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georg friedrich wilhelm hegel Quotes
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Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel Quotes



    • Not curiosity, not vanity, not the consideration of expediency, not duty and conscientiousness, but an unquenchable, unhappy thirst that brooks no compromise leads us to truth.
    • The great thing however is, in the show of the temporal and the transient to recognize the substance which is immanent and the eternal which is present. For the work of Reason (which is synonymous with the Idea) when considered in its own actuality, is to simultaneously enter external existence and emerge with an infinite wealth of forms, phenomena and phases - a multiplicity that envelops its essential rational kernel with a motley outer rind with which our ordinary consciousness is earliest at home. It is this rind that the Concept must penetrate before Reason can find its own inward pulse and feel it still beating even in the outward phases. But this infinite variety of circumstances which is formed in this element of externality by the light of the rational essence shining in it - all this infinite material, with its regulatory laws - is not the object of philosophy....To comprehend what is, is the task of philosophy: and what is is Reason.
    • Poetry is the universal art of the spirit which has become free in itself and which is not tied down for its realization to external sensuous material; instead, it launches out exclusively in the inner space and the inner time of ideas and feelings.
    • Only one man ever understood me. ... And he didn't understand me.
    • The task of conducting the individual mind from its unscientific standpoint to that of science had to be taken in its general sense; we had to contemplate the formative development (Bildung) of the universal [or general] individual, of self-conscious spirit. As to the relation between these two [the particular and general individual], every moment, as it gains concrete form and its own proper shape and appearance, finds a place in the life of the universal individual. The particular individual is incomplete mind, a concrete shape in whose existence, taken as a whole, one determinate characteristic predominates, while the others are found only in blurred outline.
    • In the case of various kinds of knowledge, we find that what in former days occupied the energies of men of mature mental ability sinks to the level of information, exercises, and even pastimes, for children; and in this educational progress we can see the history of the world's culture delineated in faint outline. This bygone mode of existence has already become an acquired possession of the general mind, which constitutes the substance of the individual, and, by thus appearing externally to him, furnishes his inorganic nature. In this respect culture or development of mind (Bildung), regarded from the side of the individual, consists in his acquiring what lies at his hand ready for him, in making its inorganic nature organic to himself, and taking possession of it for himself. Looked at, however, from the side of universal mind qua general spiritual substance, culture means nothing else than that this substance gives itself its own self-consciousness, brings about its own inherent process and its own reflection into self.
    • The goal to be reached is the mind's insight into what knowing is. Impatience asks for the impossible, wants to reach the goal without the means of getting there. The length of the journey has to be borne with, for every moment is necessary; and again we must halt at every stage, for each is itself a complete individual form, and is fully and finally considered only so far as its determinate character is taken and dealt with as a rounded and concrete whole, or only so far as the whole is looked at in the light of the special and peculiar character which this determination gives it. Because the substance of individual mind, nay, more, because the universal mind at work in the world (Weltgeist), has had the patience to go through these forms in the long stretch of time's extent, and to take upon itself the prodigious labour of the world's history, where it bodied forth in each form the entire content of itself, as each is capable of presenting it; and because by nothing less could that all-pervading mind ever manage to become conscious of what itself is - for that reason, the individual mind, in the nature of the case, cannot expect by less toil to grasp what its own substance contains.
    • The life of God - the life which the mind apprehends and enjoys as it rises to the absolute unity of all things - may be described as a play of love with itself; but this idea sinks to an edifying truism, or even to a platitude, when it does not embrace in it the earnestness, the pain, the patience, and labor, involved in the negative aspect of things.
    • A party first truly shows itself to have won the victory when it breaks up into two parties: for so it proves that it contains in itself the principle with which at first it had to conflict, and thus that it has got beyond the one-sidedness which was incidental to its earliest expression. The interest that formerly divided itself between it and that to which it was opposed now falls entirely within itself, and the opposing principle is left behind and forgotten, just because it is represented by one of the sides in the new controversy that now occupies the minds of men. At the same time, it is to be observed that when the old principle thus reappears, it is no longer what it was before; for it is changed and purified by the higher element into which it is now taken up. In this point of view, that discord which appears at first to be a lamentable breach and dissolution of the unity of a party, is really the crowning proof of its success.
    • The force of mind is only as great as its expression; its depth only as deep as its power to expand and lose itself.
