The Enlightenment in Germany: Aufklarung

1. The next major direction and impact upon philosophy will come from the German Enlightenment or Aufklarung.

2. Germany of the 18th Century was quite different from both England and France.

a. It had no rising middle class that demanded and fought for autonomy and power against the king.

b. Germany had not taken part in the new commercial and industrial revolutions.

c. Germany had not seen their social, economic, and political structures transformed that in England and France had culminated in the Revolution of 1688 and 1789.

3. Germany had remained feudal, agricultural, and rural while England and France had become industrialized and urban.

4. It had no political unity: Germany was a collection of dukedoms, baronial estates, imperial cities and principalities (* absolutist and authoritarian).

5. The Lutheran Church had remained the dominant force in the cultural life of Germany.

a. Science and technology had not developed sufficiently to have any social or philosophical importance.

b. The new science of Newton seemed incapable of explaining anything more than material and mechanical matters.

6. Most German Philosophers of the 18th Century regarded David Hume (radical empiricism) as reducing all rational truths and scientific laws to animal faith (instinct).

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)

1. Out of this provincial German culture and intellectual background came Kant who provided for the first time a philosophical answer to Hume's's skepticism.

2. The Critique of Pure Reason published by Kant in 1781.

a. Kant saw the logical outcome of Hume's radical empiricism.

b. Radical empiricism claims that the basis of all knowledge lies in experience -- this, to Kant, leads to the conclusion that there is no knowledge.

c. There is only association of ideas through habit, psychological expectancy, and compulsion.

d. Hume's empirical view states that there is nothing but animal faith to rely on.

e. This animal faith assures us that the sun will rise tomorrow and that water will freeze.

3. Kant's Theory of Knowledge

a. The Sensory Component (First Step):

1. Radical empiricism claims that all knowledge is derived from sensory experience.

2. To Kant, the sensory element is a source to which the mind is passive.

3. The mind merely receives impressions which it copies as images in thought.

b. Pure Concepts of the Understanding: The Rational Component

1. The second element comes from the mind itself.

2. The mind is not blank and empty as the empiricist claimed (only to be filled by sensory experience).

3. The mind has its own pure concepts by which it organizes the flux of sensory impressions into substances, qualities, and quantities, and into causes and effects.

4. Kant maintains that the mind is furnished with twelve pure concepts or categories.

Kant: The Pure Concepts of the Understanding


















5. Kant maintains that the mind actively interprets the world rather than passively receiving and recording in memory.

6. It is the categories of our own minds that organize the sensory flux and give it meaning.

ie. substances with qualities, quantities, related as causes and effects or in reciprocal causation.

c. The Pure Concepts (categories) As A Priori:

1. Kant considers these pure concepts of understanding to be a priori.

2. They are logically prior to experience: they are pre-supposed by all experience.

3. They are independent of experience: experience can never change them -- they are our means of understanding experience.

4. They are universal: they form the structure of any mind, of any consciousness.

5. They are necessary: (a necessary condition of experience.

Kant's Answer to Hume

1. Hume's theory of knowledge which reduces our experiences and knowledge to nothing but sense impressions is false.

2. It is false because we do experience things and causal relations (not just sense impressions).

3. We do have scientific knowledge of things (not merely psychological expectations or animal faith).

4. Hume's theory fails because it does not see that knowledge consists not only of sense perceptions, but also of the a priori concepts.

5. Kant's pure concepts of understanding are not the same as Descartes' innate ideas.

a. Descartes says that our innate ideas correspond to the structure of independent reality, and that they are imprinted in us by God.

b. Kant does not claim that pure concepts of understanding correspond to independent reality.

1. They are only forms of our consciousness -- the means by which we understand things.

2. They do not tell us anything about what things are like in themselves independent of our means of understanding them. ie. pure concepts

6. Kant's pure concepts are not the same as Plato's ideas.

a. Plato's ideas are themselves what is real.

b. They are the ultimate structures of reality which the world of flux copies.

c. For Kant pure concepts are not structures of reality, they are only structures of our consciousness, our mind.

d. Pure Concepts have significance to epistemology not to meta-physics.

The Kantian Direction in Philosophy

1. Two Parts: knowledge consists not only of the sensory element (in which the mind is passive), but also of a rational element (which the mind actively synthesizes).

2. Kant's Theory of Knowledge (with its two component parts) has found roles for both the empiricist and the rationalist.

3. Kant has discovered (maintained) that the mind gives its own laws to nature -- the pure concepts which organize all sensory materials.

Kant says: "Mind is the law-giver to nature."

4. After Kant, and under his influence, whatever is experienced or known will be shown in part to be due to the mind itself.

5. Hegel and Marx in the 19th Century and Sartre in the 20th Century are all committed to this new viewpoint.

ie. What counts is the way our minds interpret or understand things, not the way things are in themselves.

The Real Is The Rational

1. The Kantian View in philosophy claims that whatever is experienced or known is in part due to our own minds, to our way of thinking.

2. This is the view-point that Hegel, Marx, and Sartre held (all based in varying degrees on Kant).

3. In the Modern World: France, England and Germany have each developed their own characteristic philosophy.

a. Continental Rationalism (Descartes).

b. British Empiricism (Hume).

c. German Idealism (Hegel).

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831)

1. Hegel was the oldest of three children in a middle class family in the town of Stuttgart in southern Germany.

2. The family had originally been Austrian, but had fled from Catholic persecution in Austria.

3. Hegel, after graduation from the Stuttgart Gymnasium in October 1788, entered the theological seminary at the University of Tubingen.

