Georg Willielm Friedrich Hegel, a German philosopher, born in Stuttgart, Aug. 27, 177o, died in Berlin, Nov. 14, 1831. From his 8th to his 18th year he was thoroughly trained in philology, mathematics, and history, in the gymnasium of his native town. His scholarship was already productive. He began a system, which he never abandoned, of making and arranging copious extracts from all the books and even journals that he read; and he was always a great reader of newspapers. In 1788 he became a student of theology at Tubingen, having a stipend on a ducal foundation. He heard Storron dogmatics, Schnurrer in exegesis, Flatt in philosophy; and was also well taught in botany, anatomy, and other sci-ences of observation. With some of the students he read Plato and Kant; but his subsequent philosophical fame took them by surprise. In 1790 Schelling, then 15 years old, went to Tubingen; he and Hegel studied, talked, and roomed together, little aware of that strange destiny by which the younger became the leader of the elder, and the elder supplanted the younger, and the younger again succeeded the elder in the development of German idealism.
After quitting the university, Hegel (like Kant and Fichte) was for a long time a tutor in private families; from 1793 to 1796 at Bern in Switzerland, and from 1797 to 1800 in a more eligible position at Frankfort-on-the-Main. His studies meanwhile took a wide range. He read Thucydides, Montesquieu, Gibbon, and Hume, and thoroughly pondered the Greek and German metaphysics. He began a "Life of Christ;" wrote and rewrote a "Criticism of Religious Ideas;" and corresponded with Schelling about his essay on the Ego (Vom Ich), which was stirring the pulses of ardent thinkers. He passed through, in his own experience, the conflict between the older supernaturalism and the prevalent rationalism, neither of which harmonized with his speculative tendencies. Yet, to the end of his life, he professed accordance with the Lutheran orthodoxy, and one of his later public addresses was a eulogy upon the principles of the Augsburg Confession, pronounced as rector of the Berlin university upon the tricentennial celebration in 1830 of the adoption of that instrument. Before 1800 he had drawn up the outline of a system of philosophy in three parts : the first on logic and metaphysics combined; the second on the philosophy of nature; the third on the philosophy of mind or spirit.
Here was already foreshadowed that identification of logic and metaphysics which is one of the marked peculiarities of the Hegelian system. But as yet he had not clearly mastered the idea or the method of his scheme; he needed sharper thought and conflict to know whereto all this study was to grow. Hegel's father died in 1790, leaving him a patrimony of 3,000 florins, and he at once determined to devote himself to philosophy at Jena. This university had been made illustrious in literature by the new romantic school of the Schlegels, Novalis, and Tieck; Fichte had just been driven thence to Berlin on the accusation of atheism; Schelling was now there, arousing the enthusiasm of the novices in the mystery and marvel of the new philosophical intuition; and here, too, Fries, Krause, and Ast were commencing their fruitful philosophical career. To the philosophical world Hegel presented as his introduction an essay on the " Difference between Fichte and Schelling," advocating, more definitely than the latter had done, the position that this difference was not adequately designated by saying that the former taught a subjective and the latter an objective idealism, but rather that Schelling's system included both.
This was published in the spring of 1801; in the autumn its author became tutor in the university. His dissertation on his appointment was Be Orbitis Planetarum, a zealous advocacy of the German Kepler against the English Newton, containing also an unlucky polemic against Bode's law about the proportional distances of the planets; he went so far as to suggest that, according to the true law, the space between Mars and Jupiter should not be filled up, ignorant that Piazzi had already discovered the asteroid Ceres. From 1801 to 1806 (in which last year he became professor) he lectured on logic, the philosophy of nature, psychology, ethics. etc. His first course was given to four auditors. Awkward in his delivery, encumbered by his thoughts, he failed to interest any but the most thoughtful. "He thinks in substantives," said one of his auditors; often the structure of his sentences was incomplete. Carrying to his lecture a mass of loose papers, he would fumble among them, arranging them dialectically, under his rigid categories, as he went along. But as his " dry light" became warm, his eye and voice would grow keen, and he would often break out into an aphorism, a sarcasm, or a pregnant antithesis, long to be repeated. His best manuscripts were copied from the students' notes.
