Prolegomena to the Study of Hegel's Philosophy - G.W.F. Hegel - ebook

'The condemnation,' says Hegel, 'which a great man lays upon the world, is to force it to explain him .' The greatness of Hegel, if it be measured by this standard, must be something far above common. Interpreters of his system have contradicted each other, almost as variously as the several commentators on the Bible. He is claimed as their head by widely different schools of thought, all of which appeal to him as the original source of their line of argument. The Right wing, and the Left, as well as the Centre, profess to be the genuine descendants of the prophet, and to inherit the mantle of his inspiration. If we believe one side, Hegel is only to be rightly appreciated when we divest his teaching of every shred of religion and orthodoxy which it retains. If we believe another class of expositors, he was the champion of Christianity. These contradictory views may be safely left to abolish each other. But diversity of opinion on such topics is neither unnatural, nor unusual. The meaning and the bearings of a great event, or a great character, or a great work of reasoned thought, will be estimated and explained in different ways, according to the effect they produce on different minds and different levels of life and society.

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Table of contents



Book I




































The present volume of Prolegomena completes the second edition of my LOGIC OF HEGEL which originally appeared in 1874. The translation, which was issued as a separate volume in the autumn of 1892, had been subjected to revision throughout: such faults as I could detect had been amended, and many changes made in the form of expression with the hope of rendering the interpretation clearer and more adequate. But, with a subject so abstruse and complicated as Hegel's Logic, and a style so abrupt and condensed as that adopted in his Encyclopaedia, a satisfactory translation can hardly fall within the range of possibilities. Only the enthusiasm of youth could have thrown itself upon such an enterprise; and later years have but to do what they may to fulfil the obligations of a task whose difficulties have come to seem nearly insuperable. The translation volume was introduced by a sketch of the growth of the Encyclopaedia through the three editions published in its author's lifetime: and an appendix of notes supplied some literary and historical elucidations of the text, with quotations bearing on the philosophical development between Kant and Hegel.The Prolegomena, which have grown to more than twice their original extent, are two-thirds of them new matter. The lapse of twenty years could not but involve a change in the writer's attitude, at least in details, towards both facts and problems. The general purpose of the work, however, still remains the same, to supply an introduction to the study of Hegel, especially his Logic, and to philosophy in general. But, in the work of altering and inserting, I can hardly imagine that I have succeeded in adjusting the additions to the older work with that artful juncture which would simulate the continuity of organic growth. To perform that feat would require a master who surveyed from an imperial outlook the whole system of Hegelianism in its history and meaning; and I at least do not profess such a mastery. Probably therefore a critical review will discern inequalities in the ground, and even discrepancies in the statement, of the several chapters. To remove these strains of inconsistency would in any case have been a work of time and trouble: and, after all, mere differences in depth or breadth of view may have their uses. The writer cannot always compel the reader to understand him, as he himself has not always the same faculty to penetrate and comprehend the problems he deals with. In these arduous paths of research it may well happen that the clearest and truest perceptions are not always those which communicate themselves with fullest persuasion and gift of insight. Schopenhauer has somewhere compared the structure of his philosophical work to the hundred-gated Thebes: so many, he says, are the points of access it offers for the pilgrims after truth to reach its central dogma. So—if one may parallel little things with his adventurous quest—even the less speculative chapters, and the less consecutive discourse, of these Prolegomena may prove helpful to some individual mood or phase of mind. If—as I suspect—the Second Book should elicit the complaint that the reader has been kept wandering too long and too deviously in the Porches of Philosophy, I will hope that sometimes in the course of these rovings he may come across a wicket-gate where he can enter, and—which is the main thing—gather truth fresh and fruitful for himself.Fourteen chapters, viz. II, XXIV, and the group from VII to XVIII inclusive, are in this edition almost entirely new. Three chapters of the first edition, numbered XIX, XXII, XXIII, have been dropped. For the rest, Chaps. III-VI in the present correspond to Chaps. II-V in the first edition: Chap. XIX to parts of VII, VIII: Chaps. XX-XXIII to Chaps. IX-XII: Chaps. XXV-XXX to Chaps. XIII-XVIII: and Chaps. XXXI, XXXII to Chaps. XX, XXI. But some of those nominally retained have been largely rewritten.The new chapters present, amongst other things, a synopsis of the progress of thought in Germany during the half-century which is bisected by the year 1800, with some indication of the general conditions of the intellectual world, and with some reference to the interconnexion of speculation and actuality. Jacobi and Herder, Kant, Fichte, and Schelling have been especially brought under succinct review. In the first edition I did Kant less than justice. I have now, so far as my limits allowed, tried to rectify the impression; and even more perhaps, by a clear palinode, to tender my apology for the meagre and somewhat inappreciative notice I gave to the great names of Fichte and Schelling. For like reasons, and from a growing perception how much post-Kantian thought owed to the pre-Kantian thinkers, Spinoza and Leibniz have been partly brought within my range. If, furthermore, I may seem to have transgressed the due amount of allusions and comparisons drawn from Plato and Aristotle, Bacon and Mill, the excuse must be sought in that fixture of philosophical horizon which can hardly but creep on after a quarter of a century spent in teaching philosophy under the customs and ordinances of the Oxford School of Classical Philology.It would be to mistake the scope of this survey to seek in it a history of the philosophers of the period I have named. They have been presented, not in and for themselves, but as momenta or constituent! factors in producing Hegel's conception of the aim and method of philosophy. To do this it was necessary to lay stress on their inner purport and implications: to treat the individual thinker in subordination to the general movement of ideas: to give, as far as was possible, a constructive conception of them rather than an analysis and chronicle. Yet as the picture had to be done, so to say, with a few vigorous touches, and made characteristic rather than descriptive, it cannot have that fairness and completeness which only patient study of every feature and untiring experiment in reconstruction can enable even the artist to produce. I may have seemed to confine the environment too exclusively to continental thinkers: but this is not, I think, due to any anti-patriotic bias. English (by which term, I may explain to my countrymen, I mean English-writing) thought, if it has its own intrinsic value, has after all been only an occasional influence, of suggestion and modification, in Germany. It is not therefore an integral portion of my theme. Even in Kant's case, too much may be made of the stimulus he received from Hume.Even twenty years ago, my translation could hardly be described literally as a voice crying in the wilderness. But since that time there has been a considerable out-put of history, translation, and criticism referring to the great age of German philosophy, and a comparatively numerous group of writers, more or less familiar with the aims and principles of that period, have treated various parts of philosophy with notable independence and originality. To these writers it has sometimes been found convenient to give the title of Neo-Kantians, or Neo-Hegelians. The prefix suggests that they do not in all points reproduce the ideal or the caricature which vulgar tradition fancied, and perhaps still fancies, to be implied in German 'transcendentalism.' And that for the good reason that the springs of the movement lie in the natural and national revulsion of English habits of mind. Slowly, but at length, the storms of the great European revolution found their way to our intellectual world, and shook church and state, society and literature. The homeless spirit of the age had to reconsider the task of rebuilding its house of life. It may have been that some of the seekers, in the fervour of a first impression, spoke unadvisedly, as if salvation could and would come to English philosophy only by Kant and Hegel. Yet, there was a real foundation for the belief that the insularity—however necessary in its season, and however admirable in some of its results—which had secluded and narrowed the British mind since the middle of the eighteenth century, needed something deeper and stronger than French 'ideology' to bring it abreast of the requirements of the age. Whatever may be the drawbacks of transcendentalism, they are virtues when set beside the vulgar ideals of enlightenment by superficialisation. Mill has well pointed out how the spirit of Coleridge was for the higher intellectual life a needful complement to the spirit of Bentham. Yet the spirit of Coleridge had but caught some of the side-lights and romantic illuminations: it had not dared to face the central sun either in literature or philosophy. The scholar who has given us excellent versions of Fichte's lighter works, those who have translated and expounded Kant, and the great author who opened German literature to the British public, have brought us nearer the higher teaching of Germany. In Germany itself it has always been the possession only of the few. Even at the height of the classical period there were litterateurs who vended thousands of their books for Goethe's hundreds, and the great philosophers had ten opponents to one follower even amongst the teachers of their day. Yet Goethe and not Kotzebue gave the permanent law to literature; Hegel, and not Krug or Fries, has influenced philosophy. To have had the resolution to learn in this school is the merit of 'Neo-Hegelianism.' It has probably not found Kant free from puzzles and contradictions, or Hegel always intelligible. But the example of the Germans has served to widen and deepen our ideas of philosophy: to make us think more highly of its function, and to realise that it is essentially science, and the science of supreme reality. And it has at least familiarised many with the heresy that dilettantism and occasional fits of speculativeness are worth as little in philosophy as elsewhere. To have striven for dignity in its scope, and scientific security in its method, is something. If the Neo-Hegelian has not given philosophy a settled language, it may be urged that a philosophical language cannot be created by the easy device of inventing a few Hellenistic-seeming vocables.I could have wished to make these volumes a worthier contribution to the work whereby these and other writers have recently enriched our island philosophy. Not least because of the honoured name I have ventured to write on the dedication-page. If, as Epicurus said, we should above all be grateful to the past, the first meed is from the scholar due to the teachers of earlier years, and not least those who have now entered into their rest. I do not forget what I, and others, owed to T. H. Green, my predecessor in the Chair of Moral Philosophy; that example of high-souled devotion to truth, and of earnest and intrepid thinking on the deep things of eternity. But at this season the memory of my Oxford tutor and friend is naturally most prominent. The late Master of Balliol College was more than a mere scholar or a mere philosopher. He seemed so idealist and yet so practical: so realist and yet so full of high ideals: so delicately kind and yet so severely reasonable. You felt he saw life more steadily and saw it more whole than others: as one reality in which religion and philosophy, art and business, the sciences and theology, were severally but elements and aspects. To the amateurs of novelty, to the slaves of specialisation, to the devotees of any narrow way, such largeness might, with the impatience natural to limited minds, have seemed indifference. So must appear those who on higher planes hear all the parts in the harmony of humanity, and with the justice of a wise love maintain an intellectual Sôprosyné. On his pupils this secret power of an other-world serenity laid an irresistible spell, and bore in upon them the conviction that beyond scholarship and logic there was the fuller truth of life and the all-embracing duty of doing their best to fulfil the amplest requirements of their place.In earlier days Jowett had been keenly interested in German philosophy, and had made a version (most of which was still extant in 1868) of the Logic I have translated. But Greek literature, and above all Plato, drew him to more congenial fields. It was on his suggestion,—or shall I say injunction—at that date, that the work I had casually begun was some years later prosecuted to completion. It was his words, again, two years ago, that bade me spare no labour in the work of revision.


