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Study Questions

How would an origin myth (like the Christian Genesis) fit into Hegel's system of recorded history? Why?

It wouldn't, since Hegel bars "legends, folksongs, [and] traditions" from counting as true history. The reason is that Hegel considers such folk forms to be the products of a people still unaware of themselves as a people, rather than a record of "observable" events by a people "who knew what they were and what they wanted." For Hegel, collective self-awareness in the form of a State must precede any truly historical record. Genesis, although it may set forth a general story about human nature, is not Hegelian history.

What significance does Anaxagoras have for Hegel?

Anaxagoras was the first to perceive nature as operating on a set of rational laws, and Hegel compares and contrasts this idea with his own assertion that Reason "rules the world." The crucial difference (which, Hegel reminds us, was first recognized by Socrates) is that Anaxagoras' philosophy failed to address the nature of the fundamental Reason that lay behind natural laws, and failed to show how one relates to the other. Hegel, on the other hand, will be concerned with precisely this relationship, and specifically with the way concrete human history unfolds from abstract Reason or Spirit. Anaxagoras, in Hegel's view, saw Reason in the concrete but not in the abstract.

How does Hegel defend subjective morality against being trampled by the goals of history?

He does so by arguing that humans, with their arbitrary personal moralities, are not only the means of Spirit in achieving its goal but also share in that goal themselves. This is because the nature and goal of Spirit are fundamentally rational--thus, each human contains that goal (the end) to the extent that they are rational. The subjective morality that values human life and freedom is generally arbitrary and particular, but it gains unshakable strength because it stems in part from the universal ethics demanded by Spirit and Reason. Thus, human freedom is to be valued because true human freedom has its context only in Reason, and Reason is the end-goal of history. Although human deaths in the past have served Spirit's higher purpose, we cannot claim to justify a single one of them on that account.

What are the main characteristics of Hegel's three major types of written history?

List the three major characteristics of Reason according to Hegel, and give a brief account of their relationship to each other.

List the three major abstract characteristics of Spirit, and give a brief account of their relationship.

How is Spirit like a seed?

What are the "means" of Spirit?

What is a "world-historical individual"? Give an example and explain why that example counts in Hegelian terms.

What is the difference between the social contract (or "negative freedom") model of the State and Hegel's own model of it?

What is the importance of religion for the State, in Hegel's view?

How does Hegel account for "development" and progress in history, in contrast to the stable state of "nature"?

What does Hegel mean by "dialectic" with regard to Spirit?

Why is Hegel so wary of "mere formalism"?

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Hegel's View of State and History

by soberguy7, May 05, 2014

Hegel suggests that no state in any age or any stage of human history can be perfect no matter how high and noble goals it may pursue or achieve. By the time the state achieve those high ideals, human intellect achieves new heights which makes the high goals already achieved by that “next to perfect” state outdated and a quest for achieving the new targets and goals starts, leading human society to its next level, a higher level of development and a new stage in the journey towards perfection.