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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Critical and Biographical Introduction by William Torrey Harris (1835–1909)

By Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831)

GEORG WILHELM FRIEDRICH HEGEL was born at Stuttgart on the 27th of August, 1770. His biographers mention the fact that Swabia, the birthplace of Hegel and Schelling, was also the birthplace of Albertus Magnus, the greatest genius for philosophy in the Middle Ages; of his pupils,—Thomas Aquinas being the light of Christian theology, and Meister Eckhart being the fountain of German mysticism and philosophy. But Hegel’s ancestor John Hegel had migrated from Carinthia into Swabia in the seventeenth century, seeking freedom for the exercise of his newly acquired Protestant faith. After the Lutheran reformation, which extended into the mountainous portions of Austria, was vigilantly repressed by the Austrian government, numbers of the most industrious and intelligent inhabitants migrated northward and westward for the sake of religious freedom.

The father of our philosopher, Georg Ludwig Hegel, held an office under the government, being a secretary of the Bureau of Public Revenues. His mother was a well-informed and intelligent woman. The events of his youth and early manhood are thoroughly prosaic, up to the time of his meeting with Schelling. He was sent to the Latin school at the age of five years, and at seven entered the gymnasium. It is reported of him that he read Shakespeare in Wieland’s translation at the age of eight years, and that at about the age of thirteen he had done some study in geometry, surveying, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. He translated the work of Longinus on the Sublime at the age of seventeen. His studies in Greek literature made the liveliest possible impression upon his mind, and all readers of Hegel’s works are struck with the fact that Greek methods of thinking—in short, the Greek view of the world—became part and parcel of his mind. He read the ‘Antigone’ of Sophocles at the age of eighteen, and for many years after this studied Greek and Roman history and the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. He very early perceived that these philosophies are the same substantially, both of them reaching to the truth that reason is the absolute. The fact of his study of Greek philosophy gave him a vantage ground; he became later the interpreter of the results of Greek philosophy into the language of German philosophy, and was able to demonstrate the harmony of the two great streams of human thinking.

At the age of eighteen he entered the University of Tübingen as student of theology, and took great interest in the lectures on the Psalms and on the Book of Job, carrying on at the same time studies in biology and reviewing Greek literature. Schelling arrived at the same university two years later, and awakened the more sluggish intellect of Hegel into a new activity. Before the advent of Schelling, Hegel, it seems, had not looked upon philosophy as a process of real knowing. It appeared to him rather like a record of curious opinions, in which no trace of scientific necessity could be discovered. But the fervent heat of Schelling’s mind melted down these opinions and separated the gold from the dross. Schelling could pierce at once to the essential necessity of thought. He could see what belongs to the constitution of the mind and determines the very structure of thought itself. Schooled in the philosophies of Kant and Fichte, Schelling grappled with the fundamental problems of philosophy with as much assurance and familiarity as if they were everyday matters of the university lecture-room, or indeed of the students’ boarding-house. Hegel, five years his senior, borrowed courage from Schelling, and commenced anew his studies in philosophy with an entirely different point of view. For fifteen years he willingly acknowledged himself to be Schelling’s disciple.

Meanwhile the French Revolution had begun, and was now in the height of its progress. It was the external counterpart of the Kantian revolution in philosophy. All realized institutions were attacked by it, in the interest of individual freedom against authority. All over Europe there came to be a feeling that man is the maker of his institutions, and that he can demonstrate this authorship by taking to pieces Church and State, and reconstructing them at pleasure. Kant and Fichte had attacked the problems of philosophy in the same revolutionary spirit. It seemed to them as if they stood, for the first time, face to face with truth. All other and earlier endeavors had been fatuitous. Dogmatic philosophy had not attained truth, but merely likelihood, or opinion. With the newly acquired faculties of higher introspection discovered by Kant, it would be possible now to settle ultimately and finally the attitude of the mind towards fundamental problems of the universe. The problems of life could all be solved without delay.