The 'Logic of Hegel' is a name which may be given to two separate books. One of these is the 'Science of Logic' (Wissenschaft der Logik), first published in three volumes (1812-1816), while its author was schoolmaster at Nüremberg. A second edition was on its way, when Hegel was suddenly cut off, after revising the first volume only. In the 'Secret of Hegel,' the earlier part of this Logic has been translated by Dr. Hutchison Stirling, with whose name German philosophy is chiefly associated in this country.The other Logic, of which the present work is a translation, forms the First Part in the 'Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences.' The first edition of the Encyclopaedia appeared at Heidelberg in 1817; the second in 1827; and the third in 1830. It is well to bear in mind that these dates take us back forty or fifty years, to a time when modern science and Inductive Logic had yet to win their laurels, and when the world was in many ways different from what it is now. The earliest edition of the Encyclopaedia contained the pith of the system. The subsequent editions brought some new materials, mainly intended to smooth over and explain the transitions between the various sections, and to answer the objections of critics. The work contained a synopsis of philosophy in the form of paragraphs, and was to be supplemented by the viva voce remarks of the lecturer.The present volume is translated from the edition of 1843, forming the Sixth Volume in Hegel's Collected Works. It consists of two nearly equal portions. One halt here printed in more open type, contains Hegel's Encyclopaedia, with all the author's own additions. The first paragraph under each number marks the earliest and simplest statement of the first edition. The other half, here printed in closer type, is made up of the notes taken in lecture by the editor (Henning) and by Professors Hotho and Michelet. These notes for the most part connect the several sections, rather than explain their statements. Their genuineness is vouched for by their being almost verbally the same with other parts of Hegel's own writings.The translation has tried to keep as closely as possible to the meaning, without always adhering very rigorously to the words of the original. It is, however, much more literal in the later and systematic part, than in the earlier chapters.The Prolegomena which precede the translation have not been given in the hope or with the intention of expounding the Hegelian system. They merely seek to remove certain obstacles, and to render Hegel less tantalizingly hard to those who approach him for the first time. How far they will accomplish this, remains to be seen.

