Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Georg Hegel, fully Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

German Philosopher

"History in general is therefore the development of Spirit in Time, as Nature is the development of the Idea is Space."

"History is mind clothing itself with the form of events."

"History is not the soil in which happiness grows. The periods of happiness in it are the blank pages of history."

"History is not the soil of happiness. The periods of happiness are blank pages in it."

"History teaches us that people have never learned anything from history."

"History, is a conscious, self-meditating process — Spirit emptied out into Time."

"I believe that, in regard to the transitions (which can be nothing other than a mediation effected by means of the concept), I have made this much evident: that the methodical character of the progression is sufficiently distinct from the merely external order that the other sciences look for, as well as from a mannerism that has become customary in treating philosophical objects. This mannerism presupposes a schema and in the process sets up parallels among the materials just as externally as - and even more arbitrarily than - the first way does [i.e. the way of the other sciences]."

"I adhere to the view that the world spirit has given the age marching orders. These orders are being obeyed. The world spirit, this essential, proceeds irresistibly like a closely drawn armored phalanx advancing with imperceptible movement, much as the sun through thick and thin. Innumerable light troops flank it on all sides, throwing themselves into the balance for or against its progress, though most of them are entirely ignorant of what is at stake and merely take head blows as from an invisible hand."

"History... is, indeed, little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind."

"I can alienate to someone else and I can give him the use of my abilities only for a restricted period."

"If the state as such is in jeopardy, all its citizens are in duty bound to answer the summons to its defense."

"I saw the Emperor – this world-soul – riding out of the city on reconnaissance. It is indeed a wonderful sensation to see such an individual, who, concentrated here at a single point, astride a horse, reaches out over the world and masters it."

"If the mere expression of sorrow and joy relieves the heart, effusions of lyric poetry [have] a higher mission than not deliver the spirit of feeling, but to emancipate the feeling. Indeed, the blind domination of passion is that the soul identifies with her ??whole, to the point of not being able to break away, not able to contemplate and express itself. But poetry issue, indeed, the soul of this oppression by putting him in the eye its own image. It makes every sense accidental purified object, in which the soul free postage back to itself in the consciousness issued and found her there."

"If you want to love you must serve, if you want freedom you must die."

"I possess my life and my body, like other things, only in so far as my will is in them."

"If we say ‘all animals’, that does not pass for zoology; for the same reason we see at once that the words absolute, divine, eternal, and so on do not express what is implied in them."

"If we are in a general way permitted to regard human activity in the realm of the beautiful as a liberation of the soul, as a release from constraint and restriction, in short to consider that art does actually alleviate the most overpowering and tragic catastrophes by means of the creations it offers to our contemplation and enjoyment, it is the art of music which conducts us to the final summit of that ascent to freedom."

"I'm not ugly, but my beauty is a total creation."

"If we go on to cast a look at the fate of world historical personalities... we shall find it to have been no happy one. They attained no calm enjoyment; their whole life was labor and trouble; their whole nature was nothing but their master passion. When their object is attained they fall off like empty hulls from the kernel. They die early, like Alexander; they are murdered, like Casear; transported to St. Helena, like Napoleon."

"Impulses must be freed from the form of direct subjection to nature."

"Impatience asks for the impossible, wants to reach the goal without the means of getting there. The length of the journey has to be borne with, for every moment is necessary."

"In a true tragedy, both parties must be right."

"In every dualistic system, and especially in that of Kant, the fundamental defect makes itself visible in the inconsistency of unifying at one moment what a moment before had been explained to be independent and therefore incapable of unification. And then, at the very moment after unification has been alleged to be the truth, we suddenly come upon the doctrine that the two elements which, in their true state of unification, had been refused all independent subsistence, are only true and actual in their state of separation. Philosophizing of this kind wants the little penetration needed to discover, that this shuffling only evidences how unsatisfactory each one of the two terms is. And it fails simply because it is incapable of bringing two thoughts together."

"In history, we are concerned with what has been and what is; in philosophy, however, we are concerned not with what belongs exclusively to the past or to the future, but with that which is, both now and eternally — in short, with reason."

"In general, imperfect philosophies immediately pertain to [i.e., arise from] an empirical necessity just because they are imperfect. So it is through and in this empirical necessity that their imperfect aspect is to be comprehended."