    • The very attempt to determine the relationship of a philosophical work to other efforts concerning the same subject, introduces an alien and irrelevant interest which obscures precisely that which matters for the recognition of the truth. Opinion considers the opposition of what is true and false quite rigid, and, confronted with a philosophical system, it expects agreement or contradiction. And in an explanation of such a system, opinion still expects to find one or the other. It does not comprehend the difference of the philosophical systems in terms of the progressive development of the truth, but sees only the contradiction in this difference. The bud disappears as the blossom bursts forth, and one could say that the former is refuted by the latter. In the same way, the fruit declares the blossom to be a false existence of the plant. These forms do not only differ, they also displace each other because they are incompatible. Their fluid nature, however, makes them, at the same time, elements of an organic unity in which they not only do not conflict, but in which one is as necessary as the other; and it is only this equal necessity that constitutes the life of the whole.
    • For the subject matter is not exhausted by any aim, but only by the way in which things are worked out in detail; nor is the result the actual whole, but only the result together with its becoming. The aim, taken by itself, is a lifeless generality; the tendency is a mere drift which still lacks actuality; and the naked result is the corpse which has left the tendency behind.
    • But the other side of its Becoming, History, is a conscious, self-meditating process - Spirit emptied out into Time; but this externalization, this kenosis, is equally an externalization of itself; the negative is the negative of itself. This Becoming presents a slow-moving succession of Spirits, a gallery of images, each of which, endowed with all the riches of Spirit, moves thus slowly just because the Self has to penetrate and digest this entire wealth of its substance. As its fulfilment consists in perfectly knowing what it is, in knowing its substance, this knowing is iat withdrawal into itself in which it abandons its outer existence and gives its existential shape over to recollection. Thus absorbed in itself, it is sunk in the night of its self-consciousness; but in that night its vansihed outer existence is perserved, and this transformed existence- the former one, but now reborn of the Spirit's knowledge- is the new existence, a new world and a new shape of Spirit. In the immediacy of this new existence the Spirit has to start afrsh to bring itself to maturity as if, for it, all that preceeded were lost and it had learned nothing from the experience of the earlier Spirits. But recollection, the inwardizing, of that experience, has perserved it and is the inner-being, and in fact the higher form of the substance. So although to bring itself to maurity, it is none the less on a higher level that it starts. The realm of Spirits which is formed in this way in the outer world constitutes a succession in Time in which one Spirit relieved another of its charge and each took over the empire of the world from its predecessor. Their goal is the revelation of the depth of Spirit, and this is the absolute Notion. This revelation is, therfore, the raising-up of its depth, or its extension, the negativity of this withdrawn 'I', a negativity which is its externalization or its substance; and this revelation is also a Notion's Time, in that this externalization is in its own self externalized, and just as it is in its extention, so it is equally in its depth, in the Seld. The goal, Absolute Knowing, or Spirit that knows itself as Spirit, has for its path the recollection of the Spirits as they are in themselves and as they accomplish the organization of their realm. Their preservation, regarded from the side of their free extistence appearing in the form of contingency, is History,; but regarded from the side of their comprehended organization, it is the Science of Knowing in the sphere of appearance: the two together, comprehended History, form alike the inwardizing and the Calvary of the absolute Spirit, the actuality, truth, and certainty of his throne, without which he would be lifeless and alone. Only
    • The final two lines are a rendering of Schiller's Die Freundschaft.
    • Das Wahre ist das Ganze.
    • The significance of that 'absolute commandment', know thyself - whether we look at it in itself or under the historical circumstances of its first utterance - is not to promote mere self-knowledge in respect of the particular capacities, character, propensities, and foibles of the single self. The knowledge it commands means that of man's genuine reality - of what is essentially and ultimately true and real - of spirit as the true and essential being.
    • Each of the parts of philosophy is a philosophical whole, a circle rounded and complete in itself. In each of these parts, however, the philosophical Idea is found in a particular specificality or medium. The single circle, because it is a real totality, bursts through the limits imposed by its special medium, and gives rise to a wider circle. The whole of philosophy in this way resembles a circle of circles. The Idea appears in each single circle, but, at the same time, the whole Idea is constituted by the system of these peculiar phases, and each is a necessary member of the organisation.
    • A philosophy without heart and a faith without intellect are abstractions from the true life of knowledge and faith. The man whom philosophy leaves cold, and the man whom real faith does not illuminate, may be assured that the fault lies in them, not in knowledge and faith. The former is still an alien to philosophy, the latter an alien to faith.
    • The Philosophy of Nature takes up the material, prepared for it by physics out of experience, at the point to which physics has brought it, and again transforms it, without basing it ultimately on the authority of experience. Physics therefore must work into the hands of philosophy, so that the latter may translate into a true comprehension (Begriff) the abstract universal transmitted to it, showing how it issues from that comprehension as an intrinsically necessary whole.
    • It is because the method of physics does not satisfy the comprehension that we have to go on further.
