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G.F.W.

HEGEL

The Zeitgeist
Lectures on the
Philosophy of History,
1830-31
History for Hegel is not merely
an ordered set of events, but
rather something deeper in
the being of a people.
There are two aspects in
Hegels view of this deeper history. The first is Idea which is
the truth leading peoples, and
by extension the world. Hegel,
however, is going to focus on
the Spirit which is the will
driving history.
In his view, this will is both
rational and necessitated
which has the implication of a
strong destiny in that driving
and one that can be understood by reasoned discourse.
This is a clear statement, albeit
an axiomatic one as can be
seen in the equivocation in
green calling Reasons initiation a conviction and intuition.
Given this, Hegel is convinced
that Reason is to be the philosophical tool to understand
history in that history itself, by
his intuition, has a rational
process.

It must be remarked that, when


Reflective History has advanced to the
adoption of general points of view, if
the position taken is a true one, these
are found to constitute not a merely
external thread, a superficial series
but are the inward guiding soul of the
occurrences and actions that occupy a
nations annals.
For, like the soul-conductor Mercury,
the Idea is in truth, the leader of
peoples and of the World; and Spirit,
the rational and necessitated will of
that conductor, is and has been the
director of the events of the Worlds
History. To become acquainted with
Spirit in this its office of guidance, is the
object of our present undertaking.
The only Thought which Philosophy
brings with it to the contemplation of
History, is the simple conception of
Reason; that Reason is the Sovereign of
the World; that the history of the world
therefore, presents us with a rational
process. This conviction and intuition
is a hypothesis in the domain of history
as such.

In that of Philosophy it is no hypothesis. It is thereproved by speculative


cognition, that Reason -and this term
may here suffice us, without investigating
the relation sustained by the Universe
to the Divine Being, - is Substance, as
well as Infinite Power; its own Infinite
Materialunderlying all thenatural and
spiritual life whichit originates, as also
the Infinite Form, -that which sets this
Material in motion.

Given his speculative cognition (axiomatic assumption),


Hegel states that theres no
need to bring God into the
picture. Reason will suffice
both for an understanding
of Substance and Infinite
power.
The first is the stuff of the
world and the second is the
dynamic energy shaping history over time, together they
make up the Infinite Material underlying everything.
Another way of seeing this is
as Form ( for all you architects) which brings together
material and motion.

The only Thought which Philosophy


brings with it to the contemplation of
History, is the simple conception of
Reason; that Reason is the Sovereign of
the World; that the history of the world
therefore, presents us with a rational
process. This conviction and intuition
is a hypothesis in the domain of history
as such.

This is a clear statement, albeit


an axiomatic one as can be
seen in the equivocation in
green calling Reasons initiation a conviction and intuition.
Given this, Hegel is convinced
that Reason is to be the philosophical tool to understand
history in that history itself, by
his intuition, has a rational
process. The real revelation or
final aim of our world and the
passing of time is not salvaThe

This is pretty clear by itself.


Again a reiteration of the dual
aspects of material and energy.
History becomes almost a
kind of societal physics.

History is everything.
There is a circularity here
which supports history without an external agent like God
to drive it forward.
No need for an end of days
where God will resolve all the
loose ends of Creation.

On the one hand,Reason is the substance of the Universe; viz. that by


which and in which all reality hasits
being and subsistence.
On theother hand, it is the Infinite
Energy of the Universe; since Reason is
not so powerless as to be incapable of
producing anything but a mere ideal, a mere intention -having its place
outside reality, nobody knows where;
something separate and abstract, in the
heads of certain human beings.
It is the infinite complex of things, their
entire Essence and Truth. It is its own
material which it commits to its own
Active Energy to work up; not needing,
as finite action does, the conditions of an
external material of given means from
which it may obtain its support, and the
objects of its activity.
It supplies its own nourishment and is
the object of its own operations.

While it is exclusively its own basis of


existence, and absolute final aim, it is
also the energising power realising this
aim; developing it not only in the phenomena of the Natural, but also of the
Spiritual Universe -the History of the
World.
That this Idea orReason is the True,
the Eternal, the absolutely powerful
essence;
that it reveals itself in the World, and
that in that World nothing else is revealed but this and its honour and glory
-is the thesis which, as we have said, has
been proved in Philosophy and is here
regarded as demonstrated.

The real revelation or final aim


of our world and the passing
of time is not salvation, as in
previous ages, but the real
revelation is the world itself as
it comes into being under the
aegis of Reason.
QED.

This is Hegel writing ten years


earlier and is trying to understand free will.

According to the stages in the


development of the idea of the absolutely
free will,

According to the stages in the


development of the idea of the absolutely
free will,

Here, he is trying to link the


individual free will to the
first of a series of stages that
link it fist to its social setting
and then to history as a final
situation for its being.

A. The will is direct or immediate; its


conception is therefore abstract, i.e.,
personality, and its embodied reality is a
direct external thing. This is the sphere
of abstract or formal right.