Book I



WHY HEGEL IS HARD TO UNDERSTAND.'The condemnation,' says Hegel, 'which a great man lays upon the world, is to force it to explain him[1].' The greatness of Hegel, if it be measured by this standard, must be something far above common. Interpreters of his system have contradicted each other, almost as variously as the several commentators on the Bible. He is claimed as their head by widely different schools of thought, all of which appeal to him as the original source of their line of argument. The Right wing, and the Left, as well as the Centre, profess to be the genuine descendants of the prophet, and to inherit the mantle of his inspiration. If we believe one side, Hegel is only to be rightly appreciated when we divest his teaching of every shred of religion and orthodoxy which it retains. If we believe another class of expositors, he was the champion of Christianity.These contradictory views may be safely left to abolish each other. But diversity of opinion on such topics is neither unnatural, nor unusual. The meaning and the bearings of a great event, or a great character, or a great work of reasoned thought, will be estimated and explained in different ways, according to the effect they produce on different minds and different levels of life and society. Those effects, perhaps, will not present themselves in their true character, until long after the original excitement has passed away. To some minds, the chief value of the Hegelian system will lie in its vindication of the truths of natural and revealed religion, and in the agreement of the elaborate reasonings of the philosopher with the simple aspirations of mankind towards higher things. To others that system will have most interest as a philosophical history of thought,—an exposition of that organic development of reason, which underlies and constitutes all the varied and complex movement of the world. To a third class, again, it may seem at best an instrument or method of investigation, stating the true law by which knowledge proceeds in its endeavour to comprehend and assimilate existing nature.While these various meanings may be given to the Hegelian scheme of thought, the majority of the world either pronounce Hegel to be altogether unintelligible, or banish him to the limbo of a priori thinkers,—that bourne from which no philosopher returns. To argue with those who start from the latter conviction would be an ungrateful, and probably a superfluous task. Wisdom is justified, we may be sure, of all her children. But it may be possible to admit the existence of difficulties, and agree to some extent with those who complain that Hegel is impenetrable and hard as adamant. There can be no doubt of the forbidding aspect of the most prominent features in his system. He is hard in himself, and his readers find him hard. His style is not of the best, and to foreign eyes seems unequal. At times he is eloquent, stirring, and striking: again his turns are harsh, and his clauses tiresome to disentangle: and we are always coming upon that childlikeness of literary manner, which English taste fancies it can detect in some of the greatest works of German genius; There are faults in Hegel, which obscure his meaning: but more obstacles are due to the nature of the work, and the pre-occupations of our minds. There is something in him which fascinates the thinker, and which inspires a sympathetic student with the vigour and the hopefulness of the spring-time.Perhaps the main hindrance in the way of a clear vision is the contrast which Hegelian philosophy offers to our ordinary habits of mind. Generally speaking, we rest contented if we can get tolerably near our object, and form a general picture of it to set before ourselves. It might almost be said that we have never thought of such a thing as being in earnest either with our words or with our thoughts. We get into a way of speaking with an uncertain latitude of meaning, and leave a good deal to the fellow-feeling of our hearers, who are expected to mend what is defective in our utterances. For most of us the place of exact thought is supplied by metaphors and pictures, by mental images, and figures generalised from the senses. And thus it happens that, when we come upon a single precise and definite statement, neither exceeding nor falling short in its meaning, we are thrown out of our reckoning. Our fancy and memory have nothing left for them to do: and, as fancy and memory make up the greater part of what we loosely call thinking, our powers of thought seem to be brought to a standstill. Those who crave for fluent reading, or prefer easy writing, something within the pale of our usual mental lines, are more likely to find what they seek in the ten partially correct and approximate ways commonly used to give expression to a truth, than in the one simple and accurate statement of the thought. We prefer a familiar name, and an accustomed image, on which our faculties may work. But in the atmosphere of Hegelian thought, we feel very much as if we had been lifted into a vacuum, where we cannot breathe, and which is a fit habitation for unrecognisable ghosts only.Nor is this all. The traveller, as his train climbs the heights of Alps or Apennines, occasionally, after circling in grand curve upon the mountain-side, and perhaps after having been dragged mysterious distances through the gloom of a tunnel, finds himself as it would seem back at the same place as he looked forth from some minutes before; and it is only after a brief comparison that he realises he now commands a wider view from a point some hundreds of feet higher. So the student of Hegel—(and it might be the case with Fichte also) as the machinery of the dialectical method, with its thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, carries him round and round from term to term of thought—like the Logos and the Spirit, which blow us whithersoever they list—begins to suffer from dizziness at the apprehension that he has been the victim of phantasmagoria and has not really moved at all. It is only later—if ever—that he recognises that the scene, though similar, is yet not altogether the same. It is only later—if ever—that he understands that the path of philosophy is no wandering from land to land more remote in search of a lost Absolute, a vanished God; no setting forth of new and strange facts, of new Gods, but the revelation in fuller and fuller truth of the immanent reality in whom we live, and move, and have our being,—the manifestation in more closely-knit unity and more amply-detailed significance of that Infinite and Eternal, which was always present among us, though we saw but few, perhaps even no, traces of its power and glory.To read Hegel often reminds us of the process we have to go through in trying to answer a riddle. The terms of the problem to be solved are all given to us: the features of the object are, it may be, fully described: and yet somehow we cannot at once tell what it is all about, or add up the sum of which we have the several items. We are waiting to learn the subject of the proposition, of which all these statements may be regarded as the predicates. Something, we feel, has undoubtedly been said: but we are at a loss to see what it has been said about. Our mind wanders round from one familiar object to another, and tries them in succession to see whether any one satisfies the several points in the statement and includes them all. We grope here and there for something we are acquainted with, in which the bits of the description may cohere, and get a unity which they cannot give themselves. When once we have hit upon the right object, our troubles are at an end: and the empty medium is now peopled with a creature of our imagination. We have reached a fixed point in the range of our conception, around which the given features may cluster.All this trouble caused by the Hegelian theory of what philosophy involves—viz. really beginning at the beginning, is saved by a device well known to the several branches of Science. It is the way with them to assume that the student has a rough general image of the objects which they examine; and under the guidance, or with the help of this generalised image, they go on to explain and describe its outlines more completely. They start with an approximate conception, such as anybody may be supposed to have; and this they seek to render more definite. The geologist, for example, could scarcely teach geology', unless he could pre-suppose or produce some acquaintance on the part of his pupils with what Hume would have called an 'impression' or an 'idea' of the rocks and formations of which he has to treat. The geometer gives a short, and, as it were, popular explanation of the sense in which angles, circles, triangles, &c. are to be understood: and then by the aid of these provisional definitions we come to a more scientific notion of the same terms. The third book of Euclid, for example, brings before us a clearer notion of what a circle is, than the nominal explanation in the list of definitions. By means of these temporary