4. After Tubingen there followed a long, hard struggle to earn a living and to develop as a philosopher.

5. Hegel's first position was at the University of Jena (from 1801-1807).

a. He began as an unsalaried lecturer, being paid a fee by the students who attended.

b. October 13, 1806: the city of Jena was captured by the forces of Napoleon.

6. He had completed his first book: The Phenomenology of Spirit.

a. It is regarded as exemplifying the writing of the young Hegel.

b. It is usually contrasted with his Philosophy of Right (1821) which is regarded as exemplifying the mature Hegel.


German Romanticism

1. It was a revolutionary movement in the area of literature, philosophy, and the visual arts rather than politics.

2. It was a reaction by German artists and intellectuals who rejected the Enlightenment.

a. It was rejected as a philosophy confined to and dominated by reason and abstract natural rights.

b. They were disillusioned with the promise of progress and the perfectibility of the human race.

3. The Inward Path

a. German Romantics turned to a "inward path" to truth through the world within.

b. It was in the inner world of the self that truth and the meaning of the human condition was to be found (not the external world of the physical sciences).

4. The Quest for the Totality of Experience:

a. Romantics maintained that the real world contains much more than science can disclose.

b. It is the totality of experience (joys & sorrows, growth & change) that philosophy should seek to understand.

c. To understand the world we must go to experience as it is lived.

1. The empiricist's sense perceptions or the rationalist's clear and distinct ideas were not enough.

2. The dark, hidden areas of the mind -- needed to be explored.

5. The Primacy of the Will:

a. The supreme reality and value in human nature is not reason but the will of the human individual.

b. The will strives for self-fulfillment -- to possess the totality of experience.

6. Nature As Spirit

a. The Romantics protested that the real is spiritual, not materialistic as the Enlightenment had claimed.

b. Nature is a living spirit, a vast will, a teacher of wisdom not a mechanical clockwork operating on Newtonian Laws.

The English Poet Wordsworth:

"One impulse from a vernal wood

May teach you more of man

Of moral evil and of good

Than all the sages can."

c. God is not the engineer-designer as the Enlightenment's Deists claimed -- God is the indwelling soul of the universe. ie. Nature

7. Romantic Polarity

a. Romantics celebrated two-sidedness, polarity, ironic reversals which, they said characterized human thought and feeling.

b. The Romantic ideal is to experience both sides of every polarity, and never to become rigid or static -- confined to any one mode of thought or way of life.

Goethe's Faust: "Insofar as I am static, I am enslaved."

The Formation Hegel's Metaphysics

1. When Hegel entered seminary at Tubingen to study philosophy and theology, the ideas of Romanticism were prevalent.

2. The Question: What philosophical viewpoint would he adopt?

Hegel's Metaphysics: Absolute Idealism

Idealism: is the metaphysical theory which claims that reality has the characteristics of mind or thought, that reality is rational, logical, or spiritual.

1. Reality as Totality of Conceptual Truth:

a. Absolute Idealism claims that reality is a rational, conceptual totality.

b. Reality is an absolute mind or the mind of God, an integrated and total structure of conceptual truths.

2. Reality as Absolute Mind:

a. For Hegel reality is absolute mind consisting of the totality of conceptual truth.

b. It reveals itself in all human experience and knowledge (from physics to biology, from history and politics to art, religion, and philosophy).

3. The Real is the Rational and the Rational is the Real:

a. Like Plato: Hegel claims that the rational, the concept, the idea - this is what is real.

b. He sees a God who is total reality and truth, who reveals Himself to our finite minds in every area of human knowledge.

4. The Rational Is the Existent Object "More Deeply Understood"

a. Hegel says that the reality of the rational concepts "is not another object than the existence, it is the same object more deeply understood".

b. Absolute idealism claims to penetrate existence to find the rational, conceptual truth.

ie. This is the essence of idealism.

c. For Hegel, the rational concepts have no separate, independent existence apart from the concrete world of things.

5. Reality Is Knowable by Its Intelligible, Rational Structures

a. Hegel denies the claim of Hume and Kant that reality is unknowable.

b. He says that everything has an intelligible structure or core which human reason can grasp.

c. Every aspect of human experience is knowable through its underlying rational structure.

6. Absolute Mind as Unity-in-Diversity

a. The Absolute Mind is a unified totality of all rational truth, covering all areas of experience and knowledge.

b. Hegel says: the absolute mind is a unity-in-diversity, a single identity that incorporates all that is different.

7. The Task of Metaphysics: To show the Diversity of Components of Reality, Their Limits and Interconnections in a Unified Totality.

a. The Absolute Mind is the one single reality which reveals itself to us in the concepts of all the areas of human experience.

b. The task of metaphysics (theory of reality) is to identify all the dimensions and limits of reality and to show how they are interconnected.

c. This proceeds from Hegel's view that the Absolute Mind is a Unity-in-Diversity.

Hegel's Theory of Dialectic

1. Dialectic is one of the oldest philosophic concepts -- its earliest appearance was more than 500 years before Socrates.

a. This is the "four elements" theory that reality is composed of earth and air, in constant opposition, as are fire and water.

b. Socrates: meant the use of argument to make the opponent contradict himself with the result that Socrates would then resolve the contradiction and form a true definition of the concept.

c. Plato: it was the highest level of knowledge where opposition or contradiction has been overcome.