"In considering the freedom of the will, we may recall the old method of cognition. The procedure was to presuppose the idea of the will and to attempt to establish a definition of the will by deriving it from that idea; then the so-called 'proof' of the will's freedom was extracted, in the manner of the old empirical psychology, from the various feelings and phenomena of the ordinary consciousness, such as remorse, guilt, and the like, by maintaining that they were to be explained only in the light of a will that was free. But it is more convenient of course to arrive at the same point by taking the short cut of supposing that freedom is given as a `fact of consciousness' and that we must simply believe in it!"

"In connection with the judgment of impulses, this dialectic appears in the following form: (a) As immanent and so positive, the determinations of the immediate will are good; thus man is said to be by nature good. (b) But, in so far as these determinations are natural and thus are in general opposed to freedom and the concept of mind, and hence negative, they must be uprooted, and so man is said to be by nature evil. — At this point a decision in favor of either thesis depends equally on subjective arbitrariness."

"In my view – a view which the developed exposition of the system itself can alone justify – everything depends on grasping and expressing the ultimate truth not as Substance but as Subject as well."

"In my Phenomenology of the Spirit, which on that account was at its publication described as the first part of the System of Philosophy, the method adopted was to begin with the first and simplest phase of mind, immediate consciousness, and to show how that stage gradually of necessity worked onward to the philosophical point of view, the necessity of that view being proved by the process. But in these circumstances it was impossible to restrict the quest to the mere form of consciousness. For the stage of philosophical knowledge is the richest in material and organization, and therefore, as it came before us in the shape of a result, it presupposed the existence of the concrete formations of consciousness, such as individual and social morality, art and religion. In the development of consciousness, which at first sight appears limited to the point of form merely, there is thus at the same time included the development of the matter or of the objects discussed in the special branches of philosophy. But the latter process must, so to speak, go on behind consciousness, since those facts are the essential nucleus which is raised into consciousness. The exposition accordingly is rendered more intricate, because so much that properly belongs to the concrete branches is prematurely dragged into the introduction. The survey which follows in the present work has even more the inconvenience of being only historical and inferential in its method. But it tries especially to show how the questions men have proposed, outside the school, on the nature of Knowledge, Faith, and the like - questions which they imagine to have no connection with abstract thoughts - are really reducible to the simple categories, which first get cleared up in Logic."

"In Nature there happens ‘nothing new under the sun’."

"In particularity and individuality, mind glimmers in them as the power of reason in necessity."

"In public opinion all is false and true, but to discover the truth in it is the business of the great man. The great man of his time is he who expresses the will and the meaning of that time, and then brings it to completion; he acts according to the inner spirit and essence of his time, which he realizes. And he who does not understand how to despise public opinion, as it makes itself heard here and there, will never accomplish anything great."

"In the case of a philosophical work it seems not only superfluous, but, in view of the nature of philosophy, even inappropriate and misleading to begin, as writers usually do in a preface, by explaining the end the author had in mind, the circumstances which gave rise to the work, and the relation in which the writer takes it to stand to other treatises on the same subject, written by his predecessors or his contemporaries."

"In the case of various kinds of knowledge, we find that what in former days occupied the energies of men of mature mental ability sinks to the level of information, exercises, and even pastimes, for children; and in this educational progress we can see the history of the world’s culture delineated in faint outline. This bygone mode of existence has already become an acquired possession of the general mind, which constitutes the substance of the individual, and, by thus appearing externally to him, furnishes his inorganic nature. In this respect culture or development of mind (Bildung), regarded from the side of the individual, consists in his acquiring what lies at his hand ready for him, in making its inorganic nature organic to himself, and taking possession of it for himself. Looked at, however, from the side of universal mind qua general spiritual substance, culture means nothing else than that this substance gives itself its own self-consciousness, brings about its own inherent process and its own reflection into self."

"In the case of all other sciences, arts, skills, and crafts, everyone is convinced that a complex and laborious programme of learning and practice is necessary for competence. Yet when it comes to philosophy, there seems to be a currently prevailing prejudice to the effect that, although not everyone who has eyes and fingers, and is given leather and last, is at once in a position to make shoes, everyone nevertheless immediately understands how to philosophize."

"In the course of history two factors are important. One is the preservation of a people, a state, of the well-ordered spheres of life. This is the activity of individuals participating in the common effort and helping to bring about its particular manifestations. The other important factor, however, is the decline of a state. The existence of a national spirit is broken when it has used up and exhausted itself. This development is connected with the degradation, destruction, annihilation of the preceding mode of actuality which the concept of the Spirit had evolved. This is the result, on the one hand, of the inner development of the Idea and, on the other, of the activity of individuals, who are its agents and bring about its actualization. It is at this point that appear those momentous collisions between existing, acknowledged duties, laws, and rights and those possibilities which are adverse to this system, violate it, and even destroy its foundations and existence."