aids, or, as we may call them, leading-strings for the intellect, the progress of the ordinary scientific student is made tolerably easy. But v in philosophy, as it is found in Hegel, there is quite another way of working. The helps in question are absent: and until it be seen that they are not even needed, the Hegelian theory will remain a sealed mystery. For that which the first glance seemed to show as an enigma, is only the plain and unambiguous statement of thought. Instead of casting around for images and accustomed names, we have only to accept the several terms and articles in the development of thought as they present themselves. These terms merely require to be apprehended. They stand in no immediate need of illustration from our experience. What we have to bring to the work, is patience, self-restraint, the sacrifice of our cherished habits of mind, the surrender of the natural wish to see at once what it all comes to, what it is good for, how it squares with other convictions. As Bacon reminded his age, Into the kingdom of philosophy, as into the kingdom of heaven, none can enter, nisi sub persona infantis: i. e. unless he at least steadfastly resolve to renounce that world which lieth in the Evil.Ordinary knowledge consists in referring a new object to a class of objects, that is to say, to a generalised image with which we are already acquainted. It is not so much cognition as re-cognition. '"What is the truth?"' asked Lady Chettam of Mrs. Cadwallader in Middle-march. "The truth? he is as bad as the wrong physic—nasty to take, and sure to disagree." "There could not be anything worse than that," said Lady Chettam, with so vivid a conception of the physic that she seemed to have learned something exact about Mr. Casaubon's 'disadvantages.' Once we have referred the new individual to a familiar category or a convenient metaphor, once we have given it a name, and introduced it into the society of our mental drawing-room, we are satisfied. We have put a fresh object in its appropriate drawer in the cabinet of our ideas: and hence, with the pride of a collector, we can calmly call it our own. But such acquaintance, proceeding from a mingling of memory and naming, is not the same thing as knowledge in the strict sense of the term.[2] 'What is he?' 'Do you know him?' These are our questions: and we are satisfied when we learn his name and his calling. We may never have penetrated into the inner nature of those objects, with whose tout ensemble, or rough outlines, we are so much at home, that we fancy ourselves thoroughly cognisant of them. Classifications are only the first steps in science: and we do not understand a thought because we can view it under the guise of some of its illustrations.In the case of the English reader of Hegel some peculiar hindrances spring from the foreign language. In strong contrast to most of the well-known German philosophers, he may be said to write in the popular and national dialect of his country. Of course there are tones and shades of meaning given to his words by the general context of his system. But upon the whole he did what he promised to J. H. Voss—the translator of Homer, and the poet of the Luise, in a letter written from Jena in 1805. He there says of his projects: 'Luther has made the Bible, and you have made Homer speak German. No greater gift than this could be given to the nation. So long as a nation is not acquainted with a noble work in its own language, it is still barbarian, and does not regard the work as its own. Forget these two examples, and I may describe my own efforts as an attempt to teach philosophy to speak in German.[3]Yet, in this matter of nationalising or Germanising philosophy, he only carried a step further what Wolff and even Kant had begun; just as, on the other hand, he falls a long way short of what K. C. F. Krause, his contemporary, attempted in the same direction. Such an attempt, by its very nature, could never command a popular success. It runs directly counter to that tendency already noted, to escape the requirement to think and think for ourselves, by taking refuge under the shadow of a familiar term, which conceals in its apparent simplicity a great complex of ill-apprehended elements. The ordinary mind—and the more readily perhaps the more vulgar it is—flees for ease and safety to a cosmopolitan term, to the denationalised vocable of learned origin, to the language of general European culture. To such an ordinary mind—and up at least to a certain extent we all at times come under that heading—the effort to remain in the pellucid air of our unadulterated mother-tongue is too embarrassing to be long continued. Nor, after all, is it more than partially practicable. The well of German undefiled is apt to run dry. Hegel himself never shrinks when it is needful to appropriate non-Teutonic words, and is in the habit of employing the synonymous terms of native and of classical origin with a systematic difference of meaning [4]Hegel is unquestionably par excellence the philosopher of Germany,—German through and through. For philosophy, though the common birthright of full-grown reason in all ages and countries, must like other universal and cosmopolitan interests, such as the State, the Arts, or the Church, submit to the limits and peculiarities imposed upon it by the natural divisions of race and language. The subtler nuances, as well as the coarser differences of national speech, make themselves vividly felt in the systems of philosophy, and defy translation. If Greek philosophy cannot, no more can German philosophy be turned into a body of English thought by a stroke of the translator's pen. There is a difference in this matter, a difference at least in degree, between the special sciences and philosophy. The several sciences have a de-nationalised and cosmopolitan character, like the trades and industries of various nations; they are pretty much the same in one country and another, especially when we consider the details, and neglect the general subdivisions. But in the political body, in the works of high art, and in the systems of philosophy, the whole of the character and temperament of the several peoples finds its expression, and stands distinctly marked, in a shape of its own. If the form of German polity be not transferable to this side of the Channel, no more will German philosophy. Direct utilisation for English purposes is out of the question: the circumstances are too different. But the study of the great works of foreign thought is not on that account useless, any more than the study of the great works of foreign statesmanship.Hegel did good service, at least, by freeing philosophy from that aspect of an imported luxury, which it usually had,—as if it were an exotic plant removed from the bright air of Greece into the melancholy mists of Western Europe. 'We have still,' he says, 'to break down the partition between the language of philosophy, and that of ordinary consciousness: we have to overcome the reluctance against thinking what we are familiar with[5].' Philosophy must be brought face to face with ordinary life, so as to draw its strength from the actual and living present, and not from the memories or traditions of the past. It has to become the organised and completed thinking of what is contained blindly and vaguely in the various levels of popular intelligence, as these are more or less educated and ordered. It must grow naturally, as in ancient Greece, from the necessities of the social situation, and not be a product of artificial introduction and nurture: the revelation by the mind's own energy of an implicit truth, not the communication of a mystery sacramentally received. To suppose that a mere change of words can give this grace, would be absurd. Yet where the national life pulses strong, as that of Germany in those days did at first in letters and then in social reform, the dominant note will make itself felt even in the neutral regions of speculation. It was a step on the right road to banish a pompous and aristocratic dialect from philosophy, and to lead it back to those words and forms of speech, which are at least in silent harmony with the national feeling. [1] Hegel's Leben (Rosenkranz), p. 555. [2] 'Das Bekannte überhaupt ist darum, weil es bekannt ist, nicht erkannt.' Phenomenologie des Geistes, p. 24. [3] Vermischte Schriften, vol. ii. p. 474. [4] e. g. Dasein and Existenz: Wirklichkeit and Realität: Wesen and Substanz. It is the same habit of curiously pondering over the tones and shades of language which leads him to something very like playing on words, and to etymologising, as one may call it, on unetymological principles: e. g. the play on Mein and Meinung (vol. ii. 32: cf. Werke, ii. 75): the literal rendering of Erinnerung (Encycl. §§ 234 and 450); and the abrupt transitions, as it would seem, from literal to figurative use of such a term as Grund. At the same time it is well not to be prosaically certain that a free play of thought does not follow the apparently fortuitous assonance of words. [5] Hegel's Leben (Rosenkranz), p. 553.



