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    Hegelianism is the philosophy of arguably one of the most influential thinkers of German Idealism, G. W. F. Hegel. Hegelianism holds that the speculative point of view, which transcends all particular and separate perspectives, must grasp the one truth, bringing back to its proper centre all of the problems of logic, of metaphysics (or the nature of Being), and of the philosophies of nature, law, history, and culture (artistic, religious, and philosophical).

    Philosophical Beliefs[edit | edit source]

    Metaphysics[edit | edit source]

    Hegel claimed that everything that exists is in the process of becoming something else. He believed history itself was in the process of change, through a dialectical process of opposing ideas, through which would emerge the new synthesis of a single idea, making the old binary distinction irreverent. He thought this process would continue until finally, we arrive at the point when all subjects would realize that only one thing exists, the mind itself.

    Hegel was an idealist, meaning he thought that everything that exists is a non-physical entity.

    Hegelian Dialectic[edit | edit source]

    In Part I of his Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences, also known as the Encyclopaedia Logic, Hegel presents his dialectical method. According to Hegel, logic has three moments or sides: understanding, dialectical, and speculative. The understanding is the moment of fixity where concepts have stable definitions. The dialectical moment is one of instability and self-sublation, where concepts pass into their opposites. The speculative moment grasps the unity of the first two moments and produces a more comprehensive and universal concept. Hegel's dialectics differ from Plato's arbitrary dialectics in several ways. The movement to new determinations in Hegel's dialectics is driven by the nature of earlier determinations, not by the introduction of new ideas. The transition to new determinations grows out of the process itself and is not dependent on external factors. Later determinations both replace and preserve earlier determinations, and they determine and surpass the limits of the earlier determinations. The dialectical process leads to increasingly comprehensive and universal concepts, ultimately driving towards the Absolute, the all-encompassing concept or form. The Absolute represents the highest level of universality and completes the dialectical process. When taken together, the Absolute concepts for different subject matters form Hegel's entire philosophical system, which is characterized as a "circle of circles." Hegel considers his dialectical method to be truly scientific because it is driven by the subject matter itself and exhibits coherence and necessity.

    Consciousness[edit | edit source]

    Hegel's philosophical perspective focuses on the stages of consciousness development. He begins with sense-certainty, which is limited because it provides only basic factual information without deeper insights. Perception is introduced as an active form of consciousness that recognizes the interconnectedness and relational nature of objects. However, the process of negation erodes specific characteristics, leading to doubt and a return to sense-certainty. Understanding is presented as the most complete form of consciousness, merging sense-certainty and perception. Hegel introduces the concept of force, which operates both in the observable world and as a pure notion. Understanding seeks to uncover the underlying principles and laws governing the actions and reactions of forces. Hegel discusses the existence of two realms, one governed by laws and another where phenomena remain unexplained. He acknowledges that earlier stages of consciousness may not have been aware of these perspectives, while he and his readers understand them as observers.

    Self-Consciousness[edit | edit source]

    Self-consciousness arises when the mind recognizes its own thinking and existence in relation to an external world. It seeks validation and self-assertion by acknowledging the same self-consciousness in others, leading to the emergence of collective human consciousness or spirit. Hegel emphasizes that true understanding comes from collective efforts rather than isolated individuals. The process involves mutual recognition and gradual development. The paradox of dominance and servitude reveals that the servant achieves true self-consciousness through discipline and obedience, while the lord depends on recognition but denies equality. Stoicism and skepticism are explored as stages of development, with skepticism questioning true knowledge but ultimately being incoherent. The Unhappy Consciousness seeks unity with the unchangeable through surrender and mediation, leading to the next phase of reason. Hegel incorporates Christian and philosophical concepts to discuss the ascent of human consciousness, highlighting its broader relevance beyond Christianity.

    Reason[edit | edit source]

    Reason, for Hegel, involves actively shaping our perception of reality by discerning essential qualities and implicit laws. Observational reason, however, falls short in providing a comprehensive understanding of the world. Hegel introduces rational self-consciousness, combining reason with self-awareness in a social context. True fulfillment and individuality, he argues, are achieved when individuals align themselves with the existing social order. Individuality and self-interest play a role in human action, which exposes intentions and reveals true character. Hegel sees work as a moral imperative for self-realization and emphasizes reason operating within collective consciousness and societal laws.

    Spirit[edit | edit source]

    Spirit, in Hegel's view, is the collective consciousness and morality that connects all humans. The ethical order, represented by societal laws and norms, embodies the true spirit and reflects both human and divine aspects. The family represents the natural ethical community, while the government embodies the implementation of human law. Human actions often create a conflict between divine and human law, leading to a society characterized by individualism and the erosion of ethical customs. Hegel also discusses the Enlightenment and its impact on the division between culture and faith, with one pole emphasizing divine law and the other emphasizing human utilitarianism.

