CHAPTER XIII. HEGEL.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was born at Stuttgart on August 27, 1770. He attended the gymnasium of his native city, and, from 1788, the Tuebingen seminary as a student of theology; while in 1793-1800 he resided as a private tutor in Berne and Frankfort-on-the-Main. In the latter city the plan of his future system was already maturing. A manuscript outline divides philosophy, following the ancient division, logic, physics, and ethics, into three parts, the first of which (the fundamental science, the doctrine of the categories and of method, combining logic and metaphysics) considers the absolute as pure Idea, while the second considers it as nature, and the third as real (ethical) spirit. Hegel habilitated in 1801 at Jena, with a Latin dissertation On the Orbits of the Planets, in which, ignorant of the discovery of Ceres, he maintained that on rational grounds—assuming that the number-series given in Plato's Timaeus is the true order of nature—no additional planet could exist between Mars and Jupiter. This dissertation gives, further, a deduction of Kepler's laws. The essay on the Difference between the Systems of Fichte and Schelling had appeared even previous to this. In company with Schelling he edited in 1802-03 theKritisches Journal der Philosophie. The article on “Faith and Knowledge” published in this journal characterizes the standpoint of Kant, Jacobi, and Fichte as that of reflection, for which finite and infinite, being and thought form an antithesis, while true speculation grasps these in their identity. In the night before the battle of Jena Hegel finished the revision of his Phenomenology of Spirit, which was published in 1807. The extraordinary professorship given him in 1805 he was forced to resign on account of financial considerations; then he was for a year a newspaper editor in Bamberg, and in 1808 went as a gymnasial rector to Nuremberg, where he instructed the higher classes in philosophy. His lectures there are printed in the eighteenth volume of his works, under the title Propaedeutic. In the Nuremberg period fell his marriage and the publication of the Logic (vol. i. 1812, vol. ii. 1816). In 1816 he was called as professor of philosophy to Heidelberg (where the Encyclopedia appeared, 1817), and two years later to Berlin. The Outlines of the Philosophy of Right, 1821, is the only major work which was written in Berlin. The Jahrbuecher fuer wissenschaftliche Kritik, founded in 1827 as an organ of the school, contained a few critiques, but for the rest he devoted his whole strength to his lectures. He fell a victim to the cholera on November 14, 1831. The collected edition of his works in eighteen volumes (1832-45) contains in vols. ii.-viii. the four major works which had been published by Hegel himself (the Encyclopaedia with additions from the Lectures); in vols. i., xvi., and xvii. the minor treatises; in vols. ix.-xv. the Lectures, edited by Cans, Hotho, Marheineke, and Michelet. The Letters from and to Hegel have been added as a nineteenth volume, under the editorship of Karl Hegel, 1887.
[Footnote 1: Hegel's Life has been written by Karl Rosenkranz (1844), who has also defended the master (Apologie Hegels, 1858) against R. Haym (Hegel und seine Zeit, 1857), and extolled him as the national philosopher of Germany (1870; English by G.S. Hall). Cf., further, the neat popular exposition by Karl Koestlin, 1870, and the essays by Ed. von Hartmann, Ueber die dialektische Methode, 1868, and Hegels Panlogismus (1870, incorporated in the Gesammelte Studien und Aufsaetze, 1876). [The English reader may consult E. Caird's Hegel in Blackwood's Philosophical Classics, 1883; Harris'sHegel's Logic, Morris's Hegel's Philosophy of the State and of History, and Kedney's Hegel's Aesthetics in Griggs's Philosophical Classics; and Wallace's translation of the “Logic”—from theEncyclopaedia—with Prolegomena, 1874, 2d. ed., Translation, 1892, Prolegomena to follow. Stirling's Secret of Hegel, 2 vols., London, 1865, includes a translation of a part of the Logic, and numerous translations from different works of the master are to be found in the Journal of Speculative Philosophy. The Lectures on the Philosophy of History have been translated by J. Sibree, M.A., in Bohn's Library, 1860, and E.S. Haldane is issuing a translation of those on the History of Philosophy, vol. i., 1892.—TR.]]
We may preface our exposition of the parts of the system by some remarks on Hegel's standpoint in general and his scientific method.
1. Hegel's View of the World and his Method.
In Hegel there revives in full vigor the intellectualism which from the first had lain in the blood of German philosophy, and which Kant's moralism had only temporarily restrained. The primary of practical reason is discarded, and theory is extolled as the ground, center, and aim of human, nay, of all existence.