These views aroused unbounded enthusiasm. The Germans call this epoch the “Aufklärung” (Enlightenment). It was a clearing-up such as comes from cutting loose from the past, with a consciousness that the individual commences a new book, with new ideas and with no responsibilities to anything that has been written before. Hegel had been much interested in Rousseau in his youth, and when the French Revolution came to be discussed all over Europe, he like most young men of his time adopted the gospel of liberty, equality, and fraternity as his own. He and Schelling took an active part in a political club founded for the dissemination of French ideas at the university. In the course of a few years, however, he discovered the shallowness of a movement which claims as its chief merit the neglect of the past and the wholesale condemnation of existing institutions. According to the principle of the French Revolution, no sooner has something become an accomplished fact than it becomes a menace to the freedom of the individual; it becomes tyrannical with its authority. Hence, no sooner did the Revolution make a new constitution than it began to amend it; for how could the people retain their consciousness of freedom from authority unless they continually recast their constitutional law? This lesson of the French Revolution made the profoundest impression upon the mind of Hegel, given as he was to looking behind the immediate appearance to the essential form of the deed. He saw at once the irrationality of the Revolution, and compared it to Saturn, who devoured his own offspring. He saw vividly the absurdity of constitutional conventions which are to discover and adopt reasonable foundations, to be followed immediately by new conventions which demolish the reasonable forms adopted by their predecessors. Hegel became conscious of the truth of the conservative principle which aims to build the present upon the past, and to reinforce the insight of the present moment by the reflections of all the rational hours that have gone before. This conservatism, which appears in all of the works of Hegel, has been much condemned. It should be remembered that Hegel did not begin to write books until he had reached this conclusion.

After two or three years’ companionship with Schelling, Hegel, having completed his theological studies at the university, left Jena and became a private tutor in a family in Berne. It is interesting to note that Fichte had held the position of tutor in Switzerland shortly before this, and Herbart a similar position about the same time. The three years of tutorship passed in studies on the most difficult problems of all philosophies; namely, the reconciliation of the theoretical and practical sides of life—the relation of intellect to will. At this time, too, Hegel made a more thorough study of the Kantian critiques, and took up Fichte’s ‘Science of Knowledge,’ finding it far more difficult to master than the ‘Critique of Pure Reason.’ He obtained, however, some assistance from Schelling in gaining an insight into the subtle psychology of Fichte. For Schelling had found the writings of Fichte more to his taste than those of any other philosopher; and just as Fichte had been nurtured on the writings of Kant, the ideas of which he had proceeded at once to combine in a new system, so Schelling recast in a new form the ideas of Fichte. He hastened to construe the world of nature, a priori, by means of transcendental ideas. Self-consciousness revealed the hidden laws and principles implicit in ordinary knowing; and these laws and principles, discovered in the unconscious activity of the mind, were identified by him with the moving forces of nature. He attributed them to “an impersonal reason, a soul of the world.” Thus it comes to pass that while Fichte laid the greatest stress on the subjective, the will of the individual, the consciousness of the particular person,—that is to say, on the free moral will,—Schelling on the other hand emphasized the objective, the unconscious development of nature, and laid great stress on the gradual unfolding of reason in the inorganic world of matter. There was no necessary incongruity in the two systems. But the one-sidedness due to the intense emphasis given to the opposite poles soon produced a conflict. Fichte subordinated everything else to the moral will, and regarded nature as merely phenomenal and scarcely worthy of man’s attention. Schelling, on the other hand, turned to nature and history as unconscious realizations of spirit in time and space, and held them up to view as worthy of all study. They were treated in his philosophy with reverence as Divine incarnations. Fichte slighted time and space, and what they contained. He neglected the forms of matter and the results of history,—everything conventional, such as institutions, customs, and philosophical systems. The world, in short, was treated somewhat as the French revolutionists treated the past. Schelling, on the other hand, looked upon the world as a revelation of the absolute, and held it sacred, while subjectivity (the ego and its interests) became less important in his eyes; and as a consequence, human aims and endeavors, even moral aims, lost their interest to him. Not so however with Hegel. Hegel did not for a moment, while he called himself a disciple of Schelling, fail to see that the moral world is more important than the physical world; although he believed the physical world to be what Schelling claimed for it.

