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The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Vol. VII. by Various

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Masterpieces of German Literature








* * * * *


#Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel#

The Life of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. By J. Loewenberg.

Introduction to the Philosophy of History. Translated by J. Sibree.

The Philosophy of Law. Translated by J. Loewenberg.

Introduction to the Philosophy of Art. Translated by J. Loewenberg.

#Bettina von Arnim#

The Life of Bettina von Arnim. By Henry Wood.

Goethe's Correspondence with a Child. Translated by Wallace Smith Murray.

#Karl Lebrecht Immermann#

Immermann and His Drama _Merlin_. By Martin Schuetze.

Immermann's _Muenchhausen_. By Allen Wilson Porterfield.

The Oberhof. Translated by Paul Bernard Thomas.

#Karl Ferdinand Gutzkow#

Gutzkow and Young Germany. By Starr Willard Cutting.

Sword and Queue. Translated by Grace Isabel Colbron.

German Lyric Poetry from 1830 to 1848. By John S. Nollen.

#Anastasius Gruen#

A Salon Scene. Translated by Sarah T. Barrows.

#Nikolaus Lenau#

Prayer. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork.

Sedge Songs. Translated by Kate Freiligrath-Kroeker.

Songs by the Lake. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork.

The Postilion. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork.

To the Beloved from Afar. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork.

The Three Gipsies. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork.

My Heart. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork.

#Eduard Moerike#

An Error Chanced. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork.

A Song for Two in the Night. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork.

Early Away. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork.

The Forsaken Maiden. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

Weyla's Song. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

Seclusion. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

The Soldier's Betrothed. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

The Old Weathercock: An Idyll. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

Think of It, My Soul. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

Erinna to Sappho. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

* * * * *

Mozart's Journey from Vienna to Prague. Translated by Florence Leonard

#Annette Elizabeth von Droste-Huelshoff#

Pentecost. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

The House in the Heath. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

The Boy on the Moor. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

On the Tower. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

The Desolate House. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

The Jew's Beech-Tree. Translated by Lillie Winter

#Ferdinand Freiligrath#

The Duration of Love. Translated by M.G. in _Chambers' Journal_

The Emigrants. Translated by C.T. Brooks

The Lion's Ride. Translated by C.T. Brooks

The Spectre-Caravan. Translated by J.C. Mangan

Had I at Mecca's Gate been Nourished. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

Wild Flowers. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

The Dead to the Living. Translated by Bayard Taylor

Hurrah, Germania! In _Pall Mall Gazette_, London

The Trumpet of Gravelotte. Translated by Kate Freiligrath-Kroeker

#Moritz Graf von Strachwitz#

Douglas of the Bleeding Heart. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork

#Georg Herwegh#

The Stirrup-Cup. Translated by William G. Howard

#Emanuel Geibel#

The Watchman's Song. Translated by A.I. du P. Coleman

The Call of the Road. Translated by A.I. du P. Coleman

Autumn Days. Translated by A.I. du P. Coleman

The Death of Tiberius. Translated by A.I. du P. Coleman


Arco. By Benno Becker

Georg Wilhelm Frederich Hegel. By Schlesinger

Royal Old Museum in Berlin. By Schinkel

Bettina von Arnim

The Goethe Monument. By Bettina von Arnim

Karl Lebrecht Immermann. By C.T. Lessing

The Master of the Oberhof. By Benjamin Vautier

The Oberhof. By Benjamin Vautier

The Freemen's Tribunal. By Benjamin Vautier

Lisbeth. By Benjamin Vautier

Oswald, the Hunter. By Benjamin Vautier

Karl Ferdinand Gutzkow

The Potsdam Guard. By Adolph von Menzel

King Frederick William I of Prussia. By R. Siemering

King Frederick William I and His "Tobacco Collegium". By Adolph von Menzel

Anastasius Gruen

Nikolaus Lenau

Evening on the Shore. By Hans am Ende

Eduard Moerike. By Weiss

Annette von Droste-Huelshoff

The Farm House. By Hans am Ende

Ferdinand Freiligrath. By J Hasenclever

Dusk on the Dead Sea. By Eugen Bracht

Death on the Barricade. By Alfred Rethel

George Herwegh

Emanuel Geibel. By Hader

Journeying. By Ludwig Richter



Assistant in Philosophy, Harvard University

Among students of philosophy the mention of Hegel's name arouses at once
a definite emotion. Few thinkers indeed have ever so completely
fascinated the minds of their sympathetic readers, or have so violently
repulsed their unwilling listeners, as Hegel has. To his followers Hegel
is the true prophet of the only true philosophic creed, to his
opponents, he has, in Professor James's words, "like Byron's corsair,
left a name 'to other times, linked with one virtue and a thousand

The feelings of attraction to Hegel or repulsion from him do not emanate
from his personality. Unlike Spinoza's, his life offers nothing to stir
the imagination. Briefly, some of his biographical data are as follows:
He was born at Stuttgart, the capital of Wuertemberg, August 27, 1770.
His father was a government official, and the family belonged to the
upper middle class. Hegel received his early education at the Latin
School and the Gymnasium of his native town. At both these institutions,
as well as at the University of Tuebingen which he entered in 1788 to
study theology, he distinguished himself as an eminently industrious,
but not as a rarely gifted student. The certificate which he received
upon leaving the University in 1793 speaks of his good character, his
meritorious acquaintance with theology and languages, and his meagre
knowledge of philosophy. This does not quite represent his equipment,
however, for his private reading and studies carried him far beyond the
limits of the regular curriculum. After leaving the University he spent
seven years as family tutor in Switzerland and in Frankfurt-on-the-Main.
Soon after, in 1801, we find him as _Privat-Docent_; then, in 1805, as
professor at the University of Jena. His academic activities were
interrupted by the battle of Jena. For the next two years we meet him as
an editor of a political journal at Bamberg, and from 1808 to 1816 as
rector of the Gymnasium at Nuremberg. He was then called to a
professorship of philosophy at Heidelberg. In 1818 he was called to
Berlin to fill the vacancy left by the death of Fichte. From this time
on until his death in 1831, he was the recognized dictator of one of the
most powerful philosophic schools in the history of thought.

It is no easy task to convey an adequate idea of Hegel's philosophy
within the limits of a short introduction. There is, however, one
central thought animating the vast range of his whole philosophic system
which permits of non-technical statement. This thought will be more
easily grasped, if we consider first the well-known concept of
permanence and change. They may be said to constitute the most
fundamental distinction in life and in thought. Religion and poetry have
always dwelt upon their tragic meaning. That there is nothing new under
the sun and that we are but "fair creatures of an hour" in an
ever-changing world, are equally sad reflections. Interesting is the
application of the difference between permanence and change to extreme
types of temperament. We may speak loosely of the "static" and the
"dynamic" temperaments, the former clinging to everything that is
traditional, conservative, and abiding in art, religion, philosophy,
politics, and life; the latter everywhere pointing to, and delighting
in, the fluent, the novel, the evanescent. These extreme types, by no
means rare or unreal, illustrate the deep-rooted need of investing
either permanence or change with a more fundamental value. And to the
value of the one or the other, philosophers have always endeavored to
give metaphysical expression.


Some thinkers have proclaimed change to be the deepest manifestation of
reality, while others have insisted upon something abiding behind a
world of flux. The question whether change or permanence is more
essential arose early in Greek philosophy. Heraclitus was the first one
to see in change a deeper significance than in the permanence of the
Eleatics. A more dramatic opposition than the one which ensued between
the Heracliteans and the Eleatics can scarcely be imagined--both schools
claiming a monopoly of reason and truth, both distrusting the senses,
and each charging the other with illusion. Now the significance of
Hegel's philosophy can be grasped only when we bear in mind that it was
just this profound distinction between the permanent and the changing
that Hegel sought to understand and to interpret. He saw more deeply
into the reality of movement and change than any other philosopher
before or after him.

Very early in his life, judging by the recently published writings of
his youth, Hegel became interested in various phases of movement and
change. The vicissitudes of his own inner or outer life he did not
analyze. He was not given to introspection. Romanticism and mysticism
were foreign to his nature. His temperament was rather that of the
objective thinker. Not his own passions, hopes, and fears, but those of
others invited his curiosity. With an humane attitude, the young Hegel
approached religious and historical problems. The dramatic life and
death of Jesus, the tragic fate of "the glory that was Greece and the
grandeur that was Rome," the discrepancies between Christ's teachings
and the positive Christian religion, the fall of paganism and the
triumph of the Christian Church--these were the problems over which the
young Hegel pondered. Through an intense study of these problems, he
discovered that evil, sin, longing, and suffering are woven into the
very tissue of religious and historical processes, and that these
negative elements determine the very meaning and progress of history and
religion. Thereupon he began a systematic sketch of a philosophy in
which a negative factor was to be recognized as the positive vehicle in
the development of the whole world. And thus his genius came upon a
method which revealed to him an orderly unfolding in the world with
stages of relative values, the higher developing from the lower, and all
stages constituting an organic whole.

The method which the young Hegel discovered empirically, and which the
mature rationalist applied to every sphere of human life and thought, is
the famous Dialectical Method. This method is, in general, nothing else
than the recognition of the necessary presence of a negative factor in
the constitution of the world. Everything in the world--be it a
religious cult or a logical category, a human passion or a scientific
law--is, so Hegel holds, the result of a process which involves the
overcoming of a negative element. Without such an element to overcome,
the world would indeed be an inert and irrational affair. That any
rational and worthy activity entails the encounter of opposition and the
removal of obstacles is an observation commonplace enough. A
preestablished harmony of foreseen happy issues--a fool's paradise--is
scarcely our ideal of a rational world. Just as a game is not worth
playing when its result is predetermined by the great inferiority of the
opponent, so life without something negative to overcome loses its zest.
But the process of overcoming is not anything contingent; it operates
according to a uniform and universal law. And this law constitutes
Hegel's most central doctrine--his doctrine of Evolution.

In order to bring this doctrine into better relief, it may be well to
contrast it superficially with the Darwinian theory of transformation.
In general, Hegel's doctrine is a concept of value, Darwin's is not.
What Darwinians mean by evolution is not an unfolding of the past, a
progressive development of a hierarchy of phases, in which the later is
superior and organically related to the earlier. No sufficient criterion
is provided by them for evaluating the various stages in the course of
an evolutionary process. The biologist's world would probably have been
just as rational if the famous ape-like progenitor of man had chanced to
become his offspring-assuming an original environment favorable for such
transformation. Some criterion besides the mere external and accidental
"struggle for existence" and "survival of the fittest" must be furnished
to account for a progressive evolution. Does the phrase "survival of the
fittest" say much more than that those who happen to survive _are_ the
fittest, or that their survival proves their fitness? But that survival
itself is valuable: that it is better to be alive than dead; that
existence has a value other than itself; that what comes later in the
history of the race or of the universe is an advance over what went
before-that, in a word, the world is subject to an immanent development,
only a comprehensive and systematic philosophy can attempt to show.