"In the course of the actual attainment of selfish ends--an attainment conditioned in this way by universality--there is formed a system of complete interdependence, wherein the livelihood, happiness, and legal status of one man is interwoven with the livelihood, happiness, and rights of all. On this system, individual happiness, etc. depend, and only in this connected system are they actualized and secured."

"In the demand for the purification of impulses there lies the general notion that they should be freed both from their form as immediate and natural determinations, and also from the subjectivity and contingency of their content, and so brought back to their substantial essence. The truth behind this vague demand is that the impulses should become the rational system of the will's volitions. To grasp them like that, proceeding out of the concept of the will, is the content of the philosophical science of right."

"In the history of philosophy the different stages of the logical idea assume the shape of successive systems, each based on a particular definition of the Absolute. As the logical Idea is seen to unfold itself in a process from the abstract to the concrete, so in the history of philosophy the earliest systems are the most abstract, and thus at the same time the poorest. The relation too of the earlier to the later systems of philosophy is much like the relation of the corresponding stages of the logical Idea: in other words, the earlier are preserved in the later: but subordinated and submerged. This is the true meaning of a much misunderstood phenomenon in the history of philosophy – the refutation of one system by another, of an earlier by a later. Most commonly the refutation is taken in a purely negative sense to mean that the system refuted has ceased to count for anything, has been set aside and done for. Were it so, the history of philosophy would be, of all studies, most saddening, displaying, as it does, the refutation of every system which time has brought forth. Now although it may be admitted that every philosophy has been refuted, it must be in an equal degree maintained that no philosophy has been refuted. And that in two ways. For first, every philosophy that deserves the name always embodies the Idea: and secondly, every system represents one particular factor or particular stage in the evolution of the Idea. The refutation of a philosophy, therefore, only means that its barriers are crossed, and its special principle reduced to a factor in the completer principle that follows."

"In the Soul is the awaking of Consciousness: Consciousness sets itself up as Reason, awaking at one bound to the sense of its rationality: and this Reason by its activity emancipates itself to objectivity and the consciousness of its intelligent unity."

"In their objective sense, the three figures of the syllogism declare that everything rational is manifested as a triple syllogism; that is to say, each one of the members takes in turn the place of the extremes, as well as of the mean which reconciles them. Such, for example, is the case with the three branches of philosophy: the Logical Idea, Nature, and Mind. As we first see them, Nature is the middle term which links the others together. Nature, the totality immediately before us, unfolds itself into the two extremes of the Logical Idea and Mind. But Mind is Mind only when it is mediated through nature. Then, in the second place, Mind, which we know as the principle of individuality, or as the actualizing principle, is the mean; and Nature and the Logical Idea are the extremes. It is Mind which cognizes the Logical Idea in Nature and which thus raises Nature to its essence. In the third place again the Logical Idea itself becomes the mean: it is the absolute substance both of mind and of nature, the universal and all-pervading principle."

"In the tool the subjectivity of labor is raised to something universal. Anyone can make a similar tool and work with it. To this extent the tool is the persistent norm of labor."

"Infinity or the concept is so directly opposed to this absoluteness of the empirical and finite being (Wesen) that they condition one another and they are one with each other. Since the one is absolute in its being-for-itself, so is the other; and the third, which is the true first, the eternal, is beyond this antithesis."

"Into all that becomes something inward for men, an image or conception as such, into all that he makes his own, language has penetrated ... logic must certainly be said to be the supernatural element which permeates every relationship of man to nature, his sensation, intuition, desire, need, instinct, and simply by so doing transforms it into something human, even though only formally human, into ideas and purposes."

"International law springs from the relations between autonomous states."

"It follows that man has his actual substantive life in the state, in learning, and so forth, as well as in labor and struggle with the external world and with himself so that it is only out of his diremption that he fights his way to self-subsistent unity with himself. In the family he has a tranquil intuition of this unity, and there he lives a subjective ethical life on the plane of feeling. Woman, on the other hand, has her substantive destiny in the family, and to be imbued with family piety is her ethical frame of mind."

"It follows that if states disagree, the matter can only be settled by war."

"It is because the method of physics does not satisfy the comprehension that we have to go on further."

"It has been rightly said of the true that it is index sui et falsi [the sign of itself and the false], but that the true is not known [gewusst] on the basis of the false. So, too, the concept is the understanding of itself and of the form lacking a concept, but the latter does not, on the basis of its inner truth, understand the concept."

"It has become a common jest in history to let great effects arise from small causes."