Alongside original history and reflective history, philosophic history is the third and final major form of history that Hegel lays out in Introduction to the Philosophy of History. It is worth noting that it is also the form of history that Hegel employed in his work.

The focus of philosophic history is the larger process by which Spirit unfolds in the world as history. Philosophic history prioritizes thought before history, bringing pure philosophical ideas to bear on events. The thoughts that organize the "raw material" of historical events into philosophic history come first and can stand alone. In other words, they are a priori. Thus, the philosophic historian studies both the eternal Spirit (which is non-temporal) and the historical process which is its unfolding (a process which is temporal).

Hegel uses the term morality (in contrast to "ethics") to denote the subjective form of duty to others (in contrast to a form of duty based on the universal principles of the State). Philosophic history generally excludes consideration of morals, ignoring the personal moral problems of world-historical individuals. The reason for this exclusion is that subjective morality, like subjective will, is essentially arbitrary unless it is linked to principles of universality. True ethics arise only with the State, which makes a people free through voluntary adherence to common principles and laws. Some ancient cultures (Hegel mentions Chinese, Indian, and Homeric civilizations) have moral codes but not ethics.

Popular pages: Introduction to the Philosophy of History