1. Each form is known in its own immutable truth.

2. All forms are known in relationship to one another and the "Idea of the Good".

2. Hegel says that dialectic is the synthesis of opposites.

a. Every concept begins to show us limitations, and passes over into its opposite (the very negation of itself).

b. This is the concept of Heraclitus that everything is changing.

c. It again begins to show its limitation and passes over into its opposite.

d. There is dialectical opposition, conflict, contradiction or polarity between Heraclitus and Parmenides.

3. The concept of Heraclitus is labeled by Hegel as the thesis.

4. The concept of Parmenides is labeled by Hegel as the antithesis.

5. Hegel says that the conflict (the opposition) of the thesis and the antithesis can be overcome (resolved).

a. A new thought (concept) emerges that retains what is true and valuable in each of them.

b. This third concept Hegel calls the synthesis.

6. Synthesis: has three functions.

a. It cancels the conflict between thesis and antithesis.

b. It preserves or retains the element of truth within the thesis and antithesis.

c. It transcends the opposition and raises up the conflict into a higher truth.

7. The rational conceptual truths which underlie all the areas of human experience and knowledge are not static.

8. The Absolute Mind which is the totality of these concepts is itself a process revealing its truths to us dialectically.

The Phenomenology of Spirit

1. In this work, Hegel attempts to understand the human spirit of the present time by looking back at its development and at its roots in the past.

2. He presents all the types of world views, religious faiths, philosophic visions that man has held.

3. Hegel will also indicate how each philosophy reveals it own limitations, showing itself to be a partial truth, one-sided, distorted, and inadequate.

4. Philosophy will move dialectically until an all-embracing, all-inclusive vision of total reality is reached.

The History of Philosophy

1. Opposing philosophic systems have competed and struggled with each other claiming to be the exclusive truth.

2. The Philosophic Conflicts of Heraclitus and Parmenides, Plato and the Sophists, Descartes and the empiricists.

3. Hegel believes that the followers of a particular philosopher believe they have received the one true philosophy from him.

a. They exhibit the false notion that philosophic truth is capable of reaching a fixed, rigid, static, finished, and final form.

b. Such individuals believed that one particular philosophy can achieve this final truth -- such a philosophy must be defended against an opposing view.

4. These philosophers (Hegel says) do not understand that this dis-agreement between philosophies represents not conflict but the growth and development of truth

5. Differing philosophic systems should be seen not as at war with one another but as "elements of an organic unity".

6. Hegel viewed philosophy (like all reality) as organic in character, a functional interdependence of parts just like a living organism.

7. Metaphor: the History of Philosophy may be compared to a living growing fruit tree.

a. Different philosophies are like the stages of growth of the bud, the blossom, and the fruit.

b. Each philosophy has significance as a stage in the growth of philosophy.

c. They are not viewed as false but part of an organic process, each displacing the other.


1. Hegel was influenced by developments in biological sciences and the idea of the interdependent unity of parts.

2. Doctrine of Organicism (Hegel, an early advocate):

a. It claims that an organism, as a developing unity of hierarchial and interdependent parts serving the life of the whole,is the model for understanding the human personality, societies and their institutions, philosophy, and history.

b. From Hegel on, the rest of the 19th Century philosophic thought will be influenced by the concept of the unity and functional totality of the organism.

3. Romantic poets viewed true art as achieving organic unity out of multiplicity.


1. Historicism is the claim that the understanding of any aspect of human life must be concerned primarily with its history, its evolution, its genesis, or its roots.

2. This more important than the empirical observation of it as it is now.

3. Hegel has presented a new way of viewing philosophy, the historic way.

4. Philosophy must be understood as the evolving, changing historical development which it is (its conflicts are part of the developmental process).

Truth As a Subject As Well As Substance

1. Hegel says that truth is not only truth of substances, but it is the truth contributed by the knowing subject.

2. He maintains that any truth is truth only as it is created and understood by a subject living in his own time.

3. Truth is living, growing, and changing -- it is the truth of the human spirit as it has dialectically developed over the centuries.

4. The New Task of Philosophy

a. To establish a single dialectical system which will constitute a "systematic science".

b. To unify the changing attitudes, religious beliefs, and philosophies of Man into a single organic totality, a unity- in-diversity.


Mastery of Physical and Living Objects

1. Hegel says that the human self relates to objects through desire.

a. The self desires objects for its own gratification, in order to satisfy its bodily needs.

b. It also finds gratification in mastering objects -- making them serve the desires of the self.

ie. food, paper, cans - taming and dominating animals.

c. We overcome, master, and annul their existence by destroying them; we cancel them out.

2. Hegel sees such mastering actions as the principle of negation, the power of the negative (the principle of death).

a. It produces a negating antithesis to every thesis -- and also a synthesis which negates every negating antithesis.

b. The desire of mastery produces the same principle of negation in Man's relation to objects.

c. It is a desire to negate them, to overcome them in some way, to destroy them, to incorporate them, to cancel them out of existence.

The Struggle Unto Death

1. The desire to master, the principle of negation is present in Man's relationship to other human beings.

a. The other self has the same attitude, and seeks to kill the first (opposing) self.

b. Each self seeks to assert its own selfhood by killing the other.

2. The two selves now enter into what Hegel calls the "trial by death" or the "struggle unto death".

a. Each party risks his own life in the struggle to kill the other party.

b. The great satisfaction is not simply to overcome the object, but to have the other object acknowledge that it has been overcome, defeated, and negated.