Leibnitz and Hegel are the classical representatives of the intellectualistic view of the world. In the former the subjective psychological point of view is dominant, in the latter, the objective cosmical position: Leibnitz argues from the representative nature of the soul to an analogous constitution of all elements of the universe; from the general mission of all that is real, to be a manifestation of reason, Hegel deduces that of the individual spirit, to realize a determinate series of stages of thought. The true reality is reason; all being is the embodiment of a pregnant thought, all becoming a movement of the concept, the world a development of thought. The absolute or the logical Idea exists first as a system of antemundane concepts, then it descends into the unconscious sphere of nature, awakens to self-consciousness in man, realizes its content in social institutions, in order, finally, in art, religion, and science to return to itself enriched and completed, i.e., to attain a higher absoluteness than that of the beginning. Philosophy is the highest product and the goal of the world-process. As will, intuition, representation, and feeling are lower forms of thought, so ethics, art, and religion are preliminary stages in philosophy; for it first succeeds in that which these vainly attempt, in presenting the concept adequately, in conceptual form.
If we develop that which is contained as a constituent factor or by implication in the intellectualistic thesis, “All being is thought realized, all becoming a development of thought,” we reach the following definitions: (i) The object of philosophy is formed by the Ideas of things. Its aim is to search out the concept, the purpose, the significance of phenomena, and to assign to these their corresponding positions in the world and in the system of knowledge. It is chiefly interested in discovering where in the scale of values a thing belongs according to its meaning and its destination; the procedure is teleological, valuing, aesthetic. Instead of a causal explanation of phenomena we are given an ideal interpretation of them. (So Lotze accurately describes the character of German idealism.) (2) If all that is real is a manifestation of reason and each thing a stage, a modification of thought, then thought and being are identical. (3) If the world is thought in becoming, and philosophy has to set forth this process, philosophy is a theory of development. If each thing realizes a thought, then all that is real is rational; and if the world-process attains its highest stadium in philosophy, and this in turn its completion in the system of absolute idealism, then all that is rational is real. Reason or the Idea is not merely a demand, a longed for ideal, but a world-power which accomplishes its own realization. “The rational is real and the real is rational” (Preface to the Philosophy of Right). Or to sum it up—Hegel's philosophy is idealism, a system of identity, and an optimistic doctrine of development. What, then, distinguishes Hegel from other idealists, philosophers of identity, and teachers of development? What in particular distinguishes him from his predecessor Schelling?
In Schelling nature is the subject and art the conclusion of the development; his idealism has a physical and aesthetical character, as Fichte's an ethical character. In Hegel, however, the concept is the subject and goal of the development, his philosophy is, in the words of Haym, a “Logisierung” of the world, a logical idealism.
The theory of identity is that system which looks upon nature and spirit as one in essence and as phenomenal modes of an absolute which is above them both. But while Schelling treats the real and the ideal as having equal rights, Hegel restores the Fichtean subordination of nature to spirit, without, however, sharing Fichte's contempt for nature. Nature is neither co-ordinate with spirit nor a mere instrument for spirit, but a transition stage in the development of the absolute, viz., the Idea in its other-being (Anderssein). It is spirit itself that becomes nature in order to become actual, conscious spirit; before the absolute became nature it was already spirit, not, indeed, “for itself” (fuer sich), yet “in itself” (an sich), it was Idea or reason. The ideal is not merely the morning which follows the night of reality, but also the evening which precedes it. The absolute (the concept) develops from in-itself (Ansich) through out-of-self (Aussersich) or other-being to for-itself (Fuersich); it exists first as reason (system of logical concepts), then as nature, finally as living spirit. Thus Hegel's philosophy of identity is distinguished from Schelling's by two factors: it subordinates nature to spirit, and conceives the absolute of the beginning not as the indifference of the real and ideal, but as ideal, as a realm of eternal thoughts.
The assertion that Hegel represents a synthesis of Fichte and Schelling is therefore justified. This is true, further, for the character of Hegel's thought as a whole, in so far as it follows a middle course between the world-estranged, rigid abstractness of Fichte's thinking and Schelling's artistico-fanciful intuition, sharing with the former its logical stringency as well as its dominant interest in the philosophy of spirit, and with the latter its wide outlook and its sense for the worth and the richness of that which is individual.
