Hegel vs Marx – the grand explanation of human history Hegel was the first philosopher who explained the

purpose of human existence and the reason of history unfolding in the way that it was. He took the foundation of his idea from Kant and expanded into an all-explaining theory which had an extremely wide scope and comprehensive in nature. Later, Marx was impressed with Hegelian logic, but turned it upside down and presented his own version of the human history which represented history from his vision. To begin discussion on the above two, it is first necessary to briefly mention what were the philosophies of the two great philosophers. Kant laid the foundation for Hegel to build his grand scheme of history. Kant, who initially followed rationalism, later turned towards empiricism and led towards epistemology. However, he noticed that even though human beings observe the same phenomena, their perception varies depending on each individual’s preconceived models and hence very superficial, the actual object, which he called the noumenon, is not observable. Thus, he contradicted his own empiricist approach and therefore, left some serious doubts, unanswered. Hegel then expanded this theory, saying that the noumenon can be observed only by a rational and a disinterested eye and that pure, critical reasoning can help people expand from the phenomenon to the noumenon. He suggested that the person with such a high, critical reasoning is the Absolute, the ultimate being, the state which even a normal human being can attain through rigorous application of Reason. He believes that the human history is basically a phase of evolution for the Absolute to identify itself. He even considers this process of evolution as a Reasoned argument, the dialectic logic, following the stages of Thesis to Antithesis to Synthesis where the synthesis involves development of a new and more refined truth then the original Thesis. Hegel also justified wars as a process of an ongoing process of evolution. In fact, he felt that the evils of war were necessary in the process, for only then would there be a character of good, which would otherwise have no existence. This can lead to the conclusion that eventually there will be no wars since people would be in a higher state of development than in the past, though Hegel never mentioned anything about it. Feuerbach was among the first materialistic critics of Hegel stating that humans are the ultimate subjects in a material natural world and that any external ideas about the Absolute or God are completely empty. Marx was impressed with Feuerbach and developed an equally impressive theory. In fact, Marx’s theory is considered by many to be the Antithesis of Hegel’s synthesis. Marx, unlike Hegel’s linear flow of life, proposed a helical flow where history returns at the same point as his origin only at a slightly higher level than before. It is a highly positivistic approach stressing not on future, but on the present and leading to the outcome of science and technology development. It believes that human beings are the ultimate beings and that life is not a journey spent towards striving for the Absolute but in enjoying the optimum material wealth for everyone in the society. There are positive and negative points for both theories. Let’s start with Hegel.

Absolute is something that is eternal and fixed whereas Reason has all the flaws mentioned and hence cannot be the Absolute. Calling them as mere opinions of an inferior grade of logic is also not justified since even opinions are derived from a reasoning process done by an individual based on his assumptions and circumstances. Also. which is not explained by Hegel. but doesn’t explain anything after reaching the stage of Absolute. but Reason is not the correct path to observe that Noumenon since it only opens up several different options depending on several different assumptions. the threat of wars in the modern day is still very high and the consequences are much more devastating than they were in the past. honour. truthfulness. Likewise there would be several other possible assumptions that different people may have from different parts of the world and in same parts of the world as well. Even if an individual reaches the Absolute. So. So. what would be the scheme of activities after reaching the Absolute has not been discussed by Hegel. and no individual is superior enough to question the reason of another individual. Also. Also. which leads to a higher entropy in the society which leads to an increasing destabilization in the society and a higher scope for conflicts. the fact that since there are so many possible reasons. the same person may show different reasons at different points in his life. people in general have become more individualistic.The only solution to this dilemma is that among the infinite possibilities opened up by Reason because of infinite Assumptions. etc have been completely abandoned in the modern generation which are very important virtues to have. there has to be one divine way to truly identify the Noumenon. Not just that. This means that there has to be a specific way to truly be able to observe this Correct Path. Also.Hegel states that the noumenon can be observed only by the Absolute Being with the help of Reason. He explains the process of evolution as a cycle of Thesis. the grey areas making it increasingly difficult for people to judge by themselves about the distinction is also an indication towards declining human . some of the traditional virtues such as honesty. Despite the increase in prominence of critical reasoning. this means that his underlying claim of Reason being the Absolute itself does not hold true. how can Reason with so many flaws and variations be considered Absolute. Reason by itself is meaningless without its underlying assumptions. Hegel does not clearly specify if all individuals accomplish the Absolute at the same time or in different periods. Hegel has no justification for that. based on which Reason is applied. at least one is bound to be correct and can be assumed to be more closer to the Absolute than the others. Therefore. At a more subtle level. However. Its existence itself requires Assumptions and the further conclusion derived using Reason vary among individuals. his underlying assumption of a linear path in history toward achieving the Absolute has been proved to be wrong on a number of occasions and history has been proved that it actually heading towards a downward route instead of an ascending route. since these assumptions vary from person to person. each individual’s Reasons vary as well. Also. either. the existence of the noumenon is itself an assumption. which requires a force far greater than Reason. Marx does not acknowledge noumenon at all. Antithesis and Synthesis . the first point of criticism lies in the fact that even Reason requires inherent assumptions which should not be reasoned with which is against the fundamental idea of Reason. For example. the blurring of good and bad.