'But,' it is urged, 'though it be well to let the stream of foreign thought irrigate some of our philosophical pastures, though we should not for ever entrench ourselves in our insularity—why try to introduce Hegel, of all philosophers confessedly the most obscure? Why not be content with the study and the "exploitation" of Kant, whom Germans themselves still think so important as to expound him with endless comment and criticism, and who has at length found, after some skirmishes, a recognised place in the English philosophical curriculum? Why seek for more Teutonic thinking that can be found in Schopenhauer, and found there in a clear and noble style, luminous in the highest degree, and touching with no merely academic abstruseness the problems of life and death? Or—as that song is sweetest to men which is the newest to ring in their ears—why not render accessible to English readers the numerous and suggestive works of Eduard von Hartmann, and of Friedrich Nietzsche—not to mention Robert Hamerling[1]? Or, finally, why not give us more and ever more translations of the works in logic, ethics, psychology, or metaphysics, of those many admirable teachers in the German universities, whom it would be invidious to try to single out by name? As for Hegel, his system, in the native land of the philosopher, is utterly discredited; its influence is extinct; it is dead as a door-nail. It is a pity to waste labour and distract attention, and that in English lands, where there are plenty of problems of our own to solve, by an attempt, which must perforce be futile, to resuscitate these defunctitudes?'

That Hegelianism has been utterly discredited, in certain quarters, is no discovery reserved for these later days. But on this matter perhaps we may borrow an analogy. If the reader will be at the trouble to take up two English newspapers of opposite partisanship and compare the reports from their foreign correspondents on some question of home politics, he may, if a novice, be surprised to learn that according to one, the opinion e. g. of Vienna is wholly adverse to the measure, while, according to the other, that opinion entirely approves.

It is no new thing to find Hegelianism in general obloquy. Even in 1830 the Catholic philosopher and theologian Günther[2]—an admirer, but by no means a follower of Hegel—wrote that, 'for some years it had been the fashion in learned Germany to look upon philosophy, and above all Hegelian philosophy, as a door-mat on which everybody cleaned his muddy boots before entering the sanctuary of politics and religion.' What is true as regards the alleged surcease of Hegelianism is that in the reaction which from various causes turned itself against philosophy in the two decennia after 1848, that system, as the most deeply committed part of the 'metaphysical' host, suffered most severely. History and science seemed to triumph along the whole line. But it may be perhaps permissible to remark that Hegelianism had predicted for itself the fate that it proved had fallen on all other philosophies. After the age of Idealism comes the turn of Realism. The Idea had to die—had to sink as a germ in the fields of nature and history before it could bear its fruit. Above all it is not to be expected that such a system, so ambitious in aim and concentrated in expression, could find immediate response and at once disclose all its meaning. His first disciples are not the—truest interpreters of any great teacher. What he saw in the one comprehensive glance of genius, his successors must often be content to gather by the slow accumulation of years, and perhaps centuries, of experience. It is not to Theophrastus that we go for the truest and fullest conception of Aristotelianism; nor is Plato to be measured by what his immediate successors in the Academy managed to make out of him. It is now more than a century since Kant gave his lesson to the public, and we are still trying to get him focussed in a single view: it may be even longer till Hegel comes fully within the range of our historians of thought. Aristotelianism too had to wait centuries till it fully entered the consciousness even of the thinking world.

It is to be said too that without Hegel it would be difficult to imagine what even teachers, like Lotze, who were very unlike him, would have had to say. It does not need a very wide soul, nor need one be a mere dilettantist eclectic, to find much of Schopenhauer's work far from incompatible with his great, and as some have said, complementary opposite. It is not indeed prudent as yet for a writer in Germany who wishes to catch the general ear to affix too openly a profession of Hegelian principles, and he will do well to ward off suspicion by some disparaging remarks on the fantastic methods, the overfondness for system, the contempt for common sense and scientific results which, as he declares, vitiate all the speculations of the period from 1794 to 1830. But under the names of Spinoza and of Leibniz the leaven of Hegelian principles has been at work: and if the Philistines solve the riddle of the intellectual Samson, it is because they have ploughed with his heifer,—because his ideas are part of the modern stock of thought,—not from what they literally read in the great thinkers at the close of the seventeenth century. Last year saw appear in Germany two excellent treatises describable as popular introductions to philosophy[3], one by a thinker who has never disguised his obligations to Hegel, the other by a teacher in the University of Berlin who may in many ways be considered as essentially kindred with our general English style of thought. But both treatises are more allied in character to the spirit of the Hegelian attempts to comprehend man and God than to the formalistic and philological disquisitions which have for some years formed the staple of German professorial activity. And, lastly, the vigorous thinker, who a quarter of a century ago startled the reading public by the portent of a new metaphysic which should be the synthesis of Schelling and Schopenhauer, has lately informed us[4] that his affinity to Hegel is, taken all in all, greater than his affinity to any other philosopher'; and that that affinity extends to all that in Hegel has essential and permanent value.