We have characterized Hegel's system, thirdly, as a philosophy of development. The point of distinction here is that Hegel carries out with logical consecutiveness and up to the point of obstinacy the principle of development which Fichte had discovered, and which Schelling also had occasionally employed,—the threefold rhythm thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Here we come to Hegel's dialectic method. He reached this as the true method of speculation through a comparison of the two forms of philosophy which he found dominant at the beginning of his career—the Illumination culminating in Kant, on the one hand, and, on the other, the doctrine of identity defended by Schelling and his circle—neither of which entirely satisfied him.
In regard to the main question he feels himself one with Schelling: philosophy is to be metaphysics, the science of the absolute and its immanence in the world, the doctrine of the identity of opposites, of the,per se of things, not merely of their phenomenon. But the form which Schelling had given it seems to him unscientific, unsystematic, for Schelling had based philosophical knowledge on the intuition of genius—and science from intuition is impossible. The philosophy of the Illumination impresses him, on the other hand, by the formal strictness of its inquiry; he agrees with it that philosophy must be science from concepts. Only not from abstract concepts. Kant and the Illumination stand on the platform of reflection, for which the antithesis of thought and being, finite and infinite remains insoluble, and, consequently, the absolute transcendent, and the true essence of things unknowable. Hegel wishes to combine the advantages of both sides, the depth of content of the one, and the scientific form of the other.
The intuition with which Schelling works is immediate cognition, directed to the concrete and particular. The concept of the philosophy of reflection is mediate cognition, moving in the sphere of the abstract and universal. Is it not feasible to do away with the (unscientific) immediateness of the one, and the (non-intuitive, content-lacking) abstractness of the other, to combine the concrete with the mediate or conceptual, and in this way to realize the Kantian ideal of an intuitive understanding? A concrete concept would be one which sought the universal not without the particular, but in it; which should not find the infinite beyond the finite, nor the absolute at an unattainable distance above the world, nor the essence hidden behind the phenomenon, but manifesting itself therein. If the philosophy of reflection, in the abstract lifelessness of its concepts, looked on opposites as incapable of sublation, and Schelling regarded them as immediately identical, if the former denied the identity of opposites, and the latter maintained it primordially given (in the absolute indifference which is to be grasped by intuition), the concrete concept secures the identity of opposites through self-mediation, their passing over into it; it teaches us to know the identity as the result of a process. First immediate unity, then divergence of opposites, and, finally, reconciliation of opposites—this is the universal law of all development.
The conflict between the philosophy of reflection and the philosophy of intuition, which Hegel endeavors to terminate by a speculation at once conceptual and concrete, concerns (1) the organ of thought, (2) the object of thought, (3) the nature and logical dignity of the contradiction.
The organ of the true philosophy is neither the abstract reflective understanding, which finds itself shut up within the limits of the phenomenal, nor mystical intuition, which expects by a quick leap to gain the summit of knowledge concerning the absolute, but reason as the faculty of concrete concepts. That concept is concrete which does not assume an attitude of cold repulsion toward its contrary, but seeks self-mediation with the latter, and moves from thesis through antithesis, and with it, to synthesis. Reason neither fixes the opposites nor denies them, but has them become identical. The unity of opposites is neither impossible nor present from the first, but the result of a development.
The object of philosophy is not the phenomenal world or the relative, but the absolute, and this not as passive substance, but as living subject, which divides into distinctions, and returns from them to identity, which develops through the opposites. The absolute is a process, and all that is real the manifestation of this process. If science is to correspond to reality, it also must be a process. Philosophy is thought-movement (dialectic); it is a system of concepts, each of which passes over into its successor, puts its successor forth from itself, just as it has been generated by its predecessor.