At Jena, too, in conjunction with Schelling, he edited the Kritisches Journal der Philosophie; and these two philosophers were still so nearly agreed, that the authorship of one of the most important articles was afterward claimed by both; it is on the "Relation of the Philosophy of Nature to Philosophy in General," and is included in Hegel's works. Hegel's lectures at this period on the philosophy of history contain some of the strongest statements, afterward modified, implying a pantheistic confusion of God and the world. But even then God was to him, not a mere substance (as in Spinoza), but a subject, and as such spiritual, the absolute spirit. The statement that Hegel identified God and nothing, and that this is the sense of the system, is an entire misconception. His career in Jena was brought to a close by the French invasion of 1806. In the turmoil of that campaign, his chief solicitude was about the fate of some of the last sheets of his " Phenomenology," which he was sending to a publisher in Bamberg. The manuscript was saved, but the philosopher's house was sacked by French troops, and he was reduced to his last penny. In 1807-8 he was editor of a political sheet in Bamberg, and there he projected a work on the political constitution of Germany, which was never completed.
At Nuremberg he was rector of the gymnasium from 1808 to 1816, and gave philosophical lectures to the lads, issued as the 18th volume of his collected writings under the title Propa-deutik - a simple, clear outline of the main points of his general system, in a style as popular as the abstruse subject admits. His administrative ability was here seen to be of a high order; he was ever punctilious as to all fit rules and observances. In September, 1811, he married Marie von Tucher, of an ancient Nuremberg family, 22 years his junior - a lady of refinement, decided in her Christian convictions, indefatigable in her daily charities, to whom he was attached with singular love and tenderness. To his constant friend Nietham-mer he wrote that "when a man has found a position and a wife that he loves, he is quite complete for life." Often would he praise her in verse, and his best letters are those he wrote her on his journeys. Two sons, Karl and Im-manuel, were born to them. His domestic affairs were carefully arranged; his family life was one of unbroken peace; and it may have mitigated, as in the case of Comte, the abstractions of his system. Some of the severest parts of his " Logic," as the writer happens to know, were written while he was watching as a nurse at the bedside of his wife.
Hegel's "Phenomenology," which he used to call his "voyage of discovery," was issued at Bamberg in 1807. The object of this work is to describe the stages and process through which the mind must proceed from the simplest form of consciousness up to absolute knowledge; and to exhibit this, not merely as a matter of fact, but also as a (logically) necessary ascent. One of his disciples says that in this most finished of his writings he is the Dante of philosophy, since he shows how consciousness passes from the inferno of sense, through the purgatory of the understanding, into the paradise of philosophic freedom. In principle and method it is a protest against Schelling's imagination of a special intellectual intuition. The absolute is not "shot out all at once, like a ball from a pistol;" it is, and it is attained by, a process. The stadia of this process are, simple consciousness, self-consciousness, reason, spirit (here used as equivalent to objective morality), religion (including art), and absolute knowledge. The process itself is necessary; the method is immanent in thought. Its moving principle is that of contradiction or negation.
Each lower stage is contradicted or negatived in thought; this negation does not give zero as its result, but rather an opposite or antagonistic principle; and these antagonistic principles struggle through (the negation of the negation) to a higher unity; and so on, until we arrive at that absolute knowledge which is the result as it was the source of these evolutions, in which all these antagonisms are both abolished and preserved. Arrived at this state of knowledge, the spirit knows itself to be identical with universal reason; the finite self-consciousness and the absolute self-consciousness are one; the infinite is no longer foreign to and outside of the finite. With a knowledge of this high consummation, the race enters upon a new epoch; the old has passed away; the conflicts of all the schools are adjusted. Man knows the absolute reason; the absolute reason knows itself in man. To this all history, all thought have been tending; the history of thought is this very process; the completion of thought is found in the science of the absolute. Such was the daring prophecy with which a secluded student, in the ancient and quiet city of Nuremberg, heralded a revolution in the world of mind. Nor did he stop with the proclamation.