In the midst of these great philosophical movements, Hegel had (in 1797) become a tutor in Frankfort, and had reinforced his insights obtained through the study of Fichte and the explanations of Schelling, by a study of Plato and Sextus Empiricus the skeptic. What was most important, he began to get a new insight into the dialectic which Fichte had set forth in his ‘Science of Knowledge’ as the strictly scientific form of expounding philosophy. He saw how, in the hands of Plato and Sextus, the negative plays the moving part in developing thought and correcting its imperfections. Hegel later conceived the idea of uniting the Platonic dialectic with the Fichtean, and completing an objective dialectic which he hoped to make of great service in rational psychology, or logic as he called it.

In 1801 he returned to Jena, which had become not only a great center of literary activity but the chief center of philosophic activity in the world. Fichte had been charged with atheism, had resigned, and gone to Berlin. Schelling was then lecturing at Jena as professor extraordinarius. Hegel commenced to teach logic, metaphysics, the philosophy of nature, and the philosophy of spirit. In 1805 he lectured on the history of philosophy, pure metaphysics, and natural right; in 1806 on the unity of philosophical systems. He began in this year to unfold what he called the phenomenology of spirit; by which he meant an exposition of the dialectic by which one’s view of the world changes from that of the earliest infancy up to the most complete view to be found in the philosophy and religion of his civilization. He showed how the barest fragments are seized at first as if they were the truth of the whole world; next how these fragments are supplemented and enlarged by further insight, obtained by noticing their dependence on other things and their utter insufficiency by themselves. This work, ‘The Phenomenology of Spirit,’ published in 1807, remains the most noteworthy exposition of what Hegel calls his dialectic; although in some respects it is amended and made more complete in his larger ‘Logic,’ published in three volumes, 1812 to 1816.

But in 1803 Hegel had begun to be aware of a growing separation between his view of the world and that of Schelling. He had been substantially at one with Schelling so long as Schelling held the doctrine that reason, or intelligence and will, is the absolute. This was Schelling’s view up to 1801. At that time the idea of polarity became very attractive to him. The phenomenon of the magnet had suggested a symbol by which he could explain human consciousness and the world. We, the conscious human beings, represent one pole of being, the subjective pole; while nature, in time and space, represents the other pole, the objective pole of being. Just as the indifference-point unites the two poles in one magnet, so there is the absolute, which is the indifference-point between the subjective and objective poles of being; namely, between mind and nature: and of course this indifference-point is neither mind nor nature, but a higher principle uniting mind and nature. At this point Schelling very distinctly abandoned the current of European thought from Plato to Fichte, and adopted the Oriental standpoint, as revealed in Hindoo philosophy and in the philosophy of the Gnostics and Neo-Platonists. It was a lapse into Orientalism, and if carried out would end in agnosticism, or in the doctrine of the incomprehensibility of the absolute. Another of its consequences would be the impossibility of recognizing morals or ethics in the Divine. Since the absolute would transcend the subjective as well as the objective, it would be something above morals, and consequently it could not be said to have self-activity. Hegel never for one moment assented to this view, but remained standing by the former attitude of Schelling, making the absolute to be, not an indifference-point, but the perfection of the subjective and objective as a reason whose will is creative, or a reason whose intellect, in the act of knowing, also creates. After 1803, Schelling ought to have seen that his new principle undermined the very possibility of philosophy, and he should have ceased philosophizing; for his absolute, as the indifference-point between reason and nature, proved only an empty unity which did not explain the origin of the polarity from it. The worlds of mind and nature could not be anything but illusions, the Maya of the East-Indian thinking. On the other hand, an absolute of reason could explain the rise of antithesis, and could explain also the world of unconscious nature as a progressive development of individuality—a sort of cradle for the development of immortal souls. But Hegel, even in his lectures on the history of philosophy nearly twenty years later, seems to take pleasure in recognizing Schelling as his master. He does not expound the final system as his own, but adopts the philosophy of Schelling as the last contribution to the ‘History of Philosophy.’

It may be of interest to remark here, that although Schelling continued to produce new developments in philosophy which undermined the systems which he had built up before, yet there are two important and permanent interests advanced by his philosophizing. The first of these has been mentioned. Instead of leaving nature as a thing in itself, outside of and beyond all mind, Schelling recognizes in it a genuine objective and independent development of reason, fundamentally identical with mind. Human reason is reflected in the forms of nature. This view brings one to see that the goal at which the human soul has arrived, or is arriving, is confirmed or approved by the great process of struggle for existence which is called nature. “Mind sleeps in matter, dreams in the plant, awakes in the animal, and becomes conscious in man.”