All reality is development, and the motive force in this development (of the world as well as of science) is opposition, contradiction. Without this there would be no movement and no life. Thus all reality is full of contradiction, and yet rational. The contradiction is not that which is entirely alogical, but it is a spur to further thinking. It must not be annulled, but “sublated” (aufgehoben), i.e., at once negated and conserved. This is effected by thinking the contradictory concepts together in a third higher, more comprehensive, and richer concept, whose moments they then form. As sublated moments they contradict each other no longer; the opposition or contradiction is overcome. But the synthesis is still not a final one; the play begins anew; again an opposition makes its appearance, which in turn seeks to be overcome, etc. Each separate concept is one-sided, defective, represents only a part of the truth, needs to be supplemented by its contrary, and, by its union with this, its complement, yields a higher concept, which comes nearer to the whole truth, but still does not quite reach it. Even the last and richest concept—the absolute Idea—is by itself alone not the full truth; the result implies the whole development through which it has been attained. It is only at the end of such a dialectic of concepts that philosophy reaches complete correspondence with the living reality, which it has to comprehend; and the speculative progress of thought is no capricious sporting with concepts on the part of the thinking subject, but the adequate expression of the movement of the matter itself. Since the world and its ground is development, it can only be known through a development of concepts. The law which this follows, in little as in great, is the advance from position to opposition, and thence to combination. The most comprehensive example of this triad—Idea, Nature, Spirit—gives the division of the system; the second—Subjective, Objective, Absolute Spirit—determines the articulation of the third part.
2. The System.
Hegel began with a Phenomenology by way of introduction, in which (not to start, like the school of Schelling, with absolute knowledge “as though shot from a pistol") he describes the genesis of philosophical cognition with an attractive mingling of psychological and philosophico-historical points of view. He makes spirit—the universal world-spirit as well as the individual consciousness, which repeats in brief the stages in the development of humanity—pass through six stadia, of which the first three (consciousness, self-consciousness, reason) correspond to the progress of the intermediate part of the Doctrine of Subjective Spirit, which is entitled Phaenomenologie, and the others (ethical spirit, religion, and absolute knowledge) give an abbreviated presentation of that which the Doctrine of Objective and Absolute Spirit develops in richer articulation.
(a) Logic considers the Idea in the abstract element of thought, only as it is thought, and not yet as it is intuited, nor as it thinks itself; its content is the truth as it is without a veil in and for itself, or God in his eternal essence before the creation of the world. Unlike common logic, which is merely formal, separating form and content, speculative logic, which is at the same time ontology or metaphysics, treats the categories as real relations, the forms of thought as forms of reality: as thought and thing are the same, so logic is the theory of thought and of being in one. Its three principal divisions are entitled Being, Essence, the Concept. The first of these discusses quality, quantity, and measure or qualitative quantum. The second considers essence as such, appearance, and (essence appearing or) actuality, and this last, in turn, in the moments, substantiality, causality, and reciprocity. The third part is divided into the sections, subjectivity (concept, judgment, syllogism), objectivity (mechanism, chemism, teleology), and the Idea (life, cognition, the absolute Idea).
As a specimen of the way in which Hegel makes the concept pass over into its opposite and unite with this in a synthesis, it will be sufficient to cite the famous beginning of the Logic. How must the absolute first be thought, how first defined? Evidently as that which is absolutely without presupposition. The most general concept which remains after abstracting from every determinate content of thought, and from which no further abstraction is possible, the most indeterminate and immediate concept, is pure being. As without quality and content it is equivalent to nothing. In thinking pure being we have rather cogitated nothing; but this in turn cannot be retained as final, but passes back into being, for in being thought it exists as a something thought. Pure being and pure nothing are the same, although we mean different things by them; both are absolute indeterminateness. The transition from being to nothing and from nothing to being is becoming. Becoming is the unity, and hence the truth of both. When the boy is “becoming” a youth he is, and at the same time is not, a youth. Being and not-being are so mediated and sublated in becoming that they are no longer contradictory. In a similar way it is further shown that quality and quantity are reciprocally dependent and united in measure (which may be popularly illustrated thus: progressively diminishing heat becomes cold, distances cannot be measured in bushels); that essence and phenomenon are mutually inseparable, inasmuch as the latter is always the appearance of an essence, and the former is essence only as it manifests itself in the phenomenon, etc.
The significance of the Hegelian logic depends less on its ingenious and valuable explanations of particulars than on the fundamental idea, that the categories do not form an unordered heap, but a great organically connected whole, in which each member occupies its determinate position, and is related to every other by gradations of kinship and subordination. This purpose to construct a globus of the pure concepts was itself a mighty feat, which is assured of the continued admiration of posterity notwithstanding the failure in execution. He who shall one day take it up again will draw many a lesson from Hegel's unsuccessful attempt. Before all, the connections between the concepts are too manifold and complex for the monotonous transitions of this dialectic method (which Chalybaeus wittily called articular disease) to be capable of doing them justice. Again, the productive force of thought must not be neglected, and to it, rather than to the mobility of the categories themselves, the matter of the transition from one to the other must be transferred.