But it is not on Eduard von Hartmann's commendation that we need rest our estimate of Hegelianism. We shall rather say that, till more of Hegel has been assimilated, he must still block the way. Things have altered greatly in the last twenty years, it is true; and ideas of more or less Hegelian origin have taken their place in the common stock of philosophic commodities. But it will probably be admitted by those best qualified to speak on the subject, that the shower has not as yet penetrated very deeply into the case-hardened soil, still less saturated it in the measure most likely to cause fruitful shoots to grow forth. We have to go back to Hegel in the same spirit as we go to Kant, and, for that matter, to Plato or Descartes: or, as the moderns may go back—to borrow from another sphere—to Dante or Shakespeare. We do not want the modern poet to resuscitate the style and matter of King Lear or of the Inferno. Yet as the Greek tragedian steeped his soul in the language and the legend of Homeric epic, as Dante nurtured his spirit on the noble melodies of Mantua's poet; so philosophy, if it is to go forth strong and effective, must mould into its own substance the living thought of former times. It would be as absurd, and as impossible to be literally and simply a Hegelian,—if that means one for whom Hegel sums up all philosophy and all truth—as it is to be at the present day in the literal sense a Platonist or an Aristotelian. The world may be slow, the world of opinion and thought may linger: e pur si muove. We too have our own problems—the same, no doubt, in a sense, from age to age, and yet infinitely varying and never in two ages alike. New stars have appeared on the spiritual sky; and whether they have in them the eternal light or only the flash and glare of a passing meteor, they alter the aspects of the night in which we are still waiting for the dawn.

A new language, born of new relations of ideas, or of new ideas, is perforce for our generation the vehicle of all utterances, and we cannot again speak the dialect, however imposing or however quaint, of a vanished day.

And for that reason there must always be a new philosophy, couched in the language of the age, sympathetic with its hopes and fears, conscious of its beliefs, more or less sensible of its problems—as indeed we may be confident there always will be. But, perhaps, the warrior in that battle against illusion and prejudice, against the sloth which takes things as they are and the poorness of spirit which is satisfied with first appearances, will not do wisely to disdain the past. He will not indeed equip himself with rusty swords and clumsy artillery from the old arsenals. But he will not disdain the lessons of the past,—its methods and principles of tactics and strategy. Recognising perhaps some defects and inequalities in the methods and aims of thought most familiar to him and current in his vicinity, he may go abroad for other samples, even though they be not in all respects worth his adoption. And so without taking Hegel as omniscient, or pledging himself to every word of the master, he may think from his own experience that there is much in the system that will be helpful, when duly estimated and assimilated, to others. There is—and few can be so bigoted or so positive-minded as to regret it—there is unquestionably a growing interest in English-speaking countries in what may be roughly called philosophy—the attempt, unprejudiced by political, scientific, or ecclesiastical dogma, to solve the questions as to what the world really is, and what man's place and function is. 'The burthen of the mystery, the heavy and the weary weight of all this unintelligible world' is felt—felt widely and sometimes felt deeply. To the direct lightening of that burthen and that mystery it is the privilege of our profoundest thinkers and our far-seeing poets and artists to contribute. To the translator of Hegel there falls the humbler task of making accessible, if it may be, something of one of the later attempts at a solution of the enigma of life and existence,—an attempt which for a time dazzled some of the keenest intellects of its age, and which has at least impressed many others with the conviction, born of momentary flashes from it of vast illuminant power, that—si sic omnia—there was here concealed a key to many puzzles, and a guard against many illusions likely to beset the inquirer after truth.

[1] A book by V. Knauer published last year (Hauptprobleme der Philosophie), a series of popular lectures, gives one-sixth of its space to the 'Atomistic of Will' by the Austrian poet Hamerling.

[2] Hegel's Briefe, ii. 349.

[3] J. Volkelt, Vorträge zur Einführung in die Philosophie der Gegenwart (München 1892): F. Paulsen, Einleitung in die Philosophie (Berlin 1892).

[4] E. v. Hartmann, Kritische Wanderungen, p. 74.



Although we need not take too seriously Hegel's remark (vol. ii. p. 13) on the English conception of philosophy, it may be admitted that, by the dominant school of English thought, philosophy, taken in the wide sense it has predominantly born abroad, was, not so very long ago, all but entirely ignored. Causes of various kinds had turned the energy of the English mind into other directions, not less essential to the common welfare. Practical needs and an established social system helped—to bind down studies to definite and particular objects, and to exclude what seemed vague and general investigations with no immediate bearing on the business of life. Hence philosophy in England could hardly exist except when it was reduced to the level of a special branch of science, or when it could be used as a receptacle for the principles and methods common to all the sciences. The general term was often used to denote the wisdom of this world, or the practical exhibition of self-control in life and action. For those researches, which are directed to the objects once considered proper to philosophy, the more definite and characteristic term came to be Mental and Moral Science.

The old name was in certain circles restricted to denote the vague and irregular speculations of those thinkers, who either lived before the rise of exact science, or who acted in defiance of its precepts and its example. One large and influential class of English thinkers inclined to sweep philosophy altogether away, as equivalent to metaphysics and obsolete forms of error; and upon the empty site thus obtained they sought to construct a psychological theory of mind, or they tried to arrange and codify those general remarks upon the general procedure of the sciences which are known under the name of Inductive Logic. A smaller, but not less vigorous, school of philosophy looked upon their business as an extension and rounding off of science into a complete unification of knowledge. The first is illustrated by the names of J. S. Mill and Mr. Bain: the second is the doctrine of Mr. Herbert Spencer.