Still more important is the effort of Schelling to understand the great systems of thought made by preceding thinkers—his study of Giordano Bruno, and his interpretation of mythology. He successively appropriated the standpoints of Kant, Fichte, Bruno, Spinoza, Baader, and Boehme. His fertile mind threw great light on the positive meaning contained in each of these systems of thought. He became the best of commentators. He showed how a history of philosophy should be written, not after the style of Mr. Lewes, who writes the biography of defunct philosophy, but a history that shows the great insights which formed the life of these systems. Schelling had discovered the vital basis for a history of philosophy that should interpret the different systems of thought that had prevailed.

Hegel perhaps learned his most important lesson from Schelling in this matter of the interpretation of systems of thought; and certainly Hegel shines best in writing the ‘History of Philosophy,’ always being able to penetrate behind the words and seize the essential ideas which lived in the mind of the past thinker. Oftentimes this idea was merely struggling for utterance, and not wholly articulate. This does not prevent Hegel from seizing the idea itself, and setting it forth with success.

The gross outcome of Hegel’s philosophy is, in fact,—next after his insight into the defect of Oriental thought,—his ability to seize the thought of Plato and Aristotle, and prove its identity with the thought of Kant, Fichte, and Schelling. The easiest method by which the student may arrive at the great thoughts of Plato and Aristotle is to read in Hegel’s ‘History of Philosophy’ his exposition of Socrates and his followers. Hegel’s high place is due to his able interpretation of the speculative insights of the great systems of thought which had prevailed in the world for twenty centuries, and on which, in a sense, the institutions of modern civilization had been built. The old philosophy had been so diluted, in making it a book of instruction for students and immature persons, that the insight into its speculative necessity had been lost or become a tradition. The professor is obliged to keep in mind the capacity of the pupil, in preparing his textbook. In striving to make the subject clear to the immature mind, which is not able to think except in images and pictures, the professor changes his attitude from that of a discoverer of truth to that of an expounder of truth. He is obliged to suppress the strictly logical deduction, and substitute for it analogies and illustrations that flow from it; thus, to offer baked bread instead of seed corn to his pupils. But by-and-by his pupils, nurtured on this thin philosophical diet, become professors themselves. They have never heard that Plato and Aristotle ever had any other meaning than the commonplace doctrines learned in their textbooks. Hence the degeneracy of philosophy in the schools. On the other hand, eccentric philosophers off the lines of the traditional school wisdom, like Bruno, Spinoza, Boehme, and Swedenborg, have never been reduced to a textbook form, and they still preserve a power to arouse original thought. Schelling’s writings have this power. They reveal the morning red of truth, and the student becomes a mystic and beholds the truth for himself. But it does not often occur to him that there is also clear daylight behind the commonplace dogmas of school wisdom.

Hegel profited more by the example of Schelling in this matter of interpreting the past systems of philosophy, than by anything else. He became the great philosophical interpreter.

I have already mentioned his first original work, the ‘Phenomenology of Spirit,’ a book that he finished during the battle of Jena (1806). It appeared from the press in the following year. This work may be best described as an interpretation of the different standpoints at which the mind arrives, successively, on its way from the mere animal sense-perception up to the highest stage of thinking, which sees the world to be a manifestation of Divine reason, and reads its purpose in everything. One must not, however, understand this book to be an attempt to present the contents of the world of nature and of human history in a systematic form, for it is nothing of the kind. It is rather a subjective clearing-up of the contents of his own mind than an objective treatment of the contents of the world, systematically. But the first part of it has something of a very general character; namely, the exhibition of the dialectic by which sense-perception passes from an immediate knowledge of the here and now, to a knowledge of force, and further on, to the insight that force must in all cases be a fragment of will-activity. This part of the track of development must be common to all peoples who have progressed up to, and beyond, the dynamic view of the world. And again, in the next phase of it, where he develops in order, one after the other, the germs of the several institutions of the social life of man; namely, beginning with slavery, on through the patriarchal despotism, up to free, constitutional forms of government. He shows the rise of the moral idea, first in the mind of the slave who, purified by his own sufferings, learns to see the importance of moral conduct on the part of his master, not only for his own (the slave’s) well-being, but also for the accomplishment of anything reasonable by his master himself. This deep insight is a key to the explanation of the authorship of Æsop’s Fables, the Enchiridion of Epictetus, and the Hitopadesa, by slaves. In general, it explains how it is that in Asia, in the realm of arbitrary power and despotism, the moral systems of the world have arisen. It does not indicate any lofty superiority on the part of the Asiatic mind, but rather its backwardness in developing civil institutions such as we enjoy in the Roman law, the English local self-government, and the American Constitution. Hegel uses this key, not only to explain the history and arrested development of civilization among the Oriental peoples, but to explain the moral ideas of the Stoics, the Skeptics, and the Epicureans.