(b) The Philosophy of Nature shows the Idea in its other-being. Out of the realm of logical shades, wherein the souls of all reality dwell, we move into the sphere of external, sensuous existence, in which the concepts take on material form. Why does the Idea externalize itself? In order to become actual. But the actuality of nature is imperfect, unsuited to the Idea, and only the precondition of a better actuality, the actuality of spirit, which has been the aim from the beginning: reason becomes nature in order to become spirit; the Idea goes forth from itself in order—enriched—to return to itself again. Only the man who once has been in a foreign land knows his home aright.
The relation of natural objects to one another and their action upon one another is an external one: they are governed by mechanical necessity, and the contingency of influences from without arrests and disturbs their development, so that while reason is everywhere discernible in nature, it is not reason alone; and much that is illogical, contrary to purpose, lawless, painful, and unhealthy, points to the fact that the essence of nature consists in externality. This inadequacy in the realization of the Idea, however, is gradually removed by development, until, in “life,” the way is prepared for the birth of spirit.
As Hegel in his philosophy of nature—which falls into three parts, mechanics, physics, and organics—follows Schelling pretty closely, and, moreover, does not show his power, it does not seem necessary to dwell longer upon it. In the next section, also, in view of the fact that its models, the constructive psychologies of Fichte and Schelling, have already been discussed in detail, a statement of the divisions and connections must suffice.
(c) The Doctrine of Subjective Spirit makes freedom (being with or in self) the essence and destination of spirit, and shows how spirit realizes this predisposition in increasing independence of nature. The subject of anthropology is spirit as the (natural, sensitive, and actual) “soul” of a body; here are discussed the distinctions of race, nation, sex, age, sleeping and waking, disposition and temperament, together with talents and mental diseases, in short, whatever belongs to spirit in its union with a body. Phenomenology is the science of the “ego,” i.e., of spirit, in so far as it opposes itself to nature as the non-ego, and passes through the stages of (mere) consciousness, self-consciousness, and (the synthesis of the two) reason. Psychology (better pneumatology) considers “spirit” in its reconciliation with objectivity under the following divisions: Theoretical Intelligence as intuition (sensation, attention, intuition), as representation (passive memory, phantasy, memory), and (as conceiving, judging, reasoning) thought; Practical Intelligence as feeling, impulse (passion and caprice), and happiness; finally, the unity of the knowing and willing spirit, free spirit or rational will, which in turn realizes itself in right, ethics, and history.
(d) The Doctrine of Objective Spirit, comprehending ethics, the philosophy of right, of the state, and of history, is Hegel's most brilliant achievement. It divides as follows: (1) Right (property, contract, punishment); (2) Morality (purpose, intention and welfare, good and evil); (3) Social Morality: (a) the family; (b) civil society; (c) the state (internal and external polity, and the history of the world). In right the will or freedom attains to outer actuality, in morality it attains to inner actuality, in social morality to objective and subjective actuality at once, hence to complete actuality.
Right, as it were a second, higher nature, because a necessity posited and acknowledged by spirit, is originally a sum of prohibitions; wherever it seems to command the negative has only received a positive expression. Private right contains two things—the warrant to be a person, and the injunction to respect other persons as such. Property is the external sphere which the will gives to itself; without property no personality. Through punishment (retaliation) right is restored against un-right (Unrecht), and the latter shown to be a nullity. The criminal is treated according to the same maxim as that of his action—that coercion is allowable.
In the stadium of morality the good exists in the form of a requirement which can never be perfectly fulfilled, as a mere imperative; there remains an irrepressible opposition between the moral law and the individual will, between intention and execution. Here the judge of good and evil is the conscience, which is not secure against error. That which is objectively evil may seem good and a duty to subjective conviction. (According to Fichte this was impossible).
On account of the conflict between duty and will, which is at this stage irrepressible, Hegel is unable to consider morality, the sphere of the subjective disposition, supreme. He thinks he knows a higher sphere, wherein legality and morality become one: “social morality” ( Sittlichkeit). This sphere takes its name from Sitte, that custom ruling in the community which is felt by the individual not as a command from without, but as his own nature. Here the good appears as the spirit of the family and of the people, pervading individuals as its substance. Marriage is neither a merely legal nor a merely sentimental relation, but an “ethical” (sittliches) institution. While love rules in the family, in civil society each aims at the satisfaction of his private wants, and yet, in working for himself, subserves the good of the whole. Class distinctions are based on the division of labor demanded by the variant needs of men (the agricultural, industrial, and thinking classes). Class and party honor is, in Hegel's view, among the most essential supports of general morality. Strange to say, he brings the administration of justice and the police into the same sphere.
