Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: biography of this philosopher

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a German philosopher, considered one of the great representatives of idealism in Germany.

His work, like that of other German philosophers of the time such as Emmanuel Kant, exerted a great weight on thought, both in the Germanic country and in the rest of Europe, in the 18th and 19th centuries. Let’s look at their story through this one biography of Georg Hegel in summary format.

    Biography of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

    Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, better known simply as Hegel, born in a petty-bourgeois family on August 27, 1770 in Stuttgart, Prussia, present-day Germany.

    Hegel was trained in a Protestant seminary in the city of Tübingen, where he met Friedrich Schelling and Friedrich Hölderlin as classmates. He would later study at the university and, in 1793, receive his doctorate.

    From then on he worked as a private tutor in Bern and later in Frankfurt. At that time, still young and without having yet marked the character of his philosophical thought, he wrote in a fragmentary way.

    The texts from this period will be published much later, in 1907, under the name of “Juvenile Theological Writings”. The most remarkable of these texts are the Sketches on religion and love, the life of Jesus, the positivity of the Christian religion, the spirit of Christianity and its destiny, and the republican fragments.

    Journey through the Kingdom of Prussia

    In 1801 he moved to Jena at the request and invitation of his colleague Schelling, which by that time had become the most important cultural center in all of German culture. In Jena, he taught until 1807 but, due to Napoleon’s occupation, he was forced to flee and found himself, a year later, in Nuremberg, Where he would work as rector and professor of philosophy in his Gymnasium (German high school).

    Last decades

    The educational activity he carried out in Nuremberg is compiled under the title “Philosophical Propaedeutics”. Nevertheless, and in spite of being interested in the pedagogy, Hegel concentrated in his major work, Science of logic, published in three volumes between 1812 and 1816.

    He will then be invited to work at the University of Heidelberg, in order to occupy the chair of philosophy.. There he will publish his complete exposition of his philosophical system in “Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences” (1817).

    From 1818 until his death, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel taught in the city of Berlin, where the famous Johann Gottlieb Fichte had held his chair. His last major work, Philosophie du droit, was published in 1821. He died on November 14. , 1831, of an epidemic of cholera. He was 61 years old.

      Hegel and the end of the Ancien Régime

      Georg Hegel witnessed a historic changeSince he saw how the Ancien Régime, a small libertarian and censor of the criticism of established power, faltered.

      At the start of the French Revolution, Hegel, inspired by one of the greatest illustrators, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, considered plausible the idea of ​​the Greek polis, that is to say the belief that cities could become states . a harmonious society, with a patriotic spirit and a popular non-dogmatic religion.

      In his early days, Hegel, as a person who lived in the midst of the Enlightenment, he advocated the liberation of humanity from a past where there was oppressionAs much political, as it could be the Roman Empire or the medieval states, like religious, represented in the idea Christianity.

      However, already passed the French Revolution and with the arrival of Napoleon to power, Hegel changed his mind. Seeing that, perhaps, this ideal of creating tiny states was not plausible because sooner or later a tyrant, of any ideal, would end up trying to establish his empire, he put this to the field. belief in being able to achieve a society of states of independent ideals. Therefore, being already in Jena and Frankfurt, he adopted a more realistic attitude in politics and in Christianity.

      Not that he was a fervent enemy of Napoleon, quite the contrary. He greatly admired his work, as he had just destroyed the old and unnecessary remains of feudalism, as well as the potential of what, in time, would become modern political economy. This gave him a rather optimistic idea of ​​the development of the bourgeois sense of the society of his time.Considering that he was living the beginning of a new historical stage.

      But despite being critical of feudalism and even having written about republicanism, by 1815 Hegel was a supporter of the Prussian monarchy. Although it is still a regime based on the medieval idea that power should be inherited and not elected, it considers the ideals of the Hohenzollern family to be those of reason and true freedom. It is then that Hegel passes to a conception that philosophy, rather than having as its mission to announce and prepare a new epoch, should become the recognition of the positivity of the present.