    • Not only must philosophy be in agreement with our empirical knowledge of Nature, but the origin and formation of the Philosophy of Nature presupposes and is conditioned by empirical physics. However, the course of a science's origin and the preliminaries of its construction are one thing, while the science itself is another. In the latter, the former can no longer appear as the foundation of the science; here, the foundation must be the necessity of the Concept.
    • The heart is everywhere, and each part of the organism is only the specialized force of the heart itself.
    • Was vernunftig ist, das ist Wirklich; und was wirklich ist, das ist vernunftig.
    • Die Eule der Minerva beginnt erst mit der einbrechenden Dammerung ihren Flug.
    • The essence of the modern state is the union of the universal with the full freedom of the particular, and with the welfare of individuals.
    • To be independent of public opinion is the first formal condition of achieving anything great or rational whether in life or in science. Great achievement is assured, however, of subsequent recognition and grateful acceptance by public opinion, which in due course will make it one of its own prejudices
    • The science of religion is one science within philosophy; indeed it is the final one. In that respect it presupposes the other philosophical disciplines and is therefore a result.
    • The beginning of religion, more precisely its content, is the concept of religion itself, that God is the absolute truth, the truth of all things, and subjectively that religion alone is the absolutely true knoweldge.
    • What experience and history teach is this - that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it.
    • Amid the pressure of great events, a general principle gives no help.
    • To him who looks upon the world rationally, the world in its turn presents a rational aspect. The relation is mutual.
    • It is easier to discover a deficiency in individuals, in states, and in providence, than to see their real import or value.
    • Life has a value only when it has something valuable as its object.
    • Serious occupation is labor that has reference to some want.
    • It is a matter of perfect indifference where a thing originated; the only question is: 'Is it true in and for itself?'
    • The Few assume to be the deputies, but they are often only the despoilers of the Many.
    • In history, we are concerned with what has been and what is; in philosophy, however, we are concerned not with what belongs exclusively to the past or to the future, but with that which is, both now and eternally - in short, with reason.
    • The enquiry 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 realised. Two points of consideration suggest themselves: first, the import of this design - its abstract definition; and secondly, its realisation.
    • 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.
    • On the stage on which we are observing it, - Universal History - Spirit displays itself in its most concrete reality.
    • The present is not the occasion for unfolding the idea of Spirit speculatively; for whatever has a place in an Introduction, must, as already observed, be taken as simply historical; something assumed as having been explained and proved elsewhere; or whose demonstration awaits the sequel of the Science of History itself.
    • 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.
    • Matter possesses gravity in virtue of its tendency towards a central point. It is essentially composite; consisting of parts that exclude each other. It seeks its Unity; and therefore exhibits itself as self-destructive, as verging towards its opposite ... 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).
    • 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 realise itself; to make itself actually that which 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 History of the world is none other than the progress of the consciousness of Freedom; a progress whose development according to the necessity of its nature, it is our business to investigate.
    • 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.
    • 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, their characters and talents; and impresses us with the belief that such needs, passions and interests are the sole springs of action - the efficient agents in this scene of activity. Among these may, perhaps, be found aims of a liberal or universal kind - benevolence it may be, or noble patriotism; but such virtues and general views are but insignificant as compared with the World and its doings. We may perhaps see the Ideal of Reason actualized in those who adopt such aims, and within the sphere of their influence; but they bear only a trifling proportion to the mass of the human race; and the extent of that influence is limited accordingly. Passions, private aims, and the satisfaction of selfish desires, are on the other hand, most effective springs of action. Their power lies in the fact that they respect none of the limitations which justice and morality would impose on them; and that these natural impulses have a more direct influence over man than the artificial and tedious discipline that tends to order and self-restraint, law and morality. When we look at this display of passions, and the consequences of their violence; the Unreason which is associated not ,only with them, but even (rather we might say especially) with good designs and righteous aims; when we see the evil, the vice, the ruin that has befallen the most flourishing kingdoms which the mind of man ever created, we can scarce avoid being filled with sorrow at this universal taint of corruption: and, since this decay is not the work of mere Nature, but of the Human Will - a moral embitterment - a revolt of the Good Spirit (if it have a place within us) may well be the result of our reflections.
    • The first remark we have to make, and which - though already presented more than once - cannot be too often repeated 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, &c., have a place in our thoughts, in our subjective design only; but not yet in the sphere of reality. That which exists for itself only, is a possibility, a potentiality; but has not yet emerged into Existence. A second element must be introduced in order to produce actuality - viz. actuation, realization; and whose motive power is the Will - the activity of man in the widest sense.
    • 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.
    • Truth is the unity of the universal and subjective will; and the Universal is to be found in the State, in its laws, its universal and rational arrangements. The State is the Divine Idea as it exists on earth. We have in it, therefore, the object of history in a more definite shape than before; that in which Freedom obtains objectivity. For Law is the objectivity of the Spirit.