The state, the unity of the family and civil society, is the completed actualization of freedom. Its organs are the political powers (which are to be divided, but not to be made independent): the legislative power determines the universal, the executive subsumes the particular thereunder, the power of the prince combines both into personal unity. In the will of the prince the state becomes subject. The perfect form of the state is constitutional monarchy, its establishment the goal of history, which Hegel, like Kant, considers chiefly from the political standpoint.
History is the development of the rational state; the world-spirit the guiding force in this development; its instruments the spirits of the nations and great men. A particular people is the expression of but one determinate moment of the universal spirit; and when it has fulfilled its commission it loses its legal warrant, and yields up its dominion to another, now the only authorized one: the history of the world is the judgment of the world, which is held over the nations. The world-historical characters, also, are only the instruments of a higher power, the purposes of which they execute while imagining that they are acting in their own interests—their own deed is hidden from them, and is neither their purpose nor their object. This should be called the cunning of reason, that it makes the passions work in its service.
History is progress in the consciousness of freedom. At first one only knows himself free, then several, finally all. This gives three chief periods, or rather four world-kingdoms,—Oriental despotism, the Greek (democratic) and the Roman (aristocratic) republic, and the Germanic monarchy,—in which humanity passes through its several ages. Like the sun, history moves from east to west. China and India have not advanced beyond the preliminary stages of the state; the Chinese kingdom is a family state, India a society of classes stiffened into castes. The Persian despotism is the first true state, and this in the form of a conquering military state. In the youth and manhood of humanity the sovereignty of the people replaces the sovereignty of one; but not all have yet the consciousness of freedom, the slaves have no share in the government. The principle of the Greek world, with its fresh life and delight in beauty, is individuality; hence the plurality of small states, in which Sparta is an anticipation of the Roman spirit. The Roman Republic is internally characterized by the constitutional struggle between the patricians and the plebeians, and externally by the policy of world conquest. Out of the repellent relations between the universal and the individual, which oppose one another as the abstract state and abstract personality, the unhappy imperial period develops. In the Roman Empire and Judaism the conditions were given for the appearance of Christianity. This brings with it the idea of humanity: every man is free as man, as a rational being. In the beginning this emancipation was religious; through the Germans it became political as well. The remaining divisions cannot here be detailed. Their captions run: The Elements of the Germanic Spirit (the Migrations; Mohammedanism; the Frankish Empire of Charlemagne); the Middle Ages (the Feudal System and the Hierarchy; the Crusades; the Transition from Feudal Rule to Monarchy, or the Cities); Modern Times (the Reformation; its Effect on Political Development; Illumination and Revolution).
The philosophy of history is Hegel's most brilliant and most lasting achievement. His view of the state as the absolute end, the complete realization of the good, is dominated, no doubt, by the antique ideal, which cannot take root again in the humanity of modern times. But his splendid endeavor to “comprehend” history, to bring to light the laws of historical development and the interaction between the different spheres of national life, will remain an example for all time. The leading ideas of his philosophy of history have so rapidly found their way into the general scientific consciousness that the view of history which obtained in the period of the Illumination is well nigh incomprehensible to the investigator of to-day.
[Footnote 1: A well-chosen collection of aphorisms from the philosophy of history is given by M. Schasler under the title Hegel: Populaere Gedanken aus seinen Werken, 2d. ed., 1873.]
(e) Absolute Spirit is the unity of subjective and objective spirit. As such, spirit becomes perfectly free (from all contradictions) and reconciled with itself. The break between subject and object, representation and thing, thought and being, infinite and finite is done away with, and the infinite recognized as the essence of the finite. The knowledge of the reconciliation of the highest opposites or of the infinite in the finite presents itself in three forms: in the form of intuition (art), of feeling and representation (religion), of thought (philosophy).