In his "Logic," published in two volumes, three parts, between March, 1812, and July, 1810, he developed his system in its most rigorous and abstract form. This is one of the boldest and subtlest works of human speculation. It is designed to answer the question to which the " Phenomenology " led, viz.: What is that absolute knowledge which has been shown to be necessary? It is the completion of the system of categories, which Kant had elaborated, after Aristotle. It is not logic alone, nor metaphysics alone; it is both together. It is not the science of thought alone, nor that of being alone; it is the science of both thought and being, viewed as identical and pervaded by the same logical law. The whole system is reason itself, or the absolute idea - absolute idealism. The terms logic, idea, and reason are used in an unusual, in a universal sense. Reason and idea are not merely subjective; logic gives the law of being as well as of thought. That Hegel reduced all knowledge to that of mere relations and all being to mere logic, is an entire misconception of his theory. The system of logic, as the first part of philosophy, contemplates reason (the idea) as it is in itself, and not in its manifestations.
Hegel used to call it "the kingdom of the shades;" his "voyage of discovery" led him first into this kingdom. He also speaks of it as equivalent to " God in his eternal being, before the finite world was created." In Platonic phrase, it is the ideas of the Divine mind, before they assume finite forms and modes. These ideas (this idea) are developed by an immanent law, the dialectic process of which we have spoken above; and herein consists the peculiarity of the work. The process is that of the idea itself, and all that we can do in the matter is to stand by and see how it is done; though there must be "speculation in the eyes" that see this process carried through and out. Thus, we begin with the conception of being, the most universal and indeterminate of all. As entirely indeterminate, it is the same as nothing. Being and nothing are thus the same, but they are also different; they are identical, but antagonistic; and, as such, they result in a process of becoming (das Werden), for the very idea of becoming includes being and not-being. This is ingenious and acute as an analysis of the conceptions; but is it a real or possible process in being as such? The whole science of logic is distributed into three parts - being, essence, and conception; the first two are the ontological logic, the third is the subjective logic.
The categories that fall under being are three - quantity, quality, and measure. The categories under essence are also three - essence in itself, phenomena as expressing essence, and actual existence as the union of the other two. Here also, of course, come the discussions about the antinomies of the understanding. The categories of the third part of logic, that is, of conceptions or notions, are three - the subjective conception, the object, and last and highest of all, the idea. This logic, now, forms the first great division of Hegel's whole scheme of philosophy. This was fully presented, in outline, in his Encyklopadie der phi-losophischen Wissenschaften, published in 1817, in a third edition in 1830, and issued in his collected works with additional notes from his lectures. Here the categories of the "Logic" are applied to all the particular sciences. Of his whole system, the most general idea is that of God or the Absolute Spirit. This spirit is not mere substance, as in Spinoza, but also subject, and as such contains the principle and law of its own evolution. This law is a perpetual trichotomy - thesis, antithesis, synthesis.
Accordingly the "Encyclopaedia" has three main parts" viz.: "Logic," the "Philosophy of Nature," and the " Philosophy of Spirit." Each of these has, again, a threefold division; and these three yet other three; and this rhythm of triads makes the harmony of the system. Logic, as we have already indicated, presents this absolute spirit or idea, as it is in itself, in its shadowy, ghostly form. In the "Philosophy of Nature" we have the same idea in its objective manifestation, in the forms of space and time. Here the idea or spirit becomes, as it were, a stranger to itself, yet this, too, by an inward necessity. How it comes to do this is one of the knots of the system; but that it does so is evident from the fact that nature is. Nature is here reconstructed - or, Hegel would say, we see how it is constructed - according to the high a priori method, in its three departments of mechanics, physics, and organized beings. These refined demonstrations have not had much effect upon the naturalists. But the absolute spirit, having run through the round of nature, emerges into its third sphere (in an equally recondite way), that of mind or spirit itself; spirit here finds and knows itself, of course, in three stadia. First, it is subjective spirit, including anthropology, phenomenology, and psychology.