The task of Hegel's whole philosophy consists in showing, by means of
one uniform principle, that the world manifests everywhere a genuine
evolution. Unlike the participants in the biological "struggle for
existence," the struggling beings of Hegel's universe never end in
slaying, but in reconciliation. Their very struggle gives birth to a new
being which includes them, and this being is "higher" in the scale of
existence, because it represents the preservation of two mutually
opposed beings. Only where conflicts are adjusted, oppositions overcome,
negations removed, is there advance, in Hegel's sense; and only where
there is a passage from the positive through its challenging negative to
a higher form inclusive of both is there a case of real development.

The ordinary process of learning by experience illustrates somewhat
Hegel's meaning. An individual finds himself, for instance, in the
presence of a wholly new situation that elicits an immediate, definite
reaction. In his ignorance, he chooses the wrong mode of behavior. As a
consequence, trouble ensues; feelings are hurt, pride is wounded,
motives are misconstrued. Embittered and disappointed with himself, he
experiences great mental sorrow. But he soon learns to see the situation
in its true light; he condemns his deed and offers to make amends. And
after the wounds begin to heal again, the inner struggles experienced
commence to assume a positive worth. They have led him to a deeper
insight into his own motives, to a better self-comprehension. And he
finally comes forth from the whole affair enriched and enlightened. Now
in this formal example, to which any content may be supplied, three
phases can be distinguished. First, we have the person as he meant to be
in the presence of the new situation, unaware of trouble. Then, his
wrong reaction engendered a hostile element. He was at war with himself;
he was not what he meant to be. And finally, he returned to himself
richer and wiser, including within himself the negative experience as a
valuable asset in the advance of his development.

This process of falling away from oneself, of facing oneself as an enemy
whom one reconciles to and includes in one's larger self, is certainly
a familiar process. It is a process just like this that develops one's
personality. However the self may be defined metaphysically, it is for
every self-conscious individual a never-ceasing battle with conflicting
motives and antagonistic desires--a never-ending cycle of endeavor,
failure, and success through the very agency of failure.

A more typical instance of this rhythmic process is Hegel's view of the
evolution of religion. Religion, in general, is based on a dualism which
it seeks to overcome. Though God is in heaven and man on earth, religion
longs to bridge the gulf which separates man and God. The religions of
the Orient emphasize God's infinity. God is everything, man is nothing.
Like an Oriental prince, God is conceived to have despotic sway over
man, his creature. Only in contemplating God's omnipotence and his own
nothingness can man find solace and peace. Opposed to this religion of
the infinite is the finite religion of Greece.

Man in Greece stands in the centre of a beautiful cosmos which is not
alien to his spirit. The gods on high, conceived after the likeness of
man, are the expression of a free people conscious of their freedom. And
the divinities worshiped, under the form of Zeus, Apollo,
Aphrodite--what are they but idealized and glorified Greeks? Can a more
complete antithesis be imagined? But Christianity becomes possible after
this struggle only, for in Christianity is contained both the principle
of Oriental infinity and the element of Hellenic finitude, for in a
being who is both God and man--a God-man--the gulf between the infinite
and finite is bridged. The Christian, like the Greek, worships
man--Jesus; but this man is one with the eternal being of the Orient.
Because it is the outcome of the Oriental and Greek opposition, the
Christian religion is, in Hegel's sense, a higher one. Viewing the
Oriental and the Hellenic religions historically in terms of the
biological "struggle for existence," the extinction of neither has
resulted. The Christian religion is the unity of these two struggling
opposites; in it they are conciliated and preserved. And this for Hegel
is genuine evolution.

That evolution demands a union of opposites seems at first paradoxical
enough. To say that Christianity is a religion of both infinity and
finitude means nothing less than that it contains a contradiction.
Hegel's view, strange as it may sound, is just this: everything includes
a contradiction in it, everything is both positive and negative,
everything expresses at once its Everlasting Yea and its Everlasting No.
The negative character of the world is the very vehicle of its progress.
Life and activity mean the triumph of the positive over the negative, a
triumph which results from absorbing and assimilating it. The myth of
the Phoenix typifies the life of reason "eternally preparing for
itself," as Hegel says, "a funeral pile, and consuming itself upon it;
but so that from its ashes it produces the new, renovated, fresh life."
That the power of negativity enters constitutively into the rationality
of the world, nay, that the rationality of the world demands negativity
in it, is Hegel's most original contribution to thought. His complete
philosophy is the attempt to show in detail that the whole universe and
everything it contains manifests the process of uniformly struggling
with a negative power, and is an outcome of conflicting, but reconciled
forces. An impressionistic picture of the world's eternal becoming
through this process is furnished by the first of Hegel's great works,
the _Phenomenology of Spirit_. The book is, in a sense, a cross-section
of the entire spiritual world. It depicts the necessary unfolding of
typical phases of the spiritual life of mankind. Logical categories,
scientific laws, historical epochs, literary tendencies, religious
processes, social, moral, and artistic institutions, all exemplify the
same onward movement through a union of opposites. There is eternal and
total instability everywhere. But this unrest and instability is of a
necessary and uniform nature, according to the one eternally fixed
principle which renders the universe as a whole organic and orderly.

Organic Wholeness! This phrase contains the rationale of the restless
flow and the evanescent being of the Hegelian world. It is but from the
point of view of the whole that its countless conflicts, discrepancies,
and contradictions can be understood. As the members of the body find
only in the body as a whole their _raison d'etre_, so the manifold
expressions of the world are the expressions of one organism. A hand
which is cut off, as Hegel somewhere remarks, still looks like a hand,
and exists; but it is not a real hand. Similarly any part of the world,
severed from its connection with the whole, any isolated historical
event, any one religious view, any particular scientific explanation,
any single social body, any mere individual person, is like an amputated
bodily organ. Hegel's view of the world as organic depends upon
exhibiting the partial and abstract nature of other views. In his
_Phenomenology_ a variety of interpretations of the world and of the
meaning and destiny of life are scrutinized as to their adequacy and
concreteness. When not challenged, the point of view of common sense,
for instance, seems concrete and natural. The reaction of common sense
to the world is direct and practical, it has few questions to ask, and
philosophic speculations appear to it abstract and barren. But, upon
analysis, it is the common sense view that stands revealed as abstract
and barren. For an abstract object is one that does not fully correspond
to the rich and manifold reality; it is incomplete and one-sided.

Precisely such an object is the world of common sense. Its concreteness
is ignorance. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt
of by common sense. Its work-a-day world is not even a faint reflex of
the vast and complex universe. It sees but the immediate, the obvious,
the superficial. So instead of being concrete, it is, in truth, the very
opposite. Nor is empirical science with its predilection for "facts"
better off. Every science able to cope with a mere fragmentary aspect of
the world and from a partial point of view, is forced to ignore much of
the concrete content of even its own realm. Likewise, art and religion,
though in their views more synthetic and therefore more concrete, are
one-sided; they seek to satisfy special needs. Philosophy
alone--Hegelian philosophy--is concrete. Its aim is to interpret the
world in its entirety and complexity, its ideal is to harmonize the
demands of common sense, the interests of science, the appeal of art,
and the longing of religion into one coherent whole. This view of
philosophy, because it deals with the universe in its fulness and
variety, alone can make claim to real concreteness. Nor are the other
views false. They form for Hegel the necessary rungs on the ladder which
leads up to his own philosophic vision. Thus the Hegelian vision is
itself an organic process, including all other interpretations of life
and of the world as its necessary phases. In the immanent unfolding of
the Hegelian view is epitomized the onward march and the organic unity
of the World-Spirit itself.

The technical formulation of this view is contained in his _Logic_.
This book may indeed be said to be Hegel's master-stroke. Nothing less
is attempted in it than the proof that the very process of reasoning
manifests the same principle of evolution through a union of opposites.
Hegel was well aware, as much as recent exponents of anti-intellectualism,
that through "static" concepts we transmute and falsify the "fluent"
reality. As Professor James says "The essence of life is its continuously
changing character; but our concepts are all discontinuous and
fixed ... When we conceptualize we cut out and fix, and exclude everything
but what we have fixed. A concept means a _that-and-no-other_." But are
our concepts static, fixed, and discontinuous? What if the very
concepts we employ in reasoning should exemplify the universal flow of
life? Hegel finds that indeed to be the case. Concepts we daily use,
such as quality and quantity, essence and phenomenon, appearance and
reality, matter and force, cause and effect, are not fixed and
isolated entities, but form a continuous system of interdependent
elements. Stated dogmatically the meaning is this: As concavity and
convexity are inseparably connected, though one is the very opposite
of the other--as one cannot, so to speak, live without the other, both
being always found in union--so can no concept be discovered that is
not thus wedded to its contradiction. Every concept develops, upon
analysis, a stubbornly negative mate. No concept is statable or
definable without its opposite; one involves the other. One cannot
speak of motion without implying rest; one cannot mention the finite
without at the same time referring to the infinite; one cannot define
cause without explicitly defining effect. Not only is this true, but
concepts, when applied, reveal perpetual oscillation. Take the terms
"north" and "south." The mention of the north pole, for example,
implies at once the south pole also; it can be distinguished only by
contrast with the other, which it thus _includes_. But it is a north
pole only by _excluding_ the south pole from itself--by being itself
and not merely what the other is not. The situation is paradoxical
enough: Each aspect--the negative or the positive--of anything appears
to exclude the other, while each requires its own other for its very
definition and expression. It needs the other, and yet is independent
of it. How Hegel proves this of all concepts, cannot here be shown.
The result is that no concept can be taken by itself as a
"that-and-no-other." It is perpetually accompanied by its "other" as
man is by his shadow. The attempt to isolate any logical category and
regard it as fixed and stable thus proves futile. Each category--to
show this is the task of Hegel's _Logic_--is itself an organism, the
result of a process which takes place within its inner constitution.
And all logical categories, inevitably used in describing and
explaining our world, form one system of interdependent and
organically related parts. Hegel begins with an analysis of a concept
that most abstractly describes reality, follows it through its
countless conflicts and contradictions, and finally reaches the
highest category which, including all the foregoing categories in
organic unity, is alone adequate to characterize the universe as an
organism. What these categories are and what Hegel's procedure is in
showing their necessary sequential development, can here not even be
hinted at.

That the logical development of the categories of thought is the same as
the historical evolution of life--and _vice versa_--establishes for
Hegel the identity of thought and reality. In the history of philosophy,
the discrepancy between thought and reality has often been emphasized.
There are those who insist that reality is too vast and too deep for man
with his limited vision to penetrate; others, again, who set only
certain bounds to man's understanding, reality consisting, they hold, of
knowable and unknowable parts; and others still who see in the very
shifts and changes of philosophic and scientific opinion the delusion of
reason and the illusiveness of reality. The history of thought certainly
does present an array of conflicting views concerning the limits of
human reason. But all the contradictions and conflicts of thought prove
to Hegel the sovereignty of reason. The conflicts of reason are its own
necessary processes and expressions. Its dialectic instability is
instability that is peculiar to all reality. Both thought and reality
manifest one nature and one process. Hence reason with its "dynamic"
categories can comprehend the "fluent" reality, because it is flesh of
its flesh and bone of its bone. Hegel's bold and oft quoted words "What
is rational is real; and what is real is rational," pithily express his
whole doctrine. The nature of rationality and the nature of reality are,
for Hegel, one and the same spiritual process, the organic process of
triumphing over and conquering conflicts and contradictions. Where
reality conforms to this process it is rational (that which does not
conform to it is not reality at all, but has, like an amputated leg,
mere contingent existence); the logical formula of this process is but
an abstract account of what reality is in its essence.