    • This final aim is God's purpose with the world; but God is the absolutely perfect Being, and can, therefore, will nothing but himself.
    • Abstraktionen in der Wirklichkeit geltend machen, hei?t Wirklichkeit zerstoren.
    • Was das Individuum betrifft, so ist ohnehin jedes ein Sohn seiner Zeit; so ist auch Philosophie ihre Zeit in Gedanken erfa?t.
    • Any philosopher who uses the word 'and' too often cannot be a good philosopher.
    • I saw the Emperor - that world-soul - ride through the town to reconnoitre. It is indeed a strange feeling to see such a person, who here, from a single point, sitting on his horse, reaches over and masters the world!
    • It is remarkable when a nation loses its Metaphysics, when the Spirit which contemplates its own Pure Essence is no longer a present reality in the life of a nation.
    • Logic is to be understood as the System of Pure Reason, as the realm of Pure Thought. This realm is Truth as it is without veil, and in its own Absolute nature. It can therefore be said that this Content is the exposition of God as God is in God's eternal essence before the creation of Nature and a finite mind.
    • The science of logic which constitutes Metaphysics proper or purely speculative philosophy, has hitherto still been much neglected.
    • This is the simple insight, that Being is within the Concept.
    • If Nietzsche and Hegel serve as alibis to the masters of Dachau and Karaganda, that does not condemn their entire philosophy. But it does lead to the suspicion that one aspect of their thought, or of their logic, can lead to these appalling conclusions
    • The secret of Hegel's dialectic lies ultimately in this alone, that it negates theology through philosophy in order then to negate philosophy through theology. Both the beginning and the end are constituted by theology; philosophy stands in the middle as the negation of the first positedness, but the negation of the negation is again theology.
    • Dr. J. O. Wisdom once observed to me that he knew people who thought there was no philosophy after Hegel, and others who thought there was none before Wittgenstein; and he saw no reason for excluding the possibility that both were right.
    • Altogether, Hegel's conversation was always a kind of monologue, sighed forth by fits and starts in a toneless voice. The baroqueness of his expressions often started me, and I remember many of them. On beautiful starry-skied evening, we two stood next to each other at a window, and I, a young man of twenty-two who had eaten well and had good coffee, enthused about the stars and called them the abode of the bessed. But the master grumbled to himself: 'The stars, hum! hum! the stars are only a gleaming leprosy in the sky.' For God's sake, I shouted, then is no happy locality up there to reward virtue after death? But he, starring at me with his pale eyes, said cuttingly: 'So you want to get a tip for having nursed your sick mother and not having poisoned your dear brother?' - Saying that, he looked around anxiously, but he immediately seemed reassured when he saw that it was only Heinrich Beer, who had approached to invite him to play whist...
    • A philosophy like Hegel's is a self-revelation of the psychic background and, philosophically, a presumption. Psychologically it amounts to an invasion by the Unconscious. The peculiar, high-flown language Hegel uses bears out this view - it is reminiscent of the megalomaniac language of schizophrenics, who use terrific, spellbinding words to reduce the transcendent to subjective form, to give banalities the charm of novelty, or pass off commonplaces as searching wisdom. So bombastic a terminology is a symptom of weakness, ineptitude, and lack of substance.
    • The criticism of the German philosophy of state and right, which attained its most consistent, richest, and last formulation through Hegel, is both a critical analysis of the modern state and of the reality connected with it, and the resolute negation of the whole manner of the German consciousness in politics and right as practiced hereto, the most distinguished, most universal expression of which, raised to the level of science, is the speculative philosophy of right itself.
    • Hegel remarks somewhere that history tends to repeat itself. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.
    • However rebellious against the ways of the Seminary Hegel became, he remained the industrious, serious fellow he always was; his friends at the Seminary referred to him by the nickname 'the old man'... He was not content with simply pub crawling, carousing and making merry; he was still reading quite a bit and still remained extremely serious about learning.
    • In every page of David Hume, there is more to be learned than from Hegel's, Herbart's and Schleiermacher's complete philosophical works.
    • Hegel found that in the Homeric epics the depiction of physical objects, however detailed and stylized, did not intrude upon the rhythm and vitality of the poem. Descriptive writing in modern literature, on the other hand, struck him as contingent and lifeless:. Compared to Homeric or even to medieval times, modern man inhabits the physical world like a rapacious stranger. These ideas greatly influenced Marx and Engels. It contributed to their own theory of the 'alienation' of the individual under capitalist modes of production.
    • We will never be finished with reading and rereading Hegel.
    • georg friedrich wilhelm hegel

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