Then it passes over into objective spirit, or the sphere of ethics, which has three subdivisions: 1, law or right; 2, morality, private and personal; 3, public ethics, including the family, society, and the state. In fine, spirit becomes absolute spirit, and as such shows itself in three modes, art, religion, and philosophy; and in the last the circle is completed, the end returns to the beginning, the absolute spirit knows itself; and the Hegelian system is all in all. This "Encyclopaedia" was first issued while Hegel was in Heidelberg, where he became a professor in 1810, declining invitations to Erlangen and Berlin - the latter, it is said, in part because the Prussian minister proposed that he should be examined as to his capacity for lecturing after his eight years' seclusion in Nuremberg. His fame now rose rapidly. His disciples began to be ardent and prophetic. His system was proclaimed as completing the structure of German idealism. Kant had critically prepared the way; Fichte had taught a subjective idealism; Schelling had not risen above an objective idealism; but in the absolute idealism the partial was dethroned and the universal made supreme.
Cousin, passing through Heidelberg, proclaimed to the world that in Hegel (whose "Logic" he said he could not grasp) he had found a man of genius; and in his later brilliant course at Paris, in 1828, he availed himself of the generalizations and methods of the great idealist for the interpretation of history and the history of philosophy. A second invitation to Berlin in 1818, urged by the minister Von Altenstein, Hegel's warm personal friend, was welcomed by him. He was now in the ripeness of his manhood, and animated by the consciousness that all thought had found its culmination in him. As the devoted Michelet has it, he was " the crown of the whole past and the seed of the most fruitful future." His new position was most favorable for the propagation of his opinions. Berlin university had always been enthusiastic for speculation. His lectures soon became the rage. Officers of state and the literati and savants of Berlin sat on the students' benches. The government provided liberally for his salary, and also for journeys to Paris, Holland, etc. He took the bearing of the founder of a new and great school. Hegelianism was the road to office.
The master became sometimes overbearing; even Varnhagen von Ense says that he was "tyrannical." Professor Gans was one of his most zealous disciples, but Hegel called him to a sharp account for having dared to "recommend," on the university bulletin, his work on ethics. "What had he done, that Gans should recommend him!" He mixed more freely in general society, and indulged himself in his two chief relaxations, snuff-taking and card-playing. His previous lectures on the different branches of philosophy were carefully revised, and he wrote two new courses, on the "Philosophy of Religion" in 1821, and on the "Philosophy of History" in 1827, in both of these branches introducing an original and scientific elaboration of the materials. His "Outlines of the Philosophy of Right" was issued in 1821, combining in one exposition natural rights, ethics, and the philosophy of society and the state. Man's moral being expresses itself completely in the state; to this, natural rights, private morals, and even the church, are rightfully subordinate.
The preface to this work aroused more controversy than the work itself, since it summed up its teachings in the noted aphorism : "The rational is actual, and the actual is rational." This was interpreted in an ultra-conservative sense; explained in any different sense, it was a mere truism. In fact, he was understood as supporting the existing Prussian system as the perfection of reason and freedom. This for a time helped his metaphysics; though his extreme disciples soon " changed all that." He used to fight his battles in his prefaces. In a preface he declared against the position of Schleiermacher, that the feeling of absolute dependence is the essence of religion. These two men were then at the height of their fame, both at Berlin; neither liked the other, and their disciples have perpetuated the struggle to the present time. The theologian opposed the admission of the philosopher into the academy of science; and the philosopher would not allow the theologian to take part in his scientific journal. The real difficulty was that Schleiermacher tried to find in human nature a foothold for religion independent of philosophy, and Hegel's speculations did not allow this to be done.