The equation of the real and the rational, or the discovery of one
significant process underlying both life and reason, led Hegel to
proclaim a new kind of logic, so well characterized by Professor Royce
as the "logic of passion." To repeat what has been said above, this
means that categories are related to one another as historical epochs,
as religious processes, as social and moral institutions, nay, as human
passions, wills, and deeds are related to one another. Mutual conflict
and contradiction appear as their sole constant factor amid all their
variable conditions. The introduction of contradiction into logical
concepts as their _sine qua non_ meant indeed a revolutionary departure
from traditional logic. Prior to Hegel, logical reasoning was reasoning
in accordance with the law of contradiction, i. e., with the assumption
that nothing can have at the same time and at the same place
contradictory and inconsistent qualities or elements. For Hegel, on the
contrary, contradiction is the very moving principle of the world, the
pulse of its life. _Alle Dinge sind an sich selbst widersprechend_, as
he drastically says. The deeper reason why Hegel invests contradiction
with a positive value lies in the fact that, since the nature of
everything involves the union of discrepant elements, nothing can bear
isolation and independence. Terms, processes, epochs, institutions,
depend upon one another for their meaning, expression, and existence; it
is impossible to take anything in isolation. But this is just what one
does in dealing with the world in art or in science, in religion or in
business; one is always dealing with error and contradiction, because
one is dealing with fragments or bits of life and experience. Hence--and
this is Hegel's crowning thought--anything short of the whole universe
is inevitably contradictory. In brief, contradiction has the same sting
for Hegel as it has for any one else. Without losing its nature of
"contradictoriness," contradiction has logically this positive meaning.
Since it is an essential element of every partial, isolated, and
independent view of experience and thought, one is necessarily led to
transcend it and to see the universe in organic wholeness.

Thus, as Hegel puts his fundamental idea, "the truth is the whole."
Neither things nor categories, neither histories nor religions, neither
sciences nor arts, express or exhaust by themselves the whole essence of
the universe. The essence of the universe is the _life_ of the totality
of all things, not their _sum_. As the life of man is not the sum of his
bodily and mental functions, the whole man being present in each and all
of these, so must the universe be conceived as omnipresent in each of
its parts and expressions. This is the significance of Hegel's
conception of the universe as an organism. The World-Spirit--Hegel's
God--constitutes, thinks, lives, wills, and is _all_ in unity. The
evolution of the universe is thus the evolution of God himself.

The task of philosophy, then, as Hegel conceives it, is to portray in
systematic form the evolution of the World-Spirit in all its necessary
ramifications. These ramifications themselves are conceived as
constituting complete wholes, such as logic, nature, mind, society,
history, art, religion, philosophy, so that the universe in its onward
march through these is represented as a Whole of Wholes--_ein Kreis von
Kreisen_. In Hegel's complete philosophy each of these special spheres
finds its proper place and elaborate treatment.

Whether Hegel has well or ill succeeded in the task of exhibiting in
each and all of these spheres the one universal movement, whether or no
he was justified in reading into logic the same kind of development
manifested by life, or in making life conform to one logical
formula--these and other problems should arouse an interest in Hegel's
writings. The following selections may give some glimpse of their

In conclusion, some bare suggestions must suffice to indicate the reason
for Hegel's great influence. Hegel has partly, if not wholly, created
the modern historical spirit. Reality for him, as even this inadequate
sketch has shown, is not static, but is essentially a process. Thus
until the history of a thing is known, the thing is not understood at
all. It is the becoming and not the being of the world that constitutes
its reality. And thus in emphasizing the fact that everything has a
"past," the insight into which alone reveals its significant meaning,
Hegel has given metaphysical expression and impetus to the awakening
modern historical sense. His idea of evolution also epitomizes the
spirit of the nineteenth century with its search everywhere for geneses
and transformations--in religion, philology, geology, biology. Closely
connected with the predominance of the historical in Hegel's philosophy
is its explicit critique of individualism and particularism. According
to his doctrine, the individual as individual is meaningless. The
particular--independent and unrelated--is an abstraction. The isolation
of anything results in contradiction. It is only the whole that animates
and gives meaning to the individual and the particular. This idea of
subordinating the individual to universal ends, as embodied particularly
in Hegel's theory of the State, has left its impress upon political,
social, and economic theories of his century. Not less significant is
the glorification of reason of which Hegel's complete philosophy is an
expression. Reason never spoke with so much self-confidence and
authority as it did in Hegel. To the clear vision of reason the universe
presents no dark or mysterious corners, nay, the very negations and
contradictions in it are marks of its inherent rationality. But Hegel's
rationalism is not of the ordinary shallow kind. Reason he himself
distinguishes from understanding. The latter is analytical, its function
is to abstract, to define, to compile, to classify. Reason, on the other
hand, is synthetic, constructive, inventive. Apart from Hegel's special
use of the term, it is this synthetic and creative and imaginative
quality pervading his whole philosophy which has deepened men's insight
into history, religion, and art, and which has wielded its general
influence on the philosophic and literary constellation of the
nineteenth century.

* * * * *




The subject of this course of lectures is the Philosophical History of
the World. And by this must be understood, not a collection of general
observations respecting it, suggested by the study of its records and
proposed to be illustrated by its facts, but universal history itself.
To gain a clear idea, at the outset, of the nature of our task, it seems
necessary to begin with an examination of the other methods of treating
history. The various methods may be ranged under three heads:

I. Original History.
II. Reflective History.
III. Philosophical History.

I. Of the first kind, the mention of one or two distinguished names will
furnish a definite type. To this category belong Herodotus, Thucydides,
and other historians of the same order, whose descriptions are for the
most part limited to deeds, events, and states of society, which they
had before their eyes and whose spirit they shared. They simply
transferred what was passing in the world around them to the realm of
re-presentative intellect; an external phenomenon was thus translated
into an internal conception. In the same way the poet operates upon the
material supplied him by his emotions, projecting it into an image for
the conceptive faculty.

These original historians did, it is true, find statements and
narratives of other men ready to hand; one person cannot be an
eye-and-ear witness of everything. But, merely as an ingredient, they
make use only of such aids as the poet does of that heritage of an
already-formed language to which he owes so much; historiographers bind
together the fleeting elements of story, and treasure them up for
immortality in the temple of Mnemosyne. Legends, ballad-stories, and
traditions must be excluded from such original history; they are but dim
and hazy forms of historical apprehension, and therefore belong to
nations whose intelligence is but half awakened. Here, on the contrary,
we have to do with people fully conscious of what they were and what
they were about. The domain of reality--actually seen, or capable of
being so-affords a very different basis in point of firmness from that
fugitive and shadowy element in which were engendered those legends and
poetic dreams whose historical prestige vanishes as soon as nations have
attained a mature individuality.

Such original historians, then, change the events, the deeds, and the
states of society with which they are conversant, into an object for the
conceptive faculty; the narratives they leave us cannot, therefore, be
very comprehensive in their range. Herodotus, Thucydides, Guicciardini,
may be taken as fair samples of the class in this respect. What is
present and living in their environment is their proper material. The
influences that have formed the writer are identical with those which
have molded the events that constitute the matter of his story. The
author's spirit and that of the actions he narrates are one and the
same. He describes scenes in which he himself has been an actor, or at
any rate an interested spectator. It is short periods of time,
individual shapes of persons and occurrences, single, unreflected
traits, of which he makes his picture. And his aim is nothing more than
the presentation to posterity of an image of events as clear as that
which he himself possessed in virtue of personal observation, or
lifelike descriptions. Reflections are none of his business, for he
lives in the spirit of his subject; he has not attained an elevation
above it. If, as in Caesar's case, he belongs to the exalted rank of
generals or statesmen, it is the prosecution of his own aims that
constitutes the history.

Such speeches as we find in Thucydides, for example, of which we can
positively assert that they are not _bona fide_ reports, would seem to
make against our statement that a historian of his class presents us no
reflected picture, that persons and people appear in his works in
_propria persona_ ... Granted that such orations as those of
Pericles--that most profoundly accomplished, genuine, noble
statesman--were elaborated by Thucydides, it must yet be maintained that
they were not foreign to the character of the speaker. In the orations
in question, these men proclaim the maxims adopted by their countrymen
and formative of their own character; they record their views of their
political relations and of their moral and spiritual nature, and publish
the principles of their designs and conduct. What the historian puts
into their mouths is no supposititious system of ideas, but an
uncorrupted transcript of their intellectual and moral habitudes.

Of these historians whom we must make thoroughly our own, with whom we
must linger long if we would live with their respective nations and
enter deeply into their spirit--of these historians to whose pages we
may turn, not for the purposes of erudition merely, but with a view to
deep and genuine enjoyment, there are fewer than might be imagined.
Herodotus, the Father, namely the Founder, of History, and Thucydides
have been already mentioned. Xenophon's _Retreat of the Ten Thousand_ is
a work equally original. Caesar's _Commentaries_ are the simple
masterpiece of a mighty spirit; among the ancients these annalists were
necessarily great captains and statesmen. In the Middle Ages, if we
except the bishops, who were placed in the very centre of the political
world, the monks monopolize this category as naive chroniclers who were
as decidedly isolated from active life as those elder annalists had been
connected with it. In modern times the relations are entirely altered.
Our culture is essentially comprehensive, and immediately changes all
events into historical representations. Belonging to the class in
question, we have vivid, simple, clear narrations--especially of
military transactions--which might fairly take their place with those of
Caesar. In richness of matter and fulness of detail as regards strategic
appliances and attendant circumstances, they are even more instructive.
The French "Memoirs" also fall under this category. In many cases these
are written by men of mark, though relating to affairs of little note;
they not unfrequently contain such a large amount of anecdotal matter
that the ground they occupy is narrow and trivial. Yet they are often
veritable masterpieces in history, as are those of Cardinal Retz, which,
in fact, trench on a larger historical field. In Germany such masters
are rare, Frederick the Great in his _Histoire de mon temps_ being an
illustrious exception. Writers of this order must occupy an elevated
position, for only from such a position is it possible to take an
extensive view of affairs--to see everything. This is out of the
question for him who from below merely gets a glimpse of the great world
through a miserable cranny.

II. The second kind of history we may call the _Reflective._ It is
history whose mode of representation is not really confined by the limits
of the time to which it relates, but whose spirit transcends the
present. In this second order a strongly marked variety of species may
be distinguished.