C. The unity and truth of these two


abstract elements. The thought idea
of the good is realized both in the will
turned back into itself, and also in the
external world. Thus freedom exists as
real substance, which is quite as much
actuality and necessity as it is subjective
will. The idea here is its absolutely
universal existence, viz., ethical
observance.

This is the individual personality with his abstracted direct


connection to outward reality.
Here the individual is aware
internally of a relationship
with the outside world, Hegels
presented world (very Kantian here).
Internally the personality is
aware of a set of more universal rules for behavior shaping
its subjective will but the
world presents itself as an external field to test those rules.
The only reason for Hegel that
this relationship of the divided idea even exists is in that
dynamic interaction.
Which governs over the subjective will in this relation
of contrasts, the right of the
world or the right of the
idea?
Morality begins in this dynamic choice.

According to the stages in the


development of the idea of the absolutely
free will,
B. The will, passing out of external
reality, turns back into itself. Its phase
is subjective individuality, and it is
contrasted with the universal.
This universal is on its internal side
the good, and on its external side a
presented world, and these two sides are
occasioned only by means of each other.
In this sphere the idea is divided, and
exists in separate elements. The right
of the subjective will is in a relation of
contrast to the right of the world, or the
right of the idea. Here, however, the idea
exists only implicitly. This is the sphere
of morality.

Once the earlier moral dynamic is resolved in unity and


truth we can move into the
realm of ethics where moral
choices become the right
thing.
Here the moral choice is so unquestioningly correct that it is
actualized in the very fabric of
physical being, the world itself.
Ethical observance for Hegel
is absolutely free will. It is so
embedded in the actuality of
the world and universal existence that there is no need to
sweat the choices in the earlier
moral stage.

When we speak of right, we mean


not only civil right, which is the usual
significance of the word, but also
morality, ethical observance and worldhistory. These belong to this realm,
because the conception taking them in
their truth, brings them all together.

Free Will and the


Political Condition of
a People
Elements of the
Philosophy of Right, 1820

Here Hegel links the metaphysical discussion to real


aspects of our lives: family,
community, country (nation),
and world.
He takes this otherwise simple
progression that for most is
a social commonplace and
extends the position of the
individuals free particular
will into a broader layered
dependence.
He equates the individuals
position in the state with true
freedom.
In this early version of the
zeitgeist concept, he finally
places that free will into the
more universal and objective
(remember Reason) idea of
spirit of a nation, and beyond
to a family of national spirits
into the world spirit, whose
right is the highest.

According to the stages in the


development of the idea of the absolutely
free will
This ethical substance is again,
a. Natural spirit; the family,
b. The civic community, or spirit in its
dual existence and mere appearance,
c. The state, or freedom, which, while
established in the free self-dependence
of the particular will is also universal
and objective. This actual and organic
spirit (a) is the spirit of a nation, (b) is
found in the relation to one another of
national spirits, and (g) passing through
and beyond this relation is actualized
and revealed in world history as the
universal world-spirit, whose right is the
highest.

Free will, in order not to remain


abstract, must in the first instance give
itself reality; the sensible materials of
this reality are objects, i.e., external
things.
This first phase of freedom we shall
know as property. This is the sphere
of formal and abstract right, to which
belong property in the more developed
form of contract and also the injury of
right, i.e., crime and punishment. The
freedom, we have here, we name person,
or, in other words, the subject who is
free, and indeed free independently, and
gives himself a reality in things.
But this direct reality is not adequate to
freedom, and the negation of this phase
is morality.

Once the earlier moral dynamic is resolved in unity and


truth we can move into the
realm of ethics where moral
choices become the right
thing.
Here the moral choice is so unquestioningly correct that it is
actualized in the very fabric of
physical being, the world itself.
Ethical observance for Hegel
is absolutely free will. It is so
embedded in the actuality of
the world and universal existence that there is no need to
sweat the choices in the earlier
moral stage.

Morality supersedes the


individual security of freedom
offered by the contractual.
Freedom here is extended to a
negotiated relationship with
the external, as in the contractual, but now the good is realized not only for oneself but
also for the other in external
existence.
The good becomes an outside
goal that satisfies both the
needs of individual freedom
and the needs of external
reality.
You are not now just protecting yourself from the world
but are in active search of a
common universal end. You
are being a good person in the
eyes of others.

In morality I am beyond the freedom


found directly in this thing, and have
a freedom in which this directness is
superseded.
I am free in myself, i.e., in the subjective.
In this sphere we come upon my insight,
intention, and end, and externality is
established as indifferent.
The good is now the universal end,
which is not to remain merely internal
to me, but to realize itself. The subjective
will demands that its inward character,
or purpose, shall receive external reality,
and also that the good shall be brought
to completion in external existence.
Morality, like formal right, is also an
abstraction, whose truth is reached only
in ethical observance.