His system received concentration and impulse from the establishment, with the favor of government, of the Berlin Jahrbucher fur wissenschaftliche Kritik (1827). All things were here discussed in the light of absolute knowledge. The school became haughty and uncompromising; they had solved the problem of the universe, and nothing remained but to bring all thoughts into subjection. Germany was alive with speculation; it had never known such a philosophical ferment. Even orthodox men gave in their adhesion, and Hegel was not loath to encourage them. Go-schel, the jurist, wrote "Aphorisms on Science and Nescience," applying Hegelianism to the defence of the mysteries of Christianity; and Hegel reviewed the work, with an almost eager welcome, in the Jahrbucher, to show that his system was the same thing in the sphere of speculation that the Christian religion was in the sphere of faith. In the preface to a new edition of his "Encyclopaedia," he quoted from Tholuck on the oriental trinities to show that he held to the Trinity more thoroughly than did this genial divine. The mystics he eulogized with Baader, and the theosophic Boehm he declared to be not merely fantastical, but also profound.
The rationalists had no more violent foe than this prophet of the universal reason; he defended against them the truths of the incarnation, of sin, and of redemption. Conservative rationalism was indignant; the popular philosophy was dumb with amazement. There were many who said the long conflict between philosophy and faith was now to be adjusted; the absolute idealism was to do it, and it was to be done in Berlin. Enthusiastic students declared that the refined ideas of the " Logic " were " the new gods " of a new Pantheon. The triumph of his system seemed to be coming on. In 1829 he was rector of the university, and administered its affairs with the punctuality and painstaking of an accomplished disciplinarian. In 1831 Hegel published the first volume of a new edition of his "Logic," and revised for the press his lectures on the "Proof of the Being of God." In the autumn he commenced his course in the university with more than usual freshness and vigor. But cholera attacked him in its most malignant form on Nov. 13. On the next day at 5 o'clock he was dead. He was buried near Fichte and Solger, and over his remains was celebrated the worship of genius by disciples almost idolatrous. - Rosenkranz has written a full biography, from which we have derived many of our statements.
Every subsequent philosophical writer of note in and out of Germany has criticised his system. The fullest accounts are in the histories of philosophy by Michelet, Erdmann, and Willm; the ablest criticisms are those of Schelling, Trendelenburg, Ulrici, Weiss, Fischer, and the younger Fichte. The Hegelian literature would make a collection of several hundred volumes. In Holland, Van Ghert, Prof. Sieber, and Dr. Krahl espoused his system; Heiberg in Copenhagen; Tengstrom and Siendwall in Finland; a Hungarian wrote to him that he was learning his "Logic" by heart. Apart from the main peculiarity of his system, the impulse which this extraordinary thinker communicated to the various departments of philosophy was almost unexampled. He compelled men to think for him or against him. His " Logic " led to the treatises of Werder, Weisse, Erdmann, Trendelenburg, and Ulrici, as well as to a total revision of Schelling's system. His "Psychology" was followed by Massmann, Wirth, Erdmann, Rosenkranz, and the "Anthropology" of Daub. His "Ethics" gave a more philosophical model for this science, and produced the treatises of Von Henning, Michelet, Vatke, Daub, and Wirth, and influenced the systems of Chalybaus, Fichte, and Rothe. In the "Philosophy of History " he made the boldest attempt to construct the whole according to the evolution of the idea of freedom.
His "AEsthetics" almost transformed the science, and led to the works of Weisse, Hotho, Rotscher, and Vischer. In the "History of Philosophy" he first introduced the general method of treatment, followed by Marbuch, Michelet, Bayr-hoffer, Barchou de Penhoen, Willm, Zeller, and Schwegler; his criticism of Aristotle has contributed more than any other to the understanding of Aristotle's real metaphysical system. Even in the " Philosophy of Nature," though many of his views are not proved by observation, and though his deductions are often arbitrary, he has yet added to the materials for a truly philosophical construction of the cosmos; he early advocated Goethe's theories about colors and the metamorphosis of the plants. In jurisprudence, the conservative tendencies of his system were soon an-nulled by his more advanced followers, and the most radical German revolutionists of 1848 expressed their extreme views in the dialect of the absolute idealism; e. g., Ruge in the Hallische Jahrbucher (1838). But the chief conflicts were in theology, and in the relations of his system to Christianity. Soon after his death his school fulfilled the master's prediction, and illustrated his theory of antagonisms.
