Ideas from 'works' by Georg W.F.Hegel [1812], by Theme Structure

green numbers give full details    |     back to texts     |     unexpand these ideas


1. Philosophy / B. History of Ideas / 5. Later European Thought
Hegel produced modern optimism; he failed to grasp that consciousness never progresses
                        Full Idea: Hegel is chiefly responsible for modern optimism. How could he have failed to see that consciousness changes only its forms and modalities, but never progresses.
                        From: report of Georg W.F.Hegel (works [1812]) by E.M. Cioran - A Short History of Decay 5
1. Philosophy / C. History of Philosophy / 4. Later European Philosophy / d. Nineteenth century philosophy
Hegel was the last philosopher of the Book
                        Full Idea: Hegel was the last philosopher of the Book.
                        From: report of Georg W.F.Hegel (works [1812]) by Jacques Derrida - Positions p.64
                        A reaction: Reference to 'the Book' connects this to the great religions which rely on one holy text. The implication is that Hegel was proposing one big solution to all problems. It is doubtful if many philosophers before Hegel dreamt of that either.
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 1. Nature of Metaphysics
Hegel doesn't storm the heavens like the giants, but works his way up by syllogisms
                        Full Idea: Hegel is a Johannes Climacus who does not storm the heavens, like the giants, by putting mountain upon mountain, but climbs aboard them by way of his syllogisms.
                        From: comment on Georg W.F.Hegel (works [1812]) by SÝren Kierkegaard - The Journals of Kierkegaard 2A
                        A reaction: [Idea from SY] This appears to be an attempt at insulting Hegel for his timidity, but it seems to be describing the cautious approach which most modern philosophers take to be correct. [PG]
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 3. Metaphysical Systems
For Hegel, things are incomplete, and contain external references in their own nature
                        Full Idea: The basis of Hegel's system is that what is incomplete must not be self-subsistent, and needs the support of other things; whatever has relations to things outside itself must contain some reference to those outside things in its own nature.
                        From: report of Georg W.F.Hegel (works [1812]) by Bertrand Russell - Problems of Philosophy Ch.14
                        A reaction: This leads to the idealist doctrine of 'internal relations'. It has some plausibility if you think about the physicist's definition of mass, which has to refer to forces etc. Presumably there is one essence for all of reality, instead of separate ones.
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 7. Against Metaphysics
On the continent it is generally believed that metaphysics died with Hegel
                        Full Idea: In continental Europe it is widely believed that the metaphysical game was played out in Hegel.
                        From: comment on Georg W.F.Hegel (works [1812]) by Josť A. Benardete - Metaphysics: the logical approach Intro
2. Reason / B. Laws of Thought / 2. Sufficient Reason
Making sufficient reason an absolute devalues the principle of non-contradiction
                        Full Idea: Hegel saw that the absolutization of the principle of sufficient reason (which marked the culmination of the belief in the necessity of what is) required the devaluation of the principle of non-contradiction.
                        From: report of Georg W.F.Hegel (works [1812], 3) by Quentin Meillassoux - After Finitude; the necessity of contingency 3
                        A reaction: I pass this on without understanding it, though a joint study of my collection of ideas on sufficient reason and non-contradiction might make it clear. [Let me know if you can explain it!]
2. Reason / C. Styles of Reason / 1. Dialectic
Rather than in three stages, Hegel presented his dialectic as 'negation of the negation'
                        Full Idea: Hegel's 'dialectic' is often characterised in terms of the triad of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. This is, however, not the way he presents it. The core of the dialectic is rather what Hegel terms the 'negation of the negation'.
                        From: report of Georg W.F.Hegel (works [1812]) by Andrew Bowie - Introduction to German Philosophy
                        A reaction: Interestingly, this connects it to debates about intuitionist logic, which denies that double-negation necessarily makes a positive. Presumably Marx emphasised the first reading.
5. Theory of Logic / E. Structures of Logic / 2. Logical Connectives / c. not
Negation of negation doubles back into a self-relationship
                        Full Idea: For Hegel, the 'negation of negation' is negation that, as it were, doubles back on itself and 'relates itself to itself'.
                        From: report of Georg W.F.Hegel (works [1812]) by Stephen Houlgate - An Introduction to Hegel 6 'Space'
                        A reaction: [ref VNP 1823 p.108] Glad we've cleared that one up.
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 3. Being / c. Becoming
The dialectical opposition of being and nothing is resolved in passing to the concept of becoming
                        Full Idea: The concept of being contains within itself it own negation - nothing - and the dialectical opposition between these two concepts is resolved only in the passage to a new concept, becoming, which contains the truth of the passage from nothing to being.
                        From: report of Georg W.F.Hegel (works [1812]) by Roger Scruton - Short History of Modern Philosophy Ch.12
                        A reaction: The idea that one concept 'contains' another, or that an opposition could be 'resolved' by a new concept, sounds doubtful to me. For most analytical philosophers, and for Aristotle, oppositions are contradictions, and cannot and should not be 'resolved'.
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 5. Reason for Existence
Hegel gives an ontological proof of the existence of everything
                        Full Idea: It would not be unfair to say that Hegel's metaphysics consists of an ontological proof of the existence of everything.
