[O]urs is a birth-time and transition to a new era. 1
G.W.F. Hegel was born in Stuttgart on 27 August 1770. At the age of 18 he attended the seminary at Tübingen where he befriended the poet Hölderlin and F.W.J. Schelling. Having completed his studies at the seminary, Hegel embarked upon a career as a private tutor, serving families in Berne and Frankfurt. During this period of employment, Hegel wrote several theological and political studies which anticipate many of the themes of his later philosophy. Upon the death of his father in 1799, Hegel received a modest inheritance, which allowed him to concentrate upon his studies and travel to Jena, which-largely due to the influence of Fichte and Goethe-had become the capital of German letters. At Jena, Hegel resumed contact with Schelling, who had earned a reputation as an innovative disciple and expositor of Fichte. In 1801, Hegel wrote a brief essay which was instrumental in Schelling's break with Fichte. 2 In this essay, Hegel outlined the difference between Fichte's merely 'subjective idealism' and Schelling's 'Identity Philosophy' (Identitätphilosophie). Yet he also subtly articulated his own conception of philosophy. Hegel soon received a teaching post at Jena University, and began to lay the foundations for his system of Absolute idealism. Shortly thereafter, he decided to write his Phenomenology of Spirit, a work intended as the 'introduction' and 'first part' of his philosophical science. In 1806 Napoleon invaded Jena. The first edition of the Phenomenology of Spirit was published in 1807.
Hegel moved to Bamberg and, after a brief period as a newspaper editor, he accepted the post of headmaster of Nuremburg Gymnasium. There, he refined and developed his philosophical system, teaching a 'Philosophical Propaedeutic' to his students. In 1812, Hegel published the first part of his monumental Science of Logic, a work which sought to articulate the dialectical development of the 'Concept'. Hegel conceived of this interrelated system of categories as constituting the fundamental structure of reality, determining the basic features of thought and being. It was, in other words, a logical ontology-the categories determining reality in all its diversity. In 1816, Hegel was appointed professor at Heidelberg University, where he continued to teach and develop his system, lecturing on the history of philosophy, political philosophy and aesthetics. 1817 saw the publication of his Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences.
From 1818 to 1831 Hegel lectured at the University of Berlin. In 1820, he published his highly influential systematic political philosophy-the Philosophy of Right. At Berlin, Hegel reached the zenith of his reputation, becoming Prussia's most celebrated and influential philosopher. In 1830, he became rector of the university of Berlin but, the following year, died of cholera. He was buried, somewhat ironically, next to J.G. Fichte-the very philosopher whose influence he had helped to undermine.
Whilst Hegel's early work is largely concerned with political and theological issues, it anticipates many of the themes of his later philosophy. In his early essays on religion, Hegel inveighs against the transformation of Christianity into a body of 'positive' doctrine-a set of external laws which are simply to be obeyed. 3 Such a body of doctrine, Hegel claims, stifles the