Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Georg Hegel, fully Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

German Philosopher

"As high as mind stands above nature, so high does the state stand above physical life. Man must therefore venerate the state as a secular deity.... The march of God in the world; that is what the State is."

"At the approach of this kind of syllogism we are at once seized with a feeling of boredom."

"Be a person and respect others as persons."

"Art’s vocation is to unveil the truth in the form of sensuous artistic configuration, to set forth the reconciled opposition just mentioned [the common world of earthly temporality, and a realm of thought and freedom], and so to have its end and aim in itself, in this very setting forth and unveiling."

"As for the individual, everyone is a son of his time; so philosophy also is its time apprehended in thoughts. It is just as foolish to fancy that any philosophy can transcend its present world, as that an individual could leap out of his time or jump over Rhodes."

"As for popular suffrage, it may be further remarked that especially in large states it leads inevitably to electoral indifference, since the casting of a single vote is of no significance where there is a multitude of electors. Even if a voting qualification is highly valued and esteemed by those who are entitled to it, they still do not enter the polling booth."

"But before the science lies the rich content produced by centuries and millennia of the activity of knowing for itself. Moreover, it lies before science, not as though it were something historical that only others possessed and for us is in the past, something we concern ourselves with merely to become acquainted with it and to remember it and to develop acuity in criticizing narratives in short, something irrelevant to knowledge of the spirit and interest in the truth. Religions, philosophies, and works of art have brought to the light of day the most sublime, the most profound and the innermost dimensions of things and done so in pure and impure, clear and clouded, often rather repugnant form."

"But the other side of its Becoming, History, is a conscious, self-meditating process — Spirit emptied out into Time; but this externalization, this kenosis, is equally an externalization of itself; the negative is the negative of itself. This Becoming presents a slow-moving succession of Spirits, a gallery of images, each of which, endowed with all the riches of Spirit, moves thus slowly just because the Self has to penetrate and digest this entire wealth of its substance. As its fulfillment consists in perfectly knowing what it is, in knowing its substance, this knowing is that withdrawal into itself in which it abandons its outer existence and gives its existential shape over to recollection. Thus absorbed in itself, it is sunk in the night of its self-consciousness; but in that night its vanished outer existence is preserved and this transformed existence — the former one, but now reborn of the Spirit's knowledge — is the new existence, a new world and a new shape of Spirit. In the immediacy of this new existence the Spirit has to start afresh to bring itself to maturity as if, for it, all that preceded were lost and it had learned nothing from the experience of the earlier Spirits. But recollection, the inwardizing, of that experience, has perserved it and is the inner-being, and in fact the higher form of the substance. So although to bring itself to maturity, it is none the on a higher level that it starts. The realm of Spirits which is formed in this way in the outer world constitutes a succession in Time in which one Spirit relieved another of its charge and each took over the empire of the world from its predecessor. Their goal is the revelation of the depth of Spirit, and this is the absolute Notion. This revelation is, therefore, the raising-up of its depth, or its extension, the negativity of this withdrawn 'I', a negativity which is its externalization or its substance; and this revelation is also a Notion's Time, in that this externalization is in its own self externalized, and just as it is in its extension, so it is equally in its depth, in the Seld. The goal, Absolute Knowing, or Spirit that knows itself as Spirit, has for its path the recollection of the Spirits as they are in themselves and as they accomplish the organization of their realm. Their preservation, regarded from the side of their free existence appearing in the form of contingency, is History; but regarded from the side of their comprehended organization, it is the Science of Knowing in the sphere of appearance: the two together, comprehended History, form alike the inwardizing and the Calvary of the absolute Spirit, the actuality, truth, and certainty of his throne, without which he would be life and alone. Only from the chalice of this realm of spirits foams forth for Him his own infinitude."

"Before the end of Time will be the end of History. Before the end of History will be the end of Art."

"But what is Spirit? It is the one immutably homogeneous Infinite - pure Identity - which in its second phrase separates itself from itself and makes this second aspect its own polar opposite, namely as existence for and in Self as contrasted with the Universal."

"Beauty and art, no doubt, pervade all business of life like a kindly genius, and form the bright adornment of all our surroundings, both mental and material, soothing the sadness of our condition and the embarrassments of real life, killing time in entertaining fashion, and where there’s nothing to be achieved, occupying the place of what is vicious, better, at any rate, than vice."