3. Hegel says that Man derives consummate satisfaction from this, the overcoming of an object which is capable of knowing that I have mastered it.

4. The Problem: Hegel argues that I cannot know myself in isolation.

I know that I am a self because I see you looking at me, responding to me, as a self. ie. the opposite of Descartes' Cogito.

a. If I kill the other-self, I lose the satisfaction of being victor and having mastered him.

b. If he is dead, I have no other self to recognize me as a self.

The Master-Slave Relationship

1. The victor is brought to a new and more adequate viewpoint - the victor learns not to kill the other, but to make him his slave.

2. This stage in self-consciousness is the master-slave relationship.

3. The master-slave relationship is filled with contradictions and limitations which are the seeds of its own destruction.

a. The slave is reduced to being a thing, and he is made to work on material things for the benefit of the master.

b. The master is dependent on the slave's recognition of him as master (ie. there are no masters unless others recognize them as such).

c. The slave has as his mirror another self who is an independent person, while the master only has a dependent slave-self to relate to.

d. The slave will find in his own labor (the making of things) that he is the independent self who crafted it.

e. The slave discovers his own independent existence as a consciousness with a mind and will and power of his own.

4. For Karl Marx the master-slave chapter in the Phenomenology of Spirit is the most significant section of the 800 pages of that book.

a. Marx says that this section is the true birthplace and secret of Hegelian philosophy.

b. To Marx, Hegel has grasped the true meaning of labor.

1. That man's nature is the result of his labor.

2. The slave lives by the work he performs and he becomes independent through his work.

3. The master, on the other hand, remains dependent on the slave's labor.


1. Because of the contradictions and limitations contained within the master-slave relationship, it is left behind and the human spirit moves on in its development to a new viewpoint.

2. Hegel calls this new viewpoint Stoicism.

a. It is a reference to the Hellenistic philosophy, but here especially to Epictetus (A.D. 50-130), the slave-philosopher,and the Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius (A.D.121-180).

b. Hegel means stoic consciousness as the next development in the growth of human self-consciousness.

3. Stoic Philosophy, as Hegel views it, asserts that in my thoughts I can be independent and free, whether I am an emperor or a slave.

a. The stoic believes that by understanding and accepting the natural laws that govern the universe (as necessary and unavoidable), one can become strong and self-sufficient, un-troubled by the world.

b. To live according to nature is the highest good -- reason governs me as it does the cosmos.

4. Hegel says that people can become Stoic under two conditions.

a. During a time when there is widespread fear of becoming enslaved or dominated in some way.

b. During a time when there is a high regard for the powers of intellect to know the truth.

5. It is a time when there is a refuge and a place of safety in one's own mind (and the understanding of universal and necessary truths).

a. No one can enslave my mind and its thoughts.

b. In my mind I am independent and free -- becoming calm, at peace.

6. Hegel then shows the limitation of stoicism which brings about its negation.

a. He maintains that Stoicism has not overcome, gone beyond the master-slave attitude.

b. The stoic is a slave to the necessary laws governing nature and human life (the physical-real world).

c. The stoic lives in isolation cut off from the contentment of existence.

d. Hegel says that the stoic has no actual freedom to enjoy life in the real world, but only retreats to an abstract idea of himself as being free.


1. The dialectic movement of the human spirit now passes beyond stoicism to skepticism.

2. The stoic rejects the world to the point of withdrawing into the quiet refuge of his own rational mind.

3. The skeptic goes beyond the stoic:

a. The skeptic rejects the world completely by doubting it.

b. According to Hegel, the skeptic uses doubt as a negative and destroying force.

c. Hegel says it functions to negate all beliefs of ordinary experience and the laws of science.

4. The limitation of skepticism is the presence of an inherent contradiction.

a. Skepticism attacks and doubts the very existence of the self.

b. Hegel says that skepticism is split between two selves.

1. One self is like the master, doubting and dominating and thus negating everything.

2. The other self is like the slave, he is mastered, subjugated and negated by doubt.

5. Skepticism is then a confused viewpoint:

a. It does not recognize that it is operating with a split self,a master with the power of doubt and the slave which is destroyed.

b. Since Skepticism contains this contradiction (which it is unaware of) - it passes over into another world view.

The Unhappy Consciousness

1. This new world view Hegel calls "unhappy consciousness" and he identifies it as the religious consciousness of medieval Christianity.

2. The Medieval Christian has an unhappy consciousness because he is aware of himself as divided, as a split self in which there is an endless struggle between the true and false selves.

a. The true self longs for God but cannot reach him.

b. The false self clings to the world and to worldly pleasure.

3. The religious consciousness is unhappy because it knows itself to be a divided self.

4. The religious world view recognizes the truth, that what the true self longs for is God or Absolute Spirit.

5. Hegel says that the religious world view also has its own limitations.

a. Although it knows the truth, it is only figurative truth that it offers, pictures and symbols of the truth.

ie. The Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).

b. It also has not overcome the master-slave relationship.


1. Hegel maintains that religious consciousness must now pass over into the realm of reason and philosophy.

2. The truth which the religious world view expressed in pictures and symbols must now be grasped by the rational concepts of the philosophy.

3. The self must learn that the true absolute is not a personal God but is absolute mind.

a. It is the totality of truth which manifests itself dialectically in finite minds in human history.

b. The self must also learn that a free human being should be a slave to no one (not even God).