His lectures on the "Philosophy of Religion" were twice edited: first in a conservative sense by Marheineke, and then in a revolutionary sense by Bruno Bauer. Passages in his "History of Philosophy," from his lectures of 1805, were declared to be much more pantheistic than his matured views; Strauss thought that he was opposing Hegel until these lectures were published. The conflicting elements came out at first in discussions upon three points, the personality of God, immortality, and the person of Christ. Strauss's "Life of Jesus" (1835) brought the last decisive point to an articulate statement; and in his subsequent controversial writings he ranged the school, after the French political pattern, in three divisions, the right, the centre, and the left. This division was first made in reference to Christianity. The right wing asserted that Hegelianism and orthodoxy were harmonious; Goschel, Gabler, Erdmann, Mar-heineke, and Bruno Bauer for a time, stood here. The middle was represented by Rosen-kranz, Gans, and Vatke. On the left stood Michelet, Strauss, Ruge, the radicals in religious opinion, who denied immortality, the divine personality, and the incarnation as specific in the person of Christ. The Tubingen school of F. C. Baur has worked in the interests of a destructive criticism.
Against all these modifications of the system the great body of the German divines, especially the school of Schleiermacher, have protested from the beginning, evidently believing that the tendencies of Hegel's speculations were pantheistic, whatever judgment might be formed about his personal opinions. The transformation of Hegelianism into naturalism by Feuerbach and others, and the direction taken by the development of the natural sciences, have placed Hegel's philosophy in the heart of the materialistic controversies of recent times. Even Hart-mann's "Philosophy of the Unconscious" (1869) has embraced the main doctrines of Hegel. - The leading works of Hegel appeared in the following order: Phenomenologie (1807); Logik (1812 - '16); Encyclopadie der philosophischen Wissenschaften (1817); Grundlinien der Philosophic des Rechts (1821). His collected works were published in 18 vols. in 1832-'54. Recent works of note on the Hegelian philosophy are Haym's Hegel und seine Zeit (Berlin, 1857); J. F. K. Rosenkranz's Apologie Hegels gegen Dr. R. Haym, and Dr. Aloys Schmid's Ent-wickelungsgeschichte der Hegel'schen Logik (1858); F. Reiff's Ueber die Hegel'sche Dialek-iik (1866); Rosenkranz's edition of the En-cyclopadie with Einleitung und Erlauterung, Hegel als deutscher Naiionalphilosoph (1870), and Hegel's Naturphilosophie und ihre Erlau-terung durch den italienischen Philosophen A. Vera (1868); C. L. Michelet's Hegel, der unwi-derlegte Weltphilosoph, Max Schasler's Hegel, Populare Gedanken aus seinen Werken, Karl Kostlin's Hegel in philosophischer, politischer und nationaler Beziehung far das deutsche Volk dargestellt, and F. G. Biedermann's Kant's Kritik der reinen Vernunft und die Hegel'sche Logik (1870); and Stirling's "Secret of Hegel" (1865). Important translations of Hegel are Ch. Benard's Cours d'esthe-tique (1840-'43)), and La poetique (1855); A. Vera's Logique (1859), Philosophie de la nature (1863-5), and Philosophie de l'esprit (1867-'70); and II. Sloman and J. Wallon's La logique subjective (1854). English translations are the "Subjective Logic," by H. Sloman and J. Wallon (1855); the "Philosophy of His-tory," by J. Sibree, in Bohn's "Philosophical Library" (1857); and "The Logic of Hegel," translated by W. Wallace (1874). " The Journal of Speculative Philosophy" (St. Louis) contains many admirable translations and expositions of Hegel's philosophy, by W. T. Harris and others.