1. It is the aim of the investigator to gain a view of the entire
history of a people, of a country, or of the world in short, what we
call universal history. In this case the working up of the historical
material is the main point. The workman approaches his task with his own
spirit--a spirit distinct from that of the element he is to manipulate.

Here a very important consideration is the principles to which the
author refers the bearing and motives of the actions and events which he
describes, as well as those which determine the form of his narrative.
Among us Germans this reflective treatment and the display of ingenuity
which it affords assume a manifold variety of phases. Every writer of
history proposes to himself an original method. The English and French
confess to general principles of historical composition, their viewpoint
being more nearly that of cosmopolitan or national culture. Among us,
each labors to invent a purely individual point of view; instead of
writing history, we are always beating our brains to discover how
history ought to be written.

This first kind of Reflective history is most nearly akin to the
preceding, when it has no further aim than to present the annals of a
country complete. Such compilations (among which may be mentioned the
works of Livy, Diodorus Siculus, Johannes von Mueller's _History of
Switzerland_) are, if well performed, highly meritorious. Among the best
of the kind may be included such annalists as approach those of the
first-class writers who give so vivid a transcript of events that the
reader may well fancy himself listening to contemporaries and
eye-witnesses. But it often happens that the individuality of tone which
must characterize a writer belonging to a different culture is not
modified in accordance with the periods which such a record must
traverse. The spirit of the writer may be quite apart from that of the
times of which he treats. Thus Livy puts into the mouths of the old
Roman kings, consuls, and generals, such orations as would be delivered
by an accomplished advocate of the Livian era, and which strikingly
contrast with the genuine traditions of Roman antiquity--witness, for
example, the fable of Menenius Agrippa. In the same way he gives us
descriptions of battles as if he had been an actual spectator; but their
salient points would serve well enough for battles in any period, for
their distinctness contrasts, even in his treatment of chief points of
interest, with the want of connection and the inconsistency that prevail
elsewhere. The difference between such a compiler and an original
historian may be best seen by comparing Polybius himself with the style
in which Livy uses, expands, and abridges his annals in those periods of
which Polybius' account has been preserved. Johannes von Mueller, in the
endeavor to remain faithful in his portraiture to the times he
describes, has given a stiff, formal, pedantic aspect to his history. We
much prefer the narratives we find in old Tschudi; all is more naive and
natural than when appearing in the garb of a fictitious and affected

A history which aspires to traverse long periods of time, or to be
universal, must indeed forego the attempt to give individual
representations of the past as it actually existed. It must foreshorten
its pictures by abstractions, and this includes not merely the omission
of events and deeds, but whatever is involved in the fact that Thought
is, after all, the most trenchant epitomist. A battle, a great victory,
a siege no longer maintains its original proportions, but is put off
with a mere allusion. When Livy, for instance, tells us of the war with
the Volsci, we sometimes have the brief announcement: "This year war was
carried on with the Volsci."

2. A second species of Reflective history is what we may call the
pragmatical. When we have to deal with the past and occupy ourselves
with a remote world, a present rises into being for the mind--produced
by its own activity, as the reward of its labor. The occurrences are,
indeed, various; but the idea which pervades them-their deeper import
and connection--is one. This takes the occurrence out of the category of
the past and makes it virtually present. Pragmatical (didactic)
reflections, though in their nature decidedly abstract, are truly and
indefeasibly of the present, and quicken the annals of the dead past
with the life of today. Whether, indeed, such reflections are truly
interesting and enlivening depends on the writer's own spirit. Moral
reflections must here be specially noticed--the moral teaching expected
from history; the latter has not infrequently been treated with a direct
view to the former. It may be allowed that examples of virtue elevate
the soul and are applicable in the moral instruction of children for
impressing excellence upon their minds. But the destinies of people and
states, their interests, relations, and the complicated tissue of their
affairs, present quite another field. Rulers, statesmen, nations, are
wont to be emphatically commended to the teaching which experience
offers in history; yet what experience and history teach is this-that
peoples and governments have never learned anything from history, nor
have they acted on principles deduced from it. Each period is involved
in such peculiar circumstances, exhibits a condition of things so
strictly idiosyncratic, that its conduct must be regulated by
considerations connected with itself, and itself alone. Amid the
pressure of great events a general principle gives no help.

It is useless to revert to similar circumstances in the past. The pallid
shades of memory struggle in vain with the life and freedom of the
present. Looked at in this light nothing can be shallower than the
oft-repeated appeal to Greek and Roman examples during the French
Revolution; nothing is more diverse than the genius of those nations and
that of our times. Johannes von Mueller, in his _Universal History_ as
also in his _History of Switzerland_, had such moral aims in view. He
designed to prepare a body of political doctrines for the instruction of
princes, governments, and peoples (he formed a special collection of
doctrines and reflections, frequently giving us in his correspondence
the exact number of apothegms which he had compiled in a week); but he
cannot assert that this part of his labor was among the best he
accomplished. It is only a thorough, liberal, comprehensive view of
historical relations (such for instance, as we find in Montesquieu's
_L'Esprit des Lois_) that can give truth and interest to reflections of
this order. One Reflective history, therefore, supersedes another. The
materials are patent to every writer; each is prone to believe himself
capable of arranging and manipulating them, and we may expect that each
will insist upon his own spirit as that of the age in question.
Disgusted by such reflective histories, readers have often returned with
pleasure to narratives adopting no particular point of view--which
certainly have their value, although, for the most part, they offer only
material for history. We Germans are content with such; but the French,
on the other hand, display great genius in reanimating bygone times and
in bringing the past to bear upon the present condition of things.

3. The third form of Reflective history is the _Critical_. This deserves
mention as preeminently the mode, now current in Germany, of treating
history. It is not history itself that is here presented. We might more
properly designate it as a History of History--a criticism of historical
narratives and an investigation of their truth and credibility. Its
peculiarity, in point of fact as well as intention, consists in the
acuteness with which the writer extorts from the records something
which was not in the matters recorded. The French have given us much
that is profound and judicious in this class of composition, but have
not endeavored to make a merely critical procedure pass for substantial
history; their judgments have been duly presented in the form of
critical treatises. Among us, the so-called "higher criticism," which
reigns supreme in the domain of philology, has also taken possession of
our historical literature; it has been the pretext for introducing all
the anti-historical monstrosities that a vain imagination could suggest.
Here we have the other method of making the past a living reality; for
historical data subjective fancies are substituted, whose merit is
measured by their boldness--that is, the scantiness of the particulars
on which they are based and the peremptoriness with which they
contravene the best established facts of history.

4. The last species of Reflective history announces its fragmentary
character on its very face. It adopts an abstract position; yet, since
it takes general points of view (such, for instance, as the History of
Art, of Law, of Religion), it forms a transition to the Philosophical
History of the World. In our time this form of the history of ideas has
been especially developed and made prominent. Such branches of national
life stand in close relation to the entire complex of a people's annals;
and the question of chief importance in relation to our subject is,
whether the connection of the whole is exhibited in its truth and
reality, or is referred to merely external relations. In the latter
case, these important phenomena (art, law, religion, etc.), appear as
purely accidental national peculiarities. It must be remarked, if the
position taken is a true one, that when Reflective history has advanced
to the adoption of general points of view, 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 nation's
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 world's history. To become acquainted with Spirit in
this, its office of guidance, is the object of our present undertaking.

III. The third kind of history is the _Philosophical_. No explanation
was needed of the two previous classes; their nature was self-evident.
It is otherwise with the last, which certainly seems to require an
exposition or justification. The most general definition that can be
given is, that the philosophy of history means nothing but the
thoughtful consideration of it. Thought is, indeed, essential to
humanity. It is this that distinguishes us from the brutes. In
sensation, cognition, and intellection, in our instincts and volitions,
as far as they are truly human, thought is a constant element. To insist
upon thought in this connection with history may, however, appear
unsatisfactory. In this science it would seem as if thought must be
subordinate to what is given, to the realities of fact--that this is its
basis and guide; while philosophy dwells in the region of self-produced
ideas, without reference to actuality. Approaching history thus
prepossessed, speculation might be supposed to treat it as a mere
passive material, and, so far from leaving it in its native truth, to
force it into conformity with a tyrannous idea, and to construe it, as
the phrase is, _a priori_. But as it is the business of history simply
to adopt into its records what is and has been-actual occurrences and
transactions; and since it remains true to its character in proportion
as it strictly adheres to its data, we seem to have in philosophy a
process diametrically opposed to that of the historiographer. This
contradiction, and the charge consequently brought against speculation,
shall be explained and confuted. We do not, however, propose to correct
the innumerable special misrepresentations, whether trite or novel, that
are current respecting the aims, the interests, and the modes of
treating history and its relation to philosophy.

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 there proved 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 Material is that underlying all
the natural and spiritual life which it originates, as also the Infinite
Form--that which sets this material in motion. On the one hand, Reason
is the substance of the universe--viz., that by which and in which all
reality has its being and subsistence. On the other 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 energizing power
realizing 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" or "Reason" 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 honor and
glory--is the thesis which, as we have said, has been proved in
philosophy and is here regarded as demonstrated.

In entering upon this course of lectures, I may fairly presume, at
least, the existence in those of my hearers who are not acquainted with
philosophy, of a belief in Reason, a desire, a thirst for acquaintance
with it. It is, in fact, the wish for rational insight, not the ambition
to amass a mere heap of acquirements, that should be presupposed in
every case as possessing the mind of the learner in the study of
science. If the clear idea of Reason is not already developed in our
minds, in beginning the study of universal history, we should at least
have the firm, unconquerable faith that Reason does exist there, and
that the world of intelligence and conscious volition is not abandoned
to chance, but must show itself in the light of the self-cognizant Idea.
Yet I am not obliged to make such a preliminary demand upon your faith.
What I have said thus provisionally, and what I shall have further to
say, is, even in reference to our branch of science, not to be regarded
as hypothetical, but as a summary view of the whole, the result of the
investigation we are about to pursue--a result which happens to be known
to _me_, because I have traversed the entire field. It is only an
inference from the history of the world that its development has been a
rational process, that the history in question has constituted the
rational necessary course of the World-Spirit--that Spirit whose nature
is always one and the same, but which unfolds this, its one nature, in
the phenomena of the world's existence. This must, as before stated,
present itself as the ultimate result of history; but we have to take
the latter as it is. We must proceed historically--empirically. Among
other precautions we must take care not to be misled by professed
historians who (especially among the Germans, and those enjoying a
considerable authority) are chargeable with the very procedure of which
they accuse the philosopher--introducing _a priori_ inventions of their
own into the records of the past. It is, for example, a widely current
fiction that there was an original primeval people, taught directly by
God, endowed with perfect insight and wisdom, possessing a thorough
knowledge of all natural laws and spiritual truth; that there have been
such or such sacerdotal peoples; or, to mention a more specific claim,
that there was a Roman Epos, from which the Roman historians derived the
early annals of their city, etc....