"By the act of reflection something is altered in the way in which the fact was originally presented in sensation, perception, or conception. Thus, as it appears, an alteration must be interposed before the true nature of the object can be discovered."

"But the life of Spirit is not the life that shrinks from death and keeps itself untouched by devastation, but rather the life that endures it and maintains itself in it. It wins its truth only when, in utter dismemberment, it finds itself.... Spirit is this power only by looking the negative in the face, and tarrying with it. This tarrying with the negative is the magical power that converts it into being. This power is identical with what we earlier called the Subject."

"By means of the simple folk remedy of ascribing to feeling what is the millennia-long labor of reason and of its understanding, all are spared the bother of rational insight and knowledge."

"But what experience and history teach is this—that peoples and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it."

"Because of its concrete content, sense-certainty immediately appears as the richest kind of knowledge, indeed a knowledge of infinite wealth for which no bounds can be found, either when we reach out into space and time in which it is dispersed, or when we take a bit of this wealth, and by division enter into it. Moreover, sense-certainty appears to be the truest knowledge ... but, in the event, this very certainty proves itself to be the most abstract and poorest truth. All that it says about what it knows is just that it is; and its truth contains nothing but the sheer being of the thing."

"Children are potentially free and their life directly embodies nothing save potential freedom. Consequently they are not things and cannot be the property either of their parents or others."

"Civilization has raised this latest era so far above the ancient antithesis of Reason and faith, of philosophy and positive religion that this opposition of faith and knowledge has acquired quite a different sense and has now been transferred into the field of philosophy itself. In earlier times philosophy was said to be the handmaid of faith…The question arises, however, whether victorious Reason has not suffered the same fate that the barbarous nations in their victorious strength have usually suffered at the hands of civilized nations that weakly succumbed to them…Enlightened Reason won a glorious victory over what it believed, in its limited conception of religion, to be faith as opposed to Reason. Yet seen in a clear light the victory comes to no more than this: the positive element with which Reason busied itself to do battle, is no longer religion, and victorious Reason is no longer Reason."

"Colonial independence proves to be of the greatest advantage to the mother country, just as the emancipation of slaves turns out to the greatest advantage of the owners."

"Dialectic has often been regarded as an art, as though it rested on a subjective talent and did not belong to the objectivity of the Notion."

"Civilized nations are justified in regarding as barbarians those who lag behind them in institutions."

"Conscience... lacks the power to externalize itself, the power to make itself into a Thing, and to endure being. It lives in dread of besmirching the splendor of its inner being by action and an existence; and in order to preserve the purity of its heart, it flees from contact with the actual world, and persists in its self-willed impotence to renounce its self which is reduced to the extreme of ultimate abstraction, and to give itself a substantial existence, or to transform its thought into being.... Its activity is a yearning which merely loses itself as consciousness becomes an object devoid of substance, and, rising above this loss, and falling back on itself, finds itself only as a lost soul. In this transparent purity of its moments, an unhappy, so-called 'beautiful soul,' its light dies away within it, and it vanishes like a shapeless vapor that dissolves into thin air."

"Common property that may be owned by separate persons is an inherently dissoluble partnership in which the retention of my share is explicitly a matter of my arbitrary preference."

"Discord which appears at first to be a lamentable breach and dissolution of the unity of a party, is really the crowning proof of its success."

"Each individual is the child of a people at a definite stage of its development. One cannot skip over the spirit of his people any more than one can skip over the earth. But only through his own effort can he be in harmony with his substance; he must bring the will demanded by his people to his own consciousness, to articulation. The individual does not invent his own content; he is what he is by acting out the universal as his own content. This universal content everyone must activate within himself."

"Dialectic is here understood in the grasping of opposites in their unity or of the positive in the negative."

"Each stage of world-history is a necessary moment in the Idea of the World Mind."

"Each of the parts of philosophy is a philosophical whole, a circle rounded and complete in itself. In each of these parts, however, the philosophical Idea is found in a particular specificality or medium. The single circle, because it is a real totality, bursts through the limits imposed by its special medium, and gives rise to a wider circle. The whole of philosophy in this way resembles a circle of circles. The Idea appears in each single circle, but, at the same time, the whole Idea is constituted by the system of these peculiar phases, and each is a necessary member of the organization."