(1) Aesthetics.—The beautiful is the absolute (the infinite in the finite) in sensuous existence, the Idea in limited manifestation. According to the relation of these moments, according as the outer form or the inner content predominates, or a balance of the two occurs, we have the symbolic form of art, in which the phenomenon predominates and the Idea is merely suggested; or the classical form, in which Idea and intuition, or spiritual content and sensuous form, completely balance and pervade each other, in which the former of them is ceaselessly taken up into the latter; or the romantic form, in which the phenomenon retires, and the Idea, the inwardness of the spirit predominates. Classical art, in which form and content are perfectly conformed to each other, is the most beautiful, but romantic art is, nevertheless, higher and more significant.
Oriental, including Egyptian and Hebrew, art was symbolic; Greek art, classical; Christian art is romantic, bringing into art entirely new sentiments of a knightly and a religious sort—love, loyalty and honor, grief and repentance—and understanding how by careful treatment to ennoble even the petty and contingent. The sublime belongs to symbolic art; the Roman satire is the dissolution of the classical, and humor the dissolution of the romantic, ideal.
Architecture is predominantly symbolic; sculpture permits the purest expression of the classical ideal; painting, music, and poetry bear a romantic character. This does not exclude the recurrence of these three stages within each art—in architecture, for example, as monumental (the obelisk), useful (house and temple), and Gothic (the cathedral) architecture. As the plastic arts reached their culmination among the Hellenes, so the romantic arts culminate among the Christian nations. In poetry, as the most perfect and universal (or the totality of) art, uniting in itself the two contraries, the symbolic and the classical, the lyric is a repetition of the architectonic-musical, the epic, of the plastic-pictorial, the drama, the union of the lyric and the epic.
(2) Philosophy of Religion.—The withdrawal from outer sensibility into the inner spirit, begun in romantic art, especially in poetry, is completed in religion. In religion the nations have recorded the way in which they represent the substance of the world; in it the unity of the infinite and the finite is felt, and represented through imagination. Religion is not merely a feeling of piety, but a thought of the absolute, only not in the form of thinking. Religion and philosophy are materially the same, both have God or the truth for their object, they differ only in form—religion contains in an empirical, symbolic form the same speculative content which philosophy presents in the adequate form of the concept. Religion is developing knowledge as it gradually conquers imperfection. It appears first as definite religion in two stadia, natural religion and the religion of spiritual individuality, and finally attains the complete realization of its concept in the absolute religion of Christianity.
Natural religion, in its lowest stage magic, develops in three forms—as the religion of measure (Chinese), of phantasy (Indian or Brahmanical), and of being in self (Buddhistic). In the Persian (Zoroastrian) religion of light, the Syrian religion of pain, and the Egyptian religion of enigma, is prepared the way for the transformation into the religion of freedom. The Greek solves the riddle of the Sphinx by apprehending himself as subject, as man.
The religion of spiritual individuality or free subjectivity passes through three stadia: the Jewish religion of sublimity (unity), the Greek religion of beauty (necessity), the Roman religion of purposiveness (of the understanding). In contrast to the Jewish religion of slavish obedience, which by miracle makes known the power of the one God and the nullity of nature, which has been “created” by his will, and the prosaic severity of the Roman, which, in Jupiter and Fortuna, worships only the world-dominion of the Roman people, the more cheerful art-religion of the Hellenes reverences in the beautiful forms of the gods, the powers which man is aware of in himself—wisdom, bravery, and beauty.
The Christian or revealed religion is the religion of truth, of freedom, of spirit. Its content is the unity of the divine nature and the human, God as knowing himself in being known of man+; the knowledge of God is God's self-knowledge. Its fundamental truths are the Trinity (signifying that God differentiates and sublates the difference in love), the incarnation (as a figure of the essential unity of the infinite and finite spirit), the fall, and Christ's atoning death (this signifies that the realization of the unity between man and God presupposes the overcoming of naturality and selfishness).
(3) Philosophy.—Finally the task remains of clothing the absolute content given in religion in the form adequate to it, in the form of the concept. In philosophy absolute spirit attains the highest stage, its perfect self-knowledge. It is the self-thinking Idea.
Here we must not look for further detailed explanations: philosophy is just the course which has been traversed. Its systematic exposition is encyclopaedia; the consideration of its own actualization, the history of philosophy, which, as a “philosophical” discipline, has to show the conformity to law and the rationality of this historical development, to show the more than mere succession, the genetic succession, of systems, as well as their connection with the history of culture. Each system is the product and expression of its time, and as the self-reflection of each successive stage in culture cannot appear before this has reached its maturity and is about to be overcome. Not until the approach of the twilight does the owl of Minerva begin its flight.