Philosophy of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

02.05.2015 |

Episode #9 of the course “Brief history of Renaissance and Modern philosophy”

One of the most critically-advanced and acclaimed thinkers of the 18th and 19th centuries, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (known to his family as Wilhelm) published some of the most complex philosophical works of all time. Hegel was a German scholar who promoted absolute idealism, which unifies a number of theories about art, history, logic, psychology, philosophy, and religion. His extent is so far-reaching that 20th-century theorists can trace a number of today’s most commonly accepted philosophical and scientific foundations back to Hegel’s work.

Hegel was one of the first to objectively critique and review morality and social consciousness according to a historical perspective. Seeing the cause and effect relationships throughout history on both a large scale and an individual level, Hegel formulated a framework known as the “master-slave dialectic” in human psychology. He theorized that one aspect of human consciousness or identity could not know itself except by comparison, that the opposing aspects would struggle in an attempt to dominate one another, and that when one succeeded the other would be unable to continue to know itself. The importance of this dialectic is the recognizing—the process and movement of recognition.

Hegel’s great works include Phenomenology of Mind, Science of Logic, and Life of Jesus. His philosophy has been critiqued as being too theologically focused and relying too much on the religious aspects of philosophy to answer metaphysical questions. Some have even called it a philosophy that closely resembles Christian mysticism. In the idea of looking at an event or social construction from a historical perspective, some believe that Hegel is saying the correct perspective is an absolute or ultimate one: the perspective of God.


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