Hence ethical observance is the unity of


the will in its conception with the will of
the individual or subject.
The primary reality of ethical observance
is in its turn natural, taking the form
of love and feeling. This is the family.
In it the individual has transcended his
prudish personality, and finds himself
with his consciousness in a totality.
In the next stage is seen the loss of
this peculiar ethical existence and
substantive unity. Here the family falls
asunder, and the members become
independent one of another, being now
held together merely by the bond of
mutual need. This is the stage of the civic
community, which has frequently been
taken for the state.
But the state does not arise until we
reach the third stage, that stage of
ethical observance or spirit, in which
both individual independence and
universal substantivityare found in
gigantic union. The right of the state is,
therefore, higher than that of the other
stages. It is freedom in its most concrete
embodiment, which yields to nothing
but the highest absolute truth of the
world-spirit.

Hegel moves the individual


through a series of realities
which range from the most
natural, the family, to the most
developed, the state.
The intermediary stage, the
community is a kind of dissolution of the strong natural
family bonds but it not quite
the organic whole of the state.
The community remains a
negotiated reality, in Hegels
words, held together by a
bond of mutual need.
The state recapitulates free
and the organic, but limited,
place of the family but now in
a higher collective condition
of a gigantic union founded in
a common ethical observance
or spirit.
This right of the state for
Hegel is a higher transcendent freedom, his individual
independence and universal
substantivity(everything out
there) based on the commonality of the absolute truth of
the world-spirit.

The State
Lectures on the
Philosophy of History,
1830-31

In a Constitution the main feature


of interest is the self-development
of therational, that is, the political
condition of a people; the setting free
of the successive elements of the Idea:
so that the several powers in the State
manifest themselves as separate, -attain
their appropriate and special perfection,
-and yet in this independent condition,
work together for one object, and are
held together by it -i.e., form an organic
whole.
The State is thus the embodiment
of rational freedom,realizing and
recognizing itself in an objective form.
For its objectivity consists in this, -that
its successive stages are not merely ideal,
but are present in an appropriate reality;
and that in their separate and several
working, they are absolutely merged in
that agency by which the totality -the
soul -the individual unity -is produced,
and of which it is the result.

The next slides are a ten years


later development of Hegels
Philosophy of Right into a
better defined political theory.
The next slides will be useful
later in the course in understanding Marx and his ideas of
the class struggle.
No more comments until the
last slide in the Hegel series.

The State is the Idea of Spirit in the


external manifestation of human Will
and its Freedom. It is to the State,
therefore, that change in the aspect
of History indissolubly attaches itself;
and the successive phases of the Idea
manifest themselves in it as distinct
politicalprinciples.
The Constitutions under which WorldHistorical peoples have reached their
culmination, are peculiar to them; and
therefore do not present a generally
applicable political basis.

Among the latter we find the idea of


a Free Constitution admitting all the
citizens to a share in deliberations and
resolves respecting the affairs and laws
of the Commonwealth. ..
The so-called Representative
Constitution is that form of government
with which we connect the idea of a free
constitution, and this notion has become
a rooted prejudice.
On this theory People and Government
are separated. But there is a perversity
in this antithesis; an ill-intentioned
rusedesigned to insinuate that the People
are the totality of the State.

Besides, the basis of this view is the


principle of isolated individuality
-the absolute validity of the subjective
will -a dogma which we have already
investigated.
The great point is, that Freedom in its
Ideal conception has not subjective will
and caprice for its principle, but the
recognition of the universal will; and
that the process by which Freedom is
realised is the free development of its
successive stages.
The subjective will is a merely formal
determination -a carte blanche-not
including what it is that is willed.
Only the rational willis that universal
principle which independently
determines and unfolds its own being,
and develops its successive elemental
phases as organic members.

The paragraph in red is useful


in outlining the framework of
the Zeitgeist (spirit of the age
or time) concept. This shows
that the Zeitgeist is not an individual nature but a collective
one in the broadest material
and spiritual sense.
Hegel sees a continuum
between bottom to top the
physiography of a place, the
climate, the natural world,
the ancestral societies, the
development of the human
landscape or material property of the place, the creation
of institutions, the history of
a people during the creation
of the previous, the trials, the
glories, and the stories that
bind the people together.
This is the spirit or Reason
operating in history for that
society and the creation for
the individual of the broader
Spirit of his Time to use Hegels more exact phrase.

Summing up what has been said of the


State, we find that we have been led to
call its vital principle, as actuating the
individuals who compose it, -Morality.

Universal history shews the


development of the consciousness of
Freedom on the part of Spirit, and of the
consequent realization of that Freedom.

The State, its laws, its arrangements,


constitute the rights of its members; its
natural features, its mountains, air, and
waters, are theircountry, their fatherland,
their outward material property; the
history of this State, their deeds; what
their ancestors have produced, belongs
to them and lives in their memory.
All is their possession, just as they are
possessed by it; for it constitutes their
existence, their being.

This development implies a gradation


-a series of increasingly adequate
expressions or manifestations of
Freedom, which result from its Idea.
The logical, and -as still more prominent
-the dialectical nature of the Idea in
general, viz. that it is self-determined
-that it assumes successive forms which
it successively transcends; and by this
very process of transcending its earlier
stages, gains an affirmative, and, in fact,
a richer and more concrete shape; -this
necessity of its nature, and the necessary
series of pure abstract forms which the
Idea successively assumes -is exhibited
in the department of Logic.