'Lectures on the Philosophy of World History'
By Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (Author), Hugh Barr Nisbet (Translator), Duncan Forbes (Introduction)
An English translation of Hegel's introduction to his lectures on the philosophy of history, based directly on the standard German edition by Johannes Hoffmeister, first published in 1955. The previous English translation, by J. Sibree, first appeared in 1857 and was based on the defective German edition of Karl Hegel, to which Hoffmeister's edition added a large amount of new material previously unknown to English readers, derived from earlier editors. In the introduction to his lectures, Hegel lays down the principles and aims which underlie his philosophy of history, and provides an outline of the philosophy of history itself. The comprehensive and voluminous survey of world history which followed the introduction in the original lectures is of less interest to students of Hegel's thought than the introduction, and is therefore not included in this volume.
Hegel, the father of German Idealism, developed what is called dialectical philosophy, that is, a philosophy that is based on a dialectical movement from thesis to its antithesis and then the synthesis of the thesis and the antithesis. This dialectical flow of ideas became the foundation of Hegelianism. Although influenced by Kant, Hegel did not accept the limitation placed by Kant upon reason and wrote his own work entitled The Phenomenology of the Mind in order to show the possibility for the mind to know reality. His dialectical logic is developed in Science of Logic which is one of the fundamental works of Hegelian philosophy.
Hegel also wrote extensively on the philosophy of history, which he considered to be an important branch of philosophy itself, as well as on law and aesthetics. He believed that philosophy should deal with the whole rather than starting with parts and it should be based on the process of dialectic as a result of which higher entities grow out of the conflict of lower ones leading finally to the Absolute Idea. This process of the manifestation of the Absolute in history can be seen in the movement from tribal organizations to the fully rational state. The whole of reality in fact is rational and can be known rationally.
Hegel applied his dialectic to every realm from religion to politics, from art to history and created one of the most comprehensive philosophical systems that the West has ever known. His idea of the manifestation of the Absolute in history must not, however, be confused with the traditional ideas of either revelation or the appearance of the Universal Man associated in Islamic esoterism with the inner Reality of Mulammad ﷺ, as has been done by some modern Muslim and Western scholars and thinkers.
After Hegel, many of his followers considered him to be a Protestant Christian and supporter of the Prussian state. However, his influence is to be seen among both the so called leftist Hegelians such as Feuerbach, who gave an atheistic interpretation of Hegelianism and who was closely associated with Marxism, as well as with rightist Hegelians who were closely related to religious circles in Germany. Hegelianism was also influential in England, America and Italy where many philosophers were attracted to the holistic and idealistic aspects of Hegel, such men as J.E. Moore in England, J. Royce in America, and B. Croce in Italy. Although Hegel was eclipsed by the rise of positivism in the late thirteenth/nine- teenth and early fourteenth/twentieth centuries, he has again begun to attract a great deal of attention during the last few decades in both Europe and America.
(Seyyed Hossein Nasr)