10 episodes

The introduction to Hegel’s lectures on the philosophy of world history is often used to introduce students to Hegel’s philosophy, in part because Hegel’s sometimes difficult style is muted in the lectures, and he discourses on accessible themes such as world events in order to explain his philosophy. Much of the work is spent defining and characterizing Geist or spirit. Geist is similar to the culture of people, and is constantly reworking itself to keep up with the changes of society, while at the same time working to produce those changes through what Hegel called the “cunning of reason”. Another important theme of the text is the focus on world history, rather than regional or state history. The obscure writings of Jakob Böhme had a strong effect on Hegel. Böhme had written that the Fall of Man was a necessary stage in the evolution of the universe. This evolution was, itself, the result of God’s desire for complete self-awareness. Hegel was fascinated by the works of Spinoza, Kant, Rousseau, and Goethe, and by the French Revolution. Modern philosophy, culture, and society seemed to Hegel fraught with contradictions and tensions, such as those between the subject and object of knowledge, mind and nature, self and Other, freedom and authority, knowledge and faith, the Enlightenment and Romanticism. Hegel’s main philosophical project was to take these contradictions and tensions and interpret them as part of a comprehensive, evolving, rational unity that, in different contexts, he called “the absolute idea” or “absolute knowledge”. According to Hegel, the main characteristic of this unity was that it evolved through and manifested itself in contradiction and negation. Contradiction and negation have a dynamic quality that at every point in each domain of reality—consciousness, history, philosophy, art, nature, society—leads to further development until a rational unity is reached that preserves the contradictions as phases and sub-parts through an up-lifting (Aufhebung) into a higher unity. This whole is mental because it is mind that can comprehend all of these phases and sub-parts as steps in its own process of comprehension. It is rational because the same, underlying, logical, developmental order underlies every domain of reality and is ultimately the order of self-conscious rational thought, although only in the later stages of development does it come to full self-consciousness. The rational, self-conscious whole is not a thing or being that lies outside of other existing things or minds. Rather, it comes to completion only in the philosophical comprehension of individual existing human minds who, through their own understanding, bring this developmental process to an understanding of itself.

Introduction to The Philosophy of History by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel Loyal Books

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.7, 3 Ratings

The introduction to Hegel’s lectures on the philosophy of world history is often used to introduce students to Hegel’s philosophy, in part because Hegel’s sometimes difficult style is muted in the lectures, and he discourses on accessible themes such as world events in order to explain his philosophy. Much of the work is spent defining and characterizing Geist or spirit. Geist is similar to the culture of people, and is constantly reworking itself to keep up with the changes of society, while at the same time working to produce those changes through what Hegel called the “cunning of reason”. Another important theme of the text is the focus on world history, rather than regional or state history. The obscure writings of Jakob Böhme had a strong effect on Hegel. Böhme had written that the Fall of Man was a necessary stage in the evolution of the universe. This evolution was, itself, the result of God’s desire for complete self-awareness. Hegel was fascinated by the works of Spinoza, Kant, Rousseau, and Goethe, and by the French Revolution. Modern philosophy, culture, and society seemed to Hegel fraught with contradictions and tensions, such as those between the subject and object of knowledge, mind and nature, self and Other, freedom and authority, knowledge and faith, the Enlightenment and Romanticism. Hegel’s main philosophical project was to take these contradictions and tensions and interpret them as part of a comprehensive, evolving, rational unity that, in different contexts, he called “the absolute idea” or “absolute knowledge”. According to Hegel, the main characteristic of this unity was that it evolved through and manifested itself in contradiction and negation. Contradiction and negation have a dynamic quality that at every point in each domain of reality—consciousness, history, philosophy, art, nature, society—leads to further development until a rational unity is reached that preserves the contradictions as phases and sub-parts through an up-lifting (Aufhebung) into a higher unity. This whole is mental because it is mind that can comprehend all of these phases and sub-parts as steps in its own process of comprehension. It is rational because the same, underlying, logical, developmental order underlies every domain of reality and is ultimately the order of self-conscious rational thought, although only in the later stages of development does it come to full self-consciousness. The rational, self-conscious whole is not a thing or being that lies outside of other existing things or minds. Rather, it comes to completion only in the philosophical comprehension of individual existing human minds who, through their own understanding, bring this developmental process to an understanding of itself.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
3 Ratings

3 Ratings

J. Arevalo ,

Great reading

The reader does a fantastic job with Hegel, making this difficult text much more accessible. I think his tone matches the spirit of the work perfectly. The reader also has impressive mastery of foreign languages used in the text.

sbaudiophile ,

Makes Hegel a little easier to digest….

I don’t mean to dissuade anyone from this welcome addition to the Librivox repertoire, but, let’s face it, it’s Hegel. But let me say that if you ever shied away from this notoriously difficult thinker, this audiobook might be for you what it is for me — that is the only way you might possibly be able to get through this beast — mind you, a beast of immensely important ideas foundational not only to nineteenth-century Western thought, but likewise to the history of modern Germany - the good and the bad. The reader is almost hilariously severe and morose in his reading, which I forgive in that this is the demeanor I always imagined a mind as erudite and deep as that of Hegel. Because it’s philosophy, I imagine it is rather exhausting to read, so I think the reader does as well as could be done. That said, it can be monotonous and it is most definitely not “light reading” by any stretch. You have to be in the mood for this one, and determined to listen. Invest your time well, and follow along with a text version to mark out passages and take notes if something grabs you. You may also find that you need to re-listen to segments of this text, because it really is so dense. When all is said an done, however, I am truly grateful to Librivox for offering this text, and I am interested to listen to more of their more philosophical offerings.

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