I will mention only two phases and points of view that concern the
generally diffused conviction that Reason has ruled, and is still ruling
in the world, and consequently in the world's history; because they give
us, at the same time, an opportunity for more closely investigating the
question that presents the greatest difficulty, and for indicating a
branch of the subject which will have to be enlarged on in the sequel.

1. One of these points is that passage in history which informs us that
the Greek Anaxagoras was the first to enunciate the doctrine that
[GREEK: nous],--Understanding in general, or Reason, governs the world.
It is not intelligence as self-conscious Reason--not a spirit as such
that is meant; and we must clearly distinguish these from each other.
The movement of the solar system takes place according to unchangeable
laws. These laws are Reason, implicit in the phenomena in question; but
neither the sun nor the planets which revolve around it according to
these laws can be said to have any consciousness of them.

A thought of this kind--that nature is an embodiment of Reason, that is,
unchangeably subordinate to universal laws--appears nowise striking or
strange to us. We are accustomed to such conceptions and find nothing
extraordinary in them; and I have mentioned this extraordinary
occurrence partly to show how history teaches that ideas of this kind,
which may seem trivial to us, have not always been in the world; that,
on the contrary, such a thought makes an epoch in the annals of human
intelligence. Aristotle says of Anaxagoras, as the originator of the
thought in question, that he appeared as a sober man among the drunken.
Socrates adopted the doctrine from Anaxagoras, and it forthwith became
the ruling idea in philosophy--except in the school of Epicurus, who
ascribed all events to chance. "I was delighted with the sentiment,"
Plato makes Socrates say, "and hoped I had found a teacher who would
show me Nature in harmony with Reason, who would demonstrate in each
particular phenomenon its specific aim, and, in the whole, the grand
object of the universe. I would not have surrendered this hope for a
great deal. But how very much was I disappointed, when, having zealously
applied myself to the writings of Anaxagoras, I found that he adduces
only external causes, such as atmosphere, ether, water, and the like."
It is evident that the defect which Socrates complains of respecting
Anaxagoras' doctrine does not concern the principle itself, but the
shortcoming of the propounder in applying it to nature in the concrete.
Nature is not deduced from that principle; the latter remains, in fact,
a mere abstraction, inasmuch as the former is not comprehended and
exhibited as a development of it--an organization produced by and from
Reason. I wish, at the very outset, to call your attention to the
important difference between a conception, a principle, a truth limited
to an abstract form, and its determinate application and concrete
development. This distinction affects the whole fabric of philosophy;
and among other bearings of it there is one to which we shall have to
revert at the close of our view of universal history, in investigating
the aspect of political affairs in the most recent period.

We have next to notice the rise of this idea that Reason directs the
world, in connection with a further application of it well known to
us--in the form, viz., of the religious truth that the world is not
abandoned to chance and external contingent causes, but that a
Providence controls it. I stated above that I would not make a demand on
your faith in regard to the principle announced. Yet I might appeal to
your belief in it, in this religious aspect, if as a general rule, the
nature of philosophical science allowed it to attach authority to
presuppositions. To put it in another shape--this appeal is forbidden,
because the science of which we have to treat proposes itself to furnish
the proof, not indeed of the abstract truth of the doctrine, but of its
correctness as compared with facts. The truth, then, that a Providence
(that of God) presides over the events of the world consorts with the
proposition in question; for Divine Providence is wisdom, endowed with
an infinite power, which realizes its aim, viz., the absolute rational
design of the world. Reason is thought conditioning itself with perfect
freedom. But a difference--rather a contradiction--will manifest itself
between this belief and our principle, just as was the case in reference
to the demand made by Socrates in the case of Anaxagoras' dictum. For
that belief is similarly indefinite; it is what is called a belief in a
general providence, and is not followed out into definite application,
or displayed in its bearing on the grand total--the entire course of
human history. But to explain history is to depict the passions of
mankind, the genius, the active powers, that play their part on the
great stage; and the providentially determined process which these
exhibit constitutes what is generally called the "plan" of Providence.
Yet it is this very plan which is supposed to be concealed from our
view, which it is deemed presumption even to wish to recognize. The
ignorance of Anaxagoras as to how intelligence reveals itself in actual
existence was ingenuous. Neither in his consciousness, nor in that of
Greece at large, had that thought been further expanded. He had not
attained the power to apply his general principle to the concrete, so as
to deduce the latter from the former; it was Socrates who took the first
step in comprehending the union of the concrete with the universal.
Anaxagoras, then, did not take up a hostile position toward such an
application; the common belief in Providence does; at least it opposes
the use of the principle on a large scale, and denies the possibility of
discerning the plan of Providence. In isolated cases this plan is
supposed to be manifest. Pious persons are encouraged to recognize in
particular circumstances something more than mere chance, to acknowledge
the guiding hand of God; for instance, when help has unexpectedly come
to an individual in great perplexity and need. But these instances of
providential design are of a limited kind, and concern the
accomplishment of nothing more than the desires of the individual in
question. But in the history of the world, the individuals we have to do
with are peoples, totalities that are States. We cannot, therefore, be
satisfied with what we may call this "peddling" view of Providence, to
which the belief alluded to limits itself. Equally unsatisfactory is the
merely abstract, undefined belief in a Providence, when that belief is
not brought to bear upon the details of the process which it conducts.
On the contrary our earnest endeavor must be directed to the recognition
of the ways of Providence, the means it uses, and the historical
phenomena in which it manifests itself; and we must show their
connection with the general principle above mentioned. But in noticing
the recognition of the plan of Divine Providence generally, I have
implicitly touched upon a prominent question of the day, viz., that of
the possibility of knowing God; or rather--since public opinion has
ceased to allow it to be a matter of question--the doctrine that it is
impossible to know God. In direct contravention of what is commanded in
holy Scripture as the highest duty--that we should not merely love, but
know God--the prevalent dogma involves the denial of what is there
said--namely, that it is the Spirit, _der Geist_, that leads into truth,
knows all things, penetrates even into the deep things of the Godhead.
While the Divine Being is thus placed beyond our knowledge and outside
the limit of all human things, we have the convenient license of
wandering as far as we list, in the direction of our own fancies. We are
freed from the obligation to refer our knowledge to the Divine and True.
On the other hand, the vanity and egoism which characterize our
knowledge find, in this false position, ample justification; and the
pious modesty which puts far from itself the knowledge of God can well
estimate how much furtherance thereby accrues to its own wayward and
vain strivings. I have been unwilling to leave out of sight the
connection between our thesis--that Reason governs and has governed the
world--and the question of the possibility of a knowledge of God,
chiefly that I might not lose the opportunity of mentioning the
imputation against philosophy of being shy of noticing religious truths,
or of having occasion to be so; in which is insinuated the suspicion
that it has anything but a clear conscience in the presence of these
truths. So far from this being the case, the fact is that in recent
times philosophy has been obliged to defend the domain of religion
against the attacks of several theological systems. In the Christian
religion God has revealed Himself--that is, He has given us to
understand what He is, with the result that He is no longer a concealed
or secret existence. And this possibility of knowing Him, thus afforded
us, renders such knowledge a duty. God wishes for His children no
narrow-hearted souls or empty heads, but those whose spirit is of itself
indeed, poor, but rich in the knowledge of Him, and who regard this
knowledge of God as the only valuable possession. That development of
the thinking spirit, which has resulted from the revelation of the
Divine Being as its original basis, must ultimately advance to the
intellectual comprehension of what was presented, in the first instance,
to feeling and imagination. The time must eventually come for
understanding that rich product of active Reason which the history of
the world offers to us. It was for a while the fashion to profess
admiration for the wisdom of God, as displayed in animals, plants, and
isolated occurrences. But if it be allowed that Providence manifests
itself in such objects and forms of existence, why not also in universal
history? This is deemed too great a matter to be thus regarded. But
divine wisdom, i. e., Reason, is one and the same in the great as in the
little; and we must not imagine God to be too weak to exercise his
wisdom on the grand scale. Our intellectual striving aims at realizing
the conviction that what was intended by eternal wisdom is actually
accomplished in the domain of existent, active Spirit, as well as in
that of mere Nature. Our mode of treating the subject is, in this
aspect, a Theodicaea--a justification of the ways of God--which Leibnitz
attempted metaphysically in his method, i. e., in indefinite abstract
categories--so that the ill that is found in the world may be
comprehended, and the thinking Spirit reconciled with the fact of the
existence of evil. Indeed, nowhere is such a harmonizing view more
pressingly demanded than in universal history; and it can be attained
only by recognizing the positive existence, in which that negative
element is a subordinate and vanquished nullity. On the one hand, the
ultimate design of the world must be perceived, and, on the other, the
fact that this design has been actually realized in it, and that evil
has not been able permanently to establish a rival position. But this
conviction involves much more than the mere belief in a superintending
[GREEK: nous] or in "Providence." "Reason," whose sovereignty over the
world has been maintained, is as indefinite a term as "Providence,"
supposing the term to be used by those who are unable to characterize it
distinctly, to show wherein it consists, so as to enable us to decide
whether a thing is rational or irrational. An adequate definition of
Reason is the first desideratum; and whatever boast may be made of
strict adherence to it in explaining phenomena, without such a
definition we get no farther than mere words. With these observations we
may proceed to the second point of view that has to be considered in
this Introduction.

2. The inquiry into the essential destiny of Reason, as far as it is
considered in reference to the world, is identical with the question
_What is the ultimate design of the world?_ And the expression implies
that that design is destined to be realized. Two points of consideration
suggest themselves: first, the _import_ of this design--its abstract
definition; secondly, its _realization_.

It must be observed at the outset that the phenomenon we
investigate--universal history--belongs to the realm of "spirit." The
term "World" includes both physical and psychical nature. Physical
nature also plays its part in the world's history, and attention will
have to be paid to the fundamental natural relations thus involved. But
Spirit, and the course of its development, is our substantial object.
Our task does not require us to contemplate nature as a rational system
in itself--though in its own proper domain it proves itself such-but
simply in its relation to _Spirit_. On the stage on which we are
observing it--universal history--Spirit displays itself in its most
concrete reality. Notwithstanding this (or rather for the very purpose
of comprehending the general principles which this, its form of concrete
reality, embodies) we must premise some abstract characteristics of the
nature of Spirit.