4. Mastery is the goal which man desires, but there is only one worthy form of mastery for man.

a. To master the totality of truth which God reveals to us in our time in history.

b. This is also God's goal - for us not to be slaves but to freely receive and master His unfolding truth in history.

5. The master-slave relationship will then be overcome -- there will be nothing more to overcome.

Philosophical History

1. To Hegel, it is the search for the underlying rational truth of history.

2. He applies his own Absolute Idealism -- to penetrate the surface of existence to its rationally and dialectically developed conceptual truth.

3. To understand the rational concepts which underlie the facts of history.

ie. Facts which are "more deeply understood".

The Meaning of World History

1. It is the scene in which the truth of the Absolute unfolds itself, reveals itself to the consciousness of humanity.

2. Philosophically: history is the rational structure of the truth of Absolute -- being revealed in time to the finite spirit (Man).

3. As this rational structure reveals itself dialectically in time, it exhibits God's Plan for the world.

4. Hegel argues that it is teleological, that it has a purpose (God's goal for humanity).

History: The Problem of Evil

1. Hegel acknowledges that history is the scene of evil and has brought about the ruin of the noblest of nations and human beings.

2. Hegel presents an image of history as a slaughter-bench, a place where victims are tied down to be killed as a human sacrifice.

ie. For what purpose?

Philosophy of History as Theodicy

1. Hegel claims that his philosophy of history is a theodicy (a theory to justify, to vindicate God against the charges he has permitted the existence of evil in the world).

2. The slaughter-bench view of history sees only the surface (and not the latent and potential in history).

3. By this: Hegel means the Spirit, the Absolute and the essence of Spirit which is freedom.

4. World History is the process by which the Spirit manifests to finite man the meaning of his own freedom.

Reason and Desire

1. Question: How does the Absolute bring Man to a consciousness of his own freedom as a spiritual being.

2. Hegel says that two elements enter into history.

a. First reason, the rational concept of freedom which the Absolute (the totality of rational truth) seeks to express to finite man).

b. The second is human passion: Hegel maintains this is the only element that can bring consciousness to a finite mind.

3. Hegel says that Man is driven to action by his own private, subjective will to satisfy his natural instincts, needs, and interests.

4. Human Desires: Not a Negative Idea

a. Desires are much closer to the reality of human nature than laws of morality that attempt to restrain them.

b. Hegel maintains that desires are expressions of the human will and that they may work for good.

5. Hegel's point is that one's motivation toward any goal, whether it is consciously for my own benefit or for the benefit of others, has its source in desires.

6. Nothing is ever accomplished unless individuals desire it and find their satisfaction in bringing it about.

ie. Hegel, "Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion."

The Cunning of Reason

1. The Absolute may be said to use human wills as a means to bring about the goal of its divine will.

2. Hegel says that this is done by cunning: By the masterful shrewdness, cleverness, subtlety of the Absolute in bringing the rational truth of freedom to human minds.

3. Reason, in the form of Absolute, which is the totality of rational conceptual truth, governs the world.

4. It is the means to achieve its goal of human freedom.

5. The Cunning of Reason Utilizes:

a. The Great Nation-States which appear successively in history.

b. The Great Historical Individuals who bring about profound changes in history.

The Spirit of the People (Volksgeist)

1. By the Spirit of a People Hegel means something very close to whatwe call culture.

2. Hegel defines it as consisting in the historical and living unity of the culture of a specific people: (its culture generally)

a. Language, religion, art, music, poetry, architecture, morality, philosophy, science and law.

b. The Spirit of a People is what unifies them into an organic totality.

3. Nothing in a specific human culture can be understood in isolation (such as religion, music, art, philosophy, morality etc.).

4. Theory of Organicism: nothing in the human sphere can be understood in isolation but only as a dependent part of an organic totality.

The Nation State: The True Individual of History

1. The Spirit of a People is incorporated, embodied in the life of the nation state.

2. The state, says Hegel, is an organic totality which includes government and other institutions of a nation as well as its culture.

3. The State, the totality of national culture and its government, is the true Individual of History.

a. The Cunning of Reason uses the great nation states as the vehicles of freedom.

b. It is through nation-states and not particular human individuals that the consciousness of freedom is manifested.

4. Through the Cunning of Reason at work in history, successive nation states embody one stage in man's developing truth of freedom.

5. Each nation state has a specific and limited role to play in the unfolding of the consciousness of freedom.

Human Individuals

1. The Role of Desire

a. Individuals have no independence from the nation-state, they are dependent parts of the state.

b. You, as an individual, are part of a larger organism - the nation-state.

c. The individual shares in and is formed by its culture --existing as part of the organism.

d. The individual serves and is served by the whole which is more important than any of its parts.

Question: Do I not serve my own purposes, what I desire to do within the law?

2. The Individual As System-Determined and System Determining

a. Individual human beings are motivated by their own desires.

b. The Cunning of Reason uses individual human desires as a means to an end.

ie. To sustain and support the state as it develops a consciousness of freedom.

c. As you function in society, you support and sustain the industrial, financial, and educational structures of society.

d. As the individual pursues his own desires, he sustains or determines the continued existence of these functions of society.

e. Individual desires are then also sustained or determined by society.

3. The Individual As Culture Carrier

a. What about individual attitudes, values, religious convictions? - does the individual have any independence in the nation state.

b. Hegel says no: your thoughts, values, beliefs, attitudes are derived from the cultural totality of which you are a dependent part.

c. You are a carrier of the culture, of the spirit of the people -- you are also a carrier of the changing spirit of the times within your own culture.

