Lectures on the History of Philosophy: Greek Philosophy to Plato - Vol. 1

Lectures on the History of Philosophy: Greek Philosophy to Plato - Vol. 1

Lectures on the History of Philosophy: Greek Philosophy to Plato - Vol. 1

Lectures on the History of Philosophy: Greek Philosophy to Plato - Vol. 1

Synopsis

G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831), the influential German philosopher, believed that human history was advancing spiritually and morally according to God's purpose.

Excerpt

Frederick C. Beiser

1. THE HISTORICIST CONTEXT

Hegel Geschichte der Philosophie was one of the grand products of the renaissance in historical learning that took place in early nineteenth-century Germany. Toward the close of the eighteenth century many historians, such as Justus Möser, J. G. Herder, Gustave Hugo, A. L. Schlözer, L. T. Spittler, and Johannes Müller, became deeply dissatisfied with current historiography. All too often in the eighteenth century historical works had been little more than a collection of facts, whose main purpose was to provide morals for statesmen, sermons for theologians, or precedents for jurists. The past was frequently judged according to the values of the present, the age of the Enlightenment, which was seen as the apex of civilization. There was little attempt to examine the past in its own terms, to see events in their wider context, or to explain the causes behind actions. The aim of Möser, Herder, Hugo, Schlözer, Spittler, and Müller was to rectify this sorry state of affairs. They wanted to examine the past for its own sake, to see events in context, and to fathom the deeper motives for actions. Their ultimate hope was to make history a science in its own right by banishing all metaphysics, morals, and theology and by sticking to the facts alone. Eventually, they believed, they could reveal the laws governing the historical world just as Newton's physics had once discovered the laws of the natural world.

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