We have therefore to mention here

(1) The abstract characteristics of the nature of

(2) What means Spirit uses in order to realize its

(3) Lastly, we must consider the shape which the
perfect embodiment of Spirit assumes--the

(1) The nature of Spirit may be understood by a glance at its direct
opposite--Matter. As the essence of Matter is gravity, so, on the other
hand, we may affirm that the substance, the essence of Spirit is freedom.
All will readily assent to the doctrine that Spirit, among other
properties, is also endowed with freedom; but philosophy teaches that
all the qualities of Spirit exist only through freedom; that all are but
means for attaining freedom; that all seek and produce this and this
alone. It is a result of speculative philosophy that freedom is the sole
truth of Spirit. Matter possesses gravity in virtue of its tendency toward
a central point. It is essentially composite, consisting of parts that
_exclude_ one another. It seeks its unity; and therefore exhibits itself
as self-destructive, as verging toward its opposite--an indivisible point.
If it could attain this, it would be Matter no longer; it would have
perished. It strives after the realization of its Idea; for in unity it
exists ideally. Spirit, on the contrary, may be defined as that which has
its centre in itself. It has not a unity outside itself, but has already
found it; it exists in and with itself. Matter has its essence out of
itself; Spirit is self-contained existence (Bei-sich-selbst-seyn). Now
this is freedom, exactly. For if I am dependent, my being is referred to
something else which I am not; I cannot exist independently of something
external. I am free, on the contrary, when my existence depends upon
myself. This self-contained existence of Spirit is none other than
self-consciousness-consciousness of one's own being. Two things must be
distinguished in consciousness; first, the fact _that I know_;
secondly, _what I know_. In self-consciousness these are merged in
one; for Spirit knows itself. It involves an appreciation of its own
nature, as also an energy enabling it to realize itself; to make itself
actually what it is potentially. According to this abstract definition it
may be said of universal history that it is the exhibition of Spirit in
the process of working out the knowledge of that which it is potentially.
And as the germ bears in itself the whole nature of the tree and the taste
and form of its fruits, so do the first traces of Spirit virtually contain
the whole of that history. The Orientals have not attained the knowledge
that Spirit--Man _as such_--is free; and because they do not know
this, they are not free. They only know that one is free; but on this
very account, the freedom of that one is only caprice; ferocity--brutal
recklessness of passion, or a mildness and tameness of the desires, which
is itself only an accident of nature--is mere caprice like the former.
That _one_ is therefore only a despot, not a _free man_. The
consciousness of freedom first arose among the Greeks, and therefore they
were free; but they, and the Romans likewise, knew only that _some_ are
free, not man as such. Even Plato and Aristotle did not know this. The
Greeks, therefore, had slaves, and their whole life and the maintenance
of their splendid liberty was implicated with the institution of
slavery--a fact, moreover, which made that liberty, on the one hand,
only an accidental, transient and limited growth, and on the other, a
rigorous thraldom of our common nature--of the Human. The Germanic
nations, under the influence of Christianity, were the first to attain
the consciousness that man is free; that it is the freedom of Spirit
which constitutes its essence. This consciousness arose first in
religion, the inmost region of Spirit; but to introduce the principle
into the various relations of the actual world involves a more extensive
problem than its simple implantation--a problem whose solution and
application require a severe and lengthened process of culture. In
proof of this we may note that slavery did not cease immediately on the
reception of Christianity. Still less did liberty predominate in States;
or governments and constitutions adopt a rational organization, or
recognize freedom as their basis. That application of the principle to
political relations, the thorough molding and interpenetration of the
constitution of society by it, is a process identical with history
itself. I have already directed attention to the distinction here
involved, between a principle as such and its application--that is, its
introduction and fulfilment in the actual phenomena of Spirit and life.
This is a point of fundamental importance in our science, and one which
must be constantly respected as essential. And in the same way as this
distinction has attracted attention in view of the Christian principle
of self-consciousness--freedom, it also shows itself as an essential one
in view of the principle of freedom generally. The history of the world
is none other than the progress of the consciousness of freedom--progress
whose development, according to the necessity of its nature, it is our
business to investigate.

The general statement given above of the various grades in the
consciousness of freedom-which we applied in the first instance to the
fact that the Eastern nations knew only that one is free, the Greek and
Roman world only that _some_ are free, while we know that all men
absolutely (man as man) are free--supplies us with the natural division
of universal history, and suggests the mode of its discussion. This is
remarked, however, only incidentally and anticipatively; some other
ideas must be first explained.

The destiny of the spiritual world, and--since this is the substantial
world, while the physical remains subordinate to it, or, in the language
of speculation, has no truth as against the spiritual--the final cause
of the world at large we allege to be the consciousness of its own
freedom on the part of Spirit, and, _ipso facto_, the reality of that
freedom. But that this term "freedom" is, without further
qualification, an indefinite, incalculable, ambiguous term, and that,
while what it represents is the _ne plus ultra_ of attainment, it is
liable to an infinity of misunderstandings, confusions, and errors, and
to become the occasion for all imaginable excesses--has never been more
clearly known and felt than in modern times. Yet, for the present, we
must content ourselves with the term itself without further definition.
Attention was also directed to the importance of the infinite difference
between a principle in the abstract and its realization in the concrete.
In the process before us the essential nature of freedom--which involves
absolute necessity--is to be displayed as coming to a consciousness of
itself (for it is in its very nature, self-consciousness) and thereby
realizing its existence. Itself is its own object of attainment and the
sole aim of Spirit. This result it is at which the process of the
world's history has been continually aiming, and to which the sacrifices
that have ever and anon been laid on the vast altar of the earth,
through the long lapse of ages, have been offered. This is the only aim
that sees itself realized and fulfilled, the only pole of repose amid
the ceaseless change of events and conditions, and the sole efficient
principle that pervades them. This final aim is God's purpose with the
world; but God is the absolutely perfect Being, and can, therefore, will
nothing other than Himself--His own will. The nature of His will--that
is His nature itself--is what we here call the idea of freedom,
translating the language of religion into that of thought. The question,
then, which we may next put, is What means does this principle of
freedom use for its realization? This is the second point we have to

(2) The question of the means by which freedom develops itself to a
world conducts us to the phenomenon of history itself. Although freedom
is, primarily, an undeveloped idea, the means it uses are external and
phenomenal, presenting themselves in history to our sensuous vision. The
first glance at history convinces us that the actions of men proceed
from their needs, their passions, when the occasion seems to call for
it--is that what we call principle, aim, destiny, or the nature and idea
of Spirit, is something merely general and abstract. Principle--Plan of
Existence--Law--is a hidden, undeveloped essence which, as such--however
true in itself--is not completely real. Aims, principles, etc., have a
place in our thoughts, in our subjective design only, but not as yet in
the sphere of reality. That which exists for itself only is a
possibility, a potentiality, but it has not emerged into existence. A
second element must be introduced in order to produce actuality--viz.,
actuation, realization; and its motive power is the will--the activity
of man in the widest sense. It is only by this activity that that Idea,
as well as abstract characteristics generally, are realized, actualized;
for of themselves they are powerless. The motive power that puts them in
operation and gives them determinate existence, is the need, instinct,
inclination, and passion of man. That some conception of mine should be
developed into act and existence, is my earnest desire; I wish to assert
my personality in connection with it; I wish to be satisfied by its
execution. If I am to exert myself for any object, it must in some way
or other be _my_ object. In the accomplishment of such or such designs I
must at the same time find _my_ satisfaction; although the purpose for
which I exert myself includes a complication of results, many of which
have no interest for me. This is the absolute right of personal
existence--to find _itself_ satisfied in its activity and labor. If men
are to interest themselves for anything, they must, so to speak, have
part of their existence involved in it and find their individuality
gratified by its attainment. Here a mistake must be avoided. We intend
blame, and justly impute it as a fault, when we say of an individual
that he is "interested" (in taking part in such or such
transactions)--that is, seeks only his private advantage. In
reprehending this we find fault with him for furthering his personal
aims without any regard to a more comprehensive design, of which he
takes advantage to promote his own interest or which, with this view,
he even sacrifices. But he who is active in promoting an object is not
simply "interested," but interested in that object itself. Language
faithfully expresses this distinction. Nothing therefore happens,
nothing is accomplished, unless the individuals concerned seek their own
satisfaction in the issue. They are particular units of society--that
is, they have special needs, instincts, and interests generally,
peculiar to themselves. Among these needs are not only such as we
usually call necessities--the stimuli of individual desire and
volition--but also those connected with individual views and
convictions; or--to use a term expressing less decision--leanings of
opinion, supposing the impulses of reflection, understanding, and
reason, to have been awakened. In these cases people demand, if they are
to exert themselves in any direction, that the object should commend
itself to them, that, in point of opinion-whether as to its goodness,
justice, advantage, profit they should be able to "enter into it"
(_dabei sein_). This is a consideration of special importance in our
age, when people are less than formerly influenced by reliance on
others, and by authority; when, on the contrary, they devote their
activities to a cause on the ground of their own understanding, their
independent conviction and opinion.

We assert then that nothing has been accomplished without interest on
the part of the actors; and--if interest be called passion, inasmuch as
the whole individuality, to the neglect of all other actual or possible
interests and claims, is devoted to an object with every fibre of
volition, concentrating all its desires and powers upon it--we may
affirm absolutely that nothing great in the world has been accomplished
without passion. Two elements, therefore, enter into the object of our
investigation--the first the Idea, the second the complex of human
passions; the one the warp, the other the woof of the vast arras-web of
universal history. The concrete mean and union of the two is liberty,
under the conditions of morality in a State. We have spoken of the idea
of freedom as the nature of Spirit, and the absolute goal of history.
Passion is regarded as a thing of sinister aspect, as more or less
immoral. Man is required to have no passions. Passion, it is true, is
not quite the suitable word for what I wish to express. I mean here
nothing more than human activity as resulting from private interests,
special, or if you will, self-seeking designs--with this qualification,
that the whole energy of will and character is devoted to their
attainment, and that other interests (which would in themselves
constitute attractive aims), or, rather, all things else, are sacrificed
to them. The object in question is so bound up with the man's will that
it entirely and alone determines the "hue of resolution" and is
inseparable from it; it has become the very essence of his volition. For
a person is a specific existence--not man in general (a term to which no
real existence corresponds); but a particular human being. The term
"character" likewise expresses this idiosyncrasy of will and
intelligence. But character comprehends all peculiarities whatever, the
way in which a person conducts himself in private relations, etc., and
is not limited to his idiosyncrasy in its practical and active phase. I
shall, therefore, use the term "passion," understanding thereby the
particular bent of character, as far as the peculiarities of volition
are not limited to private interest but supply the impelling and
actuating force for accomplishing deeds shared in by the community at
large. Passion is, in the first instance, the subjective and therefore
the formal side of energy, will, and activity--leaving the object or aim
still undetermined. And there is a similar relation of formality to
reality in merely individual conviction, individual views, individual
conscience. It is always a question of essential importance--what is the
purport of my conviction, what the object of my passion--in deciding
whether the one or the other is of a true and substantial nature.
Conversely, if it is so, it will inevitably attain actual existence--be