The encyclopaedic aggregate of biological, psychological, ethical and social investigation which Mr. Spencer pursues, under the general guidance of the formula of evolution by differentiation and integration, still proceeds on its course: but though its popularity—as such popularity goes—is vast and more than national, it does not and probably cannot find many imitators. Very differently stand matters with the movement in psychology and logic. Here the initiative has led to divergent and unexpected developments. Psychology, which at first was partly an ampler and a more progressive logic, a theory of the origin and nature of knowledge, partly a propaedeutic to the more technical logic and ethics, and pursued in a loosely introspective way, has gravitated more and more towards its experimental and physiological side, with occasional velleities to assume the abstractly-mathematical character of a psycho-physical science. Logic, on the other hand, has also changed its scope. Not content to be a mere tool of the sciences or a mere criterion for the estimation of evidence, it has in one direction grown into a systematic effort to become an epistemology—a system of the first principles of knowledge and reality—a metaphysic of science; and in another it has sought to realise the meaning of those old forms of inference which the logicians of half a century ago were inclined to pooh-pooh as obsolete. Most remarkable—and most novel of all—is the vast increase of interest and research in the problems of ethics and v of what is called the philosophy of religion—subjects which at that date were literally burning questions, apt to scorch the fingers of those who touched them. In all of this, but especially marked in some leading thinkers, the ruling feature is the critical—the sceptical, i. e. the eager, watchful, but self-restrained—attitude towards its themes. Ever driving on to find a deeper unity than shows on the surface, and to get at principles, the modern thinker—and in this we see the permanent and almost overwhelming influence of Kant upon him—recoils from the dogmatism of system, at the very moment it seems to be within his grasp.

Thus the recent products of English thought have been, as Mr. Spencer has taught us to say, partly in the line of differentiation, partly of integration. At one moment it seems as if the ancient queen of the sciences sat like Hecuba, exul, inops, while her younger daughters enjoyed the freedom and progress of specialisation. The wood seems lost behind the trees. And at another, again, the centripetal force seems to preponderate: every department, logic, ethics, psychology, sociology, rapidly carries its students on and up to fundamental questions, if not to fundamental principles. Philosophy—the one and undivided truth and quest of truths—emerges fresh, vigorous, and as yet rather indeterminate, from the mass of detailed investigations. That the position is now altered from what it was in times when knowledge had fewer departments, is obvious. The task of the 'synoptic' mind—which Plato claims for the philosopher—grows increasingly difficult: but that is hardly a reason for performing it in a more perfunctory way. It seems rather as if in such a crisis one of the great reconstructive systems of a preceding age might be in some measure helpful.

If we consult history, it is at once clear that philosophy, or the pursuit of ultimate reality and permanent truth, went hand in hand with scientific researches into facts and their particular explanations.

In their earlier stages the two tendencies of thought were scarcely distinguishable. The philosophers of Ionia and Magna Graecia were also the scientific pioneers of their time. Their fragmentary remains remind us at times of the modern theories of geology and biology,—at other times of the teachings of idealism. The same thing is comparatively true of the earlier philosophers of Modern Europe. The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in spite of Bacon and Newton, endeavoured to study the mental and moral life by a method which was a strange mixture of empiricism and metaphysics. In words, indeed, the thinkers from Descartes to Wolff duly emphasise, perhaps over-emphasise, the antithesis between the extended and the intellectual. But in practice their course is not so clear. Their mental philosophy is often only a preliminary medicina mentis to set the individual mind in good order for undertaking the various tasks awaiting a special research. They are really eager to get on to business, and only, as it were, with regret spend time in this clearance of mental faculty. And when they do deal with objects, the material and extended tends to become the dominant conception, the basis of reality. The human mind, that nobilissima substantia, is treated only as an aggregate, or a receptacle, of ideas, and the mens,—with them all nearly as with Spinoza,—is only an idea corporis, and that phrase not taken so highly as Spinoza's perhaps should be taken. In the works of these thinkers, as of the pre-Socratics, there is one element which may be styled philosophical, and another element which maybe styled scientific,—if we use both words vaguely. But with Socrates in the ancient, and with Kant in the modern epoch of philosophy, an attempt was made to get the boundary between the two regions definitively drawn. The distinction was in the first place accompanied by something like turning the back upon science and popular conceptions. Socrates withdrew thought from disquisitions concerning the nature of all things, and fixed it upon man and the state of man. Kant left the broad fields of actually-attained knowledge, and inquired into the central principle on which the acquisition of science, the laws of human life, and the ideals of art and religion, were founded.

The change thus begun was not unlike that which Copernicus effected in the theory of Astronomy. Human personality, either in the actualised forms of the State, or in the abstract shape of the Reason,—that intellectual liberty, which is a man's true world,—was, at least by implication, made the pivot around which the system of the sciences might turn. In the contest, which according to Reid prevails between Common Sense and Philosophy, the presumptions of the former have been distinctly reversed, and Kant, like Socrates, has shown that it is not the several items of fact, but the humanity, the moral law, the thought, which underlies these doctrines, which give the real resting-point and true centre of movement. But this negative attitude of philosophy to the sciences is only the beginning, needed to secure a standing-ground. In the ancient world Aristotle, and in the modern Hegel (as the inheritor of the labours of Fichte and Schelling), exhibit the movement outwards to reconquer the universe, proceeding from that principle which Socrates and Kant had emphasised in its fundamental worth.

Mr. Mill, in the closing chapter of his Logic, has briefly sketched the ideal of a science to which he gives the name of Teleology, corresponding in the ethical and practical sphere to a Philosophia Prima, or Metaphysics, in the theoretical. This ideal and ultimate court of appeal is to be valid in Morality, and also in Prudence, Policy and Taste. But the conception, although a desirable one, falls short of the work which Hegel assigns to philosophy. What he intended to accomplish with detail and regular evolution was not a system of principles in these departments of action only, but a theory which would give its proper place in our total Idea of reality to Art, Science, and Religion, to all the consciousness of ordinary life, and to the evolution of the physical universe. Philosophy ranges over the—whole field of actuality, or existing fact. Abstract principles are all very well in their way; but they are not philosophy. If the world in its historical and its present life develops into endless detail in regular lines, philosophy must equally develop the narrowness of its first principles into the plenitude of a System,—into what Hegel calls, the Idea. His point of view may be gathered from the following remarks in a review of Hamann, an erratic friend and fellow-citizen of Kant's.

Hamann would not put himself to the trouble, which in an higher sense God undertook. The ancient philosophers have described God under the image of a round ball. But if that be His nature, God has unfolded it; and in the actual world He has opened the closed shell of truth into a system of Nature, into a State-system, a system of Law and Morality, into the system of the world's History. The shut fist has become an open hand, the fingers of which reach out to lay hold of man's mind, and draw it to Himself. Nor is the human mind a self-involved intelligence, blindly moving within its own secret recesses. It is no mere feeling and groping about in a vacuum, but an intelligent system of rational organisation. Of that system Thought is the summit in point of form: and Thought maybe described as the capability of going beyond the mere surface of God's self-expansion,—or rather as the capability, by means of reflection upon it, of entering into it, and then when the entrance has been secured, of retracing in thought God's expansion of Himself. To take this trouble is the express duty and end of ends set before the thinking mind, ever since God laid aside His rolled-up form, and revealed Himself[1].'