The first part of the Phenomenology treats of consciousness, the second part of self-consciousness, or the arrival at the certainty that a self is behind every total phenomenon, and that the self is an independent, originating being, and therefore morally responsible. He shows how this idea prompts man to a study of nature, with a view to understand how nature is a manifestation or revelation of mind. This is the third study of the Phenomenology under the general title of reason. In Hegel’s technique, “reason” means the recognition of mind as the outcome of the world-process. Absolute reason is creating individual beings, and endowing them with reason. The world of nature and human history is a process whose object is the development of individuality. Side by side with this theoretical or intellectual side of the recognition of reason, Hegel places the actual struggle of the will, and traces its ascent from mere caprice, up to the consciousness of laws and obedience to them.

The fourth step of the Phenomenology he calls “spirit.” It is the consciousness that makes institutions for the establishment and preservation of what is rational in the world. According to Hegel, reason includes the discovery of rational laws in nature and rational laws in human history and development; but in all this the individual acts as individual, and his seeing and knowing is individual. Spirit names the product of society, and not of the mere individual. In social combinations, according to Hegel, there is a higher manifestation of intelligence and will than in the mere individual, and he calls this manifestation “spirit.” Spirit is therefore man acting as a social whole. His insight into this is used as a key to explain the phenomena of his own time, particularly the French Revolution, in its entire cycle from revolt against the State to a restoration of the State under Napoleon.

He closes his Phenomenology by a brief study into the nature of religion. He commences with the lowest forms of fetishism and idolatry, and rising through the art religion of the Greeks, comes to a third and highest religion, revealed religion; signifying by the word “revealed,” not so much that the Scriptures are divinely inspired, as that they make known a God who reveals himself to men,—not an inscrutable God, like that of the pantheistic religions, but a Divine-human God, an absolute, conscious reason, and above all, a moral God. For Hegel finds that the Hebrew insight in the Old Testament reaches to such a knowledge of the absolute as is presupposed by psychology, by the philosophy of nature, and by the philosophy of history. It was reached by the intuition of that wonderful people in Palestine.

Of many things man may be uncertain, but he can be absolutely certain that the fundamental Being in the universe must respect the moral law, otherwise he would destroy his own personality. Having convinced himself of this, Hegel has arrived at his final chapter, absolutely knowing, and his “voyage of discovery” is done. He is certain that there must be absolute science, because the highest of religions presupposes this knowledge that the Divine being is ethical, and necessarily possesses goodness and righteousness. Now Hegel is ready to commence on his next work, the Logic, which will show how the mind reaches the moral ideal. It is a thorough exploration of the thoughts of the mind which arise in it through its own activity, and not through mere experience. The category of being, for instance, is a category that underlies all experience, and it remains in the mind after having abstracted all that one has learned through each and all his special senses; for all things learned by experience are really qualities of being, but not being itself. So of the categories of negation and of becoming. Such categories as “somewhat,” and “other,” and “limit,” “the finite,” “the infinite,” and all the other categories of quality; such categories as “quantity,” “extensive” and “intensive,” and “ratio,”—all these categories of quality and quantity form a sort of surface to the thinking mind. Underneath this it thinks categories of “phenomenon and noumenon,” categories of “positive and negative,” “identity and difference,” “force and manifestation,” “substance and attribute,” “cause and effect,”—in short, the world of relativity.

