Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Georg Hegel, fully Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

German Philosopher

"Whatever happens, every individual is a child of his time; so philosophy too is its own time apprehended in thoughts. It is just as absurd to fancy that a philosophy can transcend its contemporary world as it is to fancy that an individual can overleap his own age, jump over Rhodes."

"When liberty is mentioned, we must always be careful to observe whether it is not really the assertion of private interests which is thereby designated."

"Whatever is reasonable is true, and whatever is true is reasonable."

"What we want is to combine in our process of inquiry the action of the forms of thought with a criticism of them. The forms of thought must be studied in their essential nature and complete development: they are at once the object of research and the action of that object. This is Dialectic, instead of being brought to bear upon the categories from without; it is immanent in their own action."

"When individuals and nations have once got in their heads the abstract concept of full- blown liberty, there is nothing like it in its uncontrollable strength, just because it is the very essence of mind, and that as its very actuality. Whole continents, Africa and the East, have never had this Idea, and are without it still. The Greeks and Romans, Plato and Aristotle, even the Stoics, did not have it. On the contrary, they saw that it is only by birth or by strength of character, education, or philosophy that the human being is actually free. It was through Christianity that this Idea came into the world. According to Christianity, the individual as such has an infinite value as the object and aim of divine love, destined as mind to live in absolute relationship with God himself, and have God's mind dwelling in him: i.e. man is implicitly destined to supreme freedom."

"When a father inquired about the best method of educating his son in ethical conduct, a Pythagorean replied: Make him a citizen of a state with good laws."

"What the will has decided to choose it can equally easily renounce. But its ability to go beyond any other choice which it may substitute, and so on ad infinitum, never enables it to get beyond its own finitude, because the content of every such choice is something other than the form of the will and therefore something finite, while the opposite of determinacy, namely indeterminacy, i.e. indecision or abstraction from any content, is only the other, equally one-sided, moment of the Will."

"When needs and means become abstract in quality, abstraction is also a character of the reciprocal relation of individuals to one another. This abstract character, universality, is the character of being recognized and is the moment which makes concrete, i.e. social, the isolated and abstract needs and their ways and means of satisfaction."

"When philosophy paints its grey on grey, then has a shape of life grown old. By philosophy's grey on grey it cannot be rejuvenated but only understood. The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk."

"When reflection is brought to bear on impulses, they are imaged, estimated, compared with one another, with their means of satisfaction and their consequences, etc., and with a sum of satisfaction (i.e. with happiness). In this way reflection invests this material with abstract universality and in this external manner purifies it from its crudity and barbarity. This growth of the universality of thought is the absolute value in educations."

"When philosophy paints its grey in grey, one form of life has become old, and by means of grey it cannot be rejuvenated, but only known. The owl of Minerva, takes its flight only when the shades of night are gathering."

"With us philosophy is not practiced as a private art, as it was by the Greeks, but has a public place, and should therefore be employed only in the service of the state."

"Yet alongside of this intellect which everywhere sees nothing but finitude in the truth of being, religion has its sublime aspect as feeling (Empfindung), the love filled with eternal longing; for it does not get hung up on any transitory sight (Anschauung) or enjoyment, it yearns for eternal beauty and bliss."

"When Philosophy with its abstractions paints grey in grey, the freshness and life of youth has gone, the reconciliation is not a reconciliation in the actual, but in the ideal world."

"When we walk the streets at night in safety, it does not strike us that this might be otherwise. This habit of feeling safe has become second nature, and we do not reflect on just how this is due solely to the working of special institutions. Commonplace thinking often has the impression that force holds the state together, but in fact its only bond is the fundamental sense of order which everybody possesses."

"World-historical actions culminate with individuals as subjects — living instruments of the World Mind."

"World history is not the verdict of mere might, but actualization of the universal mind."

"Yet it is all the more gratifying to perceive and to mention in conclusion how the philosophical interest and the earnest love of higher knowledge have maintained themselves, impartially and without conceit, against both of these orientations. If this interest now and then thrusts itself more into the form of an immediate knowing and feeling, it attests, on the other hand, to the inner drive of a rational insight that goes further and alone the necessity of the concept with contingent and arbitrary connections."