      Phenomenology of the mind

      It is one of Hegel’s best-known works, and this one is divided into six sections: consciousness, self-awareness, reason, mind, religion and absolute knowledge.

      In the section on consciousness, Hegel criticizes various forms of realism, as well as the justification of the constitutive function of thought on objectivity. In self-awareness, he speaks of the identity of opposites, such as the “I-subject” and the “I-object”. They are really the same I’s, but duplicated and apparently seen as something opposite to each other.

      In the section on the spirit, he talks about the times which were decisive for Western history and thought, starting with the ancient world, i.e. Greece and Rome, to reach what, for he was the modern French revolution. Along the way, he approached feudalism and monarchical absolutism which had served as the seed for the outbreak of the bourgeois revolutions of their time.

      When he speaks of religion, he indicates that Christianity served as a creed which sought to express the requirement of reconciliation between the divine and the human, through the dogma of man-God, that is to say – say Jesus.

      Philosophy of nature

      In the Hegelian language, the word idea refers to all rational categories. In the real world, the idea is fragmented into an accident. However, when speaking of reality, a distinction must be made between nature and spirit.

      The spirit is represented by the human being and his activities, and it is the being that can be realized as absolute. Mind is superior to nature, a statement Hegel uses to argue against materialism and also romantic descriptions of nature, which are heavily inspired by pantheistic beliefs.

      Hegel rejects empiricism and mechanism, And takes a very exaggerated view of the mind, so much so that it even reaches animistic perspectives. For him, in nature, the elements were arranged by successive degrees, ranging from the mechanical, through the physical and reaching organisms, with more or less complexity.

      Philosophy of mind

      With his philosophy of the mind, he further develops the ideas of the absolute and the idea. For Hegel, the mind manifests itself in three phases: subjective mind, objective mind and absolute mind.

      1. Subjective mind

      The subjective mind corresponds to the individual soul. Coming from nature, this is what we would understand as the individual, the man himself. The evolutionary process of the idea of ​​subjective mind takes place in three phases: anthropology, phenomenology and psychology.

      In anthropology, the subjective mind is observed in its infancy, if it emerges from the natural world, binding itself to a body. This idea was shared by the ancient Greeks, especially with regard to the sensitive soul. Phenomenology corresponds to the stage during which the subjective mind becomes aware of itself. He has an identity. In the phase of psychology, the mind acquires reason, imagination, intuition and other internal processes. It takes the mind to a higher level: it’s the mind free.

      2. The objective mind

      By reaching the last degree of subjectivity, the mind unfolds. It manifests in works that other individuals can see, capture, feel. It manifests itself through concepts such as law, morals and ethics. Laws are established which allow the free existence and equality of minds in the same world, constituting the legal foundations of a society.

      3. The absolute spirit

      The absolute spirit is the unity of the characteristics of the subject and the goal. This spirit passes through three higher stages of subjectivity or objectivity: art, religion and philosophy.

      Art, which would be an objective manifestation, although subjective, is the representation of the ideal of what is beautiful. This is the way the spirit manifests itself to others, Giving birth to all kinds of art which, although objectively found in the real world, each give a free interpretation.

      Religion is conceived, according to Hegel, as a rationalist thing, And explains that it has manifested itself, throughout history, through three stages. In the Eastern religions, they were nourished with concepts which referred to the infinite; in classical Greece and Rome, reference was made to the finite. Finally, in Christianity, a synthesis is made between the Eastern and Greco-Roman vision.

      Philosophy is the final stage of the absolute mind, reaching its completeness. The intuition of the absolute spirit in art and its representation in religion is overtaken by philosophy. The mind is aware of itself through philosophy.

      bibliographical references

      • Artola, J. (1972) Hegel. Philosophy as a comeback, Madrid, Spain.
      • Gadamer, HG: The dialectic of Hegel, Madrid, 1981.
      • Cambrer-Gil, C. (sf) Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich (1770-1831). MCN Biographies. Retrieved from

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