Hegel: "All worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he has only through the state."

d. Hegel also maintains that Philosophers are culture carriers within a nation state embodying the Spirit of A People.

e. Hegel is saying that Philosophic thought and view point is derived and reflective of their culture and time.


"Every individual is a child of its time (and) it is as silly to suppose that any philosophy goes beyond its contemporary world as that an individual can jump beyond his time, can leap over (the great stature of) Rhodes."

World - Historical Individuals

1. The Cunning of Reason also uses the great-heroes of history (their desires) to bring about major historical changes.

2. Hegel calls them World-Historical Individuals, since they have been individual agents of change in history.

ie. Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Napoleon.

3. The Cunning of Reason uses these individuals for its own ends - to bring about a new stage in history.

ie. A further development in the consciousness of freedom.

a. Napoleon was motivated by his person passion for political power.

b. The Napoleonic Wars spread the ideas and philosophies of the Enlightenment.

c. French expansion resulted in the liberalization of laws, ending of serfdom, and improvement and extension of education in conquered lands.

4. World-Historical Individuals are unconscious agents serving the goal of the Absolute.

5. These individuals are agents of change, so they must destroy peoples and institutions that stand in the way of change.

a. Such destruction is justified by a higher morality than the morality of individuals.

ie. They serve the goals of the Cunning of Reason.

b. Once these agents have served the purpose for which the Cunning of Reason used them, they too are destroyed.

6. Once they have been used in history to develop a stage in the consciousness of freedom, the Cunning of Reason moves on to another nation-state to embody the next stage of the development of freedom.

7. These disasters and tragedies bring about a greater good which is the goal of the Absolute.

a. Evils are the instrumentalities used by God to increase good.

b. Human failures are thus the successes of the Absolute.

ie. God is then vindicated for permitting to allow evils to exist in the world.

History As Progress in the Consciousness of Freedom:

1. The progress of history to the consciousness of freedom takes the form of the great triadic dialectic of history.

a. The Cunning of Reason brings this about by using the nation-states as the great social structures of history.

b. Passions of individual members sustains them, and World -Historical - Individuals bring about historical change.

2. The Dialectical Triad of History

a. The Thesis: the Oriental World in which there is a consciousness only that One is Free.

b. The Antithesis: the Greek and Roman World where the human spirit has learned that Some are Free.

c. The Synthesis: the Modern Christian-Germanic World in which at last the human spirit has learned that All are Free and the consciousness of freedom has at last become complete.

3. The Oriental World (ie. China - the best example.)

a. The individual human is scarcely differentiated from matter.

b. He exists without being differentiated from others in the caste structure of society.

c. In the Oriental World only one individual is free, the Oriental Despot (Emperor).

d. Hegel says that the Spirit moves on through the intermediary stages of India and Persia to the rise of Ancient Greece.

4. The Greek and Roman World

a. The consciousness of a new development of freedom is reached in the awareness of Athens that some are free.

ie. the citizen.

b. The nation-state of Rome sustains and continues this consciousness of Athens (some are free).

c. It is a consciousness of freedom that is incomplete because the denial of freedom to slaves and conquered peoples.

d. The Spirit now moves through the intermediary stages of feudalism and the Enlightenment.

5. The Modern Christian-Germanic World (ie. The development of the complete consciousness of freedom.)

a. It preserves from the Oriental World (the thesis) the importance of having a head of sate, a monarch.

b. It preserves from the Greek and Roman World (the antithesis) the importance of a constitution granting to all freedom which the Greeks and Romans had.

c. It remained for Germany (not yet unified into a nation-state) to provide the most complete consciousness of freedom.

1. It took the thesis of the Oriental Monarch as free, with the antithesis of Enlightenment constitutional freedom of all.

2. It unified them into a new synthesis by fusing them with the Lutheran Christian sense of spiritual freedom of all Christian souls.

d. It is the constitutional monarchy of the (Protestant) Christian-Germanic people that the consciousness of freedom reaches a dialetical synthesis and fulfillment.

Question of the individual's rights in relationship to the political government.

Hegel's Moral Philosophy

1. Organicism

a. The view that nothing can function in isolation, but rather it has to be sustained and sustaining the totality it belongs to is the source of Hegel's moral philosophy.

b. The Nation-State (the great organic totality) is the source of culture, institutional life, and morality.

c. The ethical life for the individual member of society is provided by the nation-state itself.

ie. as it is reflected (embodied) in the institutions of society.

d. Ethical life, the moral life, is life lived in a community, in an organized society.

2. The Nation-State As Source of Ethics

a. A moral life can only be lived by acting in accordance with moral principles expressed by your society in its institutions.

b. The moral values that are embodied in your National-State provide the only morality you have.

c. Moral life has its source only in the Nation-State and can be fulfilled only in the Nation-State.

3. Ethics is Social Ethics (ie. one cannot separate himself from the beliefs and values of his own society in his own time.)

a. Social Immorality

1. Hegel never argued that actual cultures or governments are perfect.

2. Hegel's point is that our ideals are those that our nation has produced, and these are the ideals to which we appeal when we criticize the government.

b. Private Conscience

1. One might argue that the best safeguard against corruption would be to rely on your own private conscience.

2. One that would provide moral guidance and be autonomous, independent in its moral decisions and actions.

3. Hegel would reply that your conscience is not infallible and could give erroneous and contradictory moral judgments.

4. He would maintain that a purely private conscience can have no objective standard on which to base itself.

5. Thus - private consciences of different individuals run the risk of conflicting with one another (* without the means of resolving the conflicts).

c. Universal Moral Principles

1. Hegel denies that universal principles can be an adequate basis for guiding our moral actions.

ie. such as the golden rule.