From this comment on the second essential element in the historical
embodiment of an aim, we infer--glancing at the institution of the State
in passing--that a State is well constituted and internally powerful when
the private interest of its citizens is one with the common interest of
the State, when the one finds its gratification and realization in the
other--a proposition in itself very important. But in a State many
institutions must be adopted, and much political machinery invented,
accompanied by appropriate political arrangements--necessitating long
struggles of the understanding before what is really appropriate can be
discovered--involving, moreover, contentions with private interest and
passions and a tedious discipline of the latter in order to bring about
the desired harmony. The epoch when a State attains this harmonious
condition marks the period of its bloom, its virtue, its vigor, and its
prosperity. But the history of mankind does not begin with a conscious
aim of any kind, as is the case with the particular circles into which
men form themselves of set purpose. The mere social instinct implies a
conscious purpose of security for life and property; and when society has
been constituted this purpose becomes more comprehensive. The history of
the world begins with its general aim--the realization of the idea of
Spirit--only in an implicit form (_an sich_), that is, as nature--a
hidden, most profoundly hidden, unconscious instinct; and the whole
process of history (as already observed) is directed to rendering this
unconscious impulse a conscious one. Thus appearing in the form of
merely natural existence, natural will--that which has been called the
subjective side--physical craving, instinct, passion, private interest,
as also opinion and subjective conception, spontaneously present
themselves at the very commencement. This vast congeries of volitions,
interests, and activities, constitute the instruments and means of the
World-Spirit for attaining its object, bringing it to consciousness and
realizing it. And this aim is none other than finding itself--coming to
itself--and contemplating itself in concrete actuality. But that those
manifestations of vitality on the part of individuals and peoples, in
which they seek and satisfy their own purposes, are, at the same time,
the means and instruments of a higher and broader purpose of which they
know nothing-which they realize unconsciously might be made a matter of
question-rather has been questioned, and, in every variety of form,
negatived, decried, and contemned as mere dreaming and "philosophy." But
on this point I announced my view at the very outset and asserted our
hypothesis--which, however, will appear in the sequel in the form of a
legitimate inference--and our belief that Reason governs the world and
has consequently governed its history. In relation to this independently
universal and substantial existence all else is subordinate, subservient
to it, and the means for its development. The union of universal
abstract existence generally with the individual--the subjective--that
this alone is truth belongs to the department of speculation and is
treated in this general form in logic. But in the process of the world's
history itself--as still incomplete--the abstract final aim of history
is not yet made the distinct object of desire and interest. While these
limited sentiments are still unconscious of the purpose they are
fulfilling, the universal principle is implicit in them and is realizing
itself through them. The question also assumes the form of the union of
freedom and necessity, the latent abstract process of Spirit being
regarded as necessity, while that which exhibits itself in the conscious
will of men, as their interest, belongs to the domain of freedom. As the
metaphysical connection (i. e., the connection in the Idea) of these
forms of thought, belongs to logic, it would be out of place to analyze
it here. The chief and cardinal points only shall be mentioned.

Philosophy shows that the Idea advances to an infinite antithesis--that,
namely, between the Idea in its free, universal form, in which it exists
for itself, and the contrasted form of abstract introversion, reflection
on itself, which is formal existence-for-self, personality, formal
freedom, such as belongs to Spirit only. The universal Idea exists thus
as the substantial totality of things on the one side, and as the
abstract essence of free volition on the other. This reflection of the
mind on itself is individual self-consciousness--the polar-opposite of
the Idea in its general form and therefore existing in absolute
limitation. This polar-opposite is consequently limitation,
particularization for the universal absolute being; it is the side of
the definite existence, the sphere of its formal reality, the sphere of
the reverence paid to God. To comprehend the absolute connection of this
antithesis is the profound task of metaphysics. This limitation
originates all forms of particularity of whatever kind. The formal
volition (of which we have spoken) wills itself and desires to make its
own personality valid in all that it purposes and does; even the pious
individual wishes to be saved and happy. This pole of the antithesis,
existing for itself, is--in contrast with the Absolute Universal
Being--a special separate existence, taking cognizance of speciality
only and willing that alone. In short, it plays its part in the region
of mere phenomena. This is the sphere of particular purposes, in
effecting which individuals exert themselves on behalf of their
individuality--give it full play and objective realization. This is also
the sphere of happiness and its opposite. He is happy who finds his
condition suited to his special character, will, and fancy, and so
enjoys himself in that condition. The history of the world is not the
theatre of happiness. Periods of happiness are blank pages in it, for
they are periods of harmony--periods when the antithesis is in abeyance.
Reflection of self--the freedom above described--is abstractly defined
as the formal element of the activity of the absolute Idea. The
realizing activity of which we have spoken is the middle term of the
syllogism, one of whose extremes is the universal essence, the _Idea_,
which reposes in the penetralia of Spirit; and the other, the complex of
external things--objective matter. That activity is the medium by which
the universal latent principle is translated into the domain of

I will endeavor to make what has been said more vivid and clear by
examples. The building of a house is, in the first instance, a
subjective aim and design. On the other hand we have, as means, the
several substances required for the work--iron, wood, stones. The
elements are made use of in working up this material--fire to melt the
iron, wind to blow the fire, water to set the wheels in motion in order
to cut the wood, etc. The result is that the wind, which has helped to
build the house, is shut out by the house; so also are the violence of
rains and floods and the destructive powers of fire, so far as the house
is made fire-proof. The stones and beams obey the law of gravity--press
downward--and so high walls are carried up. Thus the elements are made
use of in accordance with their nature, and yet are made to cooeperate
for a product by which their operation is limited. It is thus that the
passions of men are gratified; they develop themselves and their aims in
accordance with their natural tendencies and build up the edifice of
human society, thus fortifying a position for Right and Order _against

The connection of events above indicated involves also the fact that, in
history, an additional result is commonly produced by human actions
beyond what they aim at and obtain what they immediately recognize and
desire. They gratify their own interest; but something further is
thereby accomplished, latent in the actions in question, though not
present to their consciousness and not included in their design. An
analogous example is offered in the case of a man who, from a feeling of
revenge--perhaps not an unjust one, but produced by injury on the
other's part--burns that other man's house. A connection is immediately
established between the deed itself, taken abstractly, and a train of
circumstances not directly included in it. In itself it consisted in
merely bringing a small flame into contact with a small portion of a
beam. Events not involved in that simple act follow of themselves. The
part of the beam which was set afire is connected with its remote
portions, the beam itself is united with the woodwork of the house
generally, and this with other houses, so that a wide conflagration
ensues which destroys the goods and chattels of many other persons
besides those belonging to the person against whom the act of revenge
was first directed, perhaps even costs not a few men their lives. This
lay neither in the deed intrinsically nor in the design of the man who
committed it. But the action has a further general bearing. In the
design of the doer it was only revenge executed against an individual in
the destruction of his property, but it is, moreover, a crime, and that
involves punishment also. This may not have been present to the mind of
the perpetrator, still less in his intention; but his deed itself, the
general principles it calls into play, its substantial content, entail
it. By this example I wish only to impress on you the consideration
that, in a simple act, something further may be implicated than lies in
the intention and consciousness of the agent. The example before us
involves, however, the additional consideration that the substance of
the act, consequently, we may say, the act itself, recoils upon the
perpetrator--reacts upon him with destructive tendency. This union of
the two extremes--the embodiment of a general idea in the form of direct
reality and the elevation of a speciality into connection with universal
truth--is brought to pass, at first sight, under the conditions of an
utter diversity of nature between the two and an indifference of the one
extreme toward the other. The aims which the agents set before them are
limited and special; but it must be remarked that the agents themselves
are intelligent thinking beings. The purport of their desires is
interwoven with general, essential considerations of justice, good,
duty, etc.; for mere desire--volition in its rough and savage
forms--falls not within the scene and sphere of universal history. Those
general considerations, which form at the same time a norm for directing
aims and actions, have a determinate purport; for such an abstraction
as "good for its own sake," has no place in living reality. If men are
to act they must not only intend the Good, but must have decided for
themselves whether this or that particular thing is a good. What special
course of action, however, is good or not, is determined, as regards the
ordinary contingencies of private life, by the laws and customs of a
State; and here no great difficulty is presented. Each individual has
his position; he knows, on the whole, what a just, honorable course of
conduct is. As to ordinary, private relations, the assertion that it is
difficult to choose the right and good--the regarding it as the mark of
an exalted morality to find difficulties and raise scruples on that
score--may be set down to an evil or perverse will, which seeks to evade
duties not in themselves of a perplexing nature, or, at any rate, to an
idly reflective habit of mind--where a feeble will affords no sufficient
exercise to the faculties--leaving them therefore to find occupation
within themselves and to expand themselves on moral self-adulation.

It is quite otherwise with the comprehensive relations with which
history has to do. In this sphere are presented those momentous
collisions between existing, acknowledged duties, laws, and rights, and
those contingencies which are adverse to this fixed system, which assail
and even destroy its foundations and existence, and whose tenor may
nevertheless seem good--on the large scale, advantageous--yes, even
indispensable and necessary. These contingencies realize themselves in
history; they involve a general principle of a different order from that
on which depends the permanence of a people or a State. This principle
is an essential phase in the development of the creating Idea, of Truth
striving and urging toward (consciousness of) itself. Historical
men--world-famous individuals--are those in whose aims such a general
principle lies.

Caesar, in danger of losing a position--not perhaps at that time of
superiority, yet at least of equality with the others who were at the
head of the State, and of succumbing to those who were just on the point
of becoming his enemies--belongs essentially to this category. These
enemies--who were at the same time pursuing their own personal aims--had
on their side the form of the constitution, and the power conferred by
an appearance of justice. Caesar was contending for the maintenance of
his position, honor, and safety; and, since the power of his opponents
included the sovereignty over the provinces of the Roman Empire, his
victory secured for him the conquest of that entire Empire; and he thus
became--though leaving the form of the constitution--the autocrat of the
State. What secured for him the execution of a design, which in the
first instance was of negative import--the autocracy of Rome--was,
however, at the same time an independently necessary feature in the
history of Rome and of the world. It was not, then, his private gain
merely, but an unconscious impulse that occasioned the accomplishment of
that for which the time was ripe. Such are all great historical men,
whose own particular aims involve those large issues which are the will
of the World-Spirit. They may be called heroes, inasmuch as they have
derived their purposes and their vocation, not from the calm, regular
course of things, sanctioned by the existing order, but from a concealed
fount--one which has not attained to phenomenal, present existence--from
that inner Spirit, still hidden beneath the surface, which, impinging on
the outer world as on a shell, bursts it in pieces, because it is
another kernel than that which belonged to the shell in question. They
are men, therefore, who appear to draw the impulse of their life from
themselves, and whose deeds have produced a condition of things and a
complex of historical relations which appear to be only their own
interest and their own work.

