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hegel's theory of history

This is an objective order, inherent in the deep structure of things, and characterised by contradiction. Historical analysis, from the Christian perspective, reveals God’s governance of the world and world history is understood as the execution of His plan. In the Oriental world, the people knew that only the ruler is free. Then the new concept produced in this way undergoes the same process again, and so on, so history progresses in a sort of spiral. This also means that although Hegel sees reason in history, this reason can nonetheless only be completely understood philosophically when the goal of history is complete. As he famously writes, “the owl of Minerva flies only at dusk.” In other words, philosophy (or ‘wisdom’, hence his reference to the Roman goddess of wisdom) can only analyse history retrospectively, from the standpoint of the present. In Greek society there was therefore an inherent tension between individual freedom and the universal principles of the state. However, before moving directly to Hegel’s theory of the state, and history, some discussion of his Logic is in order. He notes that any individual who actively supports a historically-prominent cause is not merely a self-interested party who seeks their own satisfaction; they must also be actively interested in the cause itself. History is a process that includes everything and everyone, a process in which we all participate. For example, would the ‘right’ action in a given scenario not vary based on resource abundances, religious demands, population, and available technology? This site uses cookies to recognize users and allow us to analyse site usage. He employs it to denote the contending forces which are mutually dependent, and whose contradiction forms an equation. And if there has been development in the concept of freedom, there will also have been development in the nature of spirit, since spirit is characterised by freedom. Hegel claims that if the individuals of a nation merely pursue their own gratification, this will lead to the eventual collapse of the nation. To conclude, I have tried to clear up some common misconceptions about Hegel’s philosophy of history, particularly about his idea of historical necessity. You can read four articles free per month. Hence, spirit was in a stage of self-alienation. During the Middle Ages, monks assumed the role, since they had the time and education to record the world around them. Why is the World the way it is today? Christianity was at the fore of intellectual life throughout the Middle Ages. Why is History important? The Presocratic philosopher Anaxagoras (c.500-428 BC) was the first person to argue that nous (meaning reason, or maybe understanding in general) ultimately governs the world – not as an intelligence, but like a fundamental essence of being. Kant had claimed in his essay, “Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim,” published in 1784, that there is a sense in which we can think of human history as advancing towards an rational end. For arguments of this type, see G. H. Sabine, A History of Political Theory, 2nd ed. Contradiction is characteristic of the nature of reality. Hegel perceives world history to have developed according to a dialectical process. He applies the dialectic to the histories of ideas and human events, stating that these concepts all shift and change through conflict over time and, hypothetically, will all reach a set of ideas, or even a single idea, that meets the needs of everyone involved. In the tyrannical age, which Hegel thought was characterised by the pre-Greek ‘Oriental’ world, people know that only one person, the ruler or despot, is … Platos' Republic, Eastern vs. Western metaphysics and philosophy. The fact that Hegel mentions ‘the future’ in the specific context of world history in these last two quotes is of particular interest here, for it suggests that this was not merely a gesture but something systematic. Providence is wisdom endowed with an infinite power, which realises its own purpose, that is, the absolute, rational, final purpose of the world; reason is “thought determining itself in absolute freedom.” Hegel suggests that many stages of human history appear irrational and regressive because society is made up of individuals guided by passions, impulses and external forces. He is currently a doctoral student at the University of Portsmouth and is writing a book on the works of Nietzsche. Hegel cites Thucydides and Herodotus as prime examples of original historians, since their accounts constitute a “history whose spirit the historian has shared in.” Consequently, their accounts express “the maxims of their nation and their own personality, their consciousness of their political position and of their moral spiritual nature, and the principles which underlie their designs and conflict.” So by examining this sort of history, we can acquire a greater understanding of a culture’s customs, beliefs, and practices, and so penetrate into the essence of a specific period. As Hegel puts it in the Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), spirit is the “ethical life of a nation.” For Hegel, then, there is rational progress in history only in so far as there is progress of the self-consciousness of the spirit of the world through human culture in terms of the consciousness of freedom. Universal history aims to provide an entire history of, say, a people, or even of the world. It is the way things actually work in the world. Each stage was therefore entirely necessary in the development of spirit’s self-consciousness, but the necessity of each stage can only be realised retrospectively. This is where action follows reaction; from the opposition of action and reaction a harmony or synthesis results” (‘The Individual, The State and Political Freedom in Hegel’, Uchenna Osigwe, 2014).

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