Note on Hegel's “Philosophy
of World History”
In the foregoing analysis I have illustrated Hegel's program of advancing from philosophy to Gnosis, as well as the conditions required for building his system, with passages from the Phänomenologie only—that is, on the level of “philosophy itself.” Hegel reiterates essentially the same formulas on the level of the “philosophy of world history.” I shall now give the parallel passages from the “Second Draft” of the Philosophische Weltgeschichte of 1830 (in Die Vernunft in der Geschichte, ed. Johannes Hoffmeister [Hamburg, 1955]).
(1) Hegel distinguishes between “philosophy itself” and the “philosophy of world history.” The philosopher approaches the interpretation of world history with the “presupposition” that “reason governs the world and that, therefore, in world history things have come to pass rationally.”
In philosophy itself this is not a presupposition; there, it is demonstrated by speculative cognition that reason—we can accept this term without going into the question of the relationship to God—which is substance as well as infinite power, is itself the infinite matter of all natural and spiritual life and is infinite form as well, the actualization of this matter which is its content. (28)
The relationship of reason to God, which in this sentence remains undefined, becomes apparent as the “Second Draft” progresses. Under the denomination “idea, ” reason is the absolute revealing itself:
Now, that this same idea is the true, the eternal, the absolutely powerful, that it reveals itself in the world, and that nothing is manifested