2. Hegel says that such principles are so empty and hollow that they cannot direct you to any specific action or prohibit your from committing any action.

d. God

1. Can one turn to God as a moral source instead of his culture?

2. Hegel would respond in two ways:

3. The true significance of God is not as a personal God of religion, but as the Absolute (the totality of truth).

4. The Nation-State represents one stage in the progress of God's rational truth as it moves through World History.

4. Participation in the Larger Life and Truth of the Nations:

a. The Nation-State embodies one stage of the truth of the Absolute in its culture and institutions.

b. The individual must live as a contributing member of the Nation-State participating in the life of the Absolute which the culture represents.

c. The moral center of your life as an individual becomes the larger life of the spirit of the whole Nation-State (people).

d. By participating in the on going public life of politics, religion, education, and work -- you enter into the truth of your time (the truth of the Absolute).

5. The Moral Ideals of the Individual and the Nation-State are Identical

a. The moral identity of the Nation-State is defined by its on-going public life (ie. its moral ideals).

b. Individual Moral Identity is found in the Spirit of the People, in the truth of the nation (ie. participation in the life of the Nation-State).

6. The Need for Unification

a. Hegel's view is in total opposition to the Enlightenment view of an individual who is independent and free by virtue of his inalienable rights.

b. Hegel perceived the greater need for Man to be in a state of unification with others, not independence, to become a part of the social whole.

c. Hegel also needs to be put into his own "historical context" because he was also talking to the German People about their need for Political Unification.

7. Stages of Internalization of the Ethical Substance of Society

a. Question: How does an individual acquire the moral ideals of his culture, and enter into its ongoing spiritual life and gain a sense of belonging?

b. Hegel: says that you incorporate the ethical substance and morality of your culture as you develop as a person from early childhood into morality.

c. This development is a triadic dialectical process.

1. Family (thesis).

2. Civil Society (antithesis).

3. The State (synthesis).

The Family

1. The family is the first way in which the individual enters into the moral life of the nation.

2. A sense of unity, a unity of feeling and a bond of love unites family members.

3. The members of the family relate as members of a deeply felt unity (and not as members/persons with individual rights).

4. However, when family members insist on individual rights, and do not relate to others through a unity of feeling - the family is in the process of decay (dissolution).

Civil Society

1. Hegel points out that the child outgrows the family and passes over into a new stage of the moral life of the nation.

2. In the family, members existed simply in-themselves as unself-conscious parts of the unity of the family.

3. Hegel makes a distinction between two kinds of existence.

a. Existence which is in-itself and is a unself-conscious existence.

b. Existence which is for-itself, in which one exists as a self-conscious personality.

4. In the transition to the new stage of life (young adulthood), one becomes a self-conscious individual personality.

ie. With his/her own will, aspirations, life plans, and social connections.

5. This is the means by which an individual is separated from the family and enters civil society.

6. By civil society Hegel means the economic aspect of modern capitalistic society.

a. This is where individuals strive to fulfill (satisfy) their own economic needs.

b. The work of others is necessary for this to be achieved, thus a division of labor is needed to satisfy the needs of a growing society.

c. Hegel sees the Cunning of Reason at work in the economic relations within a society.

7. The economy of society has its limitations and can create problems and run into difficulty.

a. As production increases to meet the needs of a growing population, some individuals achieve great wealth beyond their needs.

b. A working class, an urban proletariat, also arises which may suffer economic and spiritual poverty.

c. Hegel perceives a polarization within industrial society of two groups.

1. The small, wealthy capitalist class and the constantly growing proletarian class of laborers.

2. Hegel's description is almost identical with the picture of civil society which Karl Marx will describe a generation later.

3. Hegel also saw the inner conflicts of the industrial economy and threat of a proletarian revolution as clearly as Marx did.

8. There is a crucial difference between Hegel and Marx on this point.

a. Hegel believed that the state could hold these conflicts in check while at the same time utilizing them to bring about the continuous development of humanity as it faces the challenge of growth of industry and technology.

b. He sees both the positive functions of civil society and its internal tensions.

c. Hegel places the state in political and moral control of the entire industrial economy in order to maximize its positive functions and to minimize its internal tensions.

d. Marx, on the other hand, totally rejects Hegel's belief that the state can effectively control civil society.

The State

1. The developed political state is the synthesis of the unity of the family, and the separateness or individuality of life in civil society.

2. It is an organic unity, the mature state provides unity as the family does and individual development as civil society does.

3. The state is a synthesis of the ethics from both the family and civil society.

a. The political institutions of the state is the most complete embodiment of the ethical substance of a society.

b. The individual who internalizes the ethics embodied in the ongoing life of the state has acquired the ethical substance of his society.


Formal Freedom Versus Substantial Freedom

1. Hegel believes that the state makes freedom possible by providing the ethical substance of society.

2. Hegel introduces his influential distinction between two kinds of freedoms:

ie. Formal freedom and Substantial freedom.

