Nineteenth Century Philosophy

Friedrich Hegel

What were Friedrich Hegel’s main ideas?

Hegel’s system is difficult to describe because all of its parts are inter-related, and so to describe one aspect of it is to evoke all of the others; it is not clear exactly where an interpreter might begin. Hegel’s order of exposition in the progression of his work is not a good guide because the structure of his system has to be presupposed in order to make sense of the progression. In other words, Hegel had his whole system in mind as he wrote about different parts of it. This said, there are several important elements that can be identified as Hegel’s premises:

  • Man has a history, but nature does not.

  • All men do not have the same categories of fact.

  • Human thought develops.

  • Philosophy should give a rational account of religion.

  • Social stability is possible after the French revolution.

  • Individual autonomy is possible in a unified society.

  • The nature of things is a system and a system of knowledge must reflect that.


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