Hegel goes on in his Logic to discuss—besides these categories of quality and quantity which belong to immediate being, and which constitute our superficial or surface thinking—the categories of essence, such as cause and effect, which are the chief categories of reflection, or the understanding; and finally comes to a third realm of thinking, which deals with life and mind, showing up the laws of the judgment and syllogism as found in Aristotle’s Logic, and working out, along lines that Schelling first explored, into the realization of mind in the mechanism, chemism, and teleology of the world; finally considering the life of animal and plant, and then intellect and will of man, and lastly the union of intellect and will in one being,—the being of God, or as Hegel calls it, the “absolute idea.” This absolute idea has the form of perfectly altruistic action. Its Divine occupation is the creating of other beings, and the nurturing of the same up to their immortal individuality.

With the appearance of conscious self-determination in the world, there begins responsibility, and consequently conscious discrimination between evil and righteousness. The institutions of civilization arise in order to conserve the conscious practice of the right and the suppression of evil.

In this his first work, the ‘Phenomenology,’ we find the keys which Hegel applies to the several departments of philosophy; his work after 1807 lay in the lines therein mapped out. While in charge of a classical high school in Nuremberg, he elaborated and published his ‘Science of Logic,’ in three volumes (1812 to 1816). The outline of the ‘Philosophy of Nature’ he published in his ‘Encyclopædia of Philosophical Sciences’ in 1817 at Heidelberg, whither he had gone in October 1816 to assume a professorship in the University. The first volume of the ‘Encyclopædia’ contains a compend of his logic, and the third volume contains the ‘Philosophy of Spirit,’ which is mostly a systematic arrangement of materials to be found in his ‘Phenomenology.’

In October 1818 Hegel became a professor in the University of Berlin, occupying the chair formerly occupied by Fichte. In his Berlin period he elaborated the details of the ‘Philosophy of Spirit,’ and expanded its contents into a large number of volumes. In 1821 he published his ‘Philosophy of Right,’ containing the science of jurisprudence, morals, and politics. In the following years he lectured on the philosophy of history, on the science of the fine arts and poetry, on the philosophy of religion, and on the history of philosophy. His manuscripts were edited by his disciples after his death, additions being made to the manuscripts from the notes of the pupils taken during the lectures. While engaged on a new edition of his complete Logic, having finished the revision of the first volume, he died of cholera, November 14th, 1831.

The edition of his complete works by his disciples contains in Vol. i. his writings of the Schelling period; Vol. ii., ‘Phenomenology of Spirit’; Vols. iii., iv., and v., ‘Science of Logic’; ‘Outlines of the Philosophy of Right’ (one volume), ‘Philosophy of History’ (one volume), ‘Æsthetics,’ including the ‘Philosophy of the Fine Arts and Poetry’ (three volumes), ‘Philosophy of Religion’ (two volumes), ‘History of Philosophy’ (three volumes), the ‘Encyclopædia’ (three volumes), ‘Miscellaneous Writings’ (two volumes). To this list should be added the ‘Life of Hegel’ by Rosenkranz (one volume). English translations now exist of the ‘Philosophy of History,’ the ‘Encyclopædia,’ the ‘Philosophy of Right,’ the ‘Philosophy of Religion,’ the ‘History of Philosophy,’ and a considerable portion of the ‘Æsthetics.’

Of these works, the ‘Philosophy of Right’ gives by far the best philosophy of the family, industrial society, political economy, and the State, that has been produced by the Kantian critical school. It contains a brief but very luminous treatise on the science of morals as distinct from ethics in general, which Hegel construes as the science of institutions. Hegel’s ‘Philosophy of Æsthetics,’ including the fine arts and poetry, treats of the three epochs of art, symbolic (Oriental), classic (Greek and Roman), and romantic (Christian), as well as the special arts, architecture, sculpture, painting, music, and poetry. It shows, in accordance with broad principles, how the ideal of the beautiful is realized within the three great epochs of civilization; and gives the student a philosophical basis by which to criticize the merits and defects of each phase of art. It shows also the advantages and the defects of each of the special arts in revealing the beautiful; architecture having one kind of limitation, sculpture another, painting, music, and poetry still others. If Hegel had left us only this work on the philosophy of art, says Bénard, it would have been sufficient to give him first rank among the thinkers of his century. But this may be truthfully said of four of his other works.