"Every philosophy is complete in itself and, like a genuine work of art, contains the totality. Just as the works of Apelles and Sophocles, if Raphael and Shakespeare had known them, should not have appeared to them as mere preliminary exercises for their own work, but rather as a kindred force of the spirit, so, too reason cannot find in its own earlier forms mere useful preliminary exercises for itself."

"Enjoying however an absolute liberty, the Idea does not merely pass over into life: in its own absolute truth it resolves to let the ‘moment’ of its particularity, or of the first characterization and other-being, the immediate idea, as its reflected image, go forth freely as Nature."

"Even a slight experience in reflective thinking will make it apparent that if something has been defined as positive and one moves forward from this basis, then straightway the positive has secretly turned into a negative."

"Every representation is a generalization, and this is inherent in thought. To generalize something means to think it."

"Every individual being is some one aspect of the Idea."

"Existence as determinate being is in essence being for another."

"Evil resides in the very gaze which perceives Evil all around itself."

"Faith must now get what is essentially the form of mediation. It itself is already this form implicitly, for it is knowledge of God and of his character, and this knowledge is in itself a process, a movement-is life, mediation. It is involved in the very nature of the freedom which is the inner characteristic of faith, that it should not be what we at first called substantial, solid unity that it should not be idea; in freedom I exist on the contrary as that activity in the affirmation which is infinite negation of itself. Now if we should wish to give to mediation the form of an external mediation as the foundation of faith, then such a form would be a wrong one. This mediation, of which the basis is something external is false. The content of faith my indeed come to be my means of instruction, miracle, authority, etc. These may be the foundation of faith as subjective faith. But it is just in giving this position to the content whereby it assumes the character of a basis for me, that we go on a wrong track; and when faith is reached, this externality must drop away. In faith I make that my own which comes to me thus, and it ceases to be for me an Other. Immediate faith may be so defined as being the witness of the Spirit to Spirit, and this implies that no finite content has any place in it. Spirit witnesses only of Spirit, and only infinite things are mediated by means of external grounds. The true foundation of faith is the Spirit, and the witness of the Spirit is inherently living. Verification may at first appear in that external formal manner, but this must drop away. It may thus happen that faith in a religion has its commencement form such testimony, from miracles, that is in a finite content."

"Fire is materialized time."

"Everything depends on grasping and expressing the ultimate truth not as Substance but as Subject as well."

"For the fact of philosophy is knowledge that has already been prepared and, with this, the process of construing the matter would be a thinking over (Nachdenken) only in the sense of thinking that follows after the fact [nachfolgendes Denken]."

"Everything is inherently contradictory."

"Everybody allows that to know any other science you must have first studied it, and that you can only claim to express a judgment upon it in virtue of such knowledge. Everybody allows that to make a shoe you must have learned and practiced the craft of the shoemaker, though every man has a model in his own foot, and possesses in his hands the natural endowments for the operations required. For philosophy alone, it seems to be imagined, such study, care, and application are not in the least requisite"

"Experience is the real author of growth and advance of philosophy."

"For the nature of humanity is to impel men to agree with one another, and its very existence lies simply in the explicit realization of a community of conscious life."

"For these thousands of years the same Architect has directed the work: and that Architect is the one living Mind whose nature is to think."

"Formerly they had a heaven adorned with a vast wealth of thoughts and imagery. The meaning of all that is, hung on the thread of light by which it was linked to that heaven. Instead of dwelling in this world's presence, men looked beyond it, following this thread to an other-worldly presence, so to speak. The eye of the Spirit had to be forcibly turned and held fast to the things of this world; and it has taken a long time before the lucidity which only heavenly things used to have could penetrate the dullness and confusion in which the sense of worldly things was enveloped, and so make attention to the here and now as such, attention to what has been called 'experience', an interesting and valid enterprise. Now we seem to need just the opposite; sense is so fast rooted in earthly things that it requires just as much force to raise it. The Spirit shows itself as so impoverished that, like a wanderer in the desert craving for a mere mouthful of water, it seems to crave for its refreshment only the bare feeling of the divine in general. By the little which now satisfies Spirit, we can measure the extent of its loss."

"Freedom is the truth of necessity."

"Free speech is assured by the innocuous character which it acquires as a result of the stability of government."

"Here and there in this mesh there are firm knots which give stability and direction to the life and consciousness of spirit."

"From the point of view of others, I am in essence a free entity in my body."

"History as the slaughter-bench."