Enthusiastic admirers have often spoken as if the salvation of the time could only come from the Hegelian philosophy. 'Grasp the secret of Hegel,' they say, 'and you will find a cure for the delusions of your own mind, and the remedy which will set right the wrongs of the world.' These high claims to be a panacea were never made by Hegel himself. According to him, as according to Aristotle, philosophy as such can produce nothing new. Practical statesmen, and theoretical reformers, may do their best to correct the inequalities of their time. But the very terms in which Bacon scornfully depreciated one great concept of philosophy are to be accepted in their literal truth. Like a virgin consecrated to God, she bears no fruit[2]. She represents the spirit of the world, resting, as it were, when one step in the progress has been accomplished, and surveying the advance which has been made. Philosophy is not,' says Fichte, 'even a means to shape life: for it lies in a totally different world, and what is to have an influence upon life must itself have sprung from life. Philosophy is only a means to the knowledge of life.' Nor has it the vocation to edify men, and take the place of religion on the higher levels of intellect. 'The philosopher,' Fichte boldly continues, 'has no God at all and can have no God: he has only a concept of the concept or of the Idea of God. It is only in life that there is God and religion: but the philosopher as such is not the whole complete man, and it is impossible for any one to be only a philosopher[3].' Philosophy does not profess to bring into being what ought to be, but is not yet. It sets up no mere ideals, which must wait for some future day in order to be realised. Enough for it if it show what the world is, if it were what it professes to be, and what in a way it must be, otherwise it could not be even what it is. The subject-matter of philosophy is that which is always realising and always realised—the world in its wholeness as it is and has been. It seeks to put before us, and embody in permanent outlines, the universal law of spiritual life and growth, and not the local, temporary, and individual acts of human will.

Those who ask philosophy to construe, or to deduce a priori a single blade of grass, or a single act of a man, must not be grieved if their request sounds absurd and meets with no answer. The sphere of philosophy is the Universal. We may say, if we like, that it is retrospective. It is the spectator of all time and all existence: it is its duty to view things sub specie aeternitatis. To comprehend the universe of thought in all its formations and all its features, to reduce the solid structures, which mind has created, to fluidity and transparency in the pure medium of thought, to set free the fossilised intelligence which the great magician who wields the destinies of the world has hidden under the mask of Nature, of the Mind of man, of the works of Art, of the institutions of the State and the orders of Society, and of religious forms and creeds:—such is the complicated problem of philosophy. Its special work is to comprehend the world, not try to make it better. If it were the purpose of philosophy to reform and improve the existing state of things, it comes a little too late for such a task. 'As the thought of the world,' says Hegel, 'it makes its first appearance at a time, when the actual fact has consummated its process of formation, and is now fully matured. This is the doctrine set forth by the notion of philosophy; but it is also the teaching of history. It is only when the actual world has reached its full fruition that the ideal rises to confront the reality, and builds up, in the shape of an intellectual realm, that same world grasped in its substantial being. When philosophy paints its grey in grey, some one shape of life has meanwhile grown old: and grey in grey, though it brings it into knowledge, cannot make it young again. The owl of Minerva does not start upon its flight, until the evening twilight has begun to fall[4].'

[1] Vermischte Schriften, vol. ii. p. 87.

[2] De Augm. Scient. iii. 5.

[3] The passages occur in some notes (written down by F. in reference to the charge of Atheism) published in his Werke, v. pp. 342, 348.

[4] Philosophie des Rechts, p. 20 (Werke, viii).



Even an incidental glance into Hegel's Logic cannot fail to discover the frequent recurrence of the name of God, and the discussion of matters not generally touched upon, unless in works bearing upon religion. There were two questions which seem to have had a certain fascination for Hegel. One of them, a rather unpromising problem, referred to the distances between the several planets in the solar system, and the law regulating these intervals[1]. The other and more intimate problem turned upon the value of the proofs usually offered in support of the being of God. That God is the supreme certitude of the mind, the basis of all reality and knowledge, is what Hegel no more put in question, than did Descartes, Spinoza, or Locke. What he often repeated was that the matter in these proofs must be distinguished from the imperfect manner in which the arguers presented it. Again and again in his Logic, as well as in other discussions more especially devoted to it, he examines this problem. His persistence in this direction might earn for him that title of 'Knight of the Holy Ghost,' by which Heine, in one of the delightful poems of his 'Reisebilder,' describes himself to the maid of Klausthal in the Harz. The poet of Love and of Freedom had undoubted rights to rank among the sacred band: but so also had the philosopher. Like the Socrates whom Plato describes to us, he seems to feel that he has been commissioned to reveal the truth of God, and quicken men by an insight into the right wisdom. Nowhere in the modern period of philosophy has higher spirit breathed in the utterances of a thinker. The same theme is claimed as the common heritage of philosophy and religion. A letter to Duboc[2], the father of a modern German novelist, lets us see how important this aspect of his system was to Hegel himself. He had been asked to give a succinct explanation of his standing-ground: and his answer begins by pointing out that philosophy seeks to apprehend in reasoned knowledge the same truth which the religious mind has in its faith.

Words like these may at first sight suggest the bold soaring of ancient speculation in the times of Plato and Aristotle, or even the theories of the medieval Schoolmen. They sound as if he proposed to do for the modern world, and in the full light of modern knowledge, what the Schoolmen tried to accomplish within the somewhat narrow conceptions of medieval Christianity and Greek logic. Still there is a difference between the two cases. While the Doctors of the Church, in appearance at least, derived the form of exposition, and the matter of their systems, from two independent and apparently heterogeneous sources, the modern Scholastic of Hegel claims to be a harmonious unity, body finding soul, and soul giving itself body. And while the Hegelian system has the all-embracing and encyclopaedic character by which Scholastic science threw its arms around heaven and earth, it has also the untrammeled liberty of the Greek thinkers. Hegel, in short, shows the union of these two modes of speculation: free as the ancient, and comprehensive as the modern. His theory is the explication of God; but of God in the actuality and plenitude of the world, and not as a transcendent Being, such as an over-reverent philosophy has sometimes supposed him, in the solitude of a world beyond.