His ‘Philosophy of Religion’ commences with a discussion of the nature of religion, defining its limitations and showing its central value. The first part of his ‘Philosophy of Art,’ in the same way, shows the nature of art and its significance. The ‘Philosophy of Religion’ then proceeds to take up historically the religions of the chief nations, showing the Church from its earliest beginnings to its culmination in Christianity. The ‘Philosophy of History’ is the central book of this group. It takes up the nations of the world, and analyzes the fundamental idea of the civilization of each; then shows how this idea gets realized in the manners and customs of the people, and especially in their governmental form. He then shows how the colliding elements of this great idea get reconciled and harmonized within the nation itself; and then how it comes into collision with nations outside of it; and finally how it is overcome by the world-historical nation which is to become its successor as leader in civilization. The works on æsthetics and religion reinforce the ‘Philosophy of History’ by showing how the national idea gets realized in the art and literature of the people, and also in its religious creed and methods of worship. It seems to be a tacit conviction of Hegel that in order to seize the truth of the individuality of a nation, and understand its career in the world, you must investigate not only its form of government and its manners and customs, but also its view of the world as found in religion, and its celebration of that view of the world, in architecture, sculpture, painting, music, and poetry. A mistake in any one of these spheres would get corrected while investigating other spheres.

Hegel’s ‘History of Philosophy’ is the most remarkable work of its kind, inasmuch as it has the advantage of the wonderful interpreting power of the master. His pupils have numerously attempted writings in the history of philosophy, and have made great success in it, but no success equal to that of Hegel himself. His work is profoundly suggestive. He studies the thought of a nation always in the light of its institutions, its art, its literature, and its religion. By his very method he is protected against attributing to thinkers ideas which could not have arisen in their historical epoch. Hegel has done more than any other thinker to give the student what is called a historical sense, and thus guard him against misinterpreting the earlier forms of ideas for later ones.

In each of these works, which stand for the four greatest contributions to human thought in this century,—Hegel’s treatises on art, religion, history, and philosophy,—the great contrast between Asiatic contributions and those of Europe is brought out with ever-fresh illustrations and profound suggestions. The difference of these two epochs of human history is shown to be the deepest possible. The Oriental thought is not strong enough in its synthetic power to grasp the idea of an absolute, as an ethical personality, but remains standing at the idea of an empty infinite, devoid of all attributes. This impotency it illustrates in its works of art, its forms of civil government, its religious creeds, and its philosophy. The correspondence between the abstract theories of a civilization and its concrete results is worked out by Hegel so felicitously as to awaken the highest enthusiasm in the intelligent reader.

Selections from Hegel’s Writings

THE FOLLOWING extracts from English translations from Hegel will serve to illustrate his difficulties of style, which appear through a translation somewhat exaggerated on account of the impossibility of rendering his technical terms into corresponding terms in English. His writings are built up systematically, and somewhere in his works each technical term will be found to be explained fully; but unfortunately for his readers, he uses these terms anywhere in their full technical significance, assuming that the reader is acquainted with the detailed exposition which he has given somewhere else. Such simple words as “reason,” “spirit,” “self-consciousness,” are used as glibly as if they meant only the ordinary mental pictures called up by the reading public at sight of these words. But we have seen that “spirit” implies an investigation occupying five or six hundred pages in that most abstruse and exasperating work ‘The Phenomenology of Spirit.’ (1) It implies the psychological demonstration that self-activity is the true first principle, presupposed not only as the basis of all life but as the basis of all inorganic nature. (This is the step called “self-consciousness.”) (2) It presupposes the long investigation through experience of untold centuries into the objects of nature, discovering finally their purpose in creation; and the other phase of investigation into the action of the human will, by which it arrives at moral and ethical forms of action. (This is the process called “reason.”) (3) Finally, it presupposes a like investigation on the part of human experience into institutions best calculated to realize human nature, the family, civil society, the State and the Church. (This process is called “spirit.”)

This style resembles in some degree that of treatises in higher mathematics, wherein a simple formula of two or three terms quotes a result which has been arrived at after one or two hundred pages of close analytical reasoning.

In the following extracts I preface each by a brief explanation indicating the general result, and calling attention to some of the technical terms which contain the compendious reference here described.