    Religion[edit | edit source]

    In his exploration of the progress of spirit, Hegel identifies the concept of the "absolute" or divine being. He suggests that the absolute is fully revealed in the current stage of development. Hegel traces the previous appearances of the absolute, highlighting how religion plays a crucial role in achieving self-consciousness. Religion evolves through stages such as natural religion, perceiving spirituality in nature, and the stage of art, where religion becomes an expression of ethics detached from nature. Hegel focuses on the development of religion as art, particularly referencing ancient Greek religions. He discusses the transition from abstract statues to the humanization of gods in epics. Hegel introduces the idea of revealed religion, exemplified by Christianity, where God becomes incarnate. He emphasizes the significance of God's presence in the physical world and the shared experience of Christ's existence. Hegel views religion's development through visual imagery, with each stage representing a different aspect of human self-consciousness. He argues that evil stems from the same impulse as good and is a result of self-consciousness. Ultimately, Hegel asserts that spirit finds its culmination in the human conscience, where God is internalized.

    Absolute Knowing[edit | edit source]

    Hegel argues that revealed religions, including Christianity, rely on symbolic representations rather than achieving genuine self-consciousness. He revisits the progression of human spirit from sense-certainty to religion, asserting that spirit must surpass religion and manifest its principles in human actions. Hegel terms this stage as systematic science, a pure understanding of the self attained through struggle and development. He emphasizes that systematic science must observe the development of spirit within specific contexts, making it a work of history.

    Science of Logic[edit | edit source]

    Hegel believed that logic is the form taken by the science of thinking and that existing approaches to logic needed a radical reformulation. He criticized the separation between the content and form of cognition, which created a gap between subject and object. Hegel aimed to bridge this gap by integrating content and form within the science of logic itself. He believed that he had achieved this integration in his work, the Phenomenology of Spirit, through the concept of Absolute Knowing, where subject and object are united, and truth is equated with certainty. Hegel referred to this Post-Dualist form of consciousness as "Begriff," representing the self-contained nature of thought. His goal in the Science of Logic was to overcome the separation between subject and object, providing a comprehensive framework for understanding rational thought and truth. By integrating these elements, Hegel sought to establish a self-contained system reflecting the eternal essence of God before the creation of nature and finite minds.

    Philosophy of the Real[edit | edit source]

    Hegel emphasizes that philosophy comes after the completion of actuality and serves to reconstruct and grasp the real world in its intellectual realm. He uses the metaphor of "gray in gray" to illustrate that philosophy recognizes and interprets an already existing shape of life that has aged and cannot be rejuvenated. Philosophy is not meant to dictate how the world should be but to comprehend it as it is. Hegel's concept of actuality suggests that reality is a continuous process, always in a state of preparedness rather than being definitively completed. The relationship between the logical and real-philosophical parts of his system is that philosophy, as the thought and knowledge of the substantial spirit of its time, makes that spirit its object. Hegel's aim is to uncover the systematically coherent logical form within the material of nature and history, presenting it in a scientific manner.

    Unfolding of Species[edit | edit source]

    Hegel presents a sequential development from inanimate objects to animate creatures and ultimately to human beings. While this progression has been compared to the Darwinian theory of evolution, Hegel's perspective differs in that he believed organisms possess agency and actively participate in the process. In contrast to Darwin's view of natural selection, Hegel saw organisms as making choices and collaborating with others to advance along this developmental path. According to Hegel, this progression follows a predetermined trajectory, leading towards a teleological end that represents the ultimate purpose and destiny of this natural development.

    Political Beliefs[edit | edit source]

    Hegel thought that the state could transcend the limits of the individual mind to form a higher mode of being, based in the national spirit, and a nations constitution.

    Variants[edit | edit source]

    Historicism[edit | edit source]

    Historicism is an epistemological and metaphilosophical stance that every human phenomenon is related to historical process, and that understanding of historical developments is neccessary in order to truly understand the human phenomenons. Historicism often believes in historical stages and historical laws which is argued to be crucial in fully understanding history.

    Post-Hegelianism[edit | edit source]

    Post-Hegelianism is a variant of Hegelianism.

    Young Hegelianism[edit | edit source]

    Young Hegelianism is a philosophy of German intellectuals who reacted to the legacy of philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel after his death in 1831. They were influenced by Hegel's idea that history's purpose was the total negation of anything limiting freedom and reason. The Young Hegelians critiqued religion and the Prussian political system, rejecting certain anti-utopian aspects of Hegel's thought.

    After Hegel's death, German philosophers could be roughly divided into politically and religiously radical "left" Hegelians and more conservative "right" Hegelians. The Right Hegelians believed that history's dialectic had reached its end, with the existing Prussian state embodying reason and freedom to the fullest. The Young Hegelians, on the other hand, aimed to overcome religious dogma and political authoritarianism in Germany, drawing on Hegel's ideas about Reason, Freedom, and the overcoming of opposing forces.