Such individuals had no consciousness of the general Idea they were
unfolding, while prosecuting their aims; on the contrary, they were
practical, political men. But, at the same time, they were thinking men,
who had an insight into the requirements of the time--_what was ripe
for development_. This was the very truth for their age, for their
world--the species next in order, so to speak, and which was already
formed in the womb of time. It was theirs to know this nascent
principle, the necessary, directly sequent step in progress, which their
world was to take, to make this their aim, and to expend their energy in
promoting it. World-historical men--the heroes of an epoch--must,
therefore, be recognized as its clear-sighted ones; their deeds, their
words are the best of that time. Great men have formed purposes to
satisfy themselves, not others. Whatever prudent designs and counsels
they might have learned from others would be the more limited and
inconsistent features in their career; for it was they who best
understood affairs, from whom others learned, and approved, or at least
acquiesced in, their policy. For that Spirit which had taken this fresh
step in history is the inmost soul of all individuals, but in a state of
unconsciousness which the great men in question aroused. Their fellows,
therefore, follow these soul-leaders; for they feel the irresistible
power of their own inner Spirit thus embodied. If we go on to cast a
look at the fate of these world-historical persons, whose vocation it
was to be the agents of the World-Spirit, 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 naught else but their
master-passion. When their object is attained they fall off like empty
husks from the kernel. They die early, like Alexander; they are
murdered, like Caesar; transported to St. Helena, like Napoleon. This
fearful consolation--that historical men have not enjoyed what is called
happiness, and of which only private life (and this may be passed under
various external circumstances) is capable--this consolation those may
draw from history who stand in need of it; and it is craved by envy,
vexed at what is great and transcendent, striving, therefore, to
depreciate it and to find some flaw in it. Thus in modern times it has
been demonstrated _ad nauseam_ that princes are generally unhappy on
their thrones; in consideration of which the possession of a throne is
tolerated, and men acquiesce in the fact that not themselves but the
personages in question are its occupants. The free man, we may observe,
is not envious, but gladly recognizes what is great and exalted, and
rejoices that it exists.

It is in the light of those common elements which constitute the
interest and therefore the passions of individuals that these historical
men are to be regarded. They are great men, because they willed and
accomplished something great--not a mere fancy, a mere intention, but
whatever met the case and fell in with the needs of the age. This mode
of considering them also excludes the so-called "psychological" view,
which, serving the purpose of envy most effectually, contrives so to
refer all actions to the heart, to bring them under such a subjective
aspect, that their authors appear to have done everything under the
impulse of some passion, mean or grand, some morbid craving, and, on
account of these passions and cravings, to have been immoral men.
Alexander of Macedon partly subdued Greece, and then Asia; therefore he
was possessed by a morbid craving for conquest. He is alleged to have
acted from a craving for fame, for conquest; and the proof that these
were the impelling motives is that he did what resulted in fame. What
pedagogue has not demonstrated of Alexander the Great, of Julius Caesar,
that they were instigated by such passions, and were consequently
immoral men? From this the conclusion immediately follows that he, the
pedagogue, is a better man than they, because he has not such
passions--a proof of which lies in the fact that he does not conquer
Asia, or vanquish Darius and Porus, but, while he enjoys life himself,
lets others enjoy it too. These psychologists are particularly fond of
contemplating those peculiarities of great historical figures which
appertain to them as private persons. Man must eat and drink; he
sustains relations to friends and acquaintances; he has passing
impulses and ebullitions of temper. "No man is a hero to his
valet-de-chambre," is a well-known proverb; I have added--and Goethe
repeated it ten years later--"but not because the former is no hero, but
because the latter is a valet." He takes off the hero's boots, assists
him to bed, knows that he prefers champagne, etc. Historical personages
waited upon in historical literature by such psychological valets come
poorly off; they are brought down by these their attendants to a level
with, or, rather, a few degrees below the level of, the morality of such
exquisite discerners of spirits. The Thersites of Homer who abuses the
kings is a standing figure for all times. Blows--that is, beating with a
solid cudgel--he does not get in every age, as in the Homeric one; but
his envy, his egotism, is the thorn which he has to carry in his flesh;
and the undying worm that gnaws him is the tormenting consideration that
his excellent views and vituperations remain absolutely without result
in the world. But our satisfaction at the fate of Thersitism also, may
have its sinister side.

A world-famous individual is not so unwise as to indulge a variety of
wishes to divide his regards. He is devoted to the one aim, regardless
of all else. It is even possible that such men may treat other great,
even sacred interests, inconsiderately--conduct which is deserving of
moral reprehension. But so mighty a form must trample down many innocent
flowers and crush to pieces many an object in its path.

The special interest of passion is thus inseparable from the active
development of a general principle; for it is from the special and
determinate, and from its negation, that the universal results.
Particularity contends with its like, and some loss is involved in the
issue. It is not the general idea that is implicated in opposition and
combat, and that is exposed to danger. It remains in the background,
untouched and uninjured. This may be called the cunning of reason--that
it sets the passions to work for itself, while that which develops its
existence through such impulsion pays the penalty and suffers loss. For
it is _phenomenal_ being that is so treated, and, of this, a portion is
of no value, another is positive and real. The particular is, for the
most part, of too trifling value as compared with the general;
individuals are sacrificed and abandoned. The Idea pays the penalty of
determinate existence and of corruptibility, not from itself, but from
the passions of individuals.

But though we might tolerate the idea that individuals, their desires,
and the gratification of them, are thus sacrificed, and their happiness
given up to the empire of chance, to which it belongs, and that, as a
general rule, individuals come under the category of means to an
ulterior end, there is one aspect of human individuality which we should
hesitate to regard in that subordinate light, even in relation to the
highest, since it is absolutely no subordinate element, but exists in
those individuals as inherently eternal and divine--I mean morality,
ethics, religion. Even when speaking of the realization of the great
ideal aim by means of individuals, the subjective element in them--their
interest and that of their cravings and impulses, their views and
judgments, though exhibited as the merely formal side of their
existence--was spoken of as having an infinite right to be consulted.
The first idea that presents itself in speaking of means is that of
something external to the object, yet having no share in the object
itself. But merely natural things--even the commonest lifeless
objects--used as means, must be of such a kind as adapts them to their
purpose; they must possess something in common with it. Human beings,
least of all, sustain the bare external relation of mere means to the
great ideal aim. Not only do they, in the very act of realizing it, make
it the occasion of satisfying personal desires whose purport is diverse
from that aim, but they share in that ideal aim itself, and are, for
that very reason, objects of their own existence--not formally merely,
as the world of living beings generally is, whose individual life is
essentially subordinate to that of man and its properly used up as an
instrument. Men, on the contrary, are objects of existence to
themselves, as regards the intrinsic import of the aim in question. To
this order belongs that in them which we would exclude from the category
of mere means--morality, ethics, religion. That is to say, man is an
object of existence in himself only in virtue of the Divine that is in
him--the quality that was designated at the outset as Reason, which, in
view of its activity and power of self-determination, was called
freedom. And we affirm--without entering at present on the proof of the
assertion--that religion, morality, etc., have their foundation and
source in that principle, and so are essentially elevated above all
alien necessity and chance. And here we must remark that individuals, to
the extent of their freedom, are responsible for the depravation and
enfeeblement of morals and religion. This is the seal of the absolute
and sublime destiny of man--that he knows what is good and what is evil;
that his destiny is his very ability to will either good or evil--in one
word, that he is the subject of moral imputation, imputation not only of
evil, but of good, and not only concerning this or that particular
matter, and all that happens _ab extra_, but also the good and evil
attaching to his individual freedom. The brute alone is simply innocent.
It would, however, demand an extensive explanation--as extensive as the
analysis of moral freedom itself--to preclude or obviate all the
misunderstandings which the statement that what is called innocence
imports the entire unconsciousness of evil--is wont to occasion.

In contemplating the fate which virtue, morality, even piety experience
in history, we must not fall into the Litany of Lamentations, that the
good and pious often, or for the most part, fare ill in the world, while
the evil-disposed and wicked prosper. The term prosperity is used in a
variety of meanings--riches, outward honor, and the like. But in
speaking of something which in and for itself constitutes an aim of
existence, that so-called well or ill faring of these or those isolated
individuals cannot be regarded as an essential element in the rational
order of the universe. With more justice than happiness--or a fortunate
environment for individuals--it is demanded of the grand aim of the
world's existence that it should foster, nay, involve the execution and
ratification of good, moral, righteous purposes. What makes men morally
discontented (a discontent, by the way, on which they somewhat pride
themselves), is that they do not find the present adapted to the
realization of aims which they hold to be right and just--more
especially, in modern times, ideals of political constitutions; they
contrast unfavorably things as they are, with their idea of things as
they ought to be. In this case it is not private interest nor passion
that desires gratification, but reason, justice, liberty; and, equipped
with this title, the demand in question assumes a lofty bearing and
readily adopts a position, not merely of discontent, but of open revolt
against the actual condition of the world. To estimate such a feeling
and such views aright, the demands insisted upon and the very dogmatic
opinions asserted must be examined. At no time so much as in our own,
have such general principles and notions been advanced, or with greater
assurance. If, in days gone by, history seems to present itself as a
struggle of passions, in our time--though displays of passion are not
wanting--it exhibits, partly a predominance of the struggle of notions
assuming the authority of principles, partly that of passions and
interests essentially subjective but under the mask of such higher
sanctions. The pretensions thus contended for as legitimate in the name
of that which has been stated as the ultimate aim of Reason, pass
accordingly for absolute aims--to the same extent as religion, morals,
ethics. Nothing, as before remarked, is now more common than the
complaint that the ideals which imagination sets up are not realized,
that these glorious dreams are destroyed by cold actuality. These ideals
which, in the voyage of life, founder on the rocks of hard reality may
be in the first instance only subjective and belong to the idiosyncrasy
of the individual, imagining himself the highest and wisest. Such do not
properly belong to this category. For the fancies which the individual
in his isolation indulges cannot be the model for universal reality,
just as universal law is not designed for the units of the mass. These
as such may, in fact, find their interests thrust decidedly into the
background. But by the term "Ideal" we also understand the ideal of
Reason--of the good, of the true. Poets--as, for instance,
Schiller--have painted such ideals touchingly and with strong emotion,
and with the deeply melancholy conviction that they could not be
realized. In affirming, on the contrary, that the Universal Reason does
realize itself, we have indeed nothing to do with the individual,
empirically regarded; that admits of degrees of better and worse, since
here chance and speciality have received authority from the Idea to
exercise their monstrous power; much, therefore, in particular aspects
of the grand phenomenon, might be criticized. This subjective
fault-finding--which, however, only keeps in view the individual and its
deficiency, without taking notice of Reason pervading the whole--is
easy; and inasmuch as it asserts an excellent intention with regard to
the good of the whole, and seems to result from a kindly heart, it feels
authorized to give itself airs and assume great consequence. It is
easier to discover a deficiency in individuals, in States, and in
Providence, than to see their real import and value. For in this merely
negative fault-finding a proud position is taken--one which overlooks
the object without having entered into it, without having comprehended
its positive aspect. Age generally makes men more tolerant; youth is
always discontented. The tolerance of age is the result of the ripeness
of a judgment which, not merely as the result of indifference, is
satisfied even with what is inferior, but, more deeply taught by the
grave experience of life, has been led to perceive the substantial,
solid worth of the object in question. The insight, then, to which--in
contradistinction to those ideals--philosophy is to lead us, is, that
the real world is as it ought to be--that the truly good, the universal
divine Reason, is not a mere abstraction, but a vital principle capable
of realizing itself. This Good, this Reason, in its most concrete form,
is God. God governs the world; the actual working of His government, the
carrying out of His plan, is the history of the world. This plan
philosophy strives to comprehend; for only that which has been developed
as the result of it possesses _bona fide_ reality. That which does not
accord with it is negative, worthless existence. Before the pure light

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