greatly, during Hegel's lifetime, to the number of proselytes. Immediately after the death of Hegel his orthodox followers effected the publication of all his works (G. W. F. Hegel's Werke, durch einen Verein von Freunden des Verewigten, etc., Berlin, 1834-45, 18 vols. 8vo). Disputes soon arose in the Hegelian school concerning the Person of God, the Immortality of the Soul, and the Person of Christ, which terminated in the division of the school into two camps. Daumer, Weisse, Goschel, Rosenkranz, Schaller, and others (called the right wing), attempted to connect the theistic idea of God with the common notion of the divinity contained in the Hegelian philosophy, and to prove the former from the latter; whilst Michelet, Strauss, and others (the
left wing), maintained that the pantheistic idea of God was the only true result of the Hegelian principle, and represented God as the universal substance or the eternal universe, which becomes first absolutely conscious of itself in humanity. Goschel, Heinrichs, Rosenkranz, Marheinecke, and others, attempted, besides, to justify the ecclesiastical idea of Christ, as specifically the only God-man, on philosophical grounds, whereas Bauer, Conradi, Michelet, Strauss, and others, maintained that the unity of the divinity and of humanity was not realized in one individual, but in the whole of humanity, so that the latter in reality is the God-man. Finally, Strauss and Feuerbach (the extreme left) developed Hegelianism into full- blown atheism and infidelity. "The Hegelian school pretended to find an equivalent for the objects of Christian faith and the propositions of Christian theology in the dogmas of their system. The latter were said to be the pure and final rendering of that which Christianity presents in a popular form. The substantial contents of both were averred to be identical. The Trinity, the Atonement, and the other doctrines of the orthodox creed had now — so it was claimed-received a philosophical vindication, and the vulgar rationalism which had flippantly impugned these high mysteries was at length laid low. These sounding pretensions could only mislead the undiscerning. A philosophy which denies the distinct personality of God, and consequently must regard prayer as an absurdity, can by no legerdemain be identified with Christian doctrine. The appearance of the Life of Christ by Strauss, and the subsequent productions of Baur and his school, through the applications which they made of the Hegelian tenets to the New-Testament history and the teaching of the apostles, placed this conclusion beyond a doubt" (Fisher, Essays on the Supernatural, p. 587).
It is not to be understood that Hegel's system is now universally held to be pantheistic or even anti-Christian in tendency. An analysis and translation of Hegel's Phenomenology, also Outlines of his Logic, are given in the Journ. of Spec. Philos. vols. 1, 2, 3, (St. Louis, 1868-9), by the editor, W. T. Harris, which journal demands the careful study of all who profess to judge of Hegelianism. The points made in the Journal are also summed up by a writer in the Amer. Quar. Church Review, Oct. 1869, who maintains not only that Hegel's system is not pantheistic, but that it is the widest and deepest system of thought yet offered to mankind, and that, too, in full harmony with Christianity. We cite from this article the following passages: "To help us to the highest education of our reason is the aim of Hegel, and this help is the inestimable gift he offers to all who will understand him. To him philosophy is not philosophy unless it 'stands up for all those great religious interests to which alone we virtually live.' Every step of his system is towards the deep truths of the faith; but these things are not mere dogmas with Hegel; they appear as the logical results of the most logical of systems" (Journal of Speculative Philosophy, 1, 256). "In the Christian religion," says Hegel, "God has revealed himself, that is, he has given us to understand what he is; and the possibility of knowing him thus afforded us renders such knowledge a duty. God wishes no narrow-hearted souls or empty heads for his children, but those whose spirit is of itself, indeed, poor, but rich in the knowledge of him, and who regard this knowledge as their only valuable possession" (Amer. Ch. Rev. Oct. 1869, p. 415). "They who regard God as negative unity, and the creature not as self-determining, these are pantheists. With such a God we should only seem to be; we should only be 'modes' of that 'substance.' But man, being a self- determining creature, is his own negative unity, and hence his immortality. 'He cannot be a mere phase of a higher being, for he is essentially a reflection of that.' We are made in God's image, and in him spiritually we see ourselves: who does not see, then, that the highest thought in Hegel's philosophy is only an elucidation of' the central dogma of the Christian faith. God is this ideal unity, and each person of the Holy Trinity is that one God in his entirety. To sum up briefly the points of this comparison: We have found that Hegel's doctrine of Being is the direct converse of the pantheistic theory; for whereas the latter considers pure Being identical with the All, Hegel regards it as equivalent to nonentity Secondly, pantheism has always held fast to the abstractions of the understanding, and hence it has attacked all forms of Becoming; but Hegel's invincible dialectic has demolished this strong position, and led us up to the higher ground of the concrete notion. Thirdly, the pantheistic view of the Negative is abstract. 'Being alone is, and non-being is not.' But with Hegel the ultimate form of the negative is immanent contradiction; the negative is not for itself; but out of it is constituted the true positive. (This leads to the view of the Universal as the only real, independent individual, the I Am that I Am.) Fourthly, the true pantheists held Distinction to be impossible, while the theory of the materialistic pantheists was Atomism, the abstract and separate validity of Identity and Distinction; but Hegel leaves both theories far behind him when he penetrates to the inmost depths of the subject, and arrives at Self-determination as the origin and principle of all distinction whatever. (This, again, leads to the self-determination of the Absolute — the spirituality of God.) Fifthly, the unity of pantheism is a
'negative unity,' which annuls the independence of multiple factors; but with Hegel the true unity, the unity of the Absolute, is purely affirmative, subsisting through the very independence of its members. (And here we reach a development of the great Christian idea of the Trinity.) Here is not pantheism taking a new dress, but pantheism receiving a flat contradiction upon its cardinal principles" (ibid. p. 403-4).
Literature. — For an able article on Hegel's philosophy, and its influence on religion and theology in Germany, see Ulrici, in Herzog, Real- Encyklopadie, 5, 629-646. See also, besides the works cited above, Kahnis, History of German Protestantism, p. 196, 244; Saintes, History of Rationalism, chap. 13, 18; Schaff, Apostolic Church, § 34; Princeton Review, Oct. 1848, art. 4; Morell, History of Modern Philosophy, chap. 5.; Bibliotheca Sacra, 8, 503; Vera, Introduction a la Philosophie de Hegel (Paris, 1855); Haym, Hegel und seine Zeit (Berlin, 1858); Chalybaeus, History of Philosophy from Kant to Hegel; Sibree, translation of Hegel's Philosophy of History (London, Bohn); Sloman and Wallon, translation of Hegel's Subjective Logic (Lond. 1855); Lewes, History of Philosophy (4th edit. Lond. 1871, 2 vols. 8vo), 2, 531 sq.; Stirling, Secret of Hegel, giving a translation of portions of Hegel's Logic (London, 1865, 2 vols. 8vo); Saisset, Modern Pantheism, 2, 11 sq.; Rosenkranz, Hegel als deutscher Natural philosoph (Leipz. 1870).