    Critique of Religion[edit | edit source]

    Young Hegelians were known for their radical critique of organized religion, particularly Christianity. They argued that religious institutions and doctrines served as ideological tools that perpetuated social and political oppression. Ludwig Feuerbach's influential work, "The Essence of Christianity," contended that God was a projection of human desires and attributes, urging a secular and humanistic approach to understanding existence.

    Political Radicalism[edit | edit source]

    Young Hegelians were politically active and often aligned themselves with radical and progressive causes. They criticized existing political structures and championed ideals such as democracy, individual freedom, and social justice. Bruno Bauer, for example, was critical of the conservative Prussian monarchy and called for a more democratic and egalitarian society.

    Humanism and Anthropology[edit | edit source]

    The Young Hegelians emphasized the importance of human agency and the centrality of human experience in understanding philosophy. They focused on humanism and anthropology, exploring the role of individuals in shaping society and challenging hierarchical structures. This emphasis on the human subject laid the groundwork for later existentialist and humanist philosophies.

    Critique of Idealism[edit | edit source]

    While Hegel's philosophy was characterized by absolute idealism, Young Hegelians sought to move beyond idealist abstractions. They criticized Hegel's emphasis on the absolute and the transcendent, arguing for a more materialistic and grounded understanding of reality. This departure from idealism paved the way for later materialist philosophies, including Karl Marx's historical materialism.

    Feuerbachism[edit | edit source]

    Ludwig Feuerbach's philosophy, Feuerbachism, is the philosophy of the German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach, known as the father of atheistic humanism and an influential figure in the thought of the Young Hegelians, Max Stirner and Karl Marx.

    Old Hegelianism[edit | edit source]

    Old Hegelianism, Right Hegelianism, or the Hegelian Right, is an ideology based on the followers of German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in the early 19th century who took his philosophy in a politically and religiously conservative direction. They are typically contrasted with the Young Hegelians (Hegelian Left), who interpreted Hegel's political philosophy as supportive of left-wing and progressive politics or religion.

    Old Hegelians are, in a way or another, still adherent to Hegel's idea of a system of philosophy in which all objects of thought can be understood as submitted to a single rational principle. That includes the idea that Faith (in the one true religion) and Reason are fundamentally non-contradictory when correctly understood. Cf. Rosencranz, System der Wissenschaft (1950) or Michelet, Hegel: der unwiderlegte Weltphilosoph (1870).

    Feuerbachism[edit | edit source]

    Ludwig Feuerbach's philosophy, Feuerbachism, is the philosophy of the German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach, known as the father of atheistic humanism and an influential figure in the thought of the Young Hegelians, Max Stirner and Karl Marx.

    Criticism[edit | edit source]

    Related philosophies: Schellingianism

    Criticism of Hegelianism or Anti-Hegelianism is a crticism to the Hegelian philosophy and their dialectics and logic, as well as historicism and Historical Determinism and Romanticism. Anti-Hegelians are mostly associated with Anti-Dialecticians, but not always, for example Schelling.

    Personality[edit | edit source]

    Hegelianism often speaks in long and overly complicated sentences. Nobody is entirely sure what the hell he's trying to say at any given time.

    Relations[edit | edit source]

    Friends[edit | edit source]

    • Kantianism - The great teacher, I made your ideas big!
    • Stirnerism - My student, but don't be so egoistic, please.
    • Bonapartism - A person of the Earth, OMG!
    • Spinozism - "You are either a Spinozist or not a philosopher at all."
    • Goetheanism - Your Naturphilosophie influnced me.

    Frenemies[edit | edit source]

    • Totalitarianism - No, no, I'm not! But the Master and the Slave do exist, and that's based.
    • Marxism - You were based in the beginning, but later on, critiqued me? What the devil!?
    • Critical Theory - You studied me, but you're still Marxist.
    • Taoism - Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching is much admired, but it is nothing more than something with a dialectic basis. And why do some of your followers say my philosophy is bullshit!?

    Enemies[edit | edit source]

    • Schopenhauerism - Schopenhauer, my philosophy is BASED, and you are the stupid child!
    • Schellingianism - MY PHILOSOPHY ISN'T A PSEUDOPHILOSOPHY, DIRTY POETIST!!!
    • Sadism - Shut up, Napoleon is BASED, and you are the one who's being stupid!
    • Confucianism - You're just a WORST MORAL SERMON, and the ancient Greeks summed it up better than you!

    Quotes[edit | edit source]

    Further Information[edit | edit source]

    Wikipedia[edit | edit source]

    Works by Hegel[edit | edit source]

    Websites[edit | edit source]

    Gallery[edit | edit source]

    Portraits[edit | edit source]

    Navigation[edit | edit source]


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