                        From: report of Georg W.F.Hegel (works [1812]) by Roger Scruton - Short History of Modern Philosophy Ch.12
                        A reaction: This is so gloriously far from David Hume that we must all find some appeal in it. The next question would be whether necessary existence has been proved. If so, given death, decay and entropy, what is it that has to exist? 2nd Law of Thermodynamics?
7. Existence / E. Categories / 4. Category Realism
For Hegel, categories shift their form in the course of history
                        Full Idea: For Hegel, the categories of thought are not fixed, eternal forms that remain unchanged throughout history, but are concepts that alter their meaning in history.
                        From: report of Georg W.F.Hegel (works [1812]) by Stephen Houlgate - An Introduction to Hegel 01
                        A reaction: This results from a critique of Kant's rather rigid view of categories. This idea is very influential, and certainly counts among Hegel's better ideas.
Our concepts and categories disclose the world, because we are part of the world
                        Full Idea: For Hegel, the structure of our concepts and categories is identical with, and thus discloses, the structure of the world itself, because we ourselves are born into and so share the character of the world we encounter.
                        From: report of Georg W.F.Hegel (works [1812]) by Stephen Houlgate - An Introduction to Hegel 01
                        A reaction: This is a reasonable speculation, but it makes more sense in the context of natural selection, and an empiricist theory of concepts.
7. Existence / E. Categories / 5. Category Anti-Realism
Hegel said Kant's fixed categories actually vary with culture and era
                        Full Idea: Hegel's disagreement with Kant is that categories are not unambiguously universal forms of human understanding, but are conceived in subtly different ways in different cultures and in different historical epochs.
                        From: report of Georg W.F.Hegel (works [1812]) by Stephen Houlgate - Hegel p.95
                        A reaction: This may be Hegel's most influential idea. Though he hoped that categories would contain truth, by arising untrammelled from reason, and thereby matching reality. His successors seem to have given up on that hope, and settled for relativism.
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 5. A Priori Synthetic
Hegel reputedly claimed to know a priori that there are five planets
                        Full Idea: Hegel is reputed to have claimed to have deduced on a priori grounds that the number of planets is exactly five.
                        From: report of Georg W.F.Hegel (works [1812]) by Hartry Field - Recent Debates on the A Priori 1
                        A reaction: Even if this is a wicked travesty of Hegel, it will do nicely to represent the extremes of claims to a priori synthetic knowledge. Field doesn't offer any evidence. I would love it to be true.
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 1. Existentialism
Humans have no fixed identity, but produce and reveal their shifting identity in history
                        Full Idea: For Hegel, the absolute truth of humanity is that human beings have no fixed, given identity, but rather determine and produce their own identity and their world in history, and that they gradually come to the recognition of this fact in history.
                        From: report of Georg W.F.Hegel (works [1812]) by Stephen Houlgate - An Introduction to Hegel 01
                        A reaction: This quintessentially existentialist idea, most obvious in Sartre, seems to have originated with this view of Hegel's.
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 1. A People / c. A unified people
Hegel's Absolute Spirit is the union of human rational activity at a moment, and whatever that sustains
                        Full Idea: We may take Hegel's Absolute Spirit to be the union of collective, human rational activity at a historical moment with its proper object, the forms of social and individual life that the rational activity is devoted to understanding and sustaining.
                        From: report of Georg W.F.Hegel (works [1812]) by Richard Eldridge - G.W.F. Hegel (aesthetics) 1
                        A reaction: From this formulation it sounds as if the whole human race might have momentary union, but presumably it is more local 'peoples' that can exhibit this.
25. Society / B. The State / 2. State Legitimacy / d. Social contract
Society isnít founded on a contract, since contracts presuppose a society
                        Full Idea: For Hegel, society cannot be founded on a contract, since contracts have no reality until society is in place.
                        From: report of Georg W.F.Hegel (works [1812]) by Roger Scruton - Modern Philosophy:introduction and survey 28.2
                        A reaction: Interesting, and reminiscent of the private language argument, but contracts surely start as deals between individuals (on a desert island?).
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 1. Nature
When man wills the natural, it is no longer natural
                        Full Idea: When man wills the natural, it is no longer natural.
                        From: Georg W.F.Hegel (works [1812]), quoted by Rosalind Hursthouse - On Virtue Ethics Ch.4
                        A reaction: Sounds good, though I'm not sure what it means. The application of the word 'natural' seems a bit arbitrary to me. No objective joint exists between the natural and unnatural. The default position has to be that everything is natural.
28. God / B. Proving God / 2. Proofs of Reason / a. Ontological Proof
Hegel's entire philosophy is nothing but a monstrous amplification of the ontological proof
                        Full Idea: Hegel's entire philosophy is nothing but a monstrous amplification of the ontological proof.
                        From: comment on Georg W.F.Hegel (works [1812]) by Arthur Schopenhauer - Abstract of 'The Fourfold Root' Ch.II
                        A reaction: All massive a priori metaphysics is summed up in this argument, which is right at the core of philosophy.
29. Religion / B. Monotheistic Religion / 4. Christianity / a. Christianity
Hegel said he was offering an encyclopaedic rationalisation of Christianity
                        Full Idea: Hegel claimed that his philosophy was nothing less than an encyclopaedic rationalisation of the Christian religion.
                        From: report of Georg W.F.Hegel (works [1812]) by Gordon Graham - Eight Theories of Ethics Ch.5
                        A reaction: Why did he pick Christianity to rationalise? How can you reason properly if you start with a dogma?