3. Formal Freedom

a. It was pursued by the Enlightenment, and inspired the English, American, and French Revolutions.

b. This is the abstract rational freedom of the isolated individual man which is gained by the natural rights of life, liberty, and property.

c. Hegel maintains that these are essentially negative freedoms -- expressing the rebellious will of the rising bourgeois against the authority of absolute monarchy.

d. It functions to safeguard individual rights from an oppressive authority, and thus to Hegel is abstract and negative.

4. Substantial Freedom

a. Hegel maintains that there must be a positive and concrete sense of freedom.

b. Freedom should be positive representing what I am free to do, and not negative freedom from something.

c. The ideals of substantial freedom are derived from the spiritual life of the particular society.

d. Substantial Freedom exists when you see that the ideals by which the culture and the state define themselves are also the ideals by which you choose to define yourself.

1. Then there is an end to the opposition between your individual freedom and the power of laws of the state.

2. You no longer sense the laws of the state as oppressive or coercive.

e. Hegel adds that there is an end to the opposition between your personal will and the will of the state.

f. Substantial Freedom can then be defined as: consisting in the identification of personal ideals with the ideals of the state, which embody the ethical substance of society.

5. Hegel regards substantial freedom as the condition of human happiness.

a. It is the reward of being able to identify with the ideals of your society.

b. It is the happiness that comes from ending of separation, isolation, and conflict.

c. It is the happiness of the sense of unification, of feeling at one with the group to which one belongs.

Theory of Alienation

1. Question: What if you do not identify with your society and are not reconciled to the ideals and institutions of your society?

2. Hegel says that you exist in state of alienation.

3. In contemporary sociology and philosophy:

a. It is generally understood as the sense of being estranged, shut out of the common life, the sense of being an outsider.

b. There are other components of alienation:

1. Sense of being self-estranged, cut off from one's own feelings or identity.

2. The feelings of normlessness, meaningless, and powerlessness.

4. Alienation as Hegel understands it is the failure of the will of the individual to identify with the larger will of society.

a. It is a social process which tends to bring about the disintegration of a community and its common, shared life.

b. It breaks up the organic unity of society into non participating individuals.

c. Alienation from society is then a necessary condition of un-happiness.

5. Hegel views political and social individualism as a serious form of alienation.

Rejection of Political Individualism

1. Political Individualism is the view that the state is subordinate to the individual, politically and morally.

2. This concept was formulated by John Locke and the basis of the revolution of the Enlightenment.

3. Lockean Political Individualism

a. It maintains that man is rational, autonomous, free and equal before the law.

b. Man possesses natural inalienable rights and the state is subordinate to the individual.

c. The state exists by mutual consent solely to protect individual rights.

4. Hegel's view is the opposite of John Locke claiming that the state is politically and morally superior to the individual.

a. Hegel says: "The state has a supreme right against the individual whose supreme duty it is to be a member of the state."

b. He regards the individualism of the Enlightenment as a glorification of personal egoism and political oligarchy (rule by the wealthy).

5. Hegel's political philosophy is Political Absolutism or statism.

a. It affirms the subordination of the individual to the state and claims for the state absolute political power and moral authority.

b. Its Central Focus: The individual exists for the state, not the state for the individual.

Rejection of Political Democracy

1. Hegel maintains that in the modern world the state must have a constitution.

2. The constitution should establish three powers:

a. The Legislative Branch which determines the laws.

b. The Executive which carries out the laws in respect to particular cases.

c. A Monarch or King who has the power of personal decision and who embodies in his own person the will of the state.

3. The Legislative Body

a. Hegel is opposed to the election of individuals by universal suffrage.

b. He maintains that universal suffrage makes the public (at election time) a mere formless, meaningless mass lacking any organic unity.

c. Hegel denies that the general public is in any position to know what its own interests or for what or for whom to vote.

4. Hegel calls for the people to be represented by three estates or classes.

a. These estates will represent agriculture, business, and civil service.

b. These representatives will not be elected, but will hold office either by appointment or by aristocratic birth.

5. Hegel's political philosophy rejects the central concepts of political liberalism.

ie. Individualism and Democracy

Relativity of Politics To Society

1. Hegel does not suggest that all states should follow the model he has established.

2. He maintains it is ridiculous to argue in the abstract as to what government is best.

3. Every nation has the kind of government which expresses the spirit of the people (its own) and what was appropriate for its own time.

4. Hegel says a constitution represents (or should represent) the historical development of the spirit of the people.

a. Hegel is saying that a nation's politics is relative to its history.

b. If substantial freedom is to be realized, it is impossible for government to be imposed from an external source.

Philosophy and Politics

1. Hegel denies that philosophy has the power to change the course of a nation or of the world.

a. The philosopher cannot transcend his own culture and offer a blueprint or system which has validity for the future.

b. The philosopher can only see and understand his own actual society.

c. The philosopher should attempt to see the rational concept which the Absolute has revealed to it.

2. Philosophy can grasp the truth of a culture only when it has matured enough to see and understand what the Absolute has revealed to it.

a. Hegel believes that at this point it is too late for society to change.

b. He believes that philosophic wisdom comes too late within any society to transform it, but can only make it possible for the society to understand itself.

c. Hegel takes the symbol of the owl which was the symbol of Minerva, the Roman Goddess of Wisdom.

"The owl of Minerva spreads its wings and takes flight when the shades of night are falling."

1. It is Hegel's belief that philosophy comes too late to change the world -- this is exactly what Karl Marx challenged in Hegel.

2. In responding to the owl of Minerva, Marx said:

"The philosophers have so far only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it."