it will lead to reduced motivation among the workforce to work harder and differentiate themselves from others. it has a weakness over there. further increasing the gap. at its heart. most unique and important thing and this variation undermines that theory. which is not observed. Firstly. In Marxian approach. All other forms of ideas and philosophy are just used by the ruling class to their advantage but deceived to the common people and shown to be in their interests. he cannot avoid. all the different reasons are absolute and therefore there should be equality in a society. Marx’s materialistic approach stating that man is the Absolute in the nature and that the material world surrounding it is its true form. Extreme forms of communism would lead to wide income disparities which would eventually lead to mass protests and will then lead to communism and extreme communism would lead to gradually overall decreased quality of lifestyle and therefore will then be tempted to move back to the capitalistic system. therefore strives in achieving social equality between the different classes in the society since all humans are absolute. However. he hoped to bridge this gap and ensure more equitable distribution of resources and an efficient division of labout. involves man’s association in a society with its own rules and regulations. It states that historically there always have been huge differences between the rich nobility and the poor class. Marxian system. The rich have owned land and forced the poor to work at low prices. few possess the needed intellectual capacity to make the right decisions. However. there lie several problems as well. Marxian system propagates its own living lifestyle. rather it refuses to recognize any absolute. It. faculties and should enjoy the same benefits. how can there be so many variations between each individual in personality and ability. Also. due to the stress on equality. which is generally what people in power normally do. It therefore. removes the scope of individualism and therefore can lead not only to a lethargic society with minimal scopes of improvement from differentiation. Its approach inherently involves a cycle of governing systems from Capitalism to Communism in a spiral manner not circular with the difference accounted for by the technological/ scientific improvement. then all humans should be equal in terms of both. However.civilization. people will lack the motivation to improve themselves since they are already Absolute. which can be considered as one of the flaws of Marxian system. since human beings are absolute. It is an approach stressing on development of material gains and development of science and technology as a sign of human development. Absolute implies a singular. This can be pursued as an ideology but its inherent weakness lies in the fact that in such a system. material and mental. One of the major flaws in Marxian system is that it does not include any larger goals in life (pursuit towards the Absolute). By making man as the Absolute in nature. Even though people have the power to make their own choice in most things. It clarifies a lot of weaknesses in the Hegelian argument regarding the power of Reason. there is no purpose to life in this theory which makes it difficult to sustain . external from human beings present state. It is this social life which conditions the person’s thought processes and determines their consciousness. They also communicated the policies in such a way to protect their self interests. its approach is very limited in scope compare to the Hegelian approach. If human beings are the absolute. It propagates efficient division of labour to ensure optimum utilization of human faculties. If human beings are Absolute.

the role of reason cannot be underplayed.scientific/ technological progress as well which is an important aspect of this theory. by default assumes that all imperialist type governments are oppressive in nature. public friendly government system. Most humans have ended up spending their lives in such a spiral and also civilizations have risen and fallen in a similar pattern. incorporating some of Hegelian system can make it even more comprehensive than where it currently stands. Hegel more accurately represents what the human beings ought to be pursuing while Marx more accurately represents what the people have been doing and therefore provides a better explanation of history. the Marxian theory can become more complete. Also. this opportunity of becoming Absolute. The current Scandinavian government set up can be considered as an exception to the Marxist ideology. by ensuring a minimum income disparity between the rich and poor. Also. However. reason is the stepping stone which provides you an infinite options to make the right choice from. However. there are other forms of alternate society systems which have not been accounted for by either. in such situations. to include the route towards Absolute. Marxian system says that only a revolution can overthrow the existing social class in rule because they have all the political and land power. there is no room left for reason left in this theory since it is just an endless spiral of life of purposeless existence. The last two such great people were Lord Mahaveera and Lord Gautam Buddha. Here. not necessarily in the communist set up. This in essence has been historically repeated. you develop the special skill to choose the actual right choice from and that divine skill is imperative on the journey to the Absolute. time and again. Even though human civilization can be considered to be a spiral. the synergistic energy generated among the poor class is also very high directed towards overthrowing the ruling class. simply said. Therefore. Despite its flaws. the Marxian system can be considered to be providing a more accurate explanation of human history. In the role towards the Absolute. They have no need to negotiate with the weaker peasants and hence need to be overthrown by revolution. though the number of such people has been insignificant. but when every time the ruling class has oppressed the working class. subsequent to which. the government has ensured that neither the poorer class feels oppressed while the upper class feels that they are getting just rewards worth their efforts. there are opportunities for the individual to break out from the spiral to move towards the Absolute. In fact. around 2500 years ago and there hasn’t been any other person who has managed to escape from this spiral. Marx. Also. there are instances of several imperialist governments in India and China. It becomes even more relevant in the modern day when we have an indirect oppression from the capitalists and financial sector . which need to be replaced by a more equitable. where the Kings were virtuous men and ensured well being for all their citizens without the need for a revolution or the communist setup. Also. By incorporating. governing systems have also moved back and forth in a cyclical manner as predicted by the Marxian system.

though Marx has represented the situation in western culture with more effectiveness.employees. However. none of the two is truly comprehensive enough to cover the entire realm of history. who misused their positions for